We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Fab experience m'hearties!”
Review of Compass Cruises

Compass Cruises
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Enjoy a wonderful reef day trip with Compass Cruises. Travel on the basic package and tailor your day by selecting the additional activities you wish! It’s the best outer Great Barrier Reef tour for value on the market. Your day includes: - Snorkeling Equipment- 5 hours on the Great Barrier Reef at 2 Outer Reef locations- Free scuba diving demonstration- Lunch prepared fresh daily at the reef- Boomnetting (weather permitting)- Wine & cheese on journey home- Tea and Coffee all day (whilst vessel is stationary)
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Fab experience m'hearties!”
Reviewed August 28, 2013

Just got back from Queensland and it was all a v. positive experience. We are a family of 2 adults and 3 teenage kids and were advised by our very helpful apartment owner (Coral Reef Apartments, Cairns - also excellent btw) to give Compass a shot as it was excellent value for money and was good as it took much smaller groups than some of the other boat trips. The staff were all so bright and perky and great fun without being over the top - they were safety conscious and helpful -nothing you could have asked would have been too much for them. They offered free ginger tablets for sea sickness or you could pay a small amount for medical tablets. Everyone took their advice about sea sickness and no one got sick. Just need to point out here that it was a 2 hour sail to the reef, and that we were overtaken by a few of the faster catamarans and other boats. However, on balance I think that that little extra travelling time was negated by the overall experience. We did snorkelling with the kids, but you could also go in a glass bottom boat or scuba dive. It was amazing and fabulous. We snorkelled at two different locations on the reef - both as good as each other and different from each other. As well as a plethora of colourful fish, my daughter saw a turtle. We hired wet suits, but actually the water was warm and we found that, although they are a good buoyancy aid if you are not so confident in the water (and protect against the coral if you happen by accident to scrape against it), it was difficult to dive down into the water with them on, so we abandoned ours. When the tide went out in some places you found yourself swimming very close to the coral and many of the fish really close up. On the way back our kids went on the boom net, which was hysterically funny to watch with people being flung off when the speed picked up (but immediately rescued by the follow boat), and many of the guests rested or sunbathed on deck. Food and drink was provided throughout the day, and the lunch was chicken and sausages (bbq'd on deck whilst we were snorkelling) and an array of amazing salads and fresh fruit. Tea or coffee avail if you wanted to warm up and water of course throughout day. The only disappointment, and this is nothing to do with Compass or the crew, is that the whales didn't want to play that day - all week they had been spotted, but not on our day out. BUT ... we did have dolphins speeding alongside the boat's stern (is that the right name for the front bit?) and jumping out of the water. All in all - I would thoroughly recommend this trip - the boat isn't the flashiest or fastest, but all the other good things about the trip way outweigh this fact. When we disembarked, I noticed crew from other ships solemnly wishing goodbye to their customers - not so our crew - still laughing and hugely energetic they were lined up to give us all a run of high fives! RECOMMENDED!!!!!

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Sandiehc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

579 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Level Contributor
26 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Great day aboard Compass”
Reviewed August 24, 2013

If you are on a budget this is the Great Barrier Reef Tour for you. The team were very knowledgeable and very helpful as I found myself struggling to snorkel at the start. Lunch was provided. Such a shame the tide was low as we only got to see the 1 site rather than 2. Unfortunately the day at sea was very choppy and found myself feeling very sea sick so found it difficult to enjoy my time whilst she was moving.

Visited August 2013
Thank Laura I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Morisset Park
1 review
Reviewed August 19, 2013

I had reviewed half a dozen day reef tours from the brochures whilst in Cairns. Value for dollar Compass Cruises ticked all the boxes. Wednesday 14 August 2013 was sunny and little wind. I was met at the wharf by a smiling crew member who checked my name against the passenger list and boarded the vessel. We were given our safety instructions which was a laugh with the add lib's from the crew. Each person was assigned a number to remember for safety reasons, mine was 59. We were issued our fins, masks, snorkels and for a minimal fee of $5 a wet suite and under way. Sea sick pills, sunscreen were free. Also tea and coffee whilst stationary. I was going on the introductory scuba dives. The boat has a huge open sun deck on the upper level and below set out with fixed table and chairs. The cruise to the outer reef takes about 1.45 mins as its a displacement vessel as opposed to planing jet cats. Commentary from the crew is informative and we spotted some whales. No one on board got sea sick.

Upon arrival at the first reef just about all were off the boat snorkeling and swimming. Noodles were on hand as well to assist swimmers. Prior to leaving I hired an underwater camera the day before. I had suited up and helped into my scuba gear. I had previous diving experience however that was many years prior. Due to limited scuba divers, I was fortunate to have Lucie as my personal dive instructor. Off the back of the boat and Into the water, it was like riding a bike. You don't forget. Lucie explained again what we were told on the boat on the way out. Taking that first look around me on the way down was one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen. Fish, coral and the feeling of euphoria. Following Lucie's lead she showed me clams, clown fish and all manner of creatures you only see on TV documentary shows. I couldn't believe my luck when Lucie saw a turtle and hand fed it and then handed me the weed. The turtle then ate from my hand. Lucie took my camera and photographed me. The dive finished and back on board. Smiling from ear to ear I was so eager to get back in the water again.

Once on board boom netting was the go. Hanging on to a net at the stern of the boat and trolling through the water. the safety launch which was towed out behind us was used to pick up those who couldn't hang on with increasing speed. All on board again, lunch was prepared consisting of a B.B.Q with snags and chicken, an array of salads with buns and butter. All so tasty. Enough to go back for seconds.

Arrival at the second reef (Hastings) and back in the water. Again guided by Lucie an amazing dive which was deeper and longer than the first, even going through an underwater cave which I videoed. More colorful fish and coral with Lucie pointing out sea life which as a novice I would have not noticed. Back on board again and heading for home. A glass of wine in hand with a lovely fruit platter. I met some wonderful people from overseas on the boat whom I will stay in contact with.

Upon alighting at Cairns Marina the crew was lined up high fiving all of us. Camera in hand it was straight to the camera rental place to have my SD card removed and also put onto DVD.
I would say to anyone visiting Cairns, to experience the reef on Compass Cruises. The staff of highly experienced divers and even a marine biologist on board to answer any questions. So bye for now and again a special thanks to Lucie my dive buddy for the day.

Wayne Shaw
Morisset Park NSW

Visited August 2013
Thank wayne s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
454 reviews
349 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 625 helpful votes
“Hastings & Breaking Patches”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

Since this was the cheapest reef cruise available, I was a little apprehensive about the outcome (despite the positive TA reviews). But this cruise was excellent, and I highly recommend it.

What stuck out was the attentive staff. They were very customer service oriented, and accommodating. They showed genuine concern for those getting seasick. They gave lots of warnings about what to do for seasickness, and were always on the lookout for those in trouble (barf bags ready in hand).

I highly recommend you listen to their advice. I think too many people let their pride get in the way, thinking they won’t get sick. And yet so many people did. If you are susceptible, take your seasickness pills BEFORE the cruise, and stay on the first level (not the second level).

The BBQ chicken lunch and variety of salads were delicious, and the wine and cheese was a very nice touch.

It was a little rough on the sea the day we went, making for some tough swimming and snorkelling. If you are not a strong swimmer (which I am not), I strongly suggest you use a swimming noodle provided by the ship, and rent a wet suite – especially if the water is rough. Otherwise you’ll be too focused on swimming, and not enjoying the under-water view. I noticed that the day after our cruise, Compass was not even running - I guess the water conditions got a little more rough. Also, there was no boom-netting on our trip, I'm guessing because of the waves.

As for the Great Barrier Reef itself, I was a little disappointed. I don’t know if it’s because the reef has been over-hyped over the decades, or if weather conditions played a part. Or perhaps it’s just chance in terms of what you’ll see on any given day. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way based on conversations on the cruise. I found the snorkelling in the Caribbean to be much more satisfying.

Compass Cruises visits the Hastings Reef, and Breaking Patches.

Visited July 2013
Thank product-of-canada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Western Australia
Level Contributor
17 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Reef magic”
Reviewed August 14, 2013

I loved Compass, she's old but she's tough and feels safe. Also has a great deck for sunbaking and just lazing around. We had a perfect day (despite a late departure due to a glitch with he tender - which somehow ended up upside down, very clever). The weather was amazing and the reef is awesome, it felt like swimming in an aquarium. Can't believe the service we got for the price; the crew are helpful and friendly, the lunch was yummy and to top it off we got to see a humpback whale and her calf frolicking for about 20 mins on our return journey. Sensational.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Chriso17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Compass Cruises also viewed

Cairns, Cairns Region
Cairns, Cairns Region

Been to Compass Cruises? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing