FAQ’s

FAQ’s

Our crew get asked dozens of questions every day, some quirky some quite intelligent, some just plain entertaining. Before you ask…

  • Yes the water at the reef is salty
  • The water temperature is not the same all over the world
  • No there is not a bus or self-drive option to the reef
  • Yes, our 9am catamaran to Marine world strangely enough departs at 9am.
  • No the coral is not growing so fast it pokes up out of the water, that phenomenon is called low tide.

But as they say, there is no such thing as a dumb question so don’t be too scared to ask.

The list below is a constant work-in-progress so if you don’t find what you want to know send us an email or give us a call on +61 7 4031 1588

Quick find list

Use the quick links below to find the topics you are interested in including:

Itinerary Questions

Do you operate every day?

Yes, except Christmas Day. There is a shortage of both passengers and staff willing (or able) to get up early new years morning!

How long is the boat ride to the reef?

Our fast, stable motor catamaran delivers you to the Outer Reef in only 90 minutes leaving more of your day to enjoy the reef.

What is the itinerary for the day?

Check-in commences inside the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street, at 08:00. Our vessel departs Cairns Marlin Jetty at 09:00 arriving at the reef by 10:30, leaving the reef at 15:30 and arriving back in Cairns by 17:00.

Activity times will be advised on the day and are dependant on passenger numbers and interest in each activity. Click here for more information

How long do we spend at the reef?

You will have 5 hours to explore the reef which is up to 2 hours longer than similar Outer Reef Cruises. You can snorkel in our sheltered coral lagoon, join a guided snorkel tour, try an Introductory Scuba Dive, climb aboard a spectacular Scenic Helicopter Flight, take a Semi-Submersible tour (twice if you like) enjoy lunch and still have time to relax on the sundeck with a cool drink! You have time to do as much or as little as you like without the rush. Most guests will have travelled a long way to visit the Great Barrier Reef and with so much to see and do it is not something you want to hurry.

Do you offer coach transfers from my hotel? We offer return accommodation coach transfers in modern air-conditioned vehicles from all Cairns City accommodation for just AUD$18pp and Northern Beaches accommodation from just AUD$22pp (valid until 31-03-16). Pick-up is generally at the hotels front doors unless notified otherwise.

Group rates in a sole-use coach are available for bookings of 20 pax or more. Cairns city pick-up commence approximately 8am and Northern Beaches approximately 7:30am with exact times notified at time of booking.

Do you have half day options?

Unfortunately not. The Outer Reef requires a full day to experience properly. Take the time to see the best of the reef, you won’t be dissapointed. Our seasonal Whale Watching Tours are conducted in coastal waters closer to Cairns with half day options available.

Do I need to pre-book the optional activities?

No, all activities can be organised and booked once on board. You may wish to speak to our friendly crew prior to selecting activities so we can suggest activities best suited to your swimming ability (or lack of). Pre-booking optional activities guarantees availability and also help us with crewing the boat with the right number of staff we will require for each activity. Please note, Helicopter flights are subject to aircraft availability, weather conditions and pilots discretion. Cancellations by us of any pre-booked activities are always subject to a full refund.

Reef Location Questions

Where is the Marine World platform located?

The Marine World platform is located at a private Outer Reef Location on the pristine north eastern end of Moore Reef.  Located approximately 45km’s offshore from Cairns this site is far enough from coastal rivers, streams and sandy beaches to ensure clear ocean waters and maximum underwater visibility in a range of weather conditions.

Is the reef better from Cairns or Port Douglas?

This depends more on the actual reef site visited rather than the departure point. Both Cairns & Port Douglas locations have professional operators with access to world class snorkel and dive sites. Marine World is one of the most highly regarded sites available anywhere in the region and departs ex Cairns.

Reef Quality Questions

Where will I generally find the best quality reef – the Outer Reef, a Sand Cay or Tropical Island?

There are a range of reef options available however if you only experience the reef once you will want to see it at it’s best. While Sand Cays and Islands offer a reef experience of sorts, Outer Reef locations such as Marine World are chosen by those wanting superior coral quality, colour and overall diversity of reef life.  Located further off-shore away from coastal rivers and streams, Outer Reef locations are found in clean coral sea water with higher coral densities and less sediment (sand) resulting in maximum water clarity in all weather conditions.

So what is the reef like where we go? Is there noticeable bleaching or damage?

The Marine World site is highly regarded as one of the best quality coral reef locations in the region. Recent independent research from Reef Check Australia has reported no noticeable bleaching on the Marine World site, high hard coral concentrations and a site of excellent overall health. Tropical cyclones and storms or higher than average summer temperatures can effect the extent of bleaching but are a natural part of the reef  life cycle.  Reef Magic Cruises & Marine World are endorsed with Advanced Eco-Accreditation from Eco-Tourism Australia.

Weather Questions

What will the weather be like?

Fantastic of course – as the slogan says, Queensland beautiful one day perfect the next! (Well we hope so). Reef Magic Cruises have access to accurate 3 day forecasts provided by the bureau of meteorology as well as real-time weather reports available from our crew stationed on the Marine World platform. The bottom of our home page has a useful chart predicting reef weather out of Cairns over a 7 day period. For the latest conditions give us a call on + 61 7 4031 1588 between 9am-5pm, 7 days a week.

What if the weather is really bad?

In poor weather we are happy to move your booking without charge to the next most suitable day, subject to availability. In the rare event we deem the weather too bad to travel and you are unable to reschedule a full refund will be provided.

Will I get sea sick?

Hopefully not. This depends largely on the individual. Travelling on our fast, stable catamaran ensures the smoothest possible ride arriving at the stable Marine world platform in the shortest amount of time (90 minutes). If conditions are forecast 15 knots or below it will generally be smooth going.

At 20 knots and above it can get a little bumpy at times however our skippers are skilled in picking the best route to our destination. If you are prone to other common forms of motion sickness such as travelling in a car or plane you may wish to take precautions. We have both natural Ginger Tablets as well as medicated Travel-Calm on board however these are preventative, not a cure, so should be taken approximately 30 minutes prior to departure for maximum benefit.

What is the temperature of the water?

December-February 29c, 83f

March-May 25c, 76f

June-August 22c, 72f

September-November 25c, 76f

Is there shelter and shade at the reef?

At Marine World yes, many others places no. The Marine World main deck has a canopy cover and roll-down sides to protect from wind or rain and provides welcome relief from the tropical sun in summer. Marine World also has a spacious sundeck with shaded lounge areas. You may return to the air-conditioned vessel at any time throughout the day.

Do you still go out if it is raining?

Yes we do. You’re going to get wet anyhow and it”s more the wind and swell that determines the quality of your day not so much the rain. Even if it is raining in Cairns there is still a good chance conditions at Marine World (45km’s from Cairns) will be fine.

Booking and Cancellation Questions

Can I change my travel date once booked?

Yes this can be done without a fee but is subject to availability on the new date. We advise you to provide us as much notice as possible to ensure availability and avoid disappointment. If you are genuinely sick or have other extenuating circumstances why you can travel just let us know and we’ll work something out for you. Passengers who “no-show” without contacting us forfeit any monies paid and are not entitled to a refund.

Can I book an open dated voucher?

You can, however travel on the date you desire is subject to availability. It is your responsibility to contact us at least 3-4 days prior to confirm your actual travel date. If the booking date on your voucher is in a different rate period to that in which you travel a small extra charge may be payable to cover any rate increase.

I’m staying in Cairns but considering visiting the reef from Port Douglas. Is this possible?

You can but it is 160km’s (2 hours) in a bus from Cairns to Port Douglas and return.  If you are staying in Cairns or the Northern Beaches of Cairns (Trinity Beach, Palm Cove, Kewarra Beach) we would advise you to travel on a Cairns based boat such as Reef Magic.  It makes no sense having to get up extra early & extend your day when you can relax over breakfast and spend more of your day at the reef, not in a car or bus.

Can I travel with Reef Magic Cruises if I’m staying in Port Douglas?

You can however please refer to above FAQ. We would recommend you choose a Port Douglas based boat to save the inconvenience of unnecessary travel time.

What’s the best day to travel?

Christmas day always runs full with Christmas orphans (travellers away from home) however no particular day of the week is busier or more suitable than the next. Pick the day with the best weather during your stay in Cairns and get out there! Low winds are more important than sunshine for an enjoyable reef day.

Do you ever cancel?

Rarely, only a handful of days every year. Cancellations are normally a precaution against the imminent threat of  Tropical Cyclone’s which are a part of life during the summer months in the tropics. Your safety and enjoyment of the reef is our #1 priority. If we deem it not safe to travel we will cancel the day. We make every effort possible to contact all passengers with as much notice as possible and offer the chance to travel on another day. If you can’t change travel days we will happily refund your ticket. Please note some bookings made though a 3rd party agent may charge a nominal fee or hold on to a deposit in line with their booking terms and conditions.

Do you have a family special?

Yes. For a family of 2 Adults and 2 Children (aged 4-14 years inclusive) one child travels free of charge (a saving of $99.00). This offer is valid all year around for direct bookings or through your preferred agent.

Can I pay with Credit Card? EFTPOS? Travelers’ Cheque’s?

We happily accept both Visa & MasterCard as well as having EFT facilities both at check-in and on the boat. Travelers’ Cheques must be in $AUD with supporting identification / photo Id such as passport. No personal cheque’s will be accepted without prior clearance. The nearest foreign money exchange is Global Money Exchange, located at 69 Abbott St, Cairns City. Phone ahead for opening hours on +61 7 4031 7272

Is the trip suitable for children and babies?

Reef Magic Cruises is suitable for all ages – including families with children and babies. Adult supervision is required at all times for children under 16 years of age and is not the responsibility of Reef Magic Cruises. Floatation devices such as buoyancy vests and noodles are available. Snorkelling equipment, Wet suits and Lycra suits are also available in children’s sizes. The pontoon features an infants swimming enclosure.

Diving Questions

What is the minimum age to scuba dive?

The minimum age to scuba dive is 12 years. A medical questionnaire must be completed and signed by a parent/guardian for divers under 18 years.

Can I Scuba Dive with no experience?

Absolutely! Our highly qualified instructors can have you in the water and enjoying the magic of scuba diving in no time. See our section on diving for more information.

Does Reef Magic Cruises offer learn to dive courses?

Our dive team offer a range of dive courses from Open Water to Instructor level including Scuba Rangers dive courses for under 12’s. Contact us for more information, pricing and course dates.

What if I’m a certified diver and forget my certification card?

Not all is lost. Try contacting your certifying agency and they may be able to fax a copy to us at +61 7 4051 1920 . Failing that, we have a certified divers written test you can do on board with our dive team to verify your diving knowledge. If you have your log book please bring it along. The worst case scenario is we will have to dive you with the introductory divers.

I normally wear glasses or contact lenses. Can I wear these under my mask?

Depending on the strength of your glasses a standard snorkel/dive mask may be sufficient as they magnify objects underwater by around 25%.  Glasses cannot be worn under a mask however prescription masks are available for hire for just $5/day and suit short sighted individuals (trouble with far away objects). Masks range in magnification from -1.5 to -8.0.  A $100 deposit is required for prescription masks which is cheerfully refunded when the mask is returned in one piece.  We do not carry positive (+) magnification masks.

Contact lenses can be worn snorkelling however please note some water may get into your mask. Gas permeable contact lenses are suitable for scuba diving however a prescription mask is preferable.

Scary Stuff Questions

Should I be concerned about Jelly Fish or Marine Stingers?

While certain species of Jelly Fish can be found in tropical waters at any time of year, the majority are harmless to man. Official ‘Stinger season’ in Cairns is from November to May when water temperatures suit the few species of concern.

While incidents involving serious stings are extremely rare our crew are trained to recognize sting types and apply appropriate first aid assistance if required. To greatly reduce your chances of an encounter with a jellyfish protective lycra suits are available for just $6 and come in a range of sizes from XS to XXL. Our lycra suits are also excellent sun protection and include Reef Magic Cruises’ unique “nemo suit” for kids of all ages!

Are there sharks at the reef?

Yes of course, they are a top predator and form a vital part of the worlds marine eco system. However most are shy and quite harmless such as the common white tip reef sharks which only grow to approximately 5ft and are very timid.

An encounter with a reef shark is a magical experience but enjoy it quickly as they will generally swim off in the opposite direction if they feel they are being watched or if you get to close

General Questions

I am driving to the marina, where can I leave the car?

Our check-in counter is located at 1 Spence Street, Cairns. Opposite us is the Pier Marketplace Shopping Centre and Shangri-La hotel. You can park outdoors behind the Pier Marketplace for approximately 80 cents/hr or under the Shangri-La in secure parking for around $10/day.

If you dont mind a short walk there is a $4 car park outside Trinity Wharf on Wharf street, a flat 5 minutes walk from our check-in.

Parking is free in the street after 12 noon on Saturday and all day on Sunday.

Can I take a pram on board the boat?

The Reef Magic III catamaran and Marine World platform are both pram-friendly with ramp access and wide isles. Reef Magic III also has baby change facilities.

Can we sit anywhere on the boat?

You are free to sit where ever you please, except areas signed as staff only. Choose between air-conditioned cabins on the upper and lower decks all with large viewing windows.

Seating outside on the upper rear deck in the fresh air and sunshine is also a popular option.

For your own safety try not to move around the boat too much when the boat in underway, especially in rough weather.

What do I need to bring?

Hat, Towel, Sunscreen, Sunglasses, something to swim in, a dry change of clothes, cash or credit card for optional activities and onboard purchases such as souvenirs, professional photos from our on-board photographer or a drink from the bar.

Do you supply towels?

The best idea is to bring one from your hotel or accommodation. Alternatively limited supplies of Marine World towels are for sale on board for just $20 and make a great souvenir!Unfortunately we are not able to hire or lend towels.

Are there toilets, showers & changing rooms at the reef?

There are toilets on the boat accessible at all times throughout the day. Fresh water rinse showers and changing rooms are on the Marine World platform. The Reef Magic III catamaran has a wheel chair accessible bathroom (shower & toilet) and even baby-change facilities.

Is the lunch suitable for vegetarians?

A hot and cold buffet lunch is served at Marine World and includes a wide selection of fresh salads, cold meats, tropical fruits, nori rolls, breads, prawns and both vegetarian and meat based hot dishes with rice.

Is the snorkeling equipment also in child sizes?

We have snorkelling equipment in both adult and child sizes. Fins range from children’s size 1-3 to Adults 11-13 and masks are in adult and child fittings. Wet suits and lycra suits are also available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Swim vests are also available in most sizes for those wanting some extra flotation while snorkelling.

Do you have baby-sitting or child minding facilities?

No, parents are responsible for supervising their children at all times. Our friendly crew can help organise the timing of your activities so that one parent is always free to attend to the children.

Do you have lockers on board?

Lockers are available on board Reef Magic III for just $2 per use & are suitable for small personal items such as phones, jewellery or wallets. While theft is very rare on board we suggest valuables are better off left in your hotel room or with the concierge rather than brought to the reef.

Are there facilities for the disabled?

There is ramp access from the wharf to the vessel and vessel to the Marine World platform. However, passengers are required to negotiate at least one set of stairs on the vessel depending on tides and loading position so the assistance of a carer is highly recommended.

The Reef Magic II catamaran has wide isles and a wheel chair accessible toilet & shower. Access to the water, coral viewing vessels, underwater observatory and sundeck all require stairs to be negotiated and would require a carer to be present if the customer can not walk unassisted.

The best idea is to give us a call and talk through the level of disability and we can suggest suitability or not.

How deep is the water?

The area directly off the snorkel platform opens into clear, shallow snorkelling lagoon of only 4-5 meters, prefect for the beginner snorkeler. During low tide the reef can often break the surface of the water.

The Marine World Outer Reef Wall is a renowned dive location by local dive enthusiasts and keen snorkellers and reaches depths of over 30m.

We are elderly and not so interested in snorkelling or diving. What is there for us to do at Marine World?

The Marine World facility caters for all ages and swimming abilities. We have a range of “dry activities” so you can experience the reef without even getting wet. These include our Semi-Submersible and Glass Bottom boat tours, both with interactive commentary, we have an underwater observatory with fish feeding demonstration, plus the opportunity to take an affordable reef-scenic helicopter flight. We also have a large sundeck with lounges so you can kick back and take in the panoramic views of the coral sea.

If you are even slightly interested in snorkelling our crew can show you how under close supervision in shallow our coral lagoon. Personal flotation devices and floating rest stations in the water make snorkelling as easy as possible.

How large is the Marine World platform?

The Marine World platform is not the largest but it is the most spacious on the Great Barrier Reef because visitor numbers are limited and it is never filled to capacity. Measuring 45m long by 22m wide there is ample undercover seating and always plenty of room to move about.