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Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

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Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?


Me, my girlfriend and my dad are travelling from Cairns to Sydney by car for 3 weeks and going sailing in Whitsundays would be so nice. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on what boat to take? We don't want a party boat because my dad is coming with us but we're on a pretty tight budget so a cheap boat would be to prefer.



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1. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

Unfortunately guys it's pretty hard to have both, your cheaper cruises are the party boats. Maybe Solway Lass but I wouldn't call it the cheapest here. Read through the recent posts about cruising The Whitsundays, it is a very much you get what you pay for thing. This will be the highlight of your east coast trip try to skimp somewhere else because The Whitsundays are the place you want to make the most of.

If you need a hand get in touch with a local agent and give them a go they might be able to help you. pavilion travel airliebeach.com or Whitsunday Accommodation & Tours www.whitsundayaccommodation.net I hear good things about, they help you choose the cruise that suits you. cheers airlian

Shute Harbour...
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2. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

There are lots of choices in the Whitsundays.

Most people choose boats depending on certain criteria

Scuba Diving Options, time of year (Air Conditioning or not) Number of people, small boat or big boat, Budget or Quality.

Have to agree with Airlian here, this is not the place to save $50 on your boat choice. The difference a $100 can make is just huge.The very low end boats to save money use the following techniques, Low grade budget food, cheap staff often volunteer backpackers with no local knowledge, Ancient old steel rundown crowded vessels. So please head the warnings and select a vessel that is a member of the WCBIA Whistunday Charter Boat Industry Association. The following vessels are all under $500 and will give you a great Whitsunday experince.

I have only listed boats that in my opinion would be okay with two younger travelors and dad traveling together.

priced from cheapest to dearest.. approximately

Iceberg, Defender, SV Whitehaven, Eureka, Silent Night, Wings, Powerplay, Enid, Waltzing Matilda, Solway lass, Derwent hunter and Summertime, Magic and Sunrise at the top..

The ones with recent bad reports I have not included.

From the above choose, dive and air conditioning options, Get help from the Local agents is also very good advice

Hope this helps Skipper

Victoria, BC
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3. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?


I notice the Anaconda III wasn't on your list skipper, I'm booked on it in early January, I hope there's nothing I should know?

I took the 3 day 3 night outer great barrier reef and whitsunday island sail. It was average price of $469 AU plus if you like scuba diving Tomas, it's $50 a dive I think, at least it's maximum $300 for 6 dives, all gear included. I'm getting very excited!!


Newcastle, UK
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4. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?


We recently went with Iceberg. we were looking for a real sailing expereince as opposed to a party boat and this trip exceeded our expectations. The skipper Tris and the deck hand Ben really knew their stuff and if you tell them you want to try a bit of sailing they will include you or if you just want to go along for the ride that is fine too. The food they cooked was great quality and the boat was clean with a warm shower and enough room to not feel overcrowded (although there were only 9 of us on board). Tris and Ben took us to really good snorkelling sites and planned the trip according to our needs. They were fun too - but without a 'party boat' atmosphere. You can take your own drinks on board but we just anchored in a quiet bay, had a few beers and watched the stars, listening to music (accompanied by some dolphins). We also saw whales and giant turtles! our trip was 1 night, 2 day as we were pushed for time (also on a 3 week holiday seeing as much as possible) - however i think we saw nearly as much as a 2night, 3 day trip as you have full 2 days sailing setting off early and arriving back 5pm ish the next day. i think a lot of the 3 day trips don't set off till late and come back early so you are paying extra for a night but don't see much more.

my advice would be to pay a bit more, rather than a cheaper party boat and you definatley get your moneys worth. i have friends who have gone for cheaper options and not enjoyed it at all whereas i think it was the highlight of our 3 weeks. truly a magic place! www.icebergsailing.com

Alternatively - i havent been on it but we saw a tall ship called solway lass which looked nice and think that is more of a family trip than a party boat. heard good things about it.

hope you have a great time!

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5. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

mmm... Intresting, PMK this post is nearly one year old (I do presume that Thomas has now come and gone..)

Next question... If you have you done a 3 day two night trip around the Whitsundays then you would know that it is a lot better value then a 2 day 1 night trip, as it takes you half a day to go out and half a day to come back... so you do miss out on the extra snorkels and bush walks that a 3 day tour takes you to... but if you are short on time then the 2 day 1 nuight trips are an option for a 'quick' taste of the islands.

Another intresting fact that I picked up on your post is that one of the boy's who runs Iceberg used to work on Solway Lass...

Airlie Beach
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6. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

Hi there Sailbabe,

After having a bit of a look around this site it does appear that some operators are have posted fake reviews or loaded questions to promote their products.

If you were implying that i posted the above, let me assure you that such deception is directly against our core business values.

Myself and my brother Tristram have both worked for Southern Cross Sailing Adventures, but never on Solway Lass. She is a bueatiful ship and many passengers enquire about her as we pass.

Passengers often ask me about the duration of our trips and and I explain the logistics of various trip durations and departure times to them.

When purchasing a sailing trip the value a customer receives is a product of their enjoyment of the tour and the memories they take home with them. I don't beleive it is quantifiable into a price vs nights vs hours matrix.

I believe the value of a whitsunday sailing product is largely made up by 4 basic basic factors.

In order of importance.

1) Proffesionalism, competence and freindlyness of the crew

2)Standard and appropriateness of the vessel & equipment

3) Quality of the food

4) Weather Conditions.

To all those planning to enjoy the Whitsundays, don't be put off by negative posts on this forum. As long as you bring a smile on board you will enjoy yourselves on whatever boat you choose.

Luke Mairs

Iceberg Owner/skipper.

7. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

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8. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

P.S: the way I place importance of a Whitsunday Sailing trip is...

1. Crew

2. Snorkeling

3. Whitehaven Beach

4. Food

5. Eco Certification/WCBIA members

6. Hidden Extra's

Shute Harbour...
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9. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

Hi Sailbabe

I like your list but to really help Trip advisor researchers pick and choose between boat trips on offer I humbly would like to expand on the list

A few more questions a client culd ask their agent. or vessel operator.

1/ Are the crewed all professionally trained or does the trip carry volunteers, many non WCBIA boats are crewed by overseas volunteers.

2/ For food i think this is easy to rate, does the boat do hot breakfasts and Desserts , some do and they are usually the better vessels, As you guys point out many just do spaghetti and prepackaged goo..

3/ Is the cruise eco or advanced eco accredited

4/ Does the vessel meet the clients needs ie

Ensuites or shared toilets, Is the the boat Air conditoning is suitable question now that summer is here?

5/ Number of people on board ie is it crowded?

there is a place for budget party boats to suit backpackers that carry higher volumes.

6/Does the boat have a reputation for excellence ie like Solway, Summertime, Sunrise, magic, Tallships,Kiana, Iceberg the list is quiet long ....

7/ Does the client wish to learn some sailing along the way, then choose a smaller boat like silent night, iceberg, Eureka, waltzing or style boats like on location, blue or getaway, etc

8/ Does the client wish to have a few scuba dives or just enjoy snorkeling

9/ length of trip, The longer the trip the better than chance of experiencing more of the whitsundays and lesser chance of it being all bad weather.

10/ Age or date of the vessels last quality refit, the story smelly old boat is appropriatte here.

11/ Does the vessel have all the necessary permits? Not all boats have access to Hill inlet lookout and Bettys Beach, Bali Hai, Dumbrel etc

12/ Are recent photographs of the vessels available.

From my experience about 70% of all whitsunday trips deliver to the clients expectations. But here more thsn anywhere else. you get what you pay for.


10. Re: Sailing in Whitsundays, what boat to take?

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