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Pacific Star - OzSail

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Pacific Star - OzSail

As there are no real reviews on the Whitsunday boats, we would like to start making such independant reviews more readily available to the travellers. We encourage othe travellers to make similar reviews for other boats.

-= Background =-

After deciding to go sailing the Whitsundays for the first time, we really put some time into researching the pros and cons with the great choice of different boats departing Airlie Beach heading to the Whitsunday Islands. Though getting lots of important information here on TA, we soon realized most of the information about these boats is not quite free of interests... So take care when you do your own research and ask the your advisors who they are or what they represent. Enough said about that.

-= Booking =-

Our choice landed on OzSail's 'Pacific Star', mainly because of the diving possibility, private en-suite availability and departure times. Our trip was booked through the local agent 'Mr Travel' who I also paid the 25% deposit. Ordering directly through the OzSail office will possibly get you a 10% discount.

-= Pre-check in =-

Upon arrival in Airlie Beach, you need to pre-check in with 'Oz Adventure Sailing Reservations', paying your balance and receiving your proper boarding-pass and disclaimer forms. Our experience with these people was extremly poor. First of all, they figured our depost was too large, so they just adjusted the figures of the prepaid deposit so to make the final bill look right - resulting in me losing a few dollars. Secondly, they will charge you a 1,5% credit card fee on whatever you pay there unless you pay cash. As you can only bring a small bag onboard, you will probably need to repack. Storing your big pack while you are away will cost you another $5.

-= Pac star =-

Check-in at the boat went ok. Another $15 for hiring stinger suits as expected. The boat is a 65' purpose-built catamaran. Passing all the high-end boats on the same pier, the appearance of 'Pac star' will possibly make you slightly envious... Featuring both Air-con, DVD and big-TV, hot water boiler and 7 en-suite cabins, it appearntly makes a more comfortable journey than many of the other vessels.

This vessel usually goes to the outer reef, featuring quite nice snorkeling and diving spots. IMPORTANT: This will most possibly include som rocking, so consider otherwise if you are sensitive to such movements.

-= Locations =-

The skipper is free to take you where he finds it right. He is an experienced diver and will usually pick nice diving spots. Whitehave beach will most possibly be included - too little time though. We also visited Bait Reef and Hayman Island.

-= Cabins =-

Cabins are typically the exact size of the double berth you sleep in with a single berth on top. The bath room is one sqm. holding both the toilet, a sink and the shower. Unless you book private, you share with someone else. Cabins have fans, but no real ventilation. Hence, they get very hot. Showers are restricted to 1 minute pr day pr person based on the water supply contained. Although you should be prepared for basic standard on a boat, this is somewhat bellow that. Good thing is that the boat is not very packed as other boats are rumored to be.

-= Food =-

The food prepared is nice, but again, expect basic cooking. Breakfast is fruit salad, cereals and toast. Lunch could be lasanga (pre-made). Only two dinners are served for this 3-night trip, for example roast. You do no dish-washing or cleaning whilst you are aboard.

-= Diving =-

Having been spoilt on a previous diving trip in Cairns, we might be somewhat high expecters, but then again, diving is much about feeling safe. Especially as both certified and introductory dives are offered. We both did introductory dives. There were two dive-instr. onboard. I guess you will be ok if you do certified dives and know your skills.

As an introductory diver, you will not be fully informed about risks and dangers, and rely heavily on the dive-instructors. After three dives with these guys, we both lost all feeling of safety and probably won't go diving for a good while again. You will also be offered one free dive, and you are lucky if this lasts more than 10 minutes. We were also offered a free dive as a prize in an onboard contest, but this turned out to be a hoax as we received the bill the last day.

PROS: You will develop quite independant diving skills, go to quite nice diving locations, especially outer reef. This trip will possibly be better for the experienced divers.

-= Sun-bating =-

This boat has possibly the largest area for people who want to pick up the tan. Just remember your sun screen and hat.

-= The people =-

This is a relatively speaking low/mid-price vessel, attracting young but responsible people (18-36), all nationalities except Australians. The crew will be more than happy if there is a party going on, and offering their supply and services if needed. There is no sale of drinks onboard, so make sure to bring your own. Drink fast, as it will be stole otherwise.

-= Conclusion =-

Go on this boat if you are the kind of person that don't care about good looks and neat standard, but only want to dive as much as possible on hard to get locations. Make sure you are not the kinda person who needs a long shower to feel right in the morning.

Although you will not be forced to party, finding yourself on this boat on your honeymoon won't probably make you happy. Make sure you have your diving certificate, cause introductory dives are not safe and snorkeling will give you pretty much the same experience.

Bringing your own snorkeling mask and fins might be a good idea as the supplied equipment is somewhat basic, worn and limited.

If you are promised free dives from the instructors, get it in writing or you will get billed for them.

-= The turtles =-

If we would do it again? Yes, we are already planning a new trip, but never on this boat and probably not with this company. We will probably be asking for some of our money back.

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1. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Excellent review, I understand your angst in the cruise review department although if you dig deep there are some available. There are a fair few on my favorite Pacific Sunrise and recently I remember one about Waltzing Matilda and a scathing review of Anaconda 111 which is the closest in alternatives to Pac Star with similar itineraries.

While I firmly believe that our Whitsunday Cruises are head and shoulders above their Cairns counterparts it is simply because of the setting that you cruise in. For a dive only cruise I think the Cairns option is better value, for a cruise with a couple of dives over the duration I'd go The Whitsundays.

The cruises here are a very much you get what you pay for and for a little extra Whitsunday Magic will provide an excellent alternative with good, better sized private accomm and her on board diving capabilities.

You won't get any discount booking with Oz Sail direct although being a coop some different boats may offer discounts for booking direct on their own sites. I'm not sure what your agent done for his commission as it sounds like they didn't even help you check into your cruise, there are agents here that will do that for you and much more as well as free airport transfers and all assistance while here, without any extra cost. Other agents offer discounts on the cruises without the personal service, you don't seem to have got either.

The owner of your booking agent is also a director of Oz Sail so they may be able to help you there with any grievances that you have.

Thank you for your excellent and honest review and I hope you do comeback as ther are some great boats to cruise on that are definitely worth the extra money. cheers airlian

London, England
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17 posts
11 reviews
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2. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Just wanted to add my own review here.

I chose PacStar for my Whitsundays trip last May and I had the most incredible three days.

I have never dived before but have snorkelled lots. I did an introductory dive and felt perfectly safe. The dive instructor, Kylie, took you through all the safety stuff very carefully and took only me and one other girl out very close to the boat (with other crew onboard watching so I'm sure that if anythinng went wrong someone would have been in the water very quickly). In fact I thought I saw just as much snorkelling as diving. We saw the most amazing fish and a few turtles. My highlight was swimming with Cod Fish the size of labradors!!

We stopped off at Whitehaven and had a good couple of hours there. The food was excellent and always plenty of it. The crew were really great, very friendly and knowledgeable about the area and the wildlife as well as lots of fun!

The lounge area was fairly small but there was enough room to all sit there in the evenings watching a film/playing poker/drinking. The atmosphere was chilled and relaxing. I spent a lot of time just sunbathing or chatting to the others on the boat and in the evenings there was drinking and fun but by no means an 18-25s party boat. There was a really good mixture of nationalities and ages and I made some really good friends.

The whitsundays are stunning - I would gladly go back in a heartbeat!

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3. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Yo Trip seeker!

I did a trip on the Pacific star back in sep 08, i used tripadvisor to get advice before i went and it made me a little apprehensive, so i thought id write this to give a completely un-biased opinion of the whole experience,Without rambling on!!I'll just point out the obvious without defending or attacking the whole trip!

I really hope it helps!

Firstly in regard to

= Pre-check in =

Not the friendliest or smartest people in the world, but im sure after dealing with so many ditsy backpackers you would also be less polite!The extra credit card charge is a joke, but its kinda standard in alot of companys nowadays, isnt it

The boat= Pac star =

Checking in on the boat was quite amusing,we were introduced to 2 of the crew the dive instructor andy and james,they seemed intent on getting us excited about the trip and telling jokes and a bit about the sealife we would prob see!A (hidden) charge of 15dollars for hiring a stinger suit, but we were told that we didnt have to have one ,but they did seem to really reccommend them(for obvious reasons).I did quite a bit of googling on the boat before i booked the trip and found that it was built many many years ago,so i assumed that the condition would not be 5 star luxury.it does have Air-con,but only in the main cabin and then a fan system that circulates the air through the rest of the cabins,it also has a dvd,tv , hot water and all en-suite cabins,It does go to the outer reef and yes the ocean can be "bumpy" after all it is an ocean:)

= Locations =

This is easy,,The whitsunday islands and the outer reef!

= Cabins =

As i expected,after googling the boat the cabins are very very old and extremely small!!I stayed in a 4 bed,obviously with three other people.There was just enough room to have a bag each and ourselves.So it was slightly cramped.The bathroom is like a closet,but i didnt assume id be spending much time there anyway.The ventilation comes from the fans on the walls and a small hatch in the roof.Showers "are" restricted to a 1 minute per day per person, which is a shock at first but i know that i took about 5 mins each day and the 2 girls that were sharing with me took at least 7mins, i think its more of a guideline way to stop people being in there for 30 mins.

= Food =

The host was called erin, she was from canada and the food she cooked was quite good,considering your on a boat.The breakfast is a fruit salad a selection of cereals and toast, tea and coffee, i could eat as much as i wanted. Lunch was salads and lasagna.we didnt get dinner the first night,but we did get some light snacks.The other 2 nights there was italian food and the last night to my surprise and delight , there was a roast.It was not the best roast in the world i have to say.

= The Diving =

We didnt dive until late the 2nd day as we were at the beach for most of the morning and it took a long time to get to the outer reef.As i am not certified i tried the free introductory dive and then i did one more dive.At no point did i feel unsafe and even the captain of the boat helped me with my dive jacket.It was a really cool experience, i went down with andy and 3 other new divers.we first were told about some stuff we needed to know and that james would help us into the water.once in the water we stayed at the back of the boat to practice our breathing and take our breathing piece out of our mouth, then swam up to the front of the boat to a big rope.andy gave james the all clear and with that,down the rope we went.The rest was unbelievable.When we got up i was full of adrenaline.I did notice that there was already divers ready to get in and the space where i was to take off my dive gear was like a spectators arena.At this stage it all felt like we were being rushed to get out of our gear and put it back.

= Sun-bating =

Plenty of space,

= The people =

We had a great group of people,having already done fraser island i know that the people can be the difference between your experience.amongst ours were english,french,germans,dutch,italian and irish.The age was between 20-36.It is a really relaxed atmosphere, if you want to watch a dvd and have a glass of wine you can, or if you want to have a few drinks outside listening to some music under the stars ,no problem.The crew were always ready to have some fun and would join in with us when persuaded,not that they needed much. They dont sell any food or drinks onboard, so make sure to bring your own.I never came across anybody stealing any alcohol onboard , but im sure there are some people out there that would stoop low enough!

= Conclusion =


Have courage and follow your own path!

Singapore, Singapore
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4. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Hello all,

I just came back from a sailing trip in the whitsundays. All I can say is DON'T GO WITH OZSAIL!!!!!!

We are six friends, we bought the trip in Cains at Peterpans travel agency. The trip concerned a 2-day/2-night sailing trip with Ozsail Mandrake, from Sept 28th to 30th.

The girl at Peterpans recommended this trip because it was a small racing boat, very comfortable, which would leave us more time to visit and enjoy the Whitsundays, that is to say, more time on Whitehaven beach, more time for snorkelling/diving, visit more spots. We were told we would be sleeping on a not overcrowded boat, and the Mandrake allows us to jump off on the beach and have a campfire.

Indeed, on Ozsail’s brochures, the Mandrake is described as follow:

“Our 50ft Ocean Racer Mandrake is built like a luxurious formula one car!! This ex-racing boat is made for speed and comfort, recently receiving a $250,000 complete refurbishment inside and out.

Mandrake takes guests around the Whitsundays Islands for 2 days and nights, allowing you to snorkel the coral fringed Islands and explore the spectacular Whitehaven beach.

Mandrake is the only boat trip in the Whitsundays where guests can enjoy a beach campfire at secluded Grimston Point, a common breeding ground for Dugongs and Green Sea Turtles.

Mandrake has a maximum passenger load of 15 with a crew of 2, departing Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 1:00pm returning at 11:00am. This trip combines the benefits of an adrenaline racing experience with the comforts of a luxury boat.”


The Mandrake is priced at 389 AUD per person. We were six friends, we were extremely happy with our discounted price of 319 AUD pp (-18% - maybe because we were booking at the last minute), and we were looking forward to sailing in the beautiful Whitsundays.

We arrived for the check-in on Sept 28th, 8 am. There was no one at Ozsail. Finally, at 9am, the agency opened, but we had very bad news. We were told by the girl at the reception, that our boat broke the day before, and the team has tried to fix it all night. We were on a road trip in the Queensland, with a strict agenda, and we got worried because we wanted to stay all six together, and ask for more details. The girl, who was simply rude, roughly replied: “It is the Whitsundays, there are thousands of boats. If the Mandrake can’t go, I will refund you the GST, and put you all together on another boat. No matter what, you will go out today”. We believed her, and agreed to meet the boat’s crew at 12:30 at the marina.

We arrived at 12:30 at the marina, but nobody was there for the Mandrake. The trip was supposed to start at 1 pm. We waited patiently. At around 1:15 pm, a man from Ozsail came to us, and he said the Mandrake could not go that day, the gear was broken and the boat could only go backwards. He told us we should go to the Ozsail office to sort the problem out, but that he could only take 3 persons back there, and he would come back with the others. Three girls that had booked the Mandrake are leaving with him, and he came back a little later for another girl, and two of my friends.

In the meantime, we informed Peterpans in Cairns and Airlie Beach. The staff asked us to deal with Ozsail, to sort out the problems with them, evaluating the options that were offered to us. We did not understand why Peterpans felt discharged of this mess, as we first dealt with them, we gave the money to them, but they kept telling us we need to solve the problem directly with Ozsail.

At 1:50 pm, the friends at the office called to inform us that the situation of the three other girls had just been sorted out, and they were starting to talk about our case shortly. We then knew it was too late for us to go sailing that day. We did not understand why they took care of the girls first, it would have been logical to try to get something for the biggest group so to maximize the chances for everyone to leave that day!

Finally, it was only a little before 6 pm that the problem was “sorted”. Ozsail suggested we sail the next day on the Matador, and camp on the shore instead of sleeping on the boat. Being informed that late, Ozsail made us waste a whole day in our holidays in our tight schedule, and we could not find another arrangement with another company for all the six of us for the next day or the day after. We are not backpackers, we are all French young professionals of 25 years-old in an average, working in Sydney for a limited time so we do not have unlimited time to spend. When we argued about how disappointed we felt, the manager at Ozsail only replied that he “would be happy to refund us”, leaving us with no choice than leaving with the Matador, or not leaving at all.

We discussed with Ozsail’s manager and Peterpans, we still are very disappointed with the way the problem was handled:

- they knew the boat was broken the day before and only informed us in the morning of the departure,

- they confirmed in the morning that we would be leaving that day, and be refunded GST if our boat could not go,

- they informed us our boat could not go at the time we should have been on board sailing

- we had to pay the parking for our vehicle twice: the first day we paid for a 3-day parking from Sept 28th to 30th ; as we could only go the next day, we had to pay for another 3-day parking from 29th to Oct 1st (we paid two times!), in addition to the short time parking fees for the time we were not at the marina,

- we had to pay an extra camping night at Airlie Beach, and after our insisting for a long time, Ozsail agreed to pay that for us (about 60 AUD), as well as the nights on the “resort” so we would not be camping on the beach, but sleeping in a room (210AUD),

- we were not refunded anything, not even the GST of 10% we were promised, knowing that the Matador’s trip is worth less that the Mandrake’s that we initially booked,

- after the discussions, they sent our friends back to the marina to get us, and refused to give them a ride.

We felt Ozsail let us down and even trapped us. We have talked with a few strangers at the marina when waiting for news from our friends, we heard it was not the first time our situation has happened, the last time was just a week or two before. After the trip, I looked on the Internet, and our situation has been described by other travelers: their boat broke and could not go, they were put on the Matador and had to camp on the beach.

We ended up feeling fooled. We do not know what the Mandrake would have been like, but the Matador experience was nothing like what we expected:

- the stinger suits were 20 AUD instead of 15 AUD,

- we were twice as many people on that boat,

- we could see inside the toilet/shower cabins from the pontoon bridge,

- because we were sleeping on shore of Hook Island, we had to leave the boat at 9pm when people are still partying, and be ready to board again at 6 am, when everybody else was still sleeping,

- the “resort” was cheap and obviously needed to be refurbished, the bathrooms were just unbearable: there was no hot water, and there was at least 2cm of stagnant fluid (water, or whatever!) in the gents room, and antz were coming out of the tap, we saw rats were running here and there in the ladies room,

- there were nasty bedbugs in the beds,

- there was no campfire,

- we ended up with one morning at Whitehaven beach and two snorkels near Hook Island, when 3 dives were announced; in other words, it took 3 days to do a trip we could have managed in one !

Moreover, we talked to other passengers on the boat, and a couple informed of very interesting things:

- for the same trip and sleeping on the boat, they paid 270 AUD per person, with reef taxes, that information made us feel even more fooled,

- they dived with the Matador, and found the experience very dangerous: the girl even had to change her equipment with that of the skipper in the water, they confessed that, if it was the first time they were diving, they would have never dived again,

- after the diving session, the crew took so much time to come get them that they were brought back by another boat’s crew; my friend had a very bad jelly fish stung, it took a lot of time and our yelling, waving, whistling, before the skipper came rescue her.

All in all, we feel very disappointed and completely fooled. Ozsail totally let us down, when complete strangers at the marina came talk to us and try to arrange us another trip.

We understand technical problems can happen, but they knew the problem the day before, we should have been called, this is why we leave a contact number for. We were informed after the time of the departure of the trip. We were promised we would leave that day, and ended up wasting a whole day, feeling trapped and fooled by Ozsail, for a trip that should have been the highlight of our Queensland road trip. They took so much time to solve our case that we could not even go to the supermarket for groceries, and had to eat in town. Knowing the problem one day beforehand, they should have had a plan B. Their lack of reactivity made us waste a whole day, and turned the highlight of our trip into a complete hell. We enjoyed the sceneries, and certainly did not enjoy the trip.

I know I have underlined many things, sometimes facts that would have been insignificant if everything else had gone okay. It was not the case, so even the smallest thing bothered us and contributed to ruin our trip.

When we got home after our holidays, we found Ozsail was not a reliable firm, many people have encountered problems with them, their experiences are described on blogs or forums (The Misery of Matador / Ozsail – Trip advisor forum, May 16, 2009), or even news articles (OzSail diving accident kills tourist – CDNN, Nov 20th 2008, OzSail to be prosecuted for abandoning scuba divers / OzSail 'Pacific Star' dive boat operator fined for scuba diving accident – CDNN, Jan 30th 2009 / CDNN, Aug 20th 2009). We just don’t understand how the Peterpans travel agency could have ever recommend Ozsail, given the numerous problems they had in the past.

Peterpans asked us to deal with Ozsail, but when we could not agree on a compensation, the travel agency tried to set another trip for us for the next day but it was too late (come on, it was 5pm!). They said they could not compensate in any manner (camping and parking fees for the wasted days, that day’s dinner, discounts on other offers), we needed to deal with Ozsail.

We did not understand why Peterpans felt discharged of this mess, as we first dealt with them, they recommended this service provider and we actually gave the money to them, but they kept telling us we need to solve the problem directly with Ozsail.

Ozsail refused any kind of compensation, except of the camping fee that night in Airlie Beach (60AUD in total), and that because we insisted for a long time. They had us sleep in a dormitory instead of tents on the beach (210AUD in total, price on the Hook Island Resort’s website: http://www.hookislandresort.com/sleep.htm#)

I don't know what the other service providers are like in the Whitsundays, but all I can say is THINK TWICE before you book Ozsail, if you have any trouble, they will just LET YOU DOWN!!!!!!!!

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5. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Interesting to review the news about the lost couple, whoever was to blame. We had the same dive instructor a few months earlier... In a way it did not come as a surprise that such an accident could happen.

Airlie Beach
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6. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Avatar was amazing! It was really good fun and the staff was great! The weather was wonderfull. The boat was so good, but we couldnt sail since it wasnt windy.

The food was delicious! The host was a star.

The snorkling was amazing and we saw a lot of fishes. We saw three turtles!!

And you should really see Whiteheaven beach, a wonderfull place! We got a lot of great pics and we took a swim with the small sharks, it was good fun!

It was a really nice trip and we had a really good time!

Destination Expert
for Adelaide, South Australia, Kangaroo Island
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7. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Maja .. if you are from Airlie Beach the Whitsundays are practically in your own backyard so why are you surprised by turtles and fish? why are you enthusiatic about the weather? Why are you totally awestruck by how amazing Whitehaven Beach is..???

More to the point....

why is this your first post ever on Trip Advisor?

I am always dubious about people who post glowing reviews as their first post in a thread which slams an operator, this is just another example.

8. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

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Removed on: 18 March 2010, 10:35
san diego
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9. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

isn't this the company that left the couple behind a few years back, stranded in shark infested waters?

Whitsunday Islands
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10. Re: Pacific Star - OzSail

Leave the sharks alone they have done nothing wrong, in the history of the Whitsundays no one has EVER died of a shark attack, we only have the nice warm water sharks up here that are more afraid of us then we are of them.

No comment on the above company - all I can say is make sure that you go with a WCBIA vessel (Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association) for piece of mind and soneone to go back to.

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