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GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

new haven...
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GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

We are considering a cruise on one of the above lines in early July '07. The options are Capt. Cook 4 nights northbound (cairns - two islands - cooktown -lizard island - ribbon reef # 5 - cairns) on MV Endeavor, vs. Coral Princess 3 nights northbound (Townsville - Palm Group of Islands - Hinchbrook Channel -Dunk Island - Family Group of Islands - Nathan Reef - Thetford Reef - Cairns ) on Coral Princess I or II.

I am a diver, my wife will just hang and perhaps snorkel a little. We are 46 & 52 years old. Any comments regarding (or contrasting) the two lines in terms of food, accommodations, ambiance, itinerary, etc would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Benson, United...
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1. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

I'm sorry I can't give you an immediate answer ... but ... my Wife and I are booked to take the Coral Princess 3 day cruise from Cairns to Townsville in mid-March. If you can hang on for a few weeks, we will post a review which will cover the areas you mentioned.

Benson, United...
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2. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

As promised, here is a brief summary of our recent 3-day trip from Cairns to Townsville with Coral Princess Cruises.

We travelled aboard the Coral Princess II, a catamaran originally built I would guess around the mid 1980’s and refurbished since. It carries a maximum of 46 passengers (there were just over 30 on our cruise) and 12 staff.

The majority of the passengers on our cruise were either British or American, with a few other Europeans (Finnish, Swiss, German). Almost all were couples, with ages generally ranging from mid forties to late sixties. (There was one child on board, although due to the itinerary, we didn’t consider this to be a child-friendly trip). Most people we spoke to were incorporating their trip as part of an extended vacation in Australia / New Zealand and discussing various itineraries became the major topic of conversation over dinner.

We had an Upper Deck Stateroom. Considering the size of the boat we found this to be perfectly adequate in size, with plenty of storage space for both clothes and luggage. This was situated on the middle deck, thereby making it convenient for the dining room on the lower deck, and the lounge, sun deck and Jacuzzi on the upper deck. Although there were large picture windows, you should note that there is a walkway between the window and the side of the boat, so you cannot see immediately downwards.

The atmosphere on board was very relaxed, and whilst there is a set time for lunch and dinner, there was no arranged seating (although groups could reserve tables if they wished) and no formal dress code. We found that, due to the relatively small number of passengers and crew, we all got to know each other very quickly and a fun atmosphere soon developed.

The food was first class, both in terms of quantity and quality. Drinks were available from the bar or dining room all day.

The itinerary is designed such that you visit a reef on each of the 3 days, 2 of them being outer reefs, one being a reef just of the beach of a gorgeous private island. All 3 reefs we visited were excellent, with wide varieties of fish and coral easily visible. Generally the boat travels to the reef during the morning, anchoring around 11:00. Glass-bottom boat tours, snorkelling and diving are then available until around 3:00, at which point the boats moves on to its overnight anchorage, which was generally arrived at during the early evening. No overnight travelling is undertaken.

The duration of the visit to each reef was around 4 hours. There is a qualified dive instructor on board, and as long as you take your diving certificate with you, the equipment was available for your free use. Introductory dives were also available for free, however if you undertook further instructional dives these were chargeable.

Snorkelling equipment was also provided, once kitted out you retained your mask, mouthpiece and flippers for the duration of the cruise. Again instruction for those who had not done snorkelling before was also available.

Those who did not wish to participate (there was no pressure) could simply relax on the boat (for the outer reef’s) or on the beach at the island.

A Marine Biologist was also on board, and his information and knowledge was excellent, and really helped us understand the reef and what we were looking at.

During the cruise, we did see the Reef Endeavour. It is a bigger boat, holding we were told around 110 passengers plus crew. However being single hulled and of bigger size, I don’t believe it would be able to get as close to and in amongst the reefs as the Coral Princess II could.

In summary, this cruise was the highlight of an extended vacation in Australia. The staff were very good, being both friendly and informative and the food was wonderful. Snorkelling on the reef was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for both my wife and myself, and the fact that we travelled from Cairns to Townsville meant we did not have to recover our tracks. We would have no hesitation in recommending this or a similar trip to friends who were looking to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

Are there any downsides? In truth, very few. If we were being particularly picky, the furnishings on board were starting to look a little dated and worn. Being a small craft, when moving the noise of the engines can be heard at all times throughout the boat, however this is not a problem at night as it is always anchored. The biggest noise factor during the night is the air conditioning in the rooms, which was very noisy and could not be turned off. Oh and the food. There was simply too much of it and it was too good!

I will be delighted to answer any further specific questions, please either raise here or send me a personal message.

Brisbane, Australia
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3. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

Thank you for such an informative review and glad you enjoyed your trip.

Bristol
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4. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

We've just returned from our honeymoon in Oz spending 4 nights aboard the Coral Princess II Lizard Island Cruise. Seeing as I found very little info on Tripadvisor with regards to this particular company/ cruise I thought I'd add a review.

I have to be honest and say that we were a little disappointed. Things didn't start off terribly well as our hotel in Cairns told us the wharf was within easy walking distance. I guess it might have been if it hadn't have been so warm and we weren't dragging our suitcases with us! We arrived at the wharf to drop our cases off and couldn't find a soul at all. We rang the bell that was at the wharfside several times but to no avail. I ended up having to call the office from my UK mobile who then called the Coral Princess and finally someone surfaced!

As it was our honeymoon we decided to book a delux upper statesroom cabin which, if memory serves me right, set us back approx $2400AUD or £1000 each. Although the size of the cabin was reasonable it was nothing special and, as previously mentioned, looked pretty tired and in need of a refurb.

I probably should add that a friend and I went on a Coral Princess cruise on the reef back in 1998 and had a fantastic time so it wasn't as if I had a totally different expectation of this cruise.

One of the things that really struck me was that on the whole many of the staff seemed either very new or pretty jaded. Having spoken to several members it appeared that the rota of 'x' weeks on board then 'y' weeks off had gone totally to pot. Many of them had been aboard for weeks on end without a proper break and in some cases this was definitely starting to show. Several staff were very new, one was left alone to serve at the bar with obviously no previous experience (and not a drinker apparently either) so not the best bar service that evening! There had obviously been some issue with her work as well. We came down to breakfast one morning and the purser was sitting having a discussion with her at a nearby table...........not completely out of earshot! Not a terribly professional thing to be doing in front of guests!

We also found the purser to be a pretty frosty character! Don't get me wrong, very efficient but somehow the smile just didn't reach her eyes. My husband doesn't tend to be very good at picking up on these things but as with were filling in their questionnaire at the end of the cruise he muttered something about her having a rather large chip on her shoulder!

We did enjoy our cruise, it's an amazing way to see and experience the reef. I was surprised that most of our fellow travellers (there were only 25 of us on this cruise) were Australians (I'd assumed most would be European, Americans etc) and everyone was really friendly, a very sociable bunch. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to have a go at scuba diving and what an amazing place to try it! I guess I just felt it didn't quite live up to my expectations and I personally didn't feel it was value for money.

Carrollton
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5. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

Is Coral Princess worth 2,000 USD per person for 4 nights. That is the price I see on the internet. Captain Cook is about 1400 USD for 4 nights. That is about 800 in savings. It is hard to tell which one is the best. Thank You

Sharon

Los Angeles
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6. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

Hello, we went through this evaluation last year for a cruise in early August. We chose the Captain Cook 7 day Cape York cruise. We are a group of 16 with a few teenagers, young adults and the 40/50 year old parents. The Reef Endeavor has a pool and spa and also gave everyone more options for activities if they weren't in the water.

Bristol
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7. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

Hi lovesusvi,

Looking back, I have to be honest and say I don't think the Coral Princess cruise was worth the money we paid. We stayed in Port Douglas for a week after the cruise and in hindsight I think we would have been better maybe doing a couple of reef trips/ sailing trips from there. For the £2000 we paid we could have done a lot with it! But then that's just me!

england
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8. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

I wish I had read some of these comments before I took a cruise on the Coral Princess. I was so disappointed with the whole experience and felt that the cost was very poor value for money. At £200 per person per day for 2nd tier cabin we expected a lot more. It didn't help that the weather conditions made many of us sea sick but the out dated cabins, very noisy engines (which did run at night) and uncomfortable temperatures would always be there. Our cabin was far too cold. When I questioned the purser she said the air conditioning around the ship was the same but she did have a solution and proudly showed me how to use a plastic shower cap to put over the air vent. In this day and age and for the price we paid not the answer I would have expected.

The food was ok if you like standing in line for buffets, But beware if you are last things may run out and it is just too bad. Again for £200 per person per day this is not what I expected.

We chose this ship because my husband wanted to dive, don't bother unless you have seen little of the underwater world. Unless he was very unlucky he had three disappointing dives saying he had seen far better fish in Eygpt

I also have a grievance about the purser who did nothing to promote the enjoyment of the cruise. She was at best efficient and seemed to think she was doing us a favour. It did not help that on the first day she wore ragged trousers torn around the bottom. She still had the same trousers on at the end of the fourth day.

This is the first time I have posted something on a forum and it is because I feel so strongly about the quality of the product. It is not worth the money, was a truly uncomfortable experience and I couldn't wait to get off. It was made bearable by the fact there was a pleasant group of passengers and if you try really hard you can find something to enjoy. .

Daintree, Australia
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9. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

Hi Everyone,

We're 'locals' and when we need a break we absolutely love Captain Cook Cruises "Reef Endeavour"! We've done the 3-day southbound cruise several times, the 4-day northbound once and tomorrow (getting excited!) we take off for the 7-day cruise up to Cape York (the very tip of Australia) and Thursday Island - this cruise is only available certain times of the year. When we get back I will give a full trip report.

Planet Earth
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10. Re: GBR : Coral Princess vs. Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavor

My wife and I did on our first trip to Australia in January and we had 2 cruises with coral princess, a four night cruise from Carns to the Great Barrier Reef and also a five night cruise in New Zealand. Before we went to the Great Barrier Reef we were not sure whether to do a cruise or stay in Carns and do excurisons form there, but in the end we were so glad we chose the cruise as we got to see everything we had wanted to. We found the ship to be good, with only 40 people on board it was very relaxing and the rooms were quite large for the size of the boat - we had a standard stateroom which had a double bed, big windows and a fully equipped bathroom, all very comfortable. The crew was also very good, friendly and a little informal even but this just added to the experience as there weren't overbearing rules about what we could or couldnt do.

We had heaps of time for snorkeling, glass bottom boat touyrs and also time to visit beaches, islands and little villages along the way.

The best part was that we would wake up in the morning and be at the reef - already tied up and ready for activities straight after breakfast.

The New Zealand trip was probably the highlight of our entire trip down there. It was not on the coral princess but on their other boat which is called the Oceanic discoverer. The cruise went from Auckland up to the Bay of Islands which is up near the tip of the North Island. The ship was quite a bit larger than the coral princess, it was brand new and carried about 75 people but there was only about 50 on board on our cruise. The rooms were absolutely huge, very well fitted out and pretty much luxury in every way. The food was excellent as well. The itinerary was nice and relaxed, and a great way to finish our trip.

Overall we would recommend this company to anyone - in fact our firends are spending two weeks in New Zealand in January 08 and are planning on going on the cruise there.

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