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Dive Review of Komodo Dancer in

November, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by William & Frances Ungerman, California, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 2190
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Pacific and Caribbean
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, choppy, currents, noCurrents  
Water Temp
72   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
None enforced, suggested limits time and depth  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Camera table and two separate rinse tanks on board.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
We boarded the boat in Bali after a delightful three-day stay at the Puri
Santrian hotel on the beach.  During the eleven-night cruise we experienced
the typical Peter Hughes approach to liveaboard diving, which is to say,
attentive without being intrusive.  The boat is ninety-eight feetlong, an
all-wood sailing/motor vessel, although the sails are never used.  (The
ones shown in the promo video are unfurled for show only).  The extra-wide
beam makes for a stable ride even in rough seas, and there were some of
those during passage.  The crew hoses down the decks three or four times a
day to keep the wood from cracking (watch out in bare feet; slippery to the
max).  Diving is in and around the Komodo National Park and Bali for a day
on the return. A total of 34 dives (including many night dives and one nice
wreck dive) were offered, mostly four a day, but occasionally three on a
transit night.  There is a land excursion to a volcanic lake and of course
the signature trip to Komodo Island to see the prehistoric dragons.  We had
to wade onto the island because the low tide prevented beaching the
runabouts.  After, we made the land trek 2-1/2 miles in the 103 degree
equatorial sun).  Saw dragons loitering around the small settlement near
the dock.  Two park rangers armed with forked sticks (one fore, one aft of
the column) take you up the savanna hllls and through the parched jungle to
look for dragons.  It's not as much fun they say as when the park rangers
used to feed the dragons goat meat pieces, but still worth it.  You have to
run the gauntlet of the natives selling carved dragons on the way back to
the boat, but what the hell.  The kids are real sales persons!

Back to diving.  All diving is off two "pangas," designated the
"red boat" and the "black boat."  Water temperatures
vary dramatically, as does visibility.  Expect anything between 72 degrees
and 85 degrees Farenheit.  Many divers wore seven millimeter neoprene on
some dives.  Water visibility flucuated between twenty (muck diving) and
one hundred feet, depending on the site.  This is fairly diverse diving. 
Expect to see a few Mantas and White Tip sharks along with macro stuff like
Pygmy seahorses and little crabs.  Frogfish, scorpionfish, and leaf fish
are all here.  For the macro fan, Lembeh Strait is still far superior, and
for the wide angle or big critter buff, there're better places, but for a
great compromise location, this is a hard trip to beat.  Dive briefings
were thorough and conducted by a Dutch "Cruise Director" and/or
his German/French fiance.  They also lead the dives along with
"Wayan," an Indonesia Divemaster and great guy.  Safety saugages
and EPIRBS are provided and belive me, they are needed.  What with current
and waves, you could be missed and adrift, headed for the Philipines. 
Several times it took us twenty minutes or so searching for divers who had
drifetd off.  Use of the saftey sauage was not uncommon.  Signal mirrors? 
Strobes?  Bring 'em.  Some notable dives were Cannibal Rock, Torpedo Alley,
The Alley (exceptionally great!), Batu Bolong (featured in Scuba Diving
magazine), The Estuary, Bonto Reef and the wreck of the USS Liberty
(erroneously described as a WW II "Liberty Ship."

When paying for our on-board bill we were charged 2.25 percent as a
"credit card surcharge."  This is disallowed by VISA/MC and the
charge was reversed after I protested upon returning home.  But note that
Peter Hughes is now only a booking agent, having divested himself of
interest in the boats, probably after the Wave Dancer fiasco in Belize.  

Incidentals:  32 percent nitrox is available at $10.00 per tank or $200.00
for the eleven-day trip (9 1/2 days of actual diving).  The crew sings
American ballads and rock songs, e.g. "Country Road" and
"Hey Jude" at night.  The head steward, "Sebastian", is
remarkable, an absolute gem of a guy who's attentivness is legend.  All
cabins are below deck except for the "Owner's Suite" on the top
deck.  For the extra money, it would be worth it, although all cabins are
laid out in an effective manner and individually air conditioned with
en-suite showers and electric marine heads that actually work great.  There
is no smoking except in the wheelhouse.  Food is good and of course the
service is impeccable.  There are fresh towels and a short back and
shoulder massage rendered after each dive.  Full one-hour massages are
available on board for US $10.00.  One sunset we watched a million fruit
bats migrate from one island to an adjoining one, on the hunt.  An amazing

Cost of the November 2005 trip was around $2,700.00 per person plus air
which was an additional $1,600.00.  Three nights at the Puri Santrian (all
arranged by Peter Hughes Diving) was about $360.00, a bargain for a 5-star
hotel on the beach.  I'm still brooding about Hughes tacking on a $40.00
fuel surcharge AFTER we had contracted and agreed to a price.  Last
thought:  Before the terrorist bombings on Bali, approximately fifteen
thousand tourists a day passed through Bali.  In November 2005, that amount
was reduced to 600 per day.  The tourist infrastructure is hurting and they
desparately want Americans (especially) to return.  The area is about 90%
Hindu, five percent Christian and five percent Muslim.  Everyone who
introduced themselves to us prefaced their remarks with, "I'm a Hindu,
not Muslim."  Bali is beautiful and the people charming and gracious. 
The Komodo Dancer trip was worth the money, so seriously consider it when
contemplating your next dive adventure.
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