Mature Travellers looking for a unique, uncrowded luxury cruise experience should consider a small ship adventure.
This type of cruising features limited groups of people visiting places big cruise ships could never hope to experience.
The doyen of small ship cruising in Australia is Coral Princess Cruises; a Cairns based company that has set the standards for others to follow.
Husband and wife team Tony and Vicki Briggs started out with one small ship exploring the Great Barrier Reef between Townsville and Cairns. They then expanded to the Kimberley and today you will find their ships exploring all of northern Australia, the South Pacific and New Zealand.
The flagship of their fleet is the 70 passenger Oceanic Discoverer which was built in Cairns and boasts a high standard of luxury and service. It is rather like having your own mega yacht to cruise the world.
The fully self-contained cabins are like hotel rooms with big picture windows and plenty of space. A team of chefs service the restaurant with freshly prepared meals three times a day, plus morning and afternoon tea.
Exploring is done on a unique Explorer flat bottom boat that is situated on the back deck. You simply step aboard and an elevator lowers the boat into the water.
The Explorer allows you to visit places far upstream or walk ashore on islands with shallow reefs. This is the unique feature of small ship cruising – going to places far off the normal tourist routes. The people in these isolated settlements still live in traditional surroundings and are delighted to see you. They go to great lengths preparing dances and ceremonies for you to experience.
There are magical experiences to be had all the way – snorkeling off the back deck on to the Great Barrier Reef, enjoying a barbecue on a deserted beach, cruising up rivers surrounded by high cliffs, sipping champers on the top deck at twilight time, cruising past live volcanoes belching smoke and lava.
One of the things you remember most is sitting with friends watching the sunset.
Travelling with you is a team of experts in fields like marine biology, wildlife and culture. They present fascinating lectures and slide shows which greatly enhance your cruise experience.
The crew aboard Oceanic Discoverer is all-Australian and by the end of the adventure you have made many new friends. You never feel ignored, alone or left out on this type of ship.
Itineraries available include the Kimberley, across the top Cairns to Darwin, Great Barrier Reef, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Full details at www.coralprincess.com.au
See the video below, made by Mature Traveller as we cruised the Kimberley.