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Sail Date: August 2018
I am a semi retired Master mariner with over 45 years of experience in a a variety of passenger vessels worldwide. I enjoy travelling as a passenger with my wife recently on boutique type cruise vessels. I have no connection with ... Read More
I am a semi retired Master mariner with over 45 years of experience in a a variety of passenger vessels worldwide. I enjoy travelling as a passenger with my wife recently on boutique type cruise vessels. I have no connection with any shipping company,shipping agency or travel agency and write this review purely as an independent tourist accompanied by my wife. We booked a 4 night cruise from Cairns to Cooktown ,Lizard Island and various reefs along the Great Barrier Reef.I have transited the Barrier Reef pilotage many times previously in my seagoing career but wanted a closer look at the reef without the rush of a day trip from Cairns.Coral Expedition 2 appeared to be our only option to achieve this. The vessel is very old and outdated and not suited to cruising in open waters. A catamaran cannot be stabilized as on a mono hull and is far from comfortable in the regular southeasterly conditions that can be encountered on the East coast. the cabins are clean with reasonable size bathrooms.However the dinning room resembles a compact crew mess and is far to small for the number of passengers on this vessel.The buffet style dining for most meals entails squeezing along a line to make your selection.Less memorable were the two evening meals of the table d'hote style.We had to order our meals at lunch time (just like a hospital or boarding school).One meal consisted of two tiny pieces of pork and 4 florets of broccoli and an equally small panna cotta dessert, minuscule and hardly a proper meal and not value for money. The visit to Cooktown was a token 2 hours and hardly long enough to look around.. The reef visits were okay but there is an archaic "safety manifest" for all guests to sign on departure from each stop whether you have left the vessel or not.I was resting in my cabin with the "do not disturb ' notice on the door when i was harassed to sign this silly piece of paper.I realise the vessel doesn't want to leave anyone behind but on the modern ships i have worked there are far less intrusive methods for checking crew and passenger numbers. Having done a similarly priced boutique cruise in the Pacific last year we were totally underwhelmed with our experience.At no stage were we made to feel welcome by the Australian crew and more like a mild inconvenience to them. In conclusion i would not recommend this cruise to anyone as it is not value for money. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well ... Read More
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well presented and more then enough to eat. The staff were wonderful, very friendly and went out of their way to help. My mother is a weak swimmer and the trip director pull her around with life ring every time we went snorkelling. The staff was very careful to keep an eye on everyone in the water and ready to help you with your equipment. There was glass bottom boat rides as well as snorkelling at each reef. Getting on and off the boat was very easy. This has been my favourite thing we have done on our trip to Australia. I would come back just to do this cruise again. Everything went very smoothly. Highly recommend. Read Less
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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This company has cruising to a fine art. If you want to see the Great Barrier Reef, go snorkelling or diving then the staff will do everything to help you fulfill your dream. They have your safety as a priority. You visit a no. of Coral ... Read More
This company has cruising to a fine art. If you want to see the Great Barrier Reef, go snorkelling or diving then the staff will do everything to help you fulfill your dream. They have your safety as a priority. You visit a no. of Coral Sea Islands, learn about the fish and coral on the reef. The food is great with buffet lunch and breakfast with a choice for dinner, including a BBQ and seafood night. Morning and afternoon tea are also available. The ship enables you to get to know other passengers. Open dining allow this. The expedition boat accessible from the back deck means no tenders are needed just walk straight on to the expedition boat. It has covering to protect from the sun. As the days are quite active, including hiking on one of the islands, snorkelling, walking and visiting a turtle rehab. centre entertainment apart from movies are not needed, but the lovely lounge is a great place to get together. The top deck provides an excellent area to view the beautiful scenery. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
Very hard to find with Google. I only found big ships; Coral Expedition (CE) with small boat was the only choice with key words such as "cruise the Great Reef Barrier”. Tougher to find Coral Expedition II (CE) in the Great Reef ... Read More
Very hard to find with Google. I only found big ships; Coral Expedition (CE) with small boat was the only choice with key words such as "cruise the Great Reef Barrier”. Tougher to find Coral Expedition II (CE) in the Great Reef Barrier on Trip Ad search engine. This may be one reason why so few reviews are published and awardly mixed with Kimberley & Asia cruises comments. Besides, passengers are in majority from old to very old and probably not tech oriented. I must do justice to the exeptional team on my 7 days trip in August 2017. The reservation team: In spite of being a last minute reservation 2 weeks before departure, every inquiry on email were handled immediately by the reservation team as compared to other cruise lines competitors who did not answer to my inquiries. Dawn and Benjamin dealt with my contraints and changing schedules, found 4 + 3 days trip in an upper deck cabin without single supplement, 1st big pleasant surprise. CE kept my luggage at their office and brought it to the terminal at boarding time, which freed an extra day visiting Cairns. 2nd pleasant surprise. Even more exceptional is their after trip care: they wrote to me about forgotten items on my cabin asking for directives on what to do with them ! 3rd surprise. The weather challenge: - Many got sea sick, but it's a trade off for an intimate, small boat with limited number of passengers. It was not an obstacle for my fun. CE is so generous as to depart even when very few people registered. - Dry suits and all gears provided at no charge; I kept them on everytime I got to the ocean so I could last longer. The passengers : - Cons: average age of passengers in my trip was above their 70ies, oldest was 91 yo. In spite of clear warnings from the crew that some activities required a very good physical fitness, some elderlies overestimated their capacity, could not follow and might be limiting factors. I would have preferred a younger, more dynamic and sport crowd to team up with. - Pros: luckily, they were lively, happy, fun, well travelled with experienced to share. The very few young adults were more tensed, avoided eye contacts, nearly hostile or simply shy, but gradually relaxed towards the end of their trip. Packages were either 4 days length (North leg, my favourite) or 3 (South leg), new passengers joined in between; making up your group and bonding was facilitated compared to other formula with passengers joining any day for different trip lengths. The crew: Wonder how CE select their staff with such interpersonal social skills, personality, attitude. Those qualities could not be trained. Maybe all Aussies are as nice, kind and generous ?!? Coral Exp, please keep them happy so they could contaminate us with their strong spirit. 13 staff members multi-talented, with multiple professional expertise and skills, switching tasks and responsibility seamlessly, from captainship to skippers to general maintenance to restaurant assistance and back. Everyone does everything, yet tasks seemed well defined, nothing got overlooked. They knew our names, even though we don't wear our name tag all the time and passengers rotation is every 3 to 4 days. Maintenance team were so efficient and discreet that we don’t get to see them; the rooms were always made up regardless of how many times we used the room and the bathroom, unlike in major hotel chains, 4th surprise. Thanks to Jay, Samy, and Aaron (?). Charlie with a heart of gold provided first aid for an elderly who travelled alone and broke his wrist; they took him to the hospital and back to the boat. Everyone helped him up and down the stairs, in rough sea or for glass bottom boat trips. Carole the purser from France, looked after us. Dany the marine biologist presented the ocean inhabitants like romanced stories or a cartoon characters, each personalized with their funny peculiarity, temperament, specific job in the food chain & in keeping the reefs. Ford, the engineer, is one of the lesser known crew member. He worked round the clock and fixed plumbing, engine, everything maintenance, you name it. Ford has worked for so many years on cruise boats and will tell you about diving in the area and in New Zealand. In the kitchen, Karina and the other chef (forgot his name and lost a point on the trivial pursuit !) did magic with the unreal sea food buffet. I am impressed with the prawn avocado salad; steamed red snaper; Morton Oysters; impossible roquette salad with parmesan, pine nut and pear; prawns marinated in coconut, lemon grass; or seared, Asian style salad, coconut & lemon grass fried scampi, chow mein; lamb racks. I ate so much and wished that one of the meals would be less appealing so my stomach could rest ! I would have loved more Australian fruits on my next trip with you, promised ? Here come the activities: I was not aware of all the land activities, I won't list them all here to leave room for surprises. That makes my 5th surprises. Land activities do not seem to be included in other live board cruises. Bring your sport walking shoes. Picnic, wonderful snorking and kayaking on Lizard Island beach till sun set; the next day mooring there, we went for a 3 hours walk up to the top of Lizard island only for the fittest ones; getting down the same steeped path seemed scary but actually much easier. Stunning views that compensate for the wake up call at 5:00 am. Check the wild orchids; the yellow flower shrubs (similar to the yellow flowers that bloom at the Vietnamese New Year and turn black and red after they ripen) contrasting with the deep blue back ground; the piles of rocks and stone that each visitor is supposed to bring up to the peak of the island. Fish feeding sessions night and day: we were in the water and saw a huge humphead Maori wrasse all blue and green, bigger than me, staring at me. I was scared for nothing as Maori humphead are only kind and curious. Very interesting visit to the very expensive Cooktown sea front; museum entrance fee on your own. Not as many dives as in other liveboard bc of land expeditions. 2 bottom glass trips at each site, for those who don't want to get wet or unfit to swim. Very skilled, precised skippers holding the boat still above interesting spots, positioned aside so to let the sun light gets through; parked the boat of 15 passengers with only one trial on top of the boat lift. Even though I dove and snorkelled, I went on all bottom glass trips to listen to Dany’s explanations, to have a sample of what to expect, then decide if I wanted to snorkle there. We love you Dany ! We were unlucky with the mangrove expedition at high tide. No fauna, birds, crocs visible. Turtle farm very instructive but nothing to see there. My baptism to diving with Ricardo: Con: no dive site layout. I suggest that we have a printed itinerary on the daily new bulletin. Pros: the 1st test dive of my manipulation of the equipment took 30 mn; 2nd dive 11,50 m (= 37”) at Ribbon Reef #3 spectacular, 33 mn; 3rd dive 11.90m, the max allowed 12 m for beginners, 36 mn fabulous. Wordless. In 1st dive, I was alone w Ricci. 2nd, Sami and David got along but followed us autonomously. Saw a cleaning station w neon blue damsels, Nemo the clown fish in ocre and blue collar in and out of anemone. Big yellow fish with brown polka dots under the corals. Huge califlowers bolders, jack fruit, bamboo, clayfish antennae, butterfly fish, no angel fish, yellow trumpet fish with green lines, square black flat fish with yellows stripes, dark blue box with yellow spots. Big bénitiers no colour, probably victims of bleaching. I dreamt, years ago, of swimming with a school of fish friends, no one else, in the deep blue. Dream came true ! We were given feed-backs after every dive. Everybody looked after you so that you set your equipment adequately for your comfort and fun. Colours are dissapointing in the South leg, even under the sun. Without the sun, even the North leg could be blah. Out of my 4 dives, only 2 really did wonders, the 1st being a test dive. You could see as many with snorkling alone, although you will miss out on the tall walls, the deep blue above you, shoals of fishes. Snorkling in Polynesia was much better years ago. While passengers were loading on and off in between the 2 legs of my trip, a visit were organized to Thapukai place, at the foot of Kuranda rain forest. We had to wait for unecessary period of time and missed out on visiting the wonderful facility. We snorkled and dove at Dunk and Lizard Island, Nathan reef, Watson's Bay on Cooks Island ?, Ribbon Reefs 3 and 9 and Escape Island No tip policy in Australia, so I managed to offer small gifts to express my gratitude, which the crew really appreciated. Dropped me off to my after cruise hotel. I did not keep track of all the beautiful details daily and must have missed quite a bunch, so please amplify the pleasure. Thanks to all the team of Coral Expeditions. Go with them ! (same comments posted in Trip Advisor) Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This cruise is over the Great Barrier Reef. Early April is risky weather-wise and we hit rough seas. The captain and crew came up with a plan to head south where the weather was better and to cruise backwards. We got to better weather ... Read More
This cruise is over the Great Barrier Reef. Early April is risky weather-wise and we hit rough seas. The captain and crew came up with a plan to head south where the weather was better and to cruise backwards. We got to better weather as predicted, had 3 days of good weather and some great snorkeling. I was impressed the crew could take the information available to them and salvage what would otherwise been a less than pleasant experience. I remain impressed with their skill and knowledge. Nathan Reef is remarkable. Do not miss it if you can help it. We did not always encounter good service in Australia but the crew on this cruise was outstanding. Pleasant, engaging, making clear each could do what he or she could to make the cruise enjoyable. No exception. Our cruise director Bec was particularly special. Substantial knowledge about what we were seeing, always available for questions, always determined we would have a special experience, always friendly and easily approachable. She made the trip a wonderful learning experience, as did First Mate Ed. Our cabin was very nice with a queen size bed and plenty of room to move around. Cabin 401 is one of the larger cabins. Dining was excellent, causing me to eat too much. The walks on the beach or in the forest were interesting and enjoyable but not demanding. Opportunities to snorkel every day in a different area plus a glass bottom boat to provide another way to see the coral and fish. Talks on the reef were informative but not really entertaining. The goal was to let us know about the reef and what we were or would be seeing. Bec did a very nice job. No children with us. We would not likely go again because we have experienced the reef as part of a very long trip. No reluctance choosing Coral Expedition for a future trip, however. Embarkation and disembarkation were well organized, welcoming and very smooth. We spent almost a month in Australia; this cruise was the best part of the trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We were told about this cruise by a couple we met in Sydney 2 years ago and thought it would be an ideal end to our next New Zealand trip, as we've always wanted to see the GBR. We enjoyed every minute of our 4 day cruise! The ship ... Read More
We were told about this cruise by a couple we met in Sydney 2 years ago and thought it would be an ideal end to our next New Zealand trip, as we've always wanted to see the GBR. We enjoyed every minute of our 4 day cruise! The ship met all our needs very well-the cabin was very comfortable and excellently serviced every morning, the food was of a really high standard, plentiful, tasty, beautifully presented and served extremely well. We enjoyed the complimentary home baked cookies, cakes etc that were provided with morning coffee and afternoon tea- just what hungry snorkellers needed! We can't speak highly enough of the whole crew-each one of them friendly, professional and helpful-a fantastic bunch that we were sorry to say goodbye to at the end of our trip! The glass bottom boat outings and the snorkelling sessions were amazing-we were first time snorkellers and were given lots of help and encouragement by the crew. We were soon enjoying ourselves among incredible corals and a huge variety of the most beautiful fish-watching clown fish and swimming with a turtle were experiences we will never forget! Breakfast on the top deck as we sailed through the Hinchinbrook Channel, Captain Charlie's BBQ and sunset drinks on a desert island were all real highlights. We met lots of lovely, like minded people and would recommend this cruise to anyone who is keen to see and learn about the GBR. Our thanks to Captain Charlie and the whole crew! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
My wife and I took the 4 night 3 day north leg of this cruise. It was fabulous. Coral expeditions is a small ship and our cruise was not full; just 17 passengers and 12 crew. You take this cruise to experience the GBR, and CE2 and ... Read More
My wife and I took the 4 night 3 day north leg of this cruise. It was fabulous. Coral expeditions is a small ship and our cruise was not full; just 17 passengers and 12 crew. You take this cruise to experience the GBR, and CE2 and this crew really delivered. Food was great and the crew was most helpful. Our cabin was adequate. But you don't take this cruise to stay in your cabin. You can see the reef from a glass bottomed boat, snorkeling or scuba. I did all three. Each was a great way to see the reef. Many thanks to Evie our marine biologist and Robbie our dive master who got us all through the rec dives successfully. Gary mastered the CE2 like a pro. Got us right next to the reef. Chef Matt prepared excellent meals. Rest of the crew made the trip a real pleasure. Overall the best way to experience the GBR. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
I have always dreamed of snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef but as I am not a strong swimmer and hate sea water I thought it was only a dream! Well I was wrong! I went on this cruise expecting to do the next best thing and see the reef ... Read More
I have always dreamed of snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef but as I am not a strong swimmer and hate sea water I thought it was only a dream! Well I was wrong! I went on this cruise expecting to do the next best thing and see the reef through a glass screen in the bottom of a boat but the team of fantastic people on this boat got me in the water and snorkelling straight away and I so enjoyed it. I cannot rate highly enough the team on the boat, nothing was too much trouble, safety was paramount, the food was outstanding and the cabins were brilliant. I could not believe how big and roomy the showers were and really hot, a must after swimming. The itinerary was amended slightly to make the trip more comfortable as the weather was a bit blowy so we did it in reverse to avoid the worst of it. The staff were really knowledgeable about the reef, the coral and fish etc. I would certainly recommend it for people wanting to see the reef but the stairs are pretty steep on the boat so you would need to be mobile. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because you would be able to cruise around the Great Barrier Reef learning all about it and for the snorkelling, Scuba diving and looking at the coral through a glass bottom boat, so that all could see it. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise because you would be able to cruise around the Great Barrier Reef learning all about it and for the snorkelling, Scuba diving and looking at the coral through a glass bottom boat, so that all could see it. We wouldn't have to worry about anything as all equipment would be provided and the four day cruise fitted into the five weeks we had touring New Zealand and Australia. The cruise starts and ends at Cairns so when we arrived in Cairns the cruise fitted nicely into the time we had arranged for touring that area. We arrived on the Coral Expeditions 11 at 10am on the Friday morning and from then on we had a wonderful time. We cannot praise the staff enough, we have never met such a lovely group of people, nothing was too much trouble, they anticipated our every need. The advice and help I received when snorkelling was brilliant, my husband didn't go into the sea but enjoyed the information given on the glass bottom boat. It is a cruise for everybody whether you swim or not. The food was out of this world, we wish we were back on the boat enjoying it all, it was a wonderful trip, and we would recommend it to everybody. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
Always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef? Then this cruise should be on your radar. Very nice cabin with a big bathroom designed for post snorkel and beach going. Great water pressure and a clothes line in the shower. Everything on ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef? Then this cruise should be on your radar. Very nice cabin with a big bathroom designed for post snorkel and beach going. Great water pressure and a clothes line in the shower. Everything on board was fully functional and well maintained. The Coral Expeditions II is a 35m catamaran with a lift elevator aft. Makes for a rapid deployment of the glass bottom boat. A fun ride that lets you see the reef structure and species before you jump in, or make a beach landing on a remote island. Ship outfitted with top notch snorkel and flippers and have life jackets if your not a strong swimmer. Day after day of mooring next to giant reef structures walking out back and falling into the water. Each destination uniquely different than the prior. They've got a dive instructor on the team that can help you check SCUBA off your bucket list and let you see the reef looking up. Our Expedition Team Leaders were up for the challenge and power packed with knowledge of species, history, flora, etc. With hiking as an option on island visits gives you a chance to break up the action and see some jungle and beaches. Meals are served in the dining area and are a buffet style setting with a few menu dinners. The food was easily among the best I've ever eaten. Prepared to perfection, everything from scratch. Tried several different foods for the first time. Top deck has a library, bar, sundeck, and an amazing view. Got to meet some very fascinating fellow passengers and have some enriching conversations with people from all over the globe. The most impressive part of the experience was the crew. A real team, that operates seamlessly. Everyone of them a true professional and master of their craft. I wish my team worked together half as well as the Coral Expeditions II crew does. I'm definitely going on the 7 day Barrier Reef cruise again, it was an unforgettable trip. Read Less
Coral Expeditions II Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 2.0 0.0
Public Rooms 3.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 2.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0

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