New boutique river ships for ASEAN

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Coral Expeditions are considering cruising in the ASEAN region, group general manager Mark Fifield has revealed.

The line is also planning to build a new ship, which will accommodate 100 passengers.

The ship, to be called Coral Discoverer II, will be slightly bigger than the flagship Coral Discoverer and two smaller ships, Coral Expeditions I and Coral Expeditions II, based in Australia.

The company, founded by Tony Briggs in Cairns 32 years ago, was taken over by Kallang Capital Holdings (KCH), a Singapore investment company, last December. KCH now owns 90 per cent of the shares, with Mr Briggs holding the remaining 10 per cent.

“We plan to cruise along the east and west coast of Malaysia to Vietnam and Myanmar, calling at remote coastlines and destinations never before travelled by other lines.

“We hope to build a new ship by the end of next year. In the meantime, Coral Discoverer I will undergo a major refurbishment next year and be based in Singapore during the region’s wave season before it returns to Australia to cruise the Kimberleys,” Mr Fifield said.

The company is also continuing discussions with Lindblad National Geographic and Zeghram alumni group from the US about chartering its boutique ships for itineraries in Southeast Asia.

“We are a company known for its firsts. We were the first cruise company to launch in the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberleys, the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea and – later this year – Tasmania.

“Our next expansion is Asia with a ship based in Singapore. We see the region from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar as a great potential for our expansion into Southeast Asia.

“While it is still early days, we hope to build a new expedition ship in Australia to service the ASEAN region.”

When KCH bought Coral Princess Cruises, the three Coral Princess ships were rebranded as Coral Expeditions. KCH managing director Paul Chacko based in Singapore said the company would invest in upgrading them.