Coral Discoverer

(7.30 a.m. AEST) – Passengers aboard Coral Expeditions’ Coral Discoverer will have a ringside seat for the start of this year's Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race before setting off on a six-day cruise ‘chasing’ the yachts to the Tasmanian capital.

The 72-passenger ship is scheduled to depart on Boxing Day from Broken Bay on the Central Coast and then sail down to Sydney to take up position for the iconic event, which starts with the blast of a cannon at 1p.m. Onboard throughout the journey will be 13-times veteran of the race, yachtsman Tony Carpenter, providing ongoing commentary as the event proceeds.

First held in 1945, the Sydney to Hobart covers 628 nautical miles and is open to vessels from maxi yachts to weekend racers. Some 18 competitors will attempt to smash the record time of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set by last year’s winner, Comanche. This is the second year that Coral Expeditions has offered 'A Yachtsman's Cruise' itinerary to coincide with the annual race.

En route to Hobart, Coral Discoverer is set to sail past Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast and call at Eden, where passengers can learn about the town’s whaling legacy at the Killer Whale Museum. From Eden, the ship skirts the Victoria coast and crosses Bass Strait to make its way along Tasmania’s east coast.

A call at Maria Island offers bushwalking to the famous painted cliffs, a chance to spot wildlife including pademelons, wombats, Tasmanian Devils and the Cape Barren Goose, and a visit to the museum to learn about the island’s convict history. Next stop is Bruny Island to undertake the spectacular Fluted Cape walk and the Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration.

Master Captain Gary Wilson will provide commentary on the coastline and its history throughout the voyage. The cruise ends on New Year’s Eve in Hobart where Coral Discoverer will join dozens of other vessels for the annual fireworks and post-race revelry.

The six-night cruise is priced from $4,277 per person, twin share including all shore tours.

-- By Caroline Gladstone, Cruise Critic contributor