I went on a number different reef trips in the last week in Cairns and without doubt i wish i had gone with Seastar for all three. As a lone traveller the fact that there were only around 30 passengers meant you got to meet new people and it was much more of a shared experience. Other trips i did had well over 100 on board and far too busy.
Seastar focussed on the experience but with a core message of 'first do no harm' - very firm on not touching the reef or getting near it with fins.On the other providers no mention was made of this and I saw people chasing after turtles and scraping the reef with flippers, which was hugely distressing to see.
Laura the dive master is worth her weight in gold. Calm, assured, professional and knowledgeable. Hugely experienced and a quick assessor of peoples skill and ability. Her focus of safety was clear and she ensured everyone got the best of their day on the reef. The other team members were just as assured and their team work was outstanding. The Captain was amazing in managing the changing weather conditions and quite choppy sea.
The two dive and snorkel sites were breathtaking - very different and full of marine life, and the staff identified all the fish for us. Also because Seastar leaves early, we were the only people on the reef.
The tax for going on the reef was also included in their price - other providers will charge you extra when you arrive for the day. Food was amazing, company great and I cannot recommend them enough. You will return more committed to environmental protection, so wonderful is the reef and the need to take care of it.
Take seasickness tablets though, just in case, it can be rough and taking them before you go on the boat is recommended.