South Australia’s cruise sector will take its first steps back to smooth sailing, when an Australian expedition vessel docks at Outer Harbor next week.
The Queensland based, Australian-flagged Coral Expeditions ship will arrive for a 10-day tour of the remote South Australian coast, in a welcome boost for the state’s visitor economy.
The Coral Adventurer, with an all-Australian crew onboard, will be the first ship to cruise in South Australian waters for almost 12 months.
It follows 12 successful cruises by Coral Expeditions of the Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns in October 2020 and Tasmania’s wilderness coastlines out of Hobart this summer. The South Australian tour will be Coral Expeditions’ first in the state, as part of its expansion of domestic itineraries designed exclusively for the Australian market and capped at less than 100 passengers, and with some of the strictest health measures in place in any industry.
Passengers and crew will be required to complete mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing within 72 hours before boarding, undertake a GP health screening seven days prior and complete a health declaration. Onboard medical staff will do daily health and temperature checks of passengers and crew during the tour. All on-shore visits also have strict protocols in place, and passengers and staff will have minimal interaction with on-shore communities due to the remote locations in the itinerary.
South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said while the majority of the around 50 passengers will be South Australians seeing SA, the tour was an important step forward for the industry and the eventual safe return of cruise.
“South Australia hasn’t had a small expedition ship visit our shores since 2010 and they provide a unique experience to explore remote nature-based locations that the bigger traditional cruise ships aren’t able to,” Mr Harrex said.
“With some of the most stringent health measures in place, over and above what’s required to get on a plane or attend an event, and 12 successful Australian cruises already under their belt – this is a wonderful opportunity to have Coral Expeditions expand its itinerary to include South Australian tours.
“This is good news for locals wanting to see more of our state and good news for our broader visitor economy, not only so we can grow the expedition sector in SA but so we can get a blueprint for the safe return of cruise when the time is right.”
Coral Expeditions’ Coral Adventurer will depart on a 10-day tour from Outer Harbor in Adelaide on 10 February visiting locations in Kangaroo Island, such as Antechamber Bay and Western River Cove, and the lower Eyre Peninsula including Coffin Bay and Tumby Bay, before arriving back in Adelaide on 20 February.
Coral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies said the company is looking forward to its first South Australian tour and has tested and proven systems in place to create a safe travel bubble to protect guests, crew and the broader community.
“Our new voyages celebrate Australian nature, history and culture, with small numbers of local guests and crew traversing a large tract of the continent that we have not explored in our company’s history. This includes our first South Australian voyages which visit locations along the coast that many locals would have never before seen and we hope that these tours can become a regular part of our annual sailing season going forward,” Mr Gillies said.
“As with other domestic itineraries, guests will be drawn from the Australian market and capped at under 100. We operate an all-Australian flagged fleet with Australian crew – and our proven SailSafe health protocols, approved by SA Health and other state’s health authorities, have seen us get back on the water and successfully and safely sail expeditions along the coastlines of Australia previously unvisited in the company’s 35-year history.”
Kangaroo Island Tourism Alliance chair Pierre Gregor said to have South Australia’s first expedition vessel visit some of the Island’s remote coastal locations was encouraging news for the region.
“Prior to 2020, cruise ships provided great benefits to Kangaroo Island’s economy with record numbers of visits and passengers taking tours, enjoying the Penneshaw markets, and spending up with local businesses,” Mr Gregor said.
“While this expedition tour is on a much smaller scale and will be to nature-based locations such as Antechamber Bay and Western River Cove, it is a positive sign for the region and we embrace the opportunity to showcase some of the Island’s hidden gems.”
Eyre Peninsula Tourism Regional Chair Dion Dorward said it was exciting to see the first steps in welcoming the cruise sector back to the region.
“We have run a very successful and popular cruise visit program to Port Lincoln in the past, so it is terrific for our local operators to see the safe return and the modified program being delivered by Coral Expeditions,” he said.
Packages for the first South Australian tours by Coral Expeditions are on sale with dates scheduled for both 2021 and 2022. Coral Expeditions offers flexible booking and deposit protection terms to assist its guests along with a new Restart Refund Guarantee for new bookings in South Australia.
All passengers will need to meet entry requirements into SA, including any border restrictions in place at the time.
In addition to its industry leading SailSafe plan, Coral Expeditions has a COVID Management Plan in place, approved by SA Health.
Ahead of the Coral Adventurer’s arrival at Outer Harbor, Flinders Ports General Manager Carl Kavina said: “Flinders Port Holdings is pleased to be able to support the safe embarkation and disembarkation of the Coral Adventurer expedition cruise at Outer Harbor. Departing on 10 February, the 10-day cruise is the first step towards a return to fully COVID-safe cruising in South Australia.
“We have put in place extensive new COVID-safe protocols and infrastructure at Outer Harbor. This initial, limited cruise will help us test those enhancements in a safe and controlled manner in coordination with SA Health, the Australian Border Force and the SA Tourism Commission.”
Coral Expeditions – SA tour details:
Wild Islands and Walks of South Australia
10-nights | Adelaide to Adelaide, departing 10 February 2021
This voyage offers the opportunity to explore and hike South Australia’s wild islands, where forested
National Parks give way to sheer wave-carved cliffs and sweeping white-sand beaches. A highlight of the itinerary is a series of guides trekking excursions through coastal nature trails and to rugged island outlooks where guests will be rewarded with sweeping ocean vistas.
Hosted by expert guides, including Kangaroo Island resident and well-known writer and photographer Quentin Chester, learn about the flora, fauna, and history of this remote habitat. Cool down with an invigorating ocean swim or enjoy kayaking in the beautiful turquoise waters at destinations such as Antechamber Bay on Kangaroo Island. Less-visited islands, such as Hopkins Island and Wedge Island, offer the opportunity to encounter charismatic native wildlife – inquisitive Australian sea lions, bettong, fairy penguins, rock wallabies, and many more. Along the way, enjoy the tastes of South Australian and indulge in fresh regional seafood and hand selected local wines.