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Dive Review of Ocean Rover in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

August, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by John Sommerer, MD, United States
Report Number 2612
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Costa Rica, Galapagos, Indonesia, Micronesia, PNG,
Revillagigedos, Polynesia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Excellent camera work stations on boat, both dry and wetside. Two-stage
dunk tanks for cameras. Crew very careful with your gear.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
5 stars    
Ocean Rover has done a N. Sulawesi itinerary for the last couple of years,
though apparently will not be doing it next year. A nice mix of Lembeh
Strait, Bangka Is., Bunaken National Park, Minahasa Lagoon area, and
Sangihe Archipelago. Unfortunately, on our trip the weather was a bit
windy, and some of the divers were bad sailors, so we didn't go farther
north than Ruang Is., missing a current eruption of Kahengateng volcano on
Other northern destinations listed on the OR website are apparently not
dived very often, either because of currents, or unfriendly locals. These
sites should be removed from the website and the advertised itinerary.

Ocean Rover is probably the best constructed, best organized liveaboard
we've been on. Large cabins with plenty of storage, excellent bathroom.
Everything laid out with great thought and convenience. Unbelievable
service from the Thai crew, though they were very quiet and not too
interactive. Dive staff were not regular OR crew members. Gerome (Swiss)
and his Thai wife Kay usually guide on the June Hong Chian Lee (the Chinese
Junk) out of Phuket, though it's possible they may continue working on the
OR in the future. The other dive guide, Nelson, was from N. Sulawesi. All
were excellent at critter spotting, though Kay had an amazing ability to
find truly tiny things (like juvenile frogfish, lionfish, etc. only a few
millimeters in size; better have a magnifier and a long macro lens).

The muck diving in Lembeh, near Minahasa Lagoon, at Paradise Jetty, and at
Ruang Is. was outstanding. The wall dives in Bunaken are very pretty, but
lack large fish (though an occasional bumphead parrotfish or Napolean
wrasse was seen). A dive on a relatively recent lava flow at Ruang was
astoundingly beautiful, and had a few spotted eagle rays to spice things
up. The Bangka dives were good, but many of the divers complained about the

In fact, the worst problem with this trip was about half the other divers.
Why go diving if you are so heavy, you can't put your own fins on? Why go
on a trip that advertises open ocean crossings if you get seasick? Why go
on a trip that advertises muck diving if you don't like muck diving? Why 
go muck diving if your bouyancy control is terrible? Those of us not so
impaired kept a running list of "can you top this" stories. Two
of the best (well, worst): A photographer sets up on a nudibranch on the
bottom only to have one of the bad divers "land" next to him,
stirring up the silt, grab a handful of it, and then drop it back on the
nudi. Another diver swims directly over a mimic octopus, despite the STOP
signals of three other divers and two guides, and continues to kick and
thrash just above the bottom for 20 minutes, rather than settle down and
hold still, despite one of the guides repeatedly urging her to do so. This
kind of thing really can ruin a trip for the other guests, and it's hard
for a cruise director to do anything about, though I give Gerome credit for
some dive etiquette lectures and a few private chats. Unfortunately, this
is not atypical of the OR clientel, according to the crew. What a waste!
Next year they're doing a dive and golf cruise....
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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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