Ever wanted to cruise the Kimberley but thought it'd be too pricey?
Cruising the Kimberley is often thought of as expensive but changes by operators and new players in the market mean there is now a range of prices and styles of coastal expeditions.
Kathy Veech, general manager of travel wholesaler Broome, Kimberley and Beyond, says some operators are offering shorter options — perhaps four days to give travellers a Kimberley experience, without it being hugely expensive. She says prices now range from $3400 per person twin share for four nights to the most expensive, a 13-night luxury cruise at $29,995.
“When the subject of Kimberley cruising comes up, people immediately say, ‘but doesn’t that cost $20,000’, which seems to be the magic amount out there. Some of the cruises do cost this much, but there is a whole range from $4000 to $20,000 with different styles, from a relaxed expedition style right up to five-star expedition cruising,” Ms Veech says.
She says the shorter cruises tended to be at the end of the season in September, when the barramundi are running. The best time to see spectacular waterfalls is at the start of the season around March, following the wet season.
While there has been some shift in prices, there has been no change to the ancient landscapes and attraction of the Kimberley.
“The Kimberley is a pristine and unique coastline where some of the best bits, like the waterfalls and rock art, can only be accessed by boat,” Ms Veech says. “It’s such a rich experience and tends to be a real bucket-list item for people.”
The top Kimberley attractions include experiencing Horizontal Falls in a tender boat, the tidal phenomenon of Montgomery Reef, a helicopter ride over Mitchell Falls, fishing for barramundi, Aboriginal tourism experiences, ancient rock art, and the birdlife and fauna.
Ms Veech says the vast majority of travellers to the Kimberley were Australians, but most came from the Eastern States. “Traditionally it’s been hard to sell WA to Western Australians. They already have their favourite spots and, of course, you are competing against the cheap Asian destinations.”
Cruise boat sizes in the Kimberley generally run from 12 to 200 people, with most offering an expedition style of cruising similar to that in the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica.
- broomekimberley.com.au or 1300 245 565
At top: Montgomery Reef, Kimberley. Picture: Tourism WA
Some Kimberley cruise options
Among the many options available are:
- Kimberley Quest II spends five nights on a fishing expedition, costing $6155 to $8850 per person twin share. Cruise late in the season when the water is warm and the fish are biting. With a more relaxed itinerary, explore the smaller rivers that large boats can’t reach. You don’t have to be interested in fishing to join this cruise – with daily excursions, you can explore the coast and come back to a freshly caught seafood dinner each night.
- Coral Discoverer and Coral Expeditions I cruise the Kimberley for 10 nights, with voyages costing $7980 to $12,480 per person twin share. Experienced cruising company Coral Expeditions has perfected its itinerary.
- Eco Abrolhos cruises for 13 nights Broome to Darwin and vice versa. Priced from $8925 to $12,725 per person twin share, voyages aboard the catamaran offer relaxed, casual luxury. Spend the day exploring waterfalls and cliffs and in the evening, kick back on the upper deck bar.
- Spend seven nights on Lady M with the Kimberley Highlights Cruise and Fly, priced at $9430 per person twin share (single cabins are also available). This family-owned and run boat carries a maximum of 13 passengers and, with its petite size, can get up close to waterfalls and beaches. The trips include a scenic flight back to Broome and a helicopter flight over Mitchell Falls.
- Cruise eight nights from Broome to the Mitchell Plateau aboard MV Odyssey. Priced from $7950 to $9450 per person twin share, this is a good option for small groups without a ridiculous price tag. With 10 cabins and shared bathrooms, the ship is popular with caravanners who like a bit of adventure.
- Hop aboard the luxury Silver Discoverer for 10 nights. Priced from $10,575 to $19,305 per person twin share, its packages includes all meals, beverages, excursions and butler service. Spend the day exploring the Kimberley and come back to relax or swim in the on-board pool.
- Another luxury option is Ponant’s L’Austral, which takes in the jewels of the Kimberley over 10 nights, priced from $11,050 to $23,420 per person twin share. Think French luxury, with 12 expedition guides, French chefs and bakers on board.
- MV Great Escape offers a southern Kimberley experience over seven nights, priced from $11,958 to $13,111 per person twin share. Bookings are full this year, but open for 2018. With only seven guest cabins, it’s an intimate cruise and perfect for private charters.
- North Star Cruises’ True North cruises the Kimberley for 13 nights from $20,995 to $28,995 per person twin share. It offers the ultimate itinerary with the ultimate luxury and a local crew who know the best spots.
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