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“A good day out but not special” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Derwent Hunter Day Tours

Derwent Hunter Day Tours
Shingley Drive | Abell Point Marina South, Airlie Beach, Queensland 4802, Australia
+61 7 4946 7124
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Owner description: Tall Ship Day Sailing on board the Australian legend Derwent Hunter. Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef. Help sail, snorkel fringing reefs, explore coral atolls of Langford Reef and Bali Hai. Multi award winning for adventure and eco tourism. Departs Airlie Beach.
Nottingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
239 reviews
68 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 167 helpful votes
“A good day out but not special”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2014

All in all, I rate the Derwent Hunter as a good day out. There are a few issues, but given the age of the ship and the conditions that it has to deal with, you have to expect some people to get a bit grumpy about the day.

The food, staff and general condition of the ship and the equipment, including the toilets are first rate, however, the seating is not luxurious and you do struggle a little to keep out of the sun, which at 3pm can be blistering. I suggest that if you want a comfortable perch, you take a padded mat of some sort. What dosn't help the space issue is the number of guests and the fact that some ignorant people insist on lying prostrate over several seating positions. Our trip on Boxing Day was fully booked and did get a little cosey at times. The Derwent Hunter is a converted fishing boat cum racing yacht, not a luxury cruise liner or pleasure boat.

On our trip, the sea was mill pond flat with absolutly no wind so we had to motor all the way to the islands and 90% of the way back, just using the sails for about 15 minutes to see if they would work. The crew actually admitted that they hoist the sails more for shade than power. This is not the fault of the ship, no wind is an issue you will have to take up with a higher being than the captain. I can understand people being miffed by this, especially if you wanted to sail, but wind is wind, or not, as the case may be.

Due to using the engine, time on the reef was limited and because it was so hot, the wildlife was limited to a few fish. We did not get time to walk on the islands and snorkle, you really had to pick one or the other. We had no issue with the shuttle, it dropped you on the beach, you grabbed a foam noodle and off you went. A noodle is essential, even if you are an Olympic swimmer. It gives you bouyancy and saves you energy so you can fin round more of the reef. I am a diver and having previously dived the reef off Cairns, I thought that the coral on this trip was much better and more colourfull than Cairns.

We took a couple of litres of our own water so didn't have to buy any, but I do agree that a captive audiance should be given some free water, even just tap from a cooler like they do on many other trips in Australia. Water in this part of the world is a necessity not a luxury. Beer and pop are totally different issues, you want it, you pay, no problem. The same goes for sea sick pills. If you suffer, buy some before you set sail, lots of chemists in town, in short, be prepared.

The wierdest thing of the whole day was the bus trip to the boat. On booking from the UK, I was told that the bus trip from Marina Shores was essential as it was too far to walk. We waited 45 minutes for the bus as it was late, we got on, it struggled to do a 5 point turn on our drive and then went up the hill, turned left, down the hill and stopped in the marina that we could see from the bus stop??? The night before, we had walked further to the Sorrento restaurant for dinner.

I would reccommend this trip, but bear in mind that the weather, hot/cold/rain/wind/sun etc, will have a huge effect on your day, be prepared.

Visited December 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jo L, Owner at Derwent Hunter Day Tours, responded to this review, February 6, 2014
Thank you for your positive feedback about our tour, we are glad to hear that you had a good day. With regard to your bus pick up, we apologize but there must have been a mis communication about our pick up time, which should have been at 7.30am. Six months ago we were departing from a different marina, with an earlier pick up time and believe that this is where the error occurred. We do apologize for this.
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“could do a lot better than this”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2014

Cant believe you can pay $180 for a boat trip and then you have to pay extra for a drink of water.
This boat trip was over crowded with nowhere to sit comfortably.
The health and safety briefings seemed to last forever and when we did get some snorkeling it was all too brief.
The boat is beautiful but is very old and is not built for 35 people to crowd on deck on a day trip. Should be 15 people maximum and then they might all have somewhere to sit.
Was a bit bumpy on the way out and guess what they charge for sea sickness tablets too. Very miserly.

Visited January 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jo L, Owner at Derwent Hunter Day Tours, responded to this review, February 7, 2014
Thank you for your feedback. In relation to the inclusions we are one of the few tours in Airlie Beach to include marine park fees, wetsuits, lunch. Tap water and tea/coffee/Milo are also provided free of charge. All details are included on our brochure.
Sea sickness tablets are sold at cost price. Generally most seasickness medication is recommended to be taken a few hours prior to going out on the water for best effect, we carry a few tablets on board for anyone who has not been prepared. We will take on board your comments.
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Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
12 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Would have done a tour every day if I could have!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2014

Bus pick up from hotel, driver was a hoot, fantastic staff getting you organised and on board ship, kickass crew and captain, and thoroughly surprisingly wonderful food.
2 adults and 6 kids, 17yrs-12yrs. I was a bit worried about having all the kids out snorkelling and whether I would actually enjoy myself having to monitor the troop, but the crew watch and monitor everyone and patrol the perimeter where you snorkel so I was able to relax and enjoy myself knowing my kids had many eyes on them.
It was educational also which the kids loved.
The bonus was seeing 2 turtles and a dolphin!
Will be back to do it again next visit to Airlie Beach.

Visited January 2014
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Jo L, Owner at Derwent Hunter Day Tours, responded to this review, January 12, 2014
Thanks for the great review, we enjoy sharing our ship and our wonderful coral reefs with the kids and love their enthusiasm for everything they do. We limit the number of children on board so that we can offer that extra special attention and experience. See you next time!
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Buenos Aires
Level Contributor
40 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“A fair and complete review on the Derwent Hunter day tour.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2014

Contrary to most reviews here, this day tour was somewhat of a disappointment to me -and to several other passengers as well. I also found that some statements in their brochure didn't exactly represent what we encountered, so I will provide you with a detiled description of our personal experience, so you can decide if it's worth your while.

1) The most important flaw, in my opinion, is that this tour is sort of a pointless trip to nowhere. Three hours and a half each way to snorkel a very short time on a small reef that pales in comparison to the outer Barrier Reef is, unless you are a sailing fanatic, not much worth it in my opinion. So it's mostly about the journey, not the destination. And then again, the sailing part could be better, as you will read below.

2) The brochure describes "comfortable seating space". Not true. There is no real comfortable seating space at all, this is not a cruise but a sail ship, so you have to find a spot on the deck and there is hardly enough for all under the shade. Some people have to stand at times or sit under the sun or wherever they can find a spot.

3) The brochure also states the ship has "huge, stable decks". Not so. The Derwent Hunter will indeed rock and roll if you encounter heavy winds as we did. Several people got sick and threw up overboard. Ginger anti-sickness pills were then sold (not given away) at AUD 2.50 each. They usually run at double that, the "sale" was due to the uncomfortable sailing conditions. You might want to take your own water also, as it is sold on board (as well as soft drinks and beer).

4) The whole tall-ship sailing experience is totally missed as you motor-sail for the most part (they turn off the engine for a brief moment and only then you can really enjoy the pleasure of actual sailing), and when sitting in the shade, you can't even see the sails as the (necessary) awning blocks your view. True, you can go under the sun to watch them but then you will burn after a while.

5) Come snorkelling time, we were taken to a beach on a dinghy, and left there to swim back into the sea for about half an hour against the current until we could finally reach the buoy they set to mark what presumably was the beginning of the reef wall. We are still wondering why they didn't drop us at the buoy in the first place; our children (11) were exhausted by the time we made it there, and this shortened the exploration time dramatically.

7) The brochure also shows photos of people "chilling out in the beach", and "beach walks" but this didn't happen at all. Maybe due to the fact that there was a lot of wind that day, who knows, nobody gave us any kind of explanation.

On a positive note, the crew is indeed very friendly and the food is abundant and home-made.

Would I recommend it? Not really. There is nothing wrong about it, but not much right either. Next time, I would rather spend the extra money to rent an actual sailboat to navigate the islands, or take the tour to the outer reef to see plenty more marine life.

Visited January 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TallshipsAustralia, Owner at Derwent Hunter Day Tours, responded to this review, January 5, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to review our tour and for your kind words in relation to our friendly crew and abundant food.

We are sorry to hear that the tour was not everything you had hoped for.
Given the length to sail time to your destination I can presume that you sailed with us on Saturday 4 Jan, on this particular day the Whitsundays were experiencing North Westerly wind conditions of 20-25knts (in the summer sun) which made the Whitsunday passage and many snorkelling locations inaccessible. It also created challenges for ferries heading to the outer reef, whitehaven beach and most whitsunday locations. For this reason, our sailing adventure headed to a more protected area for snorkelling, which meant a longer time under sail and a later arrival time back in Airlie Beach. On the same day we were also experiencing large tides which again affects the speed of which we can travel.

We are an adventure sailing tour, and are subject to weather conditions, on this particular day we had slightly choppier seas than usual and reduced visability, neither of which we can control. Some days it is necessary for us to use our motor as well as our sail power and "motor sail" especially when pushing the tide as we do our best to balance our time snorkelling vs sailing time.

Our feedback forms from the trip show that guests saw turtles, fish and corals and enjoyed the wind in the sails and the waves on the way home. Clearly the conditions did not suit all guests on this particular day, but our crew did their best to provide the best trip given wind/tide/weather conditions.

In relation to your comments on the stable platform of the ship, we do offer a stable platform with minimal heeling in comparison to say a racing style yacht that is angled at 60% for the day. We do not intend to mislead anyone booking on the ship as the photo graphs do show the space seating areas and shade provided. We aim to provide as much comfort as is possible within the capabilities of an historic tallship on a sailing adventure.

Once again we thank you for your feedback, and we encourage you to contact us directly if you would like to discuss anything raised in more detail.
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A'foort
2 reviews
“Great time sailing and snorkeling!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2013

We had a great time and saw a lot of turtles while snorkeling!
Good food and nice staff.

Greets
Koen from Amersfoort , Holland.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jo L, Owner at Derwent Hunter Day Tours, responded to this review, January 6, 2014
Thanks for the review :-)
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