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The "Ultimate" Barrier Reef Experience.

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May 29th, 2011, 08:03 PM
  #1
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The "Ultimate" Barrier Reef Experience.

I saw a story on local TV a few weeks ago about a pontoon on the Reef that accommodates people for an overnight stay.

It looked absolutely fantastic as from 2.30pm, when all the daytrippers leave until mid morning the next day, you share the area with only a handful of other people.

I have come across the web site for this operation and am now even further impressed to find that they charge under $500 per person inclusive of 4 meals and drinks with and before dinner, a guided snorkelling tour or dive and transport to and from the pontoon. When you factor in that most day trips are over $200 and any type of reasonable accommodation on the mainland near the GBR is never cheap, this seems like quite a good deal.

I would be interested to hear anyones thoughts who has actually done this or have even just been on a daytrip to this part of the reef.

http://www.fantasea.com.au/page/reefsleep/index.html
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May 29th, 2011, 10:54 PM
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There you go, shanek. Have a look at Sally's excellent post on Fantasea - SnRSeattle's OZ TWO trip report part 2, I just bought it to the top.

As you probably know, Fantasea is in Whitsunday Islands, there also liveaboard options out of Cairns (one night or more, depending how far they travel), a small, locally owned one which I constantly hear good reports on is Vagabond, a 65' cruising yacht which takes max 11 passengers. Rates from $330pp which includes 2 full days and overnight on reef, all meals, etc. www.vagabond-dive.com
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May 29th, 2011, 11:27 PM
  #3
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Thanks Pat.

A first hand report is always helpful.

The liveaboard option would be ideal for divers and $330 a night is good value.

What I like about the Fantasea overnight option is that it would be ideal with kids and a wife who is prone to a little sea-sickness on smaller craft.

I would be interested to hear what the quality of the reef is like at this spot. Further investigation has shown up that large groups have been tripping out to this pontoon for a very long time. Is the coral in the area still vibrant?
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May 30th, 2011, 06:45 AM
  #4
 
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Hi Shanek!

The show that you saw must have been Reef Encounter. I have done the overnight and I highly recommend it - it's AWESOME. I did the Top Deck version which is where they set out tables for dinner on the top deck (hence the name! , white tablecloth, candlelight, the captain comes by and joins you, the chef serves you - very romantic! You are "assigned" a staff member to look after you, including staying with you during snorkelling and leading you to the best spots where they've seen "X" the previous day.

I also took a helicopter over and the boat transfer back.

Even without Top Deck, the food and the staff are excellent.

Good question about the quality of the reef/coral, btw -

I've been out on Fantsea several times over the years and was just there in September. There's very little to see and I wouldn't recommend it to clients (sorry to be the bearer of bad news!).

Hope this is helpful!

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
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Jul 7th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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Melodie, you are recommending the ship Reef Encounter? I have read about it and it sounds wonderful. It leaves from Cairns, correct? Still in the planning stages for December and cannot decide whether to stay in Cairns or Port Douglas area, maybe a bit of both?

I have also been told to go to the Whitsundays but I think the northern area of the reef is better, right? Soooo confused!
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Jul 8th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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Hi If,

Yes, I am, I highly recommend it.

Personally, I like Port Douglas better; smaller, quieter; but you could always do a night or two in Cairns, do the Reef Encounter, and then head up to Port Douglas.

I've been to the Whitsundays about 4 times, the last time on business in September, and it's not that it's BAD, per se, it's just not a favorite of mine. I guess part of it (and I've stayed on Hamilton Island each time; done site inspections of others)I just don't expect to see a high rise hotel on an island!

Hope this is helpful!

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
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Jul 8th, 2011, 07:00 PM
  #7
 
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Hello Fellow Fodorites
The link below will take you to a thread I posted back in 2006.

We are now planning yet an other trek through the North of Australia and this tour is at the top of the list of activities.

This time we will be armed with the appropriate camera equipment to be able to do justice to the Island and its natural treasures.

http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...o-remember.cfm
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