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Where to stay & what do near the Great Barrier Reef

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We will be flying to Cairns in mid-January & will be in the area for 5 nights (we don't get into Cairns until 9:30 p.m. on our 1st night). We want to go to the Great Barrier Reef (neither of us snorkel or scuba, but we understand there is a semi-submersible) & Daintree. Kuranda also sounds interesting. Can we get all that in (assume 1st full day we will not be functioning after long flight)? Also, should we stay in Cairns? Read about Il Palazzo Boutique apartments which sounded nice. Anyone have recommendations for good tour operators to GBR & Daintree? Also any other recommendations for places to stay. From Cairns we will go to Sydney for 5 days & then a 16 day cruise which stays 2 days in Melbourne & the rest of the stops are in New Zealand ending in Auckland. Thanks for any help with this itinerary.

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