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Cyclone Jasper flooding in Tropical North Queensland, January 2024 (Photo: David White/Solar Whisper)

Live From Majestic Princess: Cruising Queensland Post-Cyclones

Cyclone Jasper flooding in Tropical North Queensland, January 2024 (Photo: David White/Solar Whisper)
Contributor
Kristie Kellahan

Published
Feb 19, 2024

Read time
4 min read

“Queensland! Why are you cruising to Queensland? Isn’t there massive damage up there from cyclones and floods?”

This is my friend’s reaction when I tell her we’re heading north on Princess CruisesMajestic Princess, cruising from Sydney to Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and Brisbane.

We’re hitting the Sunshine State just weeks after ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper caused record floods in Far North Queensland, dumping more than two metres of rain on the region in a week, destroying 18 homes and causing widespread destruction. To make matters worse, another severe cyclone, Kirrily, makes landfall as a Category 3, five days before our embarkation.

Here's our first-hand view of what it’s like visiting Tropical North Queensland right now.

Queensland is Open, With Some Exceptions

(Photo: David White/Solar Whisper)

My friend isn’t the only one under the impression that Queensland has been decimated. As some cruises to the region were cancelled and ports of call modified, many holidaymakers backed out of future bookings, leading to an estimated $125 million in devastating losses to the local tourism industry.

I’m happy to report the good news from the front lines: Queensland is open and it’s a great time to land a bargain fare.

Pretty much everything south of the Daintree River is back up and running, with hundreds of tourism operations in Port Douglas, Palm Cove, Cairns and Mission Beach operating as normal. Many attractions on the Daintree, including Solar Whisper crocodile cruises, are now back on track after massive flooding in the region.

There is some infrastructure damage that may affect planned activities in port, but local authorities and operators are working quickly to get things fixed.

What’s Open And What’s Closed in TNQ?

Cyclone Jasper flooding in Tropical North Queensland, January 2024 (Photo: David White/Solar Whisper)

Ninety-eight per cent of businesses in Cairns and Palm Cove have reopened.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, a popular shore excursion from Cairns, had major track damage at 61 sites along the railway line and was shut down when we were in port. Normal operations are expected to resume in March.

The challenges are north of the Daintree River in popular nature areas around the world’s oldest rainforest. Travellers can still enter this region if they are on a booked tour. This is to allow maintenance crews to continue repairing the road infrastructure.

Closed for now: Ocean Safari (reopening 4 March), Treetops Adventure at Cape Tribulation (reopening late March), Safari Lodge, Turtle Rock Cafe, Cape Tribulation Horse Rides and Thornton’s Restaurant.

There's Plenty to Do in the Ports We Visit

Aerial view of Airlie Beach (Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland)

We’re spoiled for choice of activities in each of the ports. In Airlie Beach, we tour around town in a tuk tuk pedaled by Steve from Just Tuk’n Around and then enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch at Coral Sea Resort.

CAIRNS Skyrail Rainforest Cableway (Photo: Tourism & Events Queensland)

From Yorkeys Knob (the tender port for Cairns), we head to Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The scenic ride gives a bird’s-eye view of the lush rainforest and Barron Falls, absolutely gushing with record water levels.

A wander along Port Douglas’s main drag, Macrossan Street, is an invitation to shop for local souvenirs. At the marina we hop aboard the Lady Douglas scenic river cruise for some laidback crocodile hunting. We don’t spot any crocs, but we’re entertained by the running commentary.

BRISBANE Roaring Twenties vintage car ride (Photo: Tourism & Events Queensland)

In Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, I see the city in a new light from the back seat of Clyde, a 1937 Dodge convertible. Roaring Twenties’ Art Deco tour, conducted by Moe, a vintage enthusiast, is an informative look at some of the city’s underrated architecture gems.

The Princess Premier Package Is Worth Splashing Out For

Harmony Specialty Restaurant on Majestic Princess (Photo: Katherine Alex Beaven)

On the ship, the good times are rolling and the service is exceptional. The new Princess Plus package ($65 per day, per guest) and Princess Premier package ($95 per day, per guest), introduced in August 2023, include a host of benefits and nice-to-have amenities. On the Princess Premier package, we’re enjoying WiFi on four devices, an inclusive beverage package (up to $30 per drink), unlimited juice bar, premium desserts, fitness classes, casual dining meals, room service delivery and OceanNow food and beverage delivery.

Our two included specialty dining meals - upscale Chinese fare at Harmony Restaurant and classic steakhouse dishes at The Crown Grill - are delicious.

The Technology on Majestic Princess is Impressive

OceanMedallion OceanReady via Carnival Corporation

I'm impressed with the techie features and benefits of the Medallion Class system, unlike anything I’ve seen on other ships and cruise lines. My Medallion is a round, wearable device (about the size of a 50-cent coin), that replaces a traditional cruise ID card. Linked to the ship’s app on my phone, I’m able to see where my shipmate is at all times, gain hands-free entry to the cabin, and order drinks to be brought to me wherever I am – even when I don’t know exactly where I am. I clip it to my collar on embarkation day and don’t look back.

Updated February 19, 2024
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