We have partnered with the Australian Geographic Society for a once-in-a-lifetime nature conservation experience on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This special Citizen Science departure will explore some of the most remote edges of the outer reef, discover beautiful and complex habitats, and find sanctuary in the peaceful solitude of the Coral Sea.
Hosted by some of Australia’s most accomplished reef experts including Dr Dean Miller from the Australian Geographic Society, John Rumney, co-founder of GBR Legacy, and Dr Charlie Veron, widely known as the ‘Godfather of the reef’, you will participate in real scientific research projects.
The Citizen Science component of the expedition will be curated by this expert team, and includes a focus on the annual migration of the dwarf Minke whales – with the opportunity to swim eye to eye with these magnificent creatures – and coral surveying and identification for the world-first Living Coral Biobank project.
With full access to the most knowledgeable and respected Marine Scientists in the world and the opportunity to witness their expertise, energy and passion, this expedition offers a rare chance to learn and make a difference in coral conservation. $500 from your fare benefits GBR Legacy.
• Have the chance to swim amongst the Minke Whales and come eye to eye to make a true personal connection with these beautiful and curious creatures
• Be a part of conservation history by taking part in coral surveying and collections for the world’s first Living Coral Biobank project
• Share your journey with a team of the most respected and knowledgeable Marine Scientists in the world
• Discover Australian heritage and history as you explore the frontier township of Cooktown
• Make connections with ancient indigenous culture and hear the tales of creation from a traditional elder amongst the rock art at the sheltered Yindayin cave
• Learn about reef conservation at the Research Station on Lizard Island and visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy island
• Close each day over a refreshing sundowner as you watch the sun set over the vast expanse of the Coral Sea
• Explore spectacular Osprey Reef, and observe overnight scientific research on the elusive Nautilus
Board Coral Discoverer at 4:00 pm where there is time to settle into your stateroom before our 5:00 pm departure. Cruise northwards from Cairns toward Cooktown, and at days end, join fellow explorers and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.
RIBBON REEF #9 AND #10
The Ribbon Reefs are a narrow line of outer coral reefs on the edge of the continental shelf and are renowned for their prolific marine life and coral species. Due to their location far offshore from the Australian coast, the Ribbon Reefs offer excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities, with Ribbon Reef #9 a favourite for its wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. These northern reefs are renowned for spotting iconic marine species such as potato cod, wrasse, sharks and turtles. Enjoy excellent diving and snorkelling, with guided interpretation from our marine biologist.
Here we will search for and have the chance to snorkel with the graceful dwarf Minke whales. The outer Great Barrier Reef is the only place in the world where it is possible for humans to interact with these majestic whales! Growing 8-9 metres long, they migrate through the Great Barrier Reef during the winter months, feeding on krill and small fish. Snorkelling with them is a truly magical experience, as the slender whales glide through the water at up to 34kms an hour. They are known for their curiosity and may want to have a closer look at you as well! Our time spent at the Ribbon Reefs will be dictated by the whales, as we may have to search or wait for them. As wild animals, they are unpredictable, and we cannot guarantee a whale encounter.
RACHEL CARSON REEF & MACKAY REEF
Named after the famous American conservationist, Rachel Carson, this well-protected platform reef provides our main opportunity to assist with the citizen science project. Dr Miller will present on the Coral Biobank project before he leads an expedition underwater to survey coral species and marine life. The GBR Legacy team will review survey results and conduct collection of specimens.
The following day, continue your surveying work at beautiful Mackay Reef and Cay, located off Cape Tribulation. The vibrant fringing reef offers a rewarding underwater discovery and you might spot some of the numerous turtles that gather here.
Osprey Reef is the summit of an undersea 2,000m mountain located beyond the continental shelf, in the Coral Sea. This atoll provides amazing underwater visibility from 30-60 metres, and you can observe magnificent corals, plummeting drop-offs and many fish in the crystalline waters. Osprey Reef is a highly prized tropical dive location amongst scuba divers, called an ‘oasis for living creatures of all kinds’ by Sir David Attenborough. This once-in-a-lifetime destination, Osprey Reef is a true expedition-style experience and our visit is subject to appropriate weather conditions. Diving here is most suitable for experienced divers, and our visit is subject to weather conditions. In the late evening, observe as the marine science team conducts research on the elusive Nautilus.
Come ashore in historic Cooktown and learn the history of the Guugu Yimithirr, the first people of this ancient country. Discover recent European history with a visit to the site where Lt. James Cook beached HMB Endeavour to effect repairs in 1770. Discover the Grassy Hill lookout with its 360o views of Cooktown and Endeavour River, where kangaroos were first spotted by Europeans, and see the monument to the first act of reconciliation. Wander through the rare flora collection at the Botanic Gardens and visit James Cook Museum, where the story of Cook’s landing is told from an Aboriginal perspective and where artefacts are on display.
STANLEY ISLAND & DAVIE CAY
Visit Stanley Island in the Flinders Island Group and, with a Traditional Owner guide, take a walk to view the remarkable Endaen Aboriginal rock art. Our guide will tell us the stories of the first settlements on the island and interpret the contact-period paintings in the impressive rock shelter. The art here depicts the first sailing ships to visit Queensland shores, identified as 16th century Portuguese and Makassan ships.
At Davie Reef enjoy snorkelling or glass-bottom boat tours over the colourful fringing reef or stroll on the cay to see the lively Brown Boobie bird colony.
Start the day with a dawn hike to the summit of Cook’s Look and enjoy the same view Lt. James Cook did when searching for safe passage through the maze of coral reefs. Snorkel over giant clam gardens from the beach at Watson’s Bay or relax with a walk on the white-sand beneath shady she-oak trees and learn about the tragic story surrounding Mary Watson.
There may be an opportunity to visit Lizard Island Research Station, operated by the Australian Museum to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef. The research station hosts about 100 research projects each year.
After the day’s adventures, enjoy sunset drinks on a quiet beach as the sun sets over the Coral Sea.
FITZROY ISLAND & SUDBURY CAY
At Fitzroy Island enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest or for the more adventurous, a walk to the decommissioned lighthouse rewards hikers with panoramic views of Coral Sea, islands and mainland mountain ranges.
Snorkel and spot turtles over the fringing reef, relax on Nudey Beach or lend a hand to the volunteers as we learn about the turtles at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where sick and injured turtles are cared for before being returned to the wild.
In the late afternoon, arrive at Sudbury Cay, a tiny sand cay that barely rises above the Coral Sea. Far removed from the bustle of civilisation, slip off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the tropical waters of the Coral Sea lap gently against the shoreline. As the sun gently sinks below the horizon, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks on your own private sand island.
Our Great Barrier Reef adventure concludes in Cairns this morning as we bid farewell to new-found friends, the Master and crew, disembarking at 8:00 am.
A post-cruise transfer to the city or airport is included.
Tours of the Lizard Island Research Station are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed due to operational considerations.
Some reef sites are suitable for experienced divers only.
This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition, we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.
Located close to the Dining Room, our six spacious Main Deck (Category B) staterooms are 18sqm (195 square feet) in size and feature twin portholes for expansive ocean views, along with a desk, sofa, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
Located close to the Dining Room, our six spacious Main Deck (Category A) staterooms are 18sqm (195 square feet) in size and feature large, twin porthole windows for expansive ocean views, along with a desk, sofa, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
Encircled by a full-ship promenade, our twenty spacious Promenade Deck (Category A) staterooms are 18sqm (195 square feet) in size and feature picture windows for expansive ocean views, along with a sofa, desk, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
Located on the exclusive Bridge Deck close to the Lounge and Bridge, our five spacious Bridge Deck Balcony staterooms are 18sqm (195 square feet) in size and feature private balconies opening out from french windows providing comfortable indoor outdoor living, along with a sofa, desk, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
Located in the bow of the ship and encircled by a full-ship promenade, our two Promenade Deck (Category B) staterooms are 15sqm (160 square feet) in size and feature picture windows for expansive ocean views, along with a desk, telephone and Junior King bedding.
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 63 metres
Passenger Capacity: 72 (in 36 rooms)
Built: 2005 / Refurbished: 2016
Launched in 2005, Coral Discoverer set a new benchmark standard for small ship cruising in Australia. Refurbished in November 2016, she continues to raise the bar to new levels of sophistication in expedition cruising in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 1800-tonne Coral Discoverer is the grand vision of Coral Expeditions, pioneers in expedition and adventure cruises around Australia, Papua New Guinea and South East Asia. Her shallow draught and manoeuvrability allow her to go where larger vessels cannot. Her tender vessel, Xplorer, can seat all 72 passengers for excursions to beaches and rivers. Coral Discoverer is equipped with latest technology active stabilisers to ensure comfortable cruising in open waters and is fitted with modern safety and navigation equipment and wireless internet facilities.
Coral Discoverer was built to the exacting international SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) standards and specifications in Cairns, Australia, with one aim in mind; to create the ultimate small ship cruising experience. Australian flagged, and staffed entirely by an Australian and New Zealand crew, your experience aboard Coral Discoverer will be unique.
After the refurbishment, the Sun Deck has evolved to become a new social space and the hub of on board community living. This area has been converted into an undercover deck area complete with round ‘Explorer Bar’ with bar stools and sun deck with lounges and an area for outdoor exercise equipment.
Guest accommodation has also received a substantial upgrade with the addition of six Bridge Deck Balcony Staterooms providing coveted inside/outside living quarters. Each of our other Stateroom grades has also received a full upgrade with updated bathroom fixtures, soft furnishings and artwork making for an even more comfortable stay on board Coral Discoverer.
The Coral Discoverer offers five different grades of staterooms, ranging from Bridge Deck Balcony Staterooms to Main Deck Staterooms. Bridge Deck Balcony Staterooms are on the top deck and have private balconies opening out from french windows. All rooms are furnished with contemporary flair and feature original artwork, a small private en-suite, individually-controlled air-conditioning, an iPod dock, ample storage and Australian toiletries. All staterooms are serviced daily. Each stateroom is spacious, sized between 15sqm (161 square feet) to 20 sqm (215 square feet) and has either a balcony, feature picture windows or porthole windows. Most staterooms can be configured to either junior king or twin bedding.
FACILITIES ON BOARD
> Sun Deck with undercover area, sun lounges and ample seating
> Three fully stocked cocktail bars, including brand new round Explorer Bar on Sun Deck
> Spacious, modern dining room, recently refurbished
> Forward lounge
> Reference library
> Gift shop
> Open bridge
> Workout Area
> Wireless internet available for laptops, mobile devices or via onboard guest computer
> Limited laundry facilities available
> SCUBA diving department (selected itineraries)
• Voyage on board in selected cabin category
• Expert expedition leader and team
• All meals while on board
• Coffee and Tea while on board
• All daily guided excursions
• Selected wine and beer with lunch and dinner
• Port charges/taxes
• International and domestic flights unless otherwise stated
• Travel Insurance
• Passport and visa costs where applicable
• Alcoholic drinks outside of those stated in inclusions
• Transfers unless otherwise stated
• Internet on board (Available at cost)
• Any items of a personal nature