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Dive Review of Reina Silvia in
Galapagos Islands/Wolf and Darwin and others

June, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Todd Lichtenstein, NJ, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports)
Report Number 743
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Papua New Guinea, Belize, Little Cayman, Cocos, Sea of Cortez, Saba,
California Channel Islands, Florida Keys
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
66   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No restrictions, just diving within the limits of your computer.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
No camera tables on the dive deck. They use some of the tables in the salon
for this purpose. On an uncrowded boat, this was no problem, but it would
be more difficult if there were many divers on board.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
Due to the cancelation of the only other group, my wife and I were the only
two divers on this boat. For a surcharge of $600 we had booked the owners
cabin, which is on the second deck and is very roomy and luxurious.  Most
cabins are below the main deck and are small but pleasant and serviceable,
with a double lower and single upper berth, private heads with telephone
showers, cubby holes or closets for storage, portholes or prism skylights,
and just enough floor space to change clothes in.  Divers use the covered
upper deck to don wetsuits, then descend to the aft platform and into
inflatables to complete gearing up.  All diving is from inflatables, which
have rope ladders to make getting out of the water easier.

The crew of seven (fewer than normal because of so few passengers) were all
extraordinarily helpful.  The meals were exceptionally good, and post-dive
snacks varied and welcome.  (Don't miss Chef Patricio's hot chocolate.)

In early June, visibility in the central islands was poor and water cold,
but full of life, including many seahorses and scorpionfish at Cousins
Rock, and obliging penguins, sea lions and swimming marine iguanas during a
snorkel at Bartolome.  In addition to our 5/7 mil wetsuits, we needed our 3
mil vests and beanies. At Wolf and Darwin, temps were about 10 degrees
warmer (in 70s) and visibility better.  Shark populations there were
teeming:  there were numerous Galapagos sharks and hundreds of hammerheads
on every dive.  We also saw silvertips, silkies and tiger sharks in lesser
numbers.  It was early in the whale shark season, but we saw two that
surfaced alongside the boat, though we did not see them in the water. 
Victor Mendia, our intrepid dive master/naturalist/videographer, reported
that many more were seen the following week.  We were surrounded by large
pods of dolphins at all times, and saw them feeding on several dives.

Two cautionary notes: First, some kinds of integrated weight systems may
not be suitable for diving in the 4-knot currents of the northern islands. 
My wife had one weight pocket ripped from her BC twice -- the second time,
for good.  Use a weight belt.  Second, we were assured that our overweight
bags would not be a problem, and on the Quito-to-Galapagos trip they
weren't.  However, leaving Baltra we were told we would be charged $75 for
overweight baggage.  After some negotiation, we were able to send one heavy
bag as freight on the same flight for $25; we then spent about a half-hour
at TAME Cargo in Quito retrieving it.  Leave whatever you can in Quito.
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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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