Frequently named as one of the world's most livable cities, Melbourne has come to be known as Sydney's more refined sister. Its fine-dining scene, elegant architecture and warren of hip inner-city arcades and lane-ways make it a true gem of a holiday destination and an ideal departure point for your next cruise.
Some would say that Melbourne's love of imbibing and dining borders on obsessive – and it's a reputation that the locals wear with pride!
Whether it's haute cuisine or authentic ethnic fare; delicate pastries or robust pizza; lush wines or rich, earthy espresso: Melbourne has literally thousands of specialist restaurants, cafes and food stalls that lend weight to the city's claim as the culinary capital of Australia.
An influx of European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants in the past century has without a doubt helped to shape Melbourne's culinary landscape and today this influence can be seen in the number of small ethnic restaurants and cafes that are dotted throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs. Lygon street in the suburb of Carlton has the biggest selection of Italian restaurants and cafes of anywhere in Australia, while Abbotsford's Victoria street is known as “Little Saigon” due to it's huge Vietnamese community and authentic, family-run eateries. Melbourne's CBD is also home to a bustling Chinatown that delights the senses with everything from modest noodle bars to sumptuous, high-end sushi restaurants.
Melbourne's temperate summer weather means it has also readily embraced the Italian concept of dining “al fresco” and throughout the city you'll see people enjoying lunch or coffee in outdoor courtyards and sun-dappled lanes.
Just like its restaurant culture, Melbourne's entertainment offerings cater to all budgets and tastes. Nightlife is a huge here and the city's bar scene - which ranges from grand historic pubs to hip hole-in-the-wall bars - is world renowned.
Having nurtured (once little-known) bands like AC/DC, Crowded House and Wolfmother, Melbourne's independent music scene continues to thrive and every night of the week offers an opportunity to check out up-and-coming talent across the city's bars, clubs and various venues. Theater is also popular here and there are scores of musicals, plays and comedy shows held in venues ranging from giant historic halls to quirky, independent theaters.
The famous Crown Entertainment Complex sits regally on the banks of the Yarra River and presents an adult wonderland of cocktail bars, nightclubs, award-winning restaurants, luxurious accommodation and, of course, the glamorous Crown Casino. And, while we're on the subject of “having a flutter” how can we leave out the number one event on Melbourne's social calendar: the Melbourne Cup?
Melbourne and greater Victoria present a range of accommodation options to every budget; from five-star and boutique city hotels and apartments to motels, B&Bs, caravan parks and backpacker hostels. Depending on the package you choose, your cruise may include accommodation on the night prior to disembarkation but, if not, tourism websites such as http://www.visitmelbourne.com/ and http://www.melbourneinfocentre.com.au/ also offer helpful information on where to stay.
The main sea passenger terminal in Melbourne is the Station Pier, which is located in Port Melbourne and accommodates cruise ships up to 713 metres in length. Port Melbourne is located only 4km from the city center and offers a number of facilities, including visitor information services, tram services (including information, ticketing and a shuttle service for the short distance to the tram from the pier), public telephones and telephone cards, coach areas and taxi services.