As the name suggests, Coral Expeditions I is an expedition ship where the 'entertainment' as such comes with the destination and exploring new and exciting locations with like-minded people. There is very little evening entertainment as most guests catch up over a drink and dinner. However, on most cruises, the captain hosts 'welcome drinks' on the first night where everyone toasts the trip with a couple of glasses of free bubbly and canapes, usually served on the open deck. A similar event takes place on the last night of the cruise. On some cruises there may also be impromptu talent nights and sing-alongs. Other entertainment takes the form of digital slideshows of the cruise highlights -- with photos playing on a loop on the ship's TV monitors. Videos and talks on a variety of topics may also take place. (See Enrichment below.)
Other than that, evening entertainment usually means having a few drinks and a chat with other passengers.
There is no theatre. DVDs are shown on a flat-screen TV monitor in the Forward Lounge on B Deck. The DVDs are nature and destination-based and may be about the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania, the Kimberley, sharks, the environment, or any number of topics. Passengers are free to watch videos in the lounge at their leisure.
With two excursions every day -- which may be a bushwalk, snorkelling, kayaking or a visit to historic sites -- there is very little time spent on board during the day. The 'daily fun' is what happens off the ship. A typical cruise will offer two activities a day depending on the destination. After the morning's outing, passengers return to the ship for lunch and a relax before the afternoon's activity. Some of the excursions, such as bushwalks, can be quite strenuous and often people will have a post-lunch nap. While there is certainly always plenty to do off the ship, we felt that some sort of activity should have been planned for passengers who stay on board and don't want to go exploring -- perhaps a trivia game. We raised the matter during our cruise, and we were told that there aren't enough staff available to host such activities. Crew members always accompany passengers when they go ashore; there will always be one bushwalk leader and another one or two other guides or crew bringing up the rear. These guides carry first-aid kits and radio equipment in case of emergency.
There is very little organised entertainment at night.
Because Coral Expeditions I carries just 46 passengers, it only needs a handful of public spaces. There is one main bar in the dining room and a bar on the top level Sun Deck, however, this is only used during the welcome drinks function and other special gatherings. Apart from the small pre-dinner lounge sitting area attached to the dining room, there is the just one other lounge where the video presentations and talks take place.
Dining Room Bar (Deck C): This is a small bar at the rear of the dining room. It is manned most of the day by one staffer and by one or two at night. It is stocked with a limited range of Australian and New Zealand wines (seven white wines, six reds, one rose and three dessert wines, along with a sparkling.) If, however, you're a Champagne connoisseur there's just one offering -- Bollinger -- and it only sold by the bottle. Beers, spirits, cocktails and liqueurs are also on offer. Taking pride of place on the bar is a small oak cask of Lark Malt Whisky, which is distilled in Tasmania from malt grown in Franklin. Only a few of the wines are sold by the glass (with prices at AU$8 and AU$9 per glass), however passengers can buy a bottle, which will be kept in the fridge for them to be consumed throughout the cruise. Wines by the bottle range from AU$32 for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to AU$75 for a Margaret River Chardonnay; Bollinger Champagne is AU$98 a bottle. Beers are reasonably priced from AU$6 to AU$8 and all cocktails are AU$12.
Dining Room Lounge (Deck C): This is a small area off the dining room where passengers gather for a chat over pre-dinner drinks. It is a pleasant area recently refurbished with grey and blue patterned banquette seating and tub chairs. Situated near to a row of windows, it is also the perfect place to relax by day and watch the world go by.
Lounge (Deck B): One deck above the dining room and at the front of the ship, this is the other main indoor gathering place. The Lounge has two flat-screen TVs, a selection of books, comfortable arm chairs and lounges and one computer with satellite internet access. When talks and videos are not taking place, this is another great place to relax with or without a book.
There is no pool on board the ship. The hot tub, which was formerly on Deck A at the rear of the ship, was removed in a recent renovation. In its place an extended Sun Deck with cane furniture and tables.
The ship carries a purpose-built landing and exploration vessel, called the Xplorer, for making beach landings and also cruising along shallow waterways. The boat is large enough to carry all passengers and crew, is attached to a hydraulics system, and is lowered into the water from the rear of Deck C (the same deck as the dining room) and then lifted out of the water again on return to the ship. This saves passengers from stepping down into the boat and also from having to step up and climb out of it. They can simply just walk in and out at the same level as the deck.
Coral Expeditions I also carries two rubber landing craft and four kayaks; the latter are used in quiet bays and inlets depending on the itinerary and the weather.
Sun Deck (Deck A): The Sun Deck on Deck A has recently been refurbished with smart looking cream cane and cushioned lounge and armchair and timber tables. It was extended into the area that formerly housed the hot tub, or Jacuzzi.
This area contains a bar that is only used during special occasions such as the welcome drinks evening. This is an ideal place to relax in the sunny climes of Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.
Forward viewing deck (Deck B): Passengers can walk around the entire ship on Deck B. At the front (or bow) is a viewing area perfect for watching dolphins as they ride the bow wave or for simply taking in the ocean breezes. They are wooden benches to sit on; it's the ideal place to be as the ship cruises toward amazing landmarks, such as the Kimberley's massive red rocks. Rear deck (Deck B): There are a few sun loungers where passengers can recline and look over the wake.
The Lounge on Deck B also incorporates a small library with one computer connected to the Internet. However, satellite Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship for those with their own laptops, tables and devices. As the ship travels to some very remote areas, a connection may not always be available. Satellite Internet prices are rather steep at AU$40 for an hour and AU$60 for two hours. Longer times are more affordable. The ship also has a small shop with a range of branded clothing along with toiletries and another essentials. Items for sale include polo shirts at AU$60, AU$65 and AU$80, caps at AU$25, backpacks (AU$45), water bottles (AU$25) and stubby coolers (AU$12). Toothpaste and saving packs are complimentary if needed, while sunscreen and seasickness pills are freely available from the purser's desk.expl
There is no spa, and no treatments are available on the ship.
Apart from four kayaks, there is no fitness equipment on the ship. When the weather is favourable, the crew will launch the kayaks in quiet waterways. They are free.
There are no dedicated activities for children or families. The best family cruises are the short three-, four- and seven-night itineraries on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Expeditions I does not currently operate those itineraries, although sister ship Coral Expeditions II does.