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Dive Review of Explorer Ventures/Estrella Del Mar in
Galapagos Islands

June, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Heidi Sheltry, VA, United States
Reviewer   (4 reports)
Report Number 4335
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, Honduras, Panama, Fiji, Indonesia,
California, British columbia, North Carolina, Florida, Bonaire.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, currents  
Water Temp
77   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Maximum depth was 120 feet - follow the dive guide and stay with the group.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
There were 2 very small camara tables that were also used to serve food and
drinks between dives.  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars    
1 stars   
5 stars    
The Good: The interior of the boats common areas and cabins were kept very

The Bad: The bad started at booking and got worse from there.  Randy, the
booking agent made significant mistakes on every single booking for every
single diver on this trip.  A record I would say.  Being a single female
diver I was supposed to have a female roomate.  A week before the trip I
discover I will be sharing a cabin with a male diver.  Then he tried to
blame his mistake on me till I produced emails that showed I asked for a
female roomate and would take a different trip if he could not do that. He
also forgot to mention that the boat would be returning to a different
Island.  On the last day of the trip me and two other divers had to rent a
plane to take us to the Island that we were supposed to end the trip on.  
This boat is very small but carries 16 passengers. The dive deck has a
walking space of about 12 feet by 8 feet with no bins to put your dive gear
in.  It was so small that there was no room for a rinse tank!  It was a
nightmare gearing up with 16 divers in such a small space. The crew were
the most disorganized group I have ever encountered.  A typical day began
with a wake up call at 5:30 am with all divers "in the water" by
6:00 am.  The only food available before that first dive was stale, store
bought, cookies.  Only the two dive masters spoke a little English so
asking for anthing was a chore. Safety was a real issue on this boat.  They
did not want to give each diver their own tracking device because you could
share with your buddy.  Sorry...not good enough for me.  With the strong
currents in the galapagos, I want my own safty equipment and had to get
nasty to get it.  One of the panga drivers was very young and
inexperienced.  He would drop the divers in the water then speed away.  Of
course, by the second day, he hit one of the divers with the running prop. 
This could have been a life and death situation had the diver not been
wearing a drysuit with a neck warmer.  The prop sliced through the neck
warmer and the drysuit without injuring the diver, however, the drysuit
immediately filled with water and the guy sunk to the bottom. It was a good
thing he was an experienced diver with a buddy who cared.  He might have
drowned had he not released his weight belt then surfaced with his buddy. 
Oh yes...the dive guide never even noticed.  I would have to write a book
to describe how unsafe this crew was.   As far as food goes...bring your
own.  With the exception of breakfast, the food was terrible.  Having been
on many other liveaboards, I expected home baked goodies between dives,
fresh fruit and veggies in abundance.  There was NO home baked anything,
the fruit was always on its last leg and you were lucky to see a veggie at
ANY meal.  One dive master was always bringing up the "tip".  By
the last day, it became clear that tipping was going to be low or non
existant.  At the last diner he again brought up the subject that many of
us must have "forgotten" to leave a tip.  One diver said he
wouldn't be leaving a tip because of the poor service.  The dive master
lunged at him a a brawl ensued.  My advice to anyone thinking about taking
this trip...don't. 
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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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