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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
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
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 chose this cruise because we enjoy small ship travel and we wanted many opportunities to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef during the cruise. From the moment we arrived at the berth, the staff were friendly, considerate and paid ... Read More
I chose this cruise because we enjoy small ship travel and we wanted many opportunities to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef during the cruise. From the moment we arrived at the berth, the staff were friendly, considerate and paid attention to detail. This attitude continued throughout the time we spent on Coral Expeditions II. Every staff member was a pleasure to deal with and the smiles never left their faces ! Cabins were spotlessly clean and fitted out well with plenty of storage space. Towels and toiletries replaced when needed. I recommend the upper cabins as they are quieter - away from the engine noise though this wasn't a huge problem. Food was wonderful- varied and fresh, hot meals three times a day if you want and a choice for main course at night. Fresh fruit available at breakfast and lunch. We rarely had morning and afternoon tea, couldn't fit it in even with all the exercise. Snorkelling was everything we had hoped. The locations chosen were excellent both from islands and off the boat. All equipment was supplied and helpful staff ensured easy access to and from the water. Safety was ensured with pre-dive briefings and staff members watching from main boat and rubber ducky. Rest buoys were deployed for those who needed them and they also marked the best place to snorkel. We always had plenty of time at the sites to really enjoy ourselves. Information sessions on the reef and educational films were held while travelling between sites. We had the option of 3 or 4 day cruise but decided to combine these and do the 7 days to cover north and south of Cairns. We were lucky to have beautiful weather and were very happy that we had chosen to do the whole cruise. This was a fantastic holiday- everything went like clockwork and this was largely due to a very efficient staff who work really well together. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My Wife chose this cruise as I have limited mobility though not in need of aids . I was most impressed by the attention of the staff not only the waitresses and other cabin staff but the whole crew were extremely friendly and helpful . ... Read More
My Wife chose this cruise as I have limited mobility though not in need of aids . I was most impressed by the attention of the staff not only the waitresses and other cabin staff but the whole crew were extremely friendly and helpful . The food was good and charges for drinks was not excessive; table and bar service was excellent. Especially enjoyable were the off ship excursions on a daily basis, also the timing of the excursions and their coincidence with ideal tidal conditions for the trips was excellent . We particularly enjoyed the helicopter trip to Mitchell falls and the trip to Lacepede islands. The ship was very stable and we were blessed with perfect weather. I did not go on a couple of excursions which required climbing up hills but was able to relax and read my books. We have never been fans of cruises but this small intimate cruise was excellent and very sociable and I can thoroughly recommend this trip. One small criticism was the lack of a lift between (decks) which I found a bit wearing. The company and especially your on board staff should be complimented ; although expensive was probably well worth it and a unique experience. I have previously traveled in this area by land but this was an entirely new way of looking at the area Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
I have travelled in parts of the world, such as the Canadian Rockies known for their beauty. There is nothing in the world to compare with the sheer breathtaking scenery of one of the planet's last unspoilt wilderness, the Kimberley. ... Read More
I have travelled in parts of the world, such as the Canadian Rockies known for their beauty. There is nothing in the world to compare with the sheer breathtaking scenery of one of the planet's last unspoilt wilderness, the Kimberley. The rugged cliffs, slabs of rock like pink marble, thousands of islands, aqua water and coral beaches as they were thousands of years ago still leaves me in awe to remember it. Coral Expeditions Discovery could not have presented this holiday better. Like many, I am now planning my next cruise wth them in 2017. All of the 55 passengers onboard expressed a similar opinions. Everything was done to make the holiday as good as it could be and expertly managed by Captain Greg and our Expedition Leader Steve. Our lecturer and guide was Ian Morris OA and how lucky were we! www.abc.net.au/stateline/nt/content/2005/s1522665.htm We begged him for talks most nights on the fauna, flora, geology, history and the aboriginal culture of the region and were never disappointed although often interrupted by a whale. This is an expedition cruise so the features are the local area and the planned walks or boat trips every day. I had been ill for much of the 6 months prior to my cruise and took the advice of the Expedition Leaders, Steve and Dale and did not try a few of the more strenuous walks but there was always an alternative cruise in the Explorer with things for me to photograph and I got to enjoy the photos in the lounge with everyone in the evening, I loved seeing this region from the water always with a breeze and of course the luxury AC if it was too hot on the deck. I was never hot for long (reminded about hat and sunscreen often) and almost never saw an insect. I must say the attention to detail in every aspect of this cruise was outstanding. For example Captain Greg sitting in a zodiac as we were all taken in zodiacs through the Horizontal Waterfalls with him taking photos of us all, which is nice to get, but he was there of course as au unspoken safety measure. Our safety was always their number one priority. Coral Expeditions are accredited Eco Tourism and took this very seriously also with nothing left in the Kimberley apart from footprints and nothing taken. The seas are teaming with fish, turtles (who come up to your zodiac), small sharks, whales and birds with breeding colonies around and there are crocs (all called Eric) which we saw but leant not to be frightened as Ian was so knowledgeable and nothing was ever left to chance. Sasha was a great Purser and Sara also and the dining was lovely and special. Everyone was friendly and although I was travelling solo, I was never alone and felt welcome everywhere. Loved the seafood buffet on the first night and the beach barbecue on Verandah Beach as the sun set. Do this cruise on Coral Expeditions as you need to get up and close to the beaches and the mangroves to see the fauna and flora and their Explorer is perfect. And you need the knowledge and experience of this company. I loved the way the 26 crew were such a seamless team with everyone being relaxed and friendly but very good at their job and you could see it really was a team when the deck hands could give orders to Captain Greg and be met with a smile. Corporations try for years to achieve that respect and teamwork and many could learn from this company. Made all of us passengers so relaxed and secure in our safety so we could focus on simply having the best fun ever. 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
Sail Date: July 2016
We have just completed a Coral Expeditions cruise around the Great Barrier Reef, and found it to be a great experience. Unfortunately, we had bad weather for the first leg of the cruise, and some of our destinations were altered due to ... Read More
We have just completed a Coral Expeditions cruise around the Great Barrier Reef, and found it to be a great experience. Unfortunately, we had bad weather for the first leg of the cruise, and some of our destinations were altered due to conditions. But this is a matter of luck, and things improved as we travelling north. The crew were exceptional, and are an integral part of the overall experience. There were some crew changes on our second leg (we combined two cruises), but the new members slipped in seamlessly. They all appear to be multi-skilled, experts in their field, and nothing was an effort. The standard of the meals was excellent. We had a couple of afternoons on beaches where the crew set up drinks and snacks - one memorable occasion we had champagne and fresh oysters in the shell. The logistics of getting the chairs, table, food and drinks from the boat to the beach on the tender boat was complex, but the crew did this with apparent ease. Would definitely book another cruise with Coral Expeditions. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
An amazing "Bucket List" trip! My husband and I decided to see some of Australia and wanted a trip with a "cultural experience" on an Expedition type of cruise. We decided on a trip to the Kimberley area of ... Read More
An amazing "Bucket List" trip! My husband and I decided to see some of Australia and wanted a trip with a "cultural experience" on an Expedition type of cruise. We decided on a trip to the Kimberley area of Australia. As my husband is a teacher we needed to book early to secure a cabin on The Coral Discoverer. This boat only takes 72 passengers which we loved as you really get to know the staff and other passengers. In fact I can honestly say "Small" ship cruising is by far our favourite type of cruising. From the moment we boarded in Broome we were treated like royalty. Personally shown to our wonderful cabin & everything explained in detail to us. There were only 23 Australian crew on board but they are all multi skilled and do a wonderful job of looking after everyone. The food was exceptional and prepared by 2 young chefs who gave us every type of cuisine imaginable from a Seafood Feast to an amazing beach bbq! It was of excellent quality and used local products. Every day was a delight of delicious and interesting food. Our cabin was well equipped with a King Size comfortable bed, couch, desk and double wardrobe. A small but very functional ensuite bathroom serviced twice daily was also good. The excursions were wonderful & run by very knowledgeable leaders who were very well organized and always adhered to a rigorous safety program. The Xplorer excursion vessel was perfect for getting into shallow waters and we had a mixture of wet and dry landings. I highly recommend taking reef sandals. Upon returning to the main ship we were greeted by staff at the bar ready to serve us cold drinks, or my favorite, the new State of the Art Coffee Machine. This machine enabled all of us coffee lovers to get our daily caffeine fix at the push of a button! There was often afternoon tea or baskets of fruit too. Most days it was very smooth sailing; only 1 rough day as we approached Darwin at the end of our trip. I would highly recommend this trip for any adventurous adults. Would not recommend for small children as there is nothing to entertain them & they would be bored. Overall an amazingly different type of cruise & yes I would go again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2016
From the moment I stepped onto this ship I was impressed by the friendliness and professionalism of the wonderful crew. Safety was paramount, both on and off the ship. I remember during one of the earlier safety briefings thinking, ... Read More
From the moment I stepped onto this ship I was impressed by the friendliness and professionalism of the wonderful crew. Safety was paramount, both on and off the ship. I remember during one of the earlier safety briefings thinking, 'if someone were to get into difficulty on this cruise, they couldn't be in more capable hands'. Little did I think that I would be that 'someone'. I was setting out on the seven night cruise from Cairns, combining the three night cruise going south with the four night cruise going north. I had chosen Coral Expeditions because there was no single supplement for solo travellers, like myself, and with only forty (or less) passengers and open seating in the dining room I felt it would be easy to get to know my fellow cruisers. I was not wrong. Everyone, both crew and passengers, were looking out for each other, but not in an intrusive way. If you wanted some 'me' time, just to take in the magnificent views, read a book or stroll along a deserted beach, you could do this. The crew were incredibly well organised, but the organisation was low key – you never felt regimented. You could do as much or as little as you wanted. There were activities for different ability levels. There were many opportunities to view different reefs either by glass bottom boat, snorkelling or scuba diving. Kristen, the marine biologist, and Lex, who was clearly passionate about this marine wonderland, made the glass bottom boat tours so enjoyable. Kristen's presentations in the ship's lounge on the Great Barrier Reef were informative and interesting, the touch tank was a great experience, especially for the children, the fish feeding off the back of the boat was another memorable activity. Pre-dinner drinks was always a lovely time. What nicer way to sip a glass of wine than sitting on a tropical beach of an uninhabited island watching the sun go down! Other evenings we would have pre-dinner drinks in the ship's upper lounge and this was an excellent opportunity to get to know ones fellow cruisers. Must mention the food – wow! - it never failed to amaze me how chef Mitch could produce such a variety of tasty, colourful, well presented dishes from his relatively small kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed every single meal. It's hard to pick my favourite part of the cruise, but if I had to, it would be the Hinchinbrook Channel. Not a sunny day but the cloud covered mountains reflected in the still waters produced an ethereal feeling. The day started before dawn with a boat cruise into one of the mangrove-lined inlets. It was so quiet. What a privilege to be there! Later that morning when we went for a bushwalk on Hinchinbrook Island we got back our 'land-legs'. I found the creek crossings a little challenging but Evie, the dive instructor, and other crew members were there to help us cross safely. Unfortunately, my wonderful cruise came to an abrupt end on the sixth morning off Lizard Island. I experienced medical problems whilst snorkelling. Evie responded to my hand signals and cries for help in a flash and swam out to me whilst Ricci brought the dinghy over. I was gently lifted into the dinghy and taken back to the ship where I was hooked up to oxygen. My memory of the episode is a little blurry but I do remember the caring, competent and professional way Evie and Ricci and the rest of the crew looked after me. There was an urgency but no panic. In my 70 years I have seen a lot of teams at work but the crew of Coral Expeditions II was the most outstanding team I've ever seen. It was reassuring to feel that they were working together to achieve the best possible outcome. A doctor was found among the passengers and the captain liaised with the doctor and the flying doctor. The purser, Udo, gently explained that I needed to be flown to the Cairns Base Hospital for tests (I really didn't want to leave the ship!) and then he organised my packing wrapping everything in polythene to protect against salt water ready for my transfer to the island resort and then the flying doctor back to Cairns. The kindness and support shown by the personnel of Coral Expeditions did not end with my evacuation from Lizard Island. I had barely arrived at the hospital when I received a visit from a lady who introduced herself as Tracy, hospitality and operations manager from Coral Expeditions Head Office. Tracey kept in touch with me while I was in hospital, checking to see if there was anything I needed. When I was discharged from hospital, Jacinta, also from head office, picked me up and drove me to my hotel. Words cannot adequately convey my gratitude to Evie, Ricci and the rest of the crew. If it hadn't been for their prompt and competent action I believe I would not be here to tell the tale. I was travelling solo but I never felt alone. I highly recommend Coral Expeditions and hope to travel with them again one day. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2016
I wanted a treat for my daughter who had just turned 21. As her mother I wanted a safe and luxurious experience for us both. This was a small ship which had some 20 passengers on it. It had capacity for around one third more than ... Read More
I wanted a treat for my daughter who had just turned 21. As her mother I wanted a safe and luxurious experience for us both. This was a small ship which had some 20 passengers on it. It had capacity for around one third more than this. The staff were excellent and went the extra mile.I couldn't fault any of them. Wonderful service. The cuisine was superb. It was varied and fresh. Top marks to the chef.The marine biologist was informative and friendly. As an experience diver I thought the dive instructor was excellent. He was mature beyond his years. The captain was engaging and friendly. There was an open bridge policy. The cabin was spacious. Great shore excursions to Cooktown and Lizard island. A tender took us ashore. Snorkelling and a glass bottom boat as well the opportunity to scuba dive and do a " try dive. " Four unforgettable days on the Great Barrier Reef. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2016
This cruise exceeded my expectations, and those of my partner! The crew were fabulous. Nothing was ever too much trouble for them, and they did everything with genuine smiles. Our cabin was very well serviced and the twin beds were ... Read More
This cruise exceeded my expectations, and those of my partner! The crew were fabulous. Nothing was ever too much trouble for them, and they did everything with genuine smiles. Our cabin was very well serviced and the twin beds were surprisingly comfortable. The food was great. The breakfast buffet had variety over the seven days. Lunches and dinners were of truly excellent quality. My partner has some specific and unusual dietary restrictions, but these were never a problem for the kitchen and he ate very well for the entire trip (in fact I said to the chef that my partner would probably not enjoy having to put up with my cooking again after the trip was over.....). The size of the ship seemed just right and there was always a quiet corner somewhere if you wanted to just be alone for a while. The snorkeling activities were extremely well organised and I was thrilled to see for myself the wide variety of life below the waves. My partner isn't in the best of health but even he got into it, and was given a "assisted snorkel tour" which allowed him to see what I saw without expending too much energy. The glass bottom boat was also a fantastic thing to have. We would definitely repeat this trip, no question! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We originally wanted to go on the Kimberley cruise but it was booked up, so we chose this one. We are so glad we did. The whole trip was extremely well planned from start to finish - the cruise company had thought of everything, and more ... Read More
We originally wanted to go on the Kimberley cruise but it was booked up, so we chose this one. We are so glad we did. The whole trip was extremely well planned from start to finish - the cruise company had thought of everything, and more besides. From the food to the service to the friendly staff to the cleanliness and the informal nature on board, we were treated extremely well for the whole trip. Not only that, the staff clearly all loved their jobs and were all true professionals, never making you feel like they had done these things a thousand times. They were all passionate and enthusiastic about the activities and trips. The number of passengers (35) was great - everyone got to know each other, and yet there was always enough time and space to be alone or in your own couple if you wanted to. This is one of the best trips we have ever done and wo won't do our Kimberley cruise with anyone else! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We have just returned from a 10-day cruise down the Kimberley Coast from Darwin to Broome on the “Coral Discoverer” (Coral Expeditions), it has been a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. This journey is all about the sights of ... Read More
We have just returned from a 10-day cruise down the Kimberley Coast from Darwin to Broome on the “Coral Discoverer” (Coral Expeditions), it has been a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. This journey is all about the sights of the Kimberley not accessible by any other means and it was wonderful. For people wishing to learn more about the area, it's history and inhabitants, both human and animal it is a must. Beautiful island vistas at dawn and sunset, fantastic rock paintings, often reached by a scramble up rocks or into caves, secluded beaches, rivers, waterfalls, reefs, sharks, dolphins, sea snakes, crocs etc. As for the ship, we have no complaints. Food was really excellent, the crew were all competent, helpful and friendly, nothing was too much trouble. We took advantage of the "open bridge" policy and had our maps updated daily. Our cabin was roomy, comfortable and cleaned daily. The Expedition Crew were amazing. Jamie, the leader, managed to make each day informative and entertaining with twice (and sometimes 3 times) daily expeditions aboard the Xplorer, always working with the tides to ensure a safe and pleasant experience. Each evening there was a review of the days events held in the lounge over pre-dinner drinks. Also each day either Mark, one of Jamie's team, or Tim the guest lecturer, would give a talk. Both were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subjects. The’ Xplorer’ is marvelous. It is boarded straight off the deck of Coral Discoverer and lowered to the water. It isn't flash but has relatively comfortable seats, a roof and a small toilet and it got us into places the ship couldn't go. There were also 3 zodiacs, which were usually boarded from the Xplorer, for those who wished to get even closer to the action. The Coral Discover is not a big "bells and whistles" liner, just a comfortable place from which to see the Kimberley. I suppose if I was the mention a negative it would be the sundeck which was not really useable during the day because of lack of shade (although to stargaze up there at night was good). There is plenty of other deck area to enjoy, so it wasn’t really a problem. All this added up to one of the best holidays we have ever had. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We had been on this cruise previously and found it the best holiday ever. We were not disappointed by going a second time with friends. Though we visited some of the same places there were many new places to visit and even those we'd ... Read More
We had been on this cruise previously and found it the best holiday ever. We were not disappointed by going a second time with friends. Though we visited some of the same places there were many new places to visit and even those we'd seen before were just as spectacular and introduced afresh by the knowledge and enthusiasm of Jamie, Mark and Tim. We learned more about different aspects of the Kimberleys and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see parts of Australia which are otherwise inaccessible. We were struck again by the willingness of the crew to make sure that everyone who wanted to participate in any activity could do so. The Explorer on the back of the boat is a genius design and allows even the most physically challenged to go on any of the excursions. The boat is due for a refit soon and the change of livery would be good but the cabins on A deck are superb, comfortable, ample room and beautifully fitted out so who could complain. The food is fantastic and plentiful and the kitchen makes every effort to cater for any request. The staff work very hard and are always available to answer questions and fulfill requests if at all possible. This is not a cruise for children. I'd go for a third time in a heartbeat. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My wife and I took a 7-night Great Barrier Reef cruise on Coral Expeditions II from 27 May to 3 June 2016. We have cruised on large and small ships in the past, and we are both of the opinion that the Coral Expeditions II cruise was the ... Read More
My wife and I took a 7-night Great Barrier Reef cruise on Coral Expeditions II from 27 May to 3 June 2016. We have cruised on large and small ships in the past, and we are both of the opinion that the Coral Expeditions II cruise was the best cruise we have been on. The cabins are very comfortable, and the bathrooms are the most spacious we have ever encountered on a cruise ship. The ship has excellent dining and lounge areas, and the sun deck has both an open and covered area. The beauty of the ship is that it is able to get very close to the reef, and it is fitted with a moving platform on the stern that means passengers who want to snorkel or dive can get into the water from the platform and you are only a matter of metres from the coral. We have snorkeled quite extensively in various places around the South Pacific, and the sights visited by the Coral Expeditions II offered some of the best snorkeling we have ever seen. The variety of coral and fish life was outstanding. While there were some small areas of coral bleaching, on the whole the reef was magnificent. The crew was helpful, friendly and knowledgeable, and their enthusiasm for the beautiful environment of the reef was very evident. The quality of the food was consistently very high. My wife has a specific dietary requirement which was well and truly catered for throughout the cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise from start to finish, and would definitely recommend it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
The service, the food, the crew, the accommodations, the Great Barrier Reef Queensland, AU, it doesn't get any better than this for an active fit adult experience. We did the 7 day which is the 3 and 4 day combined of north and ... Read More
The service, the food, the crew, the accommodations, the Great Barrier Reef Queensland, AU, it doesn't get any better than this for an active fit adult experience. We did the 7 day which is the 3 and 4 day combined of north and south cruises out of Cairns, pronounced Cans, and loved it. There is a bit of a shakeup when you lose shipmates and pick up new crew and passengers after 3 nights, but the new were just as friendly as the ones who left. We happened to pick the shoulder season so with a crew of 11-12 and 11 passengers on each of the passages the service was fantastic. But pictures of crystal clear water with depths of 100-120 feet wasn't what we saw. Our only disappointment was our first stop for snorkeling at Fitzroy Island. When we got back on board from snorkeling, we looked at each other and said what a waste of money if this is what we came to see. Yes, it was overcast, but the coral was brown and there were very few fish. Surely there is a better introduction to the GBR than this stop. And perhaps everything else wouldn't have been as good if we hadn't been so disappointed in Fitzroy Island. Pre dinner cocktails every evening in the top lounge with a preview of tomorrow's activities and then to exquisite dinners in the dining room. Tonight it was a seafood buffet with bugs (AU lobsters), oysters, smoked salmon, heads on prawns, a fish similar to whole red snapper assorted salads and sides. Saturday we arrived at Nuggin Reef for scuba and snorkeling. I was the only certified diver which was awesome. Ricci, the dive master, and I had an incredible dive. Lots of fish and soft coral. The afternoon we anchored at Nathan Reef which was just as beautiful as the prior one. the engines started at 7 am and breakfast at Saturday we rose to a beautiful sunrise anchored in the Hinchinbrook Channel. We took a glass bottom boat tour through the mangroves looking for croks, dolphins, turtles, birds and other wildlife. Although there were none of the above, it was a beautiful tour and a nice diversion. I jut realized how much I've done and only touch on the trip. Needless to say, it was amazing and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. There are beach bar bqs, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, great presentations on the reef and history, amazing people, fantastic food, unbelievable fish and soft corals snorkeling and diving. I couldn't have spent my 60th birthday in any better place with any better people. Thanks to my wonderful husband, Richard, and our new friends. But it is NOT for people with limited mobility. There are steep stairs that cannot be avoided. The activities do not require Olympians, but they do require good knees, hips and feet. Meals are about as good as they get on any large or small cruise line. The accommodations although smaller than large cruise ships are more than adequate with good storage. You only need a few bathing suits and shorts and casual shirts. A carry on is more than enough clothes. Suntan lotion of SPF 50 and insect repellent are provided. When you go to the beach, the crew sets up chairs and shade and brings water and drinks. Access to the water is unbelievably easy with the hydraulic lift for boat rides and snorkeling access. I would add this cruise to your bucket list. I crossed it off mine and couldn't be happier. The crew is outstanding. Eliza, purser, Evie, marine biologist, are the best - I miss you guys. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
The boat accommodates 22 people, (only there were only 13 on this cruise), so this suited us as we don't like touring with lots of people. There is a lounge area with big screen TV for presentations, bar and relevant books to borrow. ... Read More
The boat accommodates 22 people, (only there were only 13 on this cruise), so this suited us as we don't like touring with lots of people. There is a lounge area with big screen TV for presentations, bar and relevant books to borrow. We spent a lot of time with the fish ID book. There is also a sundeck and another bar in the dining area downstairs. You can call in at the wheelhouse any time the door is open and this was very interesting, seeing all the instruments. I watched the docking procedure on our return to Cairns. The cabin had 2 double wardrobes and other storage space, so all our stuff was out of the way. The food was excellent throughout and chef made me vegetarian meals, even though I was the only one eating them. All the crew were professional and friendly. I hate water and had never snorkelled before, but was made to feel confident that I could take it at my own pace and someone would be there to help if I needed them. I subsequently snorkelled 5 times and loved the experience. Similarly, my partner scuba-dived for the first time. We were kept informed of potential choppy seas so we could take medication before the event if needed, and staff were always available to help people move around the ship. The on-board marine biologist was excellent, giving presentations beforehand so we knew what to look for and information on the glass-bottomed boat tour which preceded each snorkel. Read Less
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