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Dive Review of Avalon Cuban Diving Centers/Avalon II in
Cuba/Gardens of the Queen

February, 2015, an Instant Reader Report by Greg White, IL, US
Reviewer   (5 reports, with 7 Helpful votes)
"A trip back to the past -- in some ways good, some ways not so good"
Report Number 8142 has 5 Helpful votes
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Many Caribbean locations, several Philippines, Indonesia, Hawaii,
Closest Airport
Getting There
Charter flight from Miami to
Havana, then 5 hour ride to
Jucaro to board the boat.

Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, surge  
Water Temp
77   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No one could go below 100 ft.  Everyone was expected to stay with the
group, but we were allowed to stay down longer at the end.  
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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Don't plan on having much space at all.  No rinse tanks on runabouts. 
Limited size rinse tanks on liveaboard. ...
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Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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5 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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5 stars   
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Whenever we see images of Cuba, they show old U.S. cars from the 50s. 
Likewise, Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina) is billed as being
like what the rest of the Caribbean was 60 years ago.  Well, in some other
ways diving on the Avalon II was like a trip back into the past, not always
for the best.

One of these trips back to the past occurred shortly after we boarded the
Avalon II in Jucaro and began the 4-5 hour crossing to reach the Gardens of
the Queen.  Every liveaboard we have been on in recent years has devoted
time at the beginning of the trip to explaining safety procedures,
indicating locations of life vests, life rafts, fire fighting equipment,
and first aid supplies.  They also have held muster drills and explained
signals to be used in an emergency.  On the Avalon II, the safety
discussion consisted of the following:  "You may have noticed life
vests in your rooms.  You won't need them because this is a safe
boat."  That was it.  I was bothered even more by this cavalier
attitude when I walked around the boat and saw not one single life
preserver or life raft, and no sign of any firefighting equipment.  I was
left hoping they were right and that it was a safe boat.

The Avalon II is a beautiful new liveaboard boat.  It has a very spacious
dining area, nice size lounge with wide-screen TV and a huge top sundeck. 
However, one has to wonder whether it was designed by people who are not
divers or people who have not been on a liveaboard in the past 10-15 years
and don't know what the newer liveaboards are like.  Staterooms on the
Avalon II are probably the smallest we have ever had -- even on some of the
old Aggressor boats.  The only storage space in the stateroom is one small
drawer.  The beds are like the old Aggressor bunk beds, with the lower one
being smaller than a double and the upper one being about the size of a
twin.  Fortunately, my wife and I were both able to fit into the lower
bunk, although not very comfortably, so we could use the upper bunk for
storage.  On the other hand, the bathroom is relatively large with a
separate enclosed shower that was also relatively roomy.

Another trip back to the past occurred when I went up on the sundeck.  This
sundeck is huge and has many places to sit, but unfortunately there is no
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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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