Their well-patronised vessels are sailing the most beautiful waters in the world.  They have already sailed a dozen itineraries in Queensland and are about to sail Tasmania and South Australia.

They even have a brand new ship arriving next month to complete a trio which will tackle the Kimberley.

With the world’s giant fleets becalmed and their owners haemorrhaging cash, welcome to Coral Expeditions – Australia’s small adventure line showing how to cruise in a crisis.

This week the giant membership organisation NRMA put a “significant minority investment” into the Cairns based line, giving Coral access to 2.8 million members.

The deal will also mean Coral, which also has investors from Singapore funding growth, can expand its operations at a time when its vessels, the only Australian-flagged and crewed ocean-g0ing fleet on our waters, are in high demand.

Commercial director Jeff Gillies told Cruise Passenger today: “Coral Geographer is our second new-build vessel in as many years. She is a sister ship to the Coral Adventurer, which has been widely received by guest and industry as an extremely high quality vessel with a high level of expedition capability.”

The Coral Discoverer in the Kimberley
The Coral Discoverer in the Kimberley

Mr Gillies said this marks a significant milestone, and was just the initial phase of growth plans for the line, which is Aussie flagged and crewed.

“We now have a fleet of purpose built expedition vessels with a number of unique features that position us very well amongst the increasing popular expedition sector.

Geographer will arrive into Cairns in early March following delivery and will undertake final fit out and provisioning. Her inaugural voyage will carry 90 Australian guests on a 19N adventure “Across the Top” of Australia between Cairns and Broome departing on 31st March.”

You can view the voyage here: Coral Geographers Maiden Voyage | Into Australia’s North (

Over the coming 12 months her schedule includes

  • Kimberley Coast between April and September
  • Abrolhos Islands and Coral Coast of WA through October and November
  • Across the Bight and Wild Islands of South Australia in November and December
  • New Zealand Coastal Expeditions January
  • Two specialty Tasmanian charters in February being a cycle tour and a golf tour of remote Tasmanian regions.

“The new ship  will head off in March 2022 on a series of voyages we have positioned as ‘Small Islands of the World’ which will take guests to places such as Christmas and Cocos Islands, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius and all the way to Zanzibar on the edge of Africa.”

“Later in 2022 a series through the Pacific will include Micronesia, PNG, the Solomons, Samoa and the Cook Islands, Tahiti and as far out as a special voyage to Pitcairn Island. Her regular sailing seasons will be focused on the Indian Ocean in the west and the Pacific Ocean in the East and staying with our area of specialty being  expeditions with small numbers of guests that explore the tropical waters of the southern hemisphere.”

Coral’s vessels have a shallow draft and high maneuverability design allowing us to access remote coastal regions. They also have stablisers to ensure smooth and comfortable passage in open ocean conditions.

The designs feature ample open deck spaces in public areas and more than half the vessel has open balcony staterooms which provides natural flow between the indoor and outdoor environments of the vessel.

Of the new investment, Mr Gillies says it comes on the back of Coral Expeditions’ successful resumption of operations following a 6-month hiatus owing to the global pandemic.

“After the implementation of its SailSAFE plan and new flexible booking options, Coral Expeditions has completed its twelfth successful voyage with the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmanian seasons starting since October.

“Coral Expeditions is now poised to begin new domestic deployments in South Australia in February 2021 before beginning its traditional Kimberley season in March.

“In the current environment, the company is focused on meeting surging domestic demand, with its Australian-flagged and crewed ships exploring the Australian coastline while complying with relevant health regulations.”

Coral Expeditions circumnavigation map
Coral Expeditions circumnavigation map

Coral Expeditions Executive Director Paul Chacko commented: “We began discussions with NRMA last year and were struck by the fit between both organisations.  Both have long-term planning horizons, a guest and member-focused culture, and significant customer demographic overlap.”

Rachel Wiseman, Chief Investment Officer NRMA commented: “Over the past four years NRMA has been focused on finding more ways for Australians to experience the rich natural environment in which we live and believes that expedition tourism is one of best ways to do it.

“Coral Expeditions is an Australian flagged expedition cruising business offering Australians an opportunity to safely discover their region, through a small group, premium experience.   We are excited for the opportunity this provides for our members and Australians more broadly to enjoy the incredible experiences Coral offers.

“There has never been a time when Australian domestic tourism has been more important.” .

The management team and organisational structure of Coral Expeditions will remain unchanged with the company’s independent operations continuing from its base in Cairns, Australia.  There will be no impact on the company’s existing trade and other business arrangements.

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