Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Cruises

Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTIONS REGARDING TRIP PREPARATION

When and where does the Monday Trip Depart?

Boarding is from 11.15 -11.30am Monday morning, for a 12.00 noon departure. The vessel is located at Trinity Wharf at the end of Lake Street. Taxis and coaches can drive up onto the wharf to locate the vessel, which is usually berthed under the clock tower.

When and where does the Thursday Trip Depart?

You will need to check in at Hinterland Aviation by 8.00am, for an 8.30am departure flight to meet the Spirit of Freedom boat at Lizard Island. Hinterland Aviation is located on Tom MacDonald Drive, on the General Aviation side of the Cairns Airport, just off Captain Cook Highway.

I'm flying into Cairns on the morning of departure, will you pick me up from the airport?

Spirit of Freedom strongly recommend arrival into Cairns at least the day prior to your trip, as unforseen flight delays or lost baggage may cause inconvenience or you may even miss the boat. However if you are flying into Cairns on the departure day, please note that you will need to make your own way to the departure point.

Is the flight to/ from Lizard Island included in the trip price?

Yes

What are the luggage weight restrictions onboard the flight to Lizard Island ?

Due to the light aircraft flight, guests on the 3 day and 4 day tours are limited to a total baggage allowance of 20 kg per person or 45 lbs including carry-on luggage. If possible, please bring only soft sided luggage, allowing for easier stowage on the plane.

Do you have somewhere I can store excess luggage when I am away on the dive trip?

If you have additional luggage that you wish to have stored whilst you are on tour with Spirit of Freedom, we have storage facilities at our office at no extra cost. Simply advise the driver when he picks you up from your hotel and he will label your luggage for you. He will return your luggage to you on the day you return to Cairns.  Please note that while all due care is taken to securely store your luggage, Spirit of Freedom does not accept responsibility for theft, loss or damage.

What is not included in the trip price?

The Marine Park Levy, Gear Hire, Nitrox Fills, any courses taken on board, drinks outside of the evening meal time, Seasickness tablets, and any souvenirs purchased.

How can I settle my bill for on board expenses?

We can accept AUD cash, Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

What about tipping?

Tipping is not mandatory in Australia, although it is becoming a more common practice in restaurants and with tourism related services and tour operators. It is not governed by any percentage, and any tip for good service, is always appreciated by our hard working dive crews. Any tips received on Spirit of Freedom go directly to the crew and are divided amongst all crew on board your trip.

Do you have age limits?

There is no maximum age on board Spirit of Freedom, and if you are fit and healthy to dive, we'd love to have you join us. The minimum age on board is 10, and our Child Policy states:

  • "Our minimum age for children on board Spirit of Freedom is 10 years. Children must be accompanied by a parent at all times, including when diving or snorkelling. Spirit of Freedom does not supply child sized scuba equipment or wetsuits. Should gear be required, then the child must provide their own equipment. Diving in ill-fitting equipment is not allowed."

What rental scuba gear is available?


The following scuba gear is available for rental either individually or you can hire the complete set as a package: BCD, Regulator with integrated Dive Computer, wrist mount Dive Computer, Wetsuits, Torch and Cylume sticks, Mask and Snorkel and Open-heeled fins with wetsuit booties. Torchs and Cyalume sticks are provided for the night dive, however you can hire a torch for the remaining dives. 

My Partner is a non-diver, will they enjoy the trip?

Non-divers can enjoy movies, games, the resource library, and relaxing on sun lounges on the top deck. We recommend the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs itinerary for those who like to snorkel. There are many shallow coral gardens offering fantastic snorkeling, and the waters on the inside of the Ribbon Reefs are generally much calmer than the more exposed Coral Sea reefs. The Coral Sea reefs are not recommended for snorkellers.

Are transfers included?

Spirit of Freedom offers return courtesy transfers from all Cairns City hotels.  If you are staying outside the central district, or at the Northern Beaches suburbs, you will need to arrange your own transfer on the departure / return day.

What time is the last dive of the trip - for flight planning?

On all itineraries, the last dive of the trip will be completed around 5pm before enjoying an evening BBQ Dinner on the deck (weather dependent).  A 24 hour surface interval/wait is recommended until flying the following day.

Do I need Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is strongly recommended.  In the event the trip is cancelled due to inclement weather, deeming it unsafe to travel, the company does not offer refunds for cancellations  for reasons beyond the company’s control (Force Majeure).  Comprehensive Travel Insurance covering trip cancellation due to poor weather is strongly recommended in this case, particularly during the Australian summer months (November to May) when cyclones and high winds can effect our trips.  Also, should you experience any flight delays or cancellations, lost luggage, etc which may result in you missing the vessel departure, Travel Insurance should cover these issues. 

QUESTIONS REGARDING THE BOAT

How many passengers and crew on board Spirit of Freedom?

Spirit of Freedom can accommodate a maximum of 26 guests and operates with a minimum 10 crew.

What are the different cabin types?

Ocean View Deluxe/ Ocean View Standard/ The Stateroom/ Standard Double or Twin share / and Quad share. Details of each of these cabins can be found on our Cabins page.  

Please note the Ocean View and Stateroom cabins have just one Double/Queen size bed and are suited to couples.  Please enquire about our Sole Occupancy Rates if you wish to take one of these cabins as a sole occupancy arrangement (additional charges apply).

The Double/Twin share and Quad share cabins are best suited to those travelling alone or who wish to have a separate bed.

Is there an option for three of us to share a cabin?

Most of the Double/Twin cabins have a double bed under with single bed over, and although we usually only allocate two people to this cabin type, we can place three of you in on your request. The third person in the cabin will be charged at quad share rate.

Which cabins have a private bathroom?

All cabins have their own bathroom.

Are towels provided?

Deck and cabin towels are provided on board. While you are given one cabin towel in a 3 or 4 day trip and 2 cabin towels in a 7 day trip, extra towels are always available on request should you require.

What is the dress code on board?

Casual attire during the day and smart casual for evening wear. For safety and comfort we encourage no shoes to be worn on board.

What essential items should I bring on board?

Personal items and toiletries (personal soap for each guest is provided), swimwear, hat, and sweatshirt in the winter (May - September).  There is a 'Ship Shop' onboard the vessel which stocks some toiletry items and souvenirs available for purchase.

Will I need a power adaptor/ converter?

Australian domestic power standard is 240V @ 50htz, with 3 pronged power sockets.

110V outlets are available in the lounge for charging your batteries and laptops.

Should you wish to use electrical appliances in your cabins that are not 240V you will need to bring your own power CONVERTER and adaptor. Should you plug your appliance into the ships power without a converter, you will burn out your appliance (it may also catch fire) and trip the breakers on the boat.

Do you have hair dryers on board?

Yes we have hair dryers that you can use while you are on board. Please ask the hostess for one when you board.

What food and beverages are provided?

Lunch and dinner are provided on the day of departure, with 4 meals a day on ensuing days, and breakfast on the day of return to Cairns. The 4 meals include continental breakfast followed by a cooked breakfast after the first dive of the day. Most special dietary requirements can be catered to with prior notice. Tea, coffee and fountain water are always available for self service. Australian wines and soft drinks are served complimentary with the evening meal. Outside of this time we operate a ships bar with beer, mixed drinks, wine selection. Drinks can be placed on a tab for payment at the end of your trip.

What is the food like?

Our chefs serve a variety of fine quality healthy meals. You will find a mix of international influences in the meal selection that cater to most every taste. If you have a special dietary request, please be sure to note this on your 'Diver Information' form, so that our chefs can be prepared in the event you require a unique meal.

Is smoking allowed on board?

Smoking is not allowed inside the vessel or on the Dive Deck. However there is a designated outdoor smoking area located on the Sundeck.

Do you accommodate for mobility impaired passengers?

Due to lack of accommodation on the main deck, steep stairwells, and hatch combings, the Spirit of Freedom is not a suitable vessel for people with mobility impairments.

Is there internet access on board?

While on board Spirit of Freedom you can enjoy access to free WiFi when we are in range along certain sectors of the Ribbon Reefs. While at the Coral Sea, and also the regions of the Ribbon Reefs that are out of range, we can only rely on satellite phone and fax communications.

What arrangement do you have on board for photographers?

There is a separate camera wash tub, camera table and air gun on the back deck. There is also a work station provided in the forward lounge, with 240V and 110V outlets for charging, and laptop computers for downloading.

QUERIES ABOUT THE DIVING

Do I need to bring my certification card?

Yes, you will need to present your certification card upon boarding, so don't forget it! For PADI Certified Divers we can do on-line certification checks for most regions in the world.

Do I need a dive medical?

As a certified diver, generally a dive medical is not required. However, if you have a history of a medical condition contraindicative to diving (eg asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, heart or lung disorders) or you are taking prescription medication, you are required to provide a medical certificate, stating you are 'fit to scuba dive', in consideration of the medical condition. It is helpful if the Doctor can name the condition and list any recommendations regarding medication or management of the condition should the condition deteriorate whilst in a remote location (i.e. On a live-aboard boat 200km's from shore). We do recommend that the Physician or Doctor have an understanding of or training in Hyperbaric Medicine, Please check with our office well in advance if you are unsure.

The Dive Supervisor may limit the number of dives you participate in if the conditions are considered unsuitable for your medical and/or physical health.  If you require assistance with your equipment on entry or exit, if the swell is more than 0.5m, risk of injury is considerably increased.

Our itinerary includes diving in open water exposed to wind, swell and currents and can be physically challenging.  Due to the remote area, medical assistance is 3 to 12 hours away.

What equipment is provided?

Tanks and weight belts.

What size are the tanks?

12 litre (80 cubic feet) aluminium tanks. We also have 10.5 litre (65 cubic ft) tanks for our smaller guests.

What is the standard tank fitting?

US style K valve. DIN Valves are not available, and adaptors will be required. Most of the time we have Din Adaptors available on board, however please check with our office before your boarding day should you require.

Is it required that I use a dive computer?

Yes, all divers must dive with their own (or our rental) dive computers. You are welcome to also use your dive tables.

What is the recommended weight wetsuit?


Lycra skin to 3mm in the summer (Oct - March) and 5mm in the winter (Apr - Sept).  Vests and hoods are recommended to bring for extra warmth if you are not sure.  Depending on the season, on board the rental suits are 5mm and 3mm, full length suits and 5mm shorties.

Is there night diving?

Yes, depending on the time of year, there will be one to two night dives / twilight dives on the Cod Hole trip and one night dive on the Coral Sea trip. In the seven day trip, there will be two to three night dives available.

How many dives a day are offered?

This varies depending on the day, and from two to five dives are available including the night dives. The 3 Day Cod Hole tour offers up to 11 dives, the four day Coral Sea tour offers up to 15 dives and in the 7 day itinerary you can take up to 26 dives.

When is the best time of year for diving in Cairns ?

During Cairns' winter (May to August) the water is a little cooler and offers great visibility and beautiful clear days, but sometimes stronger winds. From September through December the water warms up a little, and generally, conditions are clear with light winds.  Many coral reef species breed at this time. January through April is considered our wetter season with amazing feeding and marine action following the breeding season. Refer to our 'Diving Seasons' page for more information.

How is the diving conducted?

The majority of our divers appreciate freedom and independence rather than being restrained in a larger group. As a guest on board Spirit of Freedom you may dive with your buddy to your pace and interests with no set limits on depth or style of diving outside of normal safe diving practices. An orientation dive is offered on the first dive, and a safety instructor will be in the water on most or all dives required. Our guests are welcome to dive with our divemasters and instructors, should they feel more comfortable with this option.

Is Nitrox available on board?

Yes, nitrox fills are set at 32% at $10 per fill or you can opt for a package price for all dives on nitrox. Nitrox certification cards must be produced upon boarding and regulators need to be O2 approved by the manufacturer.

What is involved in the Nitrox course?

This course is comprised of Video, instructional theory, and 2 dives on nitrox. The theory element generally takes 3 to 4 hours over two days.

What is involved in the PADI Advanced course?

The Advanced course is comprised of 5 dives in different specialty areas such as deep, night, navigation, boat, underwater naturalist, multi-level computer diving, underwater photography or nitrox. This course consists of self study, theory lesson, and Instructor supervised dives. If you wish to avoid the theory on board, there is a PADI E-Learning Link on the diving courses page.

Can I complete my Open Water Course on board? 


Unfortunately no we don't offer Open Water training on board Spirit of Freedom.  Our goal is to provide the very best service to our divers, which can sometimes require the attention of all our dive crew.  We suggest that you complete your open water training dives at home or in Cairns with Tusa Dive, allowing you to enjoy the freedom of diving with us as a certified diver.

What level of diving experience is required?

For the Cod Hole itinerary the minimum level is Open Water diver (Scuba Diver not accepted).

For the Coral Sea we recommend a minimum of Advanced Open Water Diver with 20 dives.

For all diving, if you have less than 15 dives or have not dived within the last 12 months we recommend you take a Refresher course with your local dive centre or here in Cairns prior to the trip.  All our itineraries include diving in open water exposed to wind, swell and currents.  Sheltered calm water suitable for ‘easy’ diving is not available.

HEALTH AND SAFETY QUESTIONS

Do I need a dive medical?

As a certified diver, generally a dive medical is not required. However, if you have a history of a medical condition contraindicative to diving (eg asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, heart or lung disorders) or you are taking prescription medication, you are required to provide a medical certificate, stating you are 'fit to scuba dive', in consideration of the medical condition. It is helpful if the Doctor can name the condition and list any recommendations regarding medication or management of the condition should the condition deteriorate whilst in a remote location (i.e. On a live-aboard boat 200km's from shore). We do recommend that the Physician or Doctor have an understanding of or training in Hyperbaric Medicine. Please check with our office well in advance if you are unsure.

Cairns has several GP doctors with hyperbaric medicine training.  We can arrange for a medical consultation here before departing on Spirit of Freedom.
The Dive Supervisor may limit the number of dives you participate in if the conditions are considered unsuitable for your medical and/or physical health.  If you require assistance with your equipment on entry or exit, if the swell is more than 0.5m, risk of injury is considerably increased.

Our itinerary includes diving in open water exposed to wind, swell and currents and can be physically challenging.  Due to the remote area, medical assistance can be up to 12 hours away.

I suffer seasickness, do you have any suggestions.

Spirit of Freedom weighs 250 tonnes and is equipped with electronic stabilizers, however there is no such thing as a boat that doesn't move! Our first recommendation would be to take a cabin that is on the lower deck mid ships, and avoid the Ocean View cabins on the top deck where you will experience the most motion. You also may want to consider your choice of itineraries. Keep in mind that the Coral Sea itinerary requires an overnight crossing to Osprey Reef, traveling in open water unprotected by reef. The Cod Hole itinerary stays inside the Ribbon Reefs, which offer some protection from the swells of the open ocean.

We have natural ginger tablets or the stronger medicated alternative 'Travacalm' available on board. We recommend that you consult your pharmacist for other options that might be more suitable to you. It's also a good idea to try your tablets or patches before your trip to ensure you are not affected by side effects. Please note all motion sickness medication will cause dehydration and we recommend that you drink extra water. The good news is generally most people gain their sea legs after a day or two.

What happens if I am sick/ delayed or an emergency prevents me from making the trip?

We strongly recommend travel insurance to cover you against any unforeseen eventuality, as our policies do not allow for refunds on cancellations within 21 days.

Do I need dive insurance?

We strongly recommend all passengers (divers and snorkellers) have evacuation and medical cover for scuba diving. Please be aware that scuba diving and in-water activities are not covered by all Travel Insurance Companies, and it is advisable to check with your insurance agent in regard to your cover for scuba diving. It is important to note that in a medical emergency the costs involved for an evacuation, vessel relocation or medical expenses are the responsibility of that diver.

Divers Alert Network (DAN) and Dive Assure offer comprehensive insurance packages specifically for Scuba Divers DAN Travel Assist Dive Assure (US Residents) Dive Assure (non US Residents)

In the event the trip is cancelled due to inclement weather, the company does not offer refunds for cancellations for reasons beyond our control (Force Majeure).  Comprehensive Travel Insurance covering trip cancellation due to poor weather is strongly recommended in this case, particulary during the Australian summer months (November to May) when cyclones and high winds can effect our trips.

 

 

What are your recommendations for flying after diving?

Spirit of Freedom recommends a minimum wait of 24 hours before flying after multiple dives. The last dive of the trip will generally be around 5:00pm the day before we return to Cairns. 24 hours is a guideline only and for maximum safety give yourself as long as possible. Please be aware that skydiving or a trip to Kuranda or the Atherton tablelands will include going to altitude. Please Note - Individual airlines have their own policies (24 to 48 hour minimum), and you should check with your air carrier.

Where is the nearest hyperbaric chamber?

The nearest recompression chamber is in Townsville, 450km to the south of Cairns. Spirit of Freedom recommends all passengers to carry insurance to cover for a medivac from the reef. DAN Travel Assist will cover emergency evacuations and time in the chamber.

GENERAL QUERIES

What will the weather be like?

Australian seasons are the reverse of the Northern hemisphere. Our summer is December - February and winter is June - August.  Cairns is located in the tropical region of Australia, and we experience relatively warm winters and high humidity in the summer months.  Rain is not uncommon from January to April, but while this rain can fall on Cairns, due to the surrounding mountains, it is often clear out to sea and further north where we conduct our diving.  Refer to our 'Diving Seasons' page for more details.

Do I need a Visa for Australia?

This will depend on your nationality and you will need to check with the Australian Consulate in your country of residence. To find the Australian Consulate in your country visit the Australia Government Department of Immigration website at www.immi.gov.au/contacts/overseas/

The citizens of some countries are eligible for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) as an alternative to a visa. To find out if you are eligible for the ETA visit www.eta.immi.gov.au

What happens if I am sick/ delayed or an emergency prevents me from making the trip?

We strongly recommend travel insurance to cover you against any unforeseen eventuality, as our policies do not allow for refunds on cancellations within 21 days.

I need assistance with accommodation and tours in Cairns

If you do not have a travel agent to assist you with hotels and tours in Cairns, we work closely with Cairns Tourist Information Centre.  Please contact them as below:

Cairns Tourist Information Centre
Tour & Accommodation Bookings
Telephone: + 61 (07) 4047 9125
Email: info@cairnstouristinformation.com.au
Sh 6, Cnr Aplin St & The Esplanade
http://www.cairnstouristinformation.com.au/

What about tipping?

Tipping is not mandatory in Australia , although becoming a more common practice in restaurants and with tourism related services and tour operators. It is not governed by any percentage, and any tip for good service, is always appreciated by dive crews. Any tips received on Spirit of Freedom go directly to the crew and are divided amongst all crew on board your trip.

Ship Shop - onboard purchases

Spirit of Freedom has an onboard Ship Shop offering a range of clothing, souvenirs, and personal toiletry items available for purchase.  The Ship Shop is open for guests on Wednesdays and Sundays, however if any toiletry items are required outside of the shop hours, please just ask our crew for assistance.



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