Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

When do we depart?

We board Compass at 7:30 am for an 8:00 am departure.

When do we arrive back into Cairns?

We arrive back into Cairns at approximately 5 pm.

How do I get to the Compass Cruises?

You can either make your own way to the Marlin Jetty or we can organise a bus to pick you up from your accommodation house cost return bus pick up.

Cairns city district $12.00 Cairns Northern Beaches $22.00

You can add bus transfers from your accommodation during booking.

How long does it take to get to the reef?

Approximately 2 hours to get to our first location which is generally Hastings Reef.

Can anyone try scuba diving?

Most people can try scuba diving while on board Reef Experience.

Age, medical and health restrictions apply for resort/introductory & certified scuba diving in Australia – and are stricter than in many other countries. *If you are thinking about trying a scuba dive, please read the Important Information page to ensure that you are fit to dive according to Australia’s regulations for diving.

Age limit Minimum age for participating in a resort dive is 12 years old. There is currently no maximum age limit, however scuba diving is a potentially strenuous activity and should be undertaken by fit and active people of all ages.

Medical & Health Restrictions It is important that if you are thinking about going scuba diving while on board Reef Experience, that you read the Important Information’ page first, to ensure that you are fit to dive according to Australia’s health regulations for diving. You will be required to complete a medical questionnaire before participating in any scuba activities. Some medical conditions, health issues and/or medications may prevent you from scuba diving (both past and current).

For example: Heart disease, asthma, epilepsy or diabetes, high or low blood pressure or anything that may cause fits, faints or blackouts. If you have ANY medical condition (past or current), health concern or ANY medication, please contact our friendly team before booking your dive – we’re here to help you have the reef trip of a lifetime and most medical restrictions for scuba in Australia can be addressed in advance with a simple email, whereas once you’re at sea it can be extremely difficult for us to get clearance for people to go scuba diving with a medical condition and/or medication – causing disappointment during the trip.

Please contact our office if unsure or for any questions.

What is included?

  • Unlimited snorkeling at 2 outer barrier reef locations
  • All snorkel equipment with the exception of wet suit
  • Snorkeling instruction
  • Scuba diving demonstration
  • Boomnetting activity – weather permitting
  • BBQ and salads lunch prepared daily at the reef
  • Fresh fruit platters
  • Tea & coffee all day (while vessel is stationary)
  • Glass of wine, cheese & crackers on return journey
  • Reef tax/fuel levy/admin fees

What is boom netting?

Boom netting is where we get a giant cargo net and tow it behind our boat with passenger in it – its a whole lot of fun for participants and spectators.

Are there allocated seats on Compass?

No, the seats are not allocated, however there is plenty of room and seating both upstairs and downstairs on Compass and a lovely big sundeck to work on your suntan and get some fresh air.

Is Compass air-conditioned?

Yes, Compass is air-conditioned.

Are there toilet onboard Compass?

Yes, Compass has 4 toilets.

What shall I 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

Will I need any money?

Yes, it is a good idea to bring some money. Our optional extras

  • Certified diving $55.00 for 1 dive or $100.00 for two dives
  • Introductory/resort dives for 1 dive $65.00 or $115.00 for two dives
  • Glass bottom boat & commentary $15.00
  • Wet suit Hire $5.00
  • Prescription mask $10.00
  • Underwater cameras to purchase onboard
  • Licensed bar with drinks and snacks available for purchase
  • Purchase photos taken of your day

How long are we at the reef for?

Up to 4 hours at the Outer Barrier Reef.

Do you go to the reef every day?

Yes, weather permitting we do operate every day of the year.

Will the water be cold?

No, Cairns is located in Tropical 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 A wet suit will also keep you warm if you are prone to feel the cold

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.

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.

Will I get sea-sick?

Hopefully not, we do have complimentary ginger tablets onboard and stronger medication is available for purchase.

Can I use my credit card on the boat?

Yes, we accept Mastercard & Visacard onboard

Where can I park my car?

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 $13 per day, or if you don’t mind a short walk then outdoor car parking is available at Trinity Wharf for $6.50 per day.  There is also some free all day car parking in Abbott and Florence Streets.

What is served for lunch?

Compass guests enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch with fresh salads

Do you cater for vegetarians?

Yes, we cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements – please note we need to be made aware of your dietary requirements prior to the day of travel.

What if I can't swim?

It is always our aim to show all of our guests the Great Barrier Reef at its best, if you can’t swim or are nervous we don’t want you to miss seeing the Great Barrier Reef – we have crew on board who will help you in the water – you can even do a scuba dive.

Do I need experience to Scuba Dive?

NO experience is necessary, for an introductory/resort dive, its fun, safe and a lots of fun  – our friendly dive instructors onboard are professional at taking people diving that  have never scuba dived before – so relax you will be in very good hands  – please read our medical information, children need to be 12 years old to scuba dive

I am a certified diver but can't find my certification papers. Can I still do a certified dive?

Please contact our office with your full name, date of birth, where and when you got certified and with what type of certification you have i.e. SSI or PADI And will do our best to find your certification details for you –  if we are not successful you can still enjoy an introductory/resort dive

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 child-minding  on the boat so we cannot cater for infants, or anyone needing close supervision. However, if your children are old enough to go snorkeling 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.  Also we can certainly sort it out that you can both scuba dive at different times so there is always one of your with your child or children.

Will there be jellyfish in the Water?

Jelly fish at the reef – just to clarify we don’t actually get any box jellyfish at the Great Barrier Reef

They breed in the freshwater streams and creeks and when the wet season arrives normally late January early February  they get flushed back along the beaches which is the reason that you can’t swim at the beach in Tropical North Queensland unless you use a net – we have some of the most beautiful rainforest waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes in the World and of course you can swim at the Outer Barrier Reef all year  round

Normal jellyfish the type that don’t hurt you are sometimes at the reef

There are also Irukandji sometimes at the reef but they are rare ….and it would be far worse odds to travel by plane or car and be involved in an accident than it would be to be stung at the Great Barrier Reef however we think it is a great idea to wear a wet suit.

Will I get sunburnt and wearing a wet suit?

We are in the tropics it really is hot here and yes you should certainly have sun protection what we recommend is the use of wet suits – full protection from the sun, they also protect you and the coral if you were to accidentally come into contact with any coral, keep you warm and provide some buoyancy – all advantages whilst you are on the reef – we hire them for $5.00 per day also the less sunscreen on the reef in my own opinion the better

Are there any sharks?

Yes, sharks in all the oceans of the World, at the reef we often see white tip reef sharks, black tip reef shark, epaulette sharks – they are quite shy and pose no threat to any of our passengers – sharks are mostly nocturnal and are very timid during the day

Important Information for Scuba Divers:

  • You need to allow 24 hours from your last dive before flying.
  • Certified divers are required to provide proof of their qualification aboard – dive license card
  • Minimum age for trying scuba diving is 12 years. Minimum age for certified scuba divers is 10 years.
  • All divers will be required to complete a medical questionnaire onboard the vessel before diving.
  • Some medical conditions and/or medication may stop you from participating in Scuba Diving.
  • Please read our important information page & medical questionnaire if you answer yes to any of the questions then we suggest you see a Dive Doctor prior to your trip with us to avoid disappointment.
  • For any questions concerning a medical condition or medication, please contact our office before booking your trip to avoid disappointment on the day.