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Dive Review of Ondina in
Indonesia/Komodo National Park

July, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by DAVID SHEM-TOV, NA, United Kingdom
Sr. Contributor   (20 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6229
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Cocos, Gallapagos, French Polynesia, Palau, Truk, Maldives, Red Sea,
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
21   to 27    Celsius  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
15   to 30    Meters  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No mandatory in-water decompression diving.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
A covered area with dedicated water tanks, storage and setting up counter
on the stern of the boat, behind the dive deck.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
2 stars   
5 stars    
Most American divers know the Ondina from the charters organised by Deb
Fuggit of Texas.  Although I have never met her, I am given to understand
that her trips are run differently than the regular charters.  You should
research whether you find her protocol suitable before signing up.   You
could, however, join the Ondina's other charters as an individual or a
small group.  This is what my buddy and I did.  It was our second time on
this boat.  Our first trip to Raja Ampat two years ago was interrupted by a
diving accident, necessitating our early evacuation.  Enrique Rubio, one of
the partners, kindly invited us to return.  We were only to pay our
airfares, park fees and for onboard purchases.  Naturally, we would not
have accepted the invitation if we had any reservation about our safety.
	We chose a 10 night trip to Komodo (Bima-Bima.)    I had been to this area
before, on Kararu's Sea Safari III.  Like the Sea Safari, and Edi
Frommenweiler's pioneering Pindito liveaboard, the Ondina is a
traditional-style pinisi schooner.  Built in 2002, it has eight double
ensuite cabins.  Emerging from dry-dock, the boat was fresh, with no
malfunction noticeable to us.  From a diver perspective, the Ondina's
interior stern diver kitting up area is more comfortable than most similar
boats, which normally have an open air bow dive-deck.  There is an
efficient membrane system for Nitrox.  Diving is done off two skiffs with a
second rotation used to split us into three groups.  There are camera set
up facilities.  Nominally unlimited diving is offered.  In practice, it was
four on most days.  The programme appears to have been largely developed by
Enrique's partner Ricard Buxo, a Spanish diving journalist who has been
based in Indonesia for many years.  
	One omission that has not yet been addressed is the absence of warm water
in the cabin heads.  The owners claim that the water in the cabins is piped
around the engines and is actually luke-warm.    Like most passengers, I
preferred to take my hot water showers in one of the two units on the dive
deck.  This certainly saves on water consumption.   While not a luxury
liveaboard, the Ondina is certainly comfortable in all other respects.  Our
cabins were made up daily, sheets and towels changed every three days.  The
galley produced varied and tasty western and local meals and snacks after
every dive.  While not epicurean, they were certainly superior to anything
I have been served on most liveaboards.  Special requests were
	At one of the dive sites, a few of us were invited to visit the Arenui,
anchored nearby.  Cruise director Jerry showed us around.  It was a
beautiful boat, one of the nicest I have seen, with stunning cabins, indoor
and outdoor areas.  The waiters, smiling in their golden Balinese
headscarves, were certainly more elegantly attired than these on the
Ondina.  That luxury comes at a price, about 50% extra.   
	Of the boat crew on our original charter, only Pak Udin, one of the two
skiff drivers remained.  This, apparently, is not uncommon in Indonesia. 
Boat wages are modest and staff turnover is high.  I was disappointed to
learn that the excellent cruise director Celso Barreiros and divemaster
Whan left to return to the Mermaid.  We needn't have worried.  Their
replacement Abraham, from Mexico, and Ella, from England proved equally
worthy.  It was their warmth and enthusiasm that made the experience on
this boat so pleasant.   Trained by Buxo, with this being their second
season onboard, (they previously worked on liveaboards and land-based
operations in Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico) they were experienced enough
to lead us on great dives without displaying the jadedness that afflicts
some of their colleagues.  
	It could not have been easy for them.  The night before we departed the
boat's local divemaster quit.  They were left to deal with a full
complement of passengers: fifteen divers, some with marginal skills and one
non-diving companion.  Beside us there were two groups, eight Italians and
six Romanians.  A flurry of phone calls failed to rustle a replacement at
such short notice.  Nevertheless, Ella and Abraham were both present on
every one of the dives and even accompanying the non-certified passenger on
a number of  'discovery dives'.   Moreover, 'cultural' differences between
the Italians and the Romanians meant that accommodating both groups was
challenging.  The Romanians, in particular, had poorly researched the
destination and had come for high adrenaline big animal diving.  They also
liked to party hard and were content with just one or two dives a day,
sometimes missing the occasional high adrenaline dives when they were
offered.  The Italians were resentful.  Abraham and Ella with humour and
generosity of spirit largely managed to still the discontented and quell
any insurrections that threatened to erupt.
	The dives were the regular Komodo mix:  lots of Macro and muck diving
(more than I wanted - we had to wait around Bima for missing luggage to
join us), interspersed with some fishier dives.  Our day at Manta Point, on
the southern edge of the park was the best - with schools of enormous
Barracuda, Trevelly and squid all fighting to distract us from the mantas. 
Almost as good were the dives at Castle Rock, where we used reef hooks to
keep close to the patrolling grey sharks and hunting jacks.  We stopped
there for another day on the way back.  On a couple of occasions Abraham
sought out new dive sites.  He says that so far, three of the sites he
discovered in the last two years number among his twenty lifetime best.  
	Euro pricing and Spanish ownership (and marketing) mean the Ondina
attracts a more internationally varied clientele than many boats operating
here.  With Abraham and Ella onboard, it offers good value for these
seeking a rich diving experience and who are willing to forego some other
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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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