The first Coral Expeditions cruise has departed for the Great Barrier Reef according to a statement from the company.
Forty-six passengers and 20 crew members are aboard the Coral Discoverer that departed from Cairns, Australia, on Oct. 14. The ship is carrying only residents of Australia.
The itinerary includes Australia’s Cooktown, Lizard Island, Osprey Reef, Ribbon Reef, Daintree River and Mackay Reed, Fitzroy Island and Sudbury Cay. The seven-night cruise ends back in Cairns on Oct. 21.
“We hope that our successful return to operations gives confidence to travelers and authorities that small-ship expedition cruising with a local Australian operator is a logical and prudent point of a restart for the marine expedition industry,” said Mark Fifield, the group general manager and director at Coral Expeditions.
According to the press release, the resumption of cruising signals the culmination of “months of preparation, effort, and initiative by the Coral Expeditions team who has worked in partnership with Dr. Ian Norton from Respond Global.”
Together they developed the SailSAFE plan that was approved by the state and is now being used by other travel sectors in the world. The program involved pre-boarding screening, onboard mitigation process, and “authorized response control.”
According to the press release, there was a “palpable level of excitement” onboard, and guests were “overwhelmingly positive” regarding the new health and safety procedures.
About the SailSAFE Plan
As we prepare to restart operations and do so safely, we understand the changed environment that the presence of COVID-19 has created. As always, it is our priority to keep our guests and crew safe while travelling with us. Not only that, but we want our guests and crew to have the greatest confidence that their safety and wellbeing have been thoroughly considered.
To this end, we have put in place a range of measures and associated protocols to manage our expeditions in a world in which COVID-19 exists. We have partnered with Respond Global, an experienced medical advisory agency, to assist us in developing a prevention and response system that is among the most thorough in the world.
Our plan focuses on prevention, to target a 100% COVID free environment when we set sail. We will implement a three-tiered medical screening protocol which includes testing for COVID-19, and will ensure that everyone on board will have passed through this screening process. This prevention protocol will be supported by strict onboard mitigation actions and an approved response plan.
This plan will be supported by our Standard Operation Procedures, developed for each vessel with cruise profile specific requirements. These procedures have enabled us to maintain a high standard of safety and guest comfort for over 35 years – a record we are proud of.
We trust this SailSAFE Plan offers you peace of mind as you plan your explorations of Australia’s coastline, and then the world, with Coral Expeditions.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to welcoming you onboard soon.
Group General Manager – Director