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Published April 23rd 2013
OMG OMG OMG Dolphins
At my ripe old age of 34 (ok … I admit, not my real age), there is not a lot that gets me excited. Dolphins are an exception though. The sight of dolphins makes me weak in the knees and scream with excitement (very loudly) in public. My son has figured out that if there is a slight chance of me seeing a dolphin, he is better off on the other side of the ship … or better yet in another port.
While recently holidaying in Port Stephens I had organised to go on a dolphin cruise with Imagine Cruises. Unfortunately the morning of our adventure, the skies were dark and it was raining heavily. I was disappointed, as I watched the weather radar and was sure there was going to be no cruise. I phoned the office to see if I could reschedule our booking to another day, but was pleasantly surprised to find out, the cruise was still going ahead.
We made our way to Dock C at d'Albora Marinas and 15 minutes prior to departure boarded the sail boat. By then, the weather started to improve and we even saw some blue skies. Always the optimist, I expected perfect weather on our holidays and had not packed any wet weather gear, so I thought I would get wet if it rained while we were out on the ocean. However, I was pleased to see a basket of rain jackets ready for all those on board in case the weather turned.
Slowly we cruised the bay, looking for dolphins. We were all on high alert watching, scanning the tranquil waters. I was lucky to spot the first dolphin of the day, as he swam ahead of the boat. I jumped up and down to let the captain know which way to go, grabbed my camera and started taking photos. Snap snap snap …
Kids climbing into the dry net to get a better view
Just as I headed to the back of the boat to get a picture of a playful dolphin, I heard excited screams of those sitting in the net at the front of the boat. There was a dolphin swimming directly below them. So I quickly rushed to the front and sure enough, two more beautiful dolphins swam nearby.
The staff on the boat were personable, passionate and shared their knowledge of the area and of the dolphins. Morning tea was available free of charge for those on board. A fully stocked bar was open and snacks could be purchased. But who has time to eat and drink when there are dolphins around?
Being one of the smaller catamarans in the port, Imagine offers a very personal and friendly service. Although dolphins are seen on most cruises, if you don't get to see one, you are offered a return ticket. If a cruise is cancelled due to bad weather, you will get a full refund. Should you decide not to go on the cruise, at least 4 hours notice needs to be given to ensure no charge is incurred.
4 hour paid parking is available near the marina and also some street parking in Laman Street or Church Street.
As the waters are generally very calm and the catamaran is stable, Imagine has a close to zero rate of sea sickness, however, if you are susceptible to motion sickness, you may wish to consult a pharmacist before boarding. It is advisable to take motion sickness medicine an hour before you board.
When packing for a dolphin cruise, make sure you wear flat shoes – high heels are not permitted, however flip flops are ok. Bring something warm in case it gets cold and if you are planning to get wet in the boom net, bring your swimmers, towel and sunscreen. Also don't forget your camera, sunglasses, a hat and binoculars. You can also bring food on board, but no alcohol.
Besides Dolphin Watch cruises, Imagine also offers the following:
Whale Watch – May to November
Snorkelling – December – March
Dolphin Swim – Weekends
Dinner Cruises – December to April