FAQs

Our crew get asked dozens of questions every day so don’t be too scared to ask! If you don’t find what you want to know send us an email or give us a call on +61 7 4030 7910.

Itinerary

Do you operate every day?

No. Whale Watching season is between July and end of August. But when we are in season, we operate daily cruises

How long is the tour?

We have a 9am or 11am departure from Cairns and two departure times from Fitzroy Island at 2pm or 4pm so you can choose!

What is the itinerary for the day?

Check-in commences inside the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street, from 08:00. Our vessel departs Cairns Marlin Jetty at 09:00 or 11am, leaving Fitzroy Island at 14.00 or 16.00. (Fitzroy Island is 45 mins away from Cairns)

Activity times will be advised on the day and are dependent on passenger numbers and interest in each activity.

How long do we spend spotting Whales?

The Whale Watching Tour, including commentary from our Marine Biologists, goes for approx 90 mins. We seek out the best spots to witness the whales.

Do you offer coach transfers from my hotel?

We offer return accommodation coach transfers in modern air-conditioned vehicles from all Cairns City accommodation for just AUD$18pp and Northern Beaches accommodation from just AUD$22pp . Pick-up is generally at the hotels front doors unless notified otherwise.

Do you have half day options?

Sure do. Jump on the 11am departure and leave Fitzroy Island early if you have other commitments

Do I need to pre-book the optional activities at Fitzroy Island?

No, all activities can be organised and booked once on you are there. Just head to the Adventure Hut and our friendly staff will get you sorted.

Fitzroy Island

Where is the Fitzroy Island?

Fitzroy Island is a little idyllic island, 45 minutes away from Cairns. It has plenty of sheltered beaches, a turtle sanctuary, a bar, shops and even a resort!

Why do we stop at Fitzroy Island?

Fitzroy Island is the ideal place to get grounded again after being out on the water so you can relax or do something adventurous. You are getting two awesome experiences in one! Don’t forget your swimmers, towel, sunscreen and hat though!

Weather

What will the weather be like?

Fantastic of course – as the slogan says, Queensland beautiful one day perfect the next! (Well we hope so). Whale Watching Tours Cairns have access to accurate 3 day forecasts provided by the bureau of meteorology as well as real-time weather reports available from our crew stationed on the Great Barrier Reef.  For the latest conditions give us a call on + 61 7 4030 7910 between 9am-5pm, 7 days a week.

What if the weather is really bad?

In poor weather we are happy to move your booking without charge to the next most suitable day, subject to availability. In the rare event we deem the weather too bad to travel and you are unable to reschedule a full refund will be provided.

Will I get sea sick?

Hopefully not. This depends largely on the individual. Travelling on our fast, stable catamaran ensures the smoothest possible ride.  If conditions are forecast 15 knots or below it will generally be smooth going.

At 20 knots and above it can get a little bumpy at times however our skippers are skilled in picking the best route to our destination. If you are prone to other common forms of motion sickness such as travelling in a car or plane you may wish to take precautions. We have both natural Ginger Tablets as well as medicated Travel-Calm on board however these are preventative, not a cure, so should be taken approximately 30 minutes prior to departure for maximum benefit.

What is the temperature of the water?

June-August 22c, 72f

Is there shelter and shade on the boat and Fitzroy Island?

Yes, on the boat there are areas to get shelter however we recommend you bring a hat and sunscreen so you can get outside and witness the amazing whales pass by! At Fitzroy, there are plenty of all weather options.

Do you still go out if it is raining?

Yes we do. You’re going to get wet anyhow and it”s more the wind and swell that determines the quality of your day not so much the rain. Even if it is raining in Cairns there is still a good chance conditions on the water and at Fitzroy Island will be fine.

Booking & Cancellation

Can I change my travel date once booked?

Yes this can be done without a fee but is subject to availability on the new date. Remember the season only runs for a limited time.  We advise you to provide us as much notice as possible to ensure availability and avoid disappointment. If you are genuinely sick or have other extenuating circumstances why you can travel, just let us know and we’ll work something out for you. Passengers who “no-show” without contacting us forfeit any monies paid and are not entitled to a refund.

Can I book an open dated voucher?

You can, however, travel on the date you desire is subject to availability and whale season (July – August). It is your responsibility to contact us at least 3-4 days prior to confirm your actual travel date. If the booking date on your voucher is in a different rate period to that in which you travel a small extra charge may be payable to cover any rate increase.

Can I travel with Whale Watching Tours Cairns if I’m staying in Port Douglas?

Yes! Just allow a little more travel time. Port Douglas is approx 90 minutes drive from cairns Reef Fleet Terminal so an 11am departure may work best for you. We do not have transfers from Port Douglas.

Do you ever cancel?

Rarely, only a handful of days every season.  Your safety and enjoyment of the water is our #1 priority. If we deem it not safe to travel we will cancel the day. We make every effort possible to contact all passengers with as much notice as possible and offer the chance to travel on another day. If you can’t change travel days we will happily refund your ticket. Please note some bookings made though a 3rd party agent may charge a nominal fee or hold on to a deposit in line with their booking terms and conditions.

Can I pay with Credit Card? EFTPOS? Travelers’ Cheques?

We happily accept both Visa & MasterCard as well as having EFT facilities both at check-in and on the boat. Travelers’ Cheques must be in $AUD with supporting identification / photo Id such as passport. No personal cheque’s will be accepted without prior clearance. The nearest foreign money exchange is Global Money Exchange, located at 69 Abbott St, Cairns City. Phone ahead for opening hours on +61 7 4031 7272

Is the trip suitable for children and babies?

Yes it is suitable for all ages – including families with children and babies. Adult supervision is required at all times for children under 16 years of age and is not the responsibility of Whale Watching Tours Cairns or Fitzroy Island. Flotation devices such as buoyancy vests and noodles are available to hire at Fitzroy Island. Snorkelling equipment, Wet suits and Lycra suits are also available in children’s sizes.

Scary Stuff

Should I be concerned about Jelly Fish or Marine Stingers?

While certain species of Jelly Fish can be found in tropical waters at any time of year, the majority are harmless to man. Official ‘Stinger Season’ in Cairns is from November to May when water temperatures suit the few species of concern.

While incidents involving serious stings are extremely rare our crew are trained to recognize sting types and apply appropriate first aid assistance if required. To greatly reduce your chances of an encounter with a jellyfish protective lycra suits are available fore hire from Fitzroy Island and come in a range of sizes from XS to XXL. Our lycra suits are also excellent sun protection.

Are there sharks at Fitzroy Island?

Yes, they are a top predator and form a vital part of the worlds marine eco system. However most are shy and quite harmless such as the common white tip reef sharks which only grow to approximately 5ft and are very timid.

An encounter with a reef shark is a magical experience but enjoy it quickly as they will generally swim off in the opposite direction if they feel they are being watched or if you get too close.

General Questions

I am driving to the marina, where can I leave the car?

Our check-in counter is located at 1 Spence Street, Cairns. Opposite us is the Pier Marketplace Shopping Centre and Shangri-La hotel. You can park outdoors behind the Pier Marketplace for approximately 80 cents/hr or under the Shangri-La in secure parking for around $10/day.

If you don’t mind a short walk there is a $4 car park outside Trinity Wharf on Wharf street, a flat 5 minutes walk from our check-in.

Parking is free in the street after 12 noon on Saturday and all day on Sunday.

Can I take a pram on board the boat?

Our catamaran’s do have ramps but please let us know when booking if you are bringing a pram.

Can we sit anywhere on the boat?

You are free to sit where ever you please, except areas signed as staff only. Choose between air-conditioned cabins on the upper and lower decks all with large viewing windows.

Seating outside on the upper rear deck in the fresh air and sunshine is also a popular option.

For your own safety try not to move around the boat too much when the boat in underway, especially in rough weather.

What do I need to bring?

Hat, towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, something to swim in, a dry change of clothes, cash or credit card for optional activities and onboard purchases such as souvenirs, professional photos from our on-board photographer or a drink from the bar.

Do you supply towels?

The best idea is to bring one from your hotel or accommodation. Unfortunately we are not able to hire or lend towels.

Are there toilets, showers & changing rooms at the reef?

There are toilets on the boat accessible at all times throughout the day plus bathrooms, changing rooms and outdoor showers on Fitzroy Island.

Is the lunch included?

No lunch is not included on this tour but you can bring snacks on board and eat from the cafe or bar at Fitzroy Island.

Is the snorkeling equipment also in child sizes?

We have snorkelling equipment in both adult and child sizes at Fitzroy Island. Fins range from children’s size 1-3 to Adults 11-13 and masks are in adult and child fittings. Wet suits and lycra suits are also available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Swim vests are also available in most sizes for those wanting some extra flotation while snorkelling.

Do you have baby-sitting or child minding facilities?

No, parents are responsible for supervising their children at all times. Our friendly crew can help organise the timing of your activities so that one parent is always free to attend to the children.

Do you have lockers on board?

No sorry. While theft is very rare on board we suggest valuables are better off left in your hotel room or with the concierge rather than brought to the cruise or island.

Are there facilities for the disabled?

There is ramp access from the wharf to the vessel. However, passengers are required to negotiate at least one set of stairs on the vessel.

The Reef Magic II catamaran has wide isles and a wheel chair accessible toilet & shower. Access to the water, coral viewing vessels, underwater observatory and sundeck all require stairs to be negotiated and would require a carer to be present if the customer can not walk unassisted.

The best idea is to give us a call and talk through the level of disability and we can suggest suitability or not. Please advise us when booking.

I am not so interested in snorkelling or swimming at Fitzroy Island. Is there dry activities? 

Fitzroy Island caters for all ages and swimming abilities. We have a range of “dry activities” so you can experience the island without even getting wet. These include walks, a bar/cafe, Glass Bottom boat tours with interactive commentary and plenty of space to lay back and relax.