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“A detailed review” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Reef Encounter

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Reef Encounter
Certificate of Excellence
Florida
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“A detailed review”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 November 2011

I just returned from a 4day/3night trip on the Reef Encounter. I want to provide some detailed information that would have been helpful when deciding which operator to use. Most of my comments are diving-oriented since that was the main objective of my excursion.

• No shoes are worn on the boat. If you have ugly feet, everyone will know.
• Cabins were small but adequate. Cannot control temperature but fans and blankets are provided. Beds were comfortable but pillows were pretty flat. No hair dryer.
• Meals were well-prepared and plentiful.
• Soft drinks $3, cocktails $14. Coffee, tea, and water are available 24/7.
• Staff was young and very helpful. Ashley was absolutely awesome!
• Scuba equipment was well-worn but functional. Computers on every regulator.
• No NITROX
• Fins provided are the slip-on type used by snorkelers. If you want to use “real” fins, bring your own.
• Six scheduled dive periods per day starting at 630amand ending in a night dive. You may pick up to 4 dive periods per day. Day dives are 40 minutes at max depth of 18 meters. Night dives are 30 minutes at max depth of 10 meters.
• Boat moves every day. We went to Norman, Saxon, and Hastings reef.
• All dives are unescorted. You may choose to hire a guide for $10. If you do not have a “dive buddy” the dive master will set you up with another diver. If no other diver is available, a staff member will accompany you at no charge. Just don’t ask for a “guide.” That word = $10
• Bins for equipment storage and a fresh water shower are provided on the 2nd deck. My only comment is that there is no place to sit while you don your dive skins, wet suit, etc. You have to balance on one foot to get your suit on – VERY awkward. C’mon guys, install a bench!
• Dive lights (torches) are $5 per dive. Pretty small light. If you have a good light, bring it.
• Wet suits are long-sleeved shorties. Average water temperature for my 13 dives was 74⁰ F.
• The diving was good, but not spectacular. A lot of the reef is dead. My advice: if you’re coming to Australia for a holiday/vacation and want to do some diving, go for it. If your main reason for coming to Australia is the dive the GBR, there is better diving in the world to be found. In my opinion, it is not worth it.

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank dvines
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (134)
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English first
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 November 2011

This was definitely a highlight of our trip to North Qld. We arrived pretty early at Cairns Marina and were shown on to Reef Experience, the sister boat to Reef Encounter that takes you over to the hotel boat while also hosting day trippers.

The Reef Experience is spacious and comfy with great sofa type seats while the wheel house has aircon and is for Reef Encounter passengers only which was nice. Bacon and egg sandwiches as well as fruit were available from approx 8:00am with tea/coffee etc available downstairs.

You get given a wesuit and fins on Reef Exp with you can try on and then they get put in boxes to be taken over to Reef Enc with you and they have snorkels&masks over there. One thing I will say about the wetsuits is that for the amount of money paid I would have expected them to be in better condition. Some had a few small holes which is fine but others had zips that had pretty much detached from the suit completely making it sooo difficult to get on and zip up. My oh's one had a hole near the armpit and he actually got unburnt in that area because of this (yes we used sunscreen) I think a little upgrade is necessary.

The boat trip out was probably a little over an hour. Transport to Reef Enc was by glass bottom boat....not that you would know as it was piled with all our luggage and food delivery for the Reef Enc etc!

Overall we had 7 water sessions - it's been said before and I agree this is primarily a dive boat, pretty much all liveaboards are. However, for us this was a bonus - other than the first water session (snorkel only no diving) there were very few snorkellers at all, this makes for perfect sightings as the reef is by no means crowded. If you're a nervous first time snorkeler, one of the crew will go with you and they have lots of noodles (floats) you can take to feel at ease in the water.

We only went to 2 reefs which was a little disappointing considering that we were there overnight. I was told by a fellow passenger who was staying Top Deck that this was due to the amount of passengers suffering sea-sickness. As one of those passengers (I didn't tell anyone I was sick) I would really hope that this wasn't the case as I think that is pretty unfair on everyone else who came to see as much of the reef as possible......it's a boat, in the sea if you get sick - don't go or deal with it. I personally think it had something to do with the weather, there was a huge storm overnight and perhaps it was just too choppy?

The reefs we did go to were great, we saw a couple of turtles and an abundance of amazing fish, clams, starfish, sea cucumbers, coral etc. etc.

A lot of reviews rave about the food and I have to say I was a little disappointed. First lunch was pretty greasy...not ideal food on a boat. Dinner was I think pork belly? lots of crackling and not a lot else. I'm no food critic but I would say do simple and do it well rather than try gourmet and not get a great result. Breakfast was fine, no complaints.....fruit, toast, cooked brekky, cereal etc.

Was pleasantly surprised by the size of the room, nice comfy bed, adequate ensuite. clean tidy etc. :)

The only negative of the whole experience was the last water session. After you leave Reef Enc you board the Reef Exp where you're given 1 more chance to snorkel. I felt that this session was unorganised and there were too many people snorkelling to be able to enjoy it. We ended up with broken masks/snorkels...no one really paid any attention as they were busy kitting the divers up, someone eventually went to look for some other equipment but came back and just dumped it in the box rather than giving it to us and by the time we could get over there most of it was gone! This was really annoying. Thankfully Alex saw what was going on and came over and sorted us out (cheers!).

Overall I would recommend Reef Encounter without hesitation, this review is just my personal opinion and the minor negatives did not detract from the awesome experience. Would go again tomorrow.......with stronger sea sickness pills!

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ljones17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Marchissy, Geneve, Switzerland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 October 2011

This Attraction is really, really, really good ! The crew is just so nice ! And the boat, because it's not a big one, you get to know everybody, wich makes the experience much more enjoyable. And then you have the Reef, the boat goes to mutliple reefs, so you can discover some differents ones. You have the possibility to scuba dive or to snorkel. All of that with really competent people.
Well, this is just a really good thing to do, and it doesnt matter if you are in a couple, family or alone, you will surely have fun there.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Adrian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
1 review
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 October 2011

Overall the trip was good. The boat was very comfortable and the food was amazing. Every meal was delicious. The beds were definitely nice. We were on our honeymoon so we paid extra to get a private room. The price was pretty high compared to other tours in the area. I don't know what the quality was like on the other boats though. The staff on Reef Encounter was amazing. They made you feel comfortable and talked to you in depth about options. They were very cognizant of safety. The only downside was that even though we had the option for 9 dives we only stopped at 3 spots on the reef. I wish there were more places to dive. The reef itself is worth seeing - although I was a little disappointed at the large amount of dead coral. Maybe they could take you to more remote spots that are in better condition.

Room Tip: The private room was big and the bed was really comfortable. All of the rooms on the second floor h...
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Melissa C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 October 2011

We did a 3 day/2 night snorkel trip with Reef Encounter and it was an unforgettable, wonderful experience. We originally chose Reef Encounter because they seemed open to snorkelers, not just exclusively catering to divers (neither of us are PADI certified), but still offering introductory and guided dives. It wound up even better than we expected.

First, the boat itself. It is very clean and well maintained. Every inch of the common area/lounge gets a thorough cleaning every day and our cabin was absolutely spotless. I read an earlier review here about someone’s bathroom being less than up-to-snuff, and I can say with absolute confidence that is NOT the case. I examined every corner and even behind the toilet when we arrived - everything was literally clean enough to eat off of. The beds were very comfortable and the cabin, while not luxurious, was tidy and surprisingly spacious– larger than the cabin we had on a cruise ship a few years ago.

The meals provided were delicious and the portions were generous. The food is not fancy, but it’s hearty, tasty, plentiful, and served with pride. Fresh fruit is available all day, as are coffee, tea, and water. While they do charge for beer, wine, and soda, the prices were very reasonable. Sitting down to meals were some of the most fun times - it was great to dine with the crew as well as our fellow travelers from all over the world and to compare notes and discuss all the wondrous things we’d seen that day.

As non-divers, we were very excited to get our first opportunity to do so on the Great Barrier Reef. That’s a “Bucket List” item for a lot of people, so we definitely weren’t going to let it pass us by. Lucy was our first dive instructor, and she was absolutely wonderful. I have been a swimmer all my life and am extremely comfortable in the water, so I was very surprised when I found myself a little panicky once I was underwater and trying to make underwater breathing compute. She grabbed me by the hands and gestured for me to take long, slow breaths, walking me though it and calming me down. I will be eternally grateful for that, because otherwise I’d have surfaced and likely not gone back, missing out on an amazing experience. We did several dives after that, too, including the night dive (sharks!), each exposing us to a different, rich undersea world. The downside is I think I have a new expensive hobby! If you’re a snorkeler thinking about having a go at diving, Reef Encounter is the place to do it.

All the way around it was a fantastic experience. Great crew, great snorkeling and diving, and three days I’ll never forget. Next time I’ll stay longer or see about being a “Hosty”. We had such a great time! A huge state-side thank you to Tori, Ashley, Ben, Paul, Mark, Lucy, Simo and everyone else whose name I missed aboard Reefy!

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Stephanie A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Yungaburra
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 October 2011

all the staff were so friendly and helpful in and out of water. The boat was clean and tidy, great safety procedures. The food was good and there was plenty of it. When we went snorkelling there was so much to see turtles, clown fish, GIANT clams and so many other fish and colourful corals. We even saw dolphins. introductory diving was really fun and exciting, definitely have to do it again. This is a MUST DO reef trip.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Narelle F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bridlington, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 October 2011

Thought at first it was expensive, but decided to go ahead with the adventure as we do not travel halfway round the every year. Best decision I have made in years, will have to go back now! Whilst we did not set the boat alight with our snorkelling, our daughter had a magnificent time snorkelling and diving. The food was great as was all the staff on board, whilst not wanting to pick any one staff in particular, Paul my wife thinks you are a hero and despite what the others say we understand every word. Dont think about it just book and go!!!!!!!

Alan, Ann & Steph Fumagalli

Room Tip: Higher floors are cooler!
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Ann F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Reef Encounter

Property: Reef Encounter
Address: 100 Abbott St, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia
Phone Number:
Region: Australia > Queensland > Cairns Region > Cairns
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 89 Speciality Lodging in Cairns
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4 star — Reef Encounter 4*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Reef Encounter,Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Liveaboard is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef’s floating luxury boutique hotel. Spend one night or several nights on one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Transfers departing from Cairns, Queensland daily, offering guests a unique opportunity to enjoy the ultimate reef experience. Enjoy the sunsets, relax, snorkel or scuba dive the crystal clear blue waters. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Reef Encounter Hotel Great Barrier Reef

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