Media release: Tuesday 2 February 2021

Coral Expeditions and NRMA announce new growth partnership

Significant investment underpins future expansion plans

Coral Expeditions, Australia’s pioneering cruise line, and National Roads and Motorists Association Limited (NRMA), Australia’s largest member organisation with significant investments and operations in the Australian tourism sector, have announced a new investment agreement that will see NRMA take a significant minority stake in Coral Expeditions.  This investment will support Coral Expeditions in growing its operational footprint into the future.

This investment comes on the back of Coral Expeditions’ successful resumption of operations following a 6-month hiatus owing to the global pandemic.  After implementation of its SailSafe plan and new flexible booking options, Coral Expeditions has completed its twelfth successful voyage with the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmanian seasons starting since October.  Coral Expeditions is now poised to begin new domestic deployments in South Australia in February 2021 before beginning its traditional Kimberley season in March.  Its brand-new vessel, Coral Geographer (sister ship to last year’s Coral Adventurer) arrives in March 2021 just in time for the Kimberley season.   In the current environment, the company is focused on meeting surging domestic demand, with its Australian-flagged and crewed ships exploring the Australian coastline while complying with relevant health regulations.  Its “Small Islands of the World” series of international voyages will resume later in 2022.

Coral Expeditions Executive Director Paul Chacko commented: “We began discussions with NRMA last year and were struck by the fit between both organisations.  Both have long-term planning horizons, a guest and member-focused culture, and significant customer demographic overlap.  The current shareholders of Coral Expeditions have supported the transition to a new Bluewater fleet over the past 6 years.  This new partnership will allow Coral Expeditions to benefit from NRMA’s expertise while continuing its journey to tap strong long-term demand for expedition cruising”.

Group General Manager Mark Fifield welcomed NRMA as a shareholder: “for 35 years, Coral Expeditions has pioneered expedition cruising to the most remote natural habitats in Australia.  This partnership will enable our team in Cairns to continue our vision to deliver remarkable experiences to our strong base of Australian guests”.

Rachel Wiseman, Chief Investment Officer NRMA commented: “over the past four years NRMA has been focused on finding more ways for Australians to experience the rich natural environment in which we live and believes that expedition tourism is one of best ways to do it.  Coral Expeditions is an Australian flagged expedition cruising business offering Australians an opportunity to safely discover their region, through a small group, premium experience.   We are excited for the opportunity this provides for our members and Australians more broadly to enjoy the incredible experiences Coral offers. There has never been a time when Australian domestic tourism has been more important. This investment will help facilitate and grow the services and experiences Coral Expeditions offer and we look forward to the time when it re-opens for international visitors to enjoy”.

The management team and organisational structure of Coral Expeditions will remain unchanged with the company’s independent operations continuing from its base in Cairns, Australia.  There will be no impact on the company’s existing trade and other business arrangements.


For media or trade enquiries contact:

Jeff Gillies | Commercial Director

[email protected] or call 0418 415 581

Peter Khoury, Head of Media, NRMA: 0439 133 115

For accompanying high-resolution imagery, follow the link to Dropbox HERE.

About Coral Expeditions

Recognised as Australia’s longest established and most awarded expedition cruise operator, Coral Expeditions are Australia’s pioneering cruise line offering a unique style of immersive expedition adventures in small ships purpose-built to take guests closer to nature and cultures. Starting with environmentally-sensitive cruises on the Great Barrier Reef, 35 years later the fleet has grown to an all new ocean going fleet featuring the intimate blue-water vessel Coral Discoverer and the brand-new flagship vessels Coral Adventurer and sister ship Coral Geographer. The Coral Expeditions fleet is purpose-built for expedition cruising with features of all vessels including shallow draft allowing access to remote locations that larger vessels cannot reach. Our signature Xplorer tender vessel, glass bottom boat and Zodiac tenders enable guests to explore the coastlines up close. Expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, including the much loved Xplorer bar with 300-degree views, immerse guests in the spectacular natural surroundings and allow ample personal space and open air.  An expert expedition team including specialist guests’ lecturers provide insightful commentary and interpretation along the way. Headquartered in Cairns, Australia, Coral Expeditions offers expedition cruises to the outerknown regions of the Great Barrier Reef, the ancient Kimberley coastline, Tasmania’s wilderness coast, Cape York and Arnhem Land, New Zealand and further afield to the small Islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Find Freedom in the farthest reaches with Coral Expeditions.

NRMA are Australia’s largest member organisation and one of Australia’s largest travel and tourism operators with significant investments in the Australian transport and tourism sector. With 2.8 million members the NRMA operate across their traditional Roadside Services business and have growing interests in the Australian travel and tourism sector through accommodation services in Hotels, Holiday Parks and Resorts, ferry services, sight-seeing and Whale Watching, and Car Rental.