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.