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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/AK/British Columbia

August, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Susan Carter, CA, USA
Report Number 1327
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Australia, Galapagos, Caribbean, Florida, California, others
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
Water Temp
47   to 58    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
5   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
dive with a sausage and dive alert; no specific limits on depth and time
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
1 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
This was drysuit diving, on a ten day trip from Juneau to Vancouver,
British Columbia that was designed to combine diving the Inside Passage
with kayaking, port visits, hiking, wildlife viewing (including whale
watching). The trip was organized by the Rainbow Divers of California, a
great club that runs very well-organized trips (my second trip with them).
Highly recommended as a resource for gay and gay-friendly divers in
Northern California.

As for the Nautilus Explorer: I was blown away with the friendliness, hard
working nature, and safety conscious attitude of the crew, the comfort of
the accomodations, and above all, the fantastic diving! In many ways, this
was some of the finest diving I have ever done, though my log book includes
Australia, Galapagos, Carmel, Turks and Caicos, Catalina, and some other
outstanding spots....I can't wait to go back to British Columbia, and when
I do, it will be on this boat (in fact, I will be on the NE in a few weeks
to try diving Baja, their winter home...)

What made the diving so special (besides the crew and the boat) was the
incredible variety and amount of life, particularly invertebrate life, in
BC. We dove entire walls  covered in layers and layers of life with no
place to even rest a finger! I am not a photographer, but this really is a
photographer's dream, particularly given the lack of surge at most dives.
In that regard: Water was incredibly flat: like diving in a lake! When we
weren't diving walls covered with invertebrates, we were diving wrecks,
many with quite a bit of historical signaficance (and Captain/Owner Mike
Lever gave very informed and educational briefings abut the history of the
areas we visited).

Vis tended to be between 30 and 50 feet: not great by warm water standards
but just fine for us California divers. We were told that is a bit below
average for many of the sites we did. One site had extremely poor vis and
my husband and I just aborted that particular dive.

The weather was incredibly good: to my surprise, I never used the rain gear
I took! However, the biggest surprise for me was how easy the diving was
(for experienced drysuit divers): all diving was done as drift dives
whether there was current or not (only one dive had serious currents),
water wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, and at the end of the dive
the extremely competent, safety minded crew came and picked you up wherever
you were....(navigation was also easy for the most part, given that most of
the diving was on wrecks and walls). The biggest risk at most dive sites
was from small boat traffic: many boaters in the area aren't used to
divers, and it is necessary to surface close to the shoreline. Given the
lack of surge, this wasn't a problem for us.

When we weren't diving, there was lots of time for the activities mentioned
above...highlights included several close encounters (from the boat) with
schools of both humpbacks and orcas that came to us, seeing black bears
'crabbing' on the beach from 50 feet away in the relative safety of a
kayak, and snorkeling around an ice flow and 'riding' an ice berg. The
distance covered from Juneau to Vancouver (I don't know exact nautical
miles, but my guess would be 800 to 1000) over ten days means that, while
we had plenty of time to enjoy the true wilderness scenery we passed, that
diving time was somewhat limited. In addition, the crew very carefully
timed dives to the slack tides. Result: three or even only two dives
offered per day was typical (not the four or five typical on most
liveaboards). Fortunately, the long daylight hours helped get in more
dives, even if they were sometimes at somewhat unusual hours (the long
daylight also meant we only had a few night dives, and those were at the
end of the trip when we were further south)....Those that want more dives
per day might want to consider one of their BC itineraries, which don't
involve as much travel. Personally, however, I'd do this itinerary again in
a heartbeat, both for the chance to dive rarely reached sites in Alaska,
and because the relatively small size of the Nautilus Explorer makes it a
great option for cruising the Inside Passage.

Food was solid and well-prepared, with lots of variety and plenty to eat.
Meats were occaisonally cooked more well-done than I like, but nothing to
really complain about. The Chef did an excellent job with seafood. Wine and
beer could be purchased at retail, and you can bring your own, but if you
do BYO their license requires you to drink it only on the upper decks or in
your cabin...

There was a plumbing problem one night, due to a crew member error in not
closing a valve, that led to flooding in some cabins. However, our cabin
was not affected and we slept right through it. I found out the next
morning that the crew was up all night cleaning up, and they were extremely
apologetic to thse who were impacted, promising to make it right. I heard
absolutely no complaints about how it was handled, so I assume they kept
that promise.

Nitrox and Steel 100 tanks are available for a small additional charge. The
big steel tanks were great for drysuit diving: I could really take a lot of
weight off of my belt. 

Executive Summary: The Nautilus Explorer is the finest Liveaboard I've ever
been on, and Alaska and British Columbia should be at or near the top of
the 'must-do' list for any diver not scared off by little cold water. The
Good: just about everything. The Bad: nothing. What I wish I had known
before I went: well, I knew it, but some of the trip participants were
unaware that the NE doesn't provide soap or shampoo (you no longer have to
bring your own towel however). My highest recommendation.
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Other dive reports on Nautilus Explorer

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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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