Day 1: 4:00pm: Board your Coral Princess Cruises small ship for a 5:00pm departure from Cairns. As we depart Cairns and cruise Trinity Bay, there is time to settle in and discover your "home" for the next seven nights. In the evening, join our crew and travelling companions on the top deck to enjoy a glass of champagne as we cruise northward, passing Double Island and the pretty beachside village of Palm Cove. Admire a spectacular sunset over the World Heritage-listed rainforest of the Macalister Range.
Day 2: We have the morning to discover historical Cooktown. It was here that the famous British explorer Captain James Cook took refuge during his voyage of discovery after claiming Australia as a British colony in 1770. You have the option to visit Cooktown's fascinating historical museum, featuring original artefacts from Cook's ship - Endeavour. See the original anchor and cannon, jettisoned overboard after Endeavour struck a reef and began taking on water. Cooktown is steeped in history with most stone buildings dating back almost a century. Enjoy time to discover Cooktown at your own pace. Perhaps visit the Botanic Gardens, where you may catch a glimpse of some native Australian wildlife including Kangaroos and Wallabies. This afternoon we visit one of the remote uninhabited islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Join our marine biologist for a glass bottom boat tour over the colourful coral gardens and discover some of the 1500 species of tropical fish that call the reef home. You may wish to enjoy our first snorkelling opportunity for an up-close view of the hundreds of varieties of coral growing on this section of reef. Our experienced crew will be on hand to provide assistance, advice and guided snorkelling tours for less experienced swimmers.
Day 3: This morning we awaken moored beside beautiful Lizard Island. The energetic may join our guides on a walk to "Cook's Look" on the island's peak (Hiking boots or sneakers are recommended). It was from here, the highest lookout on this part of the reef, that Captain Cook was able to navigate a safe passage back through the treacherous waters after repairing the Endeavour near Cooktown over 200 years ago. A photographer's delight, the views from the lookout over the World Heritage-listed reef and surrounding tropical islands are magnificent. Lizard Island's fringing reef, in the shallow waters just metres off the beach, offers some fantastic snorkelling opportunities. Discover giant clams and a profusion of fish. Simply relax on the beach, join the Marine Biologist for a glass bottom boat tour, or for the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, accompany our Dive Instructor on an unforgettable SCUBA dive. The choice is yours! This afternoon we cruise to Ribbon Reef No 9, a spectacular and seldom visited part of the reef where our activities will include more snorkelling opportunities and glass bottom boat tours with the Marine Biologist.
Day 4: The Great Barrier Reef is not actually one continuous reef, but a series of thousands of individual coral cays stretching over 1800 miles between the town of Bundaberg and the tip of Australia at Cape York. We spend today visiting two of the most spectacular sections of the reef, Ribbon Reef No 3 and Rachel Carson Reef. Explore the coral gardens and marine life with guided snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours. Our Marine Biologist will explain the natural history and evolution of the reef and help you discover the local wildlife, which includes sea turtles, giant clams, rays and over 200 different species of native birds.
Day 5: This morning enjoy free time to discover tropical Cairns. Reboard your Coral Princess Cruises small ship for an 11:00am departure from Cairns. After a delicious lunch we arrive at the outer Great Barrier Reef, anchoring off Thetford Reef and Sudbury Cay. Join our Marine Biologist for a glass bottom boat tour over the colourful coral gardens before gathering on the snorkel deck to participate in a fish feed. Discover some of the 1500 species of tropical fish that call the reef home, including Spangled Emperor, Giant Trevally and the Hump-Headed Maori Wrasse as they are hand fed by the Marine Biologist. Enjoy the opportunity to snorkel over the reef for an up-close view of the hundreds of varieties of coral growing on this section of reef. In the evening, join our crew and travelling companions on the top deck as the sun spectacularly sets over the reef.
Day 6: This morning we enjoy ample time to discover Coates or Nathan Reef. This section of the reef offers some of the most colourful coral gardens found anywhere along the length of the reef, allowing us to view many of the 400 different species of coral living in this World Heritage-listed wonderland. Venture in to the warm tropical waters to explore the corals and marine life on a guided snorkelling tour and join the Marine Biologist for a glass bottom boat tour. For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, accompany our Dive Instructor on an unforgettable SCUBA dive. Later, discover some of the amazing creatures living on the reef with our Marine Biologist at the on-board display tank. Enjoy the rare opportunity for a close up look at sea cucumbers, colourful starfish and other marine life living on this part of the reef. This afternoon we visit Dunk Island Resort where there is time to relax by the resort's pool, enjoy a drink in the cocktail bar or join a guided rainforest walk discovering the island's unique flora and fauna. We may be lucky enough to see the brightly coloured blue-winged Ulysses Butterfly, impossible to miss against the ancient rainforest background. Keen birdwatchers should keep an eye out for many of the up to 100 species of native birds recorded on the island, including the Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Emerald Dove and Orange-footed Scrubfowl.
Day 7: Enjoy a delicious breakfast as we cruise further amongst the scenic Family Group of Islands, the only tropical islands on the Australian coast. Discover the towering island cliffs and mangroves of the Hinchinbrook Channel before arriving at Coral Princess Cruises' very own tropical island, Pelorus. We invite you to join us on the beach for a delicious beach BBQ, freshly prepared by the Captain. After lunch, explore the surrounding rainforest on a guided nature walk. Pelorus' fringing reef, in the shallow waters just metres off the beach, offers some fantastic snorkelling opportunities. Admire the colourful corals from the glass bottom boat with the Marine Biologist, accompany our Dive Instructor on an unforgettable SCUBA dive or simply relax on the long stretch of golden sandy beach, the choice is yours! This evening, relax with our crew and new-found friends on the top deck as we cruise through the spectacular Palm Islands before settling in for our final night cruising the Great Barrier Reef.
Day 8: This morning we cross Halifax Bay, passing close to Magnetic Island before arriving in Townsville at 10:00am.
Also operates in reverse direction, Townsville to Cairns.