Santana’s Australia & Tasmania Cycling Cruise is an 11-day journey that starts in Tasmania, Australia’s version of Alaska. Easily the country’s best region for cycling, this Southern Hemisphere paradise is known for lush fern forests, secluded coastal roads, quirky animals, geological wonders, and white sand beaches.
We’ve chosen a perfect period of 2023 when daily highs range into the mid-70’s. Imagine escaping to perfect short sleeve cycling weather at a time of year when your friends back home will be preparing to shovel snow.
Easy to fly to, our embark point is Tasmania’s capital. If you aren’t aware of Hobart, Lonely Planet’s guide has rated Australia’s second oldest settlement to be “One of the world’s top 10 cities to visit.” If you want to arrive a day or two early, our group hotel near Hobart’s historic center is a perfect place to recover from jetlag.
Most cyclists who tour Tasmania bring their tents and spend three weeks. By chartering a luxurious yacht-sized ship for an 11-day cruise, however, Santana’s efficient no-repacking itinerary becomes the first bike tour to combine exotic Tasmania with highlights of Australia’s mainland.
Each night, as we dream of wonders ahead, our magic carpet transports us up to 200 miles to create a superior cycling vacation. Instead of a dot-to-dot pattern dictated by the location of campgrounds or hotels, our ship allows an unconnected collection of carefully-curated rides that link some of Australia’s most amazing sights.
A few miles of rainforest rides are included!
With beautifully paved roads that are closer to Antarctica than any others on earth, Tasmania has picturesque fjords, ancient forests, and pristine wilderness. This region of Australia also contains our planet’s greatest assortment of peculiar animals.
During our rides in Tasmania participants are certain to spot: kangaroos, koalas, wombats, quokkas, wallabies, kangaroos, dingoes, sugar gliders, platypus, penguins, seals, anteaters, and maybe a reclusive Tasmanian Devil.
Do Kangaroos go to the beach? Of course!
It’s the perfect place for them to wet their tails.
On embark morning we will assemble and test our bikes (or accept rental bikes) for a warmup ride along Hobart’s bay.
Our first full day of cycling includes a cove visited by famous Captains Cook and Bligh. Both were undoubtedly fascinated by Bruny Island’s still-thriving colonies of Penguins and Fur Seals. Today our various-length routes of smooth pavement meander through dunes and native heath.
The oldest “settlement” in Australia is the preserved and restored penal colony at Port Arthur. Now a national pilgrimage site, nearly a million “Aussies” trace their heritage to prison ships that arrived from Britain. All of today’s forested routes pause at a wildlife sanctuary where we’ll be introduced to Tasmania’s namesake devils. Will today be the second day in a row you’ll spot wallabies?
Australia’s most majestic National Park is Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula, where we’ve secured a special permit for a choice of rides that start at the former whaling station of Coles Bay.
Our tour’s most dramatic two hours of cruising will occur towards sunset, when our yacht’s choreographed dance concludes with a pirouette within Wineglass Bay.
Our longest overnight cruise, just over 200 miles, ties up the next morning at Beauty Point, where your platypus encounter is part of our plan. While stronger riders will love this morning’s climb, others will enjoy a “boost” to the summit followed by a mostly downhill day. At the center of Devonport, the ship will wait with late lunch. Because she’ll remain docked here overnight, who’s up for a pub crawl?
Departing Devonport the next morning, our coastal route passes the former timber town of Penguin (with its monumental statue), Preservation Bay and Chasm Creek to reach Burnie, where our yacht will be waiting.
Tonight’s earlier onboard dinner precedes a short hike with naturalists who will reveal the secrets of their local colony before Burnie’s nightly parade of penguins emerge from the surf to reach protected nests.
Our 7th day of Tasmanian cycling continues along a colorful coast to reach Port Stanley. After a particularly easy 49 miles, everyone will have time for a hike to the top of “The Nut.”
If you took a longer route or are feeling lazy, a chairlift gets you to the summit of this extinct volcano for views across the Bass Strait towards Australia’s mainland. Tonight, while you dream, an overnight crossing transports us to three days of cycling in Victoria.
Australia’s Cape Otway National Park was largely inaccessible until returning WWI engineers carefully carved the Great Ocean Road into a rugged segment of coast that reminds many of California’s Big Sur.
Requiring 14 years of construction, the expertly graded Great Ocean Road nestles into the contours of the coastline to create some of our tour’s most memorable miles.
While most cyclists spend the better part of a week on this coast, the ship allows us to choose prime segments, one of which ends with an 80-foot high “canopy walk” through an ancient beech forest.
A final day of cycling uses a heritage rail trail and bike-friendly ferry to skirt Port Phillip Bay, gateway to Melbourne. After a festive farewell dinner aboard what’s possibly the world’s most capable small cruise ship, tomorrow you’ll wake up in Australia’s largest and greenest city.
Our cruise concludes in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, where a choice of disembark shuttles can get you an optional stay at a perfectly located Melbourne hotel, or to MEL International Airport—which offers bike storage if you care to see more of Australia, and non-stop flights to the U.S. when you’re ready to return home.
MS Coral Geographer
Australia & Tasmania 2023
Hobart to Melbourne
Santana has chartered Coral Expeditions’ brand new MS Coral Geographer for Australia and Tasmania!
Established in 1983, Coral Expeditions is “Australia’s own cruise line.” While they had previously operated smaller coastal vessels, Coral caught Santana’s attention with the 2019 launch of Coral Adventurer, a full-on expedition ship with room for 120 cyclists and their bicycles!
Santana and the rest of the cruise world was captivated by the ship’s revolutionary tenders that comfortably take-on seated passengers before being lowered into the water. Better than normal tenders, Coral’s unique pair of Xplorer landing craft quickly reach shore and, if no pier is available, deploy a wide bow-ramp to provide “dry-foot” landings at beaches, bays, and inlets.
In addition to advanced stabilizers, Coral’s new expedition class cruise ship sports an ingenious wave piercing bow which cuts through the swells instead of climbing over them. Despite its petite dimensions, this unique vessel demonstrated the ability to cruise the seven seas as comfortably as a large ocean liner.
After proving the concept, Coral Expeditions commissioned an optimized sister ship. Santana had the honor of becoming the first to charter their new Coral Geographer, which is now nearing completion. Our resulting cycling cruise of Tasmania and Australia will occur in early 2023.
Santana’s participants have a pronounced affinity for ships with an open bridge policy. The Coral Geographer takes crew interaction to a new level with a ship’s bridge that includes comfortable viewing seats to encourage you to stay a while.
Moreover, the entire crew is comprised of friendly Aussies that are eager to share their local knowledge and culture. The ship’s onboard expedition team provides lectures and a wealth of information about Australia’s peculiar plants and animals. As the Coral Geographer is Australian flagged, it has permission to put cyclists and bikes ashore via its special Xplorer Landers virtually anywhere in Australia and Tasmania, rather than only at authorized international ports.
Although the 120-passenger ship is yacht-dimensioned, it has a wealth of public space, including separate lounge and dining rooms—each with enough seating to accommodate all passengers.
The chef is especially excited when the ship cruises Tasmania as this allows him to showcase fresh local ingredients. Not to be outdone, the sommelier loves sharing Tasmania’s award-winning chardonnays & pinot noirs.
All 60 staterooms have an exterior view, private bath, sound proofing, individual air conditioning, and king-width bedding that converts to a pair of full size twins. The smallest staterooms, at 182 square feet, are larger and nicer than those found on the typical cruise ship.
While not quite suites, balcony staterooms feature a larger floor plan with a private balcony.
Top-deck suites combine an even more spacious floor plan with a larger private balcony to provide the airy feel of a penthouse.
Coral Expeditions has won several awards from Cruise Critic and Tripadvisor, as well as advanced certifications for eco-tourism, green cruising, and sustainability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Australia & Tasmania 2023
Hobart to Melbourne
Q: What are the exact dates?
A: Santana’s Australia & Tasmania Cycling Cruise — February 3 to 13, 2023 — 11-days/10-Nights
Q: Why February?
A: Our 11-day cruise through this temperate part of the southern hemisphere occurs in February 2023. While most of the Northern Hemisphere is freezing, it’s late summer in the Southern Hemisphere. During our tour you can expect sunny days with daily temperatures ranging into the high 70s. Also the driest month of the year, you’ll experience ideal short sleeve cycling weather while your friends back home are snow.
Q: What’s the cost?
A: Due to the current strength of the dollar and the wonderful offer Coral Expeditions gave us, our pricing for this 11-day cycling cruise starts at $6,799 per-person. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.
Q: What about tipping?
A: Jan and I don’t accept tips. A comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $600 per-person includes a long list of off-ship activities, admissions, interpretive guides, sight fees, and ride support (gps route files, morning shuttles to give casual riders a head start, and an SOS van driven by a pro mechanic). Note that this is less than the average cruise passenger pays for week of “deluxe excursions.” Port fees and Australian mandated taxes are $350 per-person. Mandatory shipboard gratuities of $180 per-person includes valet bike handling.
Q: Are there differences between the staterooms?
A: All 60 staterooms have an exterior view, private bath, sound proofing, individual air conditioning, and king-width bedding that converts to a pair of full size twins. The smallest staterooms, at 182 square feet, are larger and nicer than those found on the typical cruise ship. Going up a level, the same sized rooms have larger windows instead of portholes. While not quite suites, balcony staterooms feature a larger floor plan (230 square feet) with a private balcony. Top-deck suites combine an even more spacious floor plan (403 square feet) with a larger private balcony to provide the airy feel of a penthouse.
Q: How are staterooms assigned?
A: In any sub-category all rooms are identical. Using the Reservation timestamp, those who reserve earliest get the conveniently located staterooms closest to the front of the ship. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. Out of fairness to all our guests, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.
Q: Are rental bikes available?
A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. Santana always recommends flying with your own bike. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. We’ll work with a local supplier for single bike rentals, prices will be set by the local supplier. Due to availability of rental bikes in Australia, the prices are likely to be higher than our other destinations. Their pricing will include delivery to embark and retrieval at disembark.
Q: How do we get to and from the tour?
A: Detailed info by March ’22. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and disembark days will receive FREE Airport transfers.
Q: How many miles each day?
A: In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (cruising on the ship or grabbing a seat on our Panoramic-Window coach), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride 40 flat miles will be able to enjoy all nine days of cycling. If you prefer hills or want to ride 60 (or more) miles a day, we’ve got you covered. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s grades and difficulty. Santana’s vets have learned to love and rely on their handlebar-mounted gps unit. Costing as little as $160, these touch-screen marvels prevent the age-old problem of getting lost or riding unplanned miles. Santana supplies free electronic mapping and route files. Simply select the route and follow the highlighted map.
Q: What’s the next step?
A: A sell-out of this event is anticipated. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our Online Reservations portal. Santana’s secure website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the time stamp of your booking.
Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?
A: When you use your credit card and book through our website, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Matt@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the transaction and obtain a full refund. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?
A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-Deposit commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all except one of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises (this charter will be our 67th!). While preparing for our 2009 Danube event I neglected to include the following proviso. That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned! Here it is (again) in writing:
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?
A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $1000 per room—which was waived when a vacating couple found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $500,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans?
A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s SOS van is driven by a pro bike mechanic who brings tools and spares. When you phone him with the coordinates from your GPS, he’ll arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.
Q: Are beverages included?
A: Soft Drinks, Coffee, Espresso Drinks, and Juice are all complimentary all day long. Local Australian & Tasmanian Beers & Wines are included during onboard Lunches & Dinners. Other alcoholic beverages are not included, but can be charged to your room.
Q: Which meals are included?
A: Coral Expeditions’ culinary staff appreciates our appetites as much as we appreciate their multi-course gourmet meals. A 5-star chef will curate a new menu for each meal, and will always include a surprising selection of local fruits and produce, regional specialties, the freshest-possible seafood, vegetarian options, and grilled-to-order meats. A changing assortment of desserts and pastries are produced aboard each day. Breakfast and Lunch are served buffet style, perfect for active cyclists. Dinner is a plated multi-course menu with plenty of options for all of our participants.
Q: Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?
A: Yes to all of the above.
Q: Does the Coral Geographer offer WiFi?
Q: Does the Coral Geographer have an Elevator?
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: The quickest and easiest way to get help is to use Santana’s Contact Form. One of our team members will follow up with you as soon as possible.