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“Good people, great boat, day ruined by officious office staff”

Seastar Cruises Reef Day Trips
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Seastar Cruises premium reef cruise combines the outer Great Barrier Reef with a coral cay island. In only 1 1/4 hours the fast air-conditioned Seastar 1 can take you from Cairns to magnificent Michaelmas Cay, the largest of the local uninhabited coral cays. Cruising past Green Island, Upolu cay and Oyster reef Seastar is the first boat to arrive. After an enjoyable time here it is a short 20 minute cruise to the splendid Hastings Reef sitting on the very outer edge. This is where the corals thrive, well out from the coast away from the influence the rivers and streams, adjacent to the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. You will have 2 1/2 hours at each location. Plenty of time to go snorkeling, do a introductory dive, relax on the beach of the Island or join a tour in the Glass Bottom Boat at Hastings Reef. The day cruise on Seastar inlcudes Morning/Afternoon tea, high quality snorkel equipment, Wetsuit or Lycra suit (depending on the time of year), Glass Bottom Boat Tour, Hot & Cold Buffet Lunch, Reef Interpretation & Guided Snorkel Tours on each spot.
Useful Information: Stairs / lift
Reviewed 29 November 2012

The crew were mostly great as was the boat, the dive gear and food. All first class however I ‘m really disappointed how they handled the asthma incident with a friend on the trip 16 Nov. I’ve waited until now because of the refund debacle that ensued in the office after the cruise because of the staff that were barely able to contain their rage as evident by physical trembling during the discussion.

Yes we saw the asthma disclaimer that it “may” preclude a diver. Show me a dive company in the world that doesn’t have that somewhere? My friend is a master diver with more than 70 dives. All courses were done with the knowledge she has asthma. She needed to undergo a specialised test prior to her dive certificate. “I’m sorry but it’s Queensland law that if you’ve taken medication IN THE LAST 5 YEARS you cannot dive!” mmm I’m somewhat sceptical about that statement but oh well what could we do we were out on the reef. It wasn’t handled well on the boat and we had to pursue the crew for an explanation. Returning to the dock I asked the crew on the boat next door. That’s correct you can’t dive if you have asthma and don’t have a certificate but if you do, simply sign a waiver and pay a surcharge of $11 per dive and they would escort her on the dives. Now that was a fair and reasonable response imo. So after paying more than a $1000 by cc for 5 people we proceeded to the office for a partial refund. Nope can’t refund on the day by the same manner of payment just hours earlier. It had to be a cheque posted in a week or so. Is that legal? It was made more difficult too as they had lost her paperwork. Not professional, not customer oriented and won’t be back Seastar.

6  Thank TokyoGeoff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SeastarCruises, Owner at Seastar Cruises Reef Day Trips, responded to this reviewResponded 12 December 2012

Due to how the events have been described and presented, I find this rather difficult to respond to, but here goes.
Firstly, the person concerned received a full refund for the dive without comment.
Seastar observes Australian Standard AS 4005.1 – 2000 this specifically covers diving and asthma, it is a fact that diving medical authorities which includes the local Cairns diving doctors have advised that any person who has used asthma medication within the previous 5 years should not dive as among other things, they are at a higher risk of pulmonary (lung) barotrauma (also known as lung over-expansion, burst lungs and exploded lungs).
The person concerned advised the crew on-board that they did indeed have a medical release, but had had forgotten to bring it with them. So without documentation, our crew endeavoured to get this person to dive, we supplied all the information to the diving doctor, a Master Scuba diver, multiple dives etc all this was forwarded on, but the email we received back from the diving doctor specifically and categorically denied permission, there was nothing else we could do.
As for what may have been said by another vessel, I cannot comment, I was not present.
Additionally, you may have also misinterpreted events in the “debacle” in the office, the physical trembling of an employee was not rage, but rather stress in attending to a difficult situation, if you remember at one point it became necessary for 3 of our staff to simultaneously “attend” to this situation. When Seastar was accused of not providing sufficient information and then we did demonstrate how clearly asthma was referred to on our web site, regrettably this still did not placate the situation.
The following day the staff member concerned remained so distressed by the events of this “debacle” they were not capable of working the full day.

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Reviewed 29 November 2012

Weather was perfect. Staff friendly and funny. Never seen so many different kind of fishes. We saw a little shark too. Food was ok. It was nice with a small group compared to the other companies. Love it that they took pictures and we get them from facebook.

Thank MsManMrM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 November 2012

I have been taking holidays for the past 35 years and have been on many cruises. Seastar has to be the most enjoyable tour I have ever been on. The crew were amazing, I cannot put into words just how good the day was. Really, everything everyone else has said on T/A. The boat was comfortable, the 2 different locations an excellent choice, the food was tasty, the snorkel and dive equipment was well maintained actually it looked new. But the crew were amazing, professional, funny and entertaining with a considerable knowledge of the reef. I liked the way that everything is included, on other cruises I seemed to be paying out for things all day.
My wife is not a strong swimmer, but she was convinced to join the snorkel tour, which is also included and the guide took a magnificent photo of her with the underwater camera. My daughter got this from their face book and has made a print of it. She is quite proud of this.
Thank you Seastar for a wonderful day.

Thank Leo P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 November 2012

I did an overnight tour on the Great Barrier Reef in 2004, I don't remember the name of the company or the stops but the reefs we went to with Seastar in 2012 blew them out of the water. We went in mid-October 2012 for our Honeymoon. We loved the fact that the Seastar tour is a smaller group and the first to arrive to Michaelmas Cay. The sea was a bit rough that day so a few guests got sick, but the staff were super helpful, friendly and understanding. We took the complimentary snorkel tours with a sweet guide who did a good job keeping up with all of us. The food they served was also DELICIOUS! And the second stop also provided an optional glass bottom boat tour that was neat! AMAZING experience!

1  Thank LizH92109
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 25 November 2012

I booked this based on previous trip advisor reviews. I didn't mind paying extra for what I thought would make the difference. There's definitely lots of positives which are mentioned by other reviewers. The bits I think need mentioning are:
After you book (and it's not the cheapest) you're then told you need to pay another 15 dollars each for a port tax. It was caught in the small print and I felt this was a bit sneaky. On the day we were told if we wanted to avoid sea sickness to just ask the crew and they'd give us tablets as and when needed. Unfortunately it was so choppy that day I had to ask a couple of times. It was only on leaving the "give us tablets" was changed to "will charge you for tablets, $3 each" - again, I felt this was a little cheeky, as it's about five times the actual cost.
When we set off we were told by the crew that they would be taking pictures throughout the day, which was very convenient as it meant we didn't need to - they also gave us a card afterwards to remind us to tag their pictures on facebook. Unfortunately severa daysl after our trip, when the photos failed to appear it transpired that no photos had been taken at all. It seems there was a mix up due to staff illness - whether this is true or not, who can say, but I'm just very disappointed as I have no photos of the experience.

3  Thank Jacqui M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SeastarCruises, Owner at Seastar Cruises Reef Day Trips, responded to this reviewResponded 26 November 2012

It is disheartening to hear that you did not fully enjoy your experience with Seastar Cruises; everyone tries so hard to do their best to ensure this does not happen.
However I would like to respond to the matters you raised:
Additional payment:
We feel we have been as up front and informative as possible with respect to information regarding the cruise.
On our website, Seastar Cruises Cairns and on our brochure the total price is clearly stated and the breakdown of fees thereof. It is not possible to book on line without being made aware of the total cost.
The agency you have made the booking with, also clearly states that the $15per person EMC/Port admin fee is payable on board on the day of travel. This is under, “Additional information”
On your confirmation voucher (ticket) this appears again under “Important Information”.
Motion sickness tablets:
The motion sickness tablets available on board are rated by Australian pharmaceutical authorities as an S2 drug, meaning they can only be purchased at a pharmacy or through a licensed vendor who has received instruction in their use and dispensation where they must be supplied sealed, in 2 tablet packets, with comprehensive written advice. This method is more expensive and hence they are sold on board. Our crew are directed to ensure that all passengers are made aware before supplying these tablets that they do cost, I am hoping that what happened in your case was simply an oversight by the crew member in not making this clear in the first instance. I can assure you there was no intention to mislead.
Missing photos:
Currently this is a sore point with me and I can assure you that the crew have been made well aware of it. Steps have now been taken to ensure this does not happen again. As I explained in my previous reply to you, on that day the crew member who normally takes these photos and has an obvious flair for it ( you see his face all the time in the daily Facebook photos) became genuinely ill and was unable to work. Regrettably no other crew was instructed to replace him and as a result everyone thought someone else was filling in. I can appreciate how disappointing must have been particularly when the Facebook cards were still given out, you went to our page and of course there were no pictures for that day. I sincerely hope you will accept our apologies for this.

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