Is the Port Douglas River Cruise Worth Doing?

When you visit Port Douglas, trips out to the reef or into the Daintree Rainforest are front of mind. But if you want a fun and relaxing activity you can do in the heart of Port Douglas, have a look at the Port Douglas River Cruise aboard the Lady Douglas.

Not only will you learn how the town was transformed into the popular tourist location it is today, the river cruise is also a great chance to spot a crocodile and other wildlife.

Disclosure: Please Note That Some Links In This Post May Be Affiliate Links, And At No Additional Cost To You, We Earn A Small Commission If You Make A Purchase. Commissions Go Toward Maintaining The Curious Campers Website.


Port Douglas Tours

Book your Port Douglas Activities & Tours with Viator or Get Your Guide


Stay in Port Douglas

Find the best Port Douglas Accommodation deals with


Port Douglas Car Hire

Compare the best Car Hire deals with or a car or camper with Jucy

Port Douglas Marina

Where does the Port Douglas River Cruise leave from?

One of the many nice things about this cruise is that it departs from the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina in Port Douglas from berth C13. Not sure where Berth C13 is? It doesn’t really matter. The Lady Douglas might be moored in the superyacht marina – but a superyacht she ain’t!

Affectionately described on our tour as the slowest boat in Port Douglas, this lovely old river boat is hard to miss. It’s wooden cabin and paddlewheel standout amongst the brilliant white, multilevel superyachts and giant Quicksilver Reef tour boats.

It’s a convenient spot to leave from if you are having a relaxing meal or drink at Lure Restaurant or Hemmingway’s Brewery, you can walk to the Lady Douglas in just a couple of minutes from your spot on the marina.

What are the Lady Douglas Cruises times?

The Port Douglas River Cruise goes for 90 minutes and there are four cruises a day. You can choose from a morning, midday, afternoon or sunset cruise. We went on the sunset cruise, and it was a great way to relax at the end of the day, see the sun dip below the Dagmar Ranges and there were lots of birds about.

For the morning, midday and afternoon cruises there are adult, child and family tickets available however on the sunset cruise all tickets are the at the adult price.

Lady Douglas River Cruise

Where does the Port Douglas River Cruise go?

The Port Douglas River Cruise takes you on a gentle ride up Dickson Inlet, up Packers Creek then on the way back you go out to the inlet entrance. The water is generally glassy smooth so sea sickness should not be a problem, you really don’t go near the open water.

Dickson Inlet

7 best things about the Port Douglas River Cruise

There is a reason this locally owned and run cruise has won a bunch of tourism awards. It might not be what adrenaline junkies are looking for but there is still a lot to love about this relaxing river cruise. We decided to take a ride on the Lady Douglas at the last minute and it ended up being one of our favourite activities in Port Douglas. Here are a few things which when added up, made the river cruise so much fun.

Complimentary Drinks & Nibbles

Sure, it is just a small thing, but once you are onboard you get a free drink – which includes alcohol. And after a busy day on the reef or exploring the Daintree, as you take in the views of the marina, what’s nicer than someone handing you a free drink to help you settle in for the cruise? Later in the cruise you will also get a delicious box of snacks to keep you going.

It’s locally owned and run

There is something nice about going on a tour and hearing information about the area from a local. That’s not a knock on the big operators that have their teams of international staff running their reef trips, but when you get a local on the mic’, it can really add to the experience and make you feel like you are getting a behind the scenes insight into the personalities and history of the town.

Port Douglas Yacht Club

What do you see on the Port Douglas River Cruise?

Once you are settled in, complimentary beverage in hand, the cruise winds its way up Dickson Inlet and what feels like the watery backblocks of Port Douglas. You make your way past the Port Douglas Yacht Club, boat moorings, and into the mangroves where you catch a glimpse of the Mirage Country Club.

On the way back you cruise to the inlet entrance where you get a view from the water of the iconic Tin Shed, Rex Smeal Park, the Port Douglas Sugar Wharf, and St Mary’s by the Sea Church. From start to finish there is great commentary of everything you can see from the river.

Port Douglas River Cruise Sunset

Sunset over the Rainforest

If you go on the sunset cruise you will get to see just that. Of course, how spectacular it is will depend on the amount of cloud cover which, for us, was enough to stop a colourful display from appearing over the Dagmar Range. Even so, seeing the sun slip behind the billowing clouds and the last light fade over the estuary was still a peaceful sight.

Port douglas River Cruise Crocodile

Saltwater Crocodile Spotting

Especially during the dry season, May to November, you are a good chance of spotting a salt water crocodile. It is one thing seeing them in a wildlife park but sighting them in the wild is something else. The captain and crew know the crocs favourite haunts so they are experts at getting you close to these amazing animals. They have plenty of good croc stories too!

Our cruise was in April, but we still spotted an enormous crocodile on the mudflats between the mangroves. It was a fantastic sight and a real wildlife highlight of the cruise.

Dickson Inlet Mangroves

Get a close up look at the Dickson Inlet Mangroves

When you are a mangrove swamp, it’s hard competing for attention when you are surrounded by coral reefs and rainforests, but the Port Douglas River Cruise is a great chance to take a minute to appreciate this amazing environment. The estuary is home to several different Mangrove species which are a haven for fish and birds. In fact, bird spotting is another nature treat on the cruise. We spotted mangrove herons and an osprey eagle as we cruised along.

Port douglas River Cruise Crocodile

Is the Port Douglas River Cruise family friendly?

Yes, the Port Douglas River Cruise is a great family activity. Keep in mind there are family tickets on the morning lunch and afternoon cruises which make it a cheaper activity than it would be at sunset. But the 90 minute length, calm waters, croc and bird sightings all went down well with the kids on our cruise. You are in the open air too so, together with the character of the boat, it is a really fun experience.

Dickson Inlet Sunset

Bottom Line – Is the Port Douglas River Cruise Worth doing?

Cruising along a mangrove-lined estuary might not have been on your to do list when you organised your stay in Port Douglas, but it is worth doing. The charm of the old river boat, the commentary, wildlife spotting and views of Port Douglas from onboard the Lady Douglas are all fantastic. We loved the atmosphere of the sunset cruise but any of the cruises will show you a whole different side to this fascinating town.

If you enjoyed this story you might also like:

Best Port Douglas Beaches Cairns to Port Douglas Road Trip | Queensland Waterfalls

Liked it? Pin it for Later…

Port Douglas River Cruise
Port Douglas River Cruise
Port Douglas River Cruise
Port Douglas River Cruise
Things to do in Australia

Join our mailing list and receive our Free Top 500 things to do in Australia. If you love the Australian Outdoors download this list and keep it handy when you are planning a weekend away or a road trip around Australia.

Recent Posts

Leave a comment