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Dive Review of Wakatobi -- Pelagian in

January, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by John Sommerer, MD, US
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6404
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Indonesia, Polynesia, Micronesia, Galapagos, Costa Rica, Revillagigedos,
Caribbean, Maldives, New Zealand, Easter Island
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy  
currents, no currents  
Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
70 minutes max time  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Staff very careful with equipment. Camera room was excellent, but would be
crowded if there were more than 4-5 guests with cameras.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
A fine ship with a good crew. The remodeled cabins (since Wakatobi 
acquired Pelagian) are really, really nice.  The other two cabins are fine,
but not quite so plush. Good bathrooms with rain showers and plenty of hot
water. The common areas were very nicely appointed and comfortable. Good
a/v equipment and stereo. The A/C had some trouble keeping the rooms and
salon cool on the sunniest days.

The Pelagian has new engines, and can make 12 kts, though the typical
cruising speed was 10-11 kts. This allows them to cover the distance
between Wakatobi and Buton Island (and back) comfortably in a 5 day cruise.
In fact, the last morning's dives were at Wakatobi sites and they asked us
the night before if there were any we wanted to repeat. We repeated Blade,
and in a way not feasible from the resort, where divers need to come back
to the mooring. The other dive was the site just next to Blade, not the one
that many of the guests asked for (perhaps the resort was diving the site
that morning).

The daily schedule easily allows four dives a day (including a 70 min night

Although the whole crew is friendly, you interact mainly with the Cruise
Director, the other two dive guides, your tender driver, and the stewards.
Food is excellent, with custom-made (2nd) breakfasts, and a choice of 3
entrees (and even those are negotiable if you don't want something on the
plan, or you want to mix) at lunch and dinner. Water, fruit juice, milk,
coffee and tea are free, beer and soda are cold and reasonably priced, and
wine (like most of Indonesia) is very overpriced.

The diving was excellent. The day spent at Pasar Wajo on Buton Island was
very good muck, almost on a level with Lembeh. The mandarin dive at Magic
Pier was so good (and I've been on a lot of them), I may not bother with
them any more, unless I'm back here. The majority of the diving was more
characteristic of the plush reefs typical of Wakatobi resort.

While I am inclined to be positive about the operation, there were a few
problems on our trip. A couple of dives were somewhat wasted by doing a
wall in very high current. One was a night dive in over two knots for half
the dive time. That's a long time to be drifting without an opportunity to
hunt for critters. These instances seemed to be a result of changes to the
route or anchorage based on an almost pathological desire to avoid any boat
motion on the Pelagian. I don't know if one of the other guests was prone
to seasickness and requested this, but I'd much rather rock at bit, put on
the "patch" and dive the best sites. If you can't stand boat
motion -- don't go on a liveaboard.

The dive tenders are smallish zodiacs with a driver's console in the front.
The dive gear gets stored in rack behind the driver, and four sets of gear
get really crushed together. We had some minor equipment problems as a
result. For example, one of my releasable weight pockets got released in
the rack, and it plunged to the abyss when I inverted to descend for a
night dive (my bad for not checking them before entering the water).  We
had four divers and the guide in our tender, and gearing up was a bit
crowded. With the normal compliment of 5 divers plus guide (if the Pelagian
were full) it would really be a mosh. Don't know any remedy, because it's
clear they can't fit bigger tenders on the top deck where they are stored
during transit. Tank fills were always generous (3100+), and the nitrox was
reliable (but see below).

The other area where I was a bit disappointed was "our" dive
guide. He was a very nice man, and wanted to please, but he was just not a
very good spotter. The two dives we did with the other guides we saw a lot
more critters. I initially expected this not to be a problem as we were led
to believe that the guides would rotate (and we confirmed this was the
usual procedure on returning to the resort), but in effect we got this guy
all the time. The cruise director did all but one dive with the other
tender (with only one or two guests -- I guess repeaters get special
treatment). The third dive guide was still out of commission from a
barotrauma to her middle ear she received two cruises earlier retrieving a
dropped camera, and she only made a few dives. While sympathetic to her
situation, she had been replaced the cruise before ours, and should have
been during ours as well.

The situation was awkward, since the injured dive guide and the cruise
director are married. The frequent requests for how to improve our dive
experience characteristic of Wakatobi were lacking on the Pelagian. Our
dive guide asked us once, but it was hard to say, "find more
stuff." The cruise director did not ask, perhaps because it was easy
to predict what we might answer, and he wasn't prepared to deal with that.

Just to clarify, we do not believe that we should be totally dependent on
the dive guide to find interesting things, and we found lots on our own.
But both the expectations engendered by the dive briefings, and the tally
after the dive, in comparison with the other tender, showed that we missed
a lot.

Finally, "our" dive guide had a lot of trouble with analyzing
nitrox (on the Pelagian, the procedure is for the guides to
"help" you analyze your gas, i.e. they use the analyzer and show
you the readout). He preferred to put the analyzer in the mouthpiece, which
I hate, since it's a great way to spread a cold through a whole boat. He
was responsive to my request to dismount the first stage and measure
directly from the tank. But there were two analyzers on board, one of which
was flaky. For some reason, he always brought both analyzers into the
tender, and I had to explain that I really didn't think the tank had 39%
oxygen. Relatively minor annoyance, repeated 14 times.

Despite these problems (or rather, assuming they were specific to my trip ,
except the tender, and not the general case), if I went to Wakatobi again,
I'd spend more time on the Pelagian and less at the resort. Between 4 dives
a day vs three, and the inevitable insects ashore, I guess I'm just a
liveaboard bigot...
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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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