FAQ

Frequently asked questions:

BOOKING YOUR TRIP

What is included in the fare?
What can I expect to pay extra for?
How many passengers can you take?
Is there a minimum number of people required for a cruise to run?
How much advance booking notice do you require?
When is the best time to see the dolphins?
Is the Morning or Afternoon departure better?
How long do we get to swim with the Dolphins?
Is there anything preventing us from swimming with any of the listed animals?
What is the water temperature?
When is the ‘busy’ season?
Do you have gift vouchers?
What age applies for a ‘child rate’?

THE CRUISE

What can we expect on our tour?
What will we see?
Are the day trips suitable for guests (including children) who cannot swim?
How many snorkel sites do you visit in a day?
When do you depart?
What happens if we are running late?
What should we bring with us?
How big is the boat?

ACTIVITIES

Do you offer floatation aids and tuition for nervous snorkellers?
Do you have prescription masks?
One of our group probably won’t be snorkelling or swimming –will they still get to see what we see?
Do you offer guided snorkelling?
I am pregnant will I still be able to participate in the activities?

BOAT FACILITIES

Do you have toilet facilities on board the vessels?
Is there plenty of areas to sit down?
How do we get in and out of the water?

CANCELLATIONS

Are there any penalties if we cancel our trip?
If the weather is bad that day, could we swap to another day?
Do you ever cancel the tour due to bad weather?
Do you change your destination due to bad weather?

GENERAL INFORMATION

I think I might suffer from sea sickness. How can I avoid this?
What is the weather going to be like?

BOOKING YOUR TRIP

What is included in the fare?

The fare includes;
Fruit juice, cordial or water served on arrival.
Freshly brewed tea, coffee or hot chocolate served throughout the cruise.
Fruit platters, veggies and dip platter, cookies or cake selection for afternoon tea.
All snorkelling gear and tuition
Guided snorkelling tour with marine naturalist
Full length wetsuits, floatation devices and swimming aids
Interpretation by qualified Marine Biologist

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What can I expect to pay extra for?

Additional beverages are available for purchase on board the tours including soft drinks, bottled water and alcoholic beverages. We also have a range of souvenirs including dolphin and seal toys and underwater cameras. If travelling on board ‘Moonraker’ a café is available and serves a wide range of foods including toasted focaccias, sandwiches, hotdogs, chocolate bars, muffins and snack foods all available for purchase. (Towels are also available for hire from the check-in)

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How many passengers can you take?

Moonraker carries up to 30 swimming passengers and 20+ sightseeing passengers.
Blue Wing carries up to a maximum of 20 swimming passengers (small group – swimming tour only)

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Is there a minimum number of people required for a cruise to run?

Moonraker Dolphin Swims, Seal and Dolphin Swimming and Sightseeing tours operates with a minimum booking of only ten passengers.

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How much advance booking notice do you require?

As with most small tours it pays to book well in advance. Moonraker is often booked out up to a week in advance during the busy season. A change of booking date or full refund is available up to 24 hours prior to travel departure. Telephone our booking office on 03 5984 4211.

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When is the best time to see the dolphins?

Port Phillip Bay is home to over 100 Bottlenose Dolphins and over 20 Common Dolphins. Our tours are seasonal due to the weather and not the dolphins, each year we monitor the location, species and number of dolphin on each tour, so we can hopefully build a pattern which will help us to locate them into the future. Each crew member has their own recommendations however it is unanimous that the best months to spot the dolphins are October, December, January, February, March and May. As the water temperature is at it warmest in February and March and the fish stocks are also at a peak allowing the dolphins to feed close to our departure location, making them easier to find.

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Is the Morning or Afternoon departure better?

Were always recommend the morning departure during the peak summer, this is a time when passenger numbers are lower and the recreations boats have not yet hit the water. The interaction with the animals usually doesn’t differ, however the impact from recreational vessels and jet skis can be more evident in the afternoon only during the summer school holiday period.

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How long do we get to swim with the Dolphins?

All dolphin swim operators are licensed to conduct in-water interaction with the dolphins, this ensures you have the best chance to swim and see the dolphins if you travel with a licensed dolphin swim operator. All licensed dolphin swim operators offer a maximum of 5 interactions with the dolphins, allowing 10 people into the water with the dolphins at this time. This ensures low impact on the animals as well as giving you the maximum chance of seeing and interacting with the animals. The amount of time you spend with the dolphins depends on the dolphins, sometimes they will glide past you for a quick look and other times they won’t leave you alone. They are wild animals and this must be respected!

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Is there anything preventing us from swimming with any of the listed animals?

We try to offer everyone the best chance of seeing and interacting with the animals, however there are rules and regulations associated with interacting with wildlife. The only reason you may not get to swim with the dolphins is because of the following reasons:

  • A new born calf (baby) is present in the pod of dolphins,
  • The dolphins are in the Ticonderoga Bay (Dolphin) Sanctuary Zone,
  • The dolphins have not been located on the tour.

Over 100 resident Bottlenose Dolphins live in Port Phillip Bay, so quite often during the summer we encounter a pod of dolphins who has a calf. This is a great opportunity to view a new born calf, and our guides will be on hand to point it out and tell you about it. After we have a look at the pod and view the calf our tour will continue to search for another pod of dolphins in the local area, and this usually results in the location of an adolescent pod of dolphins which will allow us to swim.
If the dolphins enter the Ticonderoga Bay Sanctuary Zone, this prevents us from approaching them, until they move beyond the sanctuary limits, quite often our cruise will go on with another activity until the dolphins have moved beyond the limits allowing us to interact and swim with them.

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What is the water temperature?

The water temperature in Port Phillip Bay fluctuates from a chilly 10C to a maximum of 22 -23C. The current water temperature can be viewed at www.baywx.com/temps.html The daily temperature will not change from ‘am’ to ‘pm’ as the water will remain the same temperature all day. And don’t forget you have a cosy full length wetsuit on!

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When is the ‘busy’ season?

The high season for Sorrento is mid-December to late-February plus all weekends in March.

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Do you have gift vouchers?

Yes, we are happy to provide a gift voucher for you to present to your friends or family. These can be purchased on line www.moonrakercharters.com.au or by telephoning our booking office 03 5984 4211

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What age applies for a ‘child rate’?

Our child rate applies to children aged 4 to 15. Our crew reserves the right to ask for proof of age on board the vessel.

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THE CRUISE

What can we expect on our tour?

Once you have boarded the vessel, you will be offered a selection of juice, cordial or water. After you have been introduced to the vessels facilities and explained the safety information, we cruise out onto Port Phillip Bay to experience a marine wonderland.

Once cruising Port Phillip Bay the crew will present an informative snorkel demonstration, highlighting all the tips and tricks on how to use your equipment. After arriving at our first snorkel location an orientation briefing will be conducted, highlighting the protected and sensitive areas, including information on the animals and marine life you are about to encounter. Guided snorkelling tour are offered in small groups and each activity is conducted in a relaxed and safe environment, allowing you enough time to familiarise your self with the snorkelling equipment and environment.
Three snorkel activities are offered including: snorkel with the seals, explore the Popes Eye Marine Park, and snorkel with the dolphins (depending on the tide and wind conditions Popes Eye Snorkel may be supplemented with a Sea Dragon reef snorkel)
After a refreshing snack or hot chocolate you will be invited to snorkel and explore the Marine Park reef with a guided snorkel excursion involving interpretation on the local fish and the environment, or you may choose to explore the reef at your own pace.
A morning or afternoon tea will be served during the cruise consisting of light refreshments including hot drinks, a fruit platter, dip and veggie platter, biscuits or cake selection.
Prior to disembarking at Sorrento Pier, guests are given time to change out of wetsuits and enjoy a hot drink from the café or socialise with fellow passengers.

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What will we see?

Moonraker Dolphin Swims operate from one of Victoria’s most beautiful destinations, the picturesque Mornington Peninsula. We visit the Australian Fur Seals, Popes Eye Marine Park, Australasian Gannet Sea Bird Colony, search and view the Bottlenose Dolphins and enjoy the scenic cruise along the Point Nepean National Park, and Portsea Cliff Top to view the famous holiday homes.

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Are the day trips suitable for guests (including children) who cannot swim?

Moonraker Dolphin Swims offers everyone the chance to experience this amazing wildlife. All our activities are lead by qualified and experienced guides. Inexperienced snorkellers will be offered an array of swimming assistance devices such as, pool noodles, view boards, flotation rings or clip on flotation vests.

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How many snorkel sites do you visit in a day?

Moonraker visits three snorkel sites: firstly the friendly Fur Seals spending approximately 30 minutes snorkelling and viewing the animals, secondly a reef snorkel at either Popes Eye Marine Park or a reef snorkel to view the Sea Dragons (tide and wind dependant) thirdly a snorkel with the Bottlenose Dolphins. (this activity is subject to locating the animals on the day, once located this activity will take precedence over the other listed locations)
Rules and regulations are in place to ensure all the wildlife species visited are not impacted upon by our tours, we ensure all current regulations are followed on each cruise. More information on the current regulations can be found at www.dse.vic.gov.au/coasts-and-marine/marine/marine-wildlife/marine-mammals.

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When do you depart?

We operate four tours per day from Sorrento Pier, ensure you book on the tour that most suits your needs:
Moonraker 9:00am and 1:00pm. Offering 3 hour cruises with both swimming and sightseeing activities
Blue Wing 9:30am and 1:30pm. Offering 3 hour small group tours for swimmers only, focusing on low impact, relaxed and informative activities.

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What happens if we are running late?

It is a good idea to call our reservations number to let us know if you think you might be late on 03 5984 4211. If you are later than your check in time (20 minutes prior to departure) and we have not heard from you, we will assume you are a ‘no show’ and may depart without you; this will incur a 100% penalty fee. We strongly advise if you are travelling during peak holiday season (Dec – Feb) that you leave an additional 20 – 30 minutes, to allow for parking and extra summer traffic.

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What should we bring with us?

Bathers, towel, hat, sunscreen, cash for payment of fare or snacks, breakfast, lunch or additional beverages. (If you forget your towel you can hire one from the check in for $5.00)

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How big is the boat?

Moonraker is 21 metres long and 6 metres wide with upper fly bridge and sun deck. Stainless Steel guard and hand rails are located all round the vessel including the transoms for easy and safe access.
Blue Wing is 12 metres long and 4.5 metre wide, featuring a single level spacious deck, with inside cabin and swim platform for easy and safe access.

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ACTIVITIES

Do you offer floatation aids and tuition for nervous snorkellers?

Yes, we have noodles, view boards, flotation rings and vests onboard all our tours to assist with floatation, plus in-water tuition for nervous/first time snorkellers. Wetsuits are great for floatation also and are provided to each guest.

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Do you have prescription masks?

Yes, prescription masks are available for those who are short-sighted in –3, -5 which cater for most passengers. Underwater, objects are magnified by 25% so minimal short-sightedness is not a problem.
There is no extra charge for the use of prescription masks onboard the vessel.

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One of our group probably won’t be snorkelling or swimming –will they still get to see what we see?

The tour is conducted and focused around the natural environment in which the seals and dolphins live. The ‘Moonraker boat’ tour which offers both swimming and sightseeing activities offers multiple viewing areas and on board interpretation for an interesting and relaxing tour.
Sightseeing guests will see the animals up close and get to experience everything that the swimmers do.

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Do you offer guided snorkelling?

Yes, our qualified biologists and guides will show you the wonders of Port Phillip Bay with a complimentary guided snorkelling tour on arrival at the Popes Eye Marine Park.

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I am pregnant will I still be able to participate in the activities?

Yes, our tours cater for everyone; with stretchy wetsuits and walk in water access you will have a safe, fun and relaxing experience.

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BOAT FACILITIES

Do you have toilet facilities on board the vessels?

Yes, Moonraker offers male and female toilets. Blue Wing offers one on board toilet.

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Is there plenty of areas to sit down?

Moonraker has a large light and airy saloon, plus plenty of seating on the aft deck including an upper sundeck fitted with lounges and seating to watch the world go by during your cruise. The spacious foredeck has a designated smoking area, and a large deck to view the wildlife or lay in the sun.
Blue Wing has inside seating where you have the opportunity to chat to one of our friendly captains, also plenty of undercover and outside seating is available on board.

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How do we get in and out of the water?

All our tour vessels have walk in water access that opens out across the transom of each boat; this provides you with hassle free easy snorkelling.

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CANCELLATIONS

Are there any penalties if we cancel our trip?

There are no penalties for cancelling your trip as long as you notify us at least 24 hours prior, during office hours. (i.e, 9:00am the day before you are scheduled to go). Should you cancel within the 24 hour period, a 100% cancellation fee applies. Moonraker will endeavour to re-sell your seats – should this happen we will waive our cancellation fee.

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If the weather is bad that day, could we swap to another day?

Moonraker Dolphin Swims only operates if it is safe to do so ensuring you have the best opportunity to see the seals and dolphins. You are welcome to change your departure day if you feel the weather is not suitable for you, however you must give us at least 24 hours notification.

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Do you ever cancel the tour due to bad weather?

There are rare occasions where normal operations must be suspended for the safety of our guests. Moonraker will endeavour to give you as much notice as possible should the event arise that we need to cancel our scheduled tour. You will not be charged for the tour should we cancel the trip.

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Do you change your destination due to bad weather?

On occasion when strong tides or winds are prevalent Moonraker will offer a Sea Dragon Snorkel is place of the Popes Eye Marine Park Snorkel. We do not operate tours if the weather is expected to affect your chance of viewing and interacting with the seals and dolphins.

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GENERAL INFORMATION

I think I might suffer from sea sickness. How can I avoid this?

Moonraker is the largest snorkel or dive vessel operating in Port Phillip Bay, it has a very wide beam (width) making the journey comfortable and stable. For those unsure of if they suffer from sea sickness, Moonraker has travel-calm tablets on board the vessel, however it is a good idea to purchase some at the local pharmacy and take the night before your departure. Prevention is always better than cure.
The onboard crew are trained to assist guests who may be feeling unwell.
There are a number of methods to assist you so please speak up and let us know if you are unwell so we can make you more comfortable.
Moonraker only operates inside Port Phillip Bay, so you will not encounter the same roll that you would if you were in the ocean, we can ensure your tour will not operate if the weather is predicted to exceed safe and comfortable conditions, however you are welcome to discuss this with the reservations team prior to making a reservation.

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What is the weather going to be like?

The million-dollar question! A four-day forecast is issued by the Bureau of Meteorology and can be viewed by www.bom.gov.au/vic/forecasts/portphillip.shtml. We operate in the Southern end of Port Phillip Bay, so we have the added bonus of operating in areas that are usually protected from sea breezes blowing from the West, South West, South and South East.
If rain is predicted the tour will still operate, as this is usually a great time to spot the dolphins, as most recreational boats are not on the water due to the rain. All our tour vessels have undercover areas and can provide hot drinks and snacks should you feel a little cold.

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  • Guest Testimonial

    We have a holiday place nearby so get down there a lot but a totally different day out to the usual visit. An easy 1.5 hours on freeways to get there, brunch in Sorrento, 3 hours cruising the bay watching seals and dolphins in their own space and just chilling, then back in Melbourne by 6.00 to have beers with the neighbours. Boat staff were great and knew their stuff. My wiife and I had a top day out and cheap at the price!!

    - October 29, 2013
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