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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/Alaska & BC

July, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Lee Fenner, OH, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports)
Report Number 4940
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Great Lakes, Galapagos, Keys, Cozumel, Roatan, Hawaii
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

surge, currents  
Water Temp
41   to 55    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No unplanned deco diving, otherwise return by posted time, due to changing
tides. Deco diving permitted after dive plan approved by Capt Mike. No
other restrictions.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Superb setup included separate wet and dry areas. Multiple rinse tanks.
Cameras handled with care by staff when getting on/off skiff.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
2 stars   
5 stars    
Our trip with the Nautilus Explorer (NE) departed 19 Jul from Sitka and
arrived ten days later in Vancouver. During our nine days aboard we had
eight days of two dives and one day exploring Le Conte Glacier. To sum up,
the NE ship and crew are absolutely fantastic; Alaska/BC diving, while very
challenging, is unbelievable; and topside scenery is breathtaking.
We headed north from Sitka and entered Cross Sound and dove two days around
Inian Islands. Hordes of Stellar sea lions! Multiple sightings of Humpback
whales, sea otter, and bald eagles during zodiac tours. Then we travelled
south via Icy Strait along the east side of Baranoff Island making two
dives on Baranoff Wall while enroute to Warm Springs Bay. Here we bathed in
hot spring pools next to a roaring stream. Then further south to Deep Cove
Bay and two dives with moon jellyfish. There were easily thousands in the
smudge extending from surface down to 55 ft, maybe 25 yards wide.
Underneath they blot out the surface. What a blast to swim through! Then we
motored northeast around Kuiu Island and southeast past Kupreanof Island to
Le Conte Bay where the glacier stands at the end. Only a small vessel like
the NE can make it into this bay due to shallow shoals. After admiring the
glacier up close from a quarter mile away and seeing multiple icebergs
formed by calving, Capt Mike retreated a bit and then we could swim or
kayak over to a small iceberg. There we received our drink order via the
zodiac. Nothing like single malt cooled by glacier ice! Then we continued
via Petersburg and the Wrangell Narrows south past Ketchikan and made two
dives on a pinnacle near Foggy Bay (ratfish and huge lingcod), our last
stop in Alaska. Upon entering Canadian waters, the weather miraculously
cleared and became sunny. Happens all the time according to our Canadian
crew.  The final three days we dove near Butedale (Transpac wreck and
harbor muck dive), on Dillon Rock (octopus and wolf eels), and finally near
Pearse islands (coral, anemones, and nudibranchs).
The NE is designed for diving and the ship layout works not only for diving
but also provides lots of space in the common areas and cabins. All diving
is done from the Inde, a 31 ft aluminum skiff, either away from or while
moored to the NE. You have your own dive station for the trip with space
underneath the seat for loose gear. Giant stride entries and two ladders
(fin on  alternating rungs or fin off  standard type) for exiting the
water. Nitrox is $125 and a steel HP 100 cu ft tank $32 for the trip. The
skiff crew is always ready to assist in any way.
Diving is an adventure. Dive times are scheduled around slack tide;
otherwise currents can run in some places over 10 knots. Sometimes there is
still a current and you deal with it or surface where the crew is watching
ready for a speedy pickup. Surface water temps varied from low 50s/high 40s
and at depth from 41 to 45. Definitely dry suit diving. Visibility probably
averaged around 30 ft, due to plankton mostly, which attracts lots of
marine life. Normally two divemasters, Dan and Stefan, dove and you could
choose to go with them or strike out on your own.
Food was excellent and varied. Enrique, the chef, and Megan and Katharine,
hostesses, made mealtime and social time memorable. 
The crew (Capt Mike, Ed, Tim, Dan, Stefan, Enrique, Megan, Katherine, and
Bayu) work so hard and pull together to make the trip the best it can be.
They and the NE are our new standard for liveaboards. We plan on more trips
with them in Mexico and again in Alaska in 2011.
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