Geraldine McGrath, a friend of the YOURLifeChoices team, had always fancied a cruise around the Kimberleys, but with so many options on offer, how did she decide which cruise would suit her best?
As soon as you step aboard the Orion, you know that it is going to be a special journey.
We chose to book the 10 day cruise from Broome to Darwin as it combined the luxury of a 5 star cruise ship with a sense of exploration and adventure. I had always wanted to see the Kimberley region and Orion’s advertisements featured the distinctive northern Australia images of towering red cliffs and bright blue water. Orion appealed to us as we did not want to sit on deck and look at a view, we wanted to be active and to explore, learn about, and experience the region.
Orion is a small cruise ship with a maximum of 106 passengers and 75 crew, ensuring a personal, friendly atmosphere.
We had booked well in advance and carefully looked at deck plans on the website. We stayed in a Junior Suite on Deck 4, a position I would recommend. Cabins are spacious with plenty of storage space. As expected, the bathroom was adequate but not large; toiletries were provided. Our steward looked to our every need and cabin service was excellent.
Meals were stunning and suited all tastes and dietary requirements. Breakfast and lunch were buffets and usually served on deck. Each day featured a different cuisine and it was hard to resist the many choices available. Dinner was a highlight. We changed from casual gear and ‘dressed’ for dinner, although open neck shirts were fine for men. Guests met in the Leda Lounge before dinner for a daily review by our expedition leaders and then an introduction to the next day’s activities. Dinner in the Constellation Restaurant was five-star dining. Sydney chef, Serge Dansereau, had planned the a la carte menu and I could not fault the service, menu or presentation. As a farewell gift we were given a copy of each day’s menu.
Daily shore activities were well organised. The expedition leaders had extensive knowledge of the natural and cultural diversity of the Kimberley region, several of them were previously park rangers in the area. Clothing for these shore trips requires to be comfortable with sturdy walking shoes, sun hats and, of course, sunscreen.
All excursions, whether to shore or to explore waterways, were by Zodiacs, large inflatable boats fitted with forward-looking seats for longer tours.
Refreshments were provided with some special and surprising highlights: the Bloody Marys as we returned from an early morning trip to Montgomery Reef and champagne cocktails after a long walk to the top of the King George Falls.
Shore excursions were the opportunity to see as much as possible of this stunning region. These could be booked in advance, although most people seemed to do so once on board.
This was a cruise of discovery and so the entertainment was not your regular cruise fare, but we were well entertained by informative presentations from the expedition leaders, quizzes, cooking demonstrations, tours of the bridge and the galley, and even a staff concert.
In addition to the all-inclusive aspect of the cruise, there was the opportunity for extras, such as a helicopter ride over the Mitchell Falls – not to be missed – and the on board extras such as hairdressing, massage and drinks from the bar.
The Orion exceeded our expectations. The educational expedition and the experienced hospitality crew easily satisfied all requirements. The travel style of active learning in the remote Kimberly, while maintaining a level of luxury, was an excellent combination, and with a small group of like-minded people, the only complaint was the lack of time to read a good book.
We would certainly sail with Orion again. I would rate it nine out of ten.
Have you cruised the Kimberleys or any other region in Australia? Share your travel experience with us.