Great Barrier Reef Tour

Hi there. Posted this in the general Australia section, but thought I would also post here. Thanks

We've just booked the March 13, 2025 Grand Australia & New Zealand tour, and are very excited for our first Tauck experience. We have been A&K fans for a long time, but so many friends have raved about Tauck that we decided to book this one. There will be 6 of us on this trip to celebrate my 60th birthday.

Friends have just returned from this exact tour and their only significant area of disappointment was the day they took the tour for snorkeling on the GBR. They said there were more than 400 people on this boat, and the majority of them were cruise ship passengers on an excursion. While they said the snorkeling was magnificent, the fact they were with 450 other people was not a good experience at all.

Like us, they are on a small group tour, and I think I would also not be pleased with this. So my questions to the group are if anyone else has experienced this, or if this was a one-off for them? If it's the norm and you knew about it in advance, did anyone book a separate, smaller group experience instead.


  • There are a lot of people on the boat. I did not snorkel but I believe you can book a smaller group experience.

  • Thanks, gladysorlando. When were you on this tour?

  • Last year in February, it was a great tour. loved New Zealand, went early and did a private tour of the Great Ocean Road (worth it) and the Penguin island. We had great weather, Got tickets to the Sidney Opera (bought them from home) it was amazing. Like I said the boat to the reef is huge and crowded but not uncomfortable, there are many options to snorkel. You will love this tour.

  • I took this tour in October 2023. I believe what your friends experienced is typical. There will be other (non-Tauck) people on the pontoon and many of them may be from a cruise ship. That was the case when I was there. That said, I did not find the overall atmosphere to be off-putting or unruly. There may be lines for the activities and/or buffet, but it was not problematic.

    I also did not partake in the actual snorkeling. Instead, I did the submarine ride (twice), watched a feeding demonstration, and went through the underwater observation area. The snorkeling is limited to a sectioned area surrounding the pontoon.

    There is an option for a smaller group, but that is SCUBA as opposed to snorkeling and I think you have to be certified to go. If neither of those options sound appealing, you would need to forego the Tauck excursion and book something independently.

    This was a great trip; enjoy it!

  • We're going this September and are arranging a private tour in Port Douglas that has 12 people on board. Try ABC tours

  • I also did the submarine ride twice. It was cool.

  • We did the Tauck "Australia and New Zealand" tour in 2019. This is different from the "Grand Australia and New Zealand" tour but we went to many of the same places.

    When we sent to the Great Barrier Reef, there were not 450 people on the boat. I don't know exactly how many, but significantly less.

    I blog all of our trips and you can see our trip at

    If you want to go directly to the part of the trip at the Great Barrier Reef, go to You can see the size of the boat that took us out to the reef. It couldn't hold that many.

  • I can’t recall the size of the boat going to the reef, it isn’t important, when you get to the reef it’s a big platform. As I have said in past comments, ok, it’s the Great Barrier reef, but I’ve snorkeled in much better places in other parts of the world with much clearer water.

  • PS Todd1965 - I took this tour in 2015. It was not my favorite; I've taken 15 Tauck tours. The boat ride to the reef was a nightmare. There was about 250-300 and half the group all got sick at the same time as the water was so rough. It was not a pretty sight! It didn't help that I was sleep deprived because the a/c in my room had stopped working in the middle of the night, two nights in a row. Obviously, even with the best of plans, things happen. I knew upfront this wan't the tour for me but went anyway and, of course, regretted my decision. All said, we each have different expectations and experiences when we travel, so I hope that your tour is a good one.

  • We did this trip in fall of 2022. Tauck got us right on the boat and we had our own area to hang out in with our own nature person explaining what we'd see. There are several options of what to do when you got off the boat at the platform (which is huge). We signed up to do a helicopter ride, we also did the submarine ride and snorkeled on our own. We really had no time to relax as we made the most of our time there. Yes...there were a lot of people, but also a lot of options of thins to do.

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