Home grown Australian cruise line Coral Expeditions has confirmed it will resume cruising from 14 October 2020 with a number of seven-night cruises.

The Australia-flagged and crewed ship The Coral Discoverer will be operating out of Cairns with planned departures through till mid-December. The cruises will sail to the outer reefs and lesser-known islands of the Great Barrier Reef. The ship will carry about 70 passengers with an all-Australian crew.

The seven-night itineraries  from Cairns to Cairns will visit Cooktown, Lizard Island, Osprey Reef, Hope Island, Ribbon Reef and Fitzroy Island. There are nine itineraries scheduled for this year on board Coral Discoverer departing on 14, 21 and 28 October; 4, 11, 18 and 25 November and 2 and 9 December.

The nature-based expeditions will take out small groups to see the area’s marine life to experience the rich natural and cultural history of Far North Queensland.

“We are pleased at the strong guest response we have received over the past weeks following the release of our new sailings. At this time of global health challenges and uncertainties, there is no better sanctuary than our own Great Barrier Reef,” said Jeff Gillies, Commercial Director at Coral Expeditions.

“We have led expeditions on the Reef for 35 years and this extraordinary place remains at the heart of our DNA. We are confident and excited to be able to restart after the challenges of the last 6 months and encourage those Australians who are able to explore their home shores to join us on board.”

The line has developed a new SailSAFE plan in conjunction with Australian medical specialists. The SailSAFE plan has been approved by all Australian State and Territory governments and is based on the most rigorous safety principles which effectively create a “safe travel bubble” for guests and crew through pre-screening steps, onboard mitigation process and authorised response control.

The highlights of the itinerary include access to remote locations and a glimpse into Reef conservation efforts:

  • Experience remote diving and snorkelling at Osprey Reef, Escape Reef, and the Ribbon Reefs
  • Spot the Great Eight and other birdlife and marine creatures on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Learn about culture and Australian heritage in historic Cooktown
  • Enjoy sunset drinks with the sand between your toes on isolated Sudbury Cay and Hope Island
  • Learn about the conservation of endangered marine reptiles at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island
  • Visit the Great Barrier Reef Research Station and snorkel over giant clam gardens at Lizard Island

“Our crew are excited, prepared and ready to return to operations. With a thorough safety plan in place and exciting nature-based expeditions on offer, they are ready to provide the warm Australian hospitality that they are renowned for. Being an Australian flagged tourism operator, the company is not affected by Border Force closures and carries Australian guests and employs Australian crew” says Mr Gillies.

“We are planning a staged restart across the next 6 months which will be in collaboration with authorities from Australian states and territories. Following on from the Great Barrier Reef, we have made advanced preparations for our domestic summer season in Tasmania and developing new local expeditions for the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia regions in early 2021. We hope that many Australians will be able to join us on board as restrictions lift and it is safe to travel”.