After a bruising time dealing with the pandemic this year, Coral Expeditions is gearing up for a bumper expedition season in 2022 with new voyages to Tasmania and the Coral Coast in Western Australia.
Coral’s popular Kimberley sailings which kicks in in March to October next year are almost sold out with “a few vacancies” in March and October, commercial director Jeff Gillies told Cruise Passenger.
“Forward bookings have been exceptional for all three vessels, Coral Geographer, Coral Adventurer and Coral Discoverer. We will have the biggest inventory and biggest deployment in the Kimberley when the season starts in March till October next year.
“Many passengers who had to cancel sailings in the Kimberley this year because of border closures, have booked ahead on similar itineraries for 2022 and 2023. The majority have used their Future Cruise Credit to rebook ahead,” he said.
Next year, Coral will sail to Tasmania with the Apple Isle reopening its borders on 15 December. There will be a new 13-night circumnavigation cruise departing Hobart in Tasmania visiting the islands of the Bass Straits onboard Coral Adventurer. The cruise will debut in February 2022.
Coral Adventurer has also been chartered by a Australia-based company, Voyagers Golf Travel to take golf enthusiasts to play golf in four of Australia’s best golf courses within easy reach of each other. Tasmania’s Barnbougle & King Island have fast become the country’s hottest golfing destination. In addition, King Island is renowned for its excellent produce, in particular, cheese and fresh seafood, notably crayfish while mainland Tasmania is home to many well known vineyards, prestigious Chef-hatted restaurants and incredibly beautiful nature reserves and parks. The 10-day itinerary with prices starting from $9900 per person is almost sold out, Mr Gillies said.
In WA, the line will be debuting a new, 12-night itinerary from Fremantle to Broome in February next year which will visit the remote Abrolhos Islands on WA’s Coral Coast. The expedition explores WA’s wild and largely untouched coast with contrasting coastal palette of rich red sands and turquoise sea. Passengers will discover an abundance of bird life exploring the renowned Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Shark Bay World Heritage area, Ningaloo Reef, Montebello Islands, Muiron Islands and Dampier Archipelago.
There will also be voyages on the Coral Adventurer sailing from Adelaide to Fremantle to take in the beautiful vineyards of Margaret River.
In 2023, Mr Gillies is particularly excited about the launch of many new itineraries including sailings to the exotic and remote Raja Ampat and the Spice islands where passengers will retrace ancient, 17th century trade routes onboard Coral Adventurer and learn about the lucrative spice trade in pepper, nutmeg, ginger, mace and cinnamon. They will also swim with the majestic whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay, indulge in the spectacular Raja Ampat, the famed “Four Kings” archipelago and swim in the turquoise waters of Yapap natural pool. The 13-night Darwin to Biak itinerary is scheduled to launch in March 2023.
Coral’s much anticipated expedition to the farthest reaches of the Indian Ocean will see the new ship, Coral Geographer venture to the edge of Africa, taking guests from Australia through the Cocos and Christmas Islands, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Seychelles in 2023. The cruise will also visit Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius and Zanzibar so that guests can experience the heady mix of native traditions, colonial history and amazing wildlife.
“We announced these itineraries three months before the pandemic so the voyages never took place,” Mr Gillies said.
“This year has been a mixed bag. We started well when we got permissions to operate in WA and NT. Our Kimberley cruises were full in May and June but when the Delta strain hit, many of our guests from different states had to cancel their sailings because of border closures.
“Passengers from NSW and Victoria could not travel to NT, we had border interruptions in Queensland and WA. Four Kimberley itineraries were cancelled and we were forced to sail at 30 per cent capacity because we wanted to keep our fleet busy, the crew occupied and guests happy.
“We re-marketed the Kimberley cruises to WA and NT and passengers who had to cancel their cruises, rebooked similar itineraries in 2022 and 2023.
“In 2021, we were busy doing all the wrong things. In 2022, we hope to be doing all the right things – giving our loyal guests the best expedition experiences,” Mr Gillies promised.