Barbara Baron on Small Ship Cruising
Small ship cruising offers a winning combination of luxurious stress-free travel and access to some of Australia’s most beautiful and hard-to-reach destinations. APT Business Development Manager Barbara Baron describes her experience touring the beautiful Kimberley on the Caledonian Sky and explains why there is no better way to experience Australia’s coastline than small ship cruising.
I have been fortunate to have travelled on many river and ocean cruises during my career, however I was particularly excited to board the MS Caledonian Sky, having heard so much about APT’s infamous boutique small ship prior. It did not disappoint. The Caledonian Sky is special due to its intimate size; with just 99 guests onboard, strange faces soon become cruise companions and guests settled into the ship quickly knowing they were among like-minded adventurers.
The cabins are spacious, which is just as well, as in my opinion size does matter when it comes to retreating at the end of the day! The public areas are also a delight, there is a library, small gym and hairdressing salon onboard. I was a particular fan of the Sundeck, featuring a bar and panoramic views, there is no better way to unwind after an exciting day of excursions. For dining there is a beautiful onboard restaurant serving gourmet cuisine for every taste, however dinner al fresco on the Lido deck on a sunny day quickly became a firm favourite with guests during our tour.
Small Group Excursions
Another advantage to small ship cruising, no queuing! At every breath-taking location, we would simply hop on to the prepared Zodiac and enjoy a thrilling ride to an island or rugged coastline.
King George Falls is a Kimberley icon, and rightly so, being inaccessible by vehicle, only a privileged few have ever been able to visit. I and the other Complete Kimberley Cruise guests were lucky enough to explore the falls by zodiac. The expedition leaders are so skilled at handling the boats, they can put the tip of the craft under the rushing waters of the falls – the most thrilling experience for guests looking for an immersive experience, literally!
This is an optional extra on tour – but the flyover tour of Mitchell Falls by helicopter is a must see for me. Located in the Mitchell River National Park, the contrast between the 80m waterfalls vibrant green-blue water and red rock surrounds is unlike anything I had ever seen before.
Though there were many highlights to our tour, the standout had to be our time with expert local guide, Mal Turner on Bigge Island. A trained ornithologist and all-round nature enthusiast, it was impossible not to become enthralled with our surroundings when listening to such a passionate and knowledgeable guide.