Frequently asked questions

1. 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.

2. What time does your boat leave, and what time does it get back to Cairns?

Check in time at the Reef Fleet Terminal is from 8:30am to 9:15am every morning. Our boat departs daily from the Marlin Wharf at 9:30am sharp and returns to Cairns at approximately 5:30pm. 

Please note: from the 23rd of Jan 2017 until the 8th of Feb 2017 we operate special double departures with our first boat leaving at 8am and returning at 1.20pm and our second boat leaving at 10:30am,and returning to Cairns at approximately 6:20pm.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 Marine Base for your added comfort.

6. What should I bring on the day?

Simply pack a bag as if you were going to the beach for the day. Never been to the beach? Well here is a basic list of what you should bring:

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)

7. What is available on board for hire?

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


Secure Locker

8. 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. You can expect to have approximately 4 hours to swim, snorkel and explore.

9. 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!).

10. 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

11. What activities can I do on the Marine Base?

During the 4+ hours at the reef, passengers will enjoy the following:

Delicious Hot and Cold buffet Lunch including fresh local prawns served between 12-1:30pm

Free guided coral reef viewing cruises from our Glass bottom boat (15-20 minutes)

Free guided coral reef viewing cruises from our Semi-submersible boat (15-20 minutes)

Free snorkelling (with masks, snorkel, fins and snorkel vests provided free of charge)

Free marine life touch tank (guests can hold and touch various sea creatures while on the Marine Base)

Free underwater Observatory (view various fish and coral during fish feeding presentation at approximately 1520hrs)

On board shopping

Kids Pool on the Marine Base for infants and toddlers to enjoy at no extra cost.

Additional activities are available for an added fee. These include:

Seawalker Helmet diving (15-20 minutes)

Introductory dive (20-30 minutes)

Certified dive (30-40 minutes)

Guided snorkel tour (20-30 minutes)

Helicopter scenic flight (10 minutes)

Professional photography – our partners at Calypso Productions will be on-board capturing some of the highlights of the day. These professional images will be available for purchase.

12. What if the weather is really bad?

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). We advise you give us as much notice as possible to avoid disappointment.

13. 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.

14. Is there wheelchair access to on the boat?

Yes! We are very well set-up to accommodate wheelchairs and take great pride in being able to showcase our fantastic Great Barrier Reef to disabled guests. Not only do we have multiple entrance points on our vessel, we also have a dedicated wheelchair table on the main deck, wheel chair ramps to get over door jams and most importantly of all, a very experienced and willing crew. In some circumstances, we have been able to offer glass bottom boat rides and even SCUBA Diving! We cannot guarantee this every time, but all we ask is that you inform our reservations staff of as much information as possible so we can do our very best for you.

15. Will I get sea-sick?

Our catamaran is very large and stable, however some people are more prone to getting sea sick than others, it really depends on the individual, but if you are concerned then sea-sickness tablets are available at the terminal and also on board the boat. We have medicated tablets at a small charge and we recommend taking them prior to boarding the boat or as soon as possible so they have enough time to take effect, or we also have ginger tablets which we offer free of charge.

16. Do you have lockers on board for my personal belongings?

Secure lockers are available on the boat for small personal belongings at a small fee. We suggest leaving any unnecessary valuables at home or at your hotel.

17. Can I use my credit card on the boat?

Yes you can, however minimum purchase amounts are applicable for credit card transactions, so we suggest cash wherever possible.

18. Is there car parking at the terminal?

Metered outdoor car parking is available at the pier shopping complex car park adjacent to the terminal for around 80 cents per hour, undercover secure car parking is also available for around $10 per day, or if you don’t mind a short walk then outdoor car parking is available at Trinity Wharf for $3 per day.

19. What is served for lunch?

Our guests are treated each day to a delicious buffet lunch catered by Tropic Spirit Caterers. We have a wide selection available including:

Freshly baked focaccia bread with butter

Large chilled prawns with lemon wedges and seafood sauce

Potato salad finished with wholegrain mustard sauce and parsley

Garden salad

Pasta salad with fusilli, vegetables and a Cajun dressing

A selection of cold meats

Beef golden curry

Steamed jasmine rice

Chicken and vegetable stir fry with black bean sauce and egg noodles

Mediterranean style vegetable and chick pea casserole

Chef’s selection of fresh local and tropical fruits

*Please note the above is subject to change without notice due to produce availability.

20. Do you cater for vegetarians?

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.

21. What if I can’t swim?

No problem! We can offer a variety of activities to suit so that you can enjoy all that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. We have a Glass Bottom Boat and Semi-Submersible rides and an Underwater Observatory which will show you all the tropical fish and colourful corals. Beyond that, you could try a Guided Snorkelling Tour with one of our experienced Marine Experts 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. Lastly, we have Seawalker; this Platform Helmet Dive requires no swimming ability, is totally safe and you will be walking with the turtles and fish in no time!

22. Do I need experience to SCUBA Dive?

In one word: No. We can teach you all you need to know in a first time, Discover Scuba Diving course during your day out with us. Our team of experienced SCUBA Diving Instructors will give you a comprehensive dive brief, teach you all about the equipment escort you to the designated dive training area under the Marine Base and begin your dive. All we ask is that you complete a very basic medical questionnaire, make sure you are fit to dive and away we go! And don’t forget, on completion of this dive, you will receive a Certificate which will directly contribute to any further SCUBA diving course that you may wish to pursue.

23. Can my child do SCUBA Diving or Seawalker?

As long as they are 12 years old or more, and they have successfully completed a basic medical questionnaire, then yes.I am a certified diver but can’t find my certification papers. Can I still do a certified dive?

Not a problem. We have access to a comprehensive on-line certification database that can track your qualification, and upon our sighting of this information, you are good to go! We are able to access this database even while you are on your way to the reef. If, for whatever reason, we cannot find your qualification, don’t worry, we can always take you diving on our Discover Scuba Diving Programme and get you up close and personal with the fish and turtles!

24. My partner and I want to go diving but we will have our children with us, is there anyone to supervise our children while we 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 snorkelling 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.

25. 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 lycra suits on the Marine Base 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.

26. What languages other than English are spoken on board?

We have an international team working everyday on the Sunlover vessel and Base and can communicate to guests in Chinese, Japanese and Korean every day. 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.

27. Can I take my prescription glasses/lenses snorkelling?

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.


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