Exploring Australia's East Coast Islands



Allow yourself to fall under the spell of this itinerary in Australia that has been specially designed for travellers looking for unspoiled islands and turquoise lagoons. You will set sail aboard Le Lapérouse for an 10-day expedition cruise with PONANT to discover the treasures of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Starting in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, set sail towards Willis Islets in the Coral Sea Territories featuring not less than 30 separate reefs along with the spectacular Coral Sea Marine Park, as well as Willis Island where a monitoring station was established in 1921 to provide cylclone early warnings services to Queensland.

Lying some 50 km to the north-east of the Whitsunday Islands, you will reach Hardy Reef, which boasts the unique marine biodiversity of the area. 

You will continue your exploration of the Australian coast with the discovery of Percy Island, whose shallow waters beckon you in for a dip, and Lady Musgrave Island, which is ideal for snorkelling. Both are located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, a gigantic ecosystem of coral reefs.

Your next call will be the Hawkesbury River region in New South Wales, famous for its colourful cliffs and historic townships, and join your expedition team to explore the area in our fleet of Zodiac®.

The end of your cruise will be marked by a disembarkation in the irresistible city of Sydney.

Package Inclusions

  • 9 night luxury cruise on board Ponant's Le Laperouse from Cairns to Sydney
  • All meals while on board the ship (from dinner on the day of embarkation to breakfast on the day of disembarkation)
  • Captain`s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
  • Open Bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands)
  • Evening entertainment and events
  • Room service 24h (special selection)
  • Highly qualified bilingual French/English expedition team
  • Zodiac excursions
  • Park entry fees into protected areas (where applicable)
  • Port taxes

PLUS!  Ultimate Cruising guests also receive:

  • 1 night accommodation pre-cruise
  • $500 air credit per booking
  • Chauffeur driven luxury car transfers from your home to the airport and return (within 35km).


Cruise Highlights

Washed by the Coral Sea, the harbour town of Cairns is located on Australia's north-east coast. The seafront esplanade is a popular place for locals and visitors to walk, swim and picnic under the shade of swaying palm trees. The hills surrounding Cairns form the gateway to the Queensland Rainforests, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site for their fauna and flora from the Gondwana era.

Willis IslandThe Coral Sea Islands Territory is an territory of Australia extending east and south from the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, with 51 islets and cay along with 30 separate reefs and atolls, Willis Island being the only permanently inhabited island. The Willis Island weather monitoring station was established in 1921 to provide a cyclone early warning service for Queensland, and four weather observers usually live on the island. The recently established Coral Sea Marine Park is one of the world’s largest marine parks, and protects 16 different seafloor, 15,000 km² of reef systems an abundance of corals, reef fishes, sea stars, clams and sea cucumbers. Whilst landings are prohibited. If time and weather permit, you will have the opportunity to explore the Willis Islets from our fleet of Zodiac®.

Hardy Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres along Australia’s tropical East Coast. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. Hardy Reef is home to the innovatively designed Reefworld pontoon, ideally situated in shallower waters with protection from the surrounding sea conditions. You will be transferred by Zodiac® to the pontoon which provides easy access to the aquatic realm either by semi-submersible, underwater viewing chamber, snorkelling or diving. There is also undercover seating and tables, sun decks, freshwater showers and change rooms.

Percy Island
The explorer Matthew Flinders described the cove at West Bay on Middle Percy Island as "one of the prettiest little places imaginable". The largest of the three islands in the group, Middle Percy is a favourite stop for cruising yachtsmen en-route between the tropical north and southern seas. An A-frame hut on the beach at West Bay is decorated with memorabilia and souvenirs from these yachts. After a short Zodiac® ride to the beach at West Bay, you can relax on this picture postcard beach or take a refreshing swim in the clear waters. For the more energetic, there are walking trails where you may catch a glimpse of some of the native and introduced wildlife.

Lady Musgrave Island
Lady Musgrave is an uninhabited 14 hectares coral cay on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. This island is a nesting place for green turtles and loggerhead turtles. It also attracts large numbers of birds including Wedge-tailed shearwaters (Mutton Birds) which nest in burrows in the ground. Small white tip reef sharks and leopard sharks can be seen in the shallows around the island, while the coral lagoon, with its multitude of fish and coral species, is perfect for snorkelling.

Hawkesbury River
The tranquil Hawkesbury River has its origin at the confluence of the Nepean and Grose Rivers, flowing past honeycomb-coloured cliffs, historic townships and riverside hamlets for approximately 120 kilometres to its mouth at Broken Bay. The Bay comprises three arms, the estuary of the Hawkesbury River in the west, Pittwater to the south, and Brisbane Water to the north. Taking in over100km of coastline along the southern edge of Broken Bay Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a classic mix of sandstone, bushland and water vistas. You will have the opportunity to view the coastline and bays from our fleet of Zodiac®.

Nestled around one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, Sydney is both trendy and classic, urbane yet laid-back. Composed of ocean and light, of sailors and businessmen, this city alone inspires many travellers to visit the “Land Down Under”. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the elegant silhouettes of the Blue Mountains, it encapsulates the Australian way of life: surfing beaches, quiet suburbs, skyscrapers, Victorian cottages and tropical gardens. Sydney is filled with history and harmoniously blends old world charm and ultra-modern architecture, with its sail-shaped Opera House which sits alongside the historic district of The Rocks as the Harbour Bridge stretches across the bay. 

Departure Dates & Pricing

Cruise departs Cairns 07 Dec 2022.

Prices start at AU$7,870 per person share twin, including Ponant Bonus.  Prices are subject to change at any time - please ask for best available pricing at time of booking.

Cruise Category
  • Luxury Expedition
  • 24 Hr Room Service
  • All meals
  • Boutique &/or Salon
  • Drinks All Day
  • Pool &/or Spa
  • Shore Excursions
Itinerary Map Image

Trip itinerary

Willis Island, Coral Sea
At Sea
Hardy Reef,Queensland, Australia
Percy Island
Lady Musgrave Island, Queensland, Australia
At Sea
Hawkesbury River, Australia
Sydney, Australia

Technical Details

  • Built Date 2018
  • Crew TBA
  • Capacity 184

Cruise Category

  • Luxury Expeditions

Le Laperouse

Featuring innovative and environmentally-friendly equipment, elegantly designed staterooms, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside, Le Lapérouse embodies the unique atmosphere that is the cruise line’s hallmark: a subtle blend of refinement, intimacy and comfort.  Le Laperouse is the first ship to offer the underwater passenger lounge, allowing guests to see and hear the undersea world. Images Courtesy Ponant.