Over the years we have found that we get asked many of the same questions time and time again. Particularly with the most common-place types of tours and charters such as Deep Sea Fishing, Whale Watching and short cruises. Many questions relate to how and when to make payments, or what happens with regards to refunds etc. To assist our potential customers, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions ( FAQ’s ) here for your reference. Of course, if you have a more specific question, or one not found in this list,  please contact us and we will be more than happy to assist!

Alcohol/drinks and Food related Questions

We used to but offer a BYO option, unfortunately over time various unpleasant incidents linked t those trips have forced us to re-evaluate this. We were left with no option other than move to a fully licenced bar aboard instead. Obviously there are substantial costs (and regulations) associated with being licenced. As such a BYO option is no longer available for any drinks. This includes non-alcoholic.

Of course the following areas remain unaffected;

  • You can still bring aboard any food you may like to have.
  • Our drinks range is extensive, and we work hard to keep prices as low as possible for our customers.
  • We update our range regularly so feel free to request a drinks menu (we will email it to you) so that you can see how affordable it really is.

no BYO alcohol explanatory sign

In addition, we can, for larger groups, assist with custom requests. For instance we have made “Fairy Floss champagnes” for a group on arrival as well as had very specific wines for other groups. Just talk to us if you have something specific in mind and if it’s possible we will assist!

We get asked this a lot. And all we can answer for is our situation with regards to the prices of drinks aboard, which is very much NO.

We pride ourselves on ensuring that you feel comfortable in the prices and range of drinks on offer.

We only carry well known, popular brands of drinks. As an example of prices Beers start from as low as $8.00 (sometimes even less) each! We even do (slushy) cocktails at just $15.00 each!

Glasses of wine start much like our beers and mixed spirits are just $9.00. Soft drinks start as low as $4.00

So before you make a decision on which way to proceed, ask us to send you the up to date drinks price list. We know you will be very happy and comfortable to proceed once you see it!

This is a common misconception. And you need to take all factors into account to determine this for each case.

The reality is that in almost every case people that proceed on a BYO basis for a party anywhere that allows it  generally purchase WAY too much for the trip. And as with all parties certain drinks are far less popular on the day than others, which can lead to the more popular drinks running out. And then you have all the leftover drinks, that need to be taken with you, distributed or stored etc.

Let’s not forget that someone has to do the running around buying the drinks as well (fuel and time), plus the preparation of unpacking them into eskis, getting ice, bringing the drinks to and onto the boat, (and back).

I know the above sounds like it a sales pitch for using our bar, but it’s actually based on experience over many years and seeing the frustration that (usually by the organiser) goes with it all when we did offer BYO as an option. Most trips did not have enough ice to actually get/keep the drinks properly cold. Glasses were often forgotten (we sold throw-away-glasses for such cases but it all added to the cost). And the number of opened bottles of wine that were wasted on each and every trip was mind blowing. The list goes on.

For the organiser who has often paid for drinks in advance, it’s often a hassle to get money from some people in their party, adding to their own cost.

And finally, you can’t have cocktails on a BYO basis…. (Yes, ok that’s a bit of a sales pitch! But whats a party without cocktails?! lol)

On top of everything you most commonly still have a BYO/corkage fee as well to cover the clean up costs for the company offering the BYO.

So when you add up all the actual the costs to go towards having a party with BYO, it makes buying your drinks at the bar a very smooth, easy, simple, cost-effective and fun way to go. And isn’t that what the main focus of your cruise should be – FUN!

Ask us for our Drink Range menu. It’s updated regularly and we work hard to keep prices as low as we can. We are more than happy to email you the latest menu!

A common request is if a special drink or drinks can be brought aboard for fussy drinkers or for a special toast. Unfortunately we are restricted in this by the regulations that govern the liquor license under which we operate. Much like trying to do this at a pub, it is simply not possible.

Bookings and Reservations

The payment of a deposit, or indeed the full fare, constitutes a confirmed booking and the full acceptance of all related terms and conditions. Once paid, any cancellation, in the case of individuals, including Gift Certificate Bookings, must be advised, in writing, a minimum of 3 full days (72 hours) ahead of your scheduled tour to be eligible for a full refund. If advising within the 72 hours you will be charged either the full fare or the 20% deposit, depending on whether or not the individuals place has been able to be filled by the departure time. There are no refunds for cancellations within 24 hours of your tour, or if you decide not to show up, regardless of the reason(s) given for such.

In the case of groups, cancellations depend on the size of groups. Groups of 3 to 7 must advise a minimum of 7 days (168 hours) ahead of your scheduled tour to be eligible for a full refund. Groups larger than 7 people must advise a minimum of 14 days (2 weeks) ahead of the scheduled departure time. If advising within the 7 or 14 day period you will be charged either the full fare or the 50% deposit, depending on whether or not the groups place has been able to be filled by the departure time. There are no refunds for cancellations within 72 hours of your tour in the case of groups, or if one or more decide not to show up, regardless of the reason(s) given for such. There are no cancellations for any bookings for the last week of November and the entire month of December.  This includes the Christmas Lights cruises and New Years Eve Cruises. This as bookings tend to be made well prior to that time for the key Christmas holiday period.

In cases where a booking has been made via an agent such as Adrenaline, Red Balloon, Tripadvisor etc. all refunds must be requested from the agent the booking was made with. Sunshine Coast Afloat cannot authorise nor refund the payment made as the relevant agents refund policies may vary from those of Sunshine Coast Afloat.

Gift-vouchers are considered to have been redeemed in full should the applicable notice not be provided.

Same day bookings are always non-refundable. If cash payment on day of service is the chosen method of payment a credit card number must be provided to secure such a booking. Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to charge the full fee to the credit card supplied as a pre-authorisation to ensure the information provided is valid and correct. Such amount will only be deducted from the card in the case of non-payment, regardless of the reasons for such.

Credit card fees (aka Credit card surcharge) are a bank fee, not a fee by Sunshine Coast Afloat. As such this component is not refunded under any circumstance. Credit Card fees are calculated at 1.8% of the amount paid.

Most of Sunshine Coast Afloat’s activities operate in an outdoor / offshore marine environment. As such trips may change or be cancelled due to weather conditions.Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to cancel services due to inclement weather (generally defined as heavy precipitation creating visibility issues, extreme wind and extreme swell conditions, determined as dangerous by Sunshine Coast Afloat). Such determination is not subject to passenger input. In the event this occurs rescheduling to an alternative date will be organised for a convenient time.

Refunds are NOT applicable for any activity that has been conducted but which has not produced results that were possibly hoped for or anticipated by customers. For example, no whales sighted on a whale watching tour. Sunshine Coast Afloat, may at it’s sole discretion and choice, offer some form of compensation by way of a discount on a future trip, or in some cases a 2nd trip free of charge. Refunds will not be offered under any circumstance if the offer made is deemed unsuitable by the person to whom the offer is being made.

All bookings for rides which are considered able to proceed (including all types of gift certificates) are non-refundable.

For more details information on our refund and cancellation policy please see our Terms & Conditions.

You do need to make a booking or reservation for all trips.

As we are limited on how many people we can take out at any one time, bookings are required to guarantee a spot on an activity.

Minimum passengers numbers are required for all activities, and bookings allow us to know exactly how many passengers are aboard.

This in turn helps us determine the number of crew needed to ensure that our groups remain manageable and enjoyable.

It also allows us to notify you of changes to the tour due to weather or anything else that could affect the tours.

All activities are subject to 2 things.

Suitable Weather Conditions & Sufficient Passenger Numbers.


Obviously nobody wants to head out on the ocean, rivers or canals if the weather conditions are not suitable to do so. We would all love to be able to predict the weather well ahead of time, but reality dictates that we have to wait until 24 hours before departure to be anywhere near confident of the forecasts (and even than on the odd occasion the BOM will still get it wrong!). Rain is generally not a reason for cancellation. There are 2 key factors we need to consider. Wind and swell. Depending on how these 2 factors are impacting together will determine if we are able to head out or not on the day. Of course the type of activity you have booked makes a difference to this as well.


As anyone can imagine, we do need a certain number of passengers to make it viable for us to head out on a given day. This will vary from activity to activity. Exact numbers can be found in our Terms & Conditions for each activity. We do at times head out with slightly less, but this all hinges on the conditions, trip type and other cost factors in play at the time.

Weekends are seldom lacking in passenger numbers. Unfortunately mid week trips, especially outside school holidays are much less regular. Please keep this in mind when looking at departure dates. As a rule we also find that the months of February (Due to weather) through to May are by far the quietest. Of course the Easter Holidays which fall in this period are normally very busy for the duration of the school holidays. June through to January is the key period for all activities offered by Sunshine Coast Afloat.

In the event of your activity being cancelled prior to departure, you can either choose to go on an alternative future date, exchange the amount for a gift voucher, or request the amount paid to be refunded should either of the other 2 options not be suitable/possible.

There can of course also be other unforeseen impacts. Regardless of any impact we will always do our utmost to get our guests out on the water if at all possible, provided it is indeed safe and comfortable to do so.


As with all gift voucher bookings, it is at the sole discretion of the company to determine an alternative date if the gift voucher is not valid after the date of the booked trip. Such date will always be within 30 days of the expiry of the voucher.

Sunshine Coast Afloat has a very strict procedure that is followed with every booking, regardless of how is is generated – Be it by agent, online, phone or in person.

1. We create a customer record for each actual booking (different from any enquiries). This will have your contact details including email address, as well as method and amount of payment etc noted on it.

2. This system subsequently ensures that you will always receive a confirmation email, which will give you the full details of the trip you have booked including departure time, date, directions, amounts paid / due and other relevant information relating to your charter.

3. We will always contact you the evening (usually between 4PM and 6PM) prior to the trip to advise that the charter is indeed proceeding, or that the trip needs to be rescheduled. This is why we always request a contact phone number (ideally a mobile) to ensure we can indeed contact you. This contact is normally via both an email and an SMS to the mobile phone number you have provided, and it will give you not only the confirmation of the trip but also directions and times again. Should the tour be cancelled, we will phone you personally to enable us to work with you to find the best solution in such cases.

Life changes, we understand that. And sometimes your plans have to change accordingly.

All we ask is that you advise us in time (see cancellation information here) in writing.

ALL CANCELLATIONS MUST BE INFORMED IN WRITING to us as we can not rely on our memories (or yours) to ensure this happens. This writing is ideally via email, but we will accept SMS, Messenger and Facebook DM versions as well. By all means call us to discuss it, and if we can at the time we will action it immediately. You will then receive a cancellation notice from our booking system or, if you are not just cancelling but swapping your booking to another date, a rebooking notice. These are emailed to you.

If you have booked via one of our booking agents (eg Adrenaline, Red Balloon etc) you Must cancel via them (they are also the people who in these cases arrange you refund, not us). We can in most cases arrange change of dates for your booking if that is what you are needing to do.


Any trips, tours, cruises and functions booked to take place the last week of November and the entire month of December, including the CHRISTMAS LIGHTS CRUISES and NEW YEARS EVE CRUISES. This is purely because the vast majority of bookings are well in advance, the number of people booked is huge, and the chances of us replacing a booking for which we will without doubt have turned away many others is unlikely at best. 

Finally, if you do need a refund for the trip please understand that accounts are processed once a week and it can take a few additional days for the refund to show in your account.

Running late is by far the most awkward situation for both you our customer and ourselves. It puts both parties in a very difficult position.

All our tours are based on a combination of viability and availability. As we take smaller passenger numbers than many other tours (especially whale watching and cruises) we are immediately more affected by cancellations regardless of the reasons. Hence our minimum notice periods for a cancelation. Experience has taught us that these periods are the absolute minimum amount of time it is possible to still replace your booking with another guest. Missing the departure or running late (very late) negates ALL chances of us replacing you aboard with others. As such we have no other recourse than to have the booking stand as if you had indeed made it aboard.

We are often asked if we cannot simply put you onto a later tour, but this actually doubles the cost to us as not only have we then missed out on the funds for the original tour you had booked (potentially turning that trip to a position of it not being viable) but we then take away the option of having other paying guests on the tour you can make.

Obviously we always aim to give ALL our guests the best possible experience and value. If we can we will try to assist with a discounted replacement tour, if we have spaces on a suitable alternative.

All in all it is clearly best to give yourself extra time if you do have some distance to travel to avoid running late. We can assist with accommodation options if you feel that the chance of missing the trip due to a lengthy travel is a possibility.

We do welcome children on the vast majority of our tours. However all children under the age of 16 MUST be accompanied by an adult, be it a parent or a guardian.

A number of our tours have a discounted rate for children under 14, but this is done purely to reduce the impact on families often needing to book a larger group on to accommodate the family.

Sunshine Coast Afloat and it’s staff cannot take responsibility for unaccompanied children unfortunately.

The last week of November and all of December is a key holiday period, and most bookings are made well ahead of time. This as people are trying to make sure they are fully organised for their Christmas holidays. This can make it very difficult for us to replace a booking as most people will already have made their plans by the time the we get to the last week of November.

This doesn’t mean we cannot try to assist. We are more than happy to try and replace the booking, and if successful can then in turn provide a refund, be it in full or a partial refund, depending on what we have been able to achieve will regards to a replacement booking. To proceed on this basis we will need a confirmation that you wish to proceed and understand the potential implications if we are unable to secure a replacement booking. We cannot start promoting a cancellation if there is still the chance you might decide to proceed after all.

Please understand that a cancellation is a stressful thing to go through for all parties involved. We will do our best to ensure the best chance of a good outcome for all, but have no way of guaranteeing this will indeed be possible.

General Questions

Weather can impact any ocean going tour in many ways. We can, and often do, head out in light rain and wind on some of our activities. After all, we’re going on adventures! However, if the weather makes for unsafe or very uncomfortable conditions, the trip will be changed or postponed. Our vessel is designed to be comfortable. Unpleasant or uncomfortable conditions are not what we want to subject our guests to at all.

Light rain is seldom an issue, but wind generally creates swell, which will combine to unsuitable and unsafe conditions at sea.

You will be notified the day before your trip if there are changes due to weather. As much as we would like to give more notice, marine weather is fickle at best, and forecasts change on a daily (sometime hourly) basis. You can always keep an eye on the forecasts weather on the Sunshine Coast Seabreeze weather page.

Weather has other impacts as well. It can change the location we go whale watching for instance. For instance, we may have hoped to head North towards Coolum on a particular day (We get regular calls regarding sightings there during the season), but as we head out find that the swell, wind, rain or a combination of any of those, makes that impossible. The skipper will make a call at the time on alternative locations, or in the worst case to turn around and cancel the trip altogether. And of course sometimes the conditions change or worsen unexpectedly. This may cause a trip to be shortened for safety reasons. These situations are rare, but can and do happen when the BOM gets the forecasts wrong.

Heading to different locations than those originally planned – brought on by weather conditions or other reasons – is NOT a reason for a refund. If the trip turns around without any whale watching happening you will be given the choice of an alternative trip or a refund. If the trip is shortened by 20% or more, we will be happy to discuss a suitable discount on another trip to offset this unfortunate occurrence. Unfortunately, as our costs do not change regardless of the shortening of the trip in this sort of situation, we cannot offer refunds or discounts for trips shortened less than 20% though conditions or situations that are out of our control.

NO! If you have tried to email us and not heard back, that is not normal.

We try to respond to each and every email we get, but as you may be aware, spam filters sometimes put the wrong emails into the spam folder and there is a chance we may miss it. Also our system rejects any email that it finds vulgar or inappropriate language in.

So if you have not heard back please try to contact us again via an alternative method such as SMS or a phone call..

Unfortunately, YES. All marine operators are strictly controlled by various government bodies (AMSA, MSQ, liquor licensing to name a few) and this all impacts on what we can and cannot do, as well as what we are able to offer and how we are able to operate.

Of course, the safety of you, our customer is paramount. Of nearly as much importance, is the safety of our crew and our vessel.

We are of course fully licensed which means we have the liquor licensing regulations to adhere to.

In addition, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic we have also been given certain requirements and restrictions by Qld Health.

And finally, we have a number of rules and regulations we as a business have implemented to ensure we are able to operate as safely and effectively as possible.

To ensure everything operates smoothly, correctly and in-keeping with these regulations, some parts must relate back to our customers.

This may all sound daunting, but many areas overlap, and most are really rather common sense.

Here are the main areas you need to be aware of when booking with us;

1. CHECK IN. You MUST check in prior to boarding. You will be able to do this via the link that will be sent to you with your final confirmation the evening prior, or on the day by using the QR code here at our office. We STRONGLY recommend you check in prior via the link as we would hate to see any delays created by check-in issues on departure. Our skipper will be provided with the complete list of names for everyone aboard – in accordance with AMSA rules and regulations – So, we will know if anyone has not checked in. Our check-in details cover us for not only AMSA, Qld health and the Qld liquor licensing requirements, but also operate as our liability and indemnity waiver and our customer database collection.


no BYO alcohol explanatory sign

We are fully licenced. As such we do not allow any BYO. We reserve the right to check your bags, eskys and any other items you might have with you to ensure this is adhered to. The NO BYO relates to any drink, including non-alcoholic drinks.


We strongly recommend you arrive in easy to remove shoes on all trips. Please note that we DO NOT ALLOW ANY SHOES.  Refusal to cooperate with this (or any rule aboard) will cause the trip to be terminated.

4. FOOD. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new world for everyone, and we are no exception. In addition to the rising costs, the regulations surrounding supply of food has forced us to stop supply in almost all cases. As such ALL FOOD is now on a BYO basis. That means you can bring aboard a snack or lunch pack. Of, if you are hiring the entire vessel for your group you can use a catering company or chef to do the food for you. We do, for those groups have hired the entire vessel, have the option of a (high quality custom-made stainless-steel marine) BBQ that can be hired, should you wish to take a bit more control yourself of the food side. This must be arranged in advance of course.


Crusader 1 is a non-smoking vessel. This is another change brought on by the tightening of restrictions with both the Covid-19 health regulations as well as the restrictions placed upon a licensed premises. We may consider exceptions for vaping on private cruise bookings, but this must be discussed prior to booking.

6. PARTY CRUISE CONSIDERATIONS. We reserve the right to request a $500.00 security deposit for any boat booking that is, in our opinion, a party cruise that could cause damage to our vessel. Bucks Parties, Hens parties, 18 to 21st birthday parties and Corporate Christmas parties are prime examples of groups that will have this imposed upon them. The $500.00 can be paid in cash on the day, and will be refunded at the conclusion of the trip, provided no damage was caused of course. We fully understand the impact this fee can have on the ability of groups to make a booking, but the demonstrated result of the fee has shown us that it almost completely removes all incidents from occurring. 

7. DECORATIONS. This includes “staging” for events such as weddings and other celebrations.. All decorating of the vessel must be pre-arranged at the time of booking. Other bookings before or after yours may stop this being possible timewise otherwise. Any decorations used must be put in place in such a manner that no damage or marks are made to the vessel. (Blu-tack is usually the best option for using).  Latex balloons, confetti and coloured paper ribbons are NOT PERMITTED. Please keep in mind that Crusader 1 is an “OPEN DECK” vessel and as such is subject to the possible winds on the day. We have clears that can be used to reduce this, but it does take away from the feeling of open-air cruising that we are so renowned for. You, the customer, are solely responsible to removing all decorations and disposing of them at the end of the cruise. We allow for a maximum of 15 minutes to prepare the vessel with decorations. If you need more time (especially when using a staging company) you need to ensure you book in such time to enable the setup and removal of the items. Please do this at the time of making the booking.

8. PASSENGER BEHAVIOUR. This is a point we really should not have to make but…. Obviously good, safe behaviour is expected and required. Any passengers not adhering to the crew’s directions regarding the following behaviour will be reported to the Qld water police as well as AMSA and MSQ. In extreme cases we may request the police be in attendance upon the return of our vessel to the dock. The following items are examples of behaviour that will not be tolerated;

    • Use of illegal drugs
    • Excessive alcohol consumption
    • Aggression of any kind towards anyone aboard.
    • Actions that create damage to the vessel.
    • Standing on the handrails or gunwale tops
    • Standing on the seating.
    • Jumping off the vessel.
    • Throwing anything from the vessel.
    • Urinating over the side of the vessel.
    • Yelling a people ashore.
    • The bringing aboard of dangerous goods such as knives, guns, explosives, volatile liquids etc. is strictly forbidden.

9. WHEEL CHAIR ACCESS. As much as we would LOVE to be fully wheelchair accessible and friendly, we are not. We do have ramps from our office all the way to our boat, but not all comply with the regulations that are attached to being wheelchair friendly (and tides can make this even more difficult). Our vessel entry point tends to be just a little too narrow for most wheelchairs to fit through as well. And finally, our onboard toilets are simply too tight and small to be “handicapped friendly”. If you think you might still be able to be aboard, but want to have a look to be sure, feel free to contact us and arrange a time to come and have a look at Crusader 1 to see if that is indeed the case.

Gift Vouchers

As with all companies offering gift vouchers, there are a number of areas that differ for a direct purchase.


Refunds for gift vouchers are NEVER available. This is done for multiple reasons. The main issue being that gift vouchers have in almost every case been purchased by a different party/person than the person to whom the voucher has been provided. As such a refund would be to a different person than who had actually paid for the voucher. Experience has also indicated that refund requests are in most cases received due to the person not making use of the voucher within the lifespan of the gift voucher. Again this is not a valid reason for a refund.


At times vouchers provided to a person may be for charters that are not available at the time of the voucher recipient wishing to make use of the voucher. This may happen in the case of less common or less popular activities. To avoid this issue we highly recommend booking well in advance where possible. This will allow us to start and build the required activity to provide the best chance of being able to proceed as desired. In cases where this is not possible, Sunshine Coast Afloat will offer alternative solutions and options to best accommodate the voucher recipient. This may include a slightly different duration or departure time to match the voucher as closely as possible. In cases where such activities have a higher cost attached the difference will be payable on the day of the departure. Sometimes the time between the voucher being issued and used can see the activity having been deleted from the range of offerings. In such cases Sunshine Coast will have made arrangements in advance to ensure your gift voucher can still be used as intended, most likely via an alternative provider. You can of course always substitute any of our other activities if you would like to do so.


All gift vouchers have an expiry date clearly marked on them. Booking requests AFTER the voucher expiry date will not be accepted unless special circumstances have made it impossible for the voucher recipient to have used the voucher within its validity period. Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to determine what exactly constitutes such special circumstances on a case by case situation. Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to offer any such case an alternative. This is normally done by discussion and multiple offers where possible. If such alternatives are considered unsuitable by the voucher recipient, the voucher will be again deemed expired and no longer able to be used. If an alternative offer has been accepted by the voucher recipient and weather or guest/passenger numbers prevent the alternative activity from proceeding, Sunshine Coast Afloat may at their discretion offer another alternative or alternatives. If such alternative(s) are considered unsuitable by the voucher recipient, the voucher will be again deemed expired and no longer able to be used. Please note that Sunshine Coast Afloat will work with voucher recipients to the best of their abilities to enable the recipient to make use of their gift voucher. To enable this to happen, cooperation and understanding from the voucher recipient is of course essential.

Prior to purchasing a gift Voucher we highly recommend you read the terms and conditions on this site to avoid misunderstandings.

In short, YES. We Absolutely do sell gift vouchers – aka Gift Cards!

Our Gift Vouchers are a very high quality pre-printed tri-fold card which is designed to impress when given as a gift. Any marine based experience provided by Sunshine Coast Afloat can be purchased as a gift voucher.

You can order them online HERE (Just click on the “GIFT CARDS” tab- in RED along the top), or call or email us to arrange them. Whichever you find easiest. Or you can look on our website for the experience you like, and when you go to book online it will give you an option to purchase the experience as a gift voucher instead.

How Sunshine Coast Afloat operate with Gift Vouchers is that once ordered, your information is printed (not handwritten) on them. That is the name of the person you are purchasing the gift for, and a message (up to about 3 lines of text) to personalise it. We then scan the voucher (before it is folded), and email that scan to you so that you have an instant record should the original get lost. We then post the original gift voucher to you. There is a small additional charge for postage (to cover the cost of the stamp).

You are able to order them as an online version only, in which case you can print them at home yourself and save the cost of the postage.

Our Gift Vouchers are valid for 3 years from date of purchase. They can also be used as a part payment for a higher value tour is so desired.

Booking using a gift voucher is simple. You can do so by booking online, calling us or emailing us. Whichever is your preference.

We do recommend you read this section about our gift vouchers as well: GIFT VOUCHER CONDITIONS

Payment Questions

To secure a booking a minimum of 50% deposit, of the total fee, is required for any booking.

This can be done via credit (or Debit) Card, either by phone or our online booking system.

If you don’t have a Credit or Debit card we can provide you our account details and you can deposit the funds directly into our account. We will provide you with a reference number to ensure we are able to match the payment with your booking. These funds are required a minimum of 21 days prior to the departure date. This time frame is needed because of the time it can take to clear funds, the delay which happens from time to time between booking and payment and our need to be able to be confident we have the numbers to assist of passengers on such charters.

Please note that in the case of payment of any booking via a direct deposit, your booking is not secured until the funds have indeed been received.

The balance is payable prior to boarding for individuals or small groups of up to a maximum of 3 people. This balance can be paid in cash or credit card.

Groups of 4 or more MUST pay the balance 7, 14 or 21 days  before the actual departure date. The time frames depend on the size of the group and are clearly outlined in our Terms & Conditions.

The reasons for the different time frames are purely to allow us enough time to find other passengers to replace your spots on the vessel. The more people that need to be replaced the longer time is required to cover that.

Conditions and time frames for payments other than credit card are applicable and can be found in our Terms & Conditions.

The listed price is the price you pay. Including tax.

We understand that you may not have a printer handy when you’re travelling so it is not necessary to have a printed copy.

However, we may require that you show ID matching your reservation should there be any question about the booking.

You will also receive an SMS confirmation on your mobile phone, which will be able to assist in the case of any issues.

No. Unfortunately this is not possible.

We do understand that this places a large amount of responsibility on the person taking on the organiser’s role. As such, for organisers of larger groups, we have special offers in place.  Group discounts may also apply to ensure further incentive for the group organisers to be able to secure the funds more easily from the persons in their group in advance. This requires a single contact person to take full responsibility of that booking. That includes all financial aspects as clearly outlined in our Terms & Conditions under Group Booking Specific terms and conditions.

A substantial advantage of a group booking is that the entire group knows their places are 100% secured, and that nobody in the group will miss out. If a group insists on paying individually the booking WILL NOT be considered a group booking, and each person would be considered a separate individual. As such we cannot hold spaces for such individuals and this may in turn mean that those slow to contact us might find the trip has received other bookings which in turn makes their booking impossible, causing them to miss out.

If paying by credit card there is a 1.8% credit card surcharge.

Please note this surcharge is not refundable as it is a bank fee payable to the applicable financial institution regardless of the trip proceeding or not.

There is an administration fee if booking online from our booking platform.  You can still make a booking by bank transfer, phone or email without incurring this fee.

Cruises are booked with the use of our fully licenced bar (no extra charges).

Some private trip may require a $500.00 security deposit which is fully refundable at the conclusion of the trip provided there has been no damage or incident that may have required police intervention.

We do not charge any extra fees or fuel surcharges. The listed price is the price you pay. Including GST.


Life changes, we understand that. And sometimes your plans have to change accordingly.

All we ask is that you advise us in time (see cancellation information here) in writing.

ALL CANCELLATIONS MUST BE INFORMED IN WRITING to us as we can not rely on our memories (or yours) to ensure this happens. This writing is ideally via email, but we will accept SMS, Messenger and Facebook DM versions as well. By all means call us to discuss it, and if we can at the time we will action it immediately. You will then receive a cancellation notice from our booking system or, if you are not just cancelling but swapping your booking to another date, a rebooking notice. These are emailed to you.

If you have booked via one of our booking agents (eg Adrenaline, Red Balloon etc) you Must cancel via them (they are also the people who in these cases arrange you refund, not us). We can in most cases arrange change of dates for your booking if that is what you are needing to do.


Any trips, tours, cruises and functions booked to take place the last week of November and the entire month of December, including the CHRISTMAS LIGHTS CRUISES and NEW YEARS EVE CRUISES. This is purely because the vast majority of bookings are well in advance, the number of people booked is huge, and the chances of us replacing a booking for which we will without doubt have turned away many others is unlikely at best. 

Finally, if you do need a refund for the trip please understand that accounts are processed once a week and it can take a few additional days for the refund to show in your account.

Preparation Questions

What to wear when going on a boat is sometimes confusing.  When venturing out on the water it is always advisable to wear something comfortable.  This will obviously depend to some degree on the activity you are participating in .

We recommend you arrive in shoes that are quick and easy to take off as we operate on a NO SHOES basis.

It is preferable to dress in layers and wear clothing that will wick away perspiration and keep you dry and comfortable. In winter especially bring a light jacket or sweater just in case you get a bit cold (especially evenings).



There really is not much you need to bring. It’s more about what you do not bring.

We do suggest you bring appropriate clothing to fit the activity and season (See “what should I wear” in these FAQ questions) and in some instances a day pack to carry any special dietary requirements you may have.

1 key thing is NO SHOES.

For any trips/tours over 3 hours in length we recommend you have a snack or lunch pack with you. We do not provide food on our trips unless its specifically noted.

We will supply icey cold water on all trips, soft drinks on Whale Watching trips, and of course on almost every trip you can purchase drinks from our onboard bar (Whale Watching trips in particular will have a more limited range – cans only – due to the potential impact of the sea on other forms of drinks).

Further recommendations will be communicated to you via text prior to your trip.

Whale Watching Questions


Many operators start their Humpback Whale Watching season late May or early June. However we find the number of whales, here on the Sunshine Coast at least, are very low in comparison to the later months. As such we start our tours from the 1st of July, and finish towards the end of October.

We are all very excited to see the whales, and of course we want to get out in search of them, but that – searching and not watching – is exactly what tends to happen if you go too early.  It becomes a “whale searching” trip rather than a “whale watching” trip.

During the months of mid May, June & even early July, the whales are migrating north ( generally towards the Whitsundays) to mate and give birth.  This is a good time to see the whales but we do have to travel out wider to see them at this time of the season. They are basically in a fair bit of a hurry to get up there, and interactions are far less impressive than later in the season.

August is a month where some whales are still heading north and other have started heading back south so it is a particularly good time of year to venture out.  Some of our best sightings have been in August.

September and October see the full extent of the southern migration,  we tend to see many more mothers and the calves relax, rest and very often play, which is an absolute delight for all! If we had to choose a single month to name as the best month to go Whale Watching it would be September as heads and shoulders above all other months!

Passengers on the bow of Crusader 1 amazed at the Humpback Whales proximity to them
Passengers on the bow of Crusader 1 amazed at the Humpback Whales proximity to them

No two whale watching tours are the same. Those amazing, special and unforgettable experiences can occur at any time during the whole whale watching season. We as operators can only do our very best to take our guests out to the areas the whales are in, and then use our best judgement (and experience) to try and find the most interactive pods we can.

That said, a whale watching cruise is about venturing out into nature, so the final outcome is 100% on the whales terms.

The best time to head out is when you yourself are relaxed, have time to unwind, enjoy the trip and even learn about these truely amazing mammals.


Time of Day:

People always want to know if whale watching is better in the morning or the afternoon. To be completely honest there is really no ‘better time’ in that regard. Sometimes the mornings are amazing, sometimes the afternoons are. Sometimes both are.

We would recommend you choose your cruise depending on your family situation. Do you like to sleep in? How far have you got to travel? Are the kids up early and ready to get going in the morning? Would you prefer to return close to sunset and a cold drink in hand?

As a general rule, the ocean is calmer in the mornings, but even that is not 100% a certainty.

There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the whales antics and activity at any particular time, they basically do what they want when they want.

So anytime is the best time to watch whales!

If you are looking for the best scenic light for photography, choose a morning cruise as the light doesn’t seem to be as impacted on the position on the vessel as it does in the afternoon.


Unfortunately the answer is no.

Refunds are available only in instances where the trip has not proceeded or where a customer has had to cancel their booking and provided sufficient written notice to Sunshine Coast Afloat.  A trip that has not sighted whales ( rare but it does happen) is not eligible for a refund under any circumstance. Our goal is alway to give our customers the best opportunity to see whales in their natural environment, but the time of season, weather (both in the days before and after a trip) and lady luck all play their part in the success of each and every outing.

We are not heading out to a controlled environment to see trained animals. We are heading out into their natural habitat and have to understand that what the whales did yesterday or last week may be very different from what the whales that are about at the time of your trip will without doubt be very different.

We limit our season, a late start and early finish, to give our customers the best chance possible to see whales. But there are simply days where they spend so much time submerged that you do not get to see them. Luckily these days are the exception rather than the rule. And if possible we will often offer some form of discount or free 2nd trip. But this offer remains at Sunshine Coast Afloat’s dissection.

You sure can!

Crusader 1 is child friendly and we love having families on board.  Seeing the children’s faces light up when they see the whales makes for a much more memorable trip.

Whale watching is one of the most exciting and memorable occasions for kids and adults alike! Spotting the marvellous giant humpback whale in its natural habitat and watching as it brings nearly its entire body out of the water, then breaches with an epic splash is a sight you won’t forget.

If you have your own child life jacket, you are welcome to bring that on board.  If you wish your child to wear a life jacket, please advise our staff when you arrive or prior so we can have it ready for you.  If they haven’t worn one before, it might be a good idea to discuss what they are and why we wear them.

Ensure you dress your child comfortably and pack a jacket. The breeze can be a little cool when you are at sea! Catering is available on board but you are welcome to bring any other food on board..

All children must be looked after by the adults in your group.



We are often asked “How big is the boat we are going out on?” by potential customers. It has become apparent than when it comes to boats SIZE MATTERS!

Our vessel, Crusader 1 is a very large, Australian made, commercial vessel, that has been transformed from it’s “work-horse” origins to be the ideal platform for all manner of recreational tourism activities. All without sacrificing it’s commercial heritage of extreme safety and reliability so obviously needed in the commercial sector.  With it’s much greater weight and heavy duty construction, she instantly provides the quality voyage experience you expect from a quality vessel.

Measuring a substantial 55 foot (over 17 meters!). Crusader 1 provides it’s passengers with a large open main-deck ensuring you have plenty of room to move about. In addition the bow section has been updated and is a great spot (awesome to relax on the beanbags we use there for cruises!). The bow even has it’s own table for your drinks and nibbles! All this space and we only take 22 passengers (+ 3 crew) on our open ocean cruises and charters!

Another ideal component of our vessel is that Crusader 1 is “an open deck boat” (not fully enclosed unless we need clears for unexpected weather). This means you always have the fresh air to enjoy and will never feel “closed in”!.  Our main deck level is about 1.5 m from the water level. This is the perfect height when it comes to both whale watching and cruising. And it has the added benefit that it ensures you do not get a lot of the “rolling” action taller and double story vessels often suffer from.  The open deck layout also ensures you can easily follow the whales around the boat, making sure you never miss out on getting a great viewing experience, regardless of which side of the boat they are on.

Crusader 1’s deep keel further helps give her a smooth stable gliding action through the water, further reducing any swaying tendencies, which is so often the reason people feel seasick on vessels.

And finally, Crusader 1 has a “Dry Stack” exhaust setup. Just like the large cruise ships, we do not have our exhaust open up on the water line or under the water like the vast majority of smaller vessels do. These “wet exhausts” are popular because they are a lot less expensive to install and maintain. But there are 2 major downsides to them.

1. Fumes come back on board. When underway a vessel creates a low pressure area at it’s stern (the rear of the boat). This in turn then “sucks” the rising exhaust fumes from the water level back onto the deck. Studies have shown that up to 80% of sea-sickness can be directly attributed to these fumes! Our fumes are dissipated well above the deck height and cannot be drawn back down onto the vessel. So it’s cleaner (and quieter!).

2. Studies have shown that whales are not comfortable with loud noises underwater. And an open exhaust pipe into the water is very noisy! No doubt this is why we so often see the whales head straight towards our vessel. The only sound underwater is the gentle rhythm of a v8 engine idling.

So in short, Crusader 1 is a (very) big, safe and comfortable vessel with heaps of space, catering for only a small number of passengers! It ensures everyone gets a great trip every time.


Our trips are focused on doing everything within our ability to give our customers the best chance of seeing whales, in comfort and without feeling crowded.

To this end the following are standard whale watching inclusions with our trips:

  1. You will be aboard Crusader 1, a large (55 foot) open deck vessel, with a large bow area, mid deck with Lounge seating, and a rear deck that is kept as open as possible to ensure everyone can move about easily. There are 2 deck toilets, multiple hand basins and automatic soap and sanitiser dispensers, as well as a basic fully licensed bar from which you can purchase a limited range of alcoholic drinks. (we cannot carry the full range out at sea unfortunately).
  2. SELF SERVE Water and soft drinks are available as part of your tour. The water is fresh and heavily iced to ensure it is nice and cold the entire trip. In addition there are chilled cans of soft drink available to any passenger so desiring.
  3. Snack Packs. The crew will hand out snack-packs which have a piece of fruit (Most commonly an Apple but we may if need be substitute this with a mandarine, Orange or pear) and a few pre packed light snacks. This is by no means a meal and purely mean as a light refreshment as we know it’s very common to get a bit hungry out on the water. The snack packs are supplied in a brown paper bag.
  4. A minimum of 2 crew. This will consist of a skipper and a deckhand. At time there may be a 2nd deckhand and or one or 2 whale watching research volunteers (from Humpback and Highrises). All this to ensure both your safety and to assist you with any questions you may have.
  5. The best possible weather. A strange inclusion you might think, but we are very focused on only heading out in conditions that are indeed safe and suitable to see Whales. Sure, forecasts do get things wrong, and we are the mercy of the BOM in that regard, but we do absolutely everything we can to avoid heading out if the weather is not suitable!