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Explore the wonder of coral reefs

Citizen Science on the Great Barrier Reef – Turtles & Rays

Brisbane - Cairns - Example 11 Day Cruise aboard Coral Discoverer
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Embark on an 11-day cruise aboard the Coral Discoverer featuring Citizen Science on the Great Barrier Reef focusing on turtles and rays. Explore Lady Elliot Island, a coral sanctuary with Project Manta research. Visit Mon Repos Turtle Centre for Loggerhead turtle nesting and hatchlings. Heron Island offers marine insights and aquatic activities. Middle Percy Island holds a rich history, guided walks, swimming, snorkeling, and a zodiac cruise. Experience the Coral Restoration Program in the Whitsundays with coral planting. John Brewer Reef boasts the largest Museum of Underwater Art. Orpheus Island offers tranquility and citizen science programs. Fitzroy Island features rainforest walks, turtle rehab, and snorkeling. Sudbury Cay offers serene sunsets, and Ribbon Reefs provide superb snorkeling and diving.
Explore the wonder of coral reefsExplore the wonder of coral reefsBrisbane, AustraliaSnorkel off of Australia's beautiful coastSnorkel the vibrant waters of the South PacificSea turtle swimming in the clear waterSnorkel with sea turtles Explore the wonder of coral reefs
  • Explore Mon Repos Turtle Center, uncovering turtle conservation secrets
  • Visit Heron Island Research Station, home to pioneering marine scientists
  • Discover the Coral Restoration Program's reef revival techniques
  • Assist Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Center, rehabilitating injured turtles
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Brisbane | Embark

Arrive at Brisbane Cruise Terminal, Hamilton at 8:00 am, where there is time to settle into your stateroom before your 9:00 am departure. There will be a light breakfast available upon boarding. Take the time to become acquainted with all the facilities onboard and mingle with fellow guests and crew before Captain’s Welcome Drinks this evening.

Day 2-10: Great Barrier Reef

  • Ship
  • 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners
Located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay that serves as a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life. Situated in the ‘green zone’ the island is protected and hosts Project Manta – the research program run by the University of Queensland. Since 2007, Project Manta has been closely monitoring the biology and ecology of the manta rays here. Each manta ray has unique ventral markings, similar to a human fingerprint, and photo-identification of these markings is a primary method of observing the population. On your visit here, learn about Lady Elliot Island’s pivotal role in Project Manta and enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and citizen science activities.

Visit Mon Repos Turtle Centre, the only ranger-guided turtle encounter opportunity on the East Coast, and a key researcher in turtle conservation, specifically the endangered Loggerhead turtles that frequent the Mon Repos beach. Explore the conservation park and learn all about the wildlife conservation activities that take place here. On a ranger-guided excursion, you can witness an ancient life cycle of the animal kingdom as majestic sea turtles make their journey to the shore to lay their eggs and then delight at the sight of their young, hatching weeks later, and making their perilous journey to the sea.

Heron Island is one of the major sea turtle nesting sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Located 80km from Gladstone, the island has a long history, now divided into three sections: the resort, research station, and National Park. Tour the marine research station – the oldest and largest on the Great Barrier Reef – where staff will provide insights into the research process and the inner workings of the station. Get up close to the marine life by touch tank and enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and citizen science activities here.

Middle Percy Island has a colorful history – it has seen famous visitors, including Errol Flynn, and for many years was a leasehold duty-bound to provide fresh water and supplies to passing sailors. The island still has its famous ‘A-frame’, where visitors can take shelter and find supplies.  Go ashore at West Bay beach and visit the A-Frame where Robin and Annie, the island’s caretakers, will share some of the history and stories of the island. Enjoy a guided walk, a swim at West Bay, snorkeling, and, if the tide permits, a zodiac cruise through the shallow marine nursery of the lagoon.

After a cyclone impacted reefs in the Whitsundays, Reef Ecologic, in partnership with the local community and tourism industry began a reef restoration project with the creation of coral nurseries. On your visit, learn about the Coral Restoration Program projects and observe how the corals are planted and rejuvenated. You will also enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and citizen science activities such as working with Reef Ecologic to assist in coral planting.

Also known as the ‘coral greenhouse’, John Brewer Reef is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The reef is notably home to the largest Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) installation with the first underwater building created by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The display aims to aid in the education of reef restoration and allow for a unique learning opportunity through snorkeling or diving the installation. Divers will have the opportunity to explore the display, while snorkellers will enjoy time at the lagoon and reef where turtles and rays are commonly present.

Orpheus Island is located some 125km north of Townsville and is known for its natural beauty with several National Parks and fringing reefs. The only way to access the island is by helicopter or private charter. Sightings of reef sharks and green turtles alongside manta rays and humpback whales are possible here, depending on the season. During your visit here, enjoy the serenity of this secluded location while participating in citizen science field programs.

At Fitzroy Island, enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest, or for the more adventurous, a walk to the de-commissioned lighthouse will reward hikers with panoramic views of the Coral Sea, islands, and mainland mountain ranges. Visit the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a passionate non-profit organization dedicated to the care of sick and injured turtles. Snorkel over the fringing reef, relax on the beach, and lend a hand to the volunteers at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Center.

Sudbury Cay is a small sand cay that barely rises above the Coral Sea and is far removed from the bustle of civilization. Here, slip off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the tropical waters of the Coral Sea lap gently against the shoreline. Surrounded by a glistening sea and bathed in the glow of twilight, enjoy sunset drinks and the company of like-minded explorers as you relax and watch the sun gently sink below the horizon.

The Ribbon Reefs are a narrow line of outer coral reefs on the edge of the continental shelf and are renowned for their prolific marine life and extensive coral species. Enjoy the rare opportunity to snorkel and dive on the Ribbon Reefs which sit on the edge of the continental shelf.
Due to their location far offshore from the Australian coast, the Ribbon Reefs offer excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, with Ribbon Reefs #3 & #5 a favorite for their wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. Join a guided snorkel tour led by the expert Master Reef and witness this extraordinary ecosystem up close. These northern reefs are renowned for spotting iconic marine species such as potato cod, wrasse, sharks, and turtles. Get involved in the Eye on the Reef program as you conduct species surveys during a number of snorkel experiences here.

Day 11: Cairns | Disembark

Arrive in Cairns at 8:00 a.m. this morning. Say a fond farewell to fellow guests and crew as your expedition comes to an end with enhanced knowledge and new memories to treasure from this rare expedition experience.


Coral Discoverer

Coral Discoverer
Bridge Deck Bar aboard the Coral Discoverer

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$6,875 2-3 travelers
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Main Deck B
Averaging 195 sq. ft. Three cabins located on the Main Deck, equipped with twin portholes, desk, sofa, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
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Main Deck A
Averaging 195 sq. ft. Six cabins located on the Main Deck, equipped with twin porthole windows, desk, sofa, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
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Promenade Deck B
Averaging 160 sq. ft. Four cabins located on the Promenade Deck, equipped with picture windows, desk, telephone and Junior King bedding.
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Promenade Deck A
Averaging 195 sq. ft. Eighteen cabins located on the Promenade Deck, equipped with picture windows, sofa, desk, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.
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Bridge Deck
Averaging 195 sq. ft. Five cabins located on the Bridge Deck, equipped with picture windows, sofa, desk, telephone and your choice of Junior King or twin bedding.


Solo Travelers:
Solo cabin occupancy is limited and based on availability in Promenade Deck B cabins only. Single supplement is an additional 50%.

Important Fare Information:
Rates are posted based off of the current exchange rates from Australian or New Zealand Dollars. Please contact us for current exchange rates.
  • 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 10 Dinners
  • 10 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and kayaks
  • All excursions with our Expedition Team
  • Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
  • Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
  • Your expedition photos captured during the voyage
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
  • 24-hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Wifi Access – Standard speed connectivity enabling email, social image sharing, web browsing and messaging
  • Snorkeling & SCUBA equipment (SCUBA diving at an additional cost)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Laundry Service
  • Entry visas/Travel permits
  • Alcoholic drinks including beer and wine outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
  • Pre and post cruise accommodation
  • Items of a personal nature such souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)
  • Airport Departure Tax - Airport arrival or departure taxes
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Passport or Visa fees
  • Scuba Diving


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.


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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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