She was to have made a 19-night voyage across the top of Australia to Broome, taking in King George Falls in the Kimberley, but a snap COVID-19 lockdown in Brisbane and the closure of the border of Western Australia to visitors from Queensland scuttled Broome as a disembarkation port.
Round voyage from Cairns
Coral Expeditions’ staff worked tirelessly on an alternative itinerary — a Cairns round-trip to destinations in Queensland, including the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding islands and Cape York, the tip of Australia.
There was a dockside ceremony, with Coral Expeditions’ longest serving employee, Gary Wun-Hym, who has been with the company for two decades, breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow.
Coral Expeditions Group GM Mark Fifield and his wife Samantha are hosting the voyage, which will showcase the ship’s special features, like its two Xplorer tenders mounted on hydraulic platforms that allow passengers to embark and disembark for shore excursions without steps or queues.
There is a natural light-filled lecture lounge equipped with modern technology for briefings by expedition experts and guest lecturers and a spacious dining room that seats all passengers at one sitting.
There are 60 outside-facing cabins with ensuite bathrooms, more than half with private balconies, and multiple indoor and outdoor bars that will serve Australian and New Zealand wines.
There is also the company’s signature open bridge policy and a guest observation lounge overlooking the bridge.
Like her sister ship, the 99-passenger Coral Adventurer, Coral Geographer has a shallow draft that will allow her to access remote wilderness areas around the world that are inaccessible to larger vessels.
As an Australian flagged and crewed company, carrying a maximum of 100 passengers and an approved SailSAFE health and safety management plan, Coral Expeditions resumed cruising in Australia six months ago, while companies with foreign-flagged ships and crew wait to return to Australian waters.