In the midst of the most concerning time for cruising in memory, and while there are many ships which are still sailing aimlessly at sea or stuck in ports where they are not welcome, Coral Expeditions has a good tale to tell, able to bring its all Australian-flagged fleet safely home to Cairns by the end of March.
Responding quickly to the pandemic and daily changing regulations around port access in the Asia-Pacific region, Coral Expeditions brought back its four ships to Cairns homeport.
With the unwavering trust and understanding from loyal onboard guests, Coral Adventurer returned early from Sulawesi and Coral Discoverer was able to steam from Tasmania to Sydney to disembark guests there. Coral Expeditions I simply terminated her last Great Barrier Reef trip as per normal in Cairns port. By 22 March, all guests across the fleet were back in port on Australian soil with no operational issues and by 31 March, all ships were safely berthed in Cairns and crew home.
“Moored beside Trinity Wharf waits Coral Discoverer, her small but elegant bow tucked in among the yachts and fishing boats that are tied up alongside her,” reads a Coral Expeditions report.
“Not used to being in port for quite so long and more used to the open sea and the rugged cliffs of the Kimberley and Tasmania, she patiently awaits her next adventure. Coral Discoverer arrived from her Tasmania season a week ago, and her crew have spent that time unpacking and scheduling maintenance for the period of time that she is off duty.
“Coral Adventurer, having travelled many nautical miles to return home due to the crisis, spent last night anchored off False Cape near Trinity Inlet. When she arrived into Port, there was a collective moment of relief and gratitude from those of us who know and love her.
“Having travelled through the islands of Indonesia to Darwin, Coral Adventurer brought all crew and guests safely back to Australian shores, before sailing for Cairns. She will also undertake a period of maintenance and onboard duties by a small group of dedicated crew members who will stay aboard to look after her.”
Once again, the small ship fleet of Coral Expeditions proved to have its advantages.
“We are in the fortunate position that our ships are small, and therefore our guest numbers limited. As an independent expedition business with a strong and loyal guest base, we feel grateful that we were able to bring our guests home so swiftly,” said Coral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies.
“While we regret that many guests had to reorganise their travel plans, as a small ship brand we were able to efficiently make all those arrangements. We are happy that all guests and crew have returned home safe and healthy, without any COVID-19 incidents on any of our vessels.
“Our fleet will continue to be maintained in top shape and the entire Coral Expeditions team is confident for a redeployment of our small expedition vessels as soon as government restrictions lift, and it is responsible to do so.”
Coral Expeditions has cancelled all departures up to 31 May 2020, with affected guests receiving 100 per cent of existing payments applied as a cruise credit towards a future Coral Expeditions voyage.
The cruise line will republish a new schedule in the coming months, and guests will be offered the usual levels of personal service with the Coral Expeditions’ reservations team open for business as per usual.
“We are fortunate indeed that due to the size of the business, we are able to help as many of our staff as possible through these difficult times. When we resume operations and in time, Coral Expeditions will bounce back stronger than ever in its 35-year history,” adds Mr Gillies.
The team at Coral Expeditions agree and are grateful for its unique status and the help and support from its guests and the government.
“We are grateful to keep the Coral Expeditions family together. To see our fleet tied up idle in Cairns is a matter of some sadness and disbelief for us,” reads a statement from A Letter from Cairns.
“We exist for a simple reason – to sail our vessels and take guests to far flung places. When our ships do not operate, many of our staff have no work. But thanks to our strong financial base, support from our Australian bank as well as the authorities, we will help as many of our staff as possible through these difficult times. Most of our salaried staff remain on the payroll. We will undertake a number of long-term projects while our ships remain idle. Remote working arrangements are in place. When we resume operations, we will bounce back stronger than ever.
“Our company is a special one. Over the past 35 years, we have seen through SARS, the Global Financial Crisis, Swine Flu and assorted cyclones. As dark as the clouds are, there is a brighter day ahead. The allure of faraway places, remaining to be explored, will never dim. When the clouds lift, we will be here waiting to take you.”
Isn’t it good to hear some positive news from the cruise industry? Have you sailed with Coral Expeditions? Would you recommend this cruise line to our members?
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