In an interview with Seatrade Cruise News, Gillies commented on a new set of principles announced by Dr Hugh Heggie, the Northern Territory’s chief health officer, for cruise vessels sailing in NT waters.
Maximum ship capacity now 100 including crew
Heggie has directed that a cruise ship must not have more than 100 on board, including crew. Previously, the maximum number was 99 passengers, plus crew.
Also, all vessels must enter Darwin as their first point of entry into the NT and no more than two vessels may be in NT waters at the same time.
Gillies said there is no change in the schedule of the company’s smallest ship — the 72-passenger Coral Discoverer.
He said it is an ‘easy solution for us’ to operate the 2021 Kimberley programme with the 99-passenger Coral Adventurer and the 120-passenger Coral Geographer, which has arrived in Cairns from the Vard Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam to undertake her maiden ‘Across the Top of Australia’ voyage on March 31.
Broome to Broome
‘While Darwin is an excellent port for provisioning, we will still operate 10-night Kimberley voyages — but from Broome to Broome,’ he said.
He said Coral Expeditions will underwrite charter flights between Darwin and Broome, charging passengers a nominal amount of between A$250 and A$300, to guarantee they will easily connect with departures.
Gillies said he appreciates the new cruising principles have been put in place to safeguard the health of Northern Territorians.
He does not know how long they will be in place, but he expects at least until June.
‘Be reassured, our Kimberley season is still going ahead,’ he said.