Where she cruises: The Kimberleys, the Northern Territory, the west coast and Great Barrier Reef, Papua New Guinea, Sydney, South Australia.
Expedition cruising is great fun and a growing segment of the cruising market but not everyone wants to give up creature comforts in return for venturing to far flung parts of the globe. With True North, however, you don’t have to. This boutique ship, which cost $15 million to build, was designed with luxury exploring in mind, and is big enough to offer spacious accommodations and modern facilities, while exploring some remote regions which are difficult to access any other way than by boat.
Who Should Go
Active couples and families with older children/teens.
Things You Might Not Know
True North has a shallow draft of just 2.2 metres, and a beam of just 10 metres, and she is privately owned – the only ship in the Northstar Fleet. There is a no-shoes policy aboard, partly for safety reasons but also to help keep the ship in pristine condition.
These are surprisingly spacious and have a simple yet contemporary style, and all have outside views. The decor is relatively uniform, but bright and airy with off white walls, biscuit coloured carpets, and very light wood touches, with splashes of colour on the bedspreads and plush cushions. All rooms have a flat screen TV which can only be used for watching DVDs (there is no TV), and they have decent closet space, with private bathrooms equipped with L’Occitane toiletries and spacious shower stalls. There is also a selection of locally inspired artwork.
At the bottom end of the scale are six Ocean Class twin staterooms located on the lower deck, which are approximately 12 square metres in size, and configured with two large single beds (these have extra storage space beneath in the form of large drawers) and two portholes located high on the wall near the ceiling. There are also two of these staterooms on the next level up, on the main deck, near the front of the ship. Next are six River Class staterooms on the main deck deck, which are similar in size to Ocean Class, but have beds which can be configured as twins or doubles, and large panoramic windows. Finally there are four large Explorer Class staterooms on the upper deck which are around 15 square metres in size, with a king sized bed which can be configured as a twin or double, twin basins in the bathroom, and a complimentary mini-bar.
Entertainment and Facilities
True North doesn’t have much in the way of entertainment beyond educational presentations about the region in which the ship is cruising, and wildlife. They do have party nights mid-cruise however, where guests are encouraged to dress up in costume and a dance floor is created in the main lounge. The Lounge has a small library of easy reading books and ones relating to pearling, and the regions the ship cruises. There is also a small DVD library for loan.
Facilities on board include a spacious airy lounge and bar, a small lounge called Linneys which doubles up as a reading room and pearl jewellery showroom, and two small covered open decks – a large one off the bar at the back of the ship, and a smaller one on the bow with large cushions and benches to sit on to savour the view. lectures. The ship has six sightseeing tenders and its own helicopter, so you have the opportunity to get off ship at least twice per day for a variety of activities including sightseeing helicopter flights, fishing, sightseeing cruises, and hikes to access swimming holes, islands and waterfalls.
For a small expedition ship, the onboard cuisine is very elaborate with a focus on seasonal and local produce, which can include the fish that guests catch on their excursions. There is one dining room for all meals, with open seating at up to six large tables. Breakfast is buffet style with a choice of cereals, fruit and toast, with a different hot option offered for a short period each day. Lunch is usually at midday or 12.30 pm, and usually a one-dish offering.
Dinner is at the same time every night, usually 7pm, also a one-dish offering with dessert and no choice. If you see one of the chefs in the galley, however, they will try to accommodate you. Pre-dinner snacks and chips are served in the bar every night from 6pm, and there is ongoing tea and coffee with biscuits on the back deck off the bar. Fruit is available from a large bowl in the dining room all day, and occasionally cake and brownies will appear after an early morning start.
A cruise on True North doesn’t come cheap but allows for an exploration by water to remote spots in style. If you enjoy soft adventure, fine food and nice surroundings, it won’t disappoint.