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Dive Review of Avalon/Cuba Diving Centers/Avalon II in
Cuba/Jardines de la Reina

January, 2016, an Instant Reader Report by Mr. Lee McEachern Jr, CA, US (2 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
"Mediocre diving in Cubas Jardines de la Reina"
Report Number 8818 has 2 Helpful votes
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Papua New Guinea, Galápagos, Bikini Atoll, Chuuk (Truk), Marshall
Islands, Red Sea, Solomon Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Grand Cayman, Bay
Islands, Sea of Cortez, Cozumel, Northern California, Hawaii, Florida Keys
Closest Airport
Getting There
Via Mexico, Grand Cayman,
Canada, Europe, etc.  

Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, choppy, no currents  
Water Temp
80   to 87    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
35   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Divers from our skiff were allowed to dive quite freely, perhaps because we
were all experienced divers except for one person who stuck close to her
husband.  We were told that the other skiff, though, had strict conditions.
I dont know the levels of experience of divers on that boat.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
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Small Critters
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Large Fish
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Large Pelagics
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Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
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Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
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Shore Facilities  
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This boat is not set up for photographers.  One small rinse tank for
cameras gets filled up quickly.  No camera setup table.  Rather crowded
dive deck with wetsuits hanging in the ...
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Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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3 stars
Service and Attitude
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Environmental Sensitivity  
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Dive Operation
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Shore Diving  
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Overall Rating

Value for $$
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3 stars   
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Avalon II is a good enough liveaboard.  It has a long central carpeted
passageway leading from the dive prep area to a small lounge with a few
small couches and TV.  Along both sides of the passageway are 8 cabins,
each with an upper single bunk and a somewhat larger lower bunk.  Each
cabin has two large windows and a comfortably sized, well-lit ensuite
bathroom with enclosed shower, toilet, sink, vanity, large mirror and hair
dryer. There are two cabins on the deck below.

The main failing of the cabins is a lack of storage: Just one tiny drawer
for both occupants to share, big enough for perhaps two boxes of cigars
from Havana that you bought for your smoker friends back home.  There is a
roughly 14-inch clothes-hanger bar and a paltry supply of clothes hangers. 
Effectively, you end up living out of your suitcases, one on a stand and
one on the floor.  All of which has the effect of turning a fairly
good-sized room into one where occupants end up squeezing by each other. 

My week of diving Jardines de la Reina was a major disappointment.

The greatest problem underlying everything else is that I signed up for a
liveaboard dive trip but what I got was a floating hotel.  The Avalon II
did the 3+ hour crossing from the port at Jucaro to the islands and reef
system and dropped anchor.  And there we sat.  The anchor didn't come out
of the water for the full week.  Which means that we dived only the spots
that are in the immediate vicinity, closely reached by the skiffs.  That
also means that we had to dive the very same dive sites that all divers on
Avalon boats were diving the week before.  And the week before that.  And
the months before that.  My opinion is that  year-after-year of diving
pressure on such a small area is the main reason that the amount of life we
saw on our dives was so paltry.  (Go back and carefully read some of those
glowing reviews of diving here.  You'll see that even though many of those
divers loved their trips they really didn't see much more than we did. 
They just seemed to be much more satisfied than I was.) 

I've been on wonderful liveaboard trips which took divers to varied and
distant dive sites, moving between sites during dive intervals, meals and
late afternoons ...
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes
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Subscriber's Comments

By Charles Versaggi in CA, US at Jan 29, 2016 13:50 EST  
I'm a good friend of this reviewer who accompanied him on this trip and
another earlier one to Papua New Guinea. I agree completely with his
comments. Based on my experience on this trip, I would say the Avalon
Jardines de la Reina excursion is over-rated.
By R Lichtenstein in FL, US at Apr 14, 2016 16:29 EST  
I was on the Avalon II in January 2016 too.  The boat, crew and food was
excellent.  The diving was very disappointing for all the hype.  I thought
the water temp was 77-79 F,  however I would have to look at my computer
downloads to confirm. The divemasters do bait the sharks and there is no
need since they are all over the place.  We had a photographer who trashed
the coral and no one said a word.  More like him and it will only be a
short time before sponges and soft corrals are gone.  The Avalon II stays
in the same location since it is close to the "Tortuga" where air
compressors and internet are located.  I believe the Aggressor boats are
diving a different part of the archipelago
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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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