When we visited Tasmania a couple of years back, we didn’t plan a lot of what we would do while we were there. We did an 8 day self drive Tasmania holiday, from Hobart to Launceston, taking in a few sights along the way. However there was one activity we did book in advance that I am so glad we did – a Tasman Island cruise.
There are certain places and experiences that stand out when travelling, and to be honest, we get a little blind to the things closer to home sometimes, so it came as a surprise that our Tasman Island cruise is still one of my favourite travel experiences so far.
TASMAN ISLAND WILDERNESS CRUISE
Our Tasman Island cruise was with Pennicott Wilderness Tours. It is just one of the tours they have on offer, although at the time of our cruise, the two main tours were the Tasman Island cruise we took and a Bruny Island one.
The cruise departs from Port Arthur. There is the option of a bus transit from Hobart, however we had our hire car, so we set off early in the morning to get to the cruise departure office in time.
Before the Cruise
When you arrive, you are given a special water proof suit to wear for the cruise. It looks a little like a movie-style orange prison issue jumpsuit. Stylish! They also encourage warm clothes as it gets pretty freezing out there, so they had a supply of spare beanies and gloves to ensure all the passengers will be warm.
Once everyone was suited up, they put on a brief instructional video and gave us a rundown of what to expect, how the boat functions and general safety information.
We then load onto a bus and head down to the waterfront where we boarded our boat. The boats are special made, designed to create an up close and personal wilderness experience in the rough waters, and have the ability to navigate through the rocky tunnels.
The passengers, us included, all loaded onto the boat and prepared for our cruise.
During Our Tasman Island Cruise
The cruise is around 3 hours long. During that time the crew provide a thorough commentary on the area, the natural environment and the experience. They are passionate about conservation and their enthusiasm throughout the cruise is infectious, adding to the amazing experience.
The cruise takes you around Tasman Island, where you can see the lighthouse in the distance and learn the history of the island and of the people who have lived there and manned the lighthouse. it also takes you between rocks and cliffs, and even into cave formations in the side of the cliffs. To get so close was such a great experience, and the scenery is stunning.
The cliffs are part of Cape Pillar and are highest vertical sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere. They are massive. You feel somewhat tiny beside them.
There is also the chance to see lots of birdlife and a big family of Australian fur seals along the rocks. Pretty stinky but very cool to see them all hanging about, doing their thing.
We were also lucky enough to see a huge pod of dolphins. There was even a couple of babies jumping alongside their mums. We had never seen so many dolphins in one place at the one time. It was pretty amazing, and of course they love surfing alongside the boat, being such social and playful animals.
Tasman Island is pretty much the southernmost part of Australia and the last land mass between Australia and Antarctica
Depending on the weather and how rough the water is, the route can be slightly different. On rougher days, they stick a little closer to Tasman island, but when the water is relatively calm (and by calm, don’t actually think i mean calm… it felt like we were white water rafting at times), they take you around the outer perimeter of the rocky formations.
Did we get seasick?
Here’s the funny part. I’m prone to seasickness anyway, and this cruise was very rough. I was also 4.5 months pregnant. I checked before booking if it was suitable and they advised it was. I still wasn’t expecting it to be so rough.
They offer natural Travel Calm ginger tablets to passengers before departing and they too are safe for pregnant women. Actually, they can be good for morning sickness… and if you have read any of our other Tasmanian holiday posts, you will know i suffered pretty bad during this trip with morning sickness.
Yet not on this cruise. Not even slightly ill. So the Travel Calm sea sick tablets are worth their weight in gold! A couple of passengers did get a little squeamish after a particularly rough section of the cruise though, so it’s still possible.
We have also now launched our own youTube channel, so you can see more of the cruise in this short clip (not the best video but shows you how close to the seals we got):
Is the cruise suitable for kids?
Children of all ages are welcome on the cruise and there were some older children during our cruise who seemed to enjoyed the experience just as much as the adults on board. One thing to be mindful of though is that if travelling with children on the Tasman Island cruise, the 3 hour time length may get a little much for younger kids.
I probably wouldn’t take a baby on the boat as it is pretty rough at times, and very young children may become bored during the slower parts of the cruise, however older kids will love it.
Tasman Island Cruises are run by Pennicott Wilderness Tours. They are Eco Tourism certified, and 100% carbon offset, to minimise the impact to the environment.
Cruises last for 3 hours, departing from the Tasman Island Cruises Booking Office, off Port Arthur Highway, Port Arthur.
Suitable for passengers of all ages, including pregnant women.
$125AU for adults, $75 for children, or $390 for a family (up to 3 kids). Prices current as of 10 October 2015.
- Dress in warm clothing including scarf, beanie and gloves
- If you are prone to sea sickness, consider taking the Travel Calm ginger tablets
- Book ahead to avoid missing out
- Give yourself at least 90 minutes travel time from Hobart if self-driving
- Make the time to visit Port Arthur Historic Site while in the area
- Be careful on the return drive if after dark – there is a lot of wildlife on the roads at night
Read more of our Tasmania travel posts here.
What is one of your unexpected stand out travel experiences so far?