This was my first time SCUBA diving. Soooo totally excited. This post is all about my experience with Compass Cruises (budget reef tour).

The day was young 6h30 and I was totally psyched! A cheerful shuttle came and picked me up.

My fellow passengers passed out zzzZZZz

Got dropped off by the pier at around 7h18. Plenty of time to do some touristy photos around the pier. The cruise was scheduled to depart at 8h00.

There were lots of cruises by the pier. I got lost promptly. Landed up asking other cruise crew for directions.

compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-1306.JPGAsap boarding the cruise, there’s a piece of paper to be signed. Basically, any passenger needed to declare whether they had certain illness and that the cruise will not be held responsible. Emergency contact was of course a must as well. The interesting part is that there was a yellow sticker with one’s ‘safety number’. If I’ve not paid any attention to it, I would totally not remember this. It turned out to be a pretty important thing to remember. The crew members did headcount with this. Mine was #60.compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-7723.JPGIt was a windy day. Better safe than sorry, so I bought some pills on board. It was AUD3 (I think). Worked like a charm! I didn’t feel sick at all. The only down side was that it made me a bit sleepy. Some people were ‘dying’ and throwing up. Sailed for about 2 hours before our first stop.compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-1310.JPGThe chef on board was cooking away when we all went into the water.

It was so hard to do food porn when the boat was rocking *sigh*

At first, a crew member advised that I’m not fit to do SCUBA. I was like, WHAT?!?!? I maybe small, but I could swim in the pool 5km easily. “WHY was I not fit enough?” I asked him again. He advised that diving was a different sport. Luckily I persisted and asked again to dive.

Official camera man, Eric. He was all the way from Lund, Sweden! Hej hej~ He took photos with Canon 60D with the underwater armor. Digital photos from this photo man costs: 1 = AUD25, 3 = AUD40, 5 = AUD49 and unlimited (any photo with your face) = AUD76 **You get a USB flash drive hence the high price**

For my first dive, the instructor did not let me take my own camera. I just bought the camera specially for this trip! I was quite pissed. His reason was because my camera only had 10m depth and that I cannot fasten the camera to my arm. Hello?!? We were only diving like less than 8m. I was SOOOOO annoyed.


Before the dive, we had to learn several hand signs. It’s not so easy to talk / hear underwater. So sign language was the way to go. The most important thing to remember was that the instructor is the boss LOL


The belt that I was given was 20kg and the tank of air/oxygen was another 20kg. Safe to say that I was unable to move my 42kg self. They had to ‘kick’ me into the water LOL

Upon seeing Nemo, everything felt great. I was sooo excited that I almost touched it! Mega bad idea LOL apparently it stings like hell. The dive was only 10min? But it felt sooooo amazing. It was like discovering a new world! If only can stay in for longer!


Snorkeling was for free 😀 So after the dive, I did some snorkeling. I must say, I was not loving snorkeling. It felt very awkward? Don’t get me wrong, could see a lot snorkeling as well, but just didn’t feel as close to the corals.

The snorkeling equipment was part of the cruise basic fees.

After that, it was time for lunch. That was a BIG lunch. I must say, for a budget tourist like me, it was a feast! Burger patty + BBQ sausage, bread rolls and a bunch of salads.compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-7762.JPGBurp~~~ later was time for the second dive… and this time I was allowed to bring my camera!!!! 😀 Soooooo happy at this point.

Follow the boss instructor.


I think I kicked this big fellow by mistake… and it went ‘clamp’ shut. Sorry, clam.

I couldn’t control my movements properly in the water at all. Now and then I felt worried that I’ll fall into the corals (damage it) or something.

These squshy coral was safe and soft to touch 😀

compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-0176.JPGAlthough I didn’t meet Dude Crush or other big fish like reef sharks, it was such a wonderful experience!!! So much to see!!!

Crazy instructor (Stuart) and I.

Wrapping up the trip and before handing us the feedback forms… the crew fed us wine and cheese LOL Such a genius move.compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-7778.JPG

The crew has been the most kind and took some photos for me.

They chose to pose like that.

compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-7806Returned to shore at around 16h50



  • Top deck, left hand side has a bench. Hold onto it! It offers shade and sea view.
  • No flip flops were allowed asap sailing commence (safety reasons / slippery). If you’re very much into cleanliness, bring a separate towel just for your feet.
  • No bananas on board please. Captain Dwayne said that they sink ships / or bad luck at the very least.
  • Towel is a necessity! (if you snorkel / dive) BRING it with you. No towel rental on board.
  • The cruise offer underwater cameras for rental at AUD59. First come first serve basis. If you did not bring your own and wish to do some photos, get one asap you get onto the cruise. Check the camera’s battery immediately. I overheard someone having paid and had no photos because the battery died.


Where was I?

Compass cruises aka Cairns budget reef tour

compass-cruises-great-barrier-reef-budget-cruise-cairns-day-tour-7796Camera: Canon 5D mark 3Nikon coolpix S33 (waterproof), Sony Z3+


Please be a sweetheart & support one of my social media xox

Bloglovin’ / Google+ / Twitter / Instagram / FacebookPinterest


No affiliated links.



Salut, I am Joyce. 30 something living in Paris. Appreciate little things and share giggles. Prudent, no nonsense reviews. #ExploreLaughRepeat


  1. I have been on a cruise too. I loved when I went snorkeling. It was beautiful and the barrier reef was gorgeous.

  2. Great to see you dived Joyce, 40 k of gear on a 42 k frame, you are brave. You are also lucky, our Queensland and Australian governments are letting the reef die fast, ignorance and stupidity. Did the tour operators talk about the politics??

    • Yes, the situation is pretty sad. Govt is totally naive that adding tax will save the reef ???? what can be done though? Some ade dying from temperature change.

  3. Fun report! ???? How odd that they almost didn’t let you dive and then didn’t let you take your own camera the first time! My review wouldn’t have been that positive after being bullied like that by people you’re paying. Well, luckily you founf Nemo!! ???? I did a similar boat trip at the Great Barrier Reef in 2000, they let me dive even though I told them I had asthma… but the dive was very scary! I much prefer snorkeling to diving! Still, I’m happy to have tried and the reef there truly was amazing!

    • *LOL* Like I said, I was quite pissed at an earlier stage >_< Nemo made it all better wahaha I'm such an easy tourist 😛 Aw, I envy you. There must have been way more corals back in 2000. The other divers were telling me that they've lost a lot of the reef since.

  4. OMG, I’m terrified of scuba diving… you’re brave! Did the instructor give a proper reason why you weren’t “fit” to dive, originally?
    I’m glad you let you take your camera the 2nd time – amazing photos especially finding Nemo clip!
    I think I would snorkel and that’s about it…

    • Actually the instructor’s original reason was that swimming in a pool vs in the open ocean are different things? Which I mean is really a non-reason. I supposed it’s a risk for the instructor with first time SCUBA divers? No idea *LOL*

  5. It looks like loads of fun! I would have been one of those ‘dying’ on the side of the boat and feeding the fishes. I definitely want to try diving but where I can walk into the water.

    • Another cruise had that helmet thing where you can walk (and your hair remains dry). Hey, motion sickness pills is the way to go. I felt bad for those who were feeding the fishes.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: