Small ship expedition cruising is set to make Australia one of the world’s major destinations as more lines and ships announce plans to sail our coasts.

The only line currently sailing, Coral Expeditions, will restart its operations in Western Australia  – chalking up another milestone for the plucky Australian operator with Aussie flagged and crewed ships.

Next week will see the surprise launch of another small expedition vessel offer itineraries in Australia designed to cash in on our success in holding back the pandemic and our enthusiasm for cruise.

The new entrant comes as French luxury line Ponant and APT’s Caledonian Sky anxiously await state government approval for their applications to sail the Kimberley in March and April for the season. APT is hopeful its vessel, with a capacity of 99, which is under the requirements of the biosecurity regulations, might be the first.

Demand is strong for these itineraries, with few cabins left, according to insiders.

Coral Expeditions already has Kimberley sailings, and the expansion of its cruise itineraries to WA comes off the back of its successful voyages to the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania and South Australia.

From this month, the line will cruise to rarely visited islands off the coast of WA and to the popular Kimberley voyage between Broome and Darwin.

“We are very excited to be back cruising in WA,” said commercial director, Jeff Gillies. “It has taken us four months negotiating with WA Health to get the approvals.”

The 99-passenger Coral Adventurer is currently sailing from Adelaide to Fremantle. She will then sail from Fremantle to Broome and visit Ningaloo, Shark Bay, the Murion and Montebello Islands and the Dampier Archipelagos. The expedition departs Fremantle on 10 March.

The line’s latest addition, Coral Geographer, will debut on her maiden voyage on 31 March on a 19-night expedition exploring remote regions in WA including Ashmore Reef, Adele Island and the Lacepedes. The itinerary is sold out.

Both the Adventurer and Geographer have been designed and specifically built for extended expedition cruises along Australia’s rugged coastline. They will only accommodate a maximum of 99 passengers with 38 Australian crew members each.

“Our sailing schedule celebrates the vast magnificence of Australia’s coastal shores and we are privileged to be able to take guests on adventures to places that simply cannot be accessed by road, rail or even air,” Mr Gillies said.

Some of the upcoming itineraries include:

  • *A 12-night, Albrolhos Islands and the Coral coast departing Fremantle on 20 March 2021 and 1 March 2022. The expedition will explore WA’s wild and largely untouched coast filled with abundant birdlife. Passengers will visit Shark Bay World Heritage area, Ningaloo Reef, Cape Range National Park, Montbello Islands, Murion Islands and Dampier Archipelago. Prices start from $9290 per person, twin share.
  • A 10-night Broome to Broome itinerary departing in May this year and in 2022 on board the 72-passenger, Coral Discoverer visiting the spectacular Rowley Shoals Marine Park, the Dampier Archipelago and Montebello Islands . Prices start from $11,990 pp twinshare.
  • A 10-night Broom to Darwin departing in April and September visiting the Kimberley region with its magnificent coast, towering rock ridges, secluded gorges, plunging waterfalls, abundant wildlife and massive tidal movements. Prices starts from $10,990 pp twin share.

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