Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reefsleep at the Great Barrier Reef

As promised, here's the post on my reefsleep experience at the Great Barrier Reef during my romantic getaway to Hamilton Island with my boyfriend, of which I blogged about last week.

The Reefsleep was a truly remarkable experience. Both the Boyfriend and I had such a good time - it was the key highlight of our trip.

I'd say it is sort of a 'once in a lifetime' thing which you will probably never do again. Or at least for us, we think once is enough.

Although I have to admit that it is slightly pricey at approximately $400 per person, it was so worth it.

And if you have the Entertainment Book, you're entitled to a 25% discount, which saves you quite a bit so yeah, you might want to consider getting the Entertainment Book before heading up! ;)

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When we were queuing up to board the Fantasea Sunrise, our host, Nina called out to "Michelle" and came over to introduce herself.

She then proceeded to take us through a VIP short-cut and we were the lucky first to board the ferry among the group. Yay! :D

"So... Leon and Michelle, are you guys together?" Nina asked.

"Yeap yeap," we answered as we simultaneously nodded our head.

"Oh, great! Good news guys, we haven't got anyone booked in the King room so we're giving you a free upgrade - can get some cuddles at night," she added cheekily.

Free upgrade?!! Double whoopie yayyyyyy!!! :D

We were initially booked in for the bunk room which could fit 4, only because it was more affordable. If memory serves me right, I think it would cost $600 per person (or possibly even more) for the King room.

Of course I did consider the chance of another couple booking in for the bunk room and the awkwardness of sleeping with the company of two other strangers... But guess I was lucky! :D

It wasn't long before we departed Hamilton Island for the Great Barrier Reef on the Fantasea Sunrise cruise.

After 2 hours of seasick, we finally arrived at the pontoon located just by the reef. As soon as the ferry anchored down, I hopped straight off with a spinning head and Nina ushered us to our room.

I was a tad concerned about getting motion sickness on the pontoon itself, but it is surprisingly calm. I guess it's fine as there is plenty of room to move around and Nina also did mention that the pontoon is securely moored.

Whilst everyone else who were there with us that afternoon changed in the public change room and left their belongings just sitting around as they jumped into the water for a swim, we had the luxury to change in our own room and store our bags in a locked wardrobe. Paranoia issue resolved!

Also, I am not big on public toilets, in fact I have to admit, I am quite fussy. As the Boyfriend labels me "the Princess" or "clean freak"... Hygiene is really important to me - toilet hygiene in particular - so I really appreciate having access to my own private toilet too. :)

We opted for the package which includes also a scuba dive introductory course and a guided snorkelling tour with reef interpreter for an additional fee of $80 per person.

And there, I finally went scuba diving and yes, I found Nemo! :D :D

Yay, that's one thing slashed off my bucket list. :D The Boyfriend and I really enjoyed the introductory course and are planning to get licensed, sometime soon.

I was rather worried as I'm not a good swimmer, but you know what, the instructors take pretty good care of you and I also had the Boyfriend who looked out for me throughout the dive. ♥

Y'know, I thought I was a lousy swimmer, but some other guys there were even worse than I am... *giggles* and well, we all still did it!!

So my point is, if you're thinking of giving scuba diving a go but worried/scared like I was before, rest assured, you don't really need to know how to swim. So long as you can kick your legs, all's fine. :P

However, if diving is not your thing, you can opt to go for a snorkel or take the submarine ride at no extra cost.

All snorkeling equipment including individually sealed snorkel mouthpieces are provided to everybody.

The wet suits are needless to say, rather wet and I was going all icky-yucky when I first put them on, but you know what? You feel better after you get into the water. ;)

After working up an appetite from the dive and snorkel, we were served some prepared barbecue for lunch.

Let me assure you, you'll be very well fed during the reef sleep as each day also includes a buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea.

The day trippers departed by 2.30pm and we were left there, just the two of us, at the pontoon with our host and the reef care takers. :)

We had unlimited snorkeling, unlimited water slide opportunities... all to ourselves. Yeap, that's right, the whole pontoon and reef! ;)

The Boyfriend and I spent the whole arvo snorkelling out, and we didn't realise that we went a little too far out. We had the care takers yell out to us to "COME BACK!" Oppsie!

I was told later in the day that, if we were to swim a tad bit further, we would have crossed the safety line and the ocean would have swallowed us in. *gasps*

The Boyfriend and I took turns for a quick shower, and spent the remaining afternoon just chatting and basking in the sun.

If you know me well enough, you'll know that I'm one who tries to avoid the sun where possible. So, it is actually very unlike me to sunbathe, but guess what, I surprisingly really enjoyed it!

Oh, did I also forget to mention that we had access to the ice cream freezer all day long? I had a Golden Gaytime and a Cornetto! :P

Then came 4.30pm, Nina escorted us up to the viewing deck where she had very nicely set up some champagne and a cheese platter for us. The service was really top class, I'd say!

Yums! The boyfriend and I had since fell in love with salami + apricot cheese on cracker and have actually just gotten some to snack on over the weekend. ;)

The Boyfriend and I had a toast to life, as we watched the sun slowly set beneath the horizon. At that point in time, I thought to myself, "life cannot get any better" and I was so grateful... for everything! From meeting Leon in the oddest coincidence, to being able to go on the trip and enjoying all these memorable experiences with him. :')

It was so mesmerizing - and I have to say, my pictures do not do the view and the reef enough justice. It is something you need to experience for yourself.

After the sun has gone to sleep, the sky was in pretty shades of my favourite pastel colours over the turquoise sea water.

We had a simple 3 course alfresco dinner all set up in the underwater viewing chamber where the fishes, George the grouper and his companions, put up a good show throughout dinner.

Entree (not pictured): Lamb cutlets; Pumpkin soup
Main: Salmon fillet; Scotch Fillet steak 
Desserts: Sticky date pudding; Chocolate mud cake

Dinner wasn't sublime - I mean it is not a 3 chef hat restaurant and we need to also take into consideration that they did not hire a chef specifically to stay on board the pontoon.

The person who cooked this was trained to either mind the reef, scuba dive, or whatever it may be... but cooking wasn't their forte, and I understood that.

But as you can see above, presentation was lovely, all the dishes were freshly prepared and served warm. As much as I am a food snob, this meal was good enough to keep my tummy filled. :)

After dinner, we popped up to the viewing deck and oh boy, the pitch black sky was filled with glittery stars and it was absolutely stunning... we couldn't stay for long though, it was extremely windy that night and we were both freezing cold!

Needless to say, we were exhausted from all the swimming we did that day, and I fell asleep in the Boyfriend's embrace, whilst listening to the sounds of the water in the quiet stillness of the reef.

After a good night rest, we woke up to brekkie nicely prepared for us. Breakfast in the morning sun, as the sea breeze caress your hair... what more can we ask for?

We had the option of either cold or hot brekkie, and we decided to go for both. The Boyfriend opted for cold and he was served with a selection of cereals, some toast with jam spreads of your choice and a platter of fruits.

I couldn't go past the idea of scrambled eggs and bacons! But of course being the porker that he is, the Boyfriend had to dig into my bacon, of which I very generously shared. :P

The next batch of day trippers arrived on the dot at 11am, and we watched as the staffs repeated their daily routine all over again.

Before we boarded the cruise that ferried us back to Hamilton Island, the Boyfriend and I both popped a travel pill (whatver you call that, as long as it works) and we were completely fine on our way back. Phew!

The Reefsleep experience was a truly unique one - our host was exceptional, service was tip top and most importantly, having the place all to ourselves was simply remarkable.

The introductory dive was a really good experience too and what can I say really... I'd highly recommend the Reefsleep to anyone and everyone who is heading up to Hamilton Island.

Exclusive accommodation with only the stars and marine life as your neighbours. The only experience of its kind in Australia - what could be more perfect? ;)

I've enjoyed every trip I've been on with the love of my life (pictured above, haha I'm so funny!) including this memorable getaway! So, thank you, my dear for everything. You're the best! ♥

1 comment :

The Boyfriend said...

I think you summed everything up perfectly! Love you too babe <3

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