7 Night Great Reef Census 2024 Expedition

Take part in the Census with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and Spirit of Freedom

7 Night Great Reef Census 2024 Expedition

DIVE LEVEL:  We recommend this Great Barrier Reef dive liveaboard trip to Advanced Divers, or divers with at least 20 logged ocean dives including 5 in the past 12 months. 

DEPARTS CAIRNS: Thurs 12 December 16:00    RETURNS CAIRNS: Thurs 19 December 07:30

DIVES: 26 (including two night dives)

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Liveaboard Dive Trip Overview

Calling all passionate conservationists and marine biology enthusiasts!

Join us on an incredible adventure onboard Spirit of Freedom for the Great Reef Census 2024 Expedition, where you’ll have the opportunity to dive and snorkel the Ribbon Reefs. Step aboard Spirit of Freedom, a vessel committed to sustainable practices and conservation, great service, and amazing food.

During this expedition, you’ll be actively involved in the Great Reef Census, collecting crucial data through reconnaissance images. This information plays a key role in understanding the status of the Great Barrier Reef, allowing scientists and conservationists to make informed decisions for its protection. Your contribution as a citizen scientist will directly impact the conservation outcomes of this globally significant project. Immerse yourself in the captivating world of the Great Barrier Reef as you upskill in field techniques and gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of marine ecosystems.

Join us on this transformative trip and become a key player in the Great Barrier Reef’s conservation story. Book your place now and contribute your time, expertise, and enthusiasm to a cause that will shape the future of our oceans.

Can’t stay for the full 7 nights? You can take part in the census trip with either our 3-night trip departing on the 28th of November, or the 4-night trip departing on the 1st of December.

Ready to book? Best Price Guarantee

Book directly with us, the owners and operators of Spirit of Freedom.
Get instant confirmation and direct access to our team of dive experts.
Plus, be first to know about special offers - we guarantee you won't find a cheaper price.

Cabins & Rates

Liveaboard Dive Trip Prices are AUD$ per person and include:

  • Chef prepared meals & snacks, wine and soft drink are included with the evening meal.
  • Tanks, air fills, Nautilus Lifeline and weight belt. Full equipment rental available.
  • Daily cabin service.
  • Cairns hotel or Airport transfers.
  • GST and all reef levies and fees.

Located on the top deck with internal stairwell access to the main deck, as well as external access to the top deck and dive deck, the Ocean View Deluxe Cabin boats a 10.5m² area with 3 large windows overlooking the starboard side of the vessel. 

A comfy double bed will ensure you are well rest for a full day of diving. The room features bedside tables, wardrobe and 26″ flat screen TV.

The cabin is fully air-conditioned and has its own private bathroom.

Double or Sole occupancy only.

Ocean View Deluxe Cabin

Our Ocean View cabin is located on the top deck with internal stairwell access to the main deck, as well as external access to the top deck and dive deck.

As the name suggests, you will enjoy stunning views from this air conditioned 7.2m² cabin, which contains a double bed, private bathroom, a wardrobe and 26” flat screen TV.

Double or Sole Occupancy only. 

Ocean View Standard Cabin

The largest of all cabins onboard the vessel, The Stateroom cabin is located in a private area on the lower deck, close to the dive deck and dining saloon.

Fully air-conditioned, this spacious 12m² cabin contains a queen size bed, a private bathroom, extra shelving, wardrobe, bedside tables and 26″ flat screen TV.

Double or Sole Occupancy only: no twin share option available.

The Stateroom

Spirit of Freedom has seven standard double or twin share cabins. Five of these cabins contain a double bed with a single bed over the top, bunk style. One cabin contains just a double bed and one cabin has two single beds.

These cabins are all located on the lower deck, with easy access to the main deck and have an average area of 10m² square metres in area. 

Fully air-conditioned, the cabins have an ensuite bathroom and also contain a wardrobe, personal reading light and a bedside table. 

 Please advise your preference for double or twin share when placing your booking. Sole occupancy also available. 

Standard Double or Twin Share

Located midships on the lower deck, the quad share cabin containing four single beds, bunk style and is a great options for groups or families as you explore the Great Barrier Reef on your epic dive adventure. 

This 9m² cabin has easy access to the main deck and includes a private ensuite bathroom and personal reading lights for each bed. 

The cabin is fully air-conditioned and also contains a wardrobe, as well as storage under the bottom two bunks. 

Quad Share Cabin

Ribbon Reefs + Coral Sea Diver Safety

  • Only the Ribbon Reefs portion of this trip is suitable for snorkellers.
  • Diver experience recommendation: Advanced Diver certification with a minimum of 20 ocean dives, including 5 dives in the last 12 months.
  • Guests must be 16 years of age or over at the date of departure.
  • Buddy teams are responsible for planning and conducting their own dives as we do not offer a full guided dive service. For guided dives, we recommend a Great Barrier Reef Day Trip.
  • Ocean diving is a fun but strenuous activity - reduced physical fitness or limited scuba diving experience may limit your ability to participate fully. Safety is our number one priority. If in doubt, we recommend a Scuba Diver Refresher course prior to your trip.
  • Diver Health: If you have a medical condition or are currently taking prescription medication, you will need medical clearance before joining a dive liveaboard trip. Please contact us for guidance.


The Spirit of Freedom courtesy bus will pick you up from your Cairns hotel around 11:00 am to transfer you to Trinity Wharf. There you will be greeted by the Spirit of Freedom crew, who will give you an orientation of the vessel before on you depart on your 3-night liveaboard dive trip at 12 noon. 

Enjoy lunch on board while we cruise to the outer Great Barrier Reef for an afternoon check-out dive and a twilight dive. 

After dinner we cruise north to dive the Ribbon Reefs.

These two days are spent diving along the Ribbon Reefs, from Number 3 to Number 10 Ribbon Reefs.

Dive sites and sequence may vary depending on the weather conditions, but will always include at least one dive at the Cod Hole, where you encounter a family of massive and very friendly Potato Cod. Other sites may include Wonder-wall, Pixie Pinnacle, Challenger Bay, Two Towers, Lighthouse Bommie, and the Snake Pit, just to name a few. 

If the current is right, you may also take a drift dive at Dynamite Pass, well know as a channel for sharks to pass through. See the Ribbon Reef page for site selection of some of our dive sites on the Ribbon Reefs. 4 to 5 dives will be available each day, including a night dive on Friday. On Saturday evening we overnight at Watson’s Bay, Lizard Island, and enjoy a sunset BBQ dinner on the top deck.

This morning after breakfast you will have the opportunity to go ashore at Lizard Island. This is a good chance to stretch your legs on land at the halfway point of your trip! We recommend taking the guided walk from Watson’s Beach to Mary Watson’s cottage, over Chinaman’s Ridge, and back to the beach.

Around 11 am we will cruise back to Ribbon Reef Number 10 for two dives at a choice of sites including the Snake Pit, Cod Hole, Challenger Bay, Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Wall, and Pixie Pinnacle. 

If the tide permits we may repeat a dive at the Cod Hole or visit new sites. We depart in the evening for a 10-hour crossing to Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea.

Two days will be spent diving Osprey Reef (weather permitting). Australia’s Coral Sea reefs are renowned for their crystal clear water, with visibility ranging from 30 to 100 metres. The landscape is amazing, with sheer walls laced with gorgonian fans, sea whips, and bright yellow soft corals, rising from the ocean floor thousands of feet below. 

‘North Horn’ is a dive site at the tip of Osprey where grey reef sharks, silvertips, and the occasional oceanic congregate, and you can experience a close encounter with the Spirit of Freedom shark attraction dive. Four to five dives will be available each day, including a night dive on Monday. 

See our Coral Sea and Osprey Reef dive sites here. 

On Tuesday night we will depart Osprey Reef for overnight travel to the Ribbon Reefs.

At Ribbon Reef Number 3 we will dive such sites as the sensational Steve’s Bommie, Temple of Doom, and Flare Point. A second option for this day, in special weather conditions, is to head south from Osprey to Bougainville Reef, known for its unusual underwater landscape or caverns, and its partially submerged wreck. 

On Wednesday evening we will cruise overnight back to Cairns.

We arrive back in Cairns at 6:30 am. Enjoy a light breakfast onboard and a group photo opportunity, before being dropped back to your Cairns accommodation around 8.00 am.

Trip Map

Cairns Liveaboard Diving Map

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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.

Spirit of Freedom can accommodate a maximum of 24 guests during a liveaboard dive trip, and operates with a minimum of 12 crew members.

Yes, Travel Insurance is strongly recommended. You can get a free quote for liveaboard dive insurance here.

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 60 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.

Spirit of Freedom provides divers with a mask, snorkel, boots, fins, tanks, weights, and weight belts. We also supply safety equipment including surface marker buoys, whistles, and Nautilus LifeLine Marine GPS. Cyalume sticks and torches will also be provided for night diving.

For more detail on what equipment is available aboard Spirit of Freedom, visit our equipment rental page.

An action camera (i.e. a GoPro) so you can capture images for the census! Other than that, bring what you would for any liveaboard trip. If you’re not sure what that is, we have a suggested packing list here.

Yes, guests need to be a minimum of 16 years of age at the time of departure. 


Don’t just take our word for it, here are just some recent reviews for this trip. 

Florida, USA
Wonderful Dive Trip – Every dive was a shark dive
What an amazing trip! We saw huge marine life. Devil Rays, Mantas, Dolphins, Sharks, Cuddle Fish, the list goes on and on. Staff was wonderful.
I wish I could set my alarm at home to James voice saying “Dive Time”

What an experience! Thank you Spirit of Freedom team, including Scottie, Jared, James, Anne, Gio and all for an incredible trip.

The food was great, accommodation and arrangements organised like clockwork and dive sites were phenomenal.

So good to see that Australia still has such a diverse and alive Great Barrier Reef. And the whale shark coming up to the boat to play was just magical to top it all off!!