Exploring the Great Barrier Reef on a Cruise

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef on a cruise

For an up-close experience with the Great Barrier Reef, a cruise is your best bet. Unlike day trips, weeklong cruises offer more than a dozen opportunities to snorkel, dive and explore up close.

Cruising also allows for less travel between ports, making it easier to fit in multiple activities. Plus, you’ll have access to an experienced naturalist guide who can discuss the reef’s flora, fauna and environmental concerns with you.


Snorkeling is an ideal way to experience the Great Barrier Reef, especially for those who aren’t confident swimmers. While no special training is needed, it may seem intimidating at first glance so it’s wise to learn how to snorkel before making your first trip.

Snorkeling requires a mask that covers your nose and eyes, two fins (also known as ‘flippers’) attached to your feet, and either a swimsuit or shorts. The correct mask is essential for seeing clearly underwater and making sure it doesn’t slip off when you dive in; additionally, having the correct fins makes gliding over coral reefs effortless.

This 8-hour tour departs Cairns to discover two outer Great Barrier Reef locations and go snorkeling, with a delicious picnic lunch and drinks included. Plus, the small ship cruise features an informative crew who are on hand to answer any queries you might have about the reef and its inhabitants.

Scuba Diving

The Great Barrier Reef, situated in tropical Queensland, Australia, is an incredible marine ecosystem. Here you will find an abundant diversity of fish, corals, sea turtles, rays and sharks to explore – you’re sure to never get bored here!

Cairns is the hub for several liveaboard cruises that offer diving and snorkeling on the outer region of the Great Barrier Reef. This region of the reef is more popular than any other for scuba divers due to its beginner-friendly dive sites, shallow water depths, and numerous wrecks to discover.

Before embarking on a diving holiday, it is essential that you receive training and certification in scuba diving from an accredited instructor. To guarantee your safety underwater, taking the PADI Open Water Diver course is highly recommended before going diving.

Glass Bottom Boats

Glass bottom boats are an affordable and accessible way to view the reef, perfect for budget travelers. They provide unobstructed views of marine life below the surface and are suitable for people of all ages.

You may prefer a tour that includes a ride in either a semi-submersible or underwater observatory. These air-conditioned vessels offer great fun for anyone wanting to explore the reef without getting wet.

These tours operate year-round and offer the chance to see the reef up close. Some even provide night tours with special ultraviolet lights that illuminate marine life on the reef, allowing travelers to swim alongside bioluminescent creatures like jellyfish.

For those prone to sea sickness, glass bottom boats are an ideal option. These vessels typically operate in calm waters and move slowly so you can easily spot coral and fish.

Overnight Cruises

Cruising can be an exciting way to explore the world without being limited by land-based plans. It takes you to enchanting ports and destinations that may otherwise remain inaccessible for tourists. Cruising is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

For those wanting to explore the Great Barrier Reef but don’t have much time, cruises with overnight stays can be ideal. Many itineraries include at least one overnight port stop, while some even go as far as including two nights in this UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Great Barrier Reef is a magnificent natural wonder, home to an array of wildlife and aquatic creatures. However, its fragile ecosystem should remain unharmed for future generations’ benefit.

As you explore the Great Barrier Reef, be mindful of its delicate nature and avoid touching coral or wildlife. Collecting coral and wildlife from the reef is against the law and may prove painful or hazardous for some visitors.