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

Spirit of Freedom, Oct, 2009,

by Harvey S. Cohen, NJ, United States (Contributor Contributor 15 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 5232.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Liveaboards: Aquacat, Nekton, Turks & Caicos Explorer III
Land-based: Key Largo, Ft. Lauderdale, Nevis, St. Croix, Gulf of Eilat, New Jersey Atlantic Ocean, Dutch Springs
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max depth should not exceed previous dives on that day. Buddy or guide required.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Dedicated rinse sink, compressed air, and assembly table out of dive deck traffic area. Charging stations in dry indoor area.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Well worth the half-way-around-the-world pilgrimage. A marine biologist passenger said the corals reminded her of the Caribbean 30 years ago. The quality and variety and size were absolutely amazing.
Best-managed liveaboard I've seen. Crew is extremely well organized and impressively competent. The ship itself is in excellent shape.
Food is amazing. 2 nights were Australian BBQ with steak, lambchops, baramundi, prawns, and kangaroo.
Spirit is really, really careful that they don't lose track of a diver (as has happened with other dive operations there). The crew member on bubble watch logs each diver out as they giant-stride off the dive platform. Another crew member goes to each diver returning to the dive deck, logs dive time & max depth, and gets the diver's signature. If a passenger skips a dive, they are logged and must sign. This is the only operation I've ever seen where I'm *certain* that they know who is and isn't on the boat.
The waters around the Ribbon Reefs are calm, but the overnight crossings to/from Osprey Reef/Lizard Island can be rough. Stabilizers eliminate roll, but not pitch. On those 2 nights they recommend passengers take dramamine (provided) and go to bed after dinner-- an excellent idea.
All moorings are stable. The boat doesn't swing, and the dive platform pitches very little even in big swells. With a full passenger load, the dive deck is a little crowded but OK. Only the Aquacat is more spacious. There is a wetsuit rinse tub with fresh water for each dive, which every liveaboard should have but few do. The dive showers are barely adequate; they're on the open deck near the dive platform. Aquacat has 2 stall showers on the dive deck that are much better. The shower in each cabin is OK, but a showerhead on a hose and separate controls for temperature and volume would be improvements.
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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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