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“Best thing to do in Cairns.”

Ocean Spirit Cruises
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US$180.92*
and up
Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Cairns
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US$190.68*
and up
Michaelmas Cay Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Cairns
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US$752.16*
and up
3-Day Green Island Great Barrier Reef Trip from Cairns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 8 May 2014

This was a fantastic experience!
I spent 7 days in Cairns and did a few other tours to the Reef and different islands in the area. This was defiantly my favorite out of all of them.
As i didn't do to much research about Cairns before my trip i was a little disappointed with The Great Barrier Reef, i was expecting to see the Reef as very bright and colorful with a lot more beautiful tropical fish, and beaches with white sand and clear blue water.
I arrived in cairns and did a couple of Reef tours and this was a little disappointed. However Michaelmas Cay the island that the Ocean Spirit travels to was exactly that. Beautiful white sand, clear blue water, tropical fish and amazing coral. I would say this day tour is a must do if you are traveling to cairns.
The lunch included is also wonderful, they also provide you with a morning tea and afternoon tea so you do not need to being any snacks.
The boat is amazing so beautiful and luxurious, the staff are also fantastic.
I only have one complaint about a certain staff member who i am not certain of his name though I'm sure the staff on board know exactly who i am talking about when i say, i felt a little uncomfortable with him around me as a young female wearing a swim suit. He was a little unprofessional and more interested in not only my relationship status but also a couple of the other females on board too.
Other then that the experience was fantastic defiantly worth what you pay, i just think the young male staff member needs to be spoken to about professionalism in the work place and harassment.

4  Thank rachnb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (364)
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212 - 216 of 364 reviews

Reviewed 15 April 2014

We found this tour to be a most interesting and enriching tour of the Great Barrier Reef. It was amazing to see Michealmas Cay and all of its birds, to do some snorkling off the Cay, and to see the reefs up close in a semi-submersible boat. The staff were helpful and informative, the lunch was great, the scenery was wonderful, and the overall experience was highly memorable. This was one of the highlights -- or perhaps thee highlight -- of our trip to Cairns and Queensland.

2  Thank brian790
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
QSGA, Customer Service at Ocean Spirit Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 22 April 2014

Thank you Brian790 for your wonderful review; if you left enriched and entertained we've done our jobs correctly:).
Glad to see that you had multiple highlights from your visit to the region - be sure to come back and visit us soon.

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Reviewed 12 April 2014

Just back from a fantastic holiday in Australia and Malaysia. The highlight if which was our trip to the Great Barrier Reef, Michealmas Cay, with Ocean Spirit Cruises. From start to finish this was an amazing day trip. Not oversubscribed, we had plenty of room on deck and below, with a good ratio of staff for the number of guests. The food was fantastic, we had heard it was good, but the standard was great and more than enough to revisit the buffet again if you needed to! There was breakfast, lunch and on the return journey a glass if fizz with cheese and biscuits, plus muffins and cakes. The staff were all friendly, knowledgeable and happy to help out. The snorkelling from the beach was a blast and so much easier than having to chuck yourself off the boat or a pontoon! Loads to see and an absolutely beautiful beach to sit on post snorkel. I also took part in the introductory dive, it ended up just being me which was so good, my instructor Pedro was fab and I felt very safe, even being told we would be at a depth of about 10m, the instruction was very clear and I had an amazing time, saw loads of cool stuff, including stroking a giant clam, and saw the tail of a small shark as it whizzed off. It has made me want to do the PADI course, and I have previouslybbeen afraid of being in deep water!! The semi sub was a great experience, very instructive and fun. Sadly we didn't get to see the giant wrass, but that's nature for you! The biologist gave a great talk about the reef and it's inhabitants defending themselves, he was very informative and obviously loved what he did. Being on deck is a must to see the other cays and reef areas as you approach and leave Michaelmas Cay, you can get some stunning photos. I would definitely recommend this cruise for all ages and abilities, we would have booked a 2nd time but sadly we were moving on back to Sydney. Thanks to Ocean a Spirit for an amazing day I will remember for ever!

3  Thank Therealmagimoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
QSGA, Customer Service at Ocean Spirit Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 22 April 2014

Now that's some high praise Therealmigimoo! Thank you so much!

Absolutely fantastic to hear what a wonderful time you had. Shame you had to go back to Sydney so soon, but I guess there are some pretty nice things to see there as well:).

Make sure you go ahead and get that PADI certification - there is so much more of the reef out there to be explored next time you visit!

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Reviewed 7 April 2014

An interesting tour of the Great Barrier Reef. This includes a trip in a semi-submersible to view the reef up close, and snorkeling and scuba opportunities. The staff is very friendly and helpful. A full lunch is available

2  Thank la901
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 March 2014

What a terrible experience! From the moment we arrived at the boat we were treated like second class citizens. We lined up behind a rather large Asian tour group who boarded the boat. We however were told to wait as they were having photographs taken on the boat prior to others boarding. My husband and I stood waiting in the rain whilst this occurred. Eventually we were allowed to board but by this stage the entire enclosed area had been occupied by the tour group giving us the option of standing or being exposed to the elements. This wouldn't be so terrible if the cruising time wasn't two hours each way.

Don't be deceived by the glossy brochure, your experience will be anything but what's promised. The food served whilst on the boat is disgusting, frozen prawns with black heads, tasteless salads, soggy stir fry and boiled rice. Certainly not "the delicious buffet lunch" that the brochure promises. Maybe it should read "budget lunch", this would be a more accurate description.

Don't forget to bring your cash either, $2 every time you open your locker. $7 for a stinger suit and whilst your lunch is provided you will need to purchase a drink, not even cold water provided. Then there's the optional underwater cameras for hire or photographs taken by the on board photographer.

Upon arriving at Michaelmas Cay you will be advised that you can't swim from the boat so you will have to wait for "the beach buggy" it only transports around 25 at a time and takes approximately 15mins to do a round trip. This certainly cuts into your snorkelling time which the brochure says is four hours. It could be four hours if you were first on the island and didn't want lunch.

The brochure also says that you can explore the island. The island (sand bank) is one big filthy birds nest which was roped off for nesting season. Don't get me wrong, I like birds, pretty tropical birds. These were more like pigeons and seagulls.

On our return trip they raised one of the sails but this was for show only as the noisy motor kept running. When having a look at the sail I noticed that the boat displayed every nations flag except the Australian one. I found this quite upsetting. Upon my return I contacted Ocean Spirit to express my disappointment. Eventually I was contacted by their Customer Service Manager "Kristy" who challenged all of the observations I had made including the absence of the flag. I offered to forward her a photo but she didn't think this was necessary. In discussing the food she advised me that they always serve frozen prawns and don't offer any other seafood however" the previous operator used to serve crumbed fish".

I chose Ocean Spirit as I was advised it was a first class experience and "worth the extra money". Don't be deceived, it's not worth the price charged, it's not a first class experience and I would even go as far as suggesting it's unaustralian. Give the competition a go!!!!

7  Thank Elizabeth C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrianCaveGA, General Manager Operations at Ocean Spirit Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 29 April 2014

Hi Liz,

Thank you again for your feedback and for giving us the opportunity to address your concerns on a public forum like Trip Advisor as you indeed carried through your threat to post a negative review. We take all customer feedback very seriously and each of your points have been addressed below.

- It is company policy that no-one is given preferential treatment as far as boarding or seating. Your connotations in our previous discussions that ‘Asians’ get special treatment is simply not true. It does not matter if you are from an ‘Asian’ tour group or one bloke from Mt Isa – everyone is treated with the same high level of respect. On the day of your trip, there was an operational issue with the contracted photographer on boarding, but that issue has been addressed with the photography company to make sure on rainy days people aren’t kept outside. Thank you for your constructive criticism on this point. We would also like to note that passenger’s boarding photographs do form an additional safety measure for the ship’s manifest.

- Inside the boat, our records show that there should have been more than enough undercover seating to accommodate all the passengers on board the vessel that day. If you did have trouble, perhaps you could have mentioned it to our crew, who would have been more than happy to assist with seating arrangements.

- Our food is catered for by one of Cairns’ premier 5-star hotels and is always fresh – especially the prawns which are freshly cooked each day. We understand that not everything is to every individual’s taste and your feedback has been passed onto our caterers.
- The charge for a stinger lycra suit ($7) is fairly standard across most reef boats and covers the cleaning maintenance so that each day they are freshly laundered for new guests. Because not all passengers use them (some bring their own, don’t bother with them or don’t go swimming), and is seasonal, including the cost for lycra suits in the total fare would be unfair.

- Fresh water is available for free on board. You may have missed the locations of the water during the morning briefing; however, had you voiced your concerns, the crew would have happily directed you to the water fountains on the vessel.

- The ‘Beach Buggy’ transfer boat to and from the Cay is a safety and environment requirement. Speed and boat size restrictions to the Cay must be adhered to. Our lifeguard patrols and supervises all snorkelling and water activities from the beach.

- The ‘filthy birds nest’ referred to is a vegetated Sand Cay, National Park and one of the most important bird habitats on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Southern Hemisphere. Yes, parts of the Cay are roped off, but this is again due to conservation reasons imposed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. It’s important to remember that it’s the birds’ island - we’re just guests. The Sooty Terns, Crested and Lesser Crested Terns, Common Noddies, Silver Gulls, Ruddy Turnstones, Black Noddies, Black-Nosed Terns, Bridled Terns and Roseate Terns would take great offence at being called just simple ‘seagulls and pigeons’. We can’t control what birds live or don’t live on the island; it’s a shame that the thriving vibrant bird life there wasn’t ‘pretty’ or interesting enough for your tastes.

- The sail isn’t just for show (in fact, it would cause a substantial increase in fuel usage if it was just an ornament). The motor and generator are required to run the ship’s electrics, such as navigation equipment, refrigeration, air conditioning and even toilet flushing.
- Small bunting flags for all nations are indeed visible on the foredeck as we proudly showcase Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to visitors from all over the globe. By far, the largest flag is the Australian flag, which is separate from the multi-nation flags: it flies up high and proud over the boat. The Australian Red Ensign is also displayed aft, which is a maritime convention. Again, had you mentioned your concerns on the day, the crew would have shown you where the Australian flags are.

- We are disappointed that you didn’t enjoy any part of your 9-hour trip to the Great Barrier Reef and that we weren’t ‘Australian’ enough, but it’s not the 1950s. We’re also very disappointed with the obvious racist overtones of your previous correspondence with our company. It’s our esteemed pleasure to show people from all cultures and creeds the Great Barrier Reef and our endeavour to always provide a great experience for anyone who steps onboard our boat. We think that is about as AUSTRALIAN as you can get.

(Please note: we think it’s important to add that there is no record of you lodging a complaint with our crew on the day, as they would have been more than happy to assist. Our Customer Service crew was only able to contact you to discuss your concerns after finding scathing comments posted on the company’s Facebook Page.)

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