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Dive Review of Explorer Ventures/Caribbean Explorer II in
Caribbean (General)/St. Kitts to St. Maarten

July, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Jeanne & Bill Downey, PA, US
Top Contributor   (39 reports, with 5 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4303
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Caribbean, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bikini, Cozumel,
Caymans, Fiji, Cocos, Socorro, Micronesia, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
Water Temp
83   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Max depth 110'.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Two tier camera table, but bottom shelf full of other stuff. Would be
crowded if everyone had a camera.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
4 stars    
The Caribbean Explorer II is a great way to experience a smorgasbord of
Caribbean diving without the hassle of flying between islands. The boat
travels back and forth between St. Kitts and St. Maarten; our group of 17
started in St. Kitts. Most of us jetted in one or two days early, staying
at the Palms Hotel, located in the heart of Basseterre and the Circus. 

Except for noisy nights from partiers boom boxes (ear plugs and the AC
solved that), the Palms Hotel was the perfect place to be. Each room is
different; ours was large and roomy, with a refrigerator, bathroom, queen
bed, sitting area, and a veranda perfect for watching the island go by.
Theres a cozy bar on the premises, plus an awesome ice cream stand. The
Palms Hotel is central to shopping, groceries, restaurants, and the docks.

Everyone in our group had arrived by Saturday afternoon; as we wandered to
the dock after an island van tour, some of the passengers from the previous
week were gathering their luggage and raving about their trip. We were
welcomed aboard the Caribbean Explorer II by Captain Dave and the rest of
the enthusiastic crew. They all went out of their way to make us feel
welcome and keep us happy, and they seemed to get along well with each
other. Bill the engineer did a remarkable job of keeping the boat running
smoothly. Chef Zach conjured up many excellent meals and home made treats
and did his best to satisfy individual requests. Steward and kitchen help
Ryan was just completing his open water training. Anita, the purser, also
acted as a divemaster. Darlene, another divemaster, was dealing with some
major upper respiratory issues and only managed to complete a couple dives
during the week, but still kept busy and cheerful. Divemaster Dawn was a
dynamo, leading most of the dives by default.

The Caribbean Explorer II is a comfortable boat that can accommodate up to
18 passengers in 9 cabins of various sizes and configurations, all with
private baths. There are no individual AC controls in the cabins. Some of
the cabins down below were quite cold, with air blowing directly in our
faces as we entered the door; a couple cabins on the main deck were very
warm. The smallest cabin, with two bunk beds, was clocked at 83 degrees.
The cabins seemed to be pretty quiet. Towels were changed once during the
week. Our room could have been kept a bit cleanerthe commode started
getting discolored, the sink was never cleaned, and at least one day the
bed was not made, not a big deal, but noticeable. The dive deck, with the
usual individual seating with storage underneath, is roomy, and theres a
handy head. A small skiff, available for rescuing divers that come up too
far from the boat, was towed behind. The upper deck, where we spent most of
our time, consisted of a sunbathing area with several lounges and an area
enclosed in heavy duty plastic with zip-open windows where we ate, played
cards, watched movies, and relaxed. Swimsuits were allowed, but not
wetsuits. Some of us were getting bit by something, especially under the
dining tables, unusual on a liveaboard. The last day in dock a different
divemaster came on board with her dog, and the light bulb went on,
especially after one of the divers went to an ear doctor after the trip for
swimmers ear and dead fleas were found in her ear! 

Our week began with two days of diving at St. Kitts, including a wreck, a
van, a tug, a barge, and a Mercedes; we saw numerous cleaning stations, a
lancet dragonet, and an unusual looking decorator crab. We also saw the
normal Caribbean fish, squid, and our first decorator sea cucumber. The
visibility was not the best, possibly due to a tropical wave the previous
week, but the diving was quite pleasant and relaxing. One day was spent at
St. Eustatius; all dives were accompanied by a park ranger who watched that
no one damaged the reef. Besides the usual fish, we saw a nurse shark, a
not commonly seen jackknife fish, a chain moray, flying gurnards, pike
blenny, turtles, an octopus, and a tiny mantis shrimp, At Saba, where we
spent 2 ½ days, the visibility was much better and the scenery
around the pinnacles impressive. Some of the better sites do not have
moorings adequate to hold boats the size of the Caribbean Explorer II, but
we saw nurse sharks, huge anchors embedded in the coral, turtles, mating
(or fighting) crabs, lobsters, eels, sailfin blennies, peppermint bass,
tarpon, and sharks feeding on a night dive. The last day included a 6am
dawn dive, one of the better ones Ive done. The last dive of the trip we
saw at least a dozen turtles, a male lobster in pursuit of a female and
lots of blennies. On the negative side, there was at least one incidence
during the week when a diver surfaced early needing assistance, and none of
the staff was on the dive decksomething that should not have happened.

We arrived in St. Maarten Friday afternoon and spent the rest of the day
exploring, shopping, and hanging out. Dinner was at a nice restaurant
within walking distance. We spent one last night on the boat with departure
at 9am sharp Saturday morning, so cleaning could commence; luggage stayed
aboard until it was time to depart for the airport. 

This is a trip I would do again.

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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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