Filling a cruise ship has become a competitive pastime, with many cruise companies taking advantage of the cruising explosion following Covid, offering bargain around-the-world cruising packages.
It appears the advertising dollar works its magic, and the lines that spend the most on awareness of their product gain the most patrons. That doesn’t mean the cruises with the most passengers are superior to those that don’t spend significant advertising dollars.
Take the Kiwi-based Heritage Adventurer recently deployed on the Kimberly cruise from Darwin to Broome and reverse, running alongside many more advertising-exposed companies. The Heritage Adventurer delivers a similar product at a more competitive price and often with fewer passengers, a customer bonus. The ship holds 140 passengers, and there were only 40 pax for our recent cruise, so the service, intimacy, and camaraderie among the passengers and staff were stimulating, refreshing and highly educational without being over the top.
The purpose-built Heritage Adventurer provides a unique and elegant avenue to explore the many hidden treasures this magical West Australian coastal route has to offer, with the appeal of outstanding presentations by experienced specialists combined with the “seeing is believing” Zodiac trips to explore the incredible sights of the Kimberley Coast. The presenters double as Zodiac drivers for the daily expeditions, giving expert commentary on the extraordinary destinations.
The ship has various public areas, including a main dining room and a bistro for casual eating. Two bars, a lounge, a spa, a fitness centre, a boutique, a saltwater swimming pool and a library with an extensive range of reference, non-fiction, and fiction publications. The all-inclusive meals and dining room service are also top-class.
The ship has eight decks, with 80 cabins and suites, all with ocean views. There are 90 crew members, including executives and housekeeping attendants. Staff are often invited to join the Zodiacs for complimentary trips around the famous rivers and estuaries.
Founded in 1985 by the Russ family of Christchurch in New Zealand, Heritage Adventurer is still a family business owned and operated by the founder’s sons. The Russ brothers treat their employees like family, even inviting crew members’ families to tour the ship when they visited Manilla, the home of many of the staff. The Russ family are pioneers in environmentally responsible expedition travel.
All cabins are elegantly decorated with wood panelling, marble bathrooms, fine linen, and large portholes or picture windows.
Passengers on the 11-day cruise were of a middle-aged demographic, mainly from New Zealand, Australia, and America. The senior staff and lecturers were from New Zealand, Canada, America, Australia and Russia, with the waiting and housekeeping staff mainly from the Philippines.
Price includes landing fees, post-cruise transfers, onboard ship accommodation with meals, house beer, wines and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, expedition shore excursions, and educational talks by presenters and guest personalities.
The exciting and diverse senior crew members professionally presented on history, geography, birdlife, wildlife, insects, and marine life and were happy to answer any queries. We were also honoured to have documentary filmmaker and didgeridoo (yidaki) specialist Michael Butler as a guest presenter. He blew everyone away with the didgeridoo and left his mark on all passengers with his decades of knowledge and magnetic empathy towards Australia’s significant Aboriginal language groups. The deep and haunting sound of the didgeridoo coming from Butler in the awe-inspiring Cathedral Cave on Bigge Island Beach is one of the highlights of this action-packed and educational expedition cruise.
The ship will sail to Singapore at the end of August for annual dry dock maintenance.
In Broome, hire a four-wheel drive from Andrea at Europe Car to Willie Creek Pearls or get Mick to take you there in the company bus, which picks you up from most hotels.
Kimberley Explorer, 11 days priced from AUD $11,950 – Jul & Aug 2023/24.