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Dive Review of Kararu Voyages/Cheng Ho in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Kararu Voyages/Cheng Ho, Nov, 2007,

by Thomas Dingwall, Oregon, USA ( 1 report). Report 4417.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Australia, PNG, Indonesia, Micronesia, Galapagos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas currents
Water Temp 76 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 30 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 1 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments The recent report on the Cheng Ho in Undercurrent was accurate, but overly kind. We have have been on many of the major liveaboards, including Peter Hughes, Aggressor, and Mike Ball. Kararu charges similar fares to these operations, but falls short of them in terms of service and facilities. The Undercurrent report points out many of these deficiencies, but I would like to point out a couple more.

The biggest issue we had was with the cabin we were assigned. We booked a "Deluxe Twin" cabin, but were placed in the smallest cabin on the boat - smaller even than those housing one person. The cabin was about 100 square feet, including a small toilet/shower and bunk beds. There was virtually no storage space, and barely enough room for the two of us to stand up at the same time.

To make things worse, off-duty crew were constantly sitting, standing, smoking and eating outside our door, leaving us with no privacy and keeping us up at night.

After the trip we checked the ship layout on the web site. The room we were in is marked "single" on the diagram. In fact, all four cabins on the main deck are marked "single", yet two of them were assigned to couples on our trip. We discovered this was because they booked two more people on the trip than the posted maximum capacity of the boat.

When we complained to Stein at Kararu Voyages about this issue, he refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong with our accomodations. He said that since the cabins on the main deck have bunk beds in them, they can be used as doubles. So if you book a trip on the Cheng Ho, be aware that this could happen to you.

The Undercurrent report mentioned the leaks on the Cheng Ho, but didn't mention one aspect of it. The main indoor public area on the boat is the lounge/dining room. There is a large counter in this room that serves as a charging area for batteries, etc. As such, it is covered with 220 volt power strips, along with various other electrical equipment. Unfortunately, everytime it rained, water would fall on the charging table. The staff would cover the area with plastic sheets, but water would run off and pool on the floor. I shudder when I think about people reaching under those plastic sheets with water on the floor.

The bottom line: Avoid Kararu/Cheng Ho like the plague.
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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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