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Dive Review of MV Celebes Explorer in
Malaysia/Sipadan

MV Celebes Explorer, Jul, 2011,

by Paul , AP, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 6134.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Florida, Jamaica, Cozumel, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, California, Guam, Palau, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Maldives, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 79 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 45 minute max dive time within limits of recreational diving.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No special area on liveaboard for cameras. No separate rinse tank. No special area on dive boats. Had dry, dedicated charging area.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I would recommend the MV Celebes Explorer (MVCE) for the diving and access to Sipadan, not for the accommodations or the food. Compared to other dive businesses in the area, the MVCE offered the greatest access to Sipadan. We dove all 7 days' multiple dives at Sipadan.
The MVCE itself was basic and functional. Everything on the boat worked, but not always well. The MVCE needs some TLC, but since they are building the MVCE2, the owners don't appear to be reinvesting in this boat. With only 13 divers (out of a possible max of 16) on board, there was plenty of room. Customer service was top notch! Divemaster Tom (of the duo Tom & Jerry) was great and ensured we got to see all of the things we wanted to see under water, even offering photo tips and advising of each sites special attractions. The diving was phenomenal and probably the best my wife and I have ever done. We saw large schools of fish consistently and saw turtles and sharks on every dive. The fish were plentiful and not easily spooked, which was good for the u/w photographers in the group. There was a good diver to divemaster ratio. Any problems on the boat or with dive gear were fixed as soon as they were brought to the attention of the crew. There was ample room on the sundeck, front and common areas of the boat so that didn't feel crowded. There was a little store with t-shirts, books, soda and beer for sale. The accommodations were clean, but a little dated. Nitrox had to be special ordered well in advance of the trip and was mixed on the boat. You paid for the number of tanks that you ordered, regardless of whether you used them all or not. Diver safety was paramount during the entire trip and divemasters Tom and Jerry stressed this at every briefing. During one dive, we came up into a sudden rain squall and the dive boat captain Reynaldo and Tom got everyone on board and to safety on Sipadan island until we could safely return to the MVCE.
MVCE did their best to accommodate special requests for food and diet, but the food was mainly Malaysian style and was heavy/greasy/oily fare with lots of noodles and rice. More variety would have been a plus. The meals each day were pretty much the same. If you are picky, I suggest bringing some of your own food along to make the trip more enjoyable.
If you are going to Sipadan, the MVCE is the best way to maximize your diving time. The MVCE offered 4-5 dives a day on all days except arrival (2) and last diving day (3). I would highly recommend the MVCE to serious divers who are going to Sipadan to dive Sipadan. Hopefully the minor issues of a dated boat will be fixed with the launch of the MVCE2 in October 2011.
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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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