Best of the Great Barrier Reef
Before You Go
Our Great Barrier Reef expedition focuses on the underwater wonders of the region and is only recommended for intermediate and advanced divers (and snorkelers). You will need to be able to climb into and out of the dive boat while wearing your dive equipment. Temperatures in Queensland during July average in the low to high-70s°F. Water temperatures will average in the low-70s°F (wetsuits will be available on board, but we recommend bringing your own for best fit and comfort). Thanks to the absence of human activity in the area, visibility is good year round. The sun can be intense in the Southern Hemisphere, so be sure to bring adequate sun protective clothing and head-covering.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
For most activities, a moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb into and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore. While ashore, you must be able to walk one to three miles, unaided, over sometimes rough terrain to view aboriginal art. There will also be opportunities for leisurely strolls and more active hikes.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your flight to Cairns, Australia at least three hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
Airlines change flight times frequently and if you booked your tickets through our air department, Zegrahm Expeditions will send you any updates as they are received from the carrier. Still, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
Please contact Zegrahm at 1.800.628.8747, 206.285.4000, or 206.219.1641 should you encounter significant delays or problems en route. Proceed to your airline’s ticket counter or flight gate for immediate assistance. Advise Zegrahm of all changes to your arrival into Cairns so that we may inform the expedition staff.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates and for those who have booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, the Shangri-La Cairns.
PLEASE NOTE: Your room will become available to check-in at 2:00 p.m. If you would like to guarantee an earlier check-in time, please contact us and we can reserve an additional night for you at the Shangri-La Cairns.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions, as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
International flights from home city/Cairns and Cairns/home city generally allow two pieces of luggage, maximum weight 50lbs (22kg) each, plus one carry-on, although this can vary depending on which carrier you fly and your class of service.
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry essential toiletries and prescription medications on board the plane, as well as a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
This expedition is timed during the beginning of the dry season and the end of the rainy season. Occasional showers can be expected, and high humidity can make it seem warmer.
The following are average high/low temperatures in May for selected locations on our itinerary:
The Australian dollar is the standard currency on board the Coral Expeditions II. Your voyage includes most necessities; therefore, we strongly recommend that you carry most of your spending money in smaller denominations. At the end of your voyage, you may settle your onboard account with a traveler’s check or your Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, or American Express credit card. The Coral Expeditions II will charge your credit card in Australian dollars and your bank will convert the charge to the currency it honors.
As of February 2018, the exchange rate is as follows:
|$1 US dollar (USD)||1.27 Australian dollar (AUD)|
ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency in some countries if you have a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. Please carry smaller denominations as most merchants will require local currency. Also, ensure you have a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your debit or credit card if you wish to obtain currency at ATMs.
You will receive your pre-departure documents via email—attached will be a complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be emailed approximately one month prior to your departure.
The electrical current found on board the Coral Expeditions II and throughout Australia is 230/250V with 3-pin, slanted plugs. If you are bringing standard North American appliances, please bring a converter and adapter.
PLEASE NOTE: Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
Flights to and from your home city are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Cairns and Cairns/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. Please refer to the CDC website for a list of yellow fever endemic countries.
No other vaccinations, inoculations, or prophylaxes are required in conjunction with this expedition at this time.
Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, polarized sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
Wireless Internet is available on board the Coral Expeditions II. Rates are posted. However, please note that Internet connections aboard the ship are low-bandwidth and intermittent at best due to the remote nature of our expedition.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 6:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|6:00 a.m.||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|9:00 a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|11:00 p.m.||Cairns, Australia (AEST)|
Meals will mainly be provided on board the ship. Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly.
Clothing On Board
The ship is air-conditioned and heated throughout, with individual controls in each cabin. Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended. Typically, there are two occasions on board when you may wish to wear slightly more formal attire: the Captain’s welcome aboard and farewell cocktail parties followed by dinner. On these two occasions, women may choose to wear a dress or other appropriate, dressy attire, and men may choose to dress business casual. The degree of dress is in accordance with one’s personal preference.
Sporty, summer-weight clothing is a good basis for your wardrobe. Loose, lightweight, wash-and-wear slacks, skirts, blouses, and T-shirts are recommended. The sun can be strong, so bring adequate sun-protective clothing and gear, wear hats, and use sun block, as we will be out in the sun for extended periods of time. Also, keep in mind that we may encounter a rain shower or two on our excursions.
Shore excursions will involve a fair amount of walking and hiking over uneven trails. Sturdy walking shoes with thick soles or light hiking boots are recommended for walking on the often-rough terrain. If you have weak ankles, high-top hiking boots will provide better support than shoes. Make sure your shoes or boots are well broken-in before your trip.
Sport sandals with a sturdy sole are the best type of footwear for frequent wet landings, especially where there are rocky and/or coral covered beaches. They provide excellent protection and dry quickly. Other footwear you may wish to bring are canvas sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. You will also want to wear pants that are easy to roll up for wet landings.
Snorkeling & Diving
Snorkel equipment: Masks, snorkels, and fins are available on board but it is recommended that each snorkeler bring their own equipment for best comfort and fit.
Dive Equipment: Each diver is required to bring their own BCD, regulator, wetsuit, dive certification, dive log, whistle, and a computer. Tanks, weights, and weight belts are provided on board.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation on this program. It should be valid for at least six (6) months after your return home, through January 24, 2019. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of one page available for entry/exit stamps in your passport. As of January 1, 2016, the US State Department has eliminated the application to insert additional pages into your passport. If you require additional pages, a new passport must be obtained. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
For entry into Australia, an electronic travel authority (ETA) is required. An ETA is an electronically verified visa not evident in a passport and is available to nationals of the USA.
For more information and to apply, visit https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETAS3/etas. Passengers will be denied entry into Australia if they do not acquire the ETA in advance. Please note that an ETA is valid for 12 months from the date the ETA is granted or until the expiry of your passport, whichever is earlier. While you can visit multiple times during this period, the maximum length of stay at any given time is three months.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the US should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Airfare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 1 through 119 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. A gift certificate to our Zegrahm Store will offer you the opportunity to purchase essential trip gear from our store. The certificate will be emailed to you approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificate for more details.