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Dive Review of Peter Hughes -- Paradise Dancer in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Peter Hughes -- Paradise Dancer, Nov, 2010,

by Jerome M Hobart, NY, US (Contributor Contributor 12 reports). Report 5850.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving [Maldives, French Polynesia, Great Barrier Reef, Cozumel, Bonaire, Florida Keys, Bahamas, Curacao, Dominica, Cayman Islands, Belize, Grenada, Niagara River.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Only depth restriction was limited by 32% nitrox. Generally dove as a group with 2 dive guides in water.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large room on dive deck for photographers. Also, large rinse tank just for cameras. Fresh, clean water at all times. Before each dive, cameras were carried by crew to dive tenders and after dive, crew returned cameras to rinse tank next to camera room.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Peter Hughes' brochure does an excellent job of describing the Paradise Dancer and has an excellent map of the area you will be diving(Raja Ampat).Boat is relatively new( 4 to 5 years) and probably the best liveaboard you will ever dive from. There was a crew of 17 with a maximum of 18 guests( we had only 11). After setting up your gear on the deck the night before the first dive, you never touch your tank unless you are in the water diving. All gear is removed in the water, which makes for easy exits. Two crew members are on each of the two tenders and also two dive guides. All dive sites were within 5 minutes of the Paradise Dancer to which you returned after each dive( Maximum of 3 day dives and usually a night dive). It should be mandatory that you have a copy of Diving Indonesia's Raja Ampat by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock (available at Amazon.com or on board the Paradise Dancer), since the book describes every dive site you will visit. Also, the pictures are excellent. I have never seen such variety and healthy soft and hard coral in my life and if you are in to nudibranchs( which I am not), you will be in seventh heaven. Small fish were very plentiful but you will not find many of the large pelagics. Some words to the wise. If you are coming from the U.S.; it is a long way. Our first leg( JFK to Seoul, South Korea) on Korean Air was 14 hrs. After 12 hours in the Korean airport( stay in the airport hotel or one of the private lounges) our next flight took us to Jakarta where we slept for 5 hours in the Jakarta Airport Hotel. Plan ahead and the hotel will have an employee meet you at baggage claim and help you through the visa process and exchange your dollars into rupiahs( large U.S. bills get a better exchange rate than $20.00 bills). From Jakarta on you need to use Indonesian money( rupiahs, worth approx. 9,000 to the US dollar). Be aware that Peter Hughes like most places now, will charge you a 2 1/2% service fee to process credit cards. Also, most credit card companies will now charge you a fee for handling foreign transactions. From Jakarta we flew on Xpress Air to Sorong with some unknown stop in between. A Peter Hughes representative met us at baggage claim in Sorong( an absolute necessity), and escorted us to the boat( 188 ft. schooner). At the end of our 12 day dive trip, one of the divemasters( Yan) took us to the Sorong Airport where we were met by a Peter Hughes' travel representative who stayed with us until we were safely on our plane to Ujung Pandang and then Bali( Denpasar). It seems standing in line and waiting your turn is not a custom in Indonesia, so having a person who speaks the local language and knows the ticket clerk is absolutely essential if you ever want to get on a plane in Sorong. Again, remember if you have a long layover in most Indonesian or South Korean airports, look for the airport hotel or the private lounges. For about $10.00 American you get a buffet of appetizers, juice or soda and usually beer and sometimes brand name alcohol along with overstuffed chairs, airconditioning and television. Much better than sitting on the floor or a hardback chair for 4 to 12 hours.
All in all, the travel distance was worth it. Although the Paradise Dancer is a little pricey( approx. $4500.), you are getting 10 days of diving, a huge cabin with full bath, excellent service 24 hrs. a day( thank you Henrick), the best dive crew you will ever encounter( thank you Wendy, Claire, Yan, and Acho), and a superb motor-sailboat that cuts through the water instead of banging on top of it like the catamarans.
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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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