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

 
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Avalon/Cuba Diving Centers/Avalon II: "Mediocre diving in Cubas Jardines de la Reina", Jan, 2016,

by Mr. Lee McEachern Jr, CA, US ( 2 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 8818 has 3 Helpful votes.

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 Havana Getting There Via Mexico, Grand Cayman, Canada, Europe, etc.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 80 to 87 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 35 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
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.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish For Subscribers Only
Small Critters For Subscribers Only Large Fish For Subscribers Only
Large Pelagics For Subscribers Only

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

Subject Matter For Subscribers Only Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's For Subscribers Only Shore Facilities For Subscribers Only
UW Photo Comments 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 ... Subscribe to get the full story. For Subscribers Only  Active subscribers continue reading here

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

Accommodations For Subscribers Only Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude For Subscribers Only Environmental Sensitivity For Subscribers Only
Dive Operation For Subscribers Only Shore Diving For Subscribers Only
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ For Subscribers Only
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced For Subscribers Only
Comments 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 ... Subscribe to get the full story. For Subscribers Only  Active subscribers continue reading here
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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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