Coral Expeditions; small ship cruising beautiful remote regions of Australia, the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and the Indian Ocean

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Coral Expeditions; small ship cruising beautiful remote regions of Australia, the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and the Indian Ocean

Please Note: Cruise-Australia and ssMaritime are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that the author is NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies, or is connected with any travel or cruise agencies, nor any other organisation! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry for over sixty years, but has been long retired. Over the years, I have written on well over 1,350 classic liners on providing classic ship enthusiasts a great deal of information and pleasure! However, I will attempt to continue to write the occasional cruise review and ship information in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and thus provide the best possible information available for those intending a luxury, an expedition cruise, or an inexpensive happy holiday cruise vacation somewhere in the Pacific, New Zealand or somewhere around world in the near future!


Please Note: Photographs in this feature were provided by Coral Expeditions, unless stated otherwise

Page One


Coral Expeditions are known for their beautifully appointed small exhibition ships, and offering some of the most unique itineraries that will take those who are looking for new and exciting destinations to many of the most beautiful and remote regions of Australia, as well as the South Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Asia, as well as Indian Ocean Islands.

These purpose-designed expedition ships have shallow drafts and high manoeuvrability that will allow you get closer on your expeditions of some of the most amazing places, as the ships are able to explore the sheltered bays and hidden inlets inaccessible to even a slightly larger ship.

On board a Coral Expeditions ship you will discover Coral Expeditions famed personalised style of cruising, with their ships carrying from just 44 to 120 guests, ensuring you a relaxed, convivial atmosphere shared with like-minded explorers. Without crowds to worry about, the ships chefs can prepare sumptuous small-batch meals made with finest Australian ingredients, and where possible, they will procure locally produced ingredients.

Please Note: This page includes an introduction to Coral Expeditions’ three fine small ships, as well as the new ship due late in 2020. Thereafter you will find a “News Update” section, followed by details on how to obtain a “Brochure”, concluding with an Index covering all of their ships.

The Origins of Coral Expeditions:

The Coral Discoverer stands alone as being the very first Australian flagged, operated by an all Australian owned Cruise Company passenger ship to attain full International standard SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) compliance in over 50 years, which is an amazing feat.

However, it is interesting to look further back, for back in the very early 1980’s the origins of “Coral Expeditions” was created from scratch by Mr. Tony Briggs who was an Australian fisherman, and as some will tell you, he was also quite an entrepreneur who had a passion for the sea, but above all he had a desire sharing the many wonders of the Great Barrier Reef with others. Therefore he decided to commence, what was at first just a very small cruise company in order to operate cruises around the Great Barrier Reef. He named his new company “Coral Princess Cruises” and was originally based in Townsville, Queensland.

For the purpose, Tony Briggs purchased and beautifully converted a World War II PT Boat in 1983, and she became a delightful and a fine passenger vessel named the Coral Princess. She had a capacity of just 24 passengers and she became rapidly known as a comfortable vessel with a spacious well furnished lounge, having a bar as well as a separate dinning area on the Main Deck. Although her cabins on were relatively small by today standards, but they had comfortable beds and were well equipped.

The Coral Princess was the beginning of a great Australia Expedition Cruise Company!

MV Coral Princess initially operated five-day cruises through the Great Barrier Reef to Dunk Island, returning via the Hinchinbrook Channel to Townsville, which proved to be very popular indeed.

Introducing the Coral Expeditions Fleet

Coral Expeditions II:

These Great Barrier Reef cruises and the company became so popular with the demand growing rapidly it was decided to add a superior 35-metre vessel accommodating 42 passengers, with all 21 staterooms having full air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. This would allow the company to grow into a more up market expedition cruise operation, therefore the original “Coral Princess Cruises” was renamed; “Coral Expeditions” with their new head quarters being based in Cairns, far North Queensland. The vessel Coral Expeditions II was fully refurbished early in 2015 and she features facilities and comforts of much larger ships! Today the Coral Expeditions II continues cruising the Great Barrier Reef with either a 3 night, or a 4 night cruise, but combining these and visiting the south and north of the voyage, why not enjoy the 7 night cruise, I did this many years ago before the days of Coral Expeditions and on another line and it was magic!

Coral Expeditions II is based in Cairns, North Queensland, and she is seen here cruising the Great Barrier Reef

As I continue with the “Coral Expeditions” fleet operating today, be assured that it now has a very different style of fleet from the days of the old PT Boat from back in the 1980’s, as today the “Coral Expeditions” operates some of the very best ultra modern technically advanced small expedition ships in the world! I will commence with the next ship added to the fleet.

Enter the Coral Expeditions-II Page HERE or use the Index at the bottom of this page.

Coral Discoverer:

Completed in 2005 the Coral Discoverer was purpose-built for cruising in the tropical regions of the southern oceans, she has a cruising speed of 14 knots. Coral Discoverer’s shallow draught allows her to access even the most isolated and remote locations regions she cruises, being beyond the reach of other ships.

Here we see the Coral Discoverer as built in 2005

Note; her Staterooms on Bridge Deck forward have windows

Coral Discoverer was built to the exacting international Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) standards and specifications in Cairns, Australia, with one aim in mind; to create the ultimate small ship cruising experience. She is Australian flagged and staffed entirely by an Australian and New Zealand crew, your experience aboard Coral Discoverer; I can assure you, will be unique!

Following a complete refurbishment in 2016, an almost new looking Coral Discoverer provides a luxury style, intimate yacht-like cruising experience, accommodating just 72 Guests in 36 spacious staterooms all with en-suite bathrooms, and outside ocean views, whilst she now has six Bridge Deck Staterooms, and all have a private Balcony, all other staterooms have a large picture windows or two smaller windows, with just several rooms having two portholes.

A fine view of the refurbished ship, and now there are

six balcony Staterooms forward on Bridge Deck

The 1,779-tonne Coral Discoverer is highly suited to cruising between Cairns and Darwin on the Cape York and Arnhem Land itineraries, and between Darwin and Broome where she plies the rugged Kimberley coastline each year. However, she can also be found cruising to Tasmania, South Pacific Islands, as well as New Zealand and Asia.

The Coral Discoverer continues to raise the bar to the highest levels of sophistication in expedition cruising in the Southern Hemisphere.

Enter the Two Page Coral Discoverer Page HERE or use the Index at the bottom of this page.

Coral Adventurer:

The latest ship to enter service was the magnificent 5,599-tonne, 120 passenger ship the Coral Adventurer in April of 2019. This new ship set a brand new high benchmark for the Australian cruise industry as she is one on the most advanced small expedition ships in the world with countless new innovations. She has a Rolls Royce Azimuth Pod to power her along at a steady 13.8 knots, active stabilisers to dampen sea motion, a passenger elevator, Wi-Fi is available in all guest areas, and of course not to forget that she was constructed to meet the latest international Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) standards and specifications and she has the world finest satellite positioning equipments, etc!

Then Coral Expeditions announced the construction of their next expedition ship, which will be the identical sister to Coral Adventurer seen above. The new ship will be named Coral Geographer and she will remain true to the Coral Expeditions pursuit of authentic expedition ships, thus when designing their next generation of ships, they resisted the trend to build a larger, or a more glitzy style of ship. Their ideal is for a luxury ship to remain small enough to go to untouched places, focusing on bringing small numbers of like-minded guests closer to nature and cultures with that famed personal attention provided by highly professional Australian and New Zealand members of the crew.

The Coral Geographer arrived on March 30, 2021

The Coral Geographer has now arrived, and the 120-passenger ship will feature the same state-of-the-art specifications and expedition features as her sister the Coral Adventurer, however due to popular demand, she will have an increased number of 6 bridge deck suites with horizon bathtubs.

Enter the Two Page Coral Adventurer/Geographer HERE or use the Index at the bottom of this page.

Coral Expeditions NEWS:

December 2019: Coral Expeditions, Australia’s pioneering expedition cruise line, and the “Australian Geographic Society” have extended their successful partnership with new activities planned right through to 2022.

Sharing a rich heritage of exploration and a deep commitment to conservation, the extension of this partnership celebrates the success that comes from collaboration, respect and a shared passion for Australia and other treasured places visited.

This partnership encompasses four new special Australian Geographic Society curated expeditions to explore remote natural and cultural regions in the coastlines of Australia and of course beyond. These new expeditions include;

                    Battles and Beaches: 75th Anniversary of WWII – a 13-night exploratory voyage through Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the autonomous region of Bougainville commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. Departing 23 October 2020 (Coral Discoverer).

                    Coastal Wilds of Tasmania – a 10-night coastal odyssey from Hobart taking in the Huon River, world heritage Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour, Bruny Island, Maria Island, Freycinet Peninsula and Port Arthur. Departing 17 January 2021 (Coral Discoverer). Australian Geographic Society Host: Justin Jones

                    Island Outposts of West Australia - a pioneering 27-night voyage of the island outposts of Australia’s west coast including the Abrolhos, Cocos Keeling and Christmas Islands along with Ashmore Reef. Departing 26 March 2021 (Coral Geographer).Australian Geographic Society Host: Chris Bray – adventurer / wildlife photographer

                    Outer known Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef – a 7-night journey to the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef to experience world heritage reef and rainforest, indigenous culture, meet diverse marine species and to enjoy solitude. Departing 30 Jun 2021 (Coral Discoverer).

Joining these expeditions will be special guest lecturers representing the Australian Geographic Society who will impart knowledge and share stories through the expedition.

Jeff Gilles, Commercial Director of Coral Expeditions, said that Coral Expeditions and Australian Geographic Society share common values and a commitment to nature, heritage, culture and environment.

“This is a partnership that is greatly valued by our guests and crew as it brings together two like-minded communities who share a great love and respect for the world around us,” Jeff said.

“We all share a passion for adventure and look forward to an exciting new series of expedition voyages together, along with the chance to connect with and inspire people from across the globe with our activities,” Jeff said. “This is an important and natural partnership for Coral Expeditions. For almost 35 years Coral Expeditions has had one purpose – taking small groups of like-minded explorers on small ships to remote parts of the world with expert guidance and warm Australian hospitality. We are pleased to continue this adventure with a partner which shares both our passion and our uniquely Australian ethos.”

In addition, Coral Expeditions is pleased to support two major new initiatives which include the Talking Australia podcast series broadcast through the Australian Geographic channel and collaboration with the National Museum of Australia’s “A Portrait of Australia” exhibition which was rolled out across a variety of regional centres across Australia from November 2019.

Coral Expeditions remains the presenting partner of the annual Australian Geographic Society Adventurer of the Year Awards and will continue support of the AGS Presents Speakers Road show planned to travel Australia and inspire through a series of eight national events on conservation and adventure.

“Having just returned from Papua New Guinea aboard the Coral Adventurer, I am energised and uplifted by the experience,” said Chrissie Goldrick, Editor-in-Chief of Australian Geographic.

“Small expedition ships are undoubtedly the best way to visit and interact with the small remote communities of this vast, wild island. We were warmly received everywhere we went and treated to genuine cultural experiences that left a deep and lasting impression on all who were there.”

The friendly people of Papua New Guinea

“The expedition leaders and special hosts helped provide context and background to the wonderful people and places we visited, enriching the voyage enormously. We are thrilled to announce our new series of voyages and events with Coral Expeditions and anticipate great new adventures in the years to come.”

Brochure Available:

An all-inclusive brochure, a full 80-page online guide to Coral Expeditions is available, including 2020 itineraries, deck plans, voyage logs, menus, destination maps & trip highlights.

Enter the … Expedition Guide for your own online brochure, or email; for a hard copy and/or further information and bookings.

Destinations include: The small Islands of the Indian Ocean, Islands of Indonesia, Raja Ampat & Spice Islands, Exploring New Guinea, The Solomon’s & Vanuatu, New Zealand, Australian Circumnavigation, The Kimberley Cruise, Coastal Wilds of Tasmania, Cape York, Arnhem Land & Torres Strait, Australia’s West Coast and The Great Barrier Reef.

Page One Introduction to Coral Expeditions & their Fleet.

Page Two Coral Adventurer 2019 & Coral Geographer 2020.

Page Three Coral Discoverer 2005, refurbished in 2016.

Page Four Coral Expeditions II, refurbished in 2015.




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