December 1 – Glass Bottom Boat
20°18′6″ S 148°47′49″ E
Today was the first stop on the cruise where passengers had the opportunity to take a 6-hour excursion trip out to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. We considered doing that but the price tag was $350.00 per person & the majority of the time on the excursion is spent on the tour boat getting out to the reef & back again, so we decided to take a much more modest excursion ($40.00 pp) to a “local” reef just a few miles from Airlie Beach. I’m sure we can find another opportunity to spend the $620.00 we “saved” by not taking the big reef excursion.
Airlie Beach has no Pier facilities for cruise ships so everyone has to take a tender to shore. Getting about 2,000 people off a ship like this using tenders is quite a time consuming operation. The cruise ship launched several of its lifeboats & they were supplemented by 3 or 4 local tour boats. One of the local boats was a power trimaran that from a distance looked like something out of a James Bond movie.
Once we were on shore we took a short bus ride to another nearby Shute Harbour which was spectacular.
Most of the area was wiped put by a cyclone in 2017, with winds in excess of 250 kms an hour – boats tossed on the shore and sunk in the harbour, trees stripped of their leaves and wave action broke off huge chunks of solid coral from the reefs causing much damage.
We boarded a small glass bottomed boat that carried only about 15 people & headed towards a nearby uninhabited island that has a small reef facing the mainland.
It was a fun trip with an entertaining young fellow from the UK as our captain & tour guide & we saw lots of coral & numerous small fish. But the fish were pretty shy.
Look like a salad bar?
Cool brain coral!
Our tour guide explained that most of the coral is brown in colour and you have to have the right light and camera to capture some of the blues and reds. It was really interesting to see the coral moving and waving to its own rhythm. We had hoped to see some turtles as the tour guide had seen three that morning and seventeen on another trip but they were likely resting as it was almost noon.
At the conclusion of the hour-long reef tour we opted not to go into the town’s commercial area as it was very hot & humid. Instead we headed back to the ship to cruise the buffet on the Lido Deck. After all, it had been about 4 hours since we last ate!
On our way back to the ship we passed by a Nauticat motorsailer moored in the bay.
She looked very similar to Ananda. I imagine it would be fantastic sailing in these waters! (Big Sigh Here!) …. guess I’ll just have to find some comfort at the buffet!
Tomorrow we head to Cairns where we will see Yorkeys Knob 🙀