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

Spirit of Freedom: "A bit disappointed", Sep, 2014,

by Gary D Simms, MD, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 7806.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The Boat: we stayed in the one king bed cabin, near the center of the ship below decks; no porthole, but comfy and pretty roomy. Boat had 20 passengers, filled. Common areas okay but cramped in bad weather. Food good, but breakfasts very repetitive. Entry directly from rear of boat; VERY safety conscious staff, rental equipment quite good (computers required, gauges in bars).

Trips: There are trips from Cairns round trip; we elected a shorter version which included a nice flight from Cairns in a small plane to Lizard Island, with departure on the boat from there. On the way, the pilot spotted a huge humpback, and circled back so that we could all take a look.

First dive was basically a check out for everyone at #10 Ribbon Reef. The dive was about 55 feet for 45 minutes, and we were required to demonstrate some safety awareness, including inflating sausages. No current to speak of, and not much to see either. The GBR in that area showed real signs of trouble - bleached and dead coral abounded, not much sealife either. We did a 2nd short dive on the same site. Visibility was 50-75 feet, water temps at 75 degrees - glad to have a 5 mil suit (rented).

Sailed overnight to Osprey Reef across the Coral Sea. VERY rough crossing, about half the folks got sick (including me). First dive the next morning was at 7:15 AM, visibility 60-80 feet, water temps still around 75 F. Dove Northen Horn site - a nice wall, but not as good as Little Cayman or Cayman Braq. Sea life excellent, nice corals. The 2nd dive was a shark feed - this gave me some pause, since feeding sharks kind of goes against my belief that wild animals should not be fed by humans. They had us sit on the coral (another problem I had with the procedure) while they lowered a chum barrel. There must have been 40 sharks (white tips, black tips, bull, and a single giant cod who horned in as well) in a real frenzy. We were at about 85 feet.

The rest of the dives were all drift dives. We stayed pretty close to one of the dive masters at Ospry Soft Coral Wall and Admiralty for the final 2 dives of the day. Admiralty had a nice cave plus swim throughs.

On the third day, we dove Silver City, spotting lots of sharks, then dove Castles with some great swim throughs. Feeling a bit water- logged, we skipped the 3rd dive of the day, but did go for the 4th, at False Entrance - probably tghe best dive of the day (maybe the trip), with outstanding corals, sharks, eels, swim throughs with max depth of about 65 feet.

On day 4, we were briefed on what was supposed to be the "best" site at Osprey - Steve's Bommie. Turned out to be the toughest dive we had. Despite the guidance of the briefer, the current ran opposite of the way we were told, and it was hard to make progress. After gobbling up air trying to swim against the current (too busy to see very much) we called it quits and went up, where we bobbed with our sausages for about 10 minutes before getting picked up.

On the last day we dove Century Bay (nice but nothing really special) and Flair Point - where we spotted an enormous sea turtle. On the last 2 dives, the crew either felt that we didn't need them to guide us, or just didn't feel like diving, so we were on our own.

In sum, the diving presented more challenge than we anticipated. This was not a trip for inexperienced divers. We have about 125 dives each, including some challenges like hook ins in Palau and some serious current drift dives, and some of the diving here pressed us to our limits.

Second and definitely worth noting: they don't talk much about the ocean crossing in their literature or on the website. They way to Osprey was rough, as I mentioned. Coming back, they fed us dinner at 5:30, told us to take our meds and get into bed because the crossing was going to be rougher. It was. We were tossed about seriously for most of the night before arriving back in Cairns the next morning.

For comparison with other live-aboards, this was not as nice as Tropic Dancer in Palau, but was certainly a worthwhile experience. Caiorns itself is a fairly ordinary beach town, but we rented a car and did some day trips to the rain forest and along the coast which were really great.
Websites Spirit of Freedom   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Palau, Caymans, Mexico, Roatan, Turks, Jamaica
Closest Airport Cairns Getting There Flew to Sydney, connect to Cairns, flew puddle jumper to Lizard Island

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 72-75°F / 22-24°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50-80 Ft/ 15-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Computers required; 5 minutes safety stops at 15 feet. Each successive duive had to be shallower.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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