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Dive Review of MV Celebes Explorer in

July, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Paul , AP, US
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6134
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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

sunny, rainy  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
79   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
45 minute max dive time within limits of recreational diving.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
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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