Coral Expeditions has introduced a Tasmania cruise from Hobart -- a new seven-night itinerary to beautiful national parks and out-of-the-way destinations. The small ship, Coral Expeditions I, calls at remote and untouched areas in the southeast and southwest points of the island, but weather plays a big part in any visit to the island state, so itineraries can change overnight if conditions are not right. However, passengers will most likely visit Bruny Island, the magnificent Freycinet Peninsula, historic Maria Island, and enjoy a private guided tour of Port Arthur. There are also excursions to a cheesemaker, plenty of bushwalks, and kayaking on calm waterways. Here are some highlights of a Coral Expeditions Tasmania cruise.
--By Caroline Gladstone, Cruise Critic contributor
Visiting the Grandvewe sheep farm and cheesery at Woodbridge gives passengers an opportunity to taste sheep-milk cheese and products made from sheep-milk whey. Who would have thought you could make vodka, gin and liqueur from milk? During the visit you meet the sheep, learn about the milking process and taste a range of cheeses. The folks at Grandvewe are a fun crew and really know how to milk a good pun.
After Coral Expeditions I anchors in Recherche Bay, passengers are transported ashore to the beautiful beach at Cockle Creek. This tiny settlement, with a few houses and a sculpture of a southern right whale, is the farthest point south one can drive in Australia. By road it's 148 kilometres from Hobart.
Passengers arrive on a beach at South Bruny Island after spending the night in the quiet waters of Adventure Bay. From there keen walkers head off on a three-hour return hike to the top of Fluted Cape. The views are magnificent.
The waters of Tasmania abound with wildlife including seals, dolphins and whales. On the second cruise of the season passengers spotted all three. The best viewing area is usually the bow.
Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Coral Expeditions passengers can either take a hike to the lookout for this glorious view, or stay on the ship and be ferried right onto the beach by the Explorer landing craft.
Coral Expeditions I launches its kayaks in calm waters. Here passengers enjoy a paddle in a bay near Port Davey in the remote southwest corner of the state.
Maria Island is a favourite port of call on the Tasmanian itinerary. It's easy to explore by foot and the magnificent Fossil Cliffs, which dwarf the little ship, are a highlight. The ship's walking tour also explores the island's convict past and visits the oldest building on the island, the Commissariat Store built in 1825.
Tasmania has many impressive geological wonders. Passengers have the chance to stroll over the Tessellated Pavement on the Tasman Peninsula, near Eaglehawk Neck. Coral Expeditions I sits at anchor in Pirates Bay.
A highlight of any Tasmania cruise is a visit to Port Arthur, one of the most intact convict sites in Australia. Passengers are taken on a private behind-the-scenes tour of some of the 30 buildings, included the roofless church and the penitentiary. Drinks and canapes are later served on the veranda of the former magistrate's house.
It's always sad when a cruise comes to an end, especially one where the crew are so friendly and welcoming. On the last morning Captain Nathan Clark (far left) and his staff line up on the wharf at Hobart. Passengers can shake their hands and thank them for a safe and enjoyable trip.