We had to visit the Whitsundays after all we had heard about it and decided to do it by boat, rather than staying at a resort. I chose the Solway Lass because I needed something suitable for a family with teenagers, rather than a 20-somethings party boat, which would have been a nightmare! Reservations staff were helpful and dealt with my bombardment of emails, as we were booking from overseas. Firstly, what to pack. Travel as light as you possibly can! Share toiletries and anything else you can, as space on board is so limited! Clothing wise, as long as it is warm, you need little more than your swim stuff and a towel. We were on the boat in August (winter) so you would definitely need one or two fleeces and some long trousers for the evenings. Yes, this is not a luxurious cruise - but what this cruise is is FUN! So leave your 5 star hankerings for somewhere else and just enjoy doing something a bit more basic for a few days! The crew were great, good fun and friendly and a special mention should go to Chef Tiff, for rustling up some stupendous food in a very small space!! Food was plentiful and there was always more for second helpings.
You will not go hungry on this ship. Or dry. There is a well stocked bar at reasonable prices, and really it would be rude not to have a beer in your hand as you watch the sun set or look at more stars than you have ever seen in your life.In terms of activities, there is enough to do without being bored - you can snorkel (although it was so cold that we only did it the once!) and do the rope swing (if you are brave enough). There is a trip to Whitehaven (breathtaking) and the 1 hour slog up the Whitsunday Peak is well worth the view at the top. If there is enough wind, the crew will put the sails up and anyone can help with the ropes: this is fascinating if you have never seen it happen before, which I hadn't. There is lots of time for relaxing in the sun with your book, and I never found the ship too crowded to find a space. Yes, the decks are hard and there are no cushions but so what! My only mistake way in asking for an ensuite cabin for the 4 of us! We were given cabin 9, which is so small with the 4 beds and ensuite in it, that it can only accommodate 1 person standing in there at any one time!! Also we had no where at all to store our luggage (in other cabins it is under the beds) so all of ours had to go on the bed........ The only way to deal with this is form an orderly queue and maintain a sense of humour! My tip would be muck in and share the bathrooms with everyone else, and have much more room in your cabin as a trade off. Also, note that the cabins can be extremely claustrophobic and I did spend the first night in the saloon on the bench.............. Our family loved this trip, especially the teenage kids. This a great trip for them, no wifi around, meaning they are forced to interact and join in. Wonderful. Take cards to play in the evenings, the kids will bond over endless card games, and a big book to read. This is not a party boat, people went to bed early and were up early to see the spectacular sun rises. Loved it.
Visited August 2014 - Trip Advisor Member QueenMargarita
Just back from a three-day cruise on the Solway Lass and still in a state of melancholy that it's over. This will go down as the highlight of a month in Australia. Some misgivings in the family as we boarded, notably from one irredeemable landlubber in the party. The boat was not a cruise liner, the four-bunk cabin was not the size of a hotel room and the toilet/showers were, yes, basic. It is a measure of the wondrousness of the Solway Lass that it is now the same family landlubber who is pining most. This was a truly great experience. I have to start with the crew, six guys who combine total professionalism with a wonderful rough-and-ready (probably toned down considerably for our benefit) Aussie sense of humour and a real unaffected friendliness. They were skilled and attentive, good company and fun. The various briefings the thirty-one passengers received were entertainments in themselves, but also showed a real depth of knowledge and concern for the reef and island environment. Sure, these guys do group after group, but their commitment to their ship and to what they do was transparently genuine. Second, the ship. This has to be the best, and most enviable way to get around the Whitsundays. A tallship amongst pygmies, as it were. Oozing history and class, the vessel has a remarkable story and has been tastefully and respectfully modernised for its current role. It is not a luxury experience; in my view it's better than that, a real experience. On our trip, the sea was a millpond, simply not enough wind (a blessing for the landlubber tendency), so we did less sailing than other outings seem to have done, though we did spend one full afternoon under sail. The basic pattern was to moor overnight in some sheltered inlet and during the day to move to two or three locations, say to snorkel, to dive, to spend time on the beach (Whitehaven Beach - wow!), or to let the kids, big and small, loose on the ship's rope swing. (A simple but entertaining way of getting off the ship into the water.)