Three months remain until small ship adventure cruise operator Coral Expeditions returns to Tasmania for its second season running week-long circumnavigations of the Apple Isle from Hobart, building on an amazingly successful maiden season last summer.
From November through to February 2017, the line’s 50-passenger ship Coral Expeditions I will circle the state showcasing its natural highlights, heritage and scenic landscapes. If you are eyeing this itinerary for your next cruise holiday close-to-home, there are so many more highlights you may not know that you probably won’t find in the brochure.
1. You’ll see some of the state’s best beaches
Claims such as Australia’s best beach is highly subjective but according to Coral Expeditions, Wineglass Bay will find its way into your heart once you see it. Some of these are extremely remote and only accessible by cruising.
This particular spot can be accessed via a short hike from Freycinet National Park – one of the stops on Coral Expeditions’ week-long Tasmanian circumnavigations.
2. Rock formations inaccessible by land are on show to you
As Tasmania is of course Australia’s only island state, the 4,882 kilometres of coastline around the state offers some hidden rock formations which have to be seen to be believed, such as the Ile de Phoques.
The awesome power of nature is on full display in front of your eyes, and many of these are only accessible by boat.
3. Access the ship’s Bridge whenever you like
Coral Expeditions prides itself on maintaining an Open Bridge policy, meaning you can visit the Captain or navigational crew pretty much anytime to change up your view, learn about some of the equipment used, the course being chartered and more.
There’s also a certified Marine Biologist onboard conducting regular lectures about some of the marine life you’ll encounter during your journey.
4. See the state’s hidden World Heritage List sites
Nearly 37% of Tasmania has been designated as protected for its National Parks, both land and sea, along with many UNESCO World Heritage listed sites.
With virtually no limitations in terms of where it can go, this opens up the state to Coral Expeditions passengers, who can enjoy all three, along with many extensive walking tracks for those seeking more active days.
5. Access the southernmost point of Australia
If you’ve ever been to the very far north of Australia, you’ll also want to tick off the country’s far south as well, which is where Cockle Creek comes in.
Forget simply sailing past, this is actually one of the stops on the itinerary. Guests can disembark and follow in the footsteps of Bruni D’Entrecasteaux, an early French explorer who is thought to have encountered the region’s native inhabitants in the 18th century and in fact came so close to reaching the area discovered by George Bass and Matthew Flinders first. Here, you can find the widely photographed sign indicating you’re at the bottom of Australia.
6. Get as close as you dare to marine wildlife
Coral Expeditions’ voyages around Tasmania run during the peak warm months November to February and as such, many parts of the state are home to pods and colonies of marine life returning home from their winter migrations.
As such, you’ll be in pole position to see dolphins, whales, penguins and seals from the ship in places such as the Tasman National Park. If you dare, you can even take out one of the ship’s kayaks and get even closer.
7. Out-of-hours access to Maria Island
Land-based travellers enjoy good access to Maria Island however are limited by the ferry schedule taking them there and back. Coral Expeditions guests have no such restrictions, which often sees guests sometimes enjoy exclusive access to some parts of the island.
A few dozen Tasmanian Devils live on Maria Island and having such exclusive access can provide a much better chance to see these unique creatures. Or if you’re unlucky in that regard, there are also plenty of wombats lumbering about for you to spot and photograph.
8. You may even see the Southern Lights
Certainly not as well known as their counterpart, the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, the Southern Lights can be viewed from Tasmania however this does require weather conditions to be at their absolute optimum. That’s not to say it can’t happen, and generally the further south you get from a city or regional centre, the better your chances of seeing them.
That said, they are utterly spectacular if everything works in your favour. To put a spin on a popular phrase, you never know your luck out of a big city.
9. Breathe some of the world’s cleanest air
To reach the gorges, waterfalls, rivers and mountains of Port Davey, it requires a seven-day trek, a light plane flight – or a cruise, such as with Coral Expeditions. The unique eco-system in this part of the state can lead to some temperamental weather conditions, so having access to the comfort of a cruise ship can be extremely beneficial. And when the weather is on your side, you can jump into the small boat kept onboard and head ashore, or grab a kayak for a paddle around some secluded bays.
This spot is rumoured to have some of the cleanest and most purified air on the planet, so make sure you get a lungful or two while you’re there.
10. Have the best view of the Sydney to Hobart finish line
Known as the Boxing Day Classic, the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race creates just as much of a spectacle at the finish line as it does at the start.
In 2016, departure dates for Coral Expeditions’ Tasmania voyage take place every Monday, which means if you’re on the 19 December sailing, you’ll be back in Hobart just in time for the winners coming across the finish line a few days later. Or the 26 December cruise might lead you to see some of the yachts in full race mode in the early part of your cruise.
Cruises on Coral Expedition I offer four different types of accommodation across the four decks – cabins, staterooms, upper deck staterooms and deluxe staterooms. These rooms range in size from 10-17 square metres, some featuring portholes while others offer full size picture windows. There is still some availability left for this coming season, with different pricing valid for different sailings depending on your intended departure date.