Planning Your Kimberley Cruise
Our Guest Relationsions Coordinator, Toni is based in our Broome office. This is who you can talk to about organising your Kimberley cruise.
Toni has taken the guesswork out of your cruise planning by compiling answers to many of the common questions she receives.
If you cannot find the information you are looking for please contact us and we will happily assist.
About Great Escape Kimberley Cruises
Chances are you’ve already heard something about us through friends or family. Maybe you’ve seen cruise photographs and heard holiday stories. Maybe you are already thinking about a Kimberley Cruise but need a little help convincing a partner or members of your travel group to commit. That’s where we can assist you.
Here's where we can answer your questions and provide you with some reassuring detail. Let’s jump in and discuss some of the most common questions that you might want to know more about.
Remote Kimberley Wilderness
We spend a lot of our day talking about the pristine wilderness. That’s certainly the fun part of our job. Our whole team has a passion for The Kimberley. We’ll describe the rugged Kimberley coast and explain how inaccessible it is. You might be surprised to learn that people need to have a boat or a helicopter to visit this part of Australia’s North West. It’s a special place that very few will ever get to see.
Do you find the idea of an untouched wilderness really appealing? Most of our guests do. There aren't many parts of Australia or in fact the world, that are still like that.
A trip like this is a significant investment for most people. It’s natural that you want to feel confident that this will be a quality small group experience. You might also be are looking for something that gives you choices so that you can participate in a way that's relaxing and comfortable. We pay a lot of attention to ensuring that you get to do the things that you'll enjoy. You can participate as much or as little as you like on any given day. It’s your holiday.
Why we are different
See The Kimberley From A Helicopter
Are you intrigued by the helicopter? Are you curious about how it all fits into the cruise? You might want to know if you'll miss out on anything if you don't use the helicopter. Let’s talk that through right now.
Light Aircraft/Helicopter Transfers
There might be a flight transfer at the start or end of a cruise itinerary. In cases like that the cost is included in your cruise package. Otherwise, scenic flights are an optional extra. We carefully explain what’s included and what is optional. If you need more detail we are happy to talk this through.
The helicopter travels full time with the vessel MV Great Escape. There's only one other Kimberley cruise operator that offers that service. Our helicopter and the pilot travel on the boat at all times. You can use it as much or as little as you want.
Helicopter Scenic Flights
On our cruises, we use the helicopter in a variety of ways. You might want to take a scenic flight over a particular region. For example, the Montgomery Reef is a place where you might like to get into the air to fully appreciate how vast the reef system is.
The helicopter might be used to transfer you to a little land-locked fishing spot deep in the Kimberley where you can fish for that elusive barramundi.
Transfers for Aboriginal Art Sites
There are quite a few art sites that we like to walk to. You can sometimes use the helicopter to get to those art sites.
Transfers to Picnic Spots
We also use the helicopters for picnics - we call this a Heli Picnic. We'll fly you into a remote spot like a waterhole, and our chef will create a beautiful breakfast or lunch. You can swim and relax and explore the area for a few hours, and have a BBQ and then fly back to the boat.
An Extra Dimension
The helicopter option adds another dimension to your cruise. You can opt-in or opt-out. You don't need to book in advance. We have some pricing that we’ll send to you so you can plan ahead. Helicopter flights are an exhilarating experience so we like people to be aware that it's there as an option.
Peace of Mind
The helicopter flights allow us to land in on the tops of rocky ridges or right alongside remote waterholes. You'll have the whole place to yourself and that feels exciting. We even find people who might be a little bit scared of flying often find this a cruise highlight. We’re happy to talk it through and can give you peace of mind by sharing details of our pilots flying career.
What Convinces People
In our experience, once you are onboard and you see it, you won't want to miss out. What usually convinces people is seeing the excitement on the faces of people who have just come back from a flight. It's a bit of a rockstar entrance when you're flying in and landing on the boat. It's exciting and exhilarating.
We recently had a couple onboard who were celebrating a special wedding anniversary. Our guest organised with the pilot and the chef to have a picnic with a chilled bottle of champagne included. He flew his wife to a little remote waterfall area and they had a few hours alone. That sort of thing can be arranged even on the day. We enjoy helping you celebrate and taking home very special memories.
Cruise Itinerary Unique For Each Group
Do you have questions about the itinerary? Many people ask, "Could you please send me a copy of your itinerary?" We explain that's not really how we operate. We prefer to enjoy some flexibility with our day. We like to wait and see what the groups are like and what their interests are before we make our final plans.
There are some key things that we do on a day-to-day basis, but it can largely depend on the weather. The tides also play a significant role in planning our days and our activities. Some guests are passionate about fishing, others not so much. The beauty of a small group cruise is that we can fine-tune tune our plans once you are on board. We sit down and talk with you. That way we get a feel for what you are going to enjoy the most.
Activities Tailored To Fitness
Fit Adventure Seekers
Are you a very fit person? Maybe you are super keen on that style of adventure. You might be interested in a lot of land-based excursions. You might be wondering about how long the walks are? You might even ask can they be longer. You might be curious about where you can go. If fitness is your thing we help can plan challenging activities just right for you.
Easy Does It Cruisers
Maybe fitness is not your thing. Half our guests feel just like you. You might feel a little bit worried about your fitness and whether you will be holding people up. Let us reassure you that whatever your level of fitness, you will feel looked after and comfortable.
All of our walks are carefully graded. Before setting off on a walk, we talk about what we're doing, where we're going and the degree of difficulty. If you feel as though it might be beyond you, you can either choose not to go or to do part of the walk or even take a helicopter ride there. Whatever works for you is just fine with us.
We travel with just fourteen guests and six crew. We can easily provide individual support. There is a lovely camaraderie in our groups. The crew will stay with and support those guests who enjoy walking at a more leisurely pace. You are on holiday so there's no reason to rush. This is your time.
Waterfall Safari Cruise
The waterfall safari is a one-off cruise on our calendar each year. It's our very first Kimberley cruise of the season. It takes in all of the waterfalls between Broome and Wyndham over 8 nights.
We take in those big waterfall areas at the very start of the season. The water flow is at its absolute best. Every night the boat is steaming overnight to get you to that next location to enjoy the day's activities, and the focus is on the waterfalls. This cruise might suit you if you are a little bit time poor, and you want to see the whole length of the coast. If the full 13 nights is a bit too much for you this is a really attractive alternative.
Best Waterfall Flow for Photography
It is also early season, so there are a few advantages to that. The water flow is one of them that from a photographer's point of view. In that early season, there's the potential for some cloud formations and storm activity. The moody colours of the sky are a real highlight.
Kings of The Kimberley Northern Gorges Cruise
6 or 7 Nights
The Kings of the Kimberley is an itinerary that we offer in the first half of our season every year. The reason for that is that it's at the top end of the Kimberley Coast between Wyndham and the Mitchell Plateau where the waterfalls are rainwater fed. So we spend the first half of the season up there because that's when all of that wet season rainwater flows over the waterfalls. If you wanted to see the waterfalls at their absolute best, early season is definitely the best time to be up there.
Quite often people have questions about the temperature early in the season. We talk them through the early season weather (March/April) and what they can expect. We let them know that our vessel is fully air-conditioned. Our land-based excursions also offer lots of opportunities to swim and cool off. It's a really great time to get up there and experience the waterfalls after the wet season rains while the easterly winds are calm.
Aboriginal Rock Art
For people that are really interested in the Aboriginal rock art, the Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) art is more prevalent in the top end of the coast. In fact, there are very few examples of this art in the Southern Kimberley. The rock art is a big part of why they want to see the Kimberley Coast, that reason alone can be why they would choose the Kings of the Kimberley Northern Gorges itinerary.
Then, there's also that element of, "I've seen the Southern Kimberley and now I want to complete the coast."
Northern Kimberley Landscape
It's all about how grand it is up in the Northern part of the Kimberley coast. The river systems, gorge areas and waterfalls form a really BIG landscape, what we like to refer to as the 'Kings of the Kimberley.' People often ask us - what area of the coast is better north or south? This is like choosing a favourite child. The Northern Kimberley landscape is very different from the landscape found on the Southern Kimberley coast. They are both equally as beautiful but quite unique in their own right.
Kimberley Classic Adventure Cruise
Blue Ribbon Experience
We often refer to the Kimberley Classic Adventure as our blue ribbon cruise. This 13-night itinerary takes in the full length of the Kimberley Coast. We travel from Broome to Wyndham (or in reverse) enjoying everything the region has to offer at a really relaxed pace.
See The Whole Kimberley Coast
Often, if a guest has travelled with us on a shorter cruise, they want to return to complete the other part of the coast. There's a part of the coast that they still haven't seen. They want to come back and want to see that other part. This cruise offers you the chance to say "Well, I have seen all of the Kimberley Coast now." That's one off the bucket list. Having said that it is very common for guests to take this cruise more than once.
No Luggage Restrictions and No Flying
On this cruise, we travel from port to port, which means that there are no luggage restrictions, and there are no fixed wing or helicopter transfers involved in the itinerary. For some people, that's a good thing. If you are uncomfortable flying that might be a bonus for you.
Itinerary - Seasons and Weather
We plan our cruises carefully depending on the time of year that we are visiting that region of the Kimberley Coast. We can enjoy the northern end of the Kimberley Coast right up until about midyear. For this reason, the Kimberley Classic Adventure cruises are always completed by about July. After that time the northern end of the Kimberley Coast has lost a lot of that wet season flow over the waterfalls, and the easterly winds have often picked up. We like to take advantage of the weather and the water and plan to be at the right places at the right time.
The Long Distance Traveller
You might be coming a long way to get to the Kimberley Coast. The Kimberley Classic Adventure gives you two weeks to slow down and enjoy the experience. It gives you that luxury of time so you can unwind and appreciate where you are over a longer period of time.
The one thing that comes up time and time again in feedback is how much guests enjoy spending time with the crew. We’ll often hear people say it felt like a family environment. Our crew sits down at dinner time with our guests. We gather around the back table, on the back deck.
The crew has often travelled and worked in some really interesting locations. They've done some pretty amazing things in their lives. Our guests are really interested to get to know them, and vice versa. Consistently, our guests rate our crew very highly.
Southern Kimberley Experience Cruise
Most Popular Cruise
This is probably our most popular itinerary. We have it on offer more than any other because the Southern Kimberley is accessible all season. In terms of the water flow, the waterfalls in the Southern Kimberley region are spring-fed waterfalls, so they're not entirely dependent on that wet season runoff. In terms of easterly winds, this intricate part of the coastline offers loads of protection for vessels cruising her waters.
Start and Finish in Broome
The itinerary starts and finishes in Broome, we feel as though that's probably a big drawcard that people love the idea of visiting Broome in addition to coming onboard. Broome is a very well known destination and one of those bucket list locations as well. The fact that you can start and finish in Broome is regarded as a highlight.
Horizontal Falls & Montgomery Reef
We visit the Horizontal Waterfalls and Montgomery Reef, favourite Kimberley wilderness destinations among Australian travellers.
Kimberley Fishing Extravaganza Cruise
This cruise is a short fascinating little itinerary where there is a flight component at both ends. The idea is that we fly you up into the heart of the Kimberley where you then spend your four nights on board, in and around the Doubtful Bay area.
This is just a beautiful little snapshot of the Kimberley Coast, where you can do all of the activities that we would normally do on a longer itinerary. You can see a really good example of the coast in that little four-night cruise. The Kimberley Fishing Extravaganza cruise has a focus on fishing but guests who aren’t into fishing will still enjoy themselves. We still see the beautiful waterfall areas and rock art sites. There are also still a couple of walks on offer.
This cruise is scheduled at a time when the water is warm again and the barramundi come back on the bite. We have quite a few couples, mates or fathers, and sons, brothers or family groups wanting to fish. This cruise is perfect for them.
Booking Your Kimberley Cruise
We advise you to plan ahead. These cruises are popular so there's not a lot on offer at short notice. Planning ahead also allows you to travel at the time of year that suits you. It also means you get the chance to see the best of the Kimberley Coast.
If you are travelling a long distance to get to the Kimberley Coast, we like to encourage you to stay up here for as long as possible. We can assist you to plan so that you can also see Broome or Kununurra before or after your cruise with us. There's so much to see and at either destination, depending on what interests you.
We can talk you through an extension of your itinerary into El Questro or into the Bungle Bungles. There are some interesting day trips around Broome too. If you are going to travel so far to get here, and you have the flexibility it is worth thinking about these sorts of options.
Booking In Advance
We suggest on average, you’d need to be book 12 to 18 months in advance. For some guests, they're looking to book an exclusive charter, and they might want to book in a particular month because that's when it suits school holidays or their farming season. They might be booking two years in advance because they are very particular about when they want to cruise. If you have a little bit more flexibility, probably 12 months in advance would be a minimum.
The Finer Points
Tell Me About BYO Alcohol
We are not a licensed vessel. We don't have a bar on board. Our BYO policy allows you to enjoy your favourite drinks. You won't be buying those at bar prices. We give you the opportunity to purchase your alcohol at retail prices prior to the cruise.
We provide you with a list of our preferred suppliers, and we work closely with them. We send in an alcohol order for the cruise. We liaise with the local bottle shop to make sure that your order is correct and arrives on time. If you would prefer to have your own selection of alcohol delivered to our office that is absolutely fine too. We can provide you with address details and the date your delivery is required.
If you are uncertain about how much to order we'd be happy to help. Don't forget that you're on holiday and there will probably be an opportunity to have a glass of wine or a beer at lunch. You might also enjoy a drink with your evening meal. We have a lot of experience and we're happy to talk your order through with you if you'll like some advice.
Keeping Track of What’s Yours
We have a system on board to keep track of your supplies. Everybody's alcohol has a coloured dot on it which corresponds with their room. You'll find it easy to know which drinks are yours.
Clothing - What To Wear On Your Kimberley Cruise?
What To Pack
In our experience most people over pack for their cruise. It’s important to remember that this is an adventure cruise. You don't need to dress up for meals. It is a very relaxed dress code. You don't need to bring a lot with you. There is a laundry facility on board. Clothes can be washed by your stewardess.
We recommend people avoid bringing white clothes because the red dirt is hard to get out. Pack for comfort and pack for sun protection. We recommend you bring your bathers, sarong, a caftan, some shorts and comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunglasses. Dress casually and perhaps have something that lets you can just feel a little bit more dressed up for dinner. It’s the tropics so you can relax and leave your penguin suits and heels at home.
The food is often a highlight for our guests. We pride ourselves on providing high-quality meals, featuring as much fresh, local produce as possible. You will be served breakfast, morning tea, lunch and three courses for dinner every night. You'll wonder how on earth you will get through all of that food, but after a busy day out there exploring, you might surprise yourself.
It doesn't matter which Kimberley cruise itinerary you choose, you are going to see wildlife. You will be travelling in crocodile-infested waters for a lot of the Kimberley Coast. Seeing crocodiles in the wild is great fun. That said, we do have very healthy respect for the crocodiles.
You might see humpback whales from June/July onwards right through until about September. We sometimes see snub-nosed dolphins. There is also abundant birdlife wherever we go.
Travel insurance gives you peace of mind.
We always strongly recommend travel insurance. It's something that we talk about in almost every email that we send out to our guests. We emphasise how important it is to be insured. Cruising the Kimberley is not cheap. It's quite an investment. We want guests to protect their investment by taking out the appropriate insurance.
Having to book so far in advance, there's a lot of things that can happen in that timeframe. We are now agents for Cover-More Insurance. They offer an option where you can cancel for any reason and still be covered.
That particular insurance needs to be taken out at the very beginning of your booking. The other sensible reason to take out good cover is that the Kimberley is very remote. In the unlikely event that you develop an illness or have an accident, you will need to be airlifted via helicopter to the nearest airstrip or township to seek medical attention. Again, this insurance will offer you peace of mind.
Every cruise will have at least one guest who has some form of diet restriction. We ask guests to fill out a detailed questionnaire about their dietary requirements so we can understand and plan your food accordingly.
Due to the remoteness, there's no opportunity to just go to the shop and just get something that we've forgotten. That is why it’s important that we know what you need in advance. The more information that we can get the better. Our chef will work very closely with you to get this right.
Some people have an intolerance to a great range of different foods. They feel anxious about letting us know. They don't want to make a nuisance of themselves, or they feel a bit embarrassed about it. We try and reassure people that we understand.
We'll do our best to cater for your food preferences in any way possible. Sometimes we ask for a list of a normal eating plan and the brands and different ingredients that you prefer. We will do our best to cater to your needs. This is your holiday and we want you to feel comfortable and looked after.
Don’t Like Fishing?
If you don’t like fishing, you’re not alone. A lot of our guests actually don't enjoy fishing. They see fishing photos on our website, and they might ask the question, "Well, I'm not really that keen on fishing, so will I be sitting around on the boat doing nothing when everyone else is off fishing?"Or, "I might enjoy fishing once a day, but I certainly don't want to be doing it all day."
The answer to that question is that with a small group, we try and cater to your likes and dislikes. If you are super keen to go fishing early morning, when the tide is right, you can get u early and go fishing. The rest of the group don't have to do that. They can perhaps head off in the tender with the crew to go on a small bush walk, or a swim somewhere, or visit an art site. If you'd prefer a quiet time out on the boat, you are welcome to do that too.
Great Escape is a small group experience. We've got that flexibility that we can offer different things. We pride ourselves on keeping part of our days unstructured so we can arrange things around you and the group you are travelling with.