Mini-cruisers boom in NW

NEW super expedition mini-cruisers that can cost more than $3 million are leading the way in WA’s Far North West explorer adventure boom, opening lucrative new holiday travel horizons.

The arrival of the luxury expedition yacht, or mini-cruise ship, is today’s newest and most glamorous development in the competitive new up-market, adventure holiday scene.

In a trend that has developed into a worldwide popularity in the past two years, Australian shipyards are among those joining the race to design a new breed of sophisticated super-yachts.

They will enable the holidaymaker with money to spend to explore the remotest corners of the earth – at high prices they seem more than happy to pay.

It follows the growing new public demand for reality adventure and eco travel, with the

big cruise liners now including remote and rugged destinations on their regular world routes.

Seizing on an obvious gap in the market, these high-tech, purpose-built mini-cruisers with deluxe double cabins and even a heli-pad on the roof can offer small, exclusive, individually tailored travel venturing into some of the most challenging and little-known corners of the world.

The vast wilderness region of the Kimberley, north of Broome, is one the areas most in demand

Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises, run by husband and wife team Jeff and Lynne Ralston, specialises in live onboard wilderness adventure cruises.

The couple is one of three local firms based in Broome operating mini-cruiser charters with bookings from overseas visitors, but mainly from the eastern states, including many farmers.

Mr Ralston, who took delivery of his Fremantle custom-built $3 million, 85-tonne expedition cruiser, the 16-berth Kimberley Quest, less than a year ago, has been taking groups on up to two-week, 1,000 km trips in the farthest northern reaches.

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