FAQs | SUNLOVER REEF CRUISES | CAirns reef tours

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What is a reef pontoon?

A reef pontoon is a floating platform, a little bit like an artificial island, in the middle of the ocean. Large and spacious, our activity pontoons provide a safe basis for our guests to enjoy the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our double-storey pontoon is docked at Moore Reef, 47KM off Cairns and is home to a theme-park style waterslide which winds down from the top deck. The pontoon also has an upper-level sun deck, snorkel platform, ocean enclosed children's pool, underwater observatory and Seawalker helmet diving platform.

This stable pontoon makes the coral gardens of Moore Reef easily accessible for swimmers of all ability.

Do you provide photographs?

Our photography team from Calypso Reef Imagery are available to take photographs for you whilst boarding and taking part in various activities such as Seawalker, introductory diving and snorkelling on our Cairns reef tours.

The photographs can be previewed on the boat journey back to Cairns and are available to purchase.

Do you have smoking facilities?

There is a designated smoking area at the top level of the boat. However, this can only be used when the boat is moored to the pontoon.

Is there a minimum age for the tour?

There is no minimum age for our Arlington Reef and Moore Reef tours.

Our Sunlover By Starlight tour has a minimum age of 12 years.

How and where to I check in?

You check in at the Sunlover Reef Cruises desk inside the Reef Fleet Terminal, which is located at the end of Spence Street.

Please arrive at least 45 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time and bring your booking confirmation.

Can you pick us up from our hotel?

We are more than happy to arrange a modern air-conditioned coach to pick you up from your hotel in Cairns or the Northern Beaches and bring you to the terminal for an additional charge, just speak to our friendly reservations staff to make arrangements.

You can also book your own transfer when booking your tour online.

Can I take my perscription glasses/lenses snorkeling?

Sunlover Reef Cruises are pleased to offer prescription snorkel masks for those who are short sighted to make sure they don’t miss a thing when exploring the coral and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Available from -1 to -6 strength levels, the masks are available in return for $5 with a $50 deposit, refundable on return. Please ask our friendly staff to assist you.

What languages are spoken on board other than English?

We have an international team working everyday on the Sunlover vessel and pontoon and can communicate to guests in Chinese every day. We also have a number of Japanese and Korean team. Important medical forms, health and safety messages, and our Sunlover brochures are also provided for in these languages for our guests.

Please inquire about other languages on the day of your departure should you require them as we reguarly have people who join our day team from all over the world.

Can you supervise my children while I dive?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crèche system on the boat so we cannot cater for infants, or anyone needing close supervision. However, if your children are old enough to head off on the glass bottom boat or go snorkelling on their own, we do have lifeguards watching the snorkeling area so they are in good hands. 

If you just let the lifeguards or any member of staff know that your children are entertaining themselves while you are heading off for a dive; they will be happy to keep a close eye out.

Do you cater for special diets or allergies?

Please advise our friendly reservations staff at the time of your booking of any special dietary requirements and we will gladly assist where we can.

What is for lunch?

On our Moore Reef Experience, guests are treated each day to a delicious tropical buffet lunch including fresh prawns.

Can I park at the terminal?

Metered outdoor car parking is available near the terminal on streets and in the Esplanade Lagoon carpark. The Pier shopping complex provides undercover car parking for around $10 per day.

Do I need to take cash or credit card?

We accept both on-board, however minimum purchase amounts are applicable for credit card transactions.

Do you have lockers on board for my personal belongings?

Yes! Secure lockers are available fore hire on the boat for small personal belongings. We suggest leaving any unnecessary valuables at home or at your hotel.

Will I get seasick?

Even the most experienced sailor at times can fall victim to a little bit of sea sickness! Luckily, this is really easy to prevent.

We recommend taking ‘Travelcalm’ tablets prior to boarding the vessel. These can be purchased at the reception desk upon collecting your tickets or on-board the vessel

Do you ever cancel?

Rarely! Cancellations are usually due to the threat of a cyclone which can happen on occasion during the summer months in Cairns. The only reason we would cancel a tour would be for the safety and comfort of our guests. If we have to cancel due to weather then we endeavour to contact our passengers with as much notice as possible and are happy to offer an alternate date for your tour. If there is ever an issue with one of our tours, we will upgrade you to another tour at no extra charge.

Do you go to the Reef every day?

The marine life at the Great Barrier Reef never seem to have a day off, so neither do we! We travel 365 days a year (366 on a leap year!).

How long are we at the Reef for?

Our aim at Sunlover is to give you as much time as possible to explore the magical Great Barrier Reef.

On the Moore Reef Tour you can expect to have approximately 4 hours to swim, snorkel and explore.

What is available for hire?

Prescription masks (prescription strength from -8 to +8)

Wetsuit

Secure Locker

What should I bring on the day?

Simply pack a bag as if you were going to the beach for the day.

Hat & sunscreen (SPF 30+)

Sun protective clothing, like a t-shirt or rash vest Swimming costume Beach towel

Cash for drinks at the bar (soft drinks, beer, wine)

Credit card for on-board shopping and optional adventures
Your camera (at the Reef Fleet Terminal, Calypso specialises in underwater digital camera hire, so you can also hire a camera on board to capture those amazing underwater moments)

Are there toilets, showers and change rooms at the Reef?

There are toilets located on board the boat which are accessible at all times. We also have fresh water rinse showers and change rooms on the Sunlover pontoon for your added comfort.

Are there allocated seats on the boat?

No the seats are not allocated, however there is plenty of room and seating on our large air-conditioned catamaran, with 3 levels including indoor and outdoor seating.

How long does it take to get to the reef?

Sunlover Reef Cruises visits Moore Reef on the Outer Barrier Reef and the trip takes approximately 90 minutes to get to Moore Reef as we also go via the beautiful Fitzroy Island. The Arlington Reef cruise takes approximately 1hr 15minutes from Cairns.

What time does my cruise leave and get back to Cairns?

Please check the itinerary on the cruise page for the most up-to-date departure and arrival times.

For the Moore Reef Experience click here.

For Sunlover by Starlight click Here.

For Fitzroy Island click here.

For Arlington Reef, please click here.

How do I get to the terminal?

The Reef Fleet Terminal is located at 1 Spence Street Cairns, opposite the Shangri La Hotel. We are more than happy to arrange a modern air-conditioned coach to pick you up from your hotel in Cairns or the Northern Beaches and bring you to the terminal for an additional charge, just speak to our friendly reservations staff to make arrangements.

Will the sea conditions effect our day?

Sea conditions vary on a day to day basis. Except in very rare circumstances, sea conditions will be safe for the cruise to operate. If the rare occasion arises in which it isn't safe to operate, passengers will be offered travel on an alternate day or will receive a refund.

Should you have any questions please contact our friendly reservations team on 07 4050 1333. For weather updates please visit www.bom.com.au.

Please note: passengers who are prone to motion sickness are advised to get advice from a pharmacist prior to travel. Alternatively, Travacalm tablets are available for purchase on board the vessel.

How deep is the water?

The water is between 5 and 12m in depth off our Moore Reef pontoon.

Will there be stingers or sharks in the water?

Marine Stingers inhabit the coastal waters of Tropical North Queensland from November until May and can be very dangerous. The good news is that they generally tend to stay around coastal waters so the chance of encountering one is pretty low. However, there are no guarantees so we carry stinger suits on the pontoon for you to hire, and encourage their use during stinger season. They cover you from top to toe and they also act as a sunscreen so it’s another way to make sure you don’t get sunburnt!

The sharks that live on the Great Barrier Reef are very timid and are a lot more scared of you, than you may be of them. They are an absolute pleasure and privilege to spot when you are snorkelling or diving. We tend to see White Tip and Black Tip Reef sharks, Epaulette sharks and the occasional Bronze Whaler or Tawny Nurse shark. They are a vital animal for the ecosystem and we would be very worried if we didn’t see them on occasion. So make sure you have an underwater camera ready before they swim past! Don’t forget, the film ‘Jaws’ was all make believe, rubber and tomato sauce! It does not portray these beautiful creatures as they actually are.

Can you supervise my children while I dive?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crèche system on the boat so we cannot cater for infants, or anyone needing close supervision. However, if your children are old enough to head off on the glass bottom boat or go snorkelling on their own, we do have lifeguards watching the snorkeling area so they are in good hands. 

If you just let the lifeguards or any member of staff know that your children are entertaining themselves while you are heading off for a dive; they will be happy to keep a close eye out.

Do you provide photographs?

Our photography team from Calypso Reef Imagery are available to take photographs for you whilst boarding and taking part in various activities such as Seawalker, introductory diving and snorkelling on our Cairns reef tours.

The photographs can be previewed on the boat journey back to Cairns and are available to purchase.

Is there a minimum age for the tour?

There is no minimum age for our Arlington Reef and Moore Reef tours.

Our Sunlover By Starlight tour has a minimum age of 12 years.

Can I take my perscription glasses/lenses snorkeling?

Sunlover Reef Cruises are pleased to offer prescription snorkel masks for those who are short sighted to make sure they don’t miss a thing when exploring the coral and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Available from -1 to -6 strength levels, the masks are available in return for $5 with a $50 deposit, refundable on return. Please ask our friendly staff to assist you.

Can you supervise my children while I dive?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crèche system on the boat so we cannot cater for infants, or anyone needing close supervision. However, if your children are old enough to head off on the glass bottom boat or go snorkelling on their own, we do have lifeguards watching the snorkeling area so they are in good hands. 

If you just let the lifeguards or any member of staff know that your children are entertaining themselves while you are heading off for a dive; they will be happy to keep a close eye out.

Can my child do Scuba Diving or Seawalker Helmet Dive?

As long as they are 12 years old or more, and they have successfully completed a basic medical questionnaire, then yes.

Do I need experience to Scuba Dive?

Our introductory scuba dives do not require any prior diving experience.

All we ask is that you complete a very basic medical questionnaire, make sure you are fit to dive and away we go! 

What can I do if I can't swim?

You can enjoy The Great Barrier Reef even if you can’t swim! Our Moore Reef full day tour includes a complimentary glass bottom boat tour and semi-sub tour. A glass bottom boat tour is also available at our Arlington Reef pontoon.

Seawalker Helmet Diving is also an option for those that don’t swim and is available on both our Moore and Arlington pontoons. A scenic helicopter flight is also a fantastic way to see The Great Barrier Reef without getting your feet wet.

Beyond that, you could try a Guided Snorkelling Tour with one of our experienced Marine Biologists or Reef Naturalists; they have a large floating life ring and can guide you amongst the coral reefs, while offering 100% safety, regardless of swimming ability. 

What things can I do at the Pontoon?

Your Moore Reef trip includes:

  • Travel to Moore Reef on air-conditioned catamaran
  • Great Barrier Reef Presentation by Marine Biologist
  • 4 hours to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Theme-park style Waterslide
  • Upper-level Sun-Deck
  • Underwater Observatory 
  • Semi-Submersible Tour with Marine Expert
  • Glass-bottom Boat Tour with Marine Expert
  • Fish-Feeding Presentation with Marine Expert
  • Touch-Tank Presentation with Marine Expert
  • Enclosed Kids Pool for the little ones
  • Tropical Buffet Lunch
  • Tea & Coffee (while docked)
  • Snorkelling Gear + Life Jackets
  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS include Certified and Intro Scuba Diving, Guided Snorkel Tours with Marine Experts, SeaWalker Helmet Dive, Scenic Helicopter Tours, Underwater Photography, Starlight overnight experience and Wetsuit/Stinger suits.

Will the sea conditions effect our day?

Sea conditions vary on a day to day basis. Except in very rare circumstances, sea conditions will be safe for the cruise to operate. If the rare occasion arises in which it isn't safe to operate, passengers will be offered travel on an alternate day or will receive a refund.

Should you have any questions please contact our friendly reservations team on 07 4050 1333. For weather updates please visit www.bom.com.au.

Please note: passengers who are prone to motion sickness are advised to get advice from a pharmacist prior to travel. Alternatively, Travacalm tablets are available for purchase on board the vessel.

Do you ever cancel?

Rarely! Cancellations are usually due to the threat of a cyclone which can happen on occasion during the summer months in Cairns. The only reason we would cancel a tour would be for the safety and comfort of our guests. If we have to cancel due to weather then we endeavour to contact our passengers with as much notice as possible and are happy to offer an alternate date for your tour. If there is ever an issue with one of our tours, we will upgrade you to another tour at no extra charge.

When's the best time to travel?

Cairns has a tropical climate and experiences hot, humid Summers and cooler, dry Winters. December to March brings in monsoon troughs with hot humid conditions and increased rain and thunderstorms. May to October is dominated by the sub-tropical ridge and is dryer and cooler.

Often when the weather is cloudy or rainy in Cairns it doesn’t necessarily mean the weather is the same out on the reef, however, if you wish to change the date of your tour then we are more than happy to do so for you (subject to availability and 72 hours notice).

Will the water be cold?

Cairns is located in the tropics of Far North Queensland so the water temperature is pleasant all year round. Average temperature throughout the year is:

December-February 29c, 83f

March-May 25c, 76f

June-August 22c, 72f

September-November 25c, 76f

How far away is the reef from the pontoon?

The reef is approximately 3m away from the pontoon.

How deep is the water?

The water is between 5 and 12m in depth off our Moore Reef pontoon.

What can I do if I can't swim?

You can enjoy The Great Barrier Reef even if you can’t swim! Our Moore Reef full day tour includes a complimentary glass bottom boat tour and semi-sub tour. A glass bottom boat tour is also available at our Arlington Reef pontoon.

Seawalker Helmet Diving is also an option for those that don’t swim and is available on both our Moore and Arlington pontoons. A scenic helicopter flight is also a fantastic way to see The Great Barrier Reef without getting your feet wet.

Beyond that, you could try a Guided Snorkelling Tour with one of our experienced Marine Biologists or Reef Naturalists; they have a large floating life ring and can guide you amongst the coral reefs, while offering 100% safety, regardless of swimming ability. 

Is there wheelchair access?

Our boats are equipped with ramps to and from the boat to the pontoon. Disabled toilets are situated on the aft deck of both of our boats. There are also portable ramps for use to assist in wheelchairs crossing hatchways and onto the gangways as required.

Both our Moore and Arlington Reef pontoons are stable platforms that are suitable for guests in wheelchairs. Our crew are more than happy to assist with disabled or mobility impaired customers.

The crew can help customers access snorkel platforms and we have a large range of complimentary snorkelling equipment to suit guests of all ages and sizes.

Still have questions?

Contact us