21 Nov 2021

First ship of South Australia's cruise season sets sail bringing multi-million-dollar boost

Coral Expeditions crew at Outer Harbor
Coral Expeditions crew at Outer Harbor

As South Australia’s cruise sector charts its recovery, the first expedition vessel of the 2021-22 cruise season arrives at Outer Harbor today.

The Coral Expeditions ‘Coral Adventurer’ returns to Adelaide after its successful first sail of South Australian waters in February this year. Passengers disembarking today finish a 13-day ‘Across the Bight’ expedition from Western Australia, having spent yesterday in Kangaroo Island enjoying on-shore experiences with local tour operators including Kangaroo Island Shellfish in American River.

One of three expedition vessels to visit the state this summer, the Coral Adventurer will bring an estimated $5 million boost to the state’s visitor economy.

Together with other expedition cruise companies, Australian Pacific Touring (APT) and North Star Cruises, there are more than 10 scheduled itineraries in SA from today until February 2022 – which will take domestic passengers on intrastate cruises and make more than 90 visits to destinations such as Western River Cove, Emu Bay and Penneshaw in Kangaroo Island, Tumby Bay, Coffin Bay and Port Lincoln in the Eyre Peninsula, and Robe in the Limestone Coast.

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex welcomed the return of expedition cruising and its value to the state, ahead of a broader return of cruise scheduled for SA in 2022.

“It’s sensational to see Coral Expeditions back in SA and with a full schedule of cruises across the regions, involving local food and beverage suppliers and tour operators from Kangaroo Island to the Eyre Peninsula,” said Mr Harrex.

“Expedition companies like Coral Expeditions and Australian Pacific Touring are not only providing a boost to regional economies as tourism recovers, but they’re proving cruising can be safe and successful – rebuilding confidence in the industry and paving the way forward.”

Coral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies said the COVID pandemic had provided an opportunity to further explore Australia’s coastal wilderness and its first expedition around SA in February was the catalyst for confidence to commit to an entire season of cruising in South Australia.

“Riding on the success of our inaugural voyage earlier this year, and the warm welcome we received from South Australian operators, we are excited to be working with them all again for the next eight voyages as part of the upcoming season,” said Mr Gillies.

“The remote and pristine coastline of SA suits the expedition cruise experience very well and we pride ourselves on delivering as much local content as possible. Not only do we team up with local experts and operators for on-shore tours and experiences, but our guests will also enjoy all chef-prepared meals and beverage menus that are sourced and inspired through local ingredients and suppliers.

“From our wine selection which includes wines from the Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale to our seafood menu which includes Southern Rock Lobster, King George Whiting and SA John Dory – we use around 50 local suppliers across SA and estimate our voyages this summer will generate $5 million in economic benefit for South Australia.

“As the single largest employer of Australian seafarers with a crew base in excess of 190 skilled marine workers, we are proud to have grown our local number of full-time crew based locally in SA to a total of 17 in the last year,” said Mr Gillies.

Kangaroo Island Shellfish operations manager Amanda Rowe said the season’s first expedition cruise visit to American River was a success.

“It was fantastic to welcome expedition guests to ‘Kangaroo Island’s birthplace of tourism’ and teach them all about what we do here,” she said.

“American River is an ideal destination for expedition cruises – their guests are eager to explore and are interested in nature and the rich maritime history of our seaside town. To be able to showcase our offering to this new market – to learn about our innovative farming techniques and taste the freshest of fish – was a real treat. It’s a ‘floating advert’, these guests will go home and tell their friends and family all about why our spot in Kangaroo Island is a must-see.”

Visiting expedition cruise companies have SA Health approved SailSafe Plans which have tested and proven systems in place that have seen them sailing successfully and COVID-safely around Australia since October 2020. They currently operate with a capacity limit of 99 passengers per voyage, drawn from the domestic market.

Coral Expeditions requires all passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as part of its efforts to ensure the health and wellbeing of guests, crew and on-shore communities.

Flinders Ports general manager Carl Kavina said: “Flinders Port Holdings is pleased to be able to support the safe operations of this first cruise of the season at Outer Harbor. We remain aligned with all government COVID-safe measures and look forward to facilitating cruising in South Australia in the coming months.”

SA’s upcoming expedition cruises:

Coral Expeditions – Coral Adventurer

Wild Islands and Walks of South Australia – 10-nights | Adelaide to Adelaide.

Departs: 22 November, 2 December, 13 December & 23 December 2021; and 3 January, 13 January, 23 January & 6 November 2022.


APT – Caledonian Sky

South Australian Coastal Frontier – 8 days | Adelaide to Adelaide. Departs: 3 January and 10 January 2022


North Star Cruises – True North

Southern Safari – 8 nights | Adelaide to Ceduna and return. Departs: 8 January 2022