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.