2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
For many, a cruise means a huge ship, large crowd and the related stuffs therein. Then there is the other type of cruise: a small boat with a small number of guests, friendly staff and meticulous personal attention. The Coral Discoverer ... Read More
For many, a cruise means a huge ship, large crowd and the related stuffs therein. Then there is the other type of cruise: a small boat with a small number of guests, friendly staff and meticulous personal attention. The Coral Discoverer turned out to be such a boutique. My wife and I joined the South China Sea run from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, covering the long stretch of Vietnamese seashore, 22 January through 3 March 2017. The meticulous planning and attention to detail were obvious from the moment we gathered at the Saigon Opera House, Ho Chi Minh City. We handed over our baggage and boarded the coach to the ship docked near the city centre. The small crowd facilitated quick clearance of immigration formalities. We attended the Captain’s welcome reception that evening in the Explorer Bar. At the top deck, with drink in hand, and the spectacular panoramic view of the nighttime Ho Chi Minh City all around, the experience was enchanting. Then we moved to the spacious dining hall at the lower level. The majority of the gusts seemed to know each other. It turned out that they had shared past cruises in the Coral Discoverer itself or in one of the two other ships of the Coral Expeditions. The number of returning guests was impressive and was a testimony to the quality of the cruises. The sumptuous dinner was informal, enlivened with friendly discussions, and lingered on about three hours into the night. This set the pattern for every subsequent evening: drinks at one of the bars, then a leisurely buffet with affable banter. Food and wine were excellent and plentiful. In the bar, the selection of spirits was superb; the cocktails were tasty. We enjoyed a beautifully appointed Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom. The toilet is necessarily small, but properly planned, exquisitely appointed and well stocked with toiletries. Lazing on the balcony, casually taking the view, when the boat sailed, anchored or docked was an exhilarating experience. The ship is spotlessly clean, both public areas and private quarters. For a ship of this size, the facilities are remarkably lavish: three bars, a lounge cum presentation room, an exercise area, a sun deck and even a small library. Moving around was not difficult even for the elderly. Vietnam has a rich and troubled history. The cruise arrangement did justice to that heritage. Every day we docked or anchored near an interesting seaside town or village. The day started with a lavish Continental and hot breakfast in the ship. The Discoverer has a unique boat for transporting guests to the seashore, when anchored away from the coast. The Xplorer is securely docked to the ship at the back. The guests could just walk into this boat from the main deck. Then it goes down smoothly as an elevator cab to the water and glides to the shore. The boat rides were unique opportunities to enjoy scenic beauty and to see the seaside life. On land, we travelled in comfortable coaches, savouring scenic beauty and wowing at the rich historic legacy. Prominent among them were the cable-car ride up the Lin-son Truong Pagoda and the climb on foot to the huge Reclining Buddha statue. A visit to Vinh Moc Tunnel and the Benh Vien Hospital Cave of the Viet Cong rekindles the poignant history of the nineteen sixties. The Hue Citadel, Ha Long Bay, Sung Sot cave, Titop Beach and the steep climb to the top of the hill, Lan Ha Bay and the Cat Ba National Park were among the attractions we visited. When the plans demanded lunch or dinner on shore, impeccable arrangements waited for us. The tour team meticulously arranged every detail and took care of the entry fee for the attractions, eliminating any delay. An expert tour guide was travelling with us. Also included in the team was an expert on Vietnam. He made audiovisual presentations on history, social issues and life in general in Vietnam. Rough weather disturbed the cruise arrangement one day. Nevertheless, an equally interesting fallback plan was in place seamlessly. Another unique feature was the open bridge policy. The bridge of a ship, as the cockpit of a commercial aircraft, is a sensitive area. However, Coral Expeditions has an open-bridge policy in their ships. We enjoyed the experience of watching the captain navigating the ship, sitting on a nearby comfortable sofa. The dedicated team, at every level, is probably the greatest asset of this ship. Informal, pleasant and friendly, they were at the spot, at the time when a guest needed help. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
Don't be deceived by the pristine white image of the Coral Discoverer as seen on their web site, likewise the Coral Xplorer. This ship is showing it's age - due for a much needed refit in the near future I believe. The ... Read More
Don't be deceived by the pristine white image of the Coral Discoverer as seen on their web site, likewise the Coral Xplorer. This ship is showing it's age - due for a much needed refit in the near future I believe. The present grey/white external livery does nothing to make you feel a buzz of pride when you first board her. Rust patches appear all over and the metal work is far from shiny. The sun deck is unusable in the tropics as there is no shade to go with the 9 or so old sun beds and 15 plastic chairs & tables. The wonderful standard of the seafood buffet presented on the first night was not maintained and after 3 weeks cruising many items had disappeared from the rations. The laundry next to useless and the bed linen only changed once a week. On the plus side - if the Coral Discoverer happens to be going where and when you want to go then she is not unusable. The young crew (understaffed) worked tirelessly to please, the cabins are acceptable, the food school dinners and the hot water plentiful. Be warned that should you cross the equator our Captain thought it a good laugh to pay homage to King Neptune by ladling sloppy fish soup over the heads of the passengers. An amazing exhibit of power over the embarrassed made all the more astonishing by the fact that most of the guests accepted it! We visited Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian part of the island, up to the equator for a total eclipse of the sun which they got spot on, then back down through the Spice Islands to Darwin. Ten out of ten for the itinerary but sadly not matched by the boat though this was an expensive expedition. If you risk it - B deck is less expensive and better than A deck. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
We have just finished the trip of a lifetime. We knew what to expect by the information provided beforehand, and our expectations exceeded by an un-describable experience. The crew, the Explorer Guides and the guests made the trip a ... Read More
We have just finished the trip of a lifetime. We knew what to expect by the information provided beforehand, and our expectations exceeded by an un-describable experience. The crew, the Explorer Guides and the guests made the trip a journey not to forget. The Master (Captain) let his crew with a sincere wish to please the passengers. Nothing was too hard for them to put into place. Tours of the vessel were available and the bridge was open for anytime visits. There was every opportunity to participate in all events provided on board and on the daily and sometimes bi-daily cruises in the zodiacs and the Explorer. Those providing the guided tours had a wealth of knowledge to pass on to those who participated in the ventures and nearly all did. It was a mark of how much the trip and ventures were enjoyed when on the last day prior to the departure for Darwin every passenger was up for early breakfasts and out on the water for a final tour of one of the gorges. i have to say again, put this on your bucket list - and do it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
My husband and I have just returned from a cruise on the Coral Discoverer from Broome to Darwin. It was much more than we could ever have expected. The ship was clean, the suites cleaned daily, laundry facilities excellent. The food on ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from a cruise on the Coral Discoverer from Broome to Darwin. It was much more than we could ever have expected. The ship was clean, the suites cleaned daily, laundry facilities excellent. The food on board was plentiful and beautiful. Thank you Chef Grant. The young staff on duty were always cheerful, helpful and very professional. Expedition Leader Steve, Lecturers Tom and Maureen were a wealth of knowledge, gave very interesting and informative lectures and always happy to answer questions. The Explorer is a terrific way to get off the "Mother Ship" and see different sites and the Zodiacs are a lot of fun. Both of these vessels were used daily to transport passengers to different activities. There are a variety of activities organised daily as well so you always have a choice. We spotted whales, crocodiles, sea snakes, sharks, many different species of birds, possums etc. The ride through the Horizontal Falls on the Zodiac was fantastic as was the helicopter flight over Mitchell Falls The open bridge policy was really appreciated as you have a birdseye view of what's around you. Captain Garry is such an integral part of the journey as he is such a nice, accommodating person. Thank you Garry for all the funny conversations and whale chasing!! A big thank you also to Purser Amy for organising some tables to be put together so the friends we made on the cruise were able to take part in my birthday celebrations. The cake made by Chef Grant was appreciated Anyone thinking of doing this cruise, we could not recommend it any higher! It will stay in our memories for the rest of our lives and we are now considering doing another cruise with the Coral Discoverer. Definitely value for money. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This was a very expensive trip, and the experience on the Oceanic Discoverer was truly awful. Boarded in Broome and disembarked in Darwin for Australia Kimberly cruise. My cabin, C07, was noisy because of the way the water drainage in ... Read More
This was a very expensive trip, and the experience on the Oceanic Discoverer was truly awful. Boarded in Broome and disembarked in Darwin for Australia Kimberly cruise. My cabin, C07, was noisy because of the way the water drainage in the ship is configured (this is confirmed by the ship engineer, Frank). Gray water collects, about 7 liters, then releases, through sections in the wall, every "x" number of cabins. A truly awful experience, and I had to wear earplugs to sleep. The staff is very small, about 20-25 for a passenger list of 65+. They work very hard, but it doesn't make for a good passenger experience. Even the largest commercial cruise line (for example, Carnival) has a better staff to passenger ratio. First they are cleaning your cabin, then trying to serve food. Poor training, especially when I see the staff putting a glass in the ice bin to get the ice. A scoop should be used in case the glass breaks. The poor guy in the kitchen is overwhelmed, dinner service is very slow and the food is rarely hot. Breakfast and lunch were buffets. The food was cooked to death sometimes (gray beef - totally unrecognizable, only the menu gave a clue), other items were raw - fish. Some items, lamb, were inedible, they were so tough. The menu is limited and you see the same items often on a 10 day cruise. Ice tea and water were left on the bars for us to have at our pleasure. Problem was the pitchers were uncovered and the liquids were warm. Laminated dinner menus made their appearance at lunch time, sticking up in the middle of the tables. You had to pre-order your dinner. Breakfast eggs, etc were always cold. The 'tinnie' the Explorer is a horrible way to travel. It felt like being on a boat ride from the old folks home. Couples split up to grab all the window seats. If you didn't have a window seat you couldn't see, or take a picture. As a single and wanting a window seat, I had to get out on deck early and be at the head of the line. The staff hated that. We had an engine malfunction and the tool kit on board was inadequate. They had to send our security zodiac back to the mother ship for more tools. We were fortunate in that one of our passengers was an experience boatman, and made a fix out of 'chewing gum and spit'. There were only 2 zodiacs and were rarely used. The microphone system on the Explore rarely worked, so not only did you need a window seat, but you needed a front seat! Raising and lowering the Explorer felt like a 'klugy' experience at best. The lounge was used for presentations. No one ever did figure out the audio/video workings in that room. Truly exasperating. I was never so glad for a trip to end. It was a really bad experience. I've traveled a lot (over 90 countries by land, sea and air) and this trip rates as one of the worst I have ever had. Read Less
Coral Discoverer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 1.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.6
Family 1.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.5 4.8
Enrichment 3.5 4.6
Service 5.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.5

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