Coral Adventurer is the largest, newest addition to the Australia-based fleet. Carrying two to three times as many people as other Coral Expedition ships, it still feels small and easy to get around, thanks to an elevator, wide corridors and large rooms. For a hardy expedition vessel, it's remarkably spacious, elegant and bathed in natural light.
Everything feels open -- from the 1,000 sq. m of open deck space to the open bridge policy that allows guests to walk in and watch the officers' navigation. As befitting an Australian ship, it has more bars than restaurants and a casual, convivial vibe. A majority of balcony cabins, great dining and delightful Aussie/New Zealander crew make it a lovely home afloat.
One of the most attractive features is the line's signature Xplorer, which is a more accessible alternative to a tender (transfer boat) or Zodiac (rubber dinghy), because it is boarded from the marina deck and then smoothly lowered into the ocean via a hydraulic platform. Along with six Zodiacs, Coral Adventurer has two of these 60-seater, shaded Xplorer vessels, equipped with onboard toilets, for scenic rides and transfers to land. However, it sometimes feels like a floating bus tour, which may be a turn-off for some but a great comfort for others. Also, the ability to simultaneously deliver 120 passengers to a tiny island, village or beach in one large group is not always an advantage, as it risks comparisons to a big cruise ship experience.
But these minor negatives would be completely unnoticed by many people or swiftly forgiven upon returning to such a pleasant ship with its ever-patient, helpful crewmembers, highly experienced expedition leaders and a congenial captain who even gets involved in lectures, workshops and the pre-dinner social hour.
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For more details about cabins, dining and things to do, see the separate sections of this review.
The ship's elevator and Xplorer vessels tend to attract older adventurers. The majority of passengers are retired Australian couples aged in their 70s and 80s, with smaller numbers from Europe and North America. The youngest person on our sailing was 61 and the oldest was 95. There are also likely to be several solo travellers, who may request to share a cabin to save on the fare.
Casual is an understatement: some passengers go barefoot to breakfast and lunch. Shorts, T-shirts and summer dresses are worn day and night. Most people change into a fresh outfit for dinner. For shore excursions, waterproof sandals, sneakers or hiking boots are safer than thongs/flip-flops. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, swimwear and a small backpack to carry your camera, binoculars, medication and other essentials along with the provided refillable water bottle. When swimming in some destinations -- such as West Papua and Indonesia -- wear something more modest than a bikini or Speedos. The locals wear long boardshorts and long-sleeved shirts in the water, so it is fine to do the same. When snorkelling away from the beaches and locals, any form of swimwear is acceptable. No expedition clothing or footwear is provided onboard.
All meals, shore excursions and tips are included in the cruise fare. House wines, beers and sparkling wine are included during lunch and dinner only. Outside these times, plus other alcohol such as spirits and premium wines and beer, are charged to your onboard account. Soft drinks from the soda fountain, juices, filtered water, tea and coffee are complimentary.
The onboard currency is Australian dollars.