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“The crew made this trip really special”
Review of Reef Encounter

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Reef Encounter
Ranked #1 of 85 Specialty Lodging in Cairns
Certificate of Excellence
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
“The crew made this trip really special”
Reviewed January 28, 2014

The crew was dedicated to their job and to the people onboard the boat. Their passion for the ocean made me excited about the ocean as well. I always felt safe with Nigel at the helm, I couldn't have asked for a more supportive person than Lucy to take me on my first scuba dive ever, and Scotty never left my side during my first night dive. The chefs went above and beyond to make sure that as a vegetarian I was well taken care of with excellent food, and every member of the crew was so kind, I felt I had made a new set of friends after just 2 nights on board.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank ilovejellyfishes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Aarhus, Denmark
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2014

I went on this liveaboard dive trip in mid-Januar 2014 (wet season) as a certified diver for a 2d/1n trip and can't stop raving about it! I went on recommendation from my hostel manager, as my originally planed divetrip was booked out, and I didn't really expect much... how wrong was I!

Transfer with the dayboat was smooth and easy. They have a reserved space upstairs for people transferring to the liveaboard boat, and I was transfered over to it immediately when we got out on the reef.

I got on the liveaboard boat, only to realize I was THE ONLY CUSTOMER for that trip (!), which meant I had the whole boat, the whole crew, and (not the least) the whole reef to myself!!! And they'd upgraded me to their best ensuite room as well, at no extra charge... How often in your life do you get to experience something like that???!!! Totally VIP rockstar incognito diving, for the price of a backpacker bunk bed trip! They even ended up throwing in an extra dive...

I've never been on such a spacious and luxurious dive boat before in my life (and I've been on quite a few around the world...). All the dive gear was brand new and the boat seemed newly renovated everywhere. For a change neither the pictures nor the text in the promotion material was too good. It really is a floating boutique hotel! And the service level of the staff is by far living up to that standard!

My room was huge with an ensuite bathroom and sea view, the bed was great and even had a proper duvet, there was a bed lamp and pleasant lighting in the room, and they provide all the needed towels and toiletries for your trip. A nice feature was the dryer next to where you store the dive gear. Throw your wet towel in before the next dive, and you have a hot and dry one for when you come back! All these little details were carefully thought through, so you never needed anything!

The staff was extremely welcoming, helpful and friendly and kept bending over backwards to make my stay as pleasant as possible according to my wishes. They read me very well, gave me space when I needed that, and happily made me join in on the social side of the crew when I felt like that. Lots of good chats and good laughs! There was no problem cooking according to my dietary needs, and the food was excellent and plenty! The chef would even ask me before each meal what I'd like to have!

The diving was... well, can you imagine having the whole reef to yourself and your buddy? Especially the night dive and early morning dive… With no one to scare away the marine life before you enter, you just get to see SO MUCH on the GBR! Reef sharks, rays, turtles, moray eels, giant trevally, parrotfish, potato cod, "Nemo" and all the other usual suspects on the GBR... And the coral was healthy everywhere we went at Hastings and Saxon Reef (my favourite). If you want better diving than that out of Cairns, you’ll need much more time to go much, much further away (like Osprey Reef). And you’ll pay 4-5 times as much!

There were lots of excellent dive masters on the boat to take me diving, and they planned the dives according to my level of dive experience and with variation in routes, so I got to see the entire reef and never felt like repeating a dive. Apart from the very first dive (just after the transfer) we were away from other dive boats and had it all to ourselves.

The diving at Hastings and Saxon Reef is fairly shallow (max 20m), but there's still plenty of variation in the dives (drift dives, walls, bommies, coral gardens, swim through's etc). There's a dive time limit of 40 min, but it makes sense according to the schedule: I did 7 dives in about 25 hours...! You simply can't squeeze more diving in. And the dive masters I went diving with timed the dives impeccably to 40 min!

Because the liveaboard boat is out on the reef all the time and they have the dayboat for transfers, you can go out any day and stay for as many nights you want, and they can take in a single customer like me, and you're not depending on others to book, too (fab for a single traveller with limited time!). The staff will have other tasks to do in a quiet period like this (maintenance, training etc), but I barely noticed that. I truly felt they were all there for me! And they don't let you spend more time on the dayboat than needed for the transfers!

I'd like to thank every one on the boat for giving me this incredible once in a lifetime experience! I had the best of times and find it hard to pull my arms down again and stop raving about you guys!

This is a new company, family owned and operated locally with a limited PR budget compared to others of the operators in the area. I wish them all the best, and to other travellers and certified divers I can only say: Go, go go!!!! You won't regret it! It's top quality all the way through, you'll have the best of times, they know how to cater for experienced divers, and they have some great mooring locations on the reef and know how to dive them to perfection! And if you’re there during the wet season, don’t let the weather in Cairns turn you off from going out. The weather is always better out on the reef! And you might get as lucky as I was regarding (the lack of) other customers ;-)

It's an excellent liveaboard dive experience in all aspects of the word. Chilled out and efficient at the same time. And very luxurious! I'll definitely be back when in Cairns next time!

Extremely good value for the money and very high quality all the way through!

Thank you so much!!!!!!! This was a once in a lifetime experience! Thank you so much for giving me that! I felt like a royal, or a superstar ;-) Five stars aren't enough for my review! Can I please add an extra?

Room Tip: They upgraded me from a shared bunk bed room to the stateroom ensuite due to the lack of other custo...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank Turid1966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

I came on this trip in mid-December, as part of my grand tour across Australia with my friends. We stayed for 2 nights and 3 days, and I had a wonderful experience. The rooms were clean; the food was fantastic; and of course the dives were spectacular. To receive an open-water certification, my friend and I did a number of skills dives off the coastline. There is no more scenic way to get your certification!

One of the most memorable dives was the night dive we elected to do, with the sky lit up with bright stars.

Karl was our instructor, and he was very knowledgeable and patient. I always felt safe learning from him, despite the fact that I am mildly afraid of the idea of diving in the ocean.

Great experience all around!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Jen P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
39 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

I stayed for 4 days 3 nights Top Deck and it definitely was not long enough. I was travelling alone for the first time and was quite apprehensive but I had no need to be. The care and attention I received throughout was 2nd to none. The food was amazing, the room was fabulous and all the staff/crew were fantastic. I was fortunate enough to get Karl looking after me and also as my guide out on the reef making the whole trip an awesome experience I will never forget and will definitely be repeating. Although quite expensive it is definitely well worth every cent and I would recommend this trip to everyone.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank anne h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
2 reviews
Reviewed January 14, 2014

Did a one night stay with my bf, we enjoyed 6 lovely dives including a not as scary as I thought it would be night dive. Only mishap was when I was slammed and dropped off the side of the boat three times by two crew members. Neither of them asked if I was ok or even acknowledged their rough handling. I will always have the bruises on my chest and leg to remember the trip :I Sad to leave it on that note, it was really an amazing experience until then!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank OiJess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 13, 2014

We stayed for 3 days, 2 nights on the Reef Encounter, and I wish we had stayed longer! The crew was great - the reef was incredible - the food was excellent. Our rooms were larger than most live aboards we have been on, and they were both bright and clean. As long as you have the correct certifications, the dive masters will let you and your dive partner go freely through the reef. They also allow you to take a guide with you, if that's more your style.

I cannot speak more highly of this group! Enjoy your trip to the reef! We will be back again soon.

Room Tip: They have single cabins and double cabins - all seem to be similarly sized.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nicole G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 12, 2014

Our stay on the Reef Encounter was absolutely fantastic ! The ship is very clean, the food is great and the stuff is wonderful and friendly.
We booked a 2 day liveaboard and we are really happy about the decision to make 5 introductory diving sessions with Macca, the dive instructor.
Familiar atmosphere and the fantastic reef made a perfect time for us. Thanks to the hole crew.
All the best from Matthias and Christiane (Hamburg, Germany)

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Matthias K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Reef Encounter

Property: Reef Encounter
Address: 100 Abbott St, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia
Phone Number:
Location: Australia > Queensland > Cairns Region > Cairns
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 85 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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