Spirit of Freedom ~ Frequently Asked Questions
About Spirit of Freedom
When will Spirit of Freedom be operating again?
We’re very excited to announce that Spirit of Freedom liveaboard dive trips are now available to book from 16 December 2021! Our 3-day, 4-day and 7-day trips to the Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea will be running much as they did before our hibernation, with a slight schedule change (Monday trips now depart on a Thursday, and Thursday trips now depart on a Sunday). View our trips and book your place now!
How many passengers and crew on board Spirit of Freedom?
Spirit of Freedom can accommodate a maximum of 24 guests and operates with a minimum 12 crew.
What COVID safety measures do you have in place?
Spirit of Freedom is a COVID Safe business and we are committed to the health and safety of our staff and customers. Measures include:
- From 17 December, all passengers must show proof of vaccination in order to travel
- All passengers must fill out a COVID-19 declaration before travel and check in using the Check in QLD app
- All staff on board Spirit of Freedom are fully vaccinated
- Onboard hygiene precautions are in place throughout the vessel, including our dive deck
What are the different cabin types?
We offer Ocean View Deluxe, Ocean View Standard, Standard Double or Twin share, Quad share and one Stateroom. You can see details of each of these cabins on our cabins page.
Please note the Ocean View and Stateroom cabins have just one double/queen size bed and are suited to couples, or you can take as a sole occupancy arrangement. Please enquire about our sole occupancy rates.
Individual travellers can book a single berth in a Double/Twin share or Quad share cabin. Other people will be allocated to share the cabin. Same gender share is not guaranteed.
Is there an option for three of us to share a cabin?
Five of our seven Double/Twin cabins have a double bed under with single bed over. Although we usually only allocate two people to this cabin type, we can place three of you in on your request.
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. For guests over the age of 65, a current dive medical is requested for your own safety and our duty of care.
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. We cannot guarantee that a crew member will be available to dive with a Junior open water diver (limited to 12m depth) on all dives. Spirit of Freedom does not supply child sized scuba equipment or wetsuits. Diving in ill-fitting equipment is not allowed.”
My partner is a non-diver. Will they enjoy the trip?
Non-divers can enjoy games, the resource library, and relaxing on sun lounges on the top deck. We recommend the Ribbon Reefs itinerary for those who like to snorkel. There are many shallow coral gardens offering fantastic snorkelling, and the waters on the inside of the Ribbon Reefs are generally much calmer than the more exposed Coral Sea reefs. Spirit of Freedom does not offer snorkel guides.
The Coral Sea reefs are not recommended for snorkellers due to the remote location and environmental conditions.
What is not included in the trip price?
Gear hire, Nitrox fills, any courses taken on board, drinks outside of the evening meal time, seasickness tablets, and any souvenirs purchased.
What essential items should I bring on board?
- Personal items and toiletries (personal soap for each guest is provided)
- Warm clothing if you’re travelling in the winter months (May – September)
- Quick-dry towel or chamois for the dive deck
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.
Are towels provided?
Cabin towels are provided on board. We supply you with one cabin towel for a 3 or 4 day trip and two cabin towels for a 7 day trip. However, extra towels are available on request should you require.
We recommend you bring your own chamois/quick-dry sports towel for use after water activities.
Do you have a shop where I can buy things on board?
Spirit of Freedom has an onboard shop offering a range of clothing, souvenirs, and personal toiletry items available for purchase.
How can I settle my bill for onboard expenses?
We can accept AUD cash, Visa and Mastercard. Please note AMEX is not available on board.
Will I need a power adaptor/converter?
Australian domestic power standard is 240V @ 50 Hertz, with 3 pronged power sockets. 110V outlets are available in the lounge for charging your batteries and laptops.
If your electrical appliances are not rated to use 240V, you will not be able to charge your devices in your room due to safety risks.
Please refer to our info sheet on compliant chargers, travel adaptors and power supplies.
Do you have hair dryers on board?
Yes, we have hair dryers that you can use while you are on board. Please ask the crew for one when you board.
What arrangement do you have on board for photographers?
There is a separate camera wash tub and camera table on the back deck. There is also a work station provided in the forward lounge with 240V and 110V outlets for charging.
Is there internet access on board?
While on board Spirit of Freedom you can enjoy access to free WiFi when in range. Our satellite internet connection has limited bandwidth and is only suitable for general messaging and emails. It is NOT possible to upload photos, videos or use streaming services. High-speed broadband is not available.
What food and beverages are provided?
Lunch and dinner are provided on the day of departure, with four meals per day on ensuing days, and breakfast on the day of your return to Cairns. The four 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.
We will serve you ene complimentary drink (house wine, beer or a soft drink) with your evening meal. Outside of this time we operate a ship’s bar with a selection of Australian beers, wines and soft drinks. 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.
Food Allergen Statement
Do I need Travel Insurance and Dive 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 affect our trips.
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.
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.
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 regarding 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.
Do you accommodate for mobility impaired passengers?
Due to steep stairwells, hatch combings and a lack of accommodation on the main deck, Spirit of Freedom is not a suitable vessel for people with mobility impairments.
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 on the sundeck.
What about tipping?
Our crew’s only agenda is ensuring your enjoyment and safety. Tipping is not mandatory in Australia and is completely optional on Spirit of Freedom. If you choose to recognise the service provided, please make your gratuity at the end of the trip to the Trip Director. Any tips received on Spirit of Freedom are equally distributed to all the crew on board for your trip.
Departures, Transfers and Luggage
When and where does the Thursday trip depart?
Boarding is from 11.15 -11.30am Thursday morning, for a 12 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 Sunday trip depart?
You will need to check in at Hinterland Aviation by 8am, 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.
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 transfers. We also do not offer airport pick-ups, but can drop you to the airport after your Spirit of Freedom trip.
What are the luggage weight restrictions for the flight to and from Lizard Island?
Due to the fuel requirements for the light aircraft flight, guests on the 3 day and 4 day tours are limited to a total baggage allowance of 20kg (45lb) per person 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?
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 they pick you up from your hotel and they will label your luggage for you. They 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.
I'm flying into Cairns on the morning of departure. Will you pick me up from the airport?
We strongly recommend arriving into Cairns at least the day prior to your trip, as flight delays or lost baggage may cause inconvenience or you may even miss the boat. However, if you must fly into Cairns on the departure day, please note that you will need to make your own way to the departure point.
What level of diving experience is required?
For the Ribbon Reef itinerary the minimum level is Open Water Diver, with a minimum of 10 ocean dives including 5 dives in the last 12 months. (Scuba Diver is not accepted).
For the Coral Sea the minimum certification level is Advanced Open Water Diver, with 20 ocean dives including 5 dives within the last 12 months and a good level of physical fitness.
For your safety, your diving may be limited if your experience, physical fitness or skills do not match our dive site conditions. All our itineraries are in isolated, remote areas and include diving in open water exposed to wind, swell and currents. Sheltered calm water suitable for ‘easy’ diving is not available.
For all diving, if you are inexperienced 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. Ask our friendly Reservations Team for options here in Cairns.
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 Ribbon Reef tour offers up to 11 dives, the 4 Day Coral Sea tour offers up to 15 dives, and the 7 Day tour offers up to 26 dives.
Is night diving included in my itinerary?
Yes, there will be one night dive dive on the Ribbon Reef trip and one night dive on the Coral Sea trip. On the seven day trip, there will be two night dives available.
How is the diving conducted?
As our guest, you are free to enjoy your own diving style, within the boundaries of safe and responsible diving. As such we set no limits on time, depth or style of diving outside of normal safe diving practices. You and your buddy are in charge, planning your own dive and diving your own plan. Buddy teams may follow one of our inexperienced groups, led by a Safety Diver, and come and go as you please.
Every dive begins with a detailed dive briefing. The dive staff are on deck providing surface support including a safety lookout. When available, dive staff may be in-water offering support with photography and critter spotting. Spirit of Freedom does not offer a full guided dive service. Our Safety Divers are assigned to those divers who are at risk or to assist students.
What equipment is provided in the price?
Spirit of Freedom provides mask, snorkel, boots, fins, tanks, weights and weight belts. We also supply safety equipment including surface marker buoys, whistles and Nautilus LifeLine Marine GPS. Cylaume sticks and torches will also be provided for night diving.
Do I have to use a dive computer?
Yes, all divers must dive with their own (or our rental) dive computers.
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:
- regulator with integrated dive computer
- wrist mount dive computer, wetsuits
- torch and cyalume sticks
- mask and snorkel
- open-heeled fins with wetsuit booties
Torches and cyalume sticks are provided for the night dive, however you can hire a torch for the remaining dives.
What is the recommended weight wetsuit?
Lycra skin to 3mm in the summer (October – March) and 5mm in the winter (April – September). 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 full length suits.
What size are the tanks?
The majority of our tanks are 12 litre (80 cubic feet) aluminium tanks. We also have a limited number of 10.5 litre (65 cubic ft) tanks for our smaller guests and 15 litre steel tanks.
Is Nitrox available on board?
Yes, Nitrox fills are set at 32% which you can purchase by the fill or 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. Nitrox courses are available on board.
Do I need a dive medical?
For guests over the age of 65, a dive medical is requested for your own safety and our duty of care. There is no maximum age on board Spirit of Freedom, and if you are fit and healthy to dive, we would love to have you join us.
As a certified diver, generally a dive medical is not required. However, if you have a history of a medical condition that contraindicates 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 or medications.
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 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 are your recommendations for flying after diving and what time is the last dive?
Spirit of Freedom recommends a minimum surface interval of 24 hours before flying after multiple dives over multiple days. The last dive of the trip will generally be completed around 5:00pm the day before you leave the vessel. 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 operates in remote and isolated locations north and east of Cairns.
Spirit of Freedom recommends that all passengers carry insurance to cover for a medivac from the reef. DAN Travel Assist will cover emergency evacuations and time in the chamber.
Can I complete my Open Water Course on board?
Unfortunately we do not 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 Divers Den, allowing you to enjoy the freedom of diving with us as a certified diver. Please contact our Reservations Team who will happily assist you in organising your training dives.
General Travel Info
When is the best time of year for diving in Cairns?
The Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea offers great diving year-round! During Cairns’ winter (May to August) the water is a little cooler and offers great visibility and beautiful clear days, but sometimes stronger winds. During this season we also encounter minke whales.
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.
I need assistance with accommodation and tours in Cairns
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 Department of Home Affairs.
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