IN a move to capture a greater share of the burgeoning Kimberley tourist industry, wilderness adventure cruise company, Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises, has launched its second multi-million-dollar cruise ship.
The family-owned company recently commissioned North Fremantle-based group Quest Marine to custom build the $3.3 million luxury charter vessel, Kimberley Quest II.
Like its forerunner, Kimberley Quest I, the Kimberley Quest II is a 25-metre charter boat featuring nine private cabins with en-suites, custom-built to cater for up to 16 people on extended cruises of the islands, gorges and river systems of the remote Kimberley region.
The two Kimberley Quest vessels can travel as far north as Wyndham, taking guests to renowned locations such as King George Falls, Prince Regent River and Cockatoo Island.
Owners Jeff and Lynne Ralston have been operating the charter vessel business out of Broome for the past nine years.
Mr Ralston said he recognised it was time to expand the company’s operations last year when the Kimberley Quest I was operating at 98 per cent occupancy.
In addition to the new vessel, the company is improving its infrastructure for pre- and post-cruise travel service provided on the boat, doubling staff numbers to 18.
Mr Ralston told WA Business News the second boat was designed for the luxury market.
“”That’s what people want; to be in the middle of nowhere and be looked after,” Mr Ralston said.
Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises offers luxury cruises for up to two weeks, with prices ranging from $5,500 to $9,000 a person per week. Mr Ralston said the Kimberley cruises were slowly attracting more international guests, however numbers were predominantly from the eastern States.
The cruise boat industry is growing in the region with more competition entering the Kimberley market and more money being funnelled into new infrastructure.
Pearl Sea Coast Cruises’ main competitor, North Star Cruises, recently announced its commitment to building a new $13 million vessel.
The company will replace its current vessel, True North, with a 50-metre version of increased capacity.
The new vessel will be constructed by Image Marine, a division of Austal Ships.
The Kimberley is attracting increasing numbers of visitors. Last year the region hosted a total of 325,300 visitors, who stayed an average of eight days, including more than 36,000 international visitors, who stayed more than 11 days each.
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