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Cairns Sunset Cruise Review

Created by Julie under on Friday 6th of January 2012

Cairns Sunset Cruises offer Cairns’ only sunset cruise, combining calm water cruising with glorious views, drinks and nibbles. A glorious way to end the day, you can also choose to combine this 90-minute cruise with a three-course dinner package at Dundee’s restaurant for a fabulous night out. The cruise departs at 5.30pm from Cairns Marlin Marina, aboard the Crocodile Explorer vessel, and is run by Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises.

We chose to combine the cruise with dinner, which at just $77 per adult is great value for money. Checking in at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal at 5pm, we had 10-minutes to wander the boardwalk before boarding Crocodile Explorer at 5.15pm.

The friendly crew welcomed us aboard with a complimentary glass of bubbles, beer, wine or softdrink and guests could settle in the air-conditioned interior, rear sun deck or on the bow. A selection of tasty treats was included in the ticket price, with guests grazing on tasty cheese, kabana, olives, pickled onions, pretzels, peanuts and crackers. These are available self-serve inside the boat.

Pulling out promptly at 5.30pm, Crocodile Explorer commenced its journey into the mangrove lined interior of Trinity Inlet. Captain Hamish welcomed everyone aboard and introduced the crew. As we cruised along, an informative commentary on the history of Cairns and its landmark waterfront buildings, was provided over the boat’s intercom.

The guests aboard today’s cruise were a diverse mixture of couples of all ages, families with young children and groups of holidaying backpackers. There was room enough on Crocodile Explorer for all to settle around the boat and enjoy the cruise.

As it’s summer in Cairns, sunset actually happens around 7pm, so as we cruise, the blue sky turns softer shades of red and maroon, before the sun slides down behind the rainforest covered mountains that encircle Cairns city.

The Cairns Sunset Cruise takes you from Cairns’ Marlin Marina, past Harbour Lights and the navy base, swinging left at Admirality Island to explore Trinity Inlet and its tributaries.

Named by Captain James Cook, Trinity Inlet occupies 300 square kilometers, with 3,800 hectares of mangroves, which are a protected species in Queensland. This area is critical to the health of the Great Barrier Reef, acting as both a sediment trap (capturing and holding the soil run-off from the surrounding landscape and mountains) and providing a sanctuary for up to 75% of fish from the near-by Great Barrier Reef and surrounding river systems, at some stage in their lives.

Many yachts were anchored in the inlet’s protected waters and there was even a house boat. Presently, a large Sydney ferry came into view. Brought north to run a transfer service between Cairns and Port Douglas, the ferry was auctioned off some time ago and now sits in retirement on the banks of the inlet.

This afternoon some locals were out fishing and there was evidence of crab pots being in the water. Turning into a tributary, Crocodile Explorer was soon surrounded by impenetrable mangroves. A tangle of mangrove roots descended below the waterline and their green leaves framed the mountains behind, as a full moon rose high in the still light sky. Crocodiles are sometimes seen on this cruise, although not tonight.

Arriving back into Cairns at 7pm, it was a short stroll to our dinner destination, Dundee’s on the Waterfront. Dundee’s offers absolute waterfront dining. Situated underneath the Harbour Lights complex, guests are seated on the waterfront boardwalk and in the restaurant itself.

We were seated on the boardwalk, and despite it being the middle of summer, the weather was perfect, with a cool breeze blowing off the water. It’s a delightful ambience, watching people pass you by and the tide turn in the inlet.

The Cairns Sunset Cruise dinner package includes three courses from a set menu. The menu choices are diverse, offering something for everyone. For entrée I choose the seafood chowder and my partner had the calamari strips. The chowder was a light and tasty broth full of mussels and seafood with cubed potato. The calamari was also excellent and well cooked.

For mains we chose pan seared barramundi and sirloin steak. The barramundi was perfectly cooked, falling apart at the knife and served with mango salsa and sweet potato. The steak came with a choice of mushroom, pepper or BBQ sauce and was accompanied with sweet potato and salad. We both chose the vanilla bean ice-cream for desert.

Chilling with a glass of Ninth Island Pinot Grigio at the end of the meal, this was the perfect end to another day in pardise.

THE VERDICT: The Cairns Sunset Cruise and dinner package is great value for money. The calm water cruise is suitable for people of all ages and the onboard commentary is interspersed with light musical entertainment. Trinity Inlet is a fantastic backdrop to watch the sun set with flocks of birds flying low over the water and the sky turning from blue to pink, red then dark. The waterfront dinner is the perfect accompaniment and a well priced addition, with a great menu selection and excellent service and location at Dundee’s on the Waterfront.

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Review Image Gallery

Absolute waterfront dining Sit inside or outside Dundee's is at Harbour Lights On the way to Dundee's Flock of low flying birds Dusk on Trinity Inlet Dusk over the Cairns Ports Sunset over Cairns mountains Mangroves are protected in Trinity Inlet Can sit on the bow for the cruise Mangroves Licensed onboard bar Sydney Ferry in Trinity Inlet Cruising along Trinity Inlet Shaded top sun deck Air conditioned interior Cairns bavy base Yachts moored in Trinity Inlet Cruising past Harbour Lights Self serve tasty treats Complimentary drinks and nibbles Boarding at 5.15pm for 5.30pm departure Cairns Sunset Cruises on Crocodile Explorer Cairns Sunset Cruise Trip Review

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