For anyone who has made a Bucket List, it is highly likely that the Great Barrier Reef is on it! It most certainly was on my list and as it was an adventure C.C and Mini Me also wanted to do, we couldn’t wait to book it.
As mentioned, we got a great discount on this tour, operated by Cruise Whitsundays (Read more).
Pick up was at The Port of Airlie where we checked in and made our way onto the boat at 7.30am that Saturday morning. The boat was fabulous and rather large with three decks. We grabbed a seat and our first journey was 50minutes to drop off/pick up passengers at the beautiful Hamilton Island.
It was a further two hours out to the pontoon and this time was filled with safety briefings, information on the optional extras and morning tea. There are many optional extras to add to your Great Barrier Reef adventure which do not need to be booked our purchased at the time of booking your ticket;
- Scuba Diving- $139
- Guided Snorkelling Adventure- $55
- Helicopter Joy Flight- various prices
- Mini Me added the optional extra of a scuba dive
- Massage-various times/prices
- Photos are available for purchase starting at $25. The more photos, the cheaper each one is.
Morning tea was a buffet of fresh fruit, lamb dumplings and biscuits to dunk into your coffee. We arrived at the pontoon around 11am and everyone dispersed to their diving/ snorkelling groups. Mini Me added the scuba dive to her ticket and C.C added the guided snorkelling tour. As I had already completed a scuba dive and snorkelled before, I was content with exploring myself.
*TIP: Unless you plan on free diving deeper into the reef, a life jacket is a great way to conserve energy as you don’t have to keep yourself afloat.
It was a beautiful afternoon and time really flew by! The snorkelling was amazing but don’t be fooled by the amazing pictures you see on the internet of the Great Barrier Reef. These photos are taken by underwater photographers with huge white lights to emphasise the array of colours on the reef. Don’t get me wrong, it is magnificent and stunning but not quite as clear as bright as seen when googled.
C.C and I decided to go in the semi submersible before lunch as we thought it might be busy after lunch. It wasn’t a great experience as the glass was not clear enough to see very far and the water was quite murky. There was a staff member reading a script for most of the trip and I tuned out as it was rather boring. We definitely saw more when we snorkelled, photo below from the semi submersible.
*TIP: If you would like to go in the semi submersible, choose a time before lunch as it was very busy after lunch. Unfortunately, some people who queued, did not get a trip.
Before we knew it, we had to get lunch and made our way back to the boat. Lunch was served from 12pm-2pm and we had choices of chicken, seafood and salads. We loaded up on carbs, swimming and sunshine really drains your energy level.
After lunch, C.C and Mini Me went for another snorkel and I relaxed in the sun for a little while longer.
At 2.45pm, the boat horn sounded and we all made our way back on board.
On our journey back, photographs taken by the staff throughout the day were displayed and available for purchase starting at $25. We also have a tasty muffin for afternoon tea and of course, we made a cuppa to accompany it.
After a drop off at Hamilton Island, we took advantage of the empty upper sun deck and enjoyed the 50minute journey back to the Port of Airlie with a cider ($6) in hand.
*TIP: Cash means a quick payment as the staff cannot process card payments until the boat is closer to shore. Avoid the queue, bring cash.
What was included:
- Morning tea, buffet lunch, afternoon tea and endless tea/coffee.
- Snorkel gear-snorkels, masks, stinger suit, life jackets and noodles as required
- Guided tour of the reef in a semi-submersible leaving at 30minute intervals throughout the day
- Access to viewing chambers on board the pontoon
What to bring:
- Sunscreen & hat- There are shaded areas on the pontoon but the sun is hot and strong
- Thongs/Sandals- The upper deck is hot and you will burn your feet
- Bottle to refill water regularly, you are going to need it