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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.
Annie C. | Great Barrier Reef | October 2016
There aren’t enough good words to use about these guys. Flawless. Honestly I think the best thing I have ever done on a holiday, and that’s saying something! Having done day trips to the reef before I was really underwhelmed. I don’t dive (though the amazing dive instructor with Coral gave me the confidence in the free skills class that I ended up doing an hour dive!) but I love snorkelling. This cruise suits anyone from experienced divers to non-swimmers, as there’s a dive instructor on board taking any level of experience, all the snorkelling equipment you could need (and staff even taking time to teach people snorkelling who hadn’t been before/guiding weak swimmers) plus glass bottom boat for non-swimmers. Marine biologist on-board was so knowledgeable; glass bottom boat took us to and from shore on Lizard Island and did a few other trips every day to see the reef and learn about it too. I did them all! Snorkelling was unbelievable – the cruise visits 5 different reef sites, including all three types of reef. The boat was amazing; very comfortable and cabins brilliant. Rooms cleaned daily, as well as turn down service in the evenings. Every need was taken care of, food was AMAZING (full breakfast and lunches as well as varying between buffet and a la carte dinners, plus morning and afternoon tea). I am a foodie and I was impressed. To put it into a nutshell… our first afternoon on the beach at Lizard Island we watched the sun go down while eating canapés and oysters and drinking champagne. The next day on our excursion ashore the chef had made a selection of fresh macarons. It was to die for. I could go on and on, but it was a phenomenal way to REALLY see the outer reef at its best. Already thinking of booking it for my dad when he goes to Oz next year and have recommended to a client already. We were so lucky with the weather – I didn’t take many pics but here’s one of waking up to perfectly calm seas at Lizard Island! We were very lucky that there was only 17 of us aboard (takes up to 40) and 12 staff members, but I have no doubt the service would be just as great regardless, the staff were SO good. I could go on about it for hours seriously it was PHENOMENAL…
Rosie S. | Great Barrier Reef | October 2016
Thank you for providing a most comprehensive range of photos from the expedition 9th to 19th September 2016. There are some excellent memories to relive the magic from the expedition, the fellow travellers and the friendly, competent and knowledgeable crew provided me with lasting memories of this great experience.
Thank you again for such a memorable expedition.
Greg A. | The Kimberley | September 2016
I wanted to thank you for all the help you gave me in organising my trip on Coral Expeditions 1. It was the trip of a life time for me. My fabulous cabin was very luxurious, the staff amazing ( like staying with family) and the activities always interesting. The chef produced amazing food to the extent one of the guests said ” couldn’t you serve something I don’t like”! Tom Collis the guest lecturer was a mine of information which he always presented in a friendly easily accessible way.
Lesley R. | The Kimberley | September 2016
We just got back from an incredible seven night cruise out on the Great Barrier Reef with Coral Expeditions. This was our second time travelling with your company, the last time was a cruise we did in New Zealand six years ago. We had so much fun on that cruise that when we got the opportunity to travel in this part of the world we knew we had to find a way to travel with you again. This time we got to share the experience with our two year old autistic son, Indy. It was just pure magic to be able to share with him the fun experience of being on a boat at sea. The glass bottom boat tours with Mark and Evie were so much fun for him. The fact that at every meal Udo was there to help make sure Indy’s special dietary needs were met and that chef Mitch and Gina went out of their way to help make that all come together was incredible and a huge relief to us. There are so many things that make travelling with you guys special, a smaller boat means a more authentic time spent at sea, the ability to go to little hidden gems like Lizard Island and to be able to snorkel and SCUBA dive out on the Great Barrier Reef right from the back of the boat is just amazing. What really makes the experience so awesome is the people who work at Coral Expeditions. Captain Kent, Mark, Evie, Sophie, Bec, Ricci, Udo, Chef Mitch and Gina, Jasmine and Snowy, you are all awesome and made our trip very special. Indy loved it, he woke up every single morning giggled and ripped open the curtain to see where we were. He would laugh whenever Captain Kent or Mark or Evie announced something over the intercom, he loved feeling the roll of the waves and having dinner with his friend Udo there making sure he got all the bacon he needed. He was happy and as a Mom I can’t thank you all enough for such a wonderful time.
The Great Barrier Reef was cool too :)
Lesley S. | Great Barrier Reef | September 2016
The Coral Expeditions I
***** from beginning to end. Couldn’t ask or want for anything more.
Crew – Fantastic – couldn’t ask for better
Cabin – Spot ON – daily service
Ship – Very Bright, Roomy and Comfortable
Restaurant – ***** choice of meals excellent: Great Chef: Great service
Guides: Dennis, Mike & Tim – 3 of the most knowledgeable and entertaining men you could wish to meet.
Excursions: All ages catered for –
Fantastic – such a wonderful part of this ancient country to see and absorb – from the aboriginal art galleries, waterfalls, to witnessing the tidal phenomena’s and riding through the rough waters in the the zodiacs at the Horizontal Falls, seeing the exposed Montgomery Reef, catching up on the history surrounding this area, the varied bird life and sea creatures (crocodiles: turtles: sting rays: sharks. etc.) so much to think about and take in.
Makes you take a long look at all the remarkable people who have travelled this inhospitable area in the past, leaving their mark for us all to see and witness today with different eyes, understanding and respect.
Jeannette and Graham N. | The Kimberley | August 2016
From the moment I stepped onto this ship I was impressed by the friendliness and professionalism of the wonderful crew. Safety was paramount, both on and off the ship. I remember during one of the earlier safety briefings thinking, ‘if someone were to get into difficulty on this cruise, they couldn’t be in more capable hands’. Little did I think that I would be that ‘someone’.
I was setting out on the seven night cruise from Cairns, combining the three night cruise going south with the four night cruise going north. I had chosen Coral Expeditions because there was no single supplement for solo travellers, like myself, and with only forty (or less) passengers and open seating in the dining room I felt it would be easy to get to know my fellow cruisers. I was not wrong. Everyone, both crew and passengers, were looking out for each other, but not in an intrusive way. If you wanted some ‘me’ time, just to take in the magnificent views, read a book or stroll along a deserted beach, you could do this.
The crew were incredibly well organised, but the organisation was low key – you never felt regimented. You could do as much or as little as you wanted. There were activities for different ability levels. There were many opportunities to view different reefs either by glass bottom boat, snorkelling or scuba diving. Kristen, the Marine Biologist, and Lex, who was clearly passionate about this marine wonderland, made the glass bottom boat tours so enjoyable. Kristen’s presentations in the ship’s lounge on the Great Barrier Reef were informative and interesting, the touch tank was a great experience, especially for the children, the fish feeding off the back of the boat was another memorable activity.
Pre-dinner drinks was always a lovely time. What nicer way to sip a glass of wine than sitting on a tropical beach of an uninhabited island watching the sun go down! Other evenings we would have pre-dinner drinks in the ship’s upper lounge and this was an excellent opportunity to get to know ones fellow cruisers.
Must mention the food – wow! – it never failed to amaze me how chef Mitch could produce such a variety of tasty, colourful, well presented dishes from his relatively small kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed every single meal.
It’s hard to pick my favourite part of the cruise, but if I had to, it would be the Hinchinbrook Channel. Not a sunny day but the cloud covered mountains reflected in the still waters produced an ethereal feeling. The day started before dawn with a boat cruise into one of the mangrove-lined inlets. It was so quiet. What a privilege to be there! Later that morning when we went for a bushwalk on Hinchinbrook Island we got back our ‘land-legs’. I found the creek crossings a little challenging but Evie, the dive instructor, and other crew members were there to help us cross safely.
Unfortunately, my wonderful cruise came to an abrupt end on the sixth morning off Lizard Island. I experienced medical problems whilst snorkelling. Evie responded to my hand signals and cries for help in a flash and swam out to me whilst Ricci brought the dinghy over. I was gently lifted into the dinghy and taken back to the ship where I was hooked up to oxygen. My memory of the episode is a little blurry but I do remember the caring, competent and professional way Evie and Ricci and the rest of the crew looked after me. There was an urgency but no panic. In my 70 years I have seen a lot of teams at work but the crew of Coral Expeditions II was the most outstanding team I’ve ever seen. It was reassuring to feel that they were working together to achieve the best possible outcome. A doctor was found among the passengers and the Captain liaised with the doctor and the flying doctor. The Purser, Udo, gently explained that I needed to be flown to the Cairns Base Hospital for tests (I really didn’t want to leave the ship!) and then he organised my packing wrapping everything in polythene to protect against salt water ready for my transfer to the island resort and then the flying doctor back to Cairns.
The kindness and support shown by the personnel of Coral Expeditions did not end with my evacuation from Lizard Island. I had barely arrived at the hospital when I received a visit from a lady who introduced herself as Tracy, Hospitality and Operations Manager from Coral Expeditions Head Office. Tracy kept in touch with me while I was in hospital, checking to see if there was anything I needed. When I was discharged from hospital, Jacinta, also from head office, picked me up and drove me to my hotel.
Words cannot adequately convey my gratitude to Evie, Ricci and the rest of the crew. If it hadn’t been for their prompt and competent action I believe I would not be here to tell the tale.
I was travelling solo but I never felt alone. I highly recommend Coral Expeditions and hope to travel with them again one day.
Kathy S. | Great Barrier Reef | August 2016
This was one of the most marvellous experiences I have ever had travelling and I would still be on the ship if I could! The crew were so friendly and knowledgeable and the shore excursions were excellent. I want to thank everyone from Captain Gary to the engineers in the ‘bowels of the ship’ for their professionalism and such a great experience!
Philippa H. | The Kimberley | July 2016
I do want to tell you that my wife and I often sing your praises and when asked, we always tell people, whether asked on other cruises, or on any other occasions, that some of the happiest and best overall organisation in cruising which we have done, has been with Coral Expeditions. On the 30 or so cruises we have done, including many ranging from a number of other operators, we always remember and refer to the Kimberley cruise with you from Darwin to Broome, as a highlight among the many and thank you again and again for the many happy memories you and your people have given us.
John S. | The Kimberley | April 2016
Having virtually just arrived back from our “Kimberley Coast Cruise” on Coral Expeditions I (CEI), we thought that we would take the time to pass on feedback to you. We were extremely delighted with the way we were looked after by all the Staff on CEI. Special thanks must also go to Tamara [Purser] & Daniel [Chef] for the assistance in catering for Ken’s special Diet [Low F.O.D.M.A.P]. The requirements for his diet offered by the Staff certainly exceeded our expectations, thereby making our experiences on the Cruise far more enjoyable. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and would no hesitation in travelling with, [or recommending to others], Coral Expeditions sometime in the future maybe to Cape York & Arnhem Land and/or Papua New Guinea. Once again many thanks to all concerned in making the cruise a time to remember.
Ken and Sandra W. | The Kimberley | April 2016
“We enjoyed this cruising so much, we have been on five more cruises and have wonderful memories of the stunning Kimberley area and going through the Horizontal Waterfalls in the zodiac, visiting many small islands of Melanesia and Papua, and to New Zealand, seeing the uniqueness of the local people. We have recently been on our sixth cruise – this was Darwin to Cape York and Arnhem Land and on to Cairns, visiting the Tiwi Islands, Cobourg Peninsula and Torres Strait Islands, again seeing the diversity of local people, and again being able to access diverse and spectacular remote areas in the small ship. We enjoyed and admired the beauty of sunset at the tip of Australia and then cruised, snorkelled and swam in the Barrier Reef, among beautiful coral and fish. The features we enjoyed on our first cruise still draw us back and we look forward to more memorable experiences, eco – adventure cruising with Coral Expeditions.”
Jenny and Sel G. | Cape York and Arnhem Land | March 2016
“Thank you for sending a disc containing a compilation of photographs taken by Expedition leader, Ranger & other people during the Tasmania Expedition Cruise of Hobart & SW Tasmania in February 2016. The photos of the birds & wildlife bring back lots of exciting memories. This disc will be great to add to my collection of photographs taken on that trip. The captain, crew members, leaders, and lecturers were all very caring and helpful towards us, the passengers.”
Valma H. | Tasmania | February 2016
“I have travelled on over 20 cruises with Coral Expeditions (formerly Coral Princess Cruises). Included in that number have been repeat cruises on some destinations being Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and the Spice Islands. It is difficult to state which is my favourite destination as each holds its own special appeal. Maybe it’s the starkness of the Kimberley coast; the people and culture of the Pacific Islands; or perhaps my most recent cruise – the inaugural 7 night Tasmania expedition – where I was awed by the ruggedness of the south west coast including Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour. Other highlights included walking through the ruins of the penal settlements, seeing wombats and pademelons in the wild and visiting interesting places like the Grandvewe Cheese Farm. Here several cheeses, ice-creams and fudge are made from sheep milk and very interesting wines and vodka are made from the whey.
Being a SCUBA diver, I have travelled many times to Lizard Island and the outer Great Barrier Reef with Coral Expeditions. On a trip to the Spice Islands we stopped at Cenderawasih Bay and went snorkelling with six whale sharks which was such a highlight of that cruise. Since my first trip on the Coral Princess II in 2005 out to the Reef and on subsequent cruises I have taken, I come back to Coral Expeditions time and time again because of the small ship appeal, the efficiency of the crew, the quality of the meals and the wonderful ‘off the beaten track’ places to visit.”
Trish R. | Great Barrier Reef and Spice Islands | December 2015
“On board excursions were exciting & innovative, crew were great and really made the trip fun. Roberto is a magician in the galley and memorable. Great weather – what a treat. Entertainment by Alex (Guest Lecturer) fantastic – loved his poems and sense of fun.”
Sam W. | Great Barrier Reef | November 2015
“Thoroughly enjoyed cruise. Staff have a good sense of humor greatly appreciated and helpful at all times. Lectures and interpretive content – ‘Local information and knowledge very valuable – brought it all to life. Your choice of Kathy (Guest Lecturer) was excellent! – a living treasure of the areas visited gave our experience so much depth! The scenery was remarkable.”
Jane & Col W. | Tasmania, November 2015
“As remarkable as the ocean is, however, it was the people working on board that made this trip so amazing. From the moment we stepped on, the crew made us feel as if nothing would bring them more pleasure than to make sure we were happy. Everyone worked so unbelievably hard – half the time we couldn’t tell whose job was whose because anyone would help us with anything. The food was absolutely wonderful – we looked forward to every meal. Our room was kept so neat and tidy. Bec was knowledgeable on marine life.“
Candice. USA | Great Barrier Reef, July 2015
“We received our official photos from the June Kimberley expedition. Thank you so much to those concerned with making the collection, it is a wonderful record of a superb trip. I am in awe of the region and am still attempting to absorb the magnificence and isolation of the area. When I came home I really felt I could easily do the trip again with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the area. We had a superb trip which was enhanced considerably by the leaders, Mike, Ian and Steve so readily sharing their knowledge and expertise with us. I doubt we could repeat the experience as the passengers also mixed really well and were very interesting people also. Your staff are to be commended on their care and total attention to detail. Steve was remarkable, and at all times very aware of our safety, well done Steve!“
Beth, Victoria | The Kimberley 2015
“Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. The crew were fantastic – such great people and so helpful and grounded – led by the wonderful Dave. The guest lecturers were very interesting and really made the trip quite special as it all allowed us to intellectually engage with the place and appreciate nuances we would not have otherwise been aware of. We loved the way the cruise was so eco responsible – so crucial in this sensitive and generally unspoilt area. It was good to be able to have the opportunity with the trips to be so active, to get off the boat and walk, climb and see so much…a special experience.”
Helen & Nick, Australia | The Kimberley 2015
“We had the most amazing cruise experience on the Coral Expeditions II. The crew were wonderful and nothing was a problem for them – for which they deserve an enormous thanks! During the course of the cruise I enjoyed the snorkelling very much, but the highlight of the trip was having the opportunity to scuba dive again after 40 years. I had not planned to dive on this trip and had it not been for the confidence Oliver inspired, both on the introductory course and on the initial dive, I would not have been encouraged to relive this amazing experience.”
Barbara, Norway | Great Barrier Reef 2015
“It is obvious that in the years your company has been operating, you have gained the experience that showed you have your finger on the pulse… management set the policies, procedures and organisation however it’s the people “at the coal face” who make it work. In your case that’s the crew. I write to express my deep gratitude for their skill, attention to detail, pleasant and friendly attitude and their knowledge and experience in their various jobs. That also extends to our two guests lecturers Mike and Tim. If ever a crew is worthy of a tourism award they are the ones. To your company and “the crew” I say thanks for the memories and the overall experience.”
Colin, Australia | The Kimberley 2014
“I’ve just had the most amazing holiday on the Great Barrier Reef. The program allowed ample time for scuba diving or snorkelling over this beautiful part of the world, the meals provided by Roberto were excellent, the accommodation on the ship was all that we could wish for and the service from the crew was outstanding. All the crew gave 150% towards the comfort of the passengers and this all added up to an unforgettable holiday. I will certainly be going again! “
Robyn, Victoria | Great Barrier Reef, 2015