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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
When I look at any review of the Expedition 1, the word "amazing" is used countless times to describe the crew. Thus I am going to mention the most amazing crew that looked after my old school friend Jenny and I on this recent ... Read More
When I look at any review of the Expedition 1, the word "amazing" is used countless times to describe the crew. Thus I am going to mention the most amazing crew that looked after my old school friend Jenny and I on this recent expedition. I do not use the word "cruise" as there is no swimming pool, spa, gym, massages, beauty salons etc. on board this catamaran - just good conversation, interesting lectures and presentations. The 43 passengers experienced non-stop first rate service . So thanks to Master Joshua Coxall, First Mate - Phil Andrew, Engineer - Heath Douglas-Geary, General Purpose Hand - Aidan Singh, Purser - Amy Rankin, Chef - Tom Giblin, Senior Cruise Attendant - Joel Smith and Cruise Attendants - Marion Grandi, Alison Roche, Kirralee Evans and Josephine Grimshaw, Expedition Leader - David Keech, Guest Lecturers - Tim Harvey and Michael Hermes. David was such an enthusiastic leader, keeping us fully informed of the procedures of the day. On his back he carried a heavy first-aid back pack wherever we went once off the boat. Tim and Michael shared so much of their extensive knowledge of the Kimberley as we viewed awesome waterfalls, Montgomery reefs, pristine shorelines and lagoons, sunsets, turtles, a DC3 plane wreck, ancient Aboriginal rock art, boab trees, sunsets, bird life, sunsets, crocs, micro bats, helicopter ride, tawny nurse sharks, complex geology, quolls and rock wallabies, and sunsets. Yes - I love sunsets and they must be seen to be believed. In addition we enjoyed skimming along the water in The Explorer which held us all. David, Michael and Tim worked so well as a team with great humour. They encouraged us to ask questions. I think they could answer most of them. They kept a close eye on the safety of the passengers. We didn't mind how long it took them to check that the little lagoons we were anticipating swimming in were croc free! During our trip David and Tim took incredible photographs which they shared on a website for us all to view. Obviously they have "seen it all before" but one would think that it was their first encounter of the Kimberley as they were so enthusiastic. I might add that some of Tim's paparazzi photos were not too flattering. No-one has sued him as yet. Mention must be made of Tom the Chef. We marvelled at how he managed to serve up endless gourmet meals from a small galley. We also enjoyed appetising BBQs on the beach watching the sunset. I hesitate to tell you this, but one woman offered her daughter to Tom! Ever smiling Amy and her staff were multi-tasking - taking orders, serving meals, clearing away, running the bar, cleaning and making up all the cabins and tending to all the endless requests from the passengers. What a team. When we disembarked in Broome, the staff lined up on the wharf to farewell us. Seemed like we were saying goodbye to old friends and we felt sad. Without a doubt this whole experience and every crew member involved was truly AMAZING. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We chose this cruise because we believed the smaller ship would would give us the kind of experience we wanted. From first stepping on board we were made welcome and received personal service from all the staff on board. On the fourth day ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we believed the smaller ship would would give us the kind of experience we wanted. From first stepping on board we were made welcome and received personal service from all the staff on board. On the fourth day of the cruise I had the misfortune to have a serious fall on some barnacle covered rocks, with in minutes the exhibition leader and guest lecturers were at my side cleaning my wounds .On my return to the Coral Expeditions 1 Purser Amy and general hand Marion spent quite some time cleaning and dressing my wounds ,contacted the Flying Dr. re medications and monitored my observations hourly till 1 am . Then daily after her duties were finished Marion would clean and dress the wounds to my arms and leg. The service I received was far above what anyone would expect and was very much appreciated by my wife and I. We found every member of the crew very dedicated to their duties and making the journey very memorable for all those who took the cruise. With the on shore and activities from the Explorer or the Zodiacs the knowledge shared on the history and nature of the Kimberley Coast we will in the future highly recommend Coral Experditions. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This cruise was our 'trip of a lifetime' and it lived up to every expectation. The crew were polite, friendly and exceptionally helpful from the time we boarded the ship in Darwin until be disembarked in Broome. Udo, the ... Read More
This cruise was our 'trip of a lifetime' and it lived up to every expectation. The crew were polite, friendly and exceptionally helpful from the time we boarded the ship in Darwin until be disembarked in Broome. Udo, the purser, oversaw a seamless hotel operation and Captain Greg, Officers, Engineers and Expedition staff Steve, Tom and Mark worked to ensure that we experienced most of what 'The Kimberley' had to offer including King Cascades, Mitchell Falls Horizontal Waterfalls, Talbot Bay, Cyclone Creek, Montgomery Reef and Careening Bay to name a few. We were lucky and privileged to have seen a very remote part of Australia with an enthusiastic team of people whose mission it is to ensure that their guests receive a safe, highly informative, first class journey into a part of Australia that unfortunately, because of its remoteness, few of us will get to experience. We also learned of an unknown (to me) Australian explorer, Phillip Parker King, and his journeys of discovery in the Kimberley and Northern Territory. Jim and Sheryl Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This cruise is over the Great Barrier Reef. Early April is risky weather-wise and we hit rough seas. The captain and crew came up with a plan to head south where the weather was better and to cruise backwards. We got to better weather ... Read More
This cruise is over the Great Barrier Reef. Early April is risky weather-wise and we hit rough seas. The captain and crew came up with a plan to head south where the weather was better and to cruise backwards. We got to better weather as predicted, had 3 days of good weather and some great snorkeling. I was impressed the crew could take the information available to them and salvage what would otherwise been a less than pleasant experience. I remain impressed with their skill and knowledge. Nathan Reef is remarkable. Do not miss it if you can help it. We did not always encounter good service in Australia but the crew on this cruise was outstanding. Pleasant, engaging, making clear each could do what he or she could to make the cruise enjoyable. No exception. Our cruise director Bec was particularly special. Substantial knowledge about what we were seeing, always available for questions, always determined we would have a special experience, always friendly and easily approachable. She made the trip a wonderful learning experience, as did First Mate Ed. Our cabin was very nice with a queen size bed and plenty of room to move around. Cabin 401 is one of the larger cabins. Dining was excellent, causing me to eat too much. The walks on the beach or in the forest were interesting and enjoyable but not demanding. Opportunities to snorkel every day in a different area plus a glass bottom boat to provide another way to see the coral and fish. Talks on the reef were informative but not really entertaining. The goal was to let us know about the reef and what we were or would be seeing. Bec did a very nice job. No children with us. We would not likely go again because we have experienced the reef as part of a very long trip. No reluctance choosing Coral Expedition for a future trip, however. Embarkation and disembarkation were well organized, welcoming and very smooth. We spent almost a month in Australia; this cruise was the best part of the trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We were told about this cruise by a couple we met in Sydney 2 years ago and thought it would be an ideal end to our next New Zealand trip, as we've always wanted to see the GBR. We enjoyed every minute of our 4 day cruise! The ship ... Read More
We were told about this cruise by a couple we met in Sydney 2 years ago and thought it would be an ideal end to our next New Zealand trip, as we've always wanted to see the GBR. We enjoyed every minute of our 4 day cruise! The ship met all our needs very well-the cabin was very comfortable and excellently serviced every morning, the food was of a really high standard, plentiful, tasty, beautifully presented and served extremely well. We enjoyed the complimentary home baked cookies, cakes etc that were provided with morning coffee and afternoon tea- just what hungry snorkellers needed! We can't speak highly enough of the whole crew-each one of them friendly, professional and helpful-a fantastic bunch that we were sorry to say goodbye to at the end of our trip! The glass bottom boat outings and the snorkelling sessions were amazing-we were first time snorkellers and were given lots of help and encouragement by the crew. We were soon enjoying ourselves among incredible corals and a huge variety of the most beautiful fish-watching clown fish and swimming with a turtle were experiences we will never forget! Breakfast on the top deck as we sailed through the Hinchinbrook Channel, Captain Charlie's BBQ and sunset drinks on a desert island were all real highlights. We met lots of lovely, like minded people and would recommend this cruise to anyone who is keen to see and learn about the GBR. Our thanks to Captain Charlie and the whole crew! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
My wife and I took the 4 night 3 day north leg of this cruise. It was fabulous. Coral expeditions is a small ship and our cruise was not full; just 17 passengers and 12 crew. You take this cruise to experience the GBR, and CE2 and ... Read More
My wife and I took the 4 night 3 day north leg of this cruise. It was fabulous. Coral expeditions is a small ship and our cruise was not full; just 17 passengers and 12 crew. You take this cruise to experience the GBR, and CE2 and this crew really delivered. Food was great and the crew was most helpful. Our cabin was adequate. But you don't take this cruise to stay in your cabin. You can see the reef from a glass bottomed boat, snorkeling or scuba. I did all three. Each was a great way to see the reef. Many thanks to Evie our marine biologist and Robbie our dive master who got us all through the rec dives successfully. Gary mastered the CE2 like a pro. Got us right next to the reef. Chef Matt prepared excellent meals. Rest of the crew made the trip a real pleasure. Overall the best way to experience the GBR. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
I have always dreamed of snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef but as I am not a strong swimmer and hate sea water I thought it was only a dream! Well I was wrong! I went on this cruise expecting to do the next best thing and see the reef ... Read More
I have always dreamed of snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef but as I am not a strong swimmer and hate sea water I thought it was only a dream! Well I was wrong! I went on this cruise expecting to do the next best thing and see the reef through a glass screen in the bottom of a boat but the team of fantastic people on this boat got me in the water and snorkelling straight away and I so enjoyed it. I cannot rate highly enough the team on the boat, nothing was too much trouble, safety was paramount, the food was outstanding and the cabins were brilliant. I could not believe how big and roomy the showers were and really hot, a must after swimming. The itinerary was amended slightly to make the trip more comfortable as the weather was a bit blowy so we did it in reverse to avoid the worst of it. The staff were really knowledgeable about the reef, the coral and fish etc. I would certainly recommend it for people wanting to see the reef but the stairs are pretty steep on the boat so you would need to be mobile. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because you would be able to cruise around the Great Barrier Reef learning all about it and for the snorkelling, Scuba diving and looking at the coral through a glass bottom boat, so that all could see it. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise because you would be able to cruise around the Great Barrier Reef learning all about it and for the snorkelling, Scuba diving and looking at the coral through a glass bottom boat, so that all could see it. We wouldn't have to worry about anything as all equipment would be provided and the four day cruise fitted into the five weeks we had touring New Zealand and Australia. The cruise starts and ends at Cairns so when we arrived in Cairns the cruise fitted nicely into the time we had arranged for touring that area. We arrived on the Coral Expeditions 11 at 10am on the Friday morning and from then on we had a wonderful time. We cannot praise the staff enough, we have never met such a lovely group of people, nothing was too much trouble, they anticipated our every need. The advice and help I received when snorkelling was brilliant, my husband didn't go into the sea but enjoyed the information given on the glass bottom boat. It is a cruise for everybody whether you swim or not. The food was out of this world, we wish we were back on the boat enjoying it all, it was a wonderful trip, and we would recommend it to everybody. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
Always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef? Then this cruise should be on your radar. Very nice cabin with a big bathroom designed for post snorkel and beach going. Great water pressure and a clothes line in the shower. Everything on ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef? Then this cruise should be on your radar. Very nice cabin with a big bathroom designed for post snorkel and beach going. Great water pressure and a clothes line in the shower. Everything on board was fully functional and well maintained. The Coral Expeditions II is a 35m catamaran with a lift elevator aft. Makes for a rapid deployment of the glass bottom boat. A fun ride that lets you see the reef structure and species before you jump in, or make a beach landing on a remote island. Ship outfitted with top notch snorkel and flippers and have life jackets if your not a strong swimmer. Day after day of mooring next to giant reef structures walking out back and falling into the water. Each destination uniquely different than the prior. They've got a dive instructor on the team that can help you check SCUBA off your bucket list and let you see the reef looking up. Our Expedition Team Leaders were up for the challenge and power packed with knowledge of species, history, flora, etc. With hiking as an option on island visits gives you a chance to break up the action and see some jungle and beaches. Meals are served in the dining area and are a buffet style setting with a few menu dinners. The food was easily among the best I've ever eaten. Prepared to perfection, everything from scratch. Tried several different foods for the first time. Top deck has a library, bar, sundeck, and an amazing view. Got to meet some very fascinating fellow passengers and have some enriching conversations with people from all over the globe. The most impressive part of the experience was the crew. A real team, that operates seamlessly. Everyone of them a true professional and master of their craft. I wish my team worked together half as well as the Coral Expeditions II crew does. I'm definitely going on the 7 day Barrier Reef cruise again, it was an unforgettable trip. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2017
This is the ONLY way to see the Barrier Reef. We headed first to Lizard island and had a gentle introduction to diving and snorkelling from the beach. We then proceeded over the next few days to a number of pristine reefs with no other ... Read More
This is the ONLY way to see the Barrier Reef. We headed first to Lizard island and had a gentle introduction to diving and snorkelling from the beach. We then proceeded over the next few days to a number of pristine reefs with no other boats even in sight to dive and snorkel and experience the reef in all its glory. The staff were well qualified and supervised all the activities so you always felt completely safe. At every site they put out 'rest' buoys so you could just take a breather any time. We had ice creams brought to us on the beach as well as wine and beer at the end of the activities, nothing was too much trouble. Even though the boat was small and intimate the food was amazing, beautifully presented and cooked with a great range of options over the four dinners we had. The staff were so cheerful it would have been difficult not to have a good time. We were able to pop onto the bridge when the door was open and see the navigation and charts. They were a brilliant and professional team. One thing that seemed odd at first was not locking your cabin - ever, but you soon fell into the swing of this and it added to the house party atmosphere which was achieved with only 18 guests on this trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
I thought a short cruise on a small expedition boat was perfect to visit the amazing coastline of Tasmania. Only 26 passengers on board and a great group to travel with. This is advertised as boutique cruising and yes it is small and ... Read More
I thought a short cruise on a small expedition boat was perfect to visit the amazing coastline of Tasmania. Only 26 passengers on board and a great group to travel with. This is advertised as boutique cruising and yes it is small and personal, with amazing staff, great food and excellent service, but the boat itself leaves a lot to be desired. As I booked at the last minute, we chose a lower room as we were informed that the sea can be quite rough, but this company should give more information about the drawbacks of these cabins. Down a very steep set of 14 narrow stairs to get to the room, tiny bathroom and the closeness to the engine room and anchors did not make for a pleasant cabin experience. Being woken up at all times of the night as the anchor was either noisely lowered or raised was disturbing and I also felt that all stairways especially internally were dangerous for the average age of passenger (70's) to navigate to get to different areas. The main dining area had a lounge but that was barely capable of seating all passengers as the upper lounge was another climb up the stairs. The itinerary was excellent but I think a slower day would have been preferable than getting on and off the ship from early morning and then again in the afternoon. I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to see places that cannot be viewed by car, but opt most definitely for the middle cabins which seem spacious and easier access to all facilities. I think the lower cabins should be for staff only. Read Less
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
It is clear in the Coral Expeditions I itinerary for Tasmania that the destinations achievable are weather dependant. Port Davey is the only part of the voyage that can be left off the agenda due to rough seas. Their assertion of rough ... Read More
It is clear in the Coral Expeditions I itinerary for Tasmania that the destinations achievable are weather dependant. Port Davey is the only part of the voyage that can be left off the agenda due to rough seas. Their assertion of rough seas is debatable, as the BoM South West coast forecasts for Tasmania did not show seas above 2.5 metres. However, I am mindful that this cruise is on a small boat. The crew did talk about past voyages where guests can bed down in the dining room during rough seas, as this room is low and in the stern of the ship where less rolling is felt. I’m sure a large number of guests would have been up for such a rough seas adventure and “lived to tell the tale” of reaching Port Davey. The reality of this cruise did not fit the expectation of an expedition into the Tasmanian wilderness as stated in the itinerary. For that reason alone, I am ranking this voyage as below average. Apart from Port Davey, the remaining itinerary is to tourist attractions easily reached by car from Hobart, ferry, or local half day cruises. By no stretch of the imagination are they wilderness destinations except for the coastal cruising around Tasman Island (also available locally). It may vary with each cruise, but be prepared to see some of these tourist places by locally chartered buses. It’s not what I expected from a wilderness expedition! I strongly recommend looking elsewhere (as I should have) if your only goal is the adventure of reaching Port Davey. However, if you have never visited Tasmania before, and/or want to receive in depth social and natural histories for the places visited, then this voyage would be a good introduction. While I was disappointed in not reaching Port Davey, this ship and crew are outstanding. They are all friendly, helpful and generous in all aspects. In the end, it’s all up to what you want to gain from your experience on this cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
All technical aspects of this cruise were faultless. These would include embarkation, disembarkation, dining arrangements, cabin fittings, general cleanliness, ship handling and maintenance. Staff were skilled and helpful. Meals were well ... Read More
All technical aspects of this cruise were faultless. These would include embarkation, disembarkation, dining arrangements, cabin fittings, general cleanliness, ship handling and maintenance. Staff were skilled and helpful. Meals were well timed, varied and tasty. Dining was informal, allowing all passengers to meet. Numerous lectures provided background for the shore excursions. The tender, large enough to accommodate all passengers, was a very welcome feature. However, I was disappointed with the itinerary. I was expecting more remote coastal cruising, especially around south west Tasmania and Port Davey. We were told it was too rough. Instead, we were offered alternative cruising to the south and east, with shore excursions to more traditional tourist destinations. I found the guided walks conducted on some of these excursions a bit too slow paced. Coral Expeditions was clear that Port Davey was a weather-dependent destination but, based on previous cruises on other ships, I had assumed that most passengers would accept some physical discomfort in order to participate in a unique experience. I may have been wrong in this case, as many fellow passengers were having difficulty with what I considered to be fairly moderate sea conditions. Coral Expeditions' "Our 7 night journey into the Tasmanian wilderness is a true expedition." got me on board once, but I would not chance this cruise being a wilderness expedition a second time. But the ship, crew and staff were great, so it might be a good choice for those balancing a small ship cruise against concerns about sea sickness. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2016
My wife and I have not been on many cruise ships, preferring independent travel and small venues over the crowded, packaged ships we see so often in port at home (San Francisco USA). The sailing on the Coral Ex II for 4 nights on the ... Read More
My wife and I have not been on many cruise ships, preferring independent travel and small venues over the crowded, packaged ships we see so often in port at home (San Francisco USA). The sailing on the Coral Ex II for 4 nights on the Great Barrier Reef appealed to us due to the itinerary, size of the vessel and, of course, the chance to snorkel and dive on the Great Barrier Reef. My rating of Excellent stems from a nearly flawless experience by the ship's crew and the fact that all our expectations were met or exceeded on this cruise. We only booked the 4 night sailing, which has an extension to a more southern itinerary for 3 additional nights, and regret not booking the extension! To be specific, embarkation was done in Cairns, Australia, which is one of the largest towns in Queensland and we spent a few days enjoying the tropical atmosphere (Botanical Gardens were wonderful), and seafood. The Esplanade was an area for strolling and relaxing prior to our cruise. Formalities for boarding were handled efficiently and in that friendly Aussie way, with outstanding cookies and excellent coffee and tea ready while we mingled with the other guests. It was a small group, around 40 people, and a nice mix of singles, couples, and families. Since it was just before the Christmas holidays, we felt we just missed the crowds of holiday travelers. The bookshelves had donated novels, marine life guidebooks, and games for guest use. Cabin was larger than I expected, and once our luggage and personal items were stowed, the area was fine for the two of us. Nice wood paneling and the bathroom was actually larger than I expected with complimentary toiletries and fresh, fluffy towels every day. I was a bit disappointed that there was no card to acknowledge that we would be celebrating our 25th anniversary during this cruise, but more on that later... The itinerary would take us on the first day from Cairns north to Cooktown, the largest town in the Cape York area, and I had an interest in visiting their botanic garden. We stopped on the reef for a dive/snorkel and although bleaching was evident near the tops of the reef, at depth all seemed fine as the water was a bit cooler. I want to say that the staff at the Coral Ex office responded to my questions regarding reef condition promptly and were accurate in their description. Sadly, the Cooktown botanic garden was closed for Christmas holidays, but not after we had hiked uphill in tropical heat for half an hour. Our plan to catch a taxi was laughably overestimating the facilities in this small but charming town. Fortunately there were pubs serving cold beer and the Cooktown museum, with good AC and fascinating: well worth the visit. Our next day was spent at Lizard Island, one of the reasons we booked this particular cruise. I had always wanted to see it, the fringing reefs, though suffering from bleaching, still had wonderful life (giant clams, an octopus, rays, and lots of fish), plus the historic ruins of a homestead in addition to the uber-expensive resort. Upon returning to our room, we found a bucket of sparkling wine and the staff's best wishes for our anniversary. So I am an idiot for thinking they forgot. We shared the bottle at dinner that night, graciously hosted by the captain (Charlie). The next several days were out on the open water at the Ribbon Reefs, another destination I was interested to see. Diving was good, and weather/sea conditions perfect. Now for the stars of the cruise: the staff. Forgive me if I forget the names (pro tip: remember that names of the staff!) but every staff member from the captain, purser, chefs, room attendants, dive staff, and marine biologist were hardworking, gracious and devoted to anything and everything you might need. Seasick? Cut finger? Lost dive gear? On a special diet? More towels? I personally witnessed an attentive and caring staff for four days that made this holiday special. It can be confusing at times: some of the staff did more than one job from food service to driving the Zodiac boats, although to my knowledge only Captain Charlie piloted the ship. And the food. Upon disembarkation, I actually told the Captain that they should market the cruise as a foodie expedition first and reef cruise secondly. The quality of every meal, especially dinners, coming out of the ship's kitchen was extraordinary, considering we were in the middle of the ocean on a small ship. Extraordinary not just for taste, but the presentation of each course. Even in buffet style, it was all pleasing and professional. I personally appreciated having two different salads with my dinner, and the seafood was a treat, especially on the first night. Lots of choice, as well. I am an experienced scuba diver and although I wouldn't characterize this cruise as a 'dive boat', the diving staff were knowledgable and equipment was in fine shape. As I said, there is some bleaching of coral, but divers could still see good sections of reef and I enjoyed my diving. No need to bring your own gear. All in all we enjoyed this small ship experience so much that we are looking at their other offerings for future trips. Well done, you guys, and see you in the Kimberley someday! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Small boat cruising is relatively new in Australia but it's a great way to reach remote destinations. This summer cruise in Tasmania took us to Port Davey in the South Western wilderness where believe it or not we got a fine suntan. ... Read More
Small boat cruising is relatively new in Australia but it's a great way to reach remote destinations. This summer cruise in Tasmania took us to Port Davey in the South Western wilderness where believe it or not we got a fine suntan. We saw the beautiful and incredibly rare orange bellied parrot as well as seals, wallabies, pademelons, dolphins, back half of a whip snake, mutton bird rookeries, .... lots of other beautiful and interesting bird life. Other highlights were Maria Island and beautiful beaches on the Freycinet Peninsula. Scenery was magnificent. Bouquets: Comfortable boat with good facilities (avoid the fancy top deck cabins if you get seasick - and even if you don't get seasick, it gets very rocky up there!) Food was abundant and generally good although too many rich sauces. Fabulous seafood the first night - dozens and dozens of oysters! Wonderful guides and information program; great excursions with different levels of magnificent hikes available. Brickbats: ridiculously expensive internet. Poor facilities on disembarkation in Hobart - there was nowhere to store luggage unless you took a 2 1/2 hour trip to the airport on a shuttle bus (20 mins by taxi). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Great small boat/ship cruise. Only 16 guests on board. Excellent excursions. Knowledgeable guides/experts. Got to places others never reach. Great food. Needed some persuasion to get the skipper to go to Port Davey in fairly iffy ... Read More
Great small boat/ship cruise. Only 16 guests on board. Excellent excursions. Knowledgeable guides/experts. Got to places others never reach. Great food. Needed some persuasion to get the skipper to go to Port Davey in fairly iffy weather. Never been so cold as we were in Bathurst Harbour - couldn't believe it. But an amazing place - and a real privilege to be there Really good cabin - 205? On dining/lounge deck - not a premium cabin, but just been fitted with enormous new bed. Two minus points. Wine offer is really mean considering cost of trip. Wine with meal is free, but pre-dinner drinks are charged. Coach trip when weather was rough was pretty poor. Perhaps the boat could have travelled down the coast to reduce the two hour journey each way. (And both the vehicle and the driver were elderly. When one of the younger guests asked for music, the driver ferreted around to find his prize tape - Max Bygraves Greatest hits.) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
This cruise was an opportunity to see a different view of some of Tasmania's iconic and remote locations - up close and personal, but still in comfort. If you enjoy travelling in a small group rather than a crowd, this is the way to ... Read More
This cruise was an opportunity to see a different view of some of Tasmania's iconic and remote locations - up close and personal, but still in comfort. If you enjoy travelling in a small group rather than a crowd, this is the way to go. If you want opulence, constant entertainment, nightclubs and casinos, look elsewhere... The boat itself is very comfortable with all the facilities to make you feel at ease, the crew very friendly, professional and very attentive, and the food first rate. The shore excursions were well planned with the ability to be tailored to suit the capabilities of the guests. The expedition leader Dave was very organised, and well experienced in ensuring that everyone was enjoying the moment. The few changes to the hoped-for itinerary that became necessary due to weather conditions were handled seamlessly, and the crew worked together to ensure that the alternatives were just as enjoyable as the original plans. The two guest lecturers Kathy and Katharine were passionate ambassadors for Tasmania's rich natural wonders, flora and fauna, and cultural heritage. Their enthralling presentations on board the boat first set the scene for the things that we would see and the places that we would visit, along with a wealth of background information. Then their presence on the shore excursions provided on-the-spot details to 'flesh out' the experience. Regarding the shore excursions, Coral Expeditions has a handy 'secret weapon' in the Xplorer, the excursion tender which is large enough to take the full complement of passengers ashore at once. The Xplorer is housed on a hydraulic platform allowing boarding directly from the main deck of the boat, and is then lowered into the water. It can be driven right up to the shore, allowing passengers to simply step off via its front ramp. While it might not have the adventurous appeal of balancing on the side of a zodiac, hanging on to a rope while bouncing across the waves, and then wading ashore, the Xplorer has actual seats, a roof, clear blinds that can be rolled down for protection if necessary, and even a toilet! Such luxuries are very handy in the rough conditions, but also allow for longer trips in the water away from the boat. One final point - this is a small boat which feels rough weather more than a big ocean liner does. Be prepared and follow the advice of the crew. They have seen it all before and know how best to stay comfortable. It's all part of the adventure! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
This was my second cruise on this ship. It is very comfortable, with excellent service, but without being pretentious. The cabins are comfortable, with shower and toilet, and storage under the bed for empty luggage. Air conditioning ... Read More
This was my second cruise on this ship. It is very comfortable, with excellent service, but without being pretentious. The cabins are comfortable, with shower and toilet, and storage under the bed for empty luggage. Air conditioning works well; water is always piping hot. The kitchen is staffed by one chef and a kitchen hand; and the food is first class; always; breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. This cruise stops at Cooktown, and at Lizard Island, then three reefs on the outer Great Barrier Reef. On this trip the conditions were perfect; calm water; good visibility. Land and sea activities are conducted without fuss and crew members are professional, friendly, and fun. Entry for snorkelling is from the rear platform which descends to sea level - so easy. At two reefs we saw no other boats, and had the areas to ourselves. At the third reef there was another boat which quickly moved off as we approached. So again, we had the reef to ourselves. The one thing to be aware of is that conditions will not always be perfect, as the south-easterly trade winds can get strong particularly from March to September. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
Everything to do with embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. The ship is relatively small and there were under 30 passengers on board. A good number as we got to meet everyone. The cabin we had was small but compact and we were only ... Read More
Everything to do with embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. The ship is relatively small and there were under 30 passengers on board. A good number as we got to meet everyone. The cabin we had was small but compact and we were only in it to shower, get changed and sleep. There was so much else to do with snorkelling, swimming, scuba diving and two off shore excursions. The food was excellent and couldn't be faulted in any way. The first night was a seafood buffet which was amazing. On board was a marine biologist who organised the expeditions, two off board - Cooktown and Lizard Island. The main activities though were snorkelling, scuba diving and using the glass bottomed boat. If you're on the Great Barrier Reef it's what you want to do and there was plenty of opportunity to do that and at places where no other boats went or were able to get to, so it means the Coral Expeditions II passengers had exclusivity at all the anchorages. The glass bottomed boat was used to ferry people to Lizard Island and also bring drinks and snacks to everyone on the beach. Those were the nice little touches which peppered this cruise. The crew were all very good, great attention to the passengers and good fun. Captain Charlie was just as accessible as everyone else. The GBR was part of a once in a lifetime holiday for us but we wouldn't hesitate in recommending this amazing trip! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
We are not typical cruise travellers but an opportunity arose to sail with Coral Expeditions ll and I am so glad we went. Embarkation was simple ,the ship has its own wharf space, so our arrival and delivery of luggage was easy. We were ... Read More
We are not typical cruise travellers but an opportunity arose to sail with Coral Expeditions ll and I am so glad we went. Embarkation was simple ,the ship has its own wharf space, so our arrival and delivery of luggage was easy. We were greeted and guided onto the vessel, then given a introductory talk and explanation of the itinerary and housekeeping notes. The overall tone of this ship is professional but relaxed and very friendly. It was easy to introduce ourselves to other guests and enjoy mutual excitement about the trip ahead. The ship is a great size , small enough to be easy to access all areas and large enough that if you wanted a little space it is available. The food on this boat was very, very good. Dinners and lunch particularly offered excellent choices of meat, fish and vegetarian options, backed up by fresh, interesting salads and vegetables. I nearly forgot the yummy fresh fruit platters and beautiful desserts. Hats off to the chef and his assistant, they were the least visible of the crew but no less appreciated. Activities on this ship are based generally on exploring the reef , and what wonderful access we were availed by Coral Expedition ll and it's wonderful staff. Snorkelling , scuba diving, glass bottom boat tours and several hikes kept us busy and all passengers were blown away by the beauty of the reef and its treasures. The staff make these pursuits hassle free, they fit you for snorkel and dive gear and provide guidance according to your experience and confidence in the water. The drop down platform at the rear of the ship means that entry into the water and return is smooth. I would add there that is never pressure to participate, and the glass bottom boat is a wonderful way for non swimmers to see the glorious corals and tropical fish. Safety is obviously paramount but the camararderie of the very capable crew kept the tone light and the jokes flowing. It really did seem like a priviledge to be on this ship, accessing some of the stunning parts of the Great Barrier Reef and enjoying the beaches and sights of Lizard Island. There are several beach visits for snorkelling and hiking and we all loved the drinks and canapes delivered to the beach by the crew, along with deckchairs and fresh towels - luxury !!. The crew impart plenty of knowledge about the reef and general history of the area. Bear in mind there is some sailing time involved, in order that one can enjoy a varied programme. This wasn't a problem for us , providing an excuse for a lie down and a read. One can never guarantee perfect weather, sometimes the ship will encounter swell that is a bit uncomfortable but the captain informed guests in good time , and I gather in some cases he will amend journey plans so that guests are provided optimum comfort and experience. The four days we had on Coral Expedtions ll were incredibly good. Congratulations to the Captain and his wonderful, smiling, hardworking crew . Read Less
Sail Date: October 2016
I specifically requested a small ship for two reasons one because the smaller ships can manoeuvre in closer to shore and I like the idea of smaller groups rather than large crowds. The ship itself was very clean and comfortable. Food was ... Read More
I specifically requested a small ship for two reasons one because the smaller ships can manoeuvre in closer to shore and I like the idea of smaller groups rather than large crowds. The ship itself was very clean and comfortable. Food was served buffet style tables were set with linen for every meal, and the food was very good (something for everybody). The schedule went like this breakfast at 7:00am then off in the panga for either a wet/dry landing and excursion to discover what the Galapagos was all about. Then back to the ship and off for a snorkel either in deep water, or off shore. We saw so many turtles, sea lions, penguins, birds, iguana (land, lava and water) fish of all descriptions and sizes it really was a safari. And of course we saw the land tortoise in the wild which was the highlight for me. The guides are extremely knowledgable and they don't even mind the stupid questions. The service aboard was very cordial and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2016
The cruise was absolutely fantastic! It's a nice ship with good cabins, the staff is very friendly, the food is really good and the snorkling on the different destinations of The Great Barrier Reef, that we visited, is amazing! ... Read More
The cruise was absolutely fantastic! It's a nice ship with good cabins, the staff is very friendly, the food is really good and the snorkling on the different destinations of The Great Barrier Reef, that we visited, is amazing! There was a lot of beautiful corals and wonderful coloured fish. We were spoiled by the staff, who worked very hard to do everything to make us feel comfortable. The guide knew a lot about the plants and animals and was good to tell us about it. There was a nice and clever dive instructor. We were only 34 guest, so it was easy to find somebody to talk to, but at the same time easy to sit by your selv, if that was what you wanted. The ship has a good size to go to the nice places on the reef. If you don't want to snorkel, there is possibility of tours in af little boat with glass bottom, so you can see fish and corals. The staff also do a lot to help people, who never snorkeled before, so they can begin snorkeling. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
Wanted to spend overnights on the Great Barrier Reef. This cruise visited both islands and reefs, with overnights off both. The crew were profession, friendly and cheerful. The meals were five star. Drinks were high quality. The ... Read More
Wanted to spend overnights on the Great Barrier Reef. This cruise visited both islands and reefs, with overnights off both. The crew were profession, friendly and cheerful. The meals were five star. Drinks were high quality. The cruise went from Cairns, south to Hinchinbrook and the Palm Island Group; then north to Cooktown, Lizard Island the Ribbon Reef. So quite a distance, with steaming mostly at night, but still some steaming during the day. Snorkelling was excellent. Of the seven days, five were calm but the last two were rough. So be prepared for rough conditions, and seasickness. There is a platform which descends from the back of the boat for launching of the glass bottom boat, and for snorkelling. This is a very civilised way of entering the water. Look outs are on duty at all times during diving and snorkelling sessions. Safety seemed paramount. The baot is not fast; maybe 9knots. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2016
I booked this cruise through Aurora Expeditions, whom I had sailed with three times before. I mistakenly thought Aurora had contracted the ship as they had done with an Inside Passage Alaskan trip I undertook in 2014. This was not so! I ... Read More
I booked this cruise through Aurora Expeditions, whom I had sailed with three times before. I mistakenly thought Aurora had contracted the ship as they had done with an Inside Passage Alaskan trip I undertook in 2014. This was not so! I was expecting a rather active voyage around the Northern Australian coast, instead I found myself on a very sedentary voyage with more than half the passengers being older and less active than the 15 of us that anticipated an active voyage. We left Broome and 23 days later arrived in Cairns, Whilst I saw a large amount of things, I was disappointed at the sedentary nature of the journey and at times the arrangements for excursions ashore seemed ad hoc. The ship really wasn't suited for this journey, in quite in small seas it rocked and rolled making a number of passengers sick. Even myself, and I consider myself a good sailor, was thrown around the cabin and other areas. It was a wonder that some of the more fragile passengers did not damage themselves or break a bone. This ship was built around 30 years ago for Great Barrier Reef trips; it is scheduled to do southern and eastern Tasmania soon - I wonder how it will cope. I had a deluxe upper stateroom which was roomy and fine with a good size en-suite. Even so it wasn't classy - I had paid quite a large amount of $s for this trip. The food was superb for the Broome to Darwin section but the cooks changed over in Darwin and it was just adequate from Cairns to Darwin. As stated before I felt the activities scheduled were for more sedentary persons than myself; we missed a couple of visits outlined on the program I received before the voyage; and some activities felt like they were ad hoc - i.e the places we visited weren't really expecting us. The staff on the ship varied from an outstanding purser who kept his staff working at a high level to one expedition staff leader who I wouldn't employ. The highlights of the trip were: - viewing the Kimberley Landscape from the sea, especially Montgomery Reef - the Aboriginal Art Galleries of the Kimberley & North Queensland - visiting places in Arnhem Land that would be difficult to do so from the land - the Torres St islands & Cape York - best of all snorkeling on the outer Great Barrier Reef. I definitely wouldn't go again, I felt a bit disgruntled and betrayed by the company I booked through. Read Less
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