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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Paradise Dancer in

May, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Peter Swan, Az, USA
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 4144
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
past instructor, worldwide, author: Step Zero: Getting Started on a SCUBA
Photo Trip. (
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
84   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
safe diving habits with computers  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 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  
The camera table had plenty of power (both 110 & 220), room and
support.  The handling of the expensive cameras was with special care as
they moved them to/from the boats.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
The excitement was evident from the first contact at the Manado airport
through the hour ride to the Paradise Dancer.  Everyone was looking forward
to the second sailing of the new Peter Hughes dive boat through the
Sangihe Islands.  Not only was it to be the ultimate live aboard, but it
placed its new customers into an environment especially designed for an
underwater photo safari with new dive sites as well as ones that have been
only lightly dived.  Each of us wanted to hurry up and get to this
creatively designed three-mast schooner, specifically developed for SCUBA
diving in the Coral Triangle.  The boat was probably under hyped in that
the accommodations were wonderfully luxurious while the ship was absolutely
stunning.  The motor yacht with sails was built on Borneo and designed to
resemble the American fast schooners that traded across the Pacific from
Boston and New York.  Sleek lines and sailing excellence established the
logical lines of design for these 19th century ships and were used as a
baseline for the underwater photo safari luxury live aboard.  The wooden
decks and hardwood cabinets gave her a look that was remarkable and beyond
expectations.  Each of the cabins seemed 50 % larger than previous live
aboards with a bathroom you could spend time in.  The beds were roomy with
a desk and plenty of storage space for each passenger.  The boat was so
silent that the night cruises between dive locations lulled one to sleep
with no problem getting a full nights rest.   The lounge upstairs was
spread out with plenty of couches and tables to work computers and photo
processing.  There was plenty of room for dinners either outside on the
deck or inside in the lounge.  The dive arrangements were excellent with
individual baskets laid out under benches on the deck with plenty of room
to hang suits and skins.  Each of the two dive tenders was structured to
move you quickly from the ship to the dive locations with 200 horsepower
quiet engines.  Entry into the water is easy with everyone rolling off
simultaneously.  Among the 16,500 islands of Indonesia there are over 600
types of coral and 3000 species of fish.  This phenomenal variety of
creatures ensures that each dive is unique and exciting.  Each location
provided an opportunity to delve the depths and photograph, or just enjoy,
the changing scenery.  As one who loves the interface between clown fish
and sea anemones, the challenge to photograph the various combinations
ensured lots of opportunities on each dive. I especially liked the blue
anemones and the brown/black clown fish.  With two dives in the morning and
two in the afternoon, everyone had multiple opportunities to get wet and
challenge the camera environment.  Within the ten days, there were eight
night dives to satisfy the curiosity as to the nightlife on the coral reefs
of Indonesia.  Each dive was unique and each time we surfaced we exclaimed,
that was the best one yet! 	A unique aspect of diving in Indonesia is the
fact that it is in the ring of fire with volcanoes and land movements
occurring continuously in the region.  We dove next to many active volcano
islands and experienced the fun of looking up at the mountaintops,
realizing that it is an active volcano, and then predicting when the next
explosion was too occur (probably within the next 2000 years).  One special
trip was on the third morning when the early wake-up call led us all to
snorkeling inside volcano-heated water.  The steam coming off of the water
at 0630 in the morning was a special sight as we approached the hot tub
of the ocean.  We all jumped into the normally warm water (84 degrees) and
swam toward the steam.  As we approached the hot water we wandered between
warm and hot spots.  Once I had found a rock to stand on, with a steady
flow of hot water, I just stood there enjoying the lower back massage by
swirling water that must have been between 100 and 102 degrees.  As we sat
in the water we looked up at the top of the volcano and saw a long plume of
smoke that was being highlighted by the rising sun on the far side of the
island.  The last ones were usually a dusk dive or a night dive depending
upon positioning for next days dives.  The beauty of the coral triangle
was evident on each dive and the colors were remarkable.  All of the camera
specialists were concentrating on the small beauty of the colors and
corals.  The fish were small and the creatures varied.  The nudibranchs and
other animals ensured that the photographers were happy.  Periodically,
there were wall dives with some current so that we could drift past the
coral and just enjoy the scenery.  Small and colorful were the words that
described the phenomenal reefs and animals as well as the fish.  Each
photographer remarked on their best pictures of a turtle, nudibranch, sea
snake or sea anemones.  Each was proud of the selection they ended up with
at the end of the week.  The ten days were especially nice with my
expectations surpassed.  It was a good thing I used the checklist (from the
Step Zero book); so I had all the necessary components for a successful
underwater photo safari.
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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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