Since our trip to Australia would simply not complete without a dive on the Great Barrier Reef, my wife and I recently spent the better part of four days on Emperors Wings, a diving catamaran operated by Wings Diving Adventures.
In short, if you are looking for quality diving, you've come the right place. Both of our dive instructors (Tristan and Harriet) were knowledgeable and friendly, and emphasis was clearly put on getting us to as many quality dive spots as possible. The equipment was plentiful and seemed very well-maintained, and we always felt that we were in good hands. While most folks onboard (us included) were PADI certified, the dive guides went our of their way to accommodate the different experience levels -- unlike a couple of other reviewers, I saw absolutely no attempts to hard-sell dives on the part of the crew. Also worth mentioning: my wife and I have spent a fair amount of time on and around boats, sailing and otherwise, and were quite impressed with Stu the Skipper -- the dude knows his stuff.
While primarily a dive boat and far from a booze cruise, the vibe on the boat was relaxed and friendly. There was a bunch of interesting people from all over the world, and while there was also plenty of alcohol to go around (BYOB), things stayed mellow and respectful. I suspect that most solo travellers, couples, and families would find the atmosphere to their liking.
Some other caveats:
* Don't expect a luxurious experience. There were 30+ people on our boat, and both space and privacy were at a premium. We are generally pretty low-maintenance, but were definitely a bit taken aback to find that we'd be sharing a 50-foot cat with that many people (not to mention their diving gear). It was definitely pretty tight, even by boat standards.
* Food was decent, but not as tasty or plentiful as the Wings website makes it sound.
* The air compressor runs all the time and makes a considerable racket. Bring earplugs.
* The slushy machine was out of order. Tragic, really, since I was really looking forward to getting my slushy on.
* Even though the website indicates otherwise, on Emperors Wings there isn't really an opportunity to take part in the sailing aspect of the trip. The boat is clearly set up for single-handing -- all the winches are powered and self-tailing and all the lines run back to the cockpit -- which means that you won't be doing any sailing (in the active sense). This might be different on other Wings boats, however.
So, in a nutshell: think twice if you are looking for a relaxing/romantic outing or expect many of the comforts of home. However, if you are primarily interested in diving the GBR, you probably can't do better than Emperors Wings.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.