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January 29, 2013updated Aug 22, 2013

Unusual Cruises

By Chris Boyle

Coromandel Peninsula

For those with a yearning to explore beyond the more predictable cruising grounds of the Caribbean this winter, head east to the exotic shores of Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Whether your passion is for sports in New Zealand, rest and relaxation in the beautiful surroundings of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or a cultural thrill through the cruising grounds of Thailand, the vast and varied waterways of Asia and Australasia will bring you a true taste of adventure. Offering an endless supply of attractions and activities, these far-flung destinations promise action and excitement whenever you venture ashore.

Best Cruise in Australia


The coastline of Australia is an ideal destination for the adventurous charterer.

The bright lights of the cities combined with tropical islands make for a spectacular alternative cruise in the southern hemisphere. Dotted along the east coast are Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney, providing great social outlets, while natural beauty abounds in the miles of deserted beaches that ring the coastline of Queensland. While tracing the coast, combine a few days swimming and snorkeling in the coral-rich waters of the Great Barrier Reef with a relaxing break on one of the idyllic Whitsunday Islands, then hop a jet to tour Hunter Valley’s vineyards and enjoy an elegant evening at the Sydney Opera House. While the coastline is too vast to cruise in one charter, below you’ll find one classic itinerary, along with must-see recommendations for this and future visits.


Day 1 | Cairns to Double Island (12 nautical miles)

Day 2 | Double Island to Escape Reef (35 nautical miles)

Day 3 | Escape Reef to Cooktown (45 nautical miles)

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Days 4 & 5 | Cooktown to Princess Charlotte Bay (100 nautical miles)

Day 6 | Princess Charlotte Bay to Stokes Bay (15 nautical miles)

Day 7 | Stokes Bay to Lizard Island (95 nautical miles)

Day 8 | Lizard Island

Day 9 | Lizard Island to Ribbon Reefs (35 nautical miles)

Day 10 | Ribbon Reefs

Day 11 | Ribbon Reefs to Opal Reef (50 nautical miles)

Day 12 | Opal Reef to Low Isles (25 nautical miles)

Day 13 | Low Isles to Cairns (35 nautical miles)

Day 14 | Cairns


Australia has a variety of climates due to its sheer size. The temperate south has cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. In the north, a tropical climate prevails with a warm dry season and a hot wet season. The best time to visit is from November through March. The ideal diving conditions and visibility around the Great Barrier Reef are from September through early December.


  • Anchor off Heron Island, a haven for sea turtles who lay their eggs in the sand on moonlit nights
  • Renowned for its marine life, Pixies Pinnacle in the Great Barrier Reef is a superb anchorage
  • Cod Hole, famous for huge potato cod, is perfect for an afternoon of snorkeling
  • Venture inland to Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest winegrowing region, which has over 90 wineries to choose from
  • Spend a few extra days inland exploring aboriginal culture
  • Spend a day exploring Taronga Zoo or the Sydney Aquarium
  • End the day with a private sunset ascent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Join the dudes and learn to surf in Byron Bay, the iconic Aussie surf haunt
  • Hike the Daintree Rainforest north of Cairns

Barry deKock, captain of the 220- foot sailing yacht Vertigo, has cruised the coastlines of Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. “Australia’s Whitsunday Islands are beautiful and I recommend Whitehaven Beach for a picnic lunch. Hamilton Island, with its great bars and restaurants, is just around the corner, while Hayman Island to the north provides a complete retreat for guests to step ashore.”



Length | 220 feet, 5 inches

Guests | 12

Price | From about $281,190 a week

Eleanor Bloodworth at Y.CO




Length | 138 feet, 5 inches

Guests | 12

Price | From about $127,800 a week

Timothy Clark at Ocean Independence


Best Cruise in New Zealand

Blue Heaven

The dual islands of New Zealand offer an unparalleled multi-center cruising destination.

Fromtheir sheer diversity and sporting and cultural attractions, to the mountains, deep fjords, rainforests, glaciers and bubbling geo-thermal pools, no other cruising ground offers such a vast landscape.

North Island is home to Auckland, or City of Sails, where fine restaurants and shops abound. The capital of Wellington hosts numerous galleries, the opera and ballet, while the Bay of Islands is a subtropical maritime park with an abundance of marine life. Alternatively, South Island guarantees flawless sailing, restful retreats and great sporting adventures. Home to Queenstown, the country’s adventure capital, and the Marlborough Sounds, it promises idyllic cruising with a backdrop of glorious mountain landscapes.


Day 1 | Auckland

Day 2 | Auckland to Waiheke Island (10 nautical miles)

Day 3 | Waiheke Island to Coromandel Peninsula (20 nautical miles)

Day 4 | Coromandel Peninsula to Great Barrier Island (35 nautical miles)

Day 5 | Great Barrier Island to Poor Knights Islands (45 nautical miles)

Day 6 | Poor Knights Islands to Bay of Islands (35 nautical miles)

Day 7 | Bay of Islands


Day 1 | Picton to Motuara Island (18 nautical miles)

Day 2 | Motuara Island to Pelorus Sound (35 nautical miles)

Days 3 & 4 | Pelorus Sound to D’Urville Island (40 nautical miles)

Day 5 & 6 | D’Urville Island to Abel Tasman National Park (35 nautical miles)

Day 7 | Abel Tasman National Park to Nelson (25 nautical miles)


New Zealand’s North Island is subtropical and South Island is temperate. The warmest months are December to February.


  • Make your way to the cruising grounds of Marl- borough Sounds for water sports
  • Fish for Orongo Bay oysters, Northland scallops and crayfish in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands
  • Dive in the underwater caves and tunnels harboring rare fish and corals around Poor Knights Islands
  • Dive for green mussels in Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Kayak amid a pod of the world’s rarest dolphins around Endeavour Inlet

Best New Zealand Charter Yachts


Debbie Gribble, charter manager and shore support at Ocean Independence in Auckland, manages charter yachts whose captains have cruised extensively through the Cavalli Islands and Urupukupuka, lying north of Auckland near the Bay of Islands.

Gribble recommends anchorages such as “Oke Bay for its mussels; Urupukapuka Bay and the Urupukapuka Hills for walking; Motuarohia Island, which can be very popular in peak season; Motukavanui in the Cavalli Islands, with access to great hiking; or for divers, the wreck of Rainbow Warrior. A must for outdoor enthusiasts is the Tiritiri Matangi Island, where there is a nature reserve, while Man O’War Bay in Waiheke is famous for its winery and surrounding walks.”

Captain Winston Joyce-Clarke aboard the 147-foot Big Fish has reams of experience cruising through the southern hemisphere. When chartering in New Zealand he recommends visiting the Huka Lodge on the Waikato River and spending the day in a helicopter cruising the backcountry around Lake Taupo. He also highlights the diving and cruising in the Poor Knights area.


Length | 147 feet, 4 inches

Guests | Ten

Price | From $245,000 a week

Eleanor Bloodworth at Y.CO




Length | 138 feet, 8 inches

Guests | Ten

Price | From $160,000 a week

Tandy Demarchelier at Camper & Nicholsons International



Length | 90 feet, 2 inches

Guests | Six

Price | From $37,748 a week

Sarah Piggin at Yachting Partners International


Best Cruise in Thailand


A tempting alternative winter charter destination, the cruising grounds of Southeast Asia are truly captivating and offer some of the most exotic, dynamic and intriguing cultures in the world.

The southwestern coastline of Thailand boasts a wealth of attractions, including spectacular beaches and turquoise waters for outstanding snorkeling and diving. Dramatic limestone landscapes also provide a stunning backdrop to any cruise along these shores. On a two-week cruise around Thailand’s west coast you can explore uninhabited islands in Phang Nga Bay, dive in the waters surrounding the Phi Phi Islands or the Marine National Park around the Similan Islands and spend leisurely days on the scenic beaches of the Surin Islands, before venturing inland to enjoy the cultural hot spots and nightlife on Phuket.


Day 1 | Phuket

Day 2 | Phuket to Koh Phing Khan (20 nautical miles)

Day 3 | Koh Phing Khan to Koh Panak & Koh Hong (18 nautical miles)

Day 4 | Koh Hong to Phi Phi Islands (24 nautical miles)

Day 5 | Phi Phi Islands

Days 6 & 7 | Phi Phi Islands to Similan Islands (overnight; 90 nautical miles)

Day 8 | Similan Islands

Day 9 | Similan Islands to Surin Islands (48 nautical miles)

Day 10 | Surin Islands

Day 11 | Surin Islands to Phuket (overnight; 92 nautical miles)

Day 12 | Phuket


A tropical rainy climate dominates most of Southeast Asia. The northeast monsoon, from November through April, generally brings light winds, calm seas and offers sunny and dry weather.

  • Dine in the many restaurants alone Ao Phra Nang in Krabi
  • Join the seafaring set and dine at the exclusive Royal Phuket Yacht Club
  • Enjoy a cocktail on board while at watching the sunset over the low lying Similan Island chain
  • Head for the bustling nightlife along Soi Bangla in Phuket
  • Snorkel in the clear waters around the rugged Phi Phi islands
  • Spend the afternoon swimming with turtles in the sheltered bays of the Similan Islands
  • Anchor at the famous James Bond Island and kayak through the hidden realms of Koh Panak and Koh Hong

The featured yachts are available in these cruising grounds this winter. Some are on circumnavigation trips and some base themselves in these areas for the season, but as most yachts will usually only be in these parts of the world for a limited seasonal period, charters need to be booked well in advance.

Best Thailand Charter Yachts


Captain Barry deKock aboard the 220-foot foot Vertigo highly recommends cruising through Southeast Asia.

“Thailand is a cruising paradise. Anchorages don’t get much better than the Similan Islands, which is only a few hours’ sail from the relaxing beach bars and restaurants on Phuket’s Surin Beach or the rather more lively Patong Beach.”


Length | 173 feet, 1 inch

Guests | 11

Price | From $230,000 a week

Paola Scalabrino at Yachtzoo



Length | 220 feet, 5 inches

Guests | 12

Price | From about $281,190 a week

Eleanor Bloodworth at Y.CO



Length | 160 feet, 9 inches

Guests | 12

Price | From$165,000 a week

Timothy Clark at Ocean Independence



Length | 187 feet

Guests | 12

Prices | From$140,000 a week

Timothy Clark at Ocean Independence



Length | 163 feet, 8 inches

Guests | Nine

Price | From about $218,540 a week

Daniela DeMarco at Fraser Yachts



Length | 138 feet

Guests | Eight

Price | From about $96,055 a week

Craig Cohen at Burgess Yachts

(212) 223-0410


Length | 188 feet, 7 inches

Guests | Eight

Price | From$266,000 a week

Craig Cohen at Burgess Yachts

(212) 223-0410

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