Shore tour in the whitsundays - help please :)
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We are heading off on the Brisbane to Cairns cruise. Usually I would book as many tours privately as I can. Seems as though this is impossible in the Whit. We are wanting to go out on the reef but I can't find any private tour operators that get back prior to sailaway time. Looks like I'll have to cough up the big bucks for a ship tour. Makes me especially cranky because I will have to pay adult price for the two young teenagers when most tour operators only charge them child price. Has anyone got some suggestions as to what would be the best reef/island/snorkelling trip for a family of four. Thanks.
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We are heading off on the Brisbane to Cairns cruise. Usually I would book as many tours privately as I can. Seems as though this is impossible in the Whit. We are wanting to go out on the reef but I can't find any private tour operators that get back prior to sailaway time. Looks like I'll have to cough up the big bucks for a ship tour. Makes me especially cranky because I will have to pay adult price for the two young teenagers when most tour operators only charge them child price. Has anyone got some suggestions as to what would be the best reef/island/snorkelling trip for a family of four. Thanks.The Reef Fantasea trip in the Whitsundays is great. The snorkelling area is good, but the trip is expensive, particularly if you are paying for a family. Because it is usually a full day trip I don't think you can book it privately because of times. By the time you get from the ship to Airlie Beach by tender and then by bus to Shute Harbour it is much too late for day trips and similarly, at the end of the day, the trips return too late for you to get back on board the cruise ship. I think when you book through the cruiseline the day trip boat takes passengers directly from the cruiseship and returns to there at the end of the day, saving probably an hour each time (no tender trip and no bus to Shute Harbour).
Are you going to Port Douglas? If so, I suggest booking with Reef Sprinter that goes to the Low Isles. The trip only takes 2.5 hours (from memory) and costs less than $100. They supply equipment and wetsuits. Because they use a jet boat, the trip only takes around half an hour each way giving plenty of time to snorkel. I felt the snorkelling was good and the fish feeding was great.
I have looked at your cruise on P&o website but it doesnt state the arrival and departure times at airlie beach so its hard to advise what reef tours you could do in the timeframe.
We have stayed on hamilton island many times and the reef tours are run by:
Check out there websites and it looks like P&O are using cruise whitsundays group charters as the shore excursion mentions the "seaflight" catamaran and describes the same daytrip.
On hamilton island there is a company called HI watersports which has a great trip to whitehaven beach and chalkies which we have done but you would have to get a ferry to and from hamilton island to do this. Their website is Www.hiwatersports.com.au
Check out the ferry timetable run by Fantasea from Shute Harbour to Hamo Island Marina, the watersports is about 20 paces from the ferry terminal on hamo.
The day trip to the reef with either fantasea or cruise whitsundays is excellent. We have done the fantasea one but they are comparable.
Alternatively, if you want to just catch the ferry to hamilton island there is plenty to see and do. From the marina you can walk up and over the hill to the main resort pools for day visitors, plenty of restaurants on the island and the yacht club is great for lunch too. You can hire a buggy for the day .... Last time we were there it was about $90 per day and seats four ... There is a lookout which is only accessible by buggy/car.
Oh the other thing about HIWatersports is that if you know other people going on the cruise you can do private charters for reasonable prices ..... Give them a call!!! They charge hourly rates but you would still need to get to hamo island first by ferry....
Hope this helps your planning.
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Why?? Because the Whitsundays is famous for it's sailing - and why is that ?? Because it is frequently windy (with strong south easterly tradewinds) and that is great for sailing - but not great at all for 50 klm catamaran trips out to the outer reef and snorkelling from the pontoon. I ONLY recommend trips to the outer reef there for people staying on land for a week or so ( say in a resort) - this way they can monitor the weather and go on a trip on a good day. With cruise passengers, the number of times that cruiseship passengers have paid big money for the trip - only to arrive and find rough seas totally unsuitable for the task in hand. Of course, the ships and the tourist operators do not cancel the tour - but proceed with it much to the nightmare of those who go on it. This happened to Oriana in late 2010 and I think it was also Arcadia in 2011. Think very carefully about this and be at least prepared for a very bad and disappointing day -- or maybe a wonderful day trouble is you won't know what it is going to be until the very moment you arrive - and it is too late to cancel out then
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This time in May/June we hope to visit the outer reef & have the same problem with departure times etc so are researching like fury... Will be happy to arrange a small group tour (we have another couple also interested). Smaller tours with fast boats, can often shave off a little time to ensure you get back to the Ship on time.
If anyone else are interested please jump on board...