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Dive Review of Spirit of Freedom in
Australia/GBR and Coral Sea

September, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Sandra Tullis, CA, USA
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 5720
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Have also been diving in Belize, Bonaire, Red Sea, Maui, Kona and Indonesia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
calm, choppy, currents  
Water Temp
72   to 75    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 90    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
40 meter limit on first dive of the day and no more than 30 meters on
subsequent dives. No reverse profiles allowed during dive day. They check
computers for ascent rates. No less than 50 bar or 500 psi at the end of a
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Only lower ratings on facilities due to space. If you have more than 2 or 3
large setups, it gets very crowded. 110 and 220 voltage available on indoor
camera table. Dry table with air gun on dive deck. CDs can be burned to
back up photo cards. Bring your wide angle lens! They will also make a CD
for you of pictures the divemasters take if you do not do photos of your
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
My husband and I booked the trip through About Australia Diving as they are
very familiar with the boat and were able to get a spot on the boat for the
time we wanted when no one else could. Friends of ours were on the boat in
Feb 2010 and loved it. We were picked up promptly at our Cairns hotel for
the 7 day trip up the Great Barrier Reef to Cod Hole and then to Osprey
reef in the Coral Sea. During that time we only saw the competitors boat
once. We had the reefs to ourselves.

The Boat
The boat is slightly smaller than the other liveaboard boats in the area,
but never seemed crowded, even with 23 divers. It is very well laid out for
diving and relaxing. Tanks are aluminum 80s and Nitrox fills are done
quickly at 32%. Weight belts were already prepared when we arrived and we
found the 6 kilo weighting with a 3m suit to be perfect. Rental gear is
available and those who rented seemed to be happy with it. Our stateroom
had the best shower I have ever used on a liveaboard. We are vegetarians
and we were well taken care of with plentiful and delicious food. Someone
had a birthday and the chef made a chocolate cake that we all fought over
for second helpings. 

The Staff
The staff is nothing short of outstanding in managing the boat and its
divers in and out of the water, regardless of the diving skill of the
guest. Eveyone was pleasant helpful and enthusiastic. The captains and
mates were the most accesible and visible of any liveaboard I have ever
been on. Even though I would not recommend this itenerary for beginning
divers (hence the 3 on beginner rating) there were several divers on board
with 15 dives or less. A couple of the dives had very strong current and
very rough sea at boat re-entry. Despite this the staff made sure that
everyone got in and out safely using tenders, john lines etc without being
overbearing about it. More diving detail below. 

The Diving (aka the fun part)
As cold water divers, we were thrilled to be back in 70+ degree water. The
fish life was outstanding both small (anthias,damsels) and large(potato
cod, sharks). At most sights we agreed it was simply raining fish. Coral
formations looked healthy. Visibility varied from 40 feet to over 80 feet
depending on the site. They use mooring lines only, no anchors. The
conditions along the GBR were pretty calm and this is great but can be
misleading. At Cod Hole for the cod feed dive (yes giant potato cod eat
right in front of you!), we had current of 3.5 on a 5 scale. The crew
dropped us from tenders down to the sight with the dive masters and brought
us back on a series of lines (which we hung onto for dear life)with dive
masters at various points along the lines to assist. 
After 4 days on the GBR, we steamed from Lizard Island to Osprey reef. This
reef had fascinating swimthroughs and canyons. Conditions were more choppy
here but there were sharks on every dive. We saw a few mantas, stingrays
and devil rays as well. Again, great coral and it was raining fish. On the
shark feed dive (about 20 reef sharks and a few potato cod fighting over
bait, right in front of you!) there were 6 foot waves breaking on the back
of the boat. Toughest boat re-entry I have ever done. My husband needed 2
tries to get on. Again the crew was outstanding in getting everyone back on
They account for divers and their dive statistics carefully. The boat does
not move until everyone has signed back into the log. We sat out one dive
to take a nap and they held the boat until one of the crew came into our
cabin and received our signatures so the boat could move to the next site.

This is not a location for muck divers looking for tiny things everywhere,
but we did that already in Lembeh so were ready for more coral and big
animals. We got all that we could have hoped for and more. I cannot
recommend this boat enough.
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Other dive reports on Spirit of Freedom

All Australia Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Australia
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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