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43 Coral Expeditions II Cruise Reviews

Let me start this review by saying that I really do not like writing poor reviews,but there are times that the general public need to be aware of problems they are likely to encounter,which are perhaps not well publicised. I booked a 7 ... Read More
Let me start this review by saying that I really do not like writing poor reviews,but there are times that the general public need to be aware of problems they are likely to encounter,which are perhaps not well publicised. I booked a 7 night cruise on this vessel for my wife and I, as part of a very special around the world retirement trip. We have cruised a number of times before on both large and small vessels and have never before other than the odd very rough day had problems with motion sickness. Coral Expeditions 2 is a catamaran and as we found out, this and quite possibly other similar vessels are not user friendly as far as motion sickness is concerned. Let me start at the beginning however. We arrived at the Cairns cruise ship terminal about an hour and a half before the scheduled embarkation time of 4.00pm to find that the terminal uninhabited and looking like an empty warehouse. On Walking outside we noticed what can only be described as a little lean too type of affair at the far end of the vessel with a young lady standing there. Another older couple probably in there late seventies had arrived at the same time. We both approached the young lady and she duly confirmed that we could leave our luggage there but could not board the ship yet. She suggested that we walk approx 300 yds to the end of the marina where there was a cafe and could get a drink and waste some time. Then if we came back a little nearer embarkation time, we could probably by that time board and go into the lounge. So we started walking towards the cafe, but the older gentlemen could not walk very well and we had to leave him resting on a mooring,whilst his wife accompanied us to the cafe, where she purchased a drink and then walked all of the way back to where he had had to stop to give it to him. It is true that the ship had arrived back from its previous cruise at around 1pm that afternoon,but with just a little bit of though they might just have taken the time to Vac out and prepare the lounge area first, so that early arrivals could have parked themselves there, rather than being told to hike to a cafe 300 yds away. We were not expecting a champagne reception, but having experienced previous receptions, this was to say the least poor! The vessel was scheduled to leave port at 5 pm that evening and duly did. It became very evident to my wife and I very quickly that this was going to be very different to our previous cruises, as despite the fact that conditions were relatively calm the vessel presumably because it is a catamaran, began to seriously rock & roll from side to side. So by 7 pm that evening when we were due to go down to dinner,my wife had already taken to her bed feeling unwell. I was not feeling wonderful but managed whilst stumbling around the cabin to get dressed for dinner but having done that decided that I really was not able to enjoy a dinner, feeling as I did. That was the end of the first evening for us, which we spent in our bunks. Day two was more enjoyable. The vessel moved very little and we both managed to enjoy the snorkeling off of Lizard Island, plus breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were looking forward to doing some walking on the islands and there was one arranged for the second morning on Lizard island. For some reason that was scheduled for some unearthly hour that meant leaving the vessel at 5.00am!! We were on holiday not at a boot camp, so regretfully decided to miss that one. Then, the fun and games really started to kick in! On days 3 and 4 the vessel is scheduled to move from one ribbon reef to another during the luncheon period and then the motors start up again at 5 pm in the evening (similar to the first day) so that meant that the boat was in motion during both lunch and dinner!!! With the unstable nature of the craft, we, plus a number of other passengers were missing for both lunch and dinner on both days due to the constant rocking and rolling of the vessel. I manged a little bit of lunch on day 4, but other then that my wife and I survived on breakfast alone on both of those days. By the afternoon of the 4th day the relatively calm conditions had disappeared and as a result the vessel had difficulty mooring at the final reef as a result of the increasing wind. But never the less, rather then wait until late in the evening before starting the engines after passengers had been able to enjoy their dinner and most were comfortably tucked up in bed, the vessel moved off again at 5pm and another evening was ruined by motion sickness. After 5 hours of laying in my bunk that evening with the vessel rocking and rolling from side to side and crashing down with shuddering bangs I was literally praying for it to all end. My wife by that time was drugged up with sea sickness medication an was fortunately for her out of it. We unfortunately had no other option but to leave the vessel in Cairns the next morning and abort the final 3 days as we just could not face another 3 days, like the 4 we had just experienced. After this terrible experience, we have made a number of suggestions to Coral Expeditions as to what they should endeavour to do to increase 'ALL' of their passengers experience. The first one being that they should be honest and tell potential guests that this type of craft is basically unstable and as such if they do not have cast iron stomachs then this cruise is really not for them. There were a number of people on this vessel who were cruising for the first time and no doubt think that what they experienced is the norm. Being seasoned cruisers we know that that's not the case. Secondly they should not move the vessel at meal times, when with a little bit of thought they could arrange the schedule to avoid that as much as possible, especially from 7pm to 10 pm when passengers were trying to enjoy there dinner and drinks afterwards. Moving the vessel during the late evening or even early hours as I have mentioned earlier when meal times are out of the way and people are not having to move around the boat is the way forward on that. That's what other cruise operators try to do for obvious reasons. The response I received to these suggestions from the company was basically that they have been running cruises for a number of years and and they don't need to be told how to do so. They justify moving the vessel during meal times, so as to give their passengers the best experience possible. I reminded them that being unwell in bed for the best part of 3 days and not being able to eat our lunches, evening meals and enjoy after dinner drinks was no special experience! That's not what we paid all of that money for! The snorkeling was nice, but theres much more to any cruise than just the snorkeling. So you have now been warned. if you do not have a 100% cast iron stomach, don't go on this vessel or anything like it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I am a semi retired Master mariner with over 45 years of experience in a a variety of passenger vessels worldwide. I enjoy travelling as a passenger with my wife recently on boutique type cruise vessels. I have no connection with ... Read More
I am a semi retired Master mariner with over 45 years of experience in a a variety of passenger vessels worldwide. I enjoy travelling as a passenger with my wife recently on boutique type cruise vessels. I have no connection with any shipping company,shipping agency or travel agency and write this review purely as an independent tourist accompanied by my wife. We booked a 4 night cruise from Cairns to Cooktown ,Lizard Island and various reefs along the Great Barrier Reef.I have transited the Barrier Reef pilotage many times previously in my seagoing career but wanted a closer look at the reef without the rush of a day trip from Cairns.Coral Expedition 2 appeared to be our only option to achieve this. The vessel is very old and outdated and not suited to cruising in open waters. A catamaran cannot be stabilized as on a mono hull and is far from comfortable in the regular southeasterly conditions that can be encountered on the East coast. the cabins are clean with reasonable size bathrooms.However the dinning room resembles a compact crew mess and is far to small for the number of passengers on this vessel.The buffet style dining for most meals entails squeezing along a line to make your selection.Less memorable were the two evening meals of the table d'hote style.We had to order our meals at lunch time (just like a hospital or boarding school).One meal consisted of two tiny pieces of pork and 4 florets of broccoli and an equally small panna cotta dessert, minuscule and hardly a proper meal and not value for money. The visit to Cooktown was a token 2 hours and hardly long enough to look around.. The reef visits were okay but there is an archaic "safety manifest" for all guests to sign on departure from each stop whether you have left the vessel or not.I was resting in my cabin with the "do not disturb ' notice on the door when i was harassed to sign this silly piece of paper.I realise the vessel doesn't want to leave anyone behind but on the modern ships i have worked there are far less intrusive methods for checking crew and passenger numbers. Having done a similarly priced boutique cruise in the Pacific last year we were totally underwhelmed with our experience.At no stage were we made to feel welcome by the Australian crew and more like a mild inconvenience to them. In conclusion i would not recommend this cruise to anyone as it is not value for money. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise to experience snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef on a live-aboard. Embarkation on April 1st went smoothly, although there was a slight wait in getting onboard, during which we were advised to go and have ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef on a live-aboard. Embarkation on April 1st went smoothly, although there was a slight wait in getting onboard, during which we were advised to go and have breakfast at a coffeshop within walking distance. Once we'd all boarded - about 30 of us on a ship with a capacity of 44 pax - there was a presentation in the lounge on the 3-day cruise ahead and we were assigned our cabins. This is where our problems began, which I will describe in more detail below. The high points of the cruise were the friendly crew and the outstanding food. The meals were truly wonderful, with plenty of fresh fish, vegetables and fruit, prepared with imagination and taste. Windy weather at this time of year meant we couldn't quite follow the planned itinerary and the water was not as clear as one might hope, but that was no one's fault. Presentations and videos on the Great Barrier Reef, which were held in the comfortable ship lounge, were informative and interesting. We had plenty of time in the water, which is what we were most interested in; shore excursions were pleasant, including one free sunset cocktail and one where drinks had to be paid... a bit unexpected, so not many of us had brought any cash onshore with us. Now to the one big problem we encountered, which was compounded by very poor customer service and has led to the poor rating of this cruise: the pricing and classificication of accommodations onboard. We had booked and paid for a 'cabin' for our son and his girlfriend, and for a 'stateroom' for my husband and me - a category that cost nearly $400 AUD more. When we arrived onboard, we found, to our surprise, that the 'cabin' and 'stateroom' were carbon copies: identical in every respect, with absolutely no difference in size or comfort. Both were on the Lower Deck - in fact, our higher-priced 'stateroom' was located right by the galley! The purser very kindly moved us to the Upper Deck, into another 'stateroom', once again IDENTICAL down to the last detail, to our son's cheaper cabin. After the cruise, when we took this matter up with Coral Expeditions , no one bothered to reply at first. By sending repeated emails, we had the answer that the considerable price difference between 'cabin' and 'stateroom' was due to the superior position of the 'stateroom' category. Really? Our initial 'stateroom on the Lower Deck by the galley hardly seemed a prime location. Our advice is NOT to spend extra money booking a 'stateroom', and stay with the 'cabin' category. On a boat which houses just over 40 people, location hardly matters and besides, you hardly spend anytime in your room except to dress and sleep. The crew gave us to understand that the company is undergoing restructuring and the family who founded Coral Expeditions and built its good reputation is no longer at the helm. That may explain but does not excuse the poor customer service Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
I have travelled throughout the world on many different cruises and I would have to say the itinerary for the four night cruise from Cairns to Cooktown and the Great Barrier Reef was very well organised. The deck crew were an absolute ... Read More
I have travelled throughout the world on many different cruises and I would have to say the itinerary for the four night cruise from Cairns to Cooktown and the Great Barrier Reef was very well organised. The deck crew were an absolute pleasure and special mention needs to go to Charlie and Kristy who provided us with very entertaining and informative glass bottom boat tours. Bec who was in training also provided a great wealth of knowledge not to mention Captain Josh who does a brilliant job. To say I was disappointed with the hotel side of things would be an understatement. The food as exceptional and the staff were lovely but I couldn't help but notice the disorganisation of this area and hotel side of things from the moment we boarded to our departure. The purser seemed very disorganised and the crew didn't seem too sure of what was going on. A special mention to the wonderful Hannah and Anna who served us breakfast on the last day of the trip when it seemed as though know one knew what was going on. It was a disappointment that this sub par service was aloud to happen on what was a great trip let down by the hotel side of things. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This expedition cruise company are first class regarding the education that passengers receive about the plant and animal life we encounter. The pristine beauty of the fish and coral life on the Great Barrier Reef was the highlight of this ... Read More
This expedition cruise company are first class regarding the education that passengers receive about the plant and animal life we encounter. The pristine beauty of the fish and coral life on the Great Barrier Reef was the highlight of this cruise. The ship is very comfortable and well appointed and due to her smaller size she can access remote places of beauty in marine parks that large ships never could. The dining is 1st class and the crew are very accessible, knowledgeable and professional. I was impressed with the service and the size of our cabin. The shore excursions involved walks to some amazing lookout points on Dunk Island, Fitzroy Island and Lizard Island. Plus of course the drinks and canapes on the beach to watch the sunset. If you have an adventurous spirit and wish to travel with a smaller number of like minded people who are interested in wildlife, conservation, education, fresh air, plenty of activity at any age and wish to do it in comfort, this is the cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We had a fantastic time from start to finish and the crew could not have been more helpful friendly knowledge and extremely keen to make sure you had a great time on board. The quality of the food was amazing given the size of the galley ... Read More
We had a fantastic time from start to finish and the crew could not have been more helpful friendly knowledge and extremely keen to make sure you had a great time on board. The quality of the food was amazing given the size of the galley and you could even ask for something other than what was on offer if you didn't like the menu. It's a small vessel so you may sometimes become aware of the sea conditions but it's a fabulous way to see the Great Barrier Reef. The hands on attitude of the crew ensured that everyone got the absolute most from the trip including snorkelling for the very first time We would thoroughly recommend this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well ... Read More
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well presented and more then enough to eat. The staff were wonderful, very friendly and went out of their way to help. My mother is a weak swimmer and the trip director pull her around with life ring every time we went snorkelling. The staff was very careful to keep an eye on everyone in the water and ready to help you with your equipment. There was glass bottom boat rides as well as snorkelling at each reef. Getting on and off the boat was very easy. This has been my favourite thing we have done on our trip to Australia. I would come back just to do this cruise again. Everything went very smoothly. Highly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This company has cruising to a fine art. If you want to see the Great Barrier Reef, go snorkelling or diving then the staff will do everything to help you fulfill your dream. They have your safety as a priority. You visit a no. of Coral ... Read More
This company has cruising to a fine art. If you want to see the Great Barrier Reef, go snorkelling or diving then the staff will do everything to help you fulfill your dream. They have your safety as a priority. You visit a no. of Coral Sea Islands, learn about the fish and coral on the reef. The food is great with buffet lunch and breakfast with a choice for dinner, including a BBQ and seafood night. Morning and afternoon tea are also available. The ship enables you to get to know other passengers. Open dining allow this. The expedition boat accessible from the back deck means no tenders are needed just walk straight on to the expedition boat. It has covering to protect from the sun. As the days are quite active, including hiking on one of the islands, snorkelling, walking and visiting a turtle rehab. centre entertainment apart from movies are not needed, but the lovely lounge is a great place to get together. The top deck provides an excellent area to view the beautiful scenery. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Very hard to find with Google. I only found big ships; Coral Expedition (CE) with small boat was the only choice with key words such as "cruise the Great Reef Barrier”. Tougher to find Coral Expedition II (CE) in the Great Reef ... Read More
Very hard to find with Google. I only found big ships; Coral Expedition (CE) with small boat was the only choice with key words such as "cruise the Great Reef Barrier”. Tougher to find Coral Expedition II (CE) in the Great Reef Barrier on Trip Ad search engine. This may be one reason why so few reviews are published and awardly mixed with Kimberley & Asia cruises comments. Besides, passengers are in majority from old to very old and probably not tech oriented. I must do justice to the exeptional team on my 7 days trip in August 2017. The reservation team: In spite of being a last minute reservation 2 weeks before departure, every inquiry on email were handled immediately by the reservation team as compared to other cruise lines competitors who did not answer to my inquiries. Dawn and Benjamin dealt with my contraints and changing schedules, found 4 + 3 days trip in an upper deck cabin without single supplement, 1st big pleasant surprise. CE kept my luggage at their office and brought it to the terminal at boarding time, which freed an extra day visiting Cairns. 2nd pleasant surprise. Even more exceptional is their after trip care: they wrote to me about forgotten items on my cabin asking for directives on what to do with them ! 3rd surprise. The weather challenge: - Many got sea sick, but it's a trade off for an intimate, small boat with limited number of passengers. It was not an obstacle for my fun. CE is so generous as to depart even when very few people registered. - Dry suits and all gears provided at no charge; I kept them on everytime I got to the ocean so I could last longer. The passengers : - Cons: average age of passengers in my trip was above their 70ies, oldest was 91 yo. In spite of clear warnings from the crew that some activities required a very good physical fitness, some elderlies overestimated their capacity, could not follow and might be limiting factors. I would have preferred a younger, more dynamic and sport crowd to team up with. - Pros: luckily, they were lively, happy, fun, well travelled with experienced to share. The very few young adults were more tensed, avoided eye contacts, nearly hostile or simply shy, but gradually relaxed towards the end of their trip. Packages were either 4 days length (North leg, my favourite) or 3 (South leg), new passengers joined in between; making up your group and bonding was facilitated compared to other formula with passengers joining any day for different trip lengths. The crew: Wonder how CE select their staff with such interpersonal social skills, personality, attitude. Those qualities could not be trained. Maybe all Aussies are as nice, kind and generous ?!? Coral Exp, please keep them happy so they could contaminate us with their strong spirit. 13 staff members multi-talented, with multiple professional expertise and skills, switching tasks and responsibility seamlessly, from captainship to skippers to general maintenance to restaurant assistance and back. Everyone does everything, yet tasks seemed well defined, nothing got overlooked. They knew our names, even though we don't wear our name tag all the time and passengers rotation is every 3 to 4 days. Maintenance team were so efficient and discreet that we don’t get to see them; the rooms were always made up regardless of how many times we used the room and the bathroom, unlike in major hotel chains, 4th surprise. Thanks to Jay, Samy, and Aaron (?). Charlie with a heart of gold provided first aid for an elderly who travelled alone and broke his wrist; they took him to the hospital and back to the boat. Everyone helped him up and down the stairs, in rough sea or for glass bottom boat trips. Carole the purser from France, looked after us. Dany the marine biologist presented the ocean inhabitants like romanced stories or a cartoon characters, each personalized with their funny peculiarity, temperament, specific job in the food chain & in keeping the reefs. Ford, the engineer, is one of the lesser known crew member. He worked round the clock and fixed plumbing, engine, everything maintenance, you name it. Ford has worked for so many years on cruise boats and will tell you about diving in the area and in New Zealand. In the kitchen, Karina and the other chef (forgot his name and lost a point on the trivial pursuit !) did magic with the unreal sea food buffet. I am impressed with the prawn avocado salad; steamed red snaper; Morton Oysters; impossible roquette salad with parmesan, pine nut and pear; prawns marinated in coconut, lemon grass; or seared, Asian style salad, coconut & lemon grass fried scampi, chow mein; lamb racks. I ate so much and wished that one of the meals would be less appealing so my stomach could rest ! I would have loved more Australian fruits on my next trip with you, promised ? Here come the activities: I was not aware of all the land activities, I won't list them all here to leave room for surprises. That makes my 5th surprises. Land activities do not seem to be included in other live board cruises. Bring your sport walking shoes. Picnic, wonderful snorking and kayaking on Lizard Island beach till sun set; the next day mooring there, we went for a 3 hours walk up to the top of Lizard island only for the fittest ones; getting down the same steeped path seemed scary but actually much easier. Stunning views that compensate for the wake up call at 5:00 am. Check the wild orchids; the yellow flower shrubs (similar to the yellow flowers that bloom at the Vietnamese New Year and turn black and red after they ripen) contrasting with the deep blue back ground; the piles of rocks and stone that each visitor is supposed to bring up to the peak of the island. Fish feeding sessions night and day: we were in the water and saw a huge humphead Maori wrasse all blue and green, bigger than me, staring at me. I was scared for nothing as Maori humphead are only kind and curious. Very interesting visit to the very expensive Cooktown sea front; museum entrance fee on your own. Not as many dives as in other liveboard bc of land expeditions. 2 bottom glass trips at each site, for those who don't want to get wet or unfit to swim. Very skilled, precised skippers holding the boat still above interesting spots, positioned aside so to let the sun light gets through; parked the boat of 15 passengers with only one trial on top of the boat lift. Even though I dove and snorkelled, I went on all bottom glass trips to listen to Dany’s explanations, to have a sample of what to expect, then decide if I wanted to snorkle there. We love you Dany ! We were unlucky with the mangrove expedition at high tide. No fauna, birds, crocs visible. Turtle farm very instructive but nothing to see there. My baptism to diving with Ricardo: Con: no dive site layout. I suggest that we have a printed itinerary on the daily new bulletin. Pros: the 1st test dive of my manipulation of the equipment took 30 mn; 2nd dive 11,50 m (= 37”) at Ribbon Reef #3 spectacular, 33 mn; 3rd dive 11.90m, the max allowed 12 m for beginners, 36 mn fabulous. Wordless. In 1st dive, I was alone w Ricci. 2nd, Sami and David got along but followed us autonomously. Saw a cleaning station w neon blue damsels, Nemo the clown fish in ocre and blue collar in and out of anemone. Big yellow fish with brown polka dots under the corals. Huge califlowers bolders, jack fruit, bamboo, clayfish antennae, butterfly fish, no angel fish, yellow trumpet fish with green lines, square black flat fish with yellows stripes, dark blue box with yellow spots. Big bénitiers no colour, probably victims of bleaching. I dreamt, years ago, of swimming with a school of fish friends, no one else, in the deep blue. Dream came true ! We were given feed-backs after every dive. Everybody looked after you so that you set your equipment adequately for your comfort and fun. Colours are dissapointing in the South leg, even under the sun. Without the sun, even the North leg could be blah. Out of my 4 dives, only 2 really did wonders, the 1st being a test dive. You could see as many with snorkling alone, although you will miss out on the tall walls, the deep blue above you, shoals of fishes. Snorkling in Polynesia was much better years ago. While passengers were loading on and off in between the 2 legs of my trip, a visit were organized to Thapukai place, at the foot of Kuranda rain forest. We had to wait for unecessary period of time and missed out on visiting the wonderful facility. We snorkled and dove at Dunk and Lizard Island, Nathan reef, Watson's Bay on Cooks Island ?, Ribbon Reefs 3 and 9 and Escape Island No tip policy in Australia, so I managed to offer small gifts to express my gratitude, which the crew really appreciated. Dropped me off to my after cruise hotel. I did not keep track of all the beautiful details daily and must have missed quite a bunch, so please amplify the pleasure. Thanks to all the team of Coral Expeditions. Go with them ! (same comments posted in Trip Advisor) Read Less
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date April 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
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
Sail Date March 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
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 February 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
Sail Date January 2017
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
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
Sail Date December 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
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
Sail Date November 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 October 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
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
Sail Date September 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 August 2016
Coral Expeditions II Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.8
Entertainment 2.0 4.4
Public Rooms 3.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 2.0 4.8
Family 2.0 4.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 4.0 4.8
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.5

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