Expedition small ships are heading to WA waters in their pivot towards local cruising.
With innovative and interesting new itineraries and Australian-only passengers, it’s a big shift that opens up new horizons close to home.
Aurora Expeditions has developed a new and innovative set of adventure cruising itineraries for the Coral Coast, Ningaloo, South West Edge, Kimberley, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, Bass Strait Islands, Antarctica.
Better known for the likes of its Antarctic cruises, it has redrawn even this, to feature the Ross Sea and Commonwealth Bay.
“They are all extraordinary regions that have never been explored in this way before,” says Annabel Carol, spokeswoman for the Australian owned expedition operator.
The announcement was made on Monday and the cruises will go on sale on March 11, with voyages from June. Travellers can make expressions of interest now (from March 4).
Aurora was founded and is led by Australian adventurer Greg Mortimer and his wife Margaret. It has 23 years’ experience in Australian expeditions, and has been operating in polar regions for 30 years.
But, in its dramatic and creative response to the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time, it will offer a full season of immersive, adventurous, and off-the-beaten-track voyages around Australia, Commonwealth Bay and Ross Sea (East Antarctica).
Ms Carol says: “These activity-rich voyages will explore the very best of our breathtaking coastlines, unique wilderness and wildlife, rich indigenous history and spectacular marine world.”
The voyages will be open only to Australian residents and are still subject to regulatory approval.
Aurora Expeditions has a history of innovation.
It was one of the founders of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators and is a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators.
Aurora has recently put in place a thorough health and safety protocol, and has a new deposit protection scheme.
auroraexpeditions.com.au and 1800 637 688
Coral Expeditions has more than 45 departures in WA this year.
Its entire fleet — Coral Discoverer and brand-new flagship vessels Coral Adventurer and Coral Geographer — will sail our waters.
Among the itineraries is Ningaloo and the Bluewater Wonders of Australia’s West. Over 10 days, Coral Discoverer will sail from Broome to Rowley Shoals Marine Park, the Dampier Archipelago, Montebello Islands and Ningaloo Reef, then returning to Broome. Staterooms are $11,990 per person twin share, all-inclusive, with departures on May 7 and May 28, 2021, and May 16 and May 27, 2022.
Coral Adventurer, which was only delivered in 2019, sets out on March 10 to sail Fremantle to Broome, calling at the Abrolhos Islands, Ningaloo and Shark Bay, the Muiron and Montebello Islands and the Dampier Archipelago.
The new ship Coral Geographer is due to be delivered this month (March 2021) and will join the WA voyages from March 31.
Coral Expeditions was Australia’s first expedition cruise company, and has been sailing the WA coast for 25 years. Guests this year will be drawn from across Australia a capped at under 100 per departure.
coralexpeditions.com and 1800 079 545
On Monday, Viking announced a special offer which gives savings of up to $6000 per couple for its 13-day Antarctic Explorer voyage which sails in January.
It includes a $1500 early payment bonus, per person, for bookings made before March 31.
It is Viking’s inaugural polar expedition cruising season.
The custom-built Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris expedition ships are 203m long — small enough to navigate remote areas, yet big enough for speed and stability in big seas. They are both Polar Class 6. Polar Classes are from one to seven, with one at the top, built for ice 4m thick.
A point of difference is that both ships have “The Hangar” — a sort of marina inside the ship. Landing craft can be driven in and guests can board and disembark them in safety and comfort.
And those landing craft are 12-seater RIBs — rigid inflatable boats with hard bottoms and inflatable sides.
The ships also have two yellow submarines and sea kayaks.
Viking has also been leading the industry by allowing guests to change a cruise up to 14 days before departure when booking before April 30, and Viking will waive any fees.
vikingcruises.com.au and 138 747