This is an important question.
Kimberley coastal cruises are expedition cruises and this is a completely different style of travel from the large ocean going liners that take thousands of passengers and need modern port facilities for most excursions. On all our Kimberley cruises you don’t simply look at the coast from the ship – you get on it amongst the rock art, into the rivers and estuaries and water holes – right up to (and often under) the waterfalls. This requires some degree of reasonable fitness.
But don’t worry – you don’t need to be an Olympian athlete. The Kimberley is open to a wide range of abilities for people.
The key question is your mobility. All our Kimberley cruises require passengers to be able to get into smaller boats and, crucially, be able to walk on rocky, uneven ground for periods. The Kimberley coast is undeveloped (which is great; that’s why we love it so much) but that means no jetties or harbours. Every landing will require you to land on a beach and walk off your landing vessel. The only question will be: is this a wet landing (usually ankle, occasionally up to your knee) or dry landing (where they drive the landing craft right up on the sand).
With most cruises you are off the boat twice a day. The beaches and hinterland can be soft or hard sand or often gravelly and you need to be comfortable walking over the uneven terrain. Along the beaches the ground can be slippery and during the day it can be hot.
This doesn’t mean that travelers who can walk with aid of a stick cannot travel. I have cruised the Kimberley coast with people who needed one (or in one case two) sticks. And there will always be people who will help you into and out of the smaller vessels. But…
|Most Kimberley cruise passengers are over the age of 50. This is not a destination that seems to attract younger travelers I have booked cruises for people in their 80s and 90s. My oldest Kimberley cruise client used to call me from the golf course where he spent much of his time. The Kimberley is open to all ages and there is plenty to see without the need for energetic hiking.|
Getting in and out of the smaller excursion vessels
Each day on an expedition cruise you’ll be transfering to a smaller vessel – often a zodiac (semi-rigid inflatable) or a purpose built aluminium boat (often called a ‘tinny’ although this term does annoy some of the crew!). Getting in and out of these smaller vessels does require a degree of mobility with the ability to step onto the boat (which may be bobbing alongside) and sometimes you will need to raise your up your legs and swivel around the seat a little. There is always a designated boarding point for this and someone will be on hand to assist you so this is relatively straight-forward for people with reasonable mobility. I have travelled with people with replacement hips and kness who can cope with this.
The ships operated by Coral Expeditions (Coral Adventurer, Coral Discoverer and Coral Geographer) have a different solution altogether. They operate larger ‘Xplorer’ vessels which can take 60-70 passengers at once. These sit at the back of the vessel and are hydraulically operated. Passengers simply walk straight onto the Xplorer from the main deck via a very short gangplank and take their seats. Once everyone is in then the entry door is shut and the Xplorer is lowered into the water in a few seconds. And similarly it oprates the same when returning from excursions. This process is very speedy and the crew have got it down to an art. The Xplorers have a sun cover and a big supply of fresh water as well as a toilet on board. It is a comfortable vessel to explore thew estuaries of the Kimberley coast. Often on excursions where the land might be very rocky passengers will be given the option of staying on board for a local exploration with one leader while other passengers head onto land.
Selecting the right Kimberley cruise for your personal abilities is important. Some cruises have itineraries that are much more energetic than others. Why not have a chat with me where you can ask your questions.
I’m an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and have completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. With a family I now work part-time so if you would like to have a chat with me about Kimberley cruising at a time that suits you book in a call here and I will call you then.
Cruises in the Kimberley are not ‘one size fits all’ scenario; there are different ships and itineraries each offering their own special elements. If you would like some general information to start your research then download my free guide to Kimberley cruising here. I have also written some really interesting blogs (if I do say so myself) click here to have read.