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Dive Review of Nekton Cruises - Pilot/Nekton Pilot in
Belize/Outer Reefs

December, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Monty Chandler, NC, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 3795
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Australia (GBR down to Sydney), Maui, Curacao, T&C, St. Vincent, St.
Kitts, Saba, Statia, Aruba, Caymans, Roatan
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, rainy, cloudy, dry  
Seas
calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
27   to 28    ° Celsius  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
60   to 120    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Recreational Limits were stated as the max depth on the walls each dive
briefing. No Deco diving as well.  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
Schools 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Two large dedicated & carpeted tables as well as large dedicated rinse
tank by the tables.  Two additional rinse tanks dedicated to Cameras by the
dive ladders for entry / exit use.  DM's made it their business to know who
had cameras so they knew who to hand what camera to without you having to
ask every time (that was a nice touch).
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
4 stars    
Comments  
I did not know what to expect as I headed down to Belize for a week of
diving. I had heard that it was home to the largest reef system in our
hemisphere, but that was about it. Due to its proximity to Honduras I guess
I thought in the back of my mind that it would be very similar to the
diving in Curacao or Roatan. With that in mind I had really settled on my
macro setup featuring a 100mm macro lens with a single strobe to focus on
the little stuff.  As is usual when you try to guess at what will be below
the surface, I was wrong.

Getting to Belize from Charlotte was very easy. There's a direct flight
which takes a little less than three hours. It doesn't get much easier than
that - which is very important due to the amount of "stuff" I
have to carry. 

Flying in on Saturday and arriving around noon, a Nekton representative
meets you at the airport (a relatively small place where immigration,
baggage and customs are all contained in an area not much larger than most
high school gymnasiums), gathers your luggage and yourself and transports
you to a local hotel (The Princess hotel). I found that this is done for a
couple of reasons. You need to go somewhere to spend the next 6 hours until
it's time to go to the boat and they need you to go somewhere safe for you
to spend this time. So Nekton has entered into agreements with the taxi
service to meet and greet its arriving passengers and with the hotel to
hold their passengers over for these 6 hours. 

At 6:30 PM the transportation guys showed up, gathered the guests and took
us to a small local grocery store on our way to the marina where the boat
awaited. The store stop is for those guests that want pick up some alcohol
or soft drinks for the week as they are not provided on the boat. I bought
a 2 litre bottle of diet coke, which must have been laced with gold given
what I paid for it.

Saturday night we arrived at the boat and were met by the crew. They
welcomed us warmly and told us which room we had been assigned and were
shown where it was. The crew had already placed our luggage in our rooms so
I proceeded to unpack and settle in. Next was an briefings/overview by the
captain and the crew of what will happen during the week, a talk about the
boat in general, its safety features and location of all the gear needed in
the event of an emergency, along with introductions by all of the crew
members.

On a live-aboard the daily agenda is as follows. Breakfast at 6:30, morning
dive site briefing at 8am, pool open from 8:30 to 11:45, lunch at noon
while the boat moves to the afternoon dive site, 1pm is the afternoon dive
site briefing, pool open from 1:30 to 5:45, dinner at 6pm, night dive
briefing at 8pm followed by the night dive. This is the schedule for Sunday
through Friday (Friday has a dawn dive if you care to wake up before even
the chickens have).

Diving on these reefs in Belize was fantastic. The health of the reefs, the
abundance of life, the variety of fish, coral, sponges, rays, shellfish,
octopus, squid, etc was unlike most diving I've experienced in the
Caribbean. Most of the dive profiles allowed for a cruise along a wall at
whatever depth you choose followed by a return swim to the boat at the top
of the wall - with nitrox filled steel 95 tanks this translates into
minimum 1 hour dives. 

What stands out is the abundance of healthy coral, sponges and marine life
at all depths of these profiles. Most diving in the Caribbean has nice
coral, but the size of these in Belize stands out. Barrel sponges larger
than yourself, sea plumes that look like small trees, huge brain coral
formations and a diversity of coral and sponges found in dense
configurations that are consistent throughout your dive.

The clarity of the water - as evidenced in the wide angle photographs -
also stood out on most days and most sites. There was little to no current
all week. Only one site that we visited had any appreciable surge in the
shallows. The water temp was a refreshing 27c - about equal to the surface
temperature. I wore a 3/2 wetsuit all week and was very comfortable.

I should mention the food since it is a staple in the daily agenda! :-)
Arminda is the cook and she is a wonderful Belizean lady who takes personal
pleasure in your enjoyment of her food. If you need anything just tell her
and she will do everything she can to accommodate you. Her breakfasts
varied every morning, a snack was prepared every morning and afternoon, a
hot lunch was available every day and a tasty filling dinner was promptly
served at 6 each evening. 

The Nekton Pilots dining area/salon was spacious enough for the guests to
spread out, eat and discuss the previous dives and experiences. On several
evenings one of the crew members would hold a discussion on topics of
interest after dinner. These included a fish ID forum, a talk about
turtles, and a guest photo sharing on Friday evening.

The week went by too fast, but after 23 dives (I skipped 3 dives during the
week) I was ready to call it a week and head home (of course now I'm ready
to go back!). Saturdays transport to the airport and subsequent flight back
home were as uneventful as the trip down to Belize - all a good thing.

All in all I had a wonderful week of diving and fellowship with other
divers. Photos of trip at  www.montychandler.com/Belize/index.htm

Cheers, 

Monty Chandler
www.montychandler.com
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Other dive reports on Nekton Diving Cruises

All Belize Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Belize
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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