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

Explorer Ventures/Estrella Del Mar, Jun, 2008,

by Heidi Sheltry, VA, United States (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 4335.

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

Weather cloudy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 77 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Maximum depth was 120 feet - follow the dive guide and stay with the group.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals N/A 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Good: The interior of the boats common areas and cabins were kept very clean.

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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