The beginning of the day started out rocky, as our bus forgot to pick us up be sure to watch the clock and have reception call if they are more than 5 minutes late!, and boarding the ship was jumbled, unorganized, and rushed.
Before boarding we were told there were cookies and coffee aboard for us, but as soon as we stepped foot on the ship we were hurried up to the top into a lonely VIP room for those who chose the helicopter option. It was cold, stinky, and it was a small room of 6 of us with no idea what was going on. They told us nothing as the other decks were getting briefed. About 10 minutes later I finally decided to leave the room and look around, apparently they were all out of cookies by that time which was frustrating since I had not had breakfast and figured there would be enough especially for us who paid extra to opt for the heli experience. I also felt that there were SO MANY crew members everywhere, as if half the ship was just crew and it was pretty crowded.
BUT the lovely sea life, snorkeling, and helicopter ride over the reef made up for it ALL. I was able to see a reef shark, a ton of beautiful coral, and a whale on the ride back up from the heli. It was an amazing experience I'll treasure a lifetime.
Side note: Wish they didn't pack the helicopter so full. I was able to enjoy the window and view, but my husband was sandwiched in the middle of a few of us in the back seat with no true window view.
Boat was comfortable. Food was great. Helicopter over the reef was amazing.
most expensive tour for our trip but worth doing it, great fun, program well covered from the sun to the sea, signature tour for short stay in Cairns
I would recommend the Helicopter Tour to everyone!! It was the most amazing experience to see the reef from the air. In retrospect, the catamaran return was nice but would have preferred to return on the helicopter because the view was so amazing.
This tour was amazing and very well organized! Will recomend this to everyone who wants to do a tour of the GBR. Boat was big and new, bbq lunch was very decent. The reefs that we went to were beautiful! And all staff were professional, helpful and friendy. No hassles at all.
The helicopter ride over the reef was incredible. It was well-guided, very smooth ride, and the landing on the wooden dock near the reefs was exciting.
The views from the reef are magnificent. The water was unusually choppy the day I went, which made swimming and accessing the reef fully a challenging proposition. I also felt the water was a tad overcrowded, which meant frequent collisions with nearby snorkelers. All in all, for what I paid and making the most of the challenging weather, it was a great experience to see the famed reef
The boat ride back was comfy, and the staff were excellent
I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone. The whole trip from loading on the helicopter to the safety briefing and snorkelling on the boat to the boat ride back to the reef terminal was run very professionally and by a group of pleasant and friendly people
Christine S Australia
Well organised tour. Fantastic experience from the helicopter to snorkelling to food and the boat ride back. I would recommend this tour to family and friends
Betty J R Canada
This Cruise out and Heli back tour was everything we had hoped for. The staff and crew were all so helpful and attentive. The BBQ lunch was great and we recommend this full day tour to everyone.
russ United Kingdom
The boat is huge! And new. With 120 pasengers you would have thought it would be too big. Nope! The whole day was run with military precision. Everyone gets allocated their kit and a pigeon hole to put the stuff in. There are plenty of seats for all and lunch was really well organised and heaps of it.
The safety breifings were very good indeed: for novices, snorkellers, intro divers and certified divers. Each group was taken care of at the appropriate level. Whatever you could do, they did it!
For novices there were floating aids and the marine biologist tour allowed for them too. The back of the boat lowers for easy access in and out of the water.
The crew were smartly dressed and each of them very knowledgeable.
There is a professioanl photographer on board and you can buy pictures from their shop by the Reef Terminal later on. However you could take your own pictures - and this seemed to be encouraged.
There was a glass-bottomed boat tour but I opted for a transfer home by helicopter so couldn't fit it in.
The helicopter was actually a bit boring as the Reef from above isn't much to see that hasn't been seen on a postcard - the whole Reef thing is being there and doing it. So worth it only if you like helicopters.
Scuba or snorkel? I have to say the boat picked such good spots on the reef that just snorkelling gave you brilliant views and would be adequate. Diving just meant you could go deep and explore more. I think you can buy intro diving sessions on board.
I have done other Reef tours and this tour stands out to be the best by a long shot: reef views, organisation, friendliness, the food, the boat, the kit.
Definitely go for the longest stay option as you'll want to keep dropping in for another smorkel every few minutes.
Oh, and Australian money is waterproof which makes it so much easier to pay for things on board.
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