Kimberley & Torres Strait Cruising For Adventurers!
Ahoy Buccaneers! - Kimberley cruising for adventurers!Ahoy Buccaneers! - Kimberley cruising for adventurers!

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Torres Strait Islands Cruise

18/11/17

Earlybird Offer – Receive two nights’ free accommodation on new Torres Strait Islands cruises!

October – November, 2018

Kimberly coast cruise operator, Ahoy Buccaneers, has announced it will expand in 2018 with its first cruises outside the Kimberley region. In addition to its low-cost Kimberley adventures off the north-west coast of Australia, Ahoy Buccaneers will debut a new, six-night cruise through the remote and rarely visited Torres Strait Islands off the top of Cape York in October and November, 2018.

To mark the launch of its new six-night Torres Strait cruise, Ahoy Buccaneers is offering a free night’s accommodation before and after the cruise, at four-star hotels on Horn Island, for people who book before December 22, 2017.

The 274 islands of the Torres Strait archipelago are scattered across a 150km stretch of ocean between Cape York and Papua New Guinea and are home to stunning, blue waters and an abundance of marine life perfect for snorkelling and fishing. Ahoy’s cruise will centre on the sheltered, southern islands of the group closest to the Australian continent.

Torres Strait Islands Cruise - Ahoy Buccaneers

The low-cost cruise operator’s 19-guest motor yacht, ‘Oceanic’ will take passengers on a round-trip cruise from Horn Island to unique and culturally rich islands where, included in the cost of the cruise, a local guide will each day showcase the diverse history of the Torres Strait Islands, from the early indigenous cultures and tales of headhunters to World War II sites.

Discover what remains of the World War II airbase on Horn Island after eight bombing raids by the Japanese, be immersed in the indigenous culture on Prince of Wales Island and have a beer at Australia’s most northerly pub – the Torres Hotel on Thursday Island.

The cruise will take guests to secret corners of the islands from well-known Thursday Island – home to 3500 people – to its little-known sibling, Friday Island, home to one family and a pearl cultivation farm with a population of 10. For people seeking to stand on the most northern point of Australia at the tip of Cape York, an optional helicopter ride over Cape York and surrounding islands is available.

Ahoy Buccaneers will run five Torres Strait Island cruises in 2018 with the first beginning on October 29, 2018. The six-night cruises begin and end on Horn Island with guests able to fly there on daily flights from Cairns offered by Qantas.

Oceanic offers double bed and bunk cabins as well as the opportunity for passengers to sleep under the stars in deluxe swags on deck. The 24m rigged vessel also boasts indoor and outdoor dining areas, two lounges and a deck spa. Fresh and healthy cuisine is prepared by an onboard cook who regularly sources much of the menu from what is caught from the sea each day.

Each of the six-night cruises of the Torres Strait Islands are available from $2800 per person (including for solos) in a swag on the deck and from $3500 per person in a cabin, twin-share, or if sharing with another solo passenger. Fares include meals, shore excursions and transfers during the cruise. Earlybird bookings made by December 22, 2017, will receive a free night’s accommodation before and after the cruise, at four-star hotels on Horn Island. Call Ahoy Buccaneers on 08 9193 7650 or visit www.ahoybuccaneers.com.au

For further details visit ahoybuccaneers.com.au/torres-strait-island or call +61 8 9193 7650


29/09/17

See the Kimberley in its element in the wet season and receive two nights’ free accommodation

February – March, 2018

Thundering waterfalls and vast, empty coastal waters will greet passengers on Ahoy Buccaneers’ first two cruises for 2018 along the Kimberley coast in February and March, with bookings made by October 31, 2017, receiving a complimentary night’s accommodation before and after the cruise.

The low-cost cruise operator’s 19-guest motor yacht, ‘Oceanic’, will offer a special 13-day wet season cruise from Broome to Wyndham on February 26, 2018, and another from Wyndham back to Broome on March 12, 2018.

Every year, the monsoonal wet of the far north transforms the famous Kimberley coast waterfalls like King George Falls, Kings Cascades and Casuarina Falls into spectacular, thundering jets of water, enabling adventure-seekers to see and feel nature at its raw and powerful best.

Ahoy Buccaneer’s wet season expeditions through the wild and remote islands of the Buccaneer and Bonaparte archipelagos also enable guests to experience the dramatic excitement of tropical storms, beautiful sunsets and lightning shows and lush scenery.

The wet season is also devoid of larger cruise ships, leaving Ahoy Buccaneer’s privileged passengers to enjoy the region’s serenity alone.

Ahoy Buccaneers offers travellers one of the most affordable ways to see the wild and unspoilt Kimberley. The 13-day Broome to Wyndham cruises offer guests a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of the 2000 islands, stunning waterfalls and lively marine parks that comprise the Kimberly coastline. Because of its small size, Oceanic is able to anchor close to the shore, with daily excursions that include fishing, swimming in fresh waterholes, beach combing, exploring aboriginal art, beach camp fires and hiking in some of the remotest parts of the Kimberley.

Oceanic offers double bed and bunk cabins as well as the opportunity for passengers to sleep under the stars in deluxe swags in a mix of boat and beach locations each night. The 24m rigged vessel also boasts indoor and outdoor dining areas, two lounges and a deck spa. Fresh and healthy cuisine is prepared by an onboard cook who regularly sources much of the menu from what is caught from the sea each day. The atmosphere onboard Oceanic is barefoot casual and friendly, with guests encouraged to help fish or sail the Oceanic.

Each of the 13-day cruises between Broome and Wyndham next February and March is available from $5000 per person (including for solos) in a swag and from $6600 per person in a cabin, twin-share, or if sharing with another solo passenger. Fares include meals, shore excursions and transfers.

Bookings made by October 31, 2017, will receive one free night’s accommodation before and after the cruise at four-star hotels in Broome and also Kununurra near Wyndham. Call Ahoy Buccaneers on 08 9193 7650 or email us


29/08/17

Save up to $1320 per couple on Kimberly cruise this October – Book by September 24, 2017

Ahoy Buccaneers, which specialises in low-cost Kimberly cruises, is offering a last-minute, 20 per cent discount on three Kimberley cruises this October, with savings of up to $1320 per couple available for bookings made by September 24, 2017.

The three cruises are seven-day, round-trip sailings from Broome through the Buccaneer Archipelago in the wild and remote Kimberly region of Western Australia. Departures aboard Ahoy Buccaneer’s 25-guest motor yacht, Oceanic, are available on October 2, 9 and 30, 2017.

Offering an alternative to traditional cruises, Ahoy Buccaneers takes guests into areas inaccessible to large ships as they explore the rugged cliffs, remote coves, secluded beaches, spectacular waterfalls and pristine waters of the coast.

The itinerary includes Montgomery Reef, Ruby Falls, Steep Island, Silica Beach and the rushing tides of Horizontal Falls – described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest wonders of the natural world”.

In contrast to large, luxury ships, Oceanic offers nature lovers and adventure seekers a ‘barefoot casual’ experience with an intimate and relaxed atmosphere onboard and the opportunity for guests to help fish for dinner or sail the boat with the captain.  Because of its small size, Oceanic is able to anchor much closer to the shore than other vessels, with daily excursions that include fishing, swimming in fresh waterholes, beach combing, exploring aboriginal art, beach camp fires and hiking in some of the remotest parts of the Kimberley.

Including the 20 per cent discount for new bookings made by September 24, the three seven-day cruises on October 2, 9 and 30, 2017, are available from:

  • $1600 per person (including for solos) in a deluxe beach swag  – a saving of $400 per person
  • $2000 per person, twin-share, in a double or twin-bed cabin  – a saving of $500 per person
  • $2640 per person, twin-share, in a double cabin with ensuite – a saving of $660 per person

Solo travellers can escape the single supplement by sleeping on the beach under the stars in a deluxe swag or sharing a twin bed cabin with another same-gender solo passenger.

Fares include meals during the cruise and daily excursions as well as local transfers.

Book before September 24 by calling Ahoy Buccaneers on 08 9193 7650

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28/08/17

Quotes from Shelley Gould – co-owner of Ahoy Buccaneers, which offers low-cost motor yacht cruises along the Kimberley coast.

“Growing parallel to the growth of big ship cruising is the growing popularity of small-ship voyages, especially along the Australian coast. We’re finding that as more Australians become seasoned cruisers, many – particularly nature lovers – are seeking more intimate, unique and authentic ways to explore our beautiful coastline by ship.  Small ship operators are adding more sailings to keep up with demand as we have done at Ahoy Buccaneers on the Kimberley coast between Broome to Prince Regent on the Buccaneer and Bonaparte 13 day Cruise.

“On a big cruise liner, passengers immerse themselves in the attractions of the ship but on a smaller vessel, passengers become guests – even friends – and they immerse themselves in the scenery – largely because smaller boats can closer to the coastline than lager boats. For instance, on our Kimberley cruises, our 26-guest motor yacht can get right into the channel of the magnificent Montgomery Reef and right into the heart of rugged and remote Silvergull Cove – places larger vessels can’t get close to. In wild and pristine places, it’s very special to experience the raw magic with just a handful of fellow cruise guests instead of hundreds or thousands of passengers on a large liner. For instance, on some nights, we set up a campfire dinner for guests on a deserted beach along the Kimberley cruise. Exclusive experiences like this are unforgettable.

“Aboard small ships, the crew become your friends – they know you by name and remember your favourite drinks and preferences – and it‘s easier to make friends with other guests. With less regimentation and no queuing or crowding, there’s also a more relaxed ambience aboard a smaller vessel. Guests start to feel like it’s their boat – they have a sense of ownership and pride in their floating home. At Ahoy Buccaneers, our vessel is small enough to offer spontaneity. Our itinerary is flexible – we go where the best weather and wildlife are  – and we invite guests to help us fish and sail the vessel – this sense of barefoot freedom and soft adventure is only possible on a smaller vessel where the experiences are more real and personal. As Australian cruisers become more discerning, more cruise operators will offer this style of bespoke cruising.”

Media Coverage

Woman’s Day Article

Woman's Day Feature

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The Sunday Times – London

Bunking down for my first night on a deserted Australian beach, I ignore the shooting stars. Instead, I fixate on the idea that — any minute now — a crocodile will nip up the shore for a midnight feast of freshly caught pom. Every noise makes me flinch. Sleepless hours pass. Then, finally, I realise the solution, and drag my bedding around behind my (soundly sleeping) companions. They can be the first line of defence, thank you very much.

I’m on a sleeping-under-the-stars cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago, off Western Australia’s Kimberley coast. The landscape is rightly renowned — add luminous orange land to the classic white sand and turquoise water combo and you begin to get the idea. The best bits, however, are accessible only by boat.

Seeing this historically Aboriginal area normally means digging into the treasure chest: most boats come with helipads and five-star trimmings. But my home for the week, the 80ft Oceanic, is the budget, no-need-to-sell-your-fairest-child option.

Treasure chest: Buccaneer Archipelago

Treasure chest: Buccaneer Archipelago

Within minutes of getting on board, my sea legs buckle and I have to hang my head over the side. The first day, when we motor north from Broome, is spent popping travel-sickness pills and praying to Poseidon.

Day two, and back in the land of the living, I discover that the other 22 guests are mostly Aussies. And yes, when your head’s not in a bucket, the scenery is really rather special. Thousands of uninhabited islands, some appearing and disappearing with the tides, are sprinkled around us. Between the rusty-red boulders sprout fig trees, sappy gums and termite mounds resembling squat sumo wrestlers. Most striking, though, is the still remoteness. “Middle of nowhere” is given new meaning.

It’s also only now that I register who’s looking after us. The ladies on board are already swooning over Paul, our divorcé skipper, and deckhand Bala, a charismatic Aboriginal Australian. Then there’s “deckie” Scotty, chef Matty and 13-year-old cabin boy Moonie — each one a wannabe pirate.

Any preconceptions about a cruise (I’m a first-timer) are fast thrown overboard. Forget starched white uniforms, dressing up for dinner and oldies only. This feels as though some motley mates have kidnapped unsuspecting tourists to join their rum-soaked expedition.

This isn’t the budget boat, it’s the naughty boat, and my fellow guests — aged from 24 to 77 — happily get stuck in. First priority of the day is filling the Eskies (cool boxes) with stubbies (cans of beer). Rum is occasionally sloshed into morning coffees. The crew blast music from the captain’s deck, swear like sailors (naturally) and appear to be competing for the “dodgiest tattoo” award.

And when we travel in the tenders — those little boats at the back of big boats — Paul revs the engine full throttle, leaving us all clinging on for dear life. As inviting as the water looks, you do not want to fall in: crocodiles, sharks and other nasties lurk below. “Everything here wants either to eat you or sting you,” someone sums up.

Crocodile Rocks: Silica Beach

Crocodile Rocks: Silica Beach

Mercifully, there are some safe swimming spots to escape the relentless sunshine. Silica Beach has the whitest sand — a tough category — but the ominously named

Crocodile Creek is a more magical find. We climb up a ladder, one of the few signs of human activity, to the first pool and waterfall. It’s stunning but too croc-friendly, Bala says, so we scramble higher up the rocks to a second lagoon. There’s a huge grin on my newly freckled face as I flop in inelegantly. Suddenly, something grabs my leg under the water. I let out a piercing scream. Of course, it’s only scallywag Moonie larking about, and further cementing my crocodile phobia.

At night, the sexa- and septuagenarians gamely dance on deck (Abba, Queen, Kylie), then collapse into their cabins. I politely bow out and escape with the younger cohort to sleep “swag” on the beach. For the uninitiated, swags are a mattress/sleeping-bag contraption with a pop-up mosquito net. Pointless in rainy Blighty, perfect in baking Oz. Just beware paranoid freak-outs over hungry crocs.

Life on the ocean wave takes on a different shape: we rise at dawn, eat when ordered and head to bed when the campfire burns out. And, as we’re miles from a mobile signal, phones remain at the bottom of backpacks.

A whale of a time: humpbacks migrate along this coast

A whale of a time: humpbacks migrate along this coast

Then there’s the wildlife. We repeatedly rattle off our sightings: turtles, dolphins, sea snakes, rock wallabies, bats. Plus a tiddly croc, basking in the sun, gnashers flashing, and a wolf spider. And, best of all, whales. Several thousand humpbacks migrate along this coast and, even though we’re towards the end of the season, we spot dark slivers of hump most days. A mother and calf appear almost within touching distance. To a chorus of oohs and aahs, they blast out of the water and kindly pose until everyone has a photo to show off back home.

A rather less welcome visitor later pops up at the boat’s stern: a 5ft tawny nurse shark. Bala helps me stroke it. “Laura the Explorer’s come a long way since day one,” I overhear someone remark.

Less intimidating is the bluenose salmon we catch. Baked with lime, ginger and garlic, it’s heavenly. Fresher still are the vast black-lipped oysters Bala shucks straight off the rocks. Sublime salty sliminess.

Things become more bushtucker trial when we land at the small promontory of Raft Point and Moonie (who else?) persuades me to eat a green ant. Their fat bottoms, he says, taste like honey. I capture one and, eyes closed, quickly crunch it in my front teeth. It’s more citric than sweet, though not unpleasant. Indigenous people credit the insects with helping digestion, but I think I’ll stick with Gaviscon.

We’ve stopped at this particular place not for the green ants, but to see the rock art hidden away at the highest point. It’s halfway through the climb where those oversaturated colours shine brightest: a panoramic palette of khakis, reds and blues.

At the top of Raft Point, a sweaty 20-minute hike later, the white paintings on the bright orange rocks depict the Wandjina, the spirit ancestors of the Kimberley’s Aboriginal people. Taking anything away from this place, we’re told, will bring extremely bad luck. Tourists, after being plagued by rotten misfortune, have chartered ships solely to return pretty rocks that they had previously pocketed. Duly warned, I settle for a selfie by a fat-bellied boab tree.

Mother Nature makes herself known in these parts. Horizontal Falls — a whirling, whooshing flow between two narrow coastal gorges — is the main draw for many visitors. After a lengthy explanation from a fellow guest about the science behind the falls, I nod encouragingly, but in truth I am none the wiser. It’s something to do with tide variations. Anyhow, we pay an additional £36 to be whisked through the “Horries” in the local operator’s speedboat. This is the perfect setting for a James Bond action scene and, with the wind in my hair, I indulgently imagine Daniel Craig at the wheel.

Other explorations are more spontaneous, simply darting around sludge-green mangrove trees and up unknown creeks in the tender. Back on board, I escape the midday heat in the “spa” — a generous name for an old hot tub filled with seawater.

The only worry people seem to have is whether there’s still any ice in the Eskies. Around the evening campfires — boys are tasked with collecting driftwood — the guitar inevitably comes out with the liquor. Scotty saves us from Wonderwall with his own song. “I’m going, I’m going any which way the wind shall be blowing, I’m going, I’m going where the streams of whisky are a-flowing,” he sings wistfully. Tall tales are told of how, in a previous life, the 28-year-old Oceanic was stolen from Thai pirates by the Thai mafia, before the Australian authorities seized it. Revelling in our remoteness, we toast marshmallows and look for the Southern Cross before kipping down.

After seven days away from the rest of the world, it feels strange to be jolted back into civilisation when we reach Cygnet Bay. During a bone-rattling bus ride back to Broome, through the rusty-dusty outback, I reflect on the scenery of the past week. A sentence of Scotty’s sticks out: “Some parts around here are break-your-heart beautiful.” Too true, mate.

Laura Pullman was a guest of Etihad Airways and Tourism Australia (australia.com). The seven-day Buccaneer Archipelago Cruise starts at £1,663pp (ahoybuccaneers.com.au). Etihad flies from Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh to Perth, via Abu Dhabi; from £655 return (0345 608 1225, etihad.com). Perth-Broome flights start at £240 return with Virgin Australia or Qantas

Laura on the Oceanic

Laura on the Oceanic

 

Laura Pullman

The Sunday Times 

News Review deputy editor