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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/Inside Passage

August, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Eric Ault, IL, USA
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 5093
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Galapagos, Grenada, Cozumel, Belize, Turks, Caymans, Bay Islands, Hawaii
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy  
calm, surge  
Water Temp
40   to 50    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
15   to 35    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Maximum depths suggested for each dive.  Very specific instructions about
times and path to follow due to tides and currents.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Large camera table was still crowded due to the many large video camera
housings.  Plenty of charging facilities.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
1 stars   
4 stars    
This is drysuit diving and I would not recommend it for inexperienced
divers due to the somewhat challenging diving conditions.  Visibility can
be poor and surge in some locations  could make safety stops difficult. 
The captain gave very specific briefings which needed to be followed as
dives were timed due to tides and currents.  

My cabin was comfortable with plenty of shelves for storage and space for a
larger bag under the bed.  Lots of hooks for hanging jackets, etc.  The
sink was between the two beds and quite high off the floor. A stool is
provided for shorter guests.  There is no mirror over the sink which makes
shaving somewhat difficult.  There is a mirror in the john, however.  Not
all cabins had the same configuration.

The Nautilus is 116 feet long and for its size has a wide beam of 27 feet. 
This makes the boat feel pretty roomy.  On the Nautilus Explorer the lounge
and separate dining area are on the main deck along with the dive deck
area.  Up one level is a sun deck complete with hot tub.  Up one more deck
is another sun deck area.  The covered front portion of this top deck is
off limits to passengers although we did sneak up there on several
occasions while whale watching.  The crew doesnt seem to mind but Capt.
Mike will chase you out.  I understand the need for work areas on the boat
to be off limits but the present arrangement doesnt seem to be too well
thought out.  When the boat is visiting warmer climates, shaded seating
areas are certainly at a premium.  

The food was very good with a wide variety.  The chef made a number of
imaginative salads.  She also made all of the bread served on the boat for
the entire week.  The highlight of the week was probably the crab feast
which occurred on the top deck overlooking LeConte Glacier.  

Most of the diving on the trip was conducted from the Indie (short for
independent, I think), a thirty-eight foot aluminum chase boat with three
outboards including one with jet drive used when picking up divers.  Dive
gear is assembled and left on the Indie for the week.  There is a large
ramp with specially designed rollers on the back of the mother ship and
before moving the Indie is winched up the ramp for transportation.  The
Nautilus Explorer also carries a couple of inflatables used for excursions
and some kayaks just for fun.

Our trip began in Vancouver, BC, and we went as far north as Glacier Bay
before ending in Juneau.  The weather was sunny for the first week and
unseasonably warm.  
More typical rain and fog near Juneau.  Seas were calm all week.

Visibility was limited at most sites, but the nutrient-rich waters are what
makes for the abundant life that we came to see.  Many of the sites had
towering fronds of kelp.  These can be a nuisance to swim through on the
surface, but proved to be pretty handy when doing a safety stop in the
surge, just grab on to a convenient stalk.  The life was certainly as
advertised.  Large white plumose anemones abounded at many sites and were
joined by a wide variety of multi-armed sea stars some as large as two and
one-half to three feet across.  Beautiful red anemones were found at most
sites along with a number of different kinds of crabs.  Ling cod and rock
fish were found most places.  We did locate a couple of giant Pacific
octopi, but they were reluctant to come out and play.  From the size of
their sucker discs, Im sure they were quite large.  I was disappointed at
not seeing a wolf eel but other people did see them.  One of my favorite
dives was under the dock at Butedale, the site of an abandoned salmon
cannery.  While some divers searched for old bottles I had a lot of fun
photographing the many crabs and shrimp living under the old, falling down

One of the most interesting dives of the week was at a secret locale on
the east side of Baranof Island.  This fjord is visited by swarms of moon
jellies accompanied by Lions Mane and Fried-Egg jellies.  This was
certainly a unique dive and made for great pictures.  We also snorkeled
with salmon waiting for rains to allow them to swim up stream to spawn.  

We did whale watching in the vicinity of Glacier Bay and Juneau and did see
whales bubble net fishing on several occasions.  Near the Inian Islands we
saw sea otters, puffins and cormorants as well as a large population of
Steller Sea Lions.  The average Steller male can easily top 2,000 lbs so
these are not animals you want to fool around with.  We did encounter
Stellers under water on several dives. These were mostly the smaller
juveniles, but still much larger than the divers.  Lacking hands, Stellers
check out their environment by mouthing.  One Steller provided an
unforgettable moment when it mouthed a video camera.   One diver was spun
around by a Steller with no harm done.  

At LeConte Bay and LeConte Glacier we spent several hours watching the
glacier calf before donning our drysuits to snorkel in the worlds largest
beer cooler.  During our swim the crew came around in a kayak dispensing

This was a unique trip.  The diving was interesting and challenging with a
wide variety of life completely new in my diving experience.  Topside
attractions were on a par with or perhaps even surpassing those in the
Galapagos.  And the scenery was gorgeous just about any way you looked.  

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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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