One of our favourite Kimberley cruising small ships, Coral Discoverer has just returned to service following her annual refit and out-of-water survey period in Cairns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZwZMDY8P3s In preparation for the upcoming 2024 Kimberley season, over $2 million was spent ensuring she remains in ‘tip top’ condition ahead of another busy season in Australia’s north west.
Kimberley Cruises F.A.Q.
Looking for answers about a Kimberley cruise? Here’s the answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive.
It’s always a great day when you’re lucky enough to be cruising Australia’s Kimberley Coast! The first thing to note is that cruises don’t operate during the wet season between October and early March.
Travelling in March / April / May is the optimum time to experience the Kimberley’s big waterfalls (particularly King George & Mitchell) at their absolute best whilst June and July promise perfect daily temperatures and low humidity. If you’re travelling from late July through September you will also encounter the world’s largest annual humpback whale migration along with the wildflower season. Read more about the Kimberley’s different seasons.
With over a dozen ships cruising the Kimberley coast, choosing the right ship for your needs can be confusing. Mid-size expedition ships (if we can call them that – they accommodate between just 72 and 120 travellers) offer spacious accommodations, larger expedition teams and all the latest onboard amenities (bells and whistles), but generally don’t have as much flexibility as smaller vessels (12 – 36 travellers) which also tend to offer a more active experience and also the option for fishing.
The best way to find out which ship is right for you is to speak to one of Kimberley Cruise Specialists experts – they will take the time to listen to your expectations for the trip, discuss your fitness levels and help you make a decision.
You don’t need to be super-fit to enjoy a Kimberley cruise, in fact as long as you’re able to walk moderate distances over uneven terrain you’ll be able to complete most of the excursions on offer. Some ships tend to offer a more active experience, which might also include scrambling over boulders to a secret swimming spot for example.
Importantly though, all ships require guests to be able to move around the ship unassisted (including up and down stairs to reach evacuation points) and to be able to care for themselves during the voyage. Guests relying on walking frames and wheelchairs might not be suited to all ships – it’s best to speak to one of our experts about your level of mobility if you have concerns.
The thought of a cooling dip after a long day of Kimberley exploration sounds wonderful, until you think about some of the creatures that are lurking just beneath the surface! Due to the number of saltwater crocodiles that call the Kimberley Coast home it’s generally not considered a good idea to swim in the bays and rivers. Luckily though, there are some freshwater pools and billabongs along the coast and the crew will try to allow time for a cooling dip on a few occasions during each expedition.
Importantly, always take the advice of your crew when considering a swim – they know where it is safe and where it isn’t.
If you’re keen to land a ‘barra’ you should keep in mind that not all Kimberley cruise ships offer a fishing programme. Typically the smaller vessels (up to 36 passengers) are licensed for fishing and offer it as a regular activity during their voyages. On these ships the chef will also gladly prepare and cook up your catch of the day.
On the slightly larger ships (more than 36 passengers) fishing isn’t really a key activity due to the amount of time it would take for everyone to have a turn. Some of these vessels might offer one or two opportunities to fish using a hand reel, but this will generally be on a ‘catch and release’ basis.
If you’re a single traveller looking for a Kimberley cruise there are some great options that take the sting out of the dreaded single supplement.
Firstly, several ships offer a ‘single match up’ service whereby they will try and find another single cruiser of the same gender to share your cabin. That’s a great way to avoid paying any single supplement, if you’re willing to share with a relative stranger. Looking on the brightside, by the end of your trip you may have made a new friend for life.
If the idea of sharing isn’t your cup of tea, all Kimberley ships allow sole use of cabins, typically though the sole use surcharge is between 50% and 100% of the cruise fare. There are a couple of exceptions though, in particular Eco Abrolhos and Reef Prince have a number of cabins available with surcharges of 20% or less, which is great value.
We strongly recommend that all guests obtain a suitable travel insurance policy to protect against any loss (whether it be due to cancellation or curtailment). Importantly, we suggest you ensure that your preferred policy includes a provision for remote area evacuation. Remote area evacuation is important as the ambulance service will generally not be able to reach you in remote locations along the Kimberley coast, meaning that private helicopters may be engaged to evacuate you in the event of a medical emergency. Costs associated with an evacuation of this nature can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Not all domestic policies include this provision, so it is important to double check.
We are a registered agent for nib Insurance, and their Australian Waters policy does include remote area evacuation. We also pass on a discount on nib premiums when purchased in conjunction with your Kimberley cruises.
During your Kimberley cruise you will be heading into remote areas where there is not any mobile telephone reception at all. This means that while you are cruising your friends and colleagues at home will not be able to contact you through your normal number.
Of course all Kimberley cruise ships have a satellite telephone meaning that you can always be contacted in an emergency, and several ships now also offer the ability to purchase access to WiFi internet. Please note however that the nature of satellite technology means the onboard WiFi is not really suited for video calls (Skype and the like) or downloading large files, however it is perfectly fine for checking and sending emails.
About to head off on your Kimberley cruise and worried that you’ve forgotten to pack something important? Check out our suggested packing list:
- Long, lightweight pants for hikes and walks
- Rain jacket, lightweight
- Swim shirt / rashie for sun protection
- A jumper (pullover), sweatshirt, jacket, or light wrap that you can layer
- Sunhat with brim
- Bathing suit and / or board shorts (for swimming opportunities)
- Personal hygiene products and any prescription medications
- Sunscreen and insect repellent – most ships provide this on board, but if you have brand preferences or sensitivities you may wish to bring your own
- Good walking / hiking shoes, rubber-soled
- Sunglasses for protection from sea glare. A backup pair is also a good idea
- A backup pair of prescription glasses if appropriate – imagine if your only pair of glasses broke early in the trip!
- Rubber sandals or Tevas / wet sandals called ‘river walkers’ or ‘aqua soles’ – thick-soled mesh socks for wet landings on the beach
- Sandals or thongs for on board use – note that some ships such as the True North have a ‘barefoot’ policy on board so these may not be required
- Binoculars (essential for bird watching)
- Small torch
- Backpack (preferably waterproof) suitable for carrying your photographic equipment
- Refillable water bottle or canteen
- Plenty of spare memory cards for your camera – you will be taking plenty of photos!
Also keep in mind that lightweight fabrics dry quickly. So if a quick hand wash is required in your cabin your laundry will dry quicker.