Xplorers Add To The Adventure

One of the most common questions our travellers ask is whether they should cruise the Kimberley on a smaller vessel (under 50 travellers) to allow access to all the nooks and crannies along this remote coastline. While it is true that the Kimberley’s massive tides, which can be up to 13-metres in size (the second largest in the world), can make access to key locations along the Kimberley’s big rivers very difficult for all but the smallest vessels, Australia’s Coral Expeditions has long had a unique solution.

Coral Adventurer Xplorer boarding

Back in 1996 when Coral Expeditions (then Coral Princess Cruises) undertook the very first expedition cruises on the Kimberley Coast, founder Tony Briggs quickly realised that the tides were going to present some major difficulties when it came to accessing locations well up the Kimberley’s rivers – such as the iconic King Cascades. These tiered waterfalls are located about 27 kilometres from the mouth of the Prince Regent River, a round-trip distance of over 50 kilometres, which is just too far to travel in inflatable Zodiacs. 

Rather than omit these iconic locations (as many similar sized ships still do), Tony came up with a unique solution, the Xplorer excursion tender. Almost 30 years later, these excursion tenders remain synonymous with the Coral Expeditions cruise experience, allowing guests to explore the entire coast while travelling on a small ship with more space and extra onboard amenities.

Xplorer tender

So what exactly is an Xplorer?

Coral Expeditions’ Xplorers are high speed excursion tenders, each seating between 60 and 72 travellers in individual padded seating. A canopy provides protection from the Kimberley’s blazing sun, an onboard toilet offers added convenience and a PA system allows the Expedition Leader and Guest Lecturers to be easily heard over the twin 225 horsepower engines that push the Xplorers along at 20 knots, making the journey up to King Cascades a breeze!

Another feature of the Xplorers is their ease of boarding. Throughout your expedition, the Xplorers will be cradled on a hydraulic lift at the stern of your ship, allowing easy access from the Main Deck before the tender lowers into the water and heads off on excursion. There’s no need to time a leap into a bobbing tender or get your feet wet – it’s all very civilised! And being almost flat-bottomed, Xplorers are able to nudge directly onto the beach, allowing the front door to be lowered so you can simply step straight ashore.

Coral Expeditions operates three small ships in the Kimberley, the 72-passenger Coral Discoverer and new 120-passenger sister ships Coral Adventurer and Coral Geographer. Coral Discover’s full complement of travellers is accommodated on one Xplorer, while Adventurer and Geographer require the use of two Xplorers.

While the Xplorers are fantastic for longer excursions and providing access, inflatable Zodiacs are still an important component of the Coral Expeditions experience. In locations such as Horizontal Falls and Montgomery Reef, Coral Expeditions’ fleet of Zodiacs are used to really ramp up the adventure! Coral Discoverer, Coral Adventurer and Coral Geographer each travel with their own fleet of Zodiacs and boarding of these tenders is once again made easy from the ship’s hydraulic platform.

Horizontal Falls zodiac ride Kimberley Cruises

With the incredible popularity of Kimberley cruising, over the next couple of years we’re going to see a number of new ships heading to the Kimberley Coast for the first time. Many of these new foreign-flagged entrants will accommodate between 100 – 200 passengers, making it more important than ever to choose your ship wisely.

So, if you’re looking for a mid-size ship featuring more spacious staterooms, modern amenities and plenty of deck space, while still wanting the ability to access all of the key locations along the coast, then Coral Expeditions with their flexible range of excursion craft and perhaps the best expedition teams in the business should be at the top of your list.

Discover the Coral Expeditions Kimberley Fleet

Before you book your Kimberley cruise, speak to the expert team at Kimberley Cruise Specialists today on 1800 90 20 80. Our unrivalled knowledge and unbiased advice will ensure you select the Kimberley Cruise that ticks all your boxes for an unforgettable holiday experience.


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