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Cape York and Arnhem Land

Cape York & Arnhem Land (Darwin to Cairns), 11 Nights - Coral Expeditions I

The Cape York and Arnhem Land expedition is a fascinating tapestry that immerses keen explorers in the very best of Australia’s northern coastline.

Join us aboard Coral Expeditions I in Darwin for a remarkable 11-night voyage of discovery to Cairns, visiting otherwise inaccessible locations and developing a rich understanding of the culture of the traditional owners of the Torres Strait and Arnhem Land.

At the start of your expedition, experience the warm hospitality of the rarely-visited Tiwi Islanders as they share their ancient culture and traditional lifestyles with us.  As you travel West, you’ll meet artists who have exhibited in galleries around the world, and visit remote art centres. You’ll learn of the Macassan sailors of the 17th century as we cruise the Arnhem Land coast. Visit renowned art centres and meet local traditional owners and artists in communities such as Maningrida, Elcho Island, and Yirrkala.

Savour a glass of champagne as the sun rises over the northern ‘Tip of Australia’ on the Cape York Peninsula and discover the fascinating history of the Torres Strait Islands. As you approach Cairns, explore the northern reef and tour the fascinating Lizard Island Research Station to learn how scientists are preserving the Reef for future generations.

Farewell Coral Expeditions 1On this voyage, join us in farewelling our much-loved vessel Coral Expeditions 1, the ship that truly set the course for us here at Coral Expeditions. This will be the last hoorah as we sail from Darwin to our home in Cairns on an 11-night trip.

Expedition highlights:

  • Be immersed in the world’s oldest surviving culture in Arnhem Land
  • Spend a full day exploring the rugged Cobourg Peninsula for historical ruins and fascinating wildlife
  • With a local guide, visit the remote and culturally rich Tiwi Islands
  • Learn about Indigenous art at Elcho Island, Nhulunbuy and Maningrida Art Centres
  • Stand on the very tip of Australia at Cape York for a champagne sunrise
  • Visit Thursday Island and learn about the cultures of the Torres Strait
  • Explore Lizard Island and the northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Discover the Arnhem Land coast, once the trading ground of the Macassan people


September 2019

Deluxe Stateroom $10,790 n/a
Upper Deck Stateroom $10,290 n/a
Stateroom $9,890 n/a
Cabin $8,690 $13,035*

*Limited sole use occupancy available.



Embarkation: Board at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 7:00am for 8:00am departure.
Disembarkation: Arrive and disembark at Cairns’ Trinity Wharf at 08:00am.

No two Cape York & Arnhem Land cruises with Coral Expeditions will be the same, each expedition is crafted by our experienced Masters and Expedition Leaders around weather and community requirements. Below is a selection of the key destinations visited.

Day 1: Depart Darwin

Board Coral Expeditions I at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 7:00am ahead of our 8:00am departure.

Tiwi Islands

Coral Expeditions tiwi islands

Visit remote Bathurst Island. With local Tiwi guides, we learn of the unique culture and visit the art centre. Be welcomed with a cultural performance, and see wonderful screen-printing, art, woodcarvings, and pottery. Witness a smoking ceremony, traditional basket weaving and morning tea with the locals, over freshly cooked damper and billy tea.

Cobourg Peninsula

Discover Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the Cobourg Peninsula. Join Park Rangers in Port Essington, famous for the failed Victoria Settlement, and explore the ruins while learning about the fascinating history of this early colonial outpost.

Liverpool River and Maningrida

Anchor in the mighty Liverpool River and travel ashore to explore the Maningrida Art Centre, museum, and the local boutique, where hand-painted textiles can be purchased.

Elcho Island: Galiwin'ku and Gawa

The friendly locals of Elcho Island proudly welcome us to their community this morning. Meet some of the local artists who have their unique art exhibited in the famous art galleries of the world including the Louvre.

In the afternoon, visit the community and school of Gawa.

Hole in the Wall and Wessel Islands

We travel through the narrow channel between Raragala and Guluwuru Islands, known as the ‘Hole in the Wall’.  Arrive in the port of Nhulunbuy (Gove) and be transferred to the Walkabout Lodge, tonight’s accommodation.

Nhulunbuy (Gove) and Horn Island

Join our Expedition Leader to discover this frontier town of Nhulunbuy and experience local culture, industry and history. After lunch, we visit the renowned Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre at Yirrkala before transferring to the airport for our charter flight across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Horn Island. Tonight, we stay at the historic and pioneering Gateway Torres Strait Resort.

Thursday Island

Embark on a short tour of Horn Island prior to our transfer by ferry to Thursday Island where we rejoin Coral Expeditions I. Tour Thursday Island, and learn of the history of European settlement and the large pearling fleets. Following a short cruise to Cape York, we travel ashore and enjoy the sunset and champagne at the ‘Tip’ of Australia.

Northernmost Point of Cape York


Go ashore at the northernmost point of the Australian continent, and sip champagne  to celebrate this special moment while the sun rises.

Forbes Island

Enjoy a day exploring Forbes Island, an excellent spot for swimming or snorkelling from the pristine sandy beaches. Take a walk to the grave of beche-de-mer fisherman Frederick Lancaster.

Davie Reef and Flinders Group

Visit Stanley Island in the Flinders Group, and view the isolated Endaen Aboriginal rock art depicting the first sailing ships to visit Queensland shores. At Davie Reef, enjoy swimming and snorkelling and observe the large seabird rookery.

Lizard Island

Explore secluded Lizard Island, one of the most beautiful islands on the Queensland coast. Venture into the crystal clear waters for swimming and snorkelling or take a walk along the sparkling white beach. An energetic guided walk leads to Cook’s Look – from this peak, Captain James Cook was able to sight a navigable passage through the treacherous reef after repairing the HMB Endeavour.



Visit historic Cooktown where Captain Cook took refuge during his voyage of discovery. This evening, join the Captain and crew for farewell drinks.

Day 12: Cairns

Arrive in Cairns and disembark at 8:00am.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

September 2019

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
13 September 2019 13 Sep 2019 24 September 2019 24 Sep 2019 $8,690 to $10,790 $8,690 to $10,790 Coral Expeditions I Filling Fast Book


Your cruise price includes:

  • Accommodation in selected room grade for the number of nights as listed in each itinerary
  • Post-cruise transfers
  • All meals
  • House beer and wine during lunch and dinner service
  • 24 hour tea and coffee
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks
  • Access to islands, marine and national parks, and art centres
  • Touring as described in each itinerary
  • Services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings and knowledge-sharing sessions
  • Port taxes and government charges imposed by government authorities


  • Pre and post cruise flights
  • Entry visas/travel permits
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases


Tipping not required:

Other cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. On Coral Expeditions I, our crew has no other agenda than your delight.

Now that you’ve chosen your cruise, our reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements.

Contact our reservations specialists for advice about making the most of your time before and after your cruise.

To speak to our reservations specialists contact us during business hours on freecall 1800 079 545 (within Australia), or email

We strongly recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance with any cruise purchase. See below for further details.

Recommended Darwin Hotels

Doubletree by Hilton Esplanade

Located in a prime position close to the waterfront, the Doubletree by Hilton Esplanade offers comfortable and well appointed rooms, a large outdoor pool and friendly, relaxed service. Just a short stroll from all of the attractions of the city, the restaurants of Mitchell Street and art galleries.

Hilton Darwin

Overlooking Darwin Harbour, Hilton Darwin offers fabulous Esplanade views and an ideal location in the heart of the city. Enjoy contemporary features, great location and a welcoming service every time you stay. The elegant rooms and suites are loaded with thoughtful amenities and many have stunning Harbour views.  Mitchell’s Grill restaurant with innovative Australian cuisine, high-floor outdoor pool, gym, flexible meeting space and more.

Adina Apartment Hotel

Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront is located in the heart of the Darwin Waterfront precinct with close proximity to the CBD and overlooking the Darwin Waterfront Recreational Lagoon and man-made Wave Lagoon.

Adina is the perfect choice for discerning travellers with central locations across Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Offering a range of spacious accommodation for guests including: studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments.

Recommended Cairns Hotels

Novotel Oasis Cairns Resort

Beautiful tropical and modern contemporary style is awaiting you at the Novotel Oasis Cairns Resort. Each spacious room features air-conditioning and a private balcony or terrace facing the resort pools, tropical gardens or Cairns city. A short stroll leads to many local restaurants and the Cairns waterfront with it many attractions.

Pullman Cairns International

The Pullman Cairns International is a beautiful five star heritage-style hotel, located right in the heart of the Cairns CBD. The hotel boasts 321 rooms, your choice of Executive Suites, Premium Rooms, Harbour View Rooms, or City Mountain View Rooms. All rooms are very spacious and include private balconies. Bathrooms feature Italian marble, with back-heated mirrors.

Pullman Reef Hotel & Casino

Nestled in the heart of Cairns just 200 metres from Trinity Wharf, the 5-star Pullman Reef Hotel offers luxuriously appointed rooms in an unmistakably Tropical North Queensland style and feature light timbers, plantation shutters, spa bath and private garden balcony. Outstanding service awaits at the Pullman.


Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. It should also include emergency evacuation and repatriation cover.

We recommend Travel Insurance by SureSave.

SureSave, is an Australian company who specialise in travel insurance designed for travellers. SureSave provides world assistance through a customer support team, a claims team and an in-house 24/7 Emergency Assistance division. Underwritten by Lloyds of London, you get peace of mind knowing your security is guaranteed. When you need help, you’ll get it in a familiar accent from someone who understands and is there to help.

Please note: SureSave Travel Insurance policies may only be purchased by Australian residents. For international travellers, please discuss your policy requirements with your local insurance provider.