Ultimate Great Barrier Reef Cruises

Our Great Barrier Reef Holiday

After a trip a few years back to Corfu in which my daughter spent most of her time face down, snorkel on, staring at fish, I knew the Great Barrier Reef was a must-visit during our trip to Australia. To get from Perth to Alice Springs, then onto Port Douglas added a considerable sum to our budget because internal Flights flights in Australia are not cheap. However, the added cost was more than worth it. We arranged a trip out to the reef, along with the rest of our journey, through the Flight Centre who have often come up trumps for us in preparing recent trips. The trip was with Quicksilver Cruises who offer a tour to the reef where you can enjoy a range of activities from their reef platform in the outer Agincourt Reef.

great barrier reef under water shot

Great Barrier Reef Facts

  • The reef system is the largest in the world comprising of over 2,900 individual reefs. 
  • If you put together The United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland the reef would still be more substantial stretching over 2,600 kilometres. 
  • There are over 990 islands in the reef. 
  • Six species of turtle travel to the reef to breed. 
  • One thousand five hundred species of fish live in the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Climate change is the biggest threat to the reef causing the oceans to heat up and consequently bleaching to the corals. 
  • Tourism to the reef is well managed to protect the area from damage. 
  • If you visit the reef between November and May you have to wear a stinger suit to protect from jellyfish. 
  • The Great Barrier Reef is the most significant living thing on earth. 
  • The reef is thought to be 20, 000,000 years old. 
  • You would need 70 million football fields to cover the size of the reef. 
  • The Great Barrier Reef contains 10% of the world’s species of fish. 
  • The reef is home to 600 types of coral.
  • The Great Barrier Reef cruises transport around two million visitors a year. 
clown fish in a reef

Port Douglas Reef Tours

We were picked up from our accommodation for our Great Barrier Reef cruise at a prearranged time and taken to the departure dock and the Quicksilver reservations desk to collect our boarding passes. On the day we arrived we were warned to be on our guard as the day before an adult saltwater crocodile had been spotted wandering around on the departure decking; one of the quirks of visiting Port Douglas!

great barrier reef boat

Our Port Douglas Cruise

Shortly afterwards, we boarded the vessel and helped ourselves to tea and coffee. Once the trip started, we were allowed to either sit on the decks outside or inside the cabins. The Great Barrier Reef cruise towards the diving platform was quite rocky. We were warned as left that they were expecting the trip to be bumpy. They offered travel sickness tablets for adults and children at no more than $3. I purchased some just in case. Both Lyla and I were fine – she doesn’t get travel sick anyway.

Thirty minutes into our journey, we were shown a diving and safety marine biologist video. The video was followed by a guy from Quicksilver who gave us a snorkelling briefing. We were briefed on what to expect on our arrival at the diving platform. Anyone who intended to dive had a brief with the dive crew.

someone diving in the great barrier reef

Agincourt Diving Platform

On arrival, we were taken to the area to get kitted out in our snorkelling gear and stinger suits. Stinger suits are necessary during the Australian summer because a sting from a jellyfish in the area can be excruciating. The outfits included hoods, gloves, and we wore flippers on our feet. Along with the goggles, there wasn’t hardly any skin on show. We were advised to enter the water slowly so that the jellyfish had time to move away.
As soon as we got to the water’s edge, my ten-year-old daughter was off! Ten metres of water out in the middle of the ocean didn’t phase her at all! She swam back, thrilled that she had spotted a ‘Nemo; fish. I, on the other hand, was having trouble with my snorkel filling up with water. Eventually, I managed to sort the snorkel out and enjoy the reef as well.

We were surrounded by fish as soon as we enter the water. My daughter would often get cold in the water, was so excited I had trouble getting her out! Finally, she decided to come out over an hour later. She was definitely making the most of our Great Barrier Reef cruise.

great barrier reef aerial view

Quicksilver Underwater Observatory And Submersible

Once, we were out and had dried off; we decided to visit the underwater observatory. It is located at the front of the diving platform and is a great way to observe marine life and divers enjoying their lessons.

Finally, we took the semi-submersible coral reef viewing tour. The tour takes 25 minutes and includes detailed commentary on the life surrounding you in the reef. If you are not keen on scuba diving, it is the perfect way to see the ancient colourful corals and fishes in this seated vessel. Submerged a metre under the water, windows all along the sides of the ship allow spectacular views all around you.


My daughter absolutely loved the Great Barrier Reef Cruise from Quicksilver and became a fish herself that day! If you want to visit Port Douglas you can’t miss a trip to the reef. Check this out for more ideas on travelling through Australia with kids

If you are planning on visiting Australia yourself, see my tips on driving abroad for the first time

What are your experiences on travelling long haul with kids? Do you have any further advice or thoughts? Is there anything else you would like me to cover? Leave me a comment below, or send me a message. 

Are you taking a trip with your kids soon? Read my tips on saving money on a family holiday


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