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Dive Review of Caribbean Explorer II in
Caribbean (General)

Caribbean Explorer II, May, 2005,

by Shelagh McGillicuddy, FL, USA ( 2 reports). Report 1694.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving La Paz and Loreto, Baja Mexico, Oahu, Turks and Caicos, South Eastern Florida, Key Largo
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 79 to 83 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 45 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Return to boat at 500 PSI, 110ft for Nitrox, must dive with computer
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 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments CEII has a table just for UWP gear and separate rinse tanks. The boat photographer was on vacation and only two photographers on board so there were no special offerings or requests.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments My husband/dive buddy and I picked up the boat in St. Maartens. We had to schlep our luggage through a parade to get to the boat because it was Carnival. Could have been a pain but we just went with the flow. The boat accomodates 18 divers but there were only 7 of us so there was no crowding which was nice. Our travel companions made it to the boat before us and we were glad to hear they got separate cabins.

The diving: We spent 3 days diving in the Saba marine park. The boat used morings and gloves were allowed for only descending and ascending on the moring lines. Seeing very little is published on this area of the Caribbean, I was surpised by just how much there was to see. Lots of corals and sponges and its a juvenile fish heaven. We dove Ladder Labryinth several times. Could have gotten boring but there was always a new area to explore. Dove the famous Pinnacle/Eye of the Needle which was nice but deep. Little time to explore all the colors and life. Really liked Diamond Rock and Man of War Shoals. Visibility was about 50 - 70 ft which was great for looking at all the little things like lettuce leaf slugs, juvenile drums, flamingo dancers, gorgonians, seafans. The divemasters were all new to the boat so they were learning the dive sites as we were exploring. As the week progressed and the crew got comfortable, the interaction underwater got better. Henry the engineer (moving to the Bahamas bost I believe) is great to dive with. Lots of knowledge and a great eye! Lots of anenomes at almost all the dive sites. Lots of cleaner shrimp and cleaning stations to float and watch. Didn't see much in the way of big critters. Saw a couple of nurse sharks, several tarpons and barracuda. Saw a couple of turtles at Saba and Statia. We had a few dives with strong current but not too bad.

After Saba, we moved to Statia Marine Park for one day of diving. Diving was similar to Saba. Dove Wrick City, the Ledges and Barracuda Reef. Lots of little fish! Park ranger dove with us the first dive then sat on the boat all day. Not sure of the purpose but if it prevents reef abuse, it is worth it. No gloves at all at this marine park. They said they cleaned the moring lines so they weren't necessary. The water was so calm, didn't really need to use the moring line for descends or ascends. On the third dive of the day, I had equipment problems and had to abort my dive. My dive buddy and I were communicating when Paul the Purser saw us and came over. He helped us remain calm and assisted us to the surface. Of course we surfaced fairly far from the boat so Paul signaled for the dingy. I was fine but had ended the dive out of frustration. Now I was extremely embarrassed for requesting the "Dingy of Shame" to come pick me up. The Captain, Vince the dingy driver and Paul were all involved and not once made me feel like the fool I was. I dubbed the dingy the "Dingy of Shame" where they called me Cleopatra for being escorted to the boat. The crew took the situation in stride and never once ridiculed me. Can't say the same for my diving companions though.

For the last day and half of diving we moved to St. Kitts which wasn't anywhere as nice as Saba or Statia. Though Paradise Reef was nice and made for a relaxing and enjoyable night dive (only one we cose to do).

The CEII offered island tours on Saba, Statis and St. Kitts. They were OK with Saba being the prettiest. Statia had the most history but the tour leader was a very old man and was tired by the end. St. Kitts we were put in a minivan cab and drove all the way around the island. Once the historic parts were gone, it was very boring and depressing seeing the poverty the locals lived in while on the other side of the island is a Four Seasons resort and loads of mini-mansions.

The boat itself was good. I was nervous after learning the crew was all new but what a great bunch of people! Captain Paul and his crew are great folks who work very hard to make sure your trip is enjoyable and our was. We had a fabulous time and would return again if not just for the crew. Chef Tony is fabulous and the food was never boring. The food was plentiful, great variety and always served with a smiling face. As for the boat itself, it is ready for an overhaul. We first stayed on this boat in 2001 when it was the Sea Dancer and it looked almost the same. The cabins are SMALL and the heads are ready for work. It is an older boat but she was reliable and got us to where we were going. The weather was very nice so we spent most free time up in the salon but when it gets hotter, the cabins will get smaller as you spend more time in there enjoying the A/C. Seeing the boat wasn't crowded I feel we really got to meet the crew more than we would have if it was filled to capacity. Also, the boat wasn't crowded so you could find some quiet space. Overall, there were lots of laughs, stories were shared and great memories were being made.
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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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