Tuesday 19 January 2010

Cruise Weekly: Make the Kimberley your Quest

Astute cruise watchers have had a bumper season with many new vessels appearing in Sydney Harbour, not the least of them being P&O’s new superliner, Pacific Jewel.

But the really eagle-eyed will have noticed the diminutive Kimberley Quest II touring about the harbour. Mistaken perhaps for some playboy billionaire’s superyacht, the Kimberley Quest II is actually a busy adventure vessel working Australia’s favourite cruise region, the Kimberley. Owner’s Jeff and Lynne Ralston have brought her to Sydney for the Christmas/NY period to do private charters, agent tours and media appearances.

KQII was built by Austal in Fremantle who also built the multi-award-winning True North and the two Bora Bora Cruises’ vessels Tu Moana and Ti’a Moana. KQII accommodates just 18 passengers and six crew offering a truly intimate cruise experience.

When I say busy, KQII will do 26 expeditions is a typical season spanning mid-March to October. Most are 7-night ‘quests’, although three 13-night ‘ultimate quests’ at the beginning of the season between Broome, Mitchell Plateau and Wyndham are offered.

KQ’s media file is relatively slim compared to her competitors, but I called on colleague John Borthwick to describe the experience from when he reported for the SMH in 2008.

The Kimberley coast is a world of red rocks, big crocs and cave art of extraordinary antiquity. To cruise the Kimberley¹s rivers and fjords is to take part in one of Australia¹s greatest remaining adventures. And to do so in the purpose-built vessel Kimberley Quest II is to see this magical realm at is finest.

Cataract waterfalls, vast harbours (that dwarf Sydney¹s many times over), boabs and rare birds, plus barramundi for the taking, are all part of the Kimberley Quest experience. Add the luxury of the vessel itself, with a just 18 privileged passengers, plus specialist guides and an expert chef, and this becomes the cruise of a lifetime in a timeless realm.

While the Kimberley may be our favourite cruise region (according to Cruise Passenger Magazine’s reader survey) it will never become our busiest in terms of passenger numbers. The largest vessel currently offering dedicated Kimberley adventures is Orion at 100 passengers and the typical starting price for any vessel is around $1000 per person per day.

For details on Kimberley Quest, see www.kimberleyquest.com.au. To compare all Kimberley cruise products and find occasional specials, visit www.kimberleycruises.com

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