15 Darwin Luxury Cruise Reviews

The crew were unfailingly friendly yet efficient. The organisation of embarkation, disembarkation and the multiple excursions was flawless, and supplemented by daily debriefing/briefing sessions which ensured passengers were well informed ... Read More
The crew were unfailingly friendly yet efficient. The organisation of embarkation, disembarkation and the multiple excursions was flawless, and supplemented by daily debriefing/briefing sessions which ensured passengers were well informed as to the requirements and expectations for each day's activities. Shore excursions were supervised by highly qualified, well-informed and enthusiastic scientist/naturalists, and we visited stunning locations which are only accessible by boat (or helicopter). While encouraged to participate, passengers could do as much or as little as they wished. With only 175 passengers aboard, there was a great sense of community on the ship. Cabin accommodation was very comfortable, well laid out and kept spotlessly clean and replenished by twice-daily staff visits; individual balconies were a bonus. There was plenty of space for lounging and relaxation. Facilities included a gymnasium and sauna/spa/massage. Although there were only about 15 children on board, they were well catered for by the cruise director and her team (and, to their parents' great credit, the children's behaviour was beyond reproach). There were ample entertainments laid on in the evenings and at night. Meals were superb in variety, cuisine and presentation, with excellent wines included (no need to subscribe to the "superior" beverage package!); all dietary requirements were catered for. Only complaint: too short! Would we go again? Definitely! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
As part of a HoA package from DRW to SIN. Embarkation in DRW was a fiasco as 3hours after boarding we had to disembark to retrieve our passports from immigration, only to be immediately taken off us by a member of crew in the terminal. The ... Read More
As part of a HoA package from DRW to SIN. Embarkation in DRW was a fiasco as 3hours after boarding we had to disembark to retrieve our passports from immigration, only to be immediately taken off us by a member of crew in the terminal. The terminal was also full of people wanting tax refunds with no clear delineation of which "queue" was which ! Mind you we never needed a Chinese visa, another smart move by NT politicians! Balcony cabin was quite good, 5124. although the tenders were directly below the balcony which obstructed the view a little. Half bottle of champers was appreciated, gave a false impression of what was to come such as paying for a nondescript bottle of Australian water. Samsung TV was a smart TV, however, nobody on board smart enough to fully use its technology, eg., no bill display, no menu displays, no details of going ashore, nada ! In fact the secretariat generated piles of expensive heavy glossy paper, must do wonders for fuel consumption. No welcome aboard at DRW or cocktail invitation, in fact the only welcome aboard was when we returned to the ship in HKG. HKG arrivals also received invites, we did not. Major interest appears to be "Dress code" when what you really want to know is where do we need a tender. There were several "Gala h" evenings for which I wore my Galah tie !!. Had to wear a jacket in the Britannia restaurant. Food, service was excellent although several spelling mistakes on the menus & the Sea Brass, aka Bass, provenance was always from the last port of call, amazing how these Bass get around. Bottle of house red, which was from a good vintners in London, ended up at US$40 a bottle ! We found the Lido cafeteria most acceptable, as always pick your times, avoid 1pm. If you have a "see food" allergy it could be a problem, I see food & eat it ! The answer is to use room service for breakfast at least. Amazingly no extra charge, always arrived on time but often with elements missing, no QC on the trays going out ? Saving grace was the pub which served excellent lunches (no extra charge) with Guinness at US$6.90 a pint. Never bothered with the so called "speciality" restaurant, especially when you see the cover charge. Was neither fish nor fowl & did not offer anything special. One day out the Royal Arcade liquor store had a special so eg 2litres of Famous Grouse for US$42, which kept us going to SIN. All this kerfuffle about taking alcohol onboard is rubbish. We took a bottle of champers in carry on & our bags contained 1 litre of Plax mouthwash which had changed colour, funny that. If your bags are correctly labelled they are whisked away through the x-ray by the handlers Excursions, aka a necessary evil in some places. Nha Trang return to ship was a catastrophe with all the tour buses returning at the same time with just one tender in operation. Enormous queue of people, mostly open to the elements, until someone at least told bus drivers to keep passengers on board with the AC on. Reason given that only facilities for one tender were available. Appears to be a normal problem otherwise how come there were staff distributing cold towels & water? Disembarkation in SIN was a breeze once you eventually got off as the port staff had bags clearly defined by tag & colour, beats BNE hands down. In conclusion, if you are loaded, don't mind spending hours for something to happen when going ashore & into all the social climbing bling then no problem. Otherwise we shall stay with P&O which has a much more egalitarian approach. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
First time on Ponant but 16th cruise overall. We were totally spoilt like never before. The ship is beautiful and the staff were all so very nice and went the extra mile with everything they did. The rooms were bigger than other cruise ... Read More
First time on Ponant but 16th cruise overall. We were totally spoilt like never before. The ship is beautiful and the staff were all so very nice and went the extra mile with everything they did. The rooms were bigger than other cruise lines we have travelled on and the finishing touches were lovely. Very comfortable beds and pillows. Plenty of closet space, an in room safe, good quality toiletries and a drinks fridge. The included mini bar was constantly restocked. It was great having an open bar and the French wines and champagne were very good. Some of the best red and Rose we have had for quite some time. Now the food, it couldn't be any better. Young Chef Tony deserves a medal along with his team for feeding us so well. It was all so delicious and we came home much heavier than when we boarded the ship. The French cuisine was superb. There were 3 formal nights on board, 2 of which we ate in the a la carte restaurant, all other meals were taken mostly outside by the pool at the buffet area. It was just so nice to sit outside at night and bookings were needed in advance due to the popularity. Morning and afternoon tea were always delicious little French cakes, pastries and savoury treats. This was an Expedition cruise Darwin to Darwin visiting the Kimberley's. Mick Fogg and the team were brilliant. Very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. We were awestruck day after day by what we saw in this very special part of the world. Just incredible scenery and Aboriginal rock art. Daily outing in the Zodiacs were well organised as were the couple of the optional tours we chose to do. There were daily evening recaps about what we had seen and what was in store the following day. Full credit to the team on a fantastic job.. There was nightly entertainment but we didn't see any of it as after dinner we were so tired that we went to bed ready for the following days big adventure. We are early 50's and we couldn't keep our eyes open after 10pm! If you are considering a Kimberley trip I would choose Ponant over every other option. We could not fault a thing. It was worth every cent and then some. . Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together ... Read More
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together beautifully., gave wonderful presentations and were always available for questions. The passenger makeup was mostly Australians, though about 20 French-speaking. I continued on the next cruise - Darwin to Bali - and the atmosphere changed a bit - now it was half English-speaking and half French-speaking. This was more of a cultural cruise as we made several stops in a few little-visited eastern islands of Indonesia. The island tours were well-organized. It was still active as we had several snorkeling opportunities. It is important to know that these were expedition-style cruises, and agility and balance are needed to board the zodiacs. It is active, with snorkeling and hiking opportunities. Everything is described in advance and passengers can self-select if they want to participate in the excursion. Ponant thinks of everything. For those of us continuing on, they provided a very nice half-day tour of Darwin with a good guide and a comfortable bus. I chose L'Austral for its reputation. I like the atmosphere and size of the ship.The fact that it is a fairly new ship (only 6 years old), and has continental food and service is a plus also. The back-to-back cruises were an excellent combination - with the first being all nature with a few visits to Aboriginal rock art; and the second more cultural. With such long flights to this part of the world, it made sense to do a back-to-back. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Fulfilled a long term ambition to visit Darwin and cruise the Kimberleys in WA. While there were quite a few issues on the vessel which were not the best, my overall rating is quite high just for the fact of my experiences within the ... Read More
Fulfilled a long term ambition to visit Darwin and cruise the Kimberleys in WA. While there were quite a few issues on the vessel which were not the best, my overall rating is quite high just for the fact of my experiences within the Kimberleys. The L'Austral was quite good although I believe it mostly catered for French tastes which is understandable with a French ship & mostly french crew. I went to see the Kimberleys and get up close travelling the waterways in Zodiacs & was not disappointed. I thought the onboard laundry & ironing charges were very expensive. Cabin service was outstanding though. All staff friendly & helpful. I can recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to see the Kimberleys as the access to amazing scenery & onshore visits would generally not be accessible other then by water or air. Naturalists on board were first rate and very informative. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We visited the Kimberley region 20 years ago on a small cruise boat with less than 20 passengers and always wished to return. The Ponant Expedition Cruise with very experienced Naturalists on board to explain and show you the ... Read More
We visited the Kimberley region 20 years ago on a small cruise boat with less than 20 passengers and always wished to return. The Ponant Expedition Cruise with very experienced Naturalists on board to explain and show you the fascinating features and Aboriginal art was a highlight tat is a must for visitors to the area. We are well past retirement age and found the accessability into the Zodiacs and places of interest easily managed with only one set of falls missed due to the 70 degree climb that was really only suitable for the really fit passengers. That was not an issue as the crew took us to other places of interest. The Le Austral is a 5 star vessel with all the features that go with that rating, the cabin and dining was excellent with the French touch. Two dining experience were available the al la carte and the Buffet the latter on the Pool deck which was really suited to travelling in the tropics Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
For me, Ponant is the perfect mix of intinerary, price and comfort. It is not for everyone - this was my third Ponant cruise, complaints about the food are common and based on the mis-understanding that the French eat souffle, foie ... Read More
For me, Ponant is the perfect mix of intinerary, price and comfort. It is not for everyone - this was my third Ponant cruise, complaints about the food are common and based on the mis-understanding that the French eat souffle, foie gras and French onion soup every day. Simple, high quality fresh ingredients is the norm. Also expect the Captain, officers, receptionists, spa staff and some of the naturalists to be French by birth and speak English with French accents! It is a bi-lingual staff and crew. Some of the rudest Australians I've ever met have been on the Ponant ships, demanding that French not be spoken as they feel that they are missing out in some way. If you're that paranoid, there are many other 'English only cruise lines. Rant over. The Kimberley expedition was Darwin to Darwin, which might be the first and last time Ponant offer that variation. The sea conditions and weather were spectacular - the calmest seas I've ever seen, clear blue skies and emerald green seas. Getting up to the Wandjina art caves at Raft Bay takes some physical fitness, as does the climb to the top of King George Falls, as does some ability to cope with the heat (35 Celsius on average). L'Austral is a modern, comfortable, ship, showing some signs of exterior wear after the Antarctic season, but nothing that a coat of paint won't rectify. The cabins are in excellent condition and the cabin staff maintain the cleanliness of them very well. There were 231 passengers out of a possible 264 due to the number of single travellers, and it never seems like too many people - I saw people at disembarkation that I'd never seen in the preceding 10 days. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We decide to cruise from Darwin to Broome with Ponant from July 24th 2017 to 2 August 2017 because we wanted to experience the Kimberley from the ocean side. We had travelled the region by car back in 2007 and love the colours and the ... Read More
We decide to cruise from Darwin to Broome with Ponant from July 24th 2017 to 2 August 2017 because we wanted to experience the Kimberley from the ocean side. We had travelled the region by car back in 2007 and love the colours and the landscape. We chose Ponant because it was a 5 star French ship, the price was reasonable and it was doing the areas we wanted to visit. $750 per day, per person (deck 4 verandah) which included all the zodiac tours, all meals and open bar. We were expecting French food and fine wine as per their brochure. Disappointingly, their fine wine and open bar was not as we expected and no French food. Their "house wine" was Jacobs Creek Classic Shiraz, Jacobs Creek Chardonay, and Gossips Rose. There were other wines which you could purchase by the glass or bottle. You could imagine the horror of 220 Australians on board to be served Jacobs Creek wine which retails at Dan Murphy's for about $7 and Gossips Rose for $3. The Hotel Managers excuse for the Jacobs Creek wine was because their shipment had not arrived. Not quite believable. Not a drop of Sav Blac to be found on the ship for those who preferred something other than Chardonay. They ran out of Sprite, Bailey, Dramburie, VB and had to share the Sambucca between the bars - if you wanted to have a Gin & Tonic with Blue Sapphire gin it is 9 euro, and any cocktails that were not on the "ordinary" list you had to pay for. As for the food, average but definitely not French Cabins are small with only 1 chair for sitting except on bed, couldn't have bathroom door and wardrobe door open at same time and you both could not walk past the end of the bed at the same time. Whilst you are not in your cabin a lot, sometimes it is nice to relax in your own space with room to move. Entertainment although not a lot was acceptable. Service - not enough Bar staff, they were always very busy and service was slow. Wait staff in dining room was good. The Buffet at night was crowded and difficult to get hot food with the number of people queueing. Definitely not what we expected of a 5 star cruise line. Silverseas wins over Ponant hands down. However on a positive note the expedition team and zodiac outings were exceptional, everything was well planned and organised. All of the team were very informative and knowledgeable. Great job. Would we go again?.... Only if we factored in $200 a day for drinkable wine. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
The ship is young enough and attractively styled and crewed! Maintenance of rust and cleaning of deck,glass,and balcony are not great. Cabin and storage was totally fine. Our cabin steward was never close to our heart and when we ... Read More
The ship is young enough and attractively styled and crewed! Maintenance of rust and cleaning of deck,glass,and balcony are not great. Cabin and storage was totally fine. Our cabin steward was never close to our heart and when we boarded one waste bin was not emptied, nor the bedside table cleaned. The toilet compartment seemed to need a deep clean /freshening. The Senior Housekeeper always looked in control but the staff were disappointing as stewards and waiters. Our cabin /balcony was blighted by the constant contact with Zodiac boats being lowered and raised to the top deck storage. Ponant made several blunders during the booking, confusing my details with someone on the other side of the world with a similar name. We were given an on board spend to our surprise just before the end of the cruise after being told earlier that there was none. I must say the Captain and French members of staff were excellent as was Camal the Cruise Director. Though with a 98% English speaking passenger group why French was usually the first language spoken I never understood. The very few French speakers on board were favoured and one day, next in line to board a zodiac ,we became invisible as a French couple were shown on ahead of us ! Even more outstanding were the large Nature Guide/Zodiac pilots team who gave excellent lectures/briefings and were entertaining stars. The trouble was the food and drink. The baking was also pathetic at times. Twice there were "fancy" set menu special/party nights in the very attractive main dining room. However the set menu food was even worse than regular cooking.Now I have been on many ships and make every allowance I can for the catering difficulty of a small ship in remote waters, but this was BAD. The extra pasta meal required due to the sea state delay in final docking was one of the better efforts!! To cap it Ponant served as house wine (to mainly Australian passengers) cheap Australian "Oxford Landing" wines, which irritated many. Cabin service food was simple but fast and well served. Eventually some poor French wines did materialized! Bar service could be slow with one bar man being the norm and many cocktails on offer! I will say I enjoyed the free flowing Champagne.... The "Grill" (deck) restaurant/buffet is too small when the ship is full and the weather hot. These Kimberly Coast cruises attracted mostly (noisy) elderly Australians so the fun of an international passenger mix was missing. Good ships photography/DVD service. Did not use internet, (100 minutes@ 30Euroes). I could never use Ponant again as my food and drink is important to me. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We wanted to see the Kimberley and we decided that this was the way to do it without having to pack and unpack every day or so - do so with a degree of luxury. The trip started in Darwin and finished in Broome. When excursions are added ... Read More
We wanted to see the Kimberley and we decided that this was the way to do it without having to pack and unpack every day or so - do so with a degree of luxury. The trip started in Darwin and finished in Broome. When excursions are added such as Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Falls, Horizontal Falls, etc it makes the whole experience come alive and educational. The whole expedition crew were very knowledgeable - especially the Expedition Leader (Mick Fogg) and this added to our overall enjoyment. The ships crew were always attentive and made the "cruise" part of the trip an absolute pleasure. The 2 dining rooms were excellent and well serviced by stewards. The cruise was all inclusive except for additional excursions such as the plane and helicopter flights, but normal expedition excursions, eg zodiac expeditions up the King George River to the Falls, Montgomery Reef, Lacepede Islands, etc were included. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We had previously sailed on L'Austral in Alaska and were so impressed that when we learnt that Ponant were to cruise the Kimberley we decided to join them again. FRom the moment we embarked, we were made very welcome by the captain ... Read More
We had previously sailed on L'Austral in Alaska and were so impressed that when we learnt that Ponant were to cruise the Kimberley we decided to join them again. FRom the moment we embarked, we were made very welcome by the captain and crew. As the cruise progressed it became clear that the expedition crew (naturalists and specialists on indigenous rock art etc) were really top class and excellent communicators. The cabin was comfortable and room service was excellent and unobtrusive. As second time travellers the addition of free laundry service was a remarkable additional comfort. The information sessions and entertainment were well managed and relevant. As a personal reflection, the fact that many of the crew were French nationals, made the cruise that more enjoyable to one who loves to try out his French language skills (or lack of) and it was good that their was a response that made us feel good for trying. The food was excellent and the choice of a la carte or buffet style was refreshing. The only slight problem was that the wine selection was a little lacking although we understand that this was due to circumstances beyond Ponant's control. once again, as we had been in Alaska, we came away refreshed and renewed and happy enough to book a cruise on the same ship to Antartica. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This was our second cruise with Ponant we have completed a cruise to Antarctica (La Boreal and the Kimberley's - L'Austral) and have already booked on L'Austral to travel to the New Zealand antipodes. We found the ship to be ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Ponant we have completed a cruise to Antarctica (La Boreal and the Kimberley's - L'Austral) and have already booked on L'Austral to travel to the New Zealand antipodes. We found the ship to be perfect for our form of travel - passenger numbers not too big nor too small.. Service either in the Dining Room (Deck 2) or the BBQ area (Deck 6) was excellent.On our last cruise the outside dining was extremely popular due to the warm weather conditions. The expedition style also suits us with daily shore visits and exceptional naturalists and guides.The were few if any Days at Sea. Cabins were clean and most comfortable and serviced to our satisfaction each day.. Food was varied and extremely enjoyable. Wines etc were good. The evening entertainment was most enjoyable. The excursions were perfect on both cruises with almost 2 shore landings each day (Antarctica and Kimberley's) . We have enjoyed both cruises and look forward to our next one in January.2018. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We always wanted to do a cruise of the Australian Kimberleys and when we realized that Ponant was including cruising in the region into their itinerary, we jumped at it straight away, having had a great previous experience with the ship ... Read More
We always wanted to do a cruise of the Australian Kimberleys and when we realized that Ponant was including cruising in the region into their itinerary, we jumped at it straight away, having had a great previous experience with the ship and the cruise in Antarctica. We had undertaken Antarctica together with our friends who also joined us on this cruise. We were not disappointed! The individual destinations chosen by the ship and its diverse naturalists brought us close to the best the Kimberleys has to offer and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. In addition to that, my wife celebrated her 60th birthday the day before the start of the cruise and we delayed those celebration till the first dinner onboard which I had specifically arranged with Ponant. As usual, the food on offer in both the main dining room as well as the restaurant on the 6th floor was outstanding for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Given all these facts, there was nothing that disappointed. It must have been pretty hard for the dance crew to perform their routine in the theatre but they offered some terrific shows. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a ... Read More
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a part of the world that I had long wanted to visit. Le Soleal and Ponant exceeded expectations. The accommodations, crew, amenities, excursions, and food were all first class. We spent a day in Sydney before flying on to Darwin to meet the ship. Sydney was great fun, exactly what we expected from prior reading, surfing and recommendations. Darwin is just a place to meet the ship. Embarkation involved a long, boring wait in a typical but uncrowded, unadorned, unsupported boarding room. Disembarkation was fine. The ship has all the amenties I consider important. No casino but not much time for one. We upgraded to a suite which was a first-time, outstanding luxury to which we may become addicted. The French cuisine was outstanding, despite our various dietary restrictions. The combined MIT and ship's lectures were excellent. Service was impeccable. The shore excursions were interesting, educational, and fun. SCUBA would have been a plus but wasn't offered. However, the snorkeling sites were great. Yes, I would go again. In fact, we did, five months later on the same ship, in the same cabin, to Western Alaska and Siberia. Another great trip, albeit with somewhat lesser excursion quality. Great wildlife photo ops, though. But that's another story... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I've always wanted to see the Kimberley but balked at the price of the cruises, looking at Orion and True North. When we heard about the Silver Discoverer we decided it was going to be worth the (extremely high) cost. After all, not ... Read More
I've always wanted to see the Kimberley but balked at the price of the cruises, looking at Orion and True North. When we heard about the Silver Discoverer we decided it was going to be worth the (extremely high) cost. After all, not only is it all-inclusive (alcohol and gratuities) but all excursions are included. And it's Silversea. We had high expectations for our 10 day Darwin to Broome cruise, as this is a newly leased and re-badged ship for Silversea. It came out of drydock in Singapore only at the beginning of the year and had, I think, 3 or 4 journeys before ours. From the official website: "And she has been newly refurbished to help guests maximize their experience…" So you would expect a spotless and immaculate ship, right? Unfortunately, wrong. The public areas were mostly good, though it was pretty annoying that some outdoor areas were still being painted (mattress box near pool). In a pristine landscape, it's not pleasant to smell paint fumes over lunch outdoors. Being an expedition ship, we expected the smaller lounge and dining areas, and the lower ceilings, and fewer amenities. But we did not expect cheap wines, or a cabin that was poorly finished. When choosing a cabin, we realised that the View (16.8sq m) would be too claustrophobic, and while the Veranda sounded great at 32sq m, the room itself was 26sq m, which was almost the same size as the Vista at 25sq m. So the balcony was about 6sq m, which is tiny in anyone's language. And it was considerably more money, so we passed on the balcony and were very glad we did. It would have been a very expensive way to dry clothes. So we were happy with the size of Vista Suite 653, and the location was good, too. The bathroom was a decent size for one person at a time, with an adequate shower stall. This was a big complaint from guests in smaller suites: apparently the shower stalls are so small it's hard to turn around. But our cabin disappointed for many reasons, all of which could have been rectified and should not have been an issue in (a) a Silversea vessel and (b) a newly refurbished vessel. If anyone wants photos, I have them! 1) Between the wardrobes and the bedroom area there was previously a curtain. The old hooks were still swinging freely. These took 10 minutes to remove when brought to the attention of the hotel manager, but why where they still there after a refurbishment? 2) Behind the TV (which pulls off the wall) were large dirty handprints. Probably from the installers of the TV. So after a launch and 3 cruises, no one checked? 3) One bedside lamp was held together with putty. 4) The emergency sign was stuck onto the back of the door over what was obviously a bigger sign, so the marks of the previous one were obvious. Tacky. 5) Large marks and scratches in the walls/ceilings in various places. 6) Metal pins in the wall had been puttied over (badly) and touched up with paint (badly). 7) The bathroom door squeaked VERY LOUDLY – especially annoying in the middle of the night. All it needed was a squirt of WD40. Why did no butler or room attendant have this fixed in the month she was at sea, before we complained? (For that matter, did no previous guest complain about it?) 8) Overall cleanliness of the cabin was sadly lacking. They sent a team in to fix on the second day. Have a look at my photos and tell me, is this what you expect from a Silverseas suite? This is the question we asked of the hotel manager Sonia (who was charming, I might add). She apologised and did what she could to rectify the situation, but the bottom line is still that we paid a great deal of money for a substandard product. Definitely not a 5-star product. Moving on. The staff was exemplary, especially the food and drink staff. Really excellent: remembering orders and names, being cheerful and attentive. All top notch. The food was good. Nothing special, but by no means awful. It wasn't 5-star, although the dinner menus far outshone breakfast and lunch (both of which were buffet, with some freshly made offerings). The wines were, quite simply, shocking. We are in the wine business and Australia is a wine lovers delight, but Silver Discoverer served plonk which can be purchased for $7.95 in any bottle shop. The sommelier – a pleasant European – had no idea of Australian wines and obviously just took whatever the supplier offered, without doing any homework at all. It was extremely disappointing and not what should be acceptable on a cruise of this caliber and cost. The dining room atmosphere was pleasant and the restaurant manager ran a very efficient operation. Dinner was very enjoyable: we could sit at a table for 2, or ask to join other tables of 4, 6 or 8. This way you could sit with different people every evening if you chose, which made for a very friendly and convivial atmosphere. Remember, this is an expedition ship so you are thrown together more often than occurs on a more formal type cruise. And on that subject, the excursions were also excellent. It's not an exaggeration to say the expedition guides – all men, of various nationalities but mostly Aussies – could make or break this cruise. Every evening there was a briefing from expedition leader Mick Fogg, outlining the next day's excursions and options, weather, and what to expect. A very amiable, straight-talking man, Mick obviously had the respect of his team and, quickly, of the guests. He has a big job: organising 120 guests, checking tides, and weather, getting 13 zodiac boats up and down, explaining how tough an outing could be (eg: a 2km walk in the sun over rocks to see rock art, or a 6hr zodiac ride to see cascades) and hoping guests are realistic about their abilities. Many skills are needed here, including tact and diplomacy, and Mick has them all. He and his team are experts in their fields: zoologists, botanists, naturalists, marine biologists: the breadth of their knowledge is astounding and, combined with their passion, totally infectious. In this respect, everything was definitely 5 star. The excursions were well-planned, well organised and interesting, with various options to suits all guests. One issue for everyone was that we spent the first 2 days at sea sailing out of Australian waters to Indonesia and back. The purchased itinerary stated a half-day landing in Indonesia, but this did not eventuate and we were never really given an adequate explanation. Everyone was annoyed at this, feeling it was a great waste of time, and did not represent value for money. The explanation given: an Australian government requirement that ships over a certain size have to go into international waters. But the gossip is that if they go into international waters they pay no GST on alcohol, which would be a huge saving for the cruiseline. I have no idea if either of these are true or not. So, the ultimate verdict is that the Kimberley did not disappoint – absolutely stunning - and the expeditions did not disappoint. Silversea has some work to do on this ship – it should never have gone out in that condition. We feel very cheated in that respect and are unsure we will try another Silversea cruise. My husband and I are in our mid-50s, have travelled extensively, and enjoy wine, food, theatre, museums etc. Previous cruises include one Celebrity to Alaska when our daughter was young, then RSS Voyager in the Med, and in 2013 Seabourn Odyssey also in the Med. We hope to cruise often in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014

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