“ Whitsunday Islands / Queensland / Australia „
I have just travelled on the Fantasea ferry from Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach. This is a very useful service to keep you from going mad on the island as its only 45minutes to the mainland.
The process is very easy, you just go to the little ferry office by the jetty, or if your in airlie they have a desk by the cafe, tickets are $43 one way or $86 return.
On a smooth day its just like any other catamaran ferry but on a rough day its like a rollercoaster.
Fantasea also run cruises to the outer reef from Hamilton Island. This is on a huge motor cat, and isnt the most comfortable way to see the reef. I would recommend H2O if you dont want to be in a cattle farm for the day. Also on Fantasea when its rough a lot of people get very sick, its best to be on a smaller boat. Cruises for the day start upwards of $100 per person.
The staff are very friendly at fantasea and although it would be nicer if it was a bit cheaper they are a great facility to take workers and tourists back and forth from the mainland.
Fantasea Cruises operate cruises and trips in the Whitsundays in Australia.
We went on the Fantasea Cruise to Reefworld and I would highly recommend it - it was the highlight of our trip the Whitsundays.
We had been on a snorkelling trip in the Inner Barrier Reef earlier that week and were really disappointed because the visibility was terrible and we couldn't see anything. It wasn't at all how we imagined the Great Barrier Reef to be! So we booked on the Fantasea trip.
The trip departs from Shute Harbour, Hamilton Island and Club Med Lindeman Island. The trip is onboard an air conditioned high speed catamaran and takes about 2 and a half hours. It is a very smooth ride and whilst onboard they take the chance to introduce you to what activities are available and book you in to do these so you can make the most of your time there.
Reefworld is a pontoon on Hardy Reef in the Outer Barrier Reef. They have got loads of activities onboard. There is a large underwater viewing chamber where we could see Wally the Wrasse (who got his fin stuck in the catarmaran and had some of it cut off! - poor thing!) and thousands of other fish. There is also a semisubmersible coral tour which takes you on a trip around the reef near the coral and fish. This is included in the price.
My husband did an introductory dive and the instructors were excellent and the ratio of instructors to participants was high. We also did snorkelling and a snorkel tour where someone takes you around and explains things, and allows you to hold stuff like sea cucumbers.
The corals and fish were exactly how we imagined it should be. They were so colourful, plentiful and really beautiful.
They have a helicopter which takes off from reef world and we did a 10 minute flight over Heart Reef. This was brilliant fun and the views were amazing. It isn't that cheap though.
The diving and the helicopter are additional charges.
You have about 4 hours on board and we managed to fit all this in although we had literally 5 minutes for lunch! The lunch is buffet style and also excellent.
They also do Reefsleep where you stay overnight on the reef to enable you to see what it's like at night.
The price for a day cruise is 225 Aus dollars so it isn't cheap but in my opinion well worth the money!
Fantasea Cruises is an Australian based cruise company in the Whitsunday's area in Queensland which can take you to see the Great Barrier Reef and to some of the main islands.
The main islands it travels to are Daydream Island and Hamilton Island, which are the nearest to the mainland point you get the cruises from, Shute Harbour. However, they also travel to Whitehaven Beach and Reefworld, and sometimes to the Long Island Resort.
Reefworld is a must visit when travelling with Fantasea Cruises because it's the place they use for snorkelling and scuba diving tours. It's an excellent place to experience the Great Barrier Reef, and they provide you with good service and quite good facilities, however, there are no changing rooms and you have to use the toilet on the boat.
They also have a viewing chamber and a submarine type thing because it's not a proper submarine, but it's very similar to a submarine so you don't have to go scuba diving or snorkelling to experience the beautiful, pretty fish and corals.
In the day trip to Reefworld you get four hours there which gives you plenty of time to have lunch, go scuba diving or snorkelling, have a look at the viewing chamber and go on the submarine at least once. The viewing chamber is open throughout and there are three submarine trips. They also provide certified and introductory divers courses for the first time divers.
Reefworld has many species of fish that liver there. There are some long term underwater residents that have lived there for many years that you can guarantee on seeing. They have a Queensland Groper called George that is three metres in length, and a Mauri Wrasse named Wally. They both must be two of the biggest fish I have ever seen, Wally is very friendly and will swim over to you to say hello. They also have an eel called Murray; however, he doesn't always make an appearance. There are also some sitings of turtles there, so if you are one of the lucky people you may get a rare chance of seeing a wild one while you are there.
What's included in a Reefworld Cruise (list provided by www.fantasea.com.au where you can also view the menu if you want) :
* Tours aboard or spacious semi-submersible coral viewers
* Use of our seated underwater viewing chamber
* All snorkelling equipment and floatation aids
* A large shaded observation deck
* Queensland Groper viewing station
* 'Club Seahorse'
* Reef appreciation talk
* Extensive shaded areas
* Fresh water showers
* Children's swimming enclosures
* Full length lycra swimsuits
* Wetsuits (winter months)
* Buffet lunch
* Morning & afternoon tea
* Unlimited tea & coffee
* Return coach transfers to Shute Harbour from mainland resorts
I thought the prices were quite reasonable, as they included a lot of things in the price (also provided by the website):
Children (5 - 15 years inclusive)^
^Up to five (5) children may travel with
each full paying adult (terms and conditions apply). $89.00
Family (2 adults, 2 children) $489.00
Introductory Dive Package (cruise and 1 dive) prebooked $309.00
Certified Dive Package (cruise + 1 dive) prebooked $299.00
Introductory Dive booked on board:
(cannot be prebooked) $105.00
Certified Dive booked on board
(cannot be prebooked) $95.00
(time and conditions permitting) $60.00
Own Gear Dive $60.00
Guided Snorkel Safari (purchased on board)
- Adult $35.00
- Family (2 Adults/2 Children) $90.00
Helicopter scenic flights
(purchased on board) from $129.00
I went on two trips with Fantasea Cruises, and I enjoyed both trips, I was impressed with the Reefworld trip in particular. You have to set off early in the morning at 8am from Shute Harbour or slightly later from the other stop off places, to go on the Reefworld trip as they only make one journey there and back everyday.
I really enjoyed the Reefworld day trip. The early morning start was the worst part about it but it was definitely worth it.
The journey on the way to Reefworld was also quite an adventure because once you had travelled through the islands, it became quite choppy conditions and we experienced some quite big waves.
It takes a couple of hours to get there, but don't worry there's food and drink available, and the crew are continuously going round chatting to everyone and making sure everyone is ok. The journey soon passes, but that isn't where the excitement ends.
Once you get off the vessel you can take part in one of the activities I mentioned before. You can also choose to have lunch straight away or after you have done some snorkelling or scuba diving.
I chose to go on the first submarine trip which gave me a taste of what was to come, it was a fairly short trip, about 20 minutes and you saw some fish and were allowed to take as many photos as you wanted as long as you had the flash off. There was also a member of crew on the submarine explaining everything about the fish etc. I then went to the viewing chamber where I got to see Wally for the first time and some other fish.
After I had some lunch I decided to do some snorkelling, it was my first time going snorkelling and I was a bit nervous as I wasn't a huge fan of the sea either. The staff were excellent they helped get your wet suit, mask, flippers and life jacket sorted out for you which was good as I didn't have a clue where to start.
After I got my snorkelling gear on, I then started to go into the water. They help you put on your mask and after that you can get into the water at your own pace and start snorkelling.
It took me a while to get used to wearing the mask at first and getting the breathing right took some getting used to. I think I managed to get a metre into the water from the platform then I panicked and I couldn't continue. I had to get out of the water, and once again the staff were very good and thanks to their excellent help I was able to go back in the water and try again. This time I managed to stay in the water for a very long time so I was able to see some of the fish and corals which were spectacular to see because there were fish of all different colours from blue to black to yellow.
Overall, I had a fantastic day and this was the trip that proved how good Fantasea Cruises is.
Enjoy the comfort of air conditioned, high-speed catamarans for a smooth and comfortable passage to the Outer Great Barrier Reef and throughout the Whitsunday Islands.