Visiting the Whitsundays soon and trying to choose a sailing cruise amongst the plethora of choice offered?
This 2-day, 1-night cruise is the ideal way to discover the Whitsunday Islands.
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In this full Summertime Whitsundays review, I tell you everything about my experience on the Summertime! All the things I loved and the things I didn’t like much (spoiler alert, I LOVED IT!).
Why going on a cruise in the Whitsundays?
The best way (and pretty much only way) to experience the Whitsundays is by boat.
The archipelago is made of 74 islands and the ferries only go to a couple of them (Hamilton Island and Daydream Island). If you want to explore the rest of the Whitsundays and specifically the beautiful Whitehaven Beach, you will need to go on a cruise or charter your own boat.
Chartering a boat can be extremely expensive so going on a cruise from Airlie Beach is the best way to make the best of your time and your money.
You can choose to ho on a day trip to the Whitsundays however, if you have the time, going on an overnight trip is so much better!
You will get to experience what the Whitsundays are truly all about!
What is the Summertime Whitsundays Cruise?
The Summertime cruise is an overnight sailing adventure in the Whitsundays. It starts in Airlie Beach.
During the trip, you will go to Whitsunday Island and hike up to Hill Inlet before going swimming on Whitehaven Beach.
You will also go snorkelling in the beautiful bays of Hook Island and go sea kayaking.
The boat itself is a beautiful sailing boat made of wood. It’s way prettier than most boats sailing the Whitsundays.
It also has a hot tub at the back (which is pretty rare).
In total, there are 19 people on board. This is quite a small group as a lot of boats in the Whitsundays take up to 60 people.
Summertime Cruise Review: At a glance
I will dive into details further down but for those of you who are in hurry and want to know whether it’s worth it or not to go on the Summertime Whitsundays cruise, here it is.
I absolutely LOVED the Summertime cruise. It was one of my favourite experiences in Australia (alongside skydiving, the scenic flight above the Great Barrier Reef and going on a road trip from Adelaide to Uluru).
I had so much fun! It was well organised and the activities were fantastic. Staying overnight was a magical experience. Watching the sunset, catching a glimpse of dolphins jumping at sunrise, seeing sea turtles swimming under the kayak and of course, discovering the jaw-dropping Whitehaven Beach.
The staff was amazing. Helpful and funny!
The group was small which was great. We got to know each other and nobody felt left out.
I thought it was worth every penny and would do it all over again without thinking about it!
I could literally talk about how great it was for ages!
What did I love about the Summertime Whitsundays Cruise?
There are so many things I loved about the Summertime cruise that it’s almost hard to make an exhaustive list but here it is.
The boat was amazing
The boat was very pretty. It’s made of wood and is a real sailing boat. It fits very well into the landscape and is great for photos.
It was also very comfortable. The beds were small (like on any boat) but it was still very comfortable and I slept very well. The bathroom and toilets were really good for a boat as well.
It has a hot tub at the back which was great. We could enjoy having a drink watching the sunset and dolphins in the hot tub. I mean, how much better can life get really?
There was also a big deck so we had loads of space and could stand on the side and look at the beautiful landscapes.
The group was small
Most cruises in the Whitsundays take up to 60 people. This is a lot of people! On the Summertime, there are only 19 people.
The group was very friendly and the fact that we weren’t that many made it so much better.
The staff could spend loads of time with us. The atmosphere was very friendly and we had loads of fun together!
It’s not a party boat
There are a lot of party boats for backpackers in the Whitsundays. The Summertime is nothing like that.
Of course, we had fun. We played games, had some drinks and listened to music too but it wasn’t a hardcore party boat.
It was friendly and everyone was respectful. Our group included families, couples and friends. Everyone was here to see the Whitsundays and have a great time, not getting drunk!
The water- activities in the Whitsundays were amazing!
The thing I probably liked the most about the Summertime was the activities.
On day 1 we went to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. We went with our 2 skippers/guides. They gave us loads of information about the Whitsundays and took amazing photos of us.
Every time we would do something, a member of staff would make sure to come with a waterproof camera to take photos of us. That way, we didn’t have to risk taking our phone and break it.
At the end of the trip, they gave us the photos.
We also went snorkelling and diving at hook island. People who had their PADI could go on a certified dive. The others had the choice between snorkelling and taking an introduction to scuba diving. I did both and I must say that, at the end of the day, I liked snorkelling way better.
Finally, we went kayaking! This is quite unique as there aren’t any other cruise in the Whitsundays that offer that. It was amazing! Definitely one of the highlights of the trip!
It was really good fun to kayak around (and get coordinated with my friend!)! We got to see loads of sea turtles and stingrays swimming under our kayak.
The guide was on a paddleboard and because he was standing, he was able to spot all these amazing marine creatures and tell us where to look.
We ended up going on an island with the kayak and hiked up on top of a cliff. From there, the views were gorgeous!
The on-board activities and food are great
We had a great time on the boat as well.
The staff was cooking for us and would put everything as a buffet. We would go there, take a plate and choose what we wanted to eat.
The food was fairly simple (it’s hard to cook on a boat) but it was very good! And there were loads too! I get very hungry after swimming and I never got hungry for a second!
In the evening, the crew would organise some group games. That was very fun and entertaining!
The sunset and sunrise were so beautiful
If there is one thing I loved to do in Australia, it was watching the sunset and sunrise.
In the Whitsundays, that becomes a very magical experience. The colours are so beautiful!
If you are lucky, you will also see some dolphins!
Everything was included
Visiting the Whitsundays usually requires some equipment. You have to wear a wet suit everywhere.
Although it’s considered safe to swim there, it’s not recommended to swim in a bikini!
The Summertime always provided us with everything we needed. Wet suits, snorkelling gear, diving gear… everything!
It was a really good price and very good value
Cruises always seem expensive when you book them. Visiting the Whitsundays is not a cheap thing to do.
However, I thought that it was very reasonably priced. More importantly, it was worth every penny! At no point in time, I regretted spending this money.
It definitely was worth it. We got to do so much for that money. All things considered, I would even say it’s quite cheap.
What didn’t I like about it?
Alright, so this part is a bit hard for me to write. Why? Because I loved it so much that I really struggle to find anything to complain about.
But if I have to pick something, I’d say the diving induction. Our diving instructor was great, this is not the problem but as someone who didn’t have her PADI and had never dived before, it wasn’t as enjoyable as snorkelling.
I thought snorkelling was way better.
When you do an induction to diving, you can only go about 8 or 10m deep. At that depth, you don’t get to see much more than when you are snorkelling.
So if you have the choice, I’d recommend going snorkelling instead.
I also think that 2 days is a bit short. The Whitsundays are such an amazing place and staying another night or 2 would have been amazing.
Another thing worth pointing out is that it wasn’t that easy to find the meeting point when we got to Port of Airlie. We parked quite far away and it took us a while to find the crew. I highly recommend getting there more than 30 minutes in advance (as recommended).
Other cruises in the Whitsundays
When it comes to overnight cruises in the Whitsundays, the Summertime is from far the best however, there are another 2 that you may want to consider.
Overnight cruise to the Outer Reef and Whitehaven
The Summertime doesn’t go to the Outer Reef. If you’d like to see more of the Great Barrier Reef, you can go on a 2-day cruise to the Outer Reef and Whitehaven Beach.
On the Summertime, you will go snorkelling near the island. It’s amazing and to be honest, there is so much coral that it’s almost hard to believe you’re not at the GBR itself. That having been said, seeing the reef is also a magical experience. With this cruise, it’s possible.
On day 1, you will go to the Outer Reef where you can snorkel and see the reef from an underwater chamber.
On day 2, you will discover Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.
3 or 4-day cruise on the Condor
As previously mentioned, spending only 2 days in the Whitsundays can be a bit short. The place is so beautiful and magical that it could be worth staying another day or 2.
If you have the time and budget to do so, then you can opt for the Condor cruise.
You will spend a whole day at Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, go snorkelling to 6 spots and go hiking!
This is a pretty full-on cruise and you will get to do so much! It can be a bit tiring too as it’s loads of swimming and walking but as a general thing, it’s a great way to discover both the most popular spots and hidden gems in the Whitsundays.
FAQ about the Summertime cruise
Here are some FAQs and answers about the Summertime and the Whitsundays!
Where does the Summertime cruise leave from?
Like most Whitsundays cruises, the Summertime leaves from Port of Airlie.
There are several car parking near the port. Prices vary but some of them start at $6 per day (like Airlie Beach Hotel car park). Whichever one you choose, make sure you can stay over 24 hours as the fines are pretty heavy.
You will need to check-in for the cruise 30minutes prior to boarding. Make sure to have enough time to park and walk to the meeting point.
What to bring for the Summertime Whitsundays cruise?
You only need an overnight bag for the cruise so there isn’t much to pack.
The Summertime will provide you with snorkelling equipment and wet suit.
Shoes are not allowed on the boat (they bring sand in).
So you will only need:
– A dress
– Shorts and T-shirts
– Swimming costume
– Jumper (with hood ideally)
– A light raincoat (just in case)
Is there alcohol on the boat?
Alcohol is not included in the package however you can bring your own. Just take whatever drinks you’d like to have and the crew will put them in a fridge for you.
Do you need to be sporty?
Not really. I acknowledge that it’s pretty full-on. You will do loads during these two days but you don’t need to be particularly sporty.
The bushwalk is not too long. Kayaking lasts a couple of hours. Snorkelling can be tiring after a while but you can always come back to the boat or sit on the beach.
Can I swim in the Whitsundays?
Absolutely! I know you may have heard crazy stories about the Whitsundays but it’s actually a pretty safe place to swim.
That having been said, make sure to always wear your wet suit when you go for a swim. The crew won’t let you go in the water without it anyway.
How much is it?
You can check the latest prices for the Summertime Cruise here. If you wish to, you can also book there.
Final words about the Summertime Cruise
The Summertime Cruise is definitely one of the best tours you can take from Airlie Beach. You will get to discover some of the most beautiful places in the Whitsundays, if not in the world!
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