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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We had long desired to travel to PNG but had a few trepidations. This cruise out of Madang offered an opportunity to engage with traditional village cultures on one of the great rivers of the world. It exceeded all ... Read More
We had long desired to travel to PNG but had a few trepidations. This cruise out of Madang offered an opportunity to engage with traditional village cultures on one of the great rivers of the world. It exceeded all expectations. We stayed at the highly recommended Madang Resort Hotel/Kalibobo Village complex and departed from its private wharf for an overnight voyage west along the coast to the mouth of the Sepik. Twelve varied and fascinating villages were visited on our 300kms voyage upriver and each entranced us with welcoming sing-sings with the villagers performing wonderful and, at times, mesmerising dances. Many billum bags and carvings were for sale at very low prices. There were opportunities to engage with the villagers and many spoke English as it is taught in the schools. School visits, sago production, local cooking, facepainting, garamut drums and sacred flutes enhanced the trip. On board ship to further explain local customs were an anthropologist, a much-revered ex-politician and a Sepik man who also eased our visits to the villages. Our guides and crew were all experienced and highly professional. Our cabin was spacious & very comfortable with its own en-suite. An excellent chef carefully prepared food which was varied, plentiful and tasty. Boarding the tender for our numerous shore visits was simple and safe. The villagers are very welcoming & rich in traditions and culture but cash poor. Take gifts of cotton clothing, balls (tennis, soccer volleyballs), school resources (pencils, exercise books, picture books). Engage with the locals and enjoy a safe, comfortable and fascinating experience which will amaze and delight long after you return home. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This cruise was fantastic! It took my wife and I back to how travel used to be, and is meant to be! The things that make this trip exceptional are the staff, destination, and fellow cruisers. To give you an idea of a typical day on the ... Read More
This cruise was fantastic! It took my wife and I back to how travel used to be, and is meant to be! The things that make this trip exceptional are the staff, destination, and fellow cruisers. To give you an idea of a typical day on the boat, breakfast for us was at 0700. My wife and I were generally 10 minutes late, but the bounty from the kitchen would still be there when we got down and there were always seats at a table with other guests ready to talk about anything but work. After breakfast we generally snorkeled on the reef for an hour or two. Not as many people did this as I was expecting, I think because the crowd trended older. That said, the seniors who snorkeled with us loved it and would gush about it at meals! The others generally rode the glass bottom boat with the top notch marine biologist. Her enthusiasm was more than enough to get anyone genuinely curious. Now it was time for morning tea. Being Americans, we don't do this. However, being on vacation got us ready for new experiences, this being a welcome one. Like a Hobbit from the Shire, we settled right in to our "Second Breakfast". By the end of the trip, we were sitting with the rest of our cruise companions companions for brunch talking about what we saw and where the best place to find ______ fish was while sipping coffee and munching on pastries. Post morning tea we would hop back into the water or take a nap in our room, then get ready for lunch! Lunch was top notch, and extremely welcome after the time we spent in the water. Some days the biologist put a program on after lunch, and some days we snorkeled or scuba dived. I should add, the SCUBA diving on this boat was top notch! James, the good hearted, but technically savvy instructor generally only had 2-3 pupils at a time, and had plenty of time to make us comfortable with the situation. While I was a little bit more than slightly apprehensive about the whole thing, every time I would show him my air gauge or point at something to make me nervous he would put his hands together and strike a pose like a genie floating in water as if to say "namaste". In diving we also got a chance to see even more sea life than we did snorkeling...On our trip in August we saw giant (GIANT!!!) clams, octopus, cuttle fish, an eel, and more beautiful fish than you can shake a fist at! Now it is time for a nap before pre-dinner drinks. Some days we would motor to our next anchorage in this window, and the captain would call out whale sitings. Some days we would gently bob on the very slight swell. Finally we get to the best part of the day! Predinner drinks with our traveling companions and dinner itself! The timing worked out in august that we would head up to the top deck for drinks and watch the sun set before heading back down to the dining room for our meal. To be clear, the meals were incredible, with us usually leaving slightly uncomfortably full in the best possible way. Like breakfast, at dinner we would sit with fellow travelers at the table and make new friends while enjoying great food. Everyone we sat with commented on how flat out incredible the food the chef and his staff put out, and that it was even more amazing that they put it out with only 3 people in the kitchen! If you decide to go on this cruise, first and foremost you will have a completely unique once in a lifetime experience. You will also make friends with your fellow travelers such that you'll end up with a rolodex of email addresses of people to visit when you go to _____ country. You will also want to do it again, as soon as possible. It is how I imagine travel from the golden age of travel. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We chose this cruise to experience snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef on a live-aboard. Embarkation on April 1st went smoothly, although there was a slight wait in getting onboard, during which we were advised to go and have ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef on a live-aboard. Embarkation on April 1st went smoothly, although there was a slight wait in getting onboard, during which we were advised to go and have breakfast at a coffeshop within walking distance. Once we'd all boarded - about 30 of us on a ship with a capacity of 44 pax - there was a presentation in the lounge on the 3-day cruise ahead and we were assigned our cabins. This is where our problems began, which I will describe in more detail below. The high points of the cruise were the friendly crew and the outstanding food. The meals were truly wonderful, with plenty of fresh fish, vegetables and fruit, prepared with imagination and taste. Windy weather at this time of year meant we couldn't quite follow the planned itinerary and the water was not as clear as one might hope, but that was no one's fault. Presentations and videos on the Great Barrier Reef, which were held in the comfortable ship lounge, were informative and interesting. We had plenty of time in the water, which is what we were most interested in; shore excursions were pleasant, including one free sunset cocktail and one where drinks had to be paid... a bit unexpected, so not many of us had brought any cash onshore with us. Now to the one big problem we encountered, which was compounded by very poor customer service and has led to the poor rating of this cruise: the pricing and classificication of accommodations onboard. We had booked and paid for a 'cabin' for our son and his girlfriend, and for a 'stateroom' for my husband and me - a category that cost nearly $400 AUD more. When we arrived onboard, we found, to our surprise, that the 'cabin' and 'stateroom' were carbon copies: identical in every respect, with absolutely no difference in size or comfort. Both were on the Lower Deck - in fact, our higher-priced 'stateroom' was located right by the galley! The purser very kindly moved us to the Upper Deck, into another 'stateroom', once again IDENTICAL down to the last detail, to our son's cheaper cabin. After the cruise, when we took this matter up with Coral Expeditions , no one bothered to reply at first. By sending repeated emails, we had the answer that the considerable price difference between 'cabin' and 'stateroom' was due to the superior position of the 'stateroom' category. Really? Our initial 'stateroom on the Lower Deck by the galley hardly seemed a prime location. Our advice is NOT to spend extra money booking a 'stateroom', and stay with the 'cabin' category. On a boat which houses just over 40 people, location hardly matters and besides, you hardly spend anytime in your room except to dress and sleep. The crew gave us to understand that the company is undergoing restructuring and the family who founded Coral Expeditions and built its good reputation is no longer at the helm. That may explain but does not excuse the poor customer service Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
The company should advertise that it is not a cruise for everyone. In fact it is not a 'cruise'. There are no casinos or piano players on board. There is no pool either. The Aussie crew are friendly but there is no room service. ... Read More
The company should advertise that it is not a cruise for everyone. In fact it is not a 'cruise'. There are no casinos or piano players on board. There is no pool either. The Aussie crew are friendly but there is no room service. Food is ok but this is not the Queen Mary. There is no luxury. I suggest the company advertise better. It is not a tour bus either. There were some locals who saw the cruise as a way to see some specific spot and were disappointed we didn't go there. I am glad the company did not stick to a rigid schedule as all know weather in Tasmania is not predictable. What it is - a well managed operation on a small ship with only 40 passengers taking you to places that left me and my husband awestruck. I will always remember standing on the bow with a nip in the air as we passed within a stone's throw of the incredible Cape Pillars. We saw seals at an island I can't remember. We went on all the walks. We are in our 60s and probably one of the youngest on board! The onboard Tasmania Parks ranger was a delight. There is some pitching and rolling but no worse than a Med cruise we took on a mega ship. The crew are friendly and work very hard. We refurned feeling healthy and invigorated. We are coming back next year! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This is the best trip I have taken this year. We are avid cruisers and have sailed once before with Coral in the Kimberley. We really enjoyed that but lowered our expectations of the Tasmania cruise as it was on their smaller ship. ... Read More
This is the best trip I have taken this year. We are avid cruisers and have sailed once before with Coral in the Kimberley. We really enjoyed that but lowered our expectations of the Tasmania cruise as it was on their smaller ship. However, it was truly refreshing. Tasmania is so beautiful. It feels remote and untouched. A small ship operated by an Australian company is a good way to do it. They have been around for 30 years. Some of the walks were strenuous and we sat one or two out. Scenery spectacular, we saw seals, dolphins, up close. Captain Nathan told us that we were the first passenger ship to enter Port Davey. We had a private tour of Port Arthur, though my second time there. Eerie place, sad history. Our past is tragic! Food was comforting, nothing fancy. Wine is not included. No organised entertainment, just talks and lectures. Read Less
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