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“Sleeping on the reef” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Reef Encounter

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Reef Encounter
4.0 of 5 Specialty Hotel   |   100 Abbott Street, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 84 Specialty Lodging in Cairns
Brisbane, Australia
2 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Sleeping on the reef”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2014

My 11 yr old daughter and I have just returned from 2 days and 1 night on the Reef Encounter. While the weather was a little rough (the luck of the weather gods) the crew couldn't have been more helpful or friendly. Being first time snorkelers, each time we went out we asked to have a crew member join us. Which was wonderful! They added to the richness of the experience, by taking us to places they thought cool stuff might be, pointing things out and dealing with the current and timings, so that we could just enjoy looking at the reef. P.S. The meals are hearty and huge :)

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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297 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    248
    33
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (46)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Norwegian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Sydney
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2014

Why look elsewhere ? I searched the internet for hours and heard this was the best boat.
1. Australian owned
2. Family business so great personal touch- thanks for loaning me the hair dryer Tori!
3. Biggest most luxury boat in the area.
4. Chef mAde fab meals on time! Plenty of food :)
5. Very professional operation. Safety was paramount , lots of head checks, smiles and great advice on exiting the reef.
6. Very clean rooms, hot showers and plenty of lovely staff on board to help you!

I can't recommend this trip enough. I did the 3 day, 2 night 10 dive trip and it was incredible!
Just do it!!!!

Stayed July 2014, traveled solo
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014 via mobile

I stayed on the Reef Encounter for 2day 1 night trip, the rooms are clean, you can walk around everywhere with barefoot without making it get dirty.
The meals are amazing!! The dinner and the breakfast.....wonderful!! 5 star restaurant on the sea.
The crew are friendly, too. With the great value n reasonable price, I recommend reef encounter to everybody.

  • Stayed June 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2014

I've been diving for 34 years and this is the best live-aboard I've been on. Accommodation was very comfortable; configuration and management of the boat was very efficient; the diving operation was well thought out with maximum safely checks in place; food was excellent. But above all, the crew (dive, galley, bar and housekeeping) were all absolutely superb.
I may have been missing something but I never believed an Australian company could deliver service like this. Just a couple of examples. On our second night, the chef (yes chef not cook!) approached us and said she was to make the same desert as the night before for the new guests but that she would do a souffle especially for us if we wished. We did, she did and it was delicious. Before pouring a glass of wine, Torey (the hotel manager) insists on polishing the glass!. By the way the wines were very drinkable - and I'm fussy.
Would we go again? Definitely, but our next trip will be to the Cod Hole/Ribbon Reefs. If this boat were to go there, we'd definitely be on it.

Room Tip: Our room (312) was on deck 3 towards the rear. This gave us excellent access to the gear area so tha...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Omaha, Nebraska
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2014

My wife and I spent May 23-26 on a "Top Deck" trip with Reef Encounter. This was part of us traveling to Australia to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We have traveled extensively over the last 25 years and this may have been the best four days of vacation we have experienced so far.

Top Deck elevates the experience, as a crew person is assigned to you for the duration of your trip. If you're diving, they're also your guide. For that reason alone, Top Deck was a good idea for us.

We had decided that if we were going to Australia we would scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. We had, however, never dove before. We took classes with DiVentures in Omaha, but left our open water dives for the trip. We boarded Reef Encounter as somewhat nervous novice divers and left with a passion for our next open water diving experience. The crew member assigned to us, Craig, played a major role in helping us find that passion.

We were confident enough that we took advantage of the night dive on the third night and found ourselves regretting skipping the night dive on the second night. It was amazing. On the 11th dive on our last day, we were introduced to Frank, the Maori Wrasse. He likes to be petted and after five minutes of playing with him, Craig signaled that we needed to move on...and Frank followed us. Amazing! At the end of 12th and last dive, we were eight dives beyond gaining our open water certification and wishing we had planned more than four days on board.

The crew of the Reef Encounter balances professionalism with passion and fun. Diving was carefully managed and tracked and the gear was excellent.

As great as the diving was, it was not the only highlight of the trip. When we boarded Reef Experience-the day boat that also shuttles people to Reef Encounter-we were introduced to Craig, who took us to reserved seating and served us our breakfast…this was the beginning of four days of pampering and fun.

Not long after we boarded Reef Encounter we were introduced to Josh, who was going to be chef during our stay. He asked us what our preferences were for dining. This is because Top Deck customers are served special dinners that are served anywhere on the boat the customer desires. We told Josh that we’d leave the choices to him and that we wanted him to have fun cooking for us. We were not disappointed.

The first night Craig set us up in the wheelhouse, which was decorated with special lighting and an elegant table setting, the second under the stars on the top deck, and the last night back in the wheelhouse. Each meal that was served to us was worthy of a top end restaurant.

Our cabin was at the front of the boat with wrap around windows, its own bathroom with shower, and a very comfortable bed. Over the four days if we needed something, all we needed to do is ask…and in many cases, never needed to.

Reef Encounter is a family owned business that works as a family. It’s clear that the crew has a strong bond and that the ownership is focused on building a sense of family and customer service. The crew rotates regularly, so you might not have Craig or Josh on board, but from what we saw, we think you’d be in good hands no matter who’s crewing on the boat.

We noticed a common thread in all of the crew members we got to know—they set out on an adventure and found a home with Reef Encounter. It’s hard retaining dreamers and adventurers, but they’ve created an environment that makes their crew part of a family and in doing so, creates a wonderful experience for their guests.

Spending four days on Reef Encounter was like spending four days at a luxury hotel…that happens to be afloat, mobile, and provides a great diving experience. If we return to the Reef, we will return to Reef Encounter.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cologne, Germany
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2014 via mobile

I did my open water diver course on board of the Reef Encounter and stayed one extra night to do a night dive and some more dives as a certified diver.
It was awesome! In my course I had an instructor just for myself. The stuff is very friendly and the food is delicious!

  • Stayed May 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2014

I was looking for a live aboard/snorkeling reef trip while visiting Cairns and found an awesome experience with Reef Encounter. My husband and I were totally impressed with the accommodations, organization, snorkeling opportunities, diving instruction, safety precautions, food - the list just keeps going. I cannot think of anything that could be improved! But the absolute best aspect of our 3 day, 2 night trip was the staff. Tori and Christian task great care of everyone on the boat and in the water. All of the staff were personable, friendly, helpful, and most importantly - extremely safety conscience. I had never dived before but felt completely comfortable and did a night dive my first day! The staff tactfully volunteered to go out with people who were not completely comfortable snorkeling (the water was a bit choppy). If this is your once in a lifetime trip to the Great Barrier Reef, I highly recommend Reef Experience.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Reef Encounter

Address: 100 Abbott Street, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia
Phone Number:
Location: Australia > Queensland > Cairns Region > Cairns
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 84 Specialty Lodging in Cairns
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Reef Encounter 4*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Reef Encounter,Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Liveaboard is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef’s floating luxury boutique hotel. Spend one night or several nights on one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Transfers departing from Cairns, Queensland daily, offering guests a unique opportunity to enjoy the ultimate reef experience. Enjoy the sunsets, relax, snorkel or scuba dive the crystal clear blue waters. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Reef Encounter Hotel Great Barrier Reef

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