Australia TUSA Dive: Spirit of Freedom
Here's the thing about most live-aboard operations: They leave port either on the weekend or on one of the days adjacent to it. And that works well for most folks, as it fits into the typical vacation schedule.
But what if you're going to Australia on business, you're not likely to be back anytime soon, and you want to cover the maximum territory possible on the Great Barrier Reef, but a Friday-Monday departure just won't work for you?
Tusa Dive's Spirit of Freedom has the answer. In addition to its Monday departure from Cairns, the luxury live-aboard can take on and let off passengers on Thursday at Lizard Island, a one-hour puddle-jumper ride from Cairns. From there, you can do the second half of Spirit of Freedom's itinerary (including the world-famous Cod Hole), or because the vessel's turnaround time in Cairns is a mere four hours you can dive the full weeklong itinerary, and both begin and end your trip in the stunning surroundings of Lizard Island.
On the seven-day trip, you'll dive both of Oz's iconic dive destinations the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea without unpacking more than once. A highlight is a visit to the Coral Sea's Osprey Reef, a coral atoll rising 3,000 feet from the ocean floor, and world-renowned for its see-forever visibility and wide variety of pelagic animals. More than two-dozen sharks at close range? Giant soft corals? You'll see both.
For maximum cruising comfort, Spirit of Freedom uses electronic stabilizers to dramatically reduce the effects of the sea; there is no such thing as a boat that doesn't move, but this is the next best thing to it. And Spirit of Freedom's cabin comfort goes all the way up to a stateroom with a queen-size bed. Add to that the itinerary flexibility and perks, such as complimentary Australian wine with dinner, and it's a potent argument for luxury Down Under.
Spirit of Freedom is a 121-foot monohull, electronically stabilized luxury yacht with a 24-foot beam, carrying up to 26 passengers in 11 cabins, served by a crew of 10. Nitrox is available, and digital cameras are available to rent. Diving is done from the main boat and two 16-foot Naiad tenders. For more information: sportdiver.com/spiritoffreedom