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Dive Review of Arenui in

July, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Gina Sanfilippo, CA, US
Sr. Reviewer   (7 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6157
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Maldives, Andaman Sea, Fiji, Cocos Island, Sea of Cortez, Roatan, Belize,
Monterey, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
73   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Time limit of 60-70 minutes, depending on dive.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
There are 2-3 camera tables, but not nearly enough space for a boatload of
photographers. There are two rinse buckets on the deck and water is changed
regularly.  After dives, crew will dip your camera to rinse and use
compressed air to dry - you need to tell them if you do not want this done.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
2 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
The Arenui (pronounced Ar-ren-nooey) is beautiful, a 43 meter/140 foot
Indonesian Pinisi (Phinisi) sailing boat touted as a luxury "boutique
liveaboard."  She has eight passenger cabins--two above-decks and two
below--that hold 16 passengers; our 12-day cruise had 13 passengers,
leaving Bali for Komodo and diving various sites en route.

There are approximately 20 crew members on board, and all are friendly and
efficient.  Whether it was donning your gear, rinsing your wetsuit, or
bringing you a towel and hot chocolate after a night dive, the crew was
very helpful.  Sometimes they were a little too helpful, like when your
water glass would be cleared away as soon as you turned your head, your
wetsuit would be turned right-side-out to dry (when you really wanted it
left inside-out to dry better), or they took it upon themselves to dry your
camera with compressed air (please do not touch my camera!).  Two of the
stewards double as massage therapists, and let me tell you it is pretty
decadent to be able to get a nice (and inexpensive) massage on the sun deck
after a dive!

Built about two years ago,  a high percentage of reclaimed wood went into
building the Arenui, giving her a warm, aged feel.  She is appointed with
an all-wood interior and local art pieces and as such is easy on the eyes. 
The main deck has the dive deck on the bow, the dining room/lounge and
galley midship, and the four upper cabins aft.  The bow and midship areas
have slick, sloped wooden decks, typical for this style of ship.  While
there are a few non-slip mats out on the dive deck and at the entrance to
the lounge, they are not fastened to the floor and the mats themselves
slip.  Moving around the boat, especially while wet or when the boat is
rolling, must be done with caution lest your slip and injure yourself.  For
a week I had a painful bruise on my hand from one of my falls which
happened when I was dry but the wet mat slipped out from under me.  If this
boat was built specifically as a dive boat it makes you wonder why the deck
wasn't designed differently--"all other Phinisi boats are built that
way" is not a good reason.

Her upper level is a large, spacious outdoor area containing both a sundeck
and shady areas.  Comfortable padded lounge chairs and benches, plus a
fresh water shower for cooling off, make this a lovely place to spend time.
 Just watch out for the stairs.  The staircase leading from the main to the
upper deck is steep and slippery, with the top step overhanging about half
of the second stop.  It can be quite treacherous, and several guests fell
and hurt themselves during the course of the cruise.  Looking at the
staircase from the side you will notice the prefab unit was installed 90
degrees off--what should be the textured treads on the steps are now the
rise--which accounts for its awkwardness.

Most cabins are quite roomy and contain ample storage, especially for a
liveaboard, and our queen-size bed had a comfortable mattress.  But overall
I did not feel the cabins lived up to their "boutique" moniker. 
All cabins have private bathrooms but they are the typical head-plus-shower
that leaves the whole bathroom wet after use.  A true luxury boat would
have a separate stall shower.  In addition, the upper cabins have bi-fold
doors leading into the bathrooms, rather than an actual door with a closing
mechanism.  If the boat was experiencing any considerable motion, such as
it did on the many nights where it motored to another location, the bi-fold
doors would slam open and closed throughout the night.  We eventually had
to stuff a washcloth in the hinge in order to get some sleep.  Our cabin
had a few roaches in it and I kept finding small gnats scattered across the
daybed.  Of course, that was nothing compared to a couple in another cabin
who, possibly because of their non-functioning air conditioning unit, had a
bad cockroach problem and many times had roaches in their bed and even
running across their faces!  We were on the first cruise out of drydock,
where the bugs came aboard; we found out on the last day that they hadn't
time to fumigate before our cruise began but it was going to be fumigated
as soon as we left (of course that didn't do the other couple any good). 
Due to their locations, all of the upper-deck cabins also seem to be
plagued with exhaust fumes.

One thing you are not going to do on the Arenui is go hungry.  A typical
day's schedule is as follows:

7am - continental breakfast
8:00 - dive one
9:30 - full, hot breakfast
11:00 - dive two
1pm  lunch
3:00 - dive three
4:30  snacks
6:30 - dive four (night)
8:00  dinner

With this schedule I'd be quite surprised if anyone left the boat without
gaining a few pounds!  Meals were typically Western-style with some
Indonesian influences, and were completely delicious.  My guess is that the
chefs were restaurant-trained as the food was on par with our restaurants
at home (San Francisco: land of amazing food).  Even the presentation was
top-notch.  As a vegetarian I obviously cannot eat the meat and fish on the
regular menus, but instead of having me make do with whatever vegetable
side dish was available, at each meal the chef prepared a special plate for
me.  He even went so far as to create vegetarian snacks for all so that I
could eat them as well.  And just in case you were hungry outside of meal
times, there was always a bowl of fruit and some cookies available to munch
on.  Soft drinks, teas, and instant coffee were also always available and
free, while alcoholic beverages and "real" coffee cost extra.

Diving off the Arenui is done from skiffs, with guests and dive guides
divided between two different boats.  Your gear is waiting for you on the
skiffs, and crew handle putting camera gear on board so you can have your
hands mostly free to negotiate boarding (divers do carry their masks on
board).  Four or five divers sit on either side of the skiff, but they are
so small that it is difficult to put on your fins without kicking the
person across.  There is no dedicated space for camera equipment.  It would
have been nice if the skiffs were large enough that everyone could gear up
at once instead of taking turns.  Entries were via backward roll, and exits
were done up a ladder after doffing your gear which the crew would then
haul up on board.

Since most all your gear is kept on the skiff, or in the hold while the
boat is underway, you never have access to it during the cruise.  Sure, a
crew member can run down and grab something if you ask them, but if you are
one of those people (like me) who likes to set up their own gear and keep
an eye on it during a trip you are out of luck.

But let's get to the real reason we were on the boat - the diving.  Our
itinerary took us west from Bali, crossing north of Lombok, Moyo, Sangeang,
and Banta, then travelling down the far side of Komodo to Rinja.  Dive
sites were varied with everything from muck to volcanic black sand (warm in
places due to underlying thermal activity!) to gorgeous reefs covered in
soft coral.  Water temperatures at the more northerly sites averaged a
pleasant 81F, but the south sides of Komodo and Rinja islands had temps in
the 73-75F range; divers were layering up with all the neoprene they
brought along to ward off the chill.

The diving itself was spectacular, as Indonesian diving should be.  Dives
were typically limited to 60-70 minutes, depending on the situation, and we
were allowed to dive our own profiles.  With few exceptions divers were
allowed to go off on their own (as opposed to staying right next to the
dive guide); the flip side of this was that if you wanted to take advantage
of the incredible spotting skills of the guides, it was your responsibility
to find them underwater, as they would not wait for divers.  

During the course of our cruise we were able to cross off many iconic
species from our wish list--pygmy seahorses, frogfish, stargazers,
Rhinopias eschmeyeri, etc.--thanks to the aforementioned spotting skills.

I marked this boat down in the category of "environmental
sensitivity" because many of the guests on board were observed
grabbing, kicking, lying on, or otherwise damaging the coral.  When I asked
the crew if they could talk to these people I was told, "I'm sorry, we
cannot do that."  

Overall, I had very mixed feelings about the Arenui.  Let me say here that
I am no stranger to liveaboard diving, and have done many trips on some of
the most highly-regarded boats in the world, including the Na'ia, Undersea
Hunter's Argo, Solmar V, Manthiri, etc.--all top-notch quality boats with
superb crews and great food.  So when consider my experience on the Arenui
I not only compare it with those world-class boats, I also compare it with
the boutique hotels I have stayed at.  I am also not a person who puts form
before function; it doesn't matter how nice something appears if it does
not do the job well.  With all this in mind I feel the Arenui is a pretty
boat, with a quality crew and delicious food, but it falls short of being a
true "luxury" boat for the reasons I have described above.  I
also feel it is a boat for people who are used to the pampering of
five-star hotels and to them that is more important than the diving itself.
 Would I dive with them again?  I honestly do not know.

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Subscriber's Comments

By gina at Nov 19, 2014 17:54 EST  
I wish I could revise my review--this operator only deserved three stars. 

The food was great, but the slippery decks and incorrectly installed
staircase made the boat unsafe.  Also, they paired my male friend up with a
female roommate.  While guests were told they could smoke only on the upper
deck, this woman was allowed to smoke outside her room--which was also
right outside my room, and the smoke entered my room--because "she
gets too drunk to climb the stairs and last time she was on the boat she
slipped on the stairs [while drunk] and broke her arm."

The Arenui is a boat for travellers who want a luxury experience, and do
some diving while they're at it.  It's not a boat for serious divers.
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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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