Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Outer Reef & Low Isles?
The Outer Great Barrier Reef is a large area made up of many different reef systems. The main areas Calypso visits are Opal and Agincourt Reefs on the outer edge of the reef as well as St Crispins and Tongue Reefs. A huge variety of corals and marine life inhabit these areas. Low Isles is a smaller area with roughly 55 acres of coral reef surrounding a picturesque coral cay and a mangrove island. Separated from the main reef system by the shipping channel, Low Isles is home to many giant green sea turtles, beautiful coral gardens and ample marine life.
What is the difference between Opal & Agincourt Reefs?
Both Opal & Agincourt Reefs offer spectacular snorkelling and diving locations. Opal Reef, a very sheltered reef system enables the delicate and colourful marine life to come out and play such as pipe fish, Christmas tree worms, turtles, lionfish, Wobbegongs, etc. Agincourt Reef is surrounded by deeper water with currents enticing schools of pelagic fish such as mackerel and trevally. The reef drops down into the deep water creating amazing walls of coral with a variety of interesting marine life.
Our dedicated snorkelling vessels visit Opal Reef because its a shallow reef providing snorkellers with some of the best coral and variety of marine life found on the Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas. Opal Reef is a highly protected reef system only allowing vessels with less than 100 passengers access. Opal Reef provides vessels with protection from stronger southeasterly winds.
Agincourt Reef is a deeper reef system ideal for diving. Snorkellers are catered for as it provides spectacular views from the surface. Agincourt Reef provides little protection from ocean swells and currents which may result in our divers and snorkellers visiting Opal Reef where there is more protection. Calypso will ensure guests receive the best possible experience of the Great Barrier Reef.
What is EMC? Can we pay by credit card?
EMC stands for Environmental Management Charge. EMC is a government tax collected by Calypso and Aquarius for research, conservation and preservation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The cost is $6.50 per person and is to be paid on board. Cash, EFTPOS, VISA and MasterCards are accepted. The EMC charge is added to any purchases made on board and is processed while travelling back to Port Douglas.
For Calypso's half day cruise to Low Isles and Aquarius' Twilight Sailing, EMC is included in the cruise rate. The amount is $3.25 for tours operating for 3 hours or less.
How long does it take to get to the reef?
Calypso takes approximately 90 minutes to travel to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Our vessels cruise at a very comfortable 18 - 20 knots while travelling to Opal Reef and approximately 22 knots when travelling to Agincourt Reef.
Aquarius sails to Low Isles (without the use of motors, weather permitting) in approximately 70 minutes.
Will I see a turtle? or a shark? What will I see?
The Great Barrier Reef contains thousands of different species of marine life. We cannot guarantee what marine life you will see on your day of travel, however there will be many different species of fish, coral and molluscs. Giant green sea turtles are found around the Great Barrier Reef and are frequently sighted at Low Isles. Reef sharks are quite common and a wonderful sight to see.
What is the best day to visit the reef?
The best conditions to see the outer Great Barrier Reef is in calm seas, with low tide in the middle of the day and blue skies. Unfortunately we don't experience weather like this all the time so we do our best to provide information so YOU can decide the best day to travel. Selecting the day with the least wind and the right tide are the most important factors to consider when choosing a day to travel.
Calypso has over 36 different reef sites to choose from and three are selected each day depending on the weather conditions. Aquarius sails to Low Isles and is best seen at a higher tide allowing guests to snorkel above the reef. Calypso and Aquarius vessels will not travel if we think the weather conditions are unsuitable. Constantly referring to the Bureau of Meteorology for up-to-date weather forecasts, you will be given suggestions on which days to travel. Rain will not affect our tour and does not interfere with the visibility of the reef.
Divers need to be aware that 24 hours is required between completion of their last dive to when they are scheduled to fly. Please keep this in mind when planning your day of travel.
What if it rains? Does the tour get cancelled?
Operating in the Wet Tropics, we expect rain mainly during the summer months. However, it can rain all year round. Rain doesn’t affect our day to day operations of our tours, especially to the Great Barrier Reef. We do not cancel tours due to rain as it does not affect the quality of the reef.
Should I do a cruise from Port Douglas or Cairns?
Port Douglas offers a great range of options for travelling to the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns offers good products too however the travelling time is longer as the reef is further from the coast. The further north you go, away from populated areas, the more pristine the reef can be.
Island snorkelling experiences are very popular with visitors and its hard to beat Low Isles. Just off the coast of Port Douglas, this pristine coral cay has only a lighthouse and a house for the island caretakers. Low Isles is the perfect place to relax, snorkel from the beach and enjoy this picturesque part of the Great Barrier Reef without the crowds.
What are stingers? When are they around?
Stingers are a generalised term for jellyfish. During the summer months (November through to May), marine stingers, Irukandjis and box jellyfish, are present in the waters off the coast of Tropical North Queensland. Popular beaches along the tropical coast provide a safe, netted area for visitors to swim in during this time. Swimming outside of these nets is deemed unsafe unless wearing a lycra suit.
Marine stingers are more common in tropical waters but not restricted to Australia. Confirmations of Irukandji syndrome have been known within the Indo-Pacific region. All Calypso and Aquarius vessels are equipped with lycra suits (free of charge) during these summer months. As well as a precaution, lycra suits have other benefits such as sun protection and also reducing the amount of sunscreen in the water.
What do I need to bring? Do you supply towels?
Please bring along swimmers, towel, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, a change of clothes (there are fresh water showers on board) and cash or credit card (VISA, MasterCard or EFTPOS) for the Environmental Management Charge and any on board purchases. We do not provide towels for guests, however please ask your accommodation provider who will supply beach towels for you.
Do you have a marine biologist on board?
We have marine biologists working for Calypso Reef Cruises but due to the number of vessels we operate, we cannot guarantee there will be a biologist on board. All the crew are extremely knowledgeable of the reef and its inhabitants and will do their best to answer any questions you may have.
What is the difference between your tour and other tours that go to the Outer Reef?
Calypso Reef Cruises is a local family owned and operated company established in 1999. Starting out with one vessel, Calypso has now built ten vessels over 17 years, keeping the product new with the latest technology and fuel efficient motors.
Calypso currently operates four vessels allowing for lower passenger numbers spread over multiple vessels. Our dedicated snorkelling vessels are proving very popular with families and our combined snorkelling & diving vessels are great for those who have divers in their party, first time divers and experienced divers.
All Calypso vessels are custom designed featuring a spacious back deck which is the width of the vessel and a submerged platform for easy access in and out of the water. All seating is day bed style (with some individual seats in the saloon) and sun lounges on the top deck of our dive & snorkel vessels. Calypso has the only vessels that provide guests with a 360 degree view of the Great Barrier Reef.
Will I get seasick? Do you offer medication on board?
You are not alone if you suffer from sea sickness. All Calypso vessels are wide-bodied catamarans for stability and have the advantage of cutting through the waves instead of riding the swell. Vessels do encounter some form of movement no matter what the conditions so prevention is best.
Two types of medication are offered on board our vessels. Ginger tablets are provided free of charge to passengers who prefer a natural option and are good for pregnant women. The other form of sea sickness medication is called Travacalm and costs $3 for 2 tablets. Please see the crew on board.
If you know you suffer from sea sickness, its best to see a pharmacist prior to your trip to the reef.
Can I change my day of travel or cancel?
We are flexible if you want to move your day of travel, subject to availability, as long as you provide us with plenty of notice (24 hours). If you decide to cancel within 24 hours of your tour departing, a cancellation fee will be charged. This could be up to 100%.
I am pregnant, can I still go to the reef?
Yes, you can travel to the reef. Snorkelling is low impact and a non strenuous activity great for pregnant women. Flotation devices are perfect for extra buoyancy and gentle kicking will provide enough propulsion for you to get around and explore the reef. The lunch provided on board is a cold buffet which includes a selection of meats, salads, Mediterranean vegetables, breads and condiments. There is plenty of choice for pregnant women even without eating the cold meats.
Diving is not allowed for pregnant women and medicated sea sickness tablets cannot be taken. Ginger tablets are safe for pregnant women to take. If in doubt, see a pharmacist.
Do you cater for special dietary requirements?
Most dietary requirements can be catered for, such as: coeliac, vegans, lactose intolerance and other allergies. Vegetarians have a great selection on the buffet, just avoid the meat platters. All meats are supplied in separate containers. If in doubt please contact us on +61 7 4099 6999.