I just completed the 4-day open water padi course with deep sea divers den (DSDD) in cairns, and chose the option which included one night aboard Ocean Quest, sleeping out on the reef. As per earlier posts on this website, it is definitely worth the extra $$ to spend at least one night on the reef, as it makes it a truly unique experience.
First 2 days of course at the DDSD included pick up and drop back to accommodation. Note that there aren't many food outlets in the area around the shop, so recommend you take your own. Instructor was a little stern, but glad that the instruction was rigorous and safety oriented.
On day three there were two dives off the day-trip boat before joining the overnight boat (Ocean Quest) after lunch. Ocean Quest is large and comfortable, with big healthy meals and friendly service. Lovely large sun decks for relaxing between dives, but the good thing was that there are so many dives on each day that you don't really end up just sitting around too much. I am not used to being on boats, but found the stay on Ocean Quest quite comfortable - not too much rocking. On the 4-day openwater, you don't get to join the other divers for a night dive (nb. although if you stay on board for an extra night then you do). On day four, you undertake your third open water (ocean) dive, and then typically have one 'fun' dive before heading back to cairns on the day-boat.
The dive vests (bcd) and wetsuits at the shop/pool in cairns were a little ratty, but you are only using them in a pool and it was nice to see that the equipment on board the boats for ocean dives were in great condition (fairly new).
Overall, beautiful scenic dives, quality training and supervision, lovely weather.
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