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29 March 2021

Important amendments to April-May Kimberley Season 2021

We would like to address information reported in news and trade media over the past few days and update you on the status of Coral Expeditions’ Kimberley and Northern Australian sailing season for 2021.

Coral Expeditions (and other operators) received formal notification from the Northern Territory government on Friday 26 March outlining new legislation titled: ‘The Principles of Expedition Cruising in the Northern Territory’.  We have attached this information HERE. These changes were contrary to prior advice we received from NT authorities over the past 9 months of engagement.  Nevertheless, we have no choice but to comply.

Since Friday, there have been some inaccuracies in reporting and commentary in media with regards to these principles. We would like to clarify and provide information now to all our valued guests and travel partners on the impacts of the new regulations.

It is important to note that Coral Expeditions can meet all the requirements of the principles, except for the newly introduced maximum capacity for persons onboard which is set at 100 including both passengers and crew.

Firstly, the vessel Coral Discoverer, which has a capacity of 72 passengers and operates with 23 crew, will be able to meet this new directive and will operate her season across the Kimberley and Cape York as scheduled between Broome and Darwin.  There will be no change to the scheduling of Coral Discoverer.

Secondly, for our vessels Coral Adventurer and Coral Geographer, it will not be possible for them to call on the Port of Darwin whilst the 100 person capacity limit remains a part of the Principles. As a result, we have made some changes to our sailing schedule for April and May for these two vessels, and we are working with all affected passengers and travel partners in communicating this. At this time, we are focussed on voyages departing between April and May as we are unsure how long this situation may be in place.

Coral Adventurer and Coral Geographer will continue to run the Kimberley season as published except that, for the months of April and May, both embarkation and disembarkation will be at the Port of Broome. All published embarkation and disembarkation dates will remain the same and the Kimberley itinerary with all highlights will continue to be delivered in full, despite the change in ports.  Please note that the vast majority of our classic Kimberley itinerary falls within WA anyway.  We hold approvals to operate in WA; indeed Coral Adventurer has been in WA waters for the past month.

To facilitate this change, Coral Expeditions has secured charter flights to connect guests between Darwin – Broome – Darwin on the dates where Broome replaces Darwin for Coral Adventurer and Coral Geographer voyages.  This is a convenient option as guests can retain their travel arrangements from Darwin and simply board the charter flight to Broome or vv.  This flight will be timed to make it convenient for the scheduled ship movement in/out of Broome port.   This service will involve a cost of $300 payable by guests. This charter flight is entirely optional but will ensure travellers can continue their planned itineraries with minimal disruption.

In light of the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic, we remain committed to supporting all guests to complete their travel plans for 2021. We will continue our dialogue with authorities in the Northern Territory and are hopeful that we will be able to see some progress in the coming months that may allow our Australian flagged small vessels to operate with 99 passengers plus crew as is the case across all states of Australia and in line with the federal Biosecurity legislations. As soon as we are able, we will revert to our usual scheduling pattern once again.

Our reservations team will be communicating these changes with guests and travel partners for departures from April to May at this stage. If you have clients travelling from June onwards, we recommend that you do not make any changes at this time and our team will be in contact with you at the appropriate time to work through changes that may be required.

We hope this assists your understanding and we do apologise for any inconvenience caused by these changes.  Our sales and reservations teams are available to assist you in the event of further queries.