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Dive Review of Spirit of Freedom in
Australia/Great Barrier Reef

Spirit of Freedom, Mar, 2012,

by Joel Snyder, AZ, US (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 5 Helpful votes). Report 6471.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, S. Pacific
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 26 to 28 Celsius Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No reverse profiles on multi-dive days; occasional time limits (nite dive, and when the boat had to be moved). Generally no limits. 24-hour no-fly limit recommended, but not strictly enforced.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Tables provided for cameras, along with rinse tanks. Ample laptops and other facilities for moving digital images. Boat divemasters generally carry cameras so you can also trade pictures with them or buy a CD with them all at end of trip.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We went with Spirit of Freedom for a week-long tour. Leaves Monday morning (free pickup at your Cairns hotel), followed by a couple of checkout dives not far from Cairns. Then, steam all night and wake up the next morning at Cod Hole. From there, 4 or 5 dives a day for 3 days, then another all-night steam out to the Coral Sea and Osprey Reef (and 4 to 5 dives a day), before returning to Cairns. You can elect to do one half or the other if you wish, but 7 days is the way to go.

Boat: fantastic. No compromises to make this a great luxury dive platform. Always plenty of room in the dining area, salon, and a great top-side sundeck. Dive deck a bit crowded with 25 divers, plenty of space with less. But not a problem---you're relaxed and there's plenty of time and if you have to wait for 3 minutes to get off the boat, it's not a problem. Everything in top-notch condition, including lots of fresh tasty water, air conditioning (actually a bit cold some days inside, but that's what the sundeck is for), seating and facilities.

Diving: Great Barrier Reef, done from a liveaboard. There may be better diving in more obscure places, but these guys take you where the diving is great and give you the opportunity to have a lot of fun. Not a "tech" boat on our cruise, so plenty to do for both advanced and novice. Nitrox available, and not a bad idea since depths are rarely greater than 30 meters. Spare gear if yours breaks, and an overall relaxed attitude. Safety: NO COMPROMISES. It gets on your nerves (if you skip a dive to take a nap, they wake you up since you have to sign in person that you're on the boat), but safe diving is good diving and you can't hold it against them if they are looking out for your welfare. Once you're in the water, though, you can dive as you wish with no time limits except on nite dives and occasionally to meet a move-the-boat schedule. Good for novice to advanced divers; if you're not happy if you're not in deco, this is probably not the right trip for you. With 4 dives most days and 5 dives some days, you can't say you didn't get enough diving in.

Crew: fantastic attitude and plenty of help. Everyone made an effort to learn names, likes, dislikes, and talk to the passengers. Crew Director Nick top-notch, knew when to step in and help and when to back off and let you figure it out yourself. They pick good folks and we always felt safe and well taken care of, from captain down to host/hostess. Food as good as could be expected, and more than ample quantities. You never felt hungry.

Overall: a great trip we had a great time on. Highly recommended as a way to really see the Great Barrier Reef; compared to day boats, this is THE way to go.
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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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