Expedition Cruising – A Growing Trend

Firstly, WHY are travellers drawn to expedition cruises?

Adventure – Expedition cruises offer the chance to explore remote regions, from polar to jungles, islands and other hard-to-reach destinations in an adventurous way. Activities like hiking, kayaking and polar plunges add excitement.

Learning – There is a significant educational component with lectures from experts and naturalists as well as shore excursions that focus on nature, wildlife and culture.  Definitely an enriching experience for the mind, body and soul.

Unique Wildlife – Seeing Antarctica’s penguins, the Arctic wildlife like polar bears and whales, the Galapagos’ endemic species, witnessing rare animals unique to that region, etc. is a definite drawcard for almost everyone who embarks on an expedition cruise.

Remoteness – Just the thought of traveling somewhere off the beaten path, like Antarctica or the Kimberley, can be highly appealing. It’s a ‘polar’ opposite experience from any other type of holiday!

Flexibility – Because expedition ships can and often do quickly change course to take advantage of wildlife sightings or weather, it’s this spontaneity and flexibility that is part of the adventure.

Scenery – Dramatic landscapes like icebergs, fjords, rugged coasts and turquoise lagoons provide stunning and ever-changing scenery.

Small Groups – Depending on the cruise line, expedition ships usually have less than 200 passengers for a more immersive experience with the crew and the expert guides.

Sustainability – Many expedition companies highlight sustainability, conservation, and responsible travel. This appeals to eco-conscious travelers.

Bucket List – For some travelers, visiting Antarctica or seeing the Amazon is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and worth the splurge. It’s a bucket list achievement.

WHAT do you need to know?

Aside from being an exciting adventure, expedition cruises offer a unique opportunity to explore remote and often untouched destinations while immersing yourself in pristine nature and wildlife. While we are mostly familiar with the joys of river and ocean cruising, here are a few important  factors to take into consideration before booking an expedition cruise:

Flexible Itineraries: Expedition cruises often have flexible itineraries due to weather, wildlife sightings, and other unpredictable factors. Your expedition leaders will always prioritise your safety and will strive to maximise your experience, so do trust them and be prepared for any changes.

Small Ship Destinations: To allow for a far more immersive experience, expedition cruises almost always utilise smaller ships designed for navigating remote waters and reaching unique destinations for a chance to experience nature in its purest form. Expedition ships often take you to remote and pristine areas, away from typical tourist routes.

Nature and Wildlife: Expedition cruises are centered around exploring and appreciating nature, wildlife, and their ecosystems.  Expert guides onboard and ashore will provide incredible knowledge regarding the flora, fauna, and geology of the areas you visit.

Expert Guides: Expedition cruises are accompanied by experienced naturalist guides who are knowledgeable about the destinations and the wildlife you’ll encounter. Typically, you’ll be offered onboard lectures and talks and guided hikes or zodiac trips to enhance your understanding.

Limited Passengers: Naturally, smaller ships mean fewer passengers, which fosters a sense of camaraderie, creating a more personalised and memorable experience, perhaps even making a new friendship or two.

Clothing and Gear: Depending on your destination and activities, pack appropriate clothing and gear such as comfortable hiking shoes, waterproof and windproof clothing, sun protection, and binoculars for wildlife viewing.

Physical Fitness: Some activities offered on an expedtion tour like hiking and snorkeling, may require a certain level of physical fitness. Ideally, to maximise your experience, you would want to be reasonably fit.

Responsible Travel:  With an emphasis on eco-friendly tourism and minimising your impact on the environment, the “Leave No Footprint” principle is imperative.

Seasickness: While modern expedition ships are equipped with stabilisers to reduce motion, they are still small ships and seasickness can still be an issue for some. If you’re inclined to get motion sickness, it’s a good idea to bring medication or equivalent remedies with you.

Social Interaction: Expedition cruises encourage interaction with fellow travelers, fostering a sense of community among passengers who share a passion for exploration and nature.

Booking in Advance: Expedition cruises can fill up quickly due to their limited capacity and high demand. It’s advisable to book well in advance to secure your preferred travel dates and cabin type. Also if there are optional land tours that are not part of the standard itinerary, you may want to check if these need to be booked in advance as well.

Photography: Goes without saying! Bring a good camera or smartphone with a decent camera to capture everything amazing!  Please remember to respect wildlife by staying a safe distance and not disturbing them.

Local Cultures: Expedition cruises often include interactions with local communities. Be respectful and open-minded when engaging with local cultures and perhaps do a little research before you leave home!

Activities – Expedition cruises offer activities including kayaking, hiking, polar plunges, Zodiac excursions, and hands-on educational experiences. Traditional cruises focus more on entertainment, dining, pools, shows and relaxation.

Coral Expeditions

Ambiance – The atmosphere on expedition ships is casual, laid-back and centered around the destination adventures. Traditional cruises have a more formal vibe with entertainment and dining as the focus.

Comfort – Expedition ships offer comfortable but not lavish accommodations. Traditional cruises have larger staterooms, multiple restaurants and ample lounging areas.

Itineraries – Expedition itineraries are flexible to adapt to changing nature and weather conditions. Traditional cruise itineraries are usually very port-focused and consistent.

So in short, expedition cruises are more adventurous and destination-focused, while traditional cruises offer more amenities, dining, entertainment and a fixed itinerary.

Expedition cruising offers a chance to connect with nature, explore remote destinations, and gain a deeper understanding of the world around us. By keeping these important points in mind, you can make the most of your experience and create lasting memories of a remarkable journey.

Expedition cruise destinations continue to grow in popularity and here are a few top destinations:

Kimberley Coast, Australia – Remote and rugged, the Kimberley is known for its stunning, untouched landscape. Expeditions cruise here from April to October and is the most popular expedition destination Cruise Express book.

Antarctica – Antarctica cruises continue to be highly sought after for the chance to see majestic icebergs, penguins, whales and polar wildlife up close. The Antarctic season runs from November to March.

Arctic – Cruising around the Arctic regions of northern Norway, Greenland, Iceland and Canada allows passengers to see glaciers, fjords and potential northern lights. Peak season is June to August.

Galapagos Islands – This unique Ecuadorian archipelago with its abundance of wildlife and bird species remains a bucket list destination. The best time to visit is typically December to May.

Alaska – Cruising along Alaska’s coastline and glaciers is a popular way to see majestic sights like Glacier Bay, Denali and the Inside Passage. The main cruising season is May to September.

South Pacific – Remote island nations like Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji that offer stunning beaches and exotic cultures are increasing in popularity as expedition destinations. The dry season from May to October is best.

Call us on 1300 766 537 or email info@cruiseexpress.com.au if you would like to discuss an expedition cruise adventure today.

How to be an Eco-Friendly Cruiser

Going on a cruise can feel like a more eco-friendly solution to traveling compared to the thousands of air miles flying across the planet. However, that doesn’t mean that a cruise doesn’t come with its own carbon footprint.

If you want to put the planet first for now and future generations, follow these tips to ensure you’re as eco-friendly and ocean loving as possible.

Power Usage

As on land, your use of electricity affects the planet. Wasting electricity is a definite no-no if you want to help conserve the planet’s resources. Turn off or limit the use of lights, air conditioning and other electrical items if it’s not necessary to have them on.

Reusable Bottles

It’s no secret that plastic harming to the planet. While it usually feels that such a massive problem is too big for one person to handle or have an impact on, remember that plastic pollution is avoidable. Did you know that by 2040, the amount of plastic expected to end up in the planet’s oceans is estimated at 29 million metric tons!?

Have a guilt-free and plastic bottle-free cruise by bringing a stainless steel, reusable water bottle. If you can refill your reusable one, there’s no point in buying loads of plastic water bottles along the way. You’ll save yourself money, and you’ll be helping the unnecessary negative impact of plastic pollution.

Your Towels

If it feels like a holiday luxury to use a towel once, have housekeeping wash it, and offer you a new one, that’s because it is! It’s a luxury because, after just one use, a towel isn’t likely to be very dirty at all. And on a cruise full of hundreds of people, that’s a lot of towels and wasted water.

So do your bit for the planet, and instead of a new daily towel, just hang it on the handrails or behind the door so housekeeping knows not to offer you a new one. If for some reason they don’t, simply ask them – the same goes for bedsheets that may be changed daily.


Remember that littering on a cruise is the same as littering anywhere else! Per day, a cruise with approximately 6000 people can generate masses of waste, including 14 tons of dry waste.

So think before you buy: Should you buy the item covered in plastic wrapping? Think before you throw plastic in the rubbish: Can you recycle your wrappings?

And never litter. Any of it, no matter the size might end up into the ocean, and you’ll be responsible for polluting these beautiful places you visit.

And Finally…

Being an eco-friendly cruise passenger requires the same logic as being environmentally friendly on shore. Be considerate, think and take the responsibility seriously. It’s not difficult, even on holidays you’re ultimately sure to lessen your environmental impact – and inspire others to do the same.

The Kimberley Uncovered!

An Interview with Mick Fogg

PONANT’s Australian Expedition Manager

Mick is the Director of Expeditions and Destination Development, Asia Pacific for PONANT, and has led more than 300 expeditions through the Sub-Antarctic, South East Asia and Oceania regions spanning a 15-year career.

His enthusiasm for the cultures, wildlife and wonders of Australia is contagious! Below follows an article from PONANT where Mick talks about one of his all time favourite places – Australia’s Kimberley that we would like to share with you.

Question: After having led more than 300 expeditions through the Sub-Antarctic, South East Asia and Oceania regions, why does The Kimberley still amaze you?

MICK FOGG: It’s like nowhere else on earth, a wild land of remote, spectacular scenery spread over vast distances, it’s the Antarctica of the tropics. The sheer size and age of the landscape are humbling and it is a privilege to experience such a pristine environment that has so many facets.

It is home to the oldest continuous culture on earth, the world’s largest living reptile, the only two ‘horizontal falls’ on the planet, the world’s largest inshore reef and the largest population of migrating humpback whales on the planet. The Kimberley is one of the world’s last great wilderness areas and one of Australia’s greatest natural assets. It is a destination that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

Question: Why is it different travelling by sea compared to doing The Kimberley by land?

MICK FOGG: The Kimberley coastline extends over 12,000 kilometres and contains more than 2,500 islands. The coastal environment is very different to the inland region, the spectacular archipelagos, pristine mangrove environments and deep gorges can only be accessed from the sea.

There are only a few places along the coast that can be accessed from the land, and these are only accessible to the truly adventurous over difficult 4WD tracks that require a lot of preparation. On board a luxury small ship like L’Austral you can experience all the coast has to offer in extreme comfort with a highly attentive crew to look after you.

Question: What do you continue to watch in awe, even after having experienced it over 100 times?

MICK FOGG: Montgomery Reef seemingly rising from the ocean.

Question: Can you explain how the reef rises from the ocean?

MICK FOGG: Imagine 400 square kilometres of reef system invisible at high tide, covered by more than five metres of water. Then, as the tide recedes, the earth appears to bend as the water struggles to escape off the top of the reef fast enough. As Montgomery Reef breaks through the surface, water starts to cascade off the reef, forming one of the world’s longest waterfalls. There really is no adequate way to describe it and photos and video don’t do it justice.

You have to see Montgomery Reef for yourself. It is an experience that will stay with you forever. Montgomery Reef at high tide completely covered by water, the water cascading off the reef turning into rapids. The reef appears before your eyes – a feeding frenzy for the birds which swoop down on all the marine life caught on the reef at low tide.

Question: I’ve heard the tidal changes in The Kimberley are something to be seen to fully appreciate the sheer volume of water and power of the tides

MICK FOGG: Absolutely! Talbot Bay and the ‘Horizontal Falls’ provide a great opportunity to witness the power of the tides. The Kimberley has, arguably, the 2nd largest tidal change in the world, creating a truly unique phenomenon. It’s amazing to think that there are only two ‘Horizontal Falls’ on the planet and both are in our own backyard! David Attenborough has described these Falls as one of the greatest wonders of the natural world. Ponant will take guests in Zodiacs to coincide with the peak flow at the Horizontal Falls taking you right to the mouth of the falls to feel the power of up to 1 million liters of water passing through the falls every second!

Question: The Kimberley is known for its breathtaking Gorges. What’s your favourite?

MICK FOGG: The 19-kilometre Gorge of King George with its spectacular 90 metre high sandstone cliffs. For the more adventurous guests we offer a hike to the top of the King George Falls where they will be rewarded by an amazing view and a refreshing swim, but for me it’s about the journey up the Gorge – it is absolutely spectacular. The colours of the Warton Sandstone change throughout the day creating endless photographic opportunities– an area ideal for exploration by Zodiac.

Question: The Kimberley is home to an incredible number of Indigenous rock art sites, and this is one of the primary reason for it being put forward for world heritage listing. Is there any style of Indigenous art that is close to your heart?

MICK FOGG: The Wandjina Rock Art Gallery of Ngumbre at Raft Point is a special place. There is a sense of tranquillity that spreads over you as you sit and contemplate the activities that have gone on in this significant location of the Worrorra people. I take great pleasure in watching Ponant guests interact with the traditional custodians of the land and learn about their ancient culture and stories in stone.

The Wandjina images came to prominence during the 2000 Sydney Olympics when a Wandjina image was chosen to represent Indigenous Australia. The image of a 40-foot-high Namarali rising from the ground was a very special moment. During the 2016 Vivid festival, there was a spectacular projection of Wandjina figures onto the Sydney Opera House and that is certainly an image I won’t forget for a very long time.

Question: Is it true that in The Kimberley you will find the oldest depictions of the human form on the planet?

MICK FOGG: Whilst no exact dates on the age of the Gwion Gwion style of rock art unique to the Kimberley has been validated, it is generally thought that they are at least 15,000 years old and may be as much as 40,000 years old. These intricate and complex depictions of the human form may be more than 5 times older than Egyptian Hieroglyphs. They were once known as ‘Bradshaws’ but their correct name is Gwion Gwion or Gyorn Gyorn. It is yet another fascinating aspect of our Kimberley experience.

Kimberley with National Geographic 2020

Question: What’s an unknown fact about The Kimberley that people discover?

MICK FOGG: When they travel to The Kimberley with Ponant in July and August, guests don’t realise that this is the prime breeding time for Humpback Whales. In fact, in The Kimberley there were 36,500 Humpback Whales there last year – the largest population of migrating Humpback Whales on the planet.

Question: Who do you have travelling with guests Mick?

MICK FOGG: Each voyage is accompanied by 12 Expedition Guides who are experts in their fields – renowned anthropologists, marine biologists, historians, botanists, geologists, naturalists and ornithologists all giving guests a greater understanding of the area. They really are the best in the business and your journey will be so enriched by their knowledge, enthusiasm and experience.

Call us on 1300 766 537 or email info@cruiseexpress.com.au if you’d like to visit The Kimberley.

5 Important Things to Know When Booking a Cruise


No matter how many cruises you’ve been on, you can always learn more to make your voyage as perfect as possible. We’ve discovered some great tips along the way and here are a few we’d like to share.


Choose the Right Ship 

There are many factors to consider when choosing the most appropriate ship for your cruise. Remember the main three cruising styles are Ocean, River and Expedition. Aside from price and itinerary, the ship’s overall vibe and layout are also important. Some are luxurious, small or mid-size targeted for a more genteel cruise experience and others host over 5,000 passengers, offering many activities including kids and teens programs, waterslides, rock climbing walls, or even go-karting. 

Make sure you’re choosing a ship that has a good array of activities and amenities that you and your family will enjoy.


Choose Your Cabin Wisely

When booking your cruise, speak with your Travel Agent and do some research about the ship’s layout and which cabin best suits your needs and budget. We recommend cabins that are not directly above, below or next to a busy area that may be noisy at certain times of the day. None of us wants to hear nightclub music or poolside deckchairs scraping the floor while we’re trying to enjoy peace and quiet.

If you are prone to seasickness, book a cabin in the middle of the ship on a lower deck for less rocking and rolling, and if you have mobility issues, the best cabins will be close to the lifts.  Families should ideally look for interconnecting rooms, but get in early as these tend to sell quickly, especially on holiday sailings.


Give Yourself Ample Time

Don’t fly into your port city to join the cruise on embarkation day, that’s rolling the dice! If you are embarking at an incredible destination such as New York, Lisbon or Barcelona, make sure to arrive at least a day before your cruise departs to allow a buffer for flight delays and other unforeseen events – sadly the ship won’t wait.  Also, give yourself an extra day or two to explore these top travel spots. 


Consider the Calendar

It’s not necessarily a mistake to sail in the Australian cyclone season (typically from November to April), but don’t be surprised if the seas are a little rocky during your voyage. You’re more likely to have your itinerary altered and should consider travel insurance that covers this. Also, if you sail during school holidays expect the ship to be busy with larger family groups travelling with children onboard.


Budget Accurately

As we’re sure you are aware, on some cruises your expenses don’t end when you make final payment for your cruise fare. Unless your Travel Agent pre-arranged an all inclusive package deal for you, be ready to pay for drinks, gratuities, excursions, specialty dining, and souvenirs. Remember to also find out what currency is used onboard, it may be Australian dollars, US dollars or Euro depending on the cruise line and where you will be cruising.

Before booking your cruise, it may also help to chat with friends and family for their recommendations and positive travel experiences.

Then call us on 1300 766 537 or email info@cruiseexpress.com.au. and we’ll be happy to help with all the arrangements.

Click here for some inspiration for your next cruising holiday experience!


Tasmania – Voyage Log

The Coastal Wilds of Tasmania onboard Coral Discoverer – 17 to 26 January 2021


17 Jan 2021

This morning the crew said goodbye to those who travelled onboard our Tasmania Circumnavigation, and Coral Discoverer was turned around ready for our new guests to board in the afternoon. All guests were onboard Coral Discoverer after completing our SailSAFE and pre-boarding checks, and we departed at 4:45 pm. The mandatory muster drill took place shortly after, then Arron introduced the crew.

We all came up for Captain’s Welcome Drinks and Nathan gave a vibrant welcome. There was plenty of smiles and laughter filled the back deck as our small number of guests mingled. Jamie ran through the expedition experience that we were in for over the next 10 days. With the weather predicted to be a bit rough for the first few days, the crew have planned adventures that will make the most of the weather conditions at hand.


18 Jan 2021

This morning we woke to cool, sunny conditions and after a lazy breakfast, we boarded Xplorer for the first time. We may have been a small group but we were feisty and ready to explore. Jo took us to the Quarantine Station Jetty and we all quickly got ashore, where Mike went straight into interpretation mode. We ambled up the road to the first house and shed and found the small wrens playing in the fallen trees, Turbo chooks (Tasmanian Native Hens) scarpered all over an open paddock and a family of Red-breasted Robins plummeted from tree branches into the grasses getting breakfast. A downhill run to the Quarantine Station and we were met by Volunteer Ranger Joe who gave us some history before Ian Terry (our Historian Guest Lecturer) gave us even more information. Joe opened up the facilities for us. Guests wandered into the Information building and learnt about the original settlers on the land, the Cox family, how the station started and why and were also able to look at plant specimens through microscopes.

It all seemed a little surreal with what has been going on over the past year. Ian took a small group to the grave sites of two sailors from the SS Oonah who perished from the Spanish Influenza Pandemic in 1919. Mike, Dani and Jamie had guests with them and they were pointing out orchids, birdlife and fungi. We all visited the graves and surrounds, before making our way back to the jetty for a pick up and the chance of a hot chocolate back onboard Coral Discoverer. It was a very enjoyable morning. During lunch, the weather system really moved up a notch and 62kts was recorded across the Bridge. It was decided to lift anchor and steam across to Peppermint Bay. Dan and Joe took Xplorer across to Trial Bay Ramp where Moon Coaches were waiting for us.

The wind was strong and it took skill to get Xplorer alongside a jetty and onto the ramp. All guests safely disembarked and joined the minibus. Mike Moon drove us directly to Grandvewe Cheeses and Dianne met us at the door. It was a magnificent view from the balcony and guests enjoyed the cheese tasting and gin and vodka infusions. Dianne and family gave an excellent interpretation on their products and are very proud of what they have done and so they should be. There were many items purchased before we rejoined the bus and made our way to Pepperberry Art Farm which is quite close by.  We did the Art Walk and with Mike, Ian, Dani and Jamie, there was plenty of interpretation taking place.

The sculptures are impressive at times and plain weird at times but it kept us all guessing. The wind was whistling through the tall eucalypts and the views of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel was fresh to frightening but it was an enjoyable walk. We arrived back at Trial Bay ramp and Xplorer was on its way. Jo did a great job of getting us back to CD and everyone bar Jamie got back dry! – the usual story in rough conditions. Pre-dinner drinks in the Bridge Deck Lounge were very comfortable and many stories were told over a drink. Ian gave the recap and Jamie gave a briefing on tomorrow’s activities.

Guest feedback was excellent and all seemed to have a wonderful time. After dinner we put on the documentary Coast Australia – Tasmania which most guests chose to watch, including the Doctor and his wife.


19 Jan 2021

We woke to a sunny morning which soon changed to an icy shower. We boarded Xplorer for our cooling cruise up the Huon River to Franklin, and arrived at the jetty. Graeme (Volunteer), from The Wooden Boat Centre, took the group through the centre. First stop was for Hot Chocolate. Guests really enjoyed the centre and some have organised to build boats in the future. There was a class taking place while we were there and guests were able to see some building taking place. The tour took an hour and after that almost all guests and crew purchased some Huon Pine items. Guests went off in different directions with the Expedition Team. Some went for a walk to the village, some for a Franklin History Walk and others across the road to Franks for scones and cider. Most went for a coffee rather than cider.

The sun came out and if one was out of the wind it was almost warm. After a cold and rainy Xplorer ride back to Coral Discoverer for lunch, Mike gave a presentation on “An Introduction to Tasmania’. Guests enjoyed the talk.  We enjoyed an afternoon tea then Jonesy gave his presentation ‘Crossing the Ditch – Kayaking from Australia to New Zealand’. What a journey! What an extraordinary 62 days! What a great presentation. It had it all – raw emotion, elation, angst and fear all rolled into one. Guests had plenty of questions and I think everyone had a tear in their eye at one stage during the talk. I know Jonesy did.

Pre-dinner drinks were held in the Bridge Deck Lounge and again we sat in a huddle telling stories. Mike gave the recap on Tasmania’s building timbers and Jamie gave a briefing on tomorrow’s activities. We anchored in North West Bay and will make our way to Adventure Bay in the morning. After dinner tonight we are showing Wilderness, the story of two fine Tasmanian wildlife photographers – Dombrovski & Truchanus. Guests have enjoyed the day.


20 Jan 2021

On arrival at Adventure Bay we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was little swell and with the sun shining there was almost a warmth in then air. At 9am we departed in Xplorer for the beach near the start of the Fluted Cape/Grass Point walks. We were met by a Pied Oystercatcher Female and its juvenile young one who was propped on one leg and sleeping. Guests changed their footwear before we all met on the track. The first thing we found was a small Echidna, and after telling Jonesy’s daughter to not chase it, most guests got to photo it as it settled down to feed.

There were two walk options one to Fluted Cape and the circuit and the Grass Point return walk. Dani, Marie and Ian went with some of our guests including Jonesy and his daughter, while Mike and Jamie took the other guests on the more moderate walk. Both groups enjoyed the walks. The Grass Point walkers were very fortunate to see a very friendly Bennett’s Wallaby, gregarious Superb Blue Fairy Wrens, and hundreds of roosting terns and cormorants. There were also a number of marine plants and invertebrates that had been washed up onto the rocks. This gave Mike a chance to talk about them while Jamie sought out examples to show. The Fluted Cape walkers had magical view along their walk. Very favourable comments were received. After lunch we again took a cruise in Xplorer around Penguin Island to the Fluted Cape (columns of Dolerite).

With the incredibly large swells there was plenty of foam, surf and vapour to be seen as waves crashed ingloriously into rocky cliffs. Photos were at a premium and it was an enjoyable experience. We then made our way back into Adventure Bay and cruised for the main beach where some guests disembarked onto the sand. We made our way to the Bligh Museum and Barry met us at the entrance. We then went to the beach and enjoyed a wade and for some a swim (crazy). On return to CD guests were invited to the Bridge Deck Lounge for a presentation from Ian on ‘Encounters on the Shore – Palawa meets Europeans on the Lutrawita Shore’. It was well-received.

Jamie did the recap and the briefing of tomorrow’s activities. Guests really enjoyed their day and are looking forward to Port Davey and Maatsuyker Island. Tonight after dinner we are showing Crayfishing – from a fisherman’s Perspective.


21 Jan 2021

After breakfast, Mike gave a presentation ‘Port Davey – Underwater Exploration’. The sun came out as we entered Port Davey and we dropped anchor in Bramble Cove. At 11am we took a very special cruise out to the Breaksea Islands where Mike, Ian, Jamie and Dani interpreted what was seen. The light was spectacular at the beginning until cloud covered the sun. We then made our way into Watering Bay where a White Bellied Sea Eagle watched our approach from on high. We visited the waterfall that provides freshwater to the yachties and then made our way into Schooner Bay where there were ochre pits that were once very important to the local indigenous tribe. Guests really enjoyed the cruise.

After lunch a small group went over to Bramble Cove Beach to do the Mt Milner Walk. The views were spectacular and when the sun was out Bramble Cove with Coral Discoverer sitting at anchor was spectacular. Everyone had a great time. Five guests went for a swim after the walk which, they reported, was very bracing but worth it. The rest of the guests were offered other activities such as kayaking and a special doco on Port Davey but they declined and went to read books. Crew did go for a kayak. We moved Coral Discoverer to Pimm Point in very stable conditions during pre-dinner drinks.

Ian gave a recap on Denny Kings family and Jamie gave the briefing on tomorrow’s activities in Bathurst Harbour and Melaleuca. After dinner, guests were interested in the Information docos on ‘Port Davey Wild & Pristine and Above & Below’. It has been a great day for guests.


22 Jan 2021

We left early and beat a path into Melaleuca Inlet where we did get a little respite from the wind. We arrived at Melaleuca and entered the Hide but there were no birds.  We took the Needwonee Aboriginal walk through the dense melaleuca forests. Mike led one group and Ian the other. We met for a photo in the middle and the only thing missing was Icebergs and penguins – it was that cold! When we got back to Xplorer GPH Jo had set up the inside and dropped the curtains so we could have morning tea in comfort.

We made a slow journey back to Bathurst Bay and then powered back to Coral Discoverer. As we left Breaksea Island the swell was increasing and the albatross, shearwaters and smaller prions and storm petrels were enjoying all the feeding action on the high seas. As we turned to the east Ian give a presentation “Into the Abyss – Shipwrecks in Southern Tasmania’. It was very interesting.

At pre-dinner drinks, Mike gave a recap and Jamie let everyone know plans for tomorrow. After dinner most guests were in attendance for Wild Tasmania. Despite the windy cold wether, guests enjoyed the day’s cruise and walk.


23 Jan 2021

We cruised into the anchorage at Maria Island after seeing seals and dolphins in the very early light. At 8:30am we departed for Darlington Settlement. All guests and expedition crew landed. There were two options and Mike took those that wished to look at the settlement. Ian, Dani Jamie and Marie led the rest on a 4.4km circuit to the Fossil Cliffs. Mike’s group started at the Commissary then made their way slowly to the settlement. At 10:30am they returned via the painted cliffs to Coral Discoverer.

The long walkers enjoyed a leisurely walk through the forest viewing many Tasmanian Pademelons, Forester Kangaroos and Bennett’s Wallabies. Wombats were scarce and were only seen when we got to the fossil cliffs. One was asleep under a rock. Everyone was able to sit on a rock and photograph it. The morning was absolutely beautiful weather-wise with warm conditions and just enough breeze to make it comfortable. The long walkers were picked up at 11:45am and on the way back to Coral Discoverer we also took the opportunity to visit the Painted Cliffs. After lunch Mike gave a presentation ‘A Whale of a Tale on Maria Island’ which guests found enthralling. At 3:00 pm we again hit the shores of Maria Island with a group of crew and guests walking the Reservoir Circuit.

This was a 1.5hr walk and it was beautiful walking through massive tall timber which shaded our progress. As we arrived in the settlement we found a female wombat with a young feeding on lush pasture. This was a complete bonus. Mike had a small group who looked around bird rock and green Island. Everyone was back on Coral Discoverer by 5pm and we departed for surprise sunset drinks while we circumnavigated Ile des Phoques. Mike gave commentary and Ian, Jamie and Dani talked with guests while we were viewing the seals and birds. Guests were in awe of the cruise by. The seals were in awe of the guests and really put on a show.

During dinner, Jamie gave the briefing and after dinner the doco on Terrors of Tasmania was shown. It has been a great day. We have moved into Surprise Bay to anchor overnight.


24 Jan 2021

We woke to overcast conditions but little wind and after breakfast at 8am we took the long walkers across to Hazard’s Beach, then we walked across the isthmus to Wineglass Bay and then walked up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. It was good exercise. We cruised for Schouten Harbour and arrived at 2pm. Dan drove Xplorer to Crockett Beach and we stepped ashore.

There were locals camping for the long weekend. Our group wandered through and made our way down onto Morey’s Beach. Mike, Dani, Ian and Jamie gave interp along the way. We made our way to the old Whaler’s Hut and chatted to the two young volunteer rangers, who were very happy to give heaps of information. We were back on Coral Discoverer by 4pm and after afternoon tea Ian gave a presentation on ‘Guiding Lights – Lighthouses of Southern Tasmania’. Guests enjoyed the talk.

Pre-dinner drinks ended as a wine and cheese night with Mike giving plenty of info. Jamie completed the drinks session with a briefing. Tonight after dinner Jonesy is talking about his Antarctic Journey to the South Pole. Nobody will miss this one. Guests enjoyed the day’s activities.


25 Jan 2021

We awoke to cloudy conditions but little wind. Jo drove Xplorer and with Mike and Ian doing the commentary we slowly followed the coast from Eaglehawk Neck and Pirates Bay down to Fortescue Bay. Jo took us past the Blowhole, Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen and Paterson’s Arch. We went into Waterfall Bay and there was a massive L shaped arch that Jo was able to put Xplorer into. Guests thought this was a true highlight.

We saw a little water cascading down the cliff face. We then headed for Canoe Bay and eventually returned to Coral Discoverer which was now anchored in Fortescue Bay. It was a sensational cruise and the guests really enjoyed it. Jo did a magnificent job guiding us around. After lunch we cruised back into Canoe Bay and landed on a rocky shore. We walked on the Tasman Trail from Canoe Bay to Fortescue Bay, but before doing that Mike led us about 300m towards Pirates Bay and showed guests and crew the tree fern gardens. These were ancient gardens with tree ferns 8m high. To get to these gardens one had to cross a swing bridge.

Then it was back on track to Fortescue. It is a moderate walk and all guests who took the walk enjoyed it. There were plenty of plant species, reptiles and birds to view and while initially it was very warm,  by the time we reached the beach it was gently spitting rain and cooled things down. It was not uncomfortable and a few guests and crew jumped in the water for a swim. It was obviously very refreshing. Xplorer came to pick us up and it was decided that because conditions were still favourable that we would take a cruise in Xplorer down to the Lanterns where views of the Totem Pole and the Candlestick could also be photographed.

There were plenty of seals on the rock ledges which was a bonus. Xplorer Driver Dan had us close to all the action. Guests were very impressed with the cruise and it really sealed the day (excuse the pun). We arrived back on Coral Discoverer and cruised for Port Arthur. We did this via Cape Pillar and Tasman Island and guests were given the royal cruise through the gap after viewing Tasmania’s last built lighthouse. This was a great adventure with Ian and Jamie giving plenty of information. The overcast conditions were excellent for images and with the wind picking up the Australasian Gannets were just motionless above Coral Discoverer.

By pre-dinner drinks we were in sight of Port Arthur and again it was an ideal view of the penitentiary. Jamie gave the recap and then briefed guests on tomorrow’s activities. After dinner guests watched the very special documentary on ‘Maria Island Marine Reserve’. Today was a very special day and guests really had a ball.


26 Jan 2021

After breakfast, Ian gave a very interesting presentation, ‘One Hell of an Inferno – the 1967 Bushfires’. It was interesting to find out how Tasmania handled this catastrophe economically and psychologically. History has a tendency to repeat itself but will we ever learn from the mistakes made? Guests really enjoyed the talk. With lovely conditions on the water we took guests for a cruise along the coast. We started with the shipbuilding section at Port Arthur and Mike and Ian gave some historic information and some interesting stories.

We went across to Isle of the Dead where officers and convicts were buried during the halcyon days of the penitentiary. A cruise along the limestone coast gave us an insight into the cave formation and then we were able to view the cormorant colony with hungry chicks attacking parents for food. We looked over the salmon farms and spoke of the damage to underwater grasses and other marine critters. A pair of White Bellied Sea Eagles sat in tall Blue Gums watching our every move. In the morning light, they looked spectacular.

After lunch we cruised across to Port Arthur where we went on a guided tour with a Port Arthur Guide. Farewell drinks were very friendly and it was great to chat as a whole group.

It was a good day and a good trip.


Article and Photo Credit: Coral Expeditions