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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Sun Dancer II in
Belize

Peter Hughes/Sun Dancer II, Mar, 2007,

by Greg & Pat White, IL, United States (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 3364.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Most locations throughout the Caribbean, plus some in California, Hawaii, and Florida
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 80 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limits (130 ft.) were mentioned during dive briefings, but to my knowledge no one ever checked or monitored, except on the Blue Hole group dive.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments My wife and I are novice UWPs and found the facilities excellent. Others in the group were more advanced photographers, including one professional videographer on assignment. Everyone seemed satisfied. There are two large camera tables with compressed air, separate rinse tanks, and plenty of outlets for recharging. Computer facilities for digital viewing and editing appeared more than adequate.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Captain Mike Tougas and his crew run an excellent operation. They work extremely well together and all seem to genuinely enjoy one another's company and the company of the guests. Comments in the previous Chapbook about problems with air conditioning, poor choice of dive sites, unfilled tanks, and restriced dive times were non-existent during our trip even though the boat was completely booked.

All crewmembers were completely focused on meeting the needs of the guests and making our trip as enjoyable as possible. My wife and I are light breathers so we routinely had dive times exceeding sixty minutes, usually making us the last ones back on the boat. Even then, we never had any indication from the crew that they were in a hurry or that we were holding them up. Even with the full boat, our tanks were always refilled before we even got our wetsuits off. Warm towels and an individual back rub (Anne Marie's are the best) were always waiting for us after every dive.

Even though we never felt rushed to finish our dives, the schedule is relatively tight in order to fit in five dives per day. We especially noticed this at dinner time. Our routine on other trips had been to shower, relax, and take a nap before dinner, but not on this trip. Because dinner is a sit-down affair served by the crew, everyone must be there on time, leaving no time for a nap, and often not enough for a shower, after the last afternoon dive. However, this is the only way it could work and still finish the night dive at a reasonable hour. Once we got used to the schedule it wasn't a problem.

One thing that really impressed me was the strong focus on safety. We began the first night with an abandon ship drill and thorough explanation of the safety features and procedures of the boat. My wife, who is a nurse, and other medical professionals in the group were shown the location of all medical supplies and equipment on the boat and asked if they would be willing to assist if a medical emergency occurred. We had never experienced this before, but it seems like a really good idea.

The food during our trip was excellent. The cook, Jerry, prepared tasty and varied vegetarian meals for me and my wife. At the same time, the carnivores in the group seemed very happy with what they were served. I'm not sure I would classify the food as gourmet, but it was very close. We even had baked Alaska one night! The food and drink were delicious and there was always plenty of both.

Even though we've been most other places in the Caribbean, this was our first trip to Belize, and we were somewhat disappointed in the sealife considering everything we've heard. There was not as much variety or numbers of fish as we've seen elsewhere, and the coral was also not as lush. The best dives we had were mostly at Lighthouse Reef. We did see many more eagle rays here than elsewhere and saw a huge loggerhead turtle, but otherwise most dives were relatively unremarkable. As one previous writer mentioned, the most interesting fish were often the ones that hung out in the shadow underneath the boat.

One previous writer also complained about squeaking of the bumpers, which are placed between the boat and the dock, during the last night on board. Our cabin was on the starboard side, right by the dock, and we heard no squeaking at all, so this problem also appears to have been fixed.

This was our second liveaboard trip, but definitely our most enjoyable. The cabins on this boat are extremely large and well laid-out. A/C in the cabin was adequate and easily adjusted to our tastes. Temperature in the main salon was kept a bit colder than we like, so be sure to bring a jacket and long pants if you get cold easily. However, the food and service were excellent. The price is higher than many other liveaboards, but well worth it.

The only warning I would give is to be sure and bring along a copy of the somewhat onerous release forms you have to fill out and send in. For some reason, these forms are not forwarded to the boat, so if you don't take a copy along with you (which they don't tell you to do), you'll end up having to fill out most of the forms again, as did most of the people on our trip.
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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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