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Dive Review of Baani Explorer in
Maldives

Baani Explorer, May, 2008,

by Steve Maguire, OH, USA ( 2 reports). Report 4094.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Pacific, Sea of Cortez
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy Seas surge, currents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No Decompression
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments On the dhonni the cameras were stored on top of tarps covering the air compressors. They were soft and cameras nestled in, but they were not designed for this use. I eventually began leaving my video housing on the deck near my feet so it wouldn't fall off of anything if the boat rocked too much. There was one big rinse bucket on the main boat so for each dive you had to carry your camera back and forth. After others rinsed their cameras I just left my housing in the bucket to soak between dives it seemed safest there

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments It's hard to say that this wasn't a great trip, but many people on board were unhappy about conditions. The diving was great, but this was my first trip to the Indian Ocean, so my opinion may be biased. Large schools of fish, millions of small blue triggerfish on virtually every dive. We saw sharks toward the end of the week, but not in the numbers I was led to believe there would be. There were a couple of large turtles that showed no fear and let us as close as we pleased for pictures and video. I saw about a dozen free swimming octopi throughout the week. There were large morays on most dives. Moorish idols, bannerfish, batfish and unicorn fish were pretty regular sights. Lionfish and scorpionfish were fairly common. We encountered many large napleon wrasse throughout the week. On the last day my buddy and I had a whale shark encounter, we were way behind the rest of the group and she just swam right by us on a wall, I managed to roll about four and a half minutes of video before she left. Some of the dive sites had very strong currents, I brought my own reef hook, but my friends ignored my advice and came without them, luckily the boat has them to loan. Safety sausages are also a must, the dhonni will pick you up on the surface when they spot your marker. Each buddy team is also assigned a GPS transmitter for an extra measure of safety.
The downside to the trip was the boat itself, There were a lot of problems on board. For me the worst part was the lack of air conditioning, some cabins had more than others, and we had none. The second night I just began sleeping on deck in the cushy lounge chairs where the breezes kept me perfectly comfortable. Most of the guests also developed some stomach trouble at some point in the week. Some were worse than others, it ranged from nausea to vomiting to diarrhea, some had it all and missed dives because of it. The boat manager explained that the problem was the water in the big bottles on the water cooler, so they told us to only drink from the small plastic bottles they had for us. I had read reviews of similar problems on this boat before I got on it, so I question whether the water was really at fault. The hot tub that they advertise on their web page is reall just a salt water tub which never worked anyway. The food was pretty good, nothing outstanding, but I never went hungry.
The problems with the boat aside, the crew were outstanding and did everything they could to make us happy while we were there. The Maldivians were friendly and polite and worked very hard to give us whatever we asked for. I heard them singing a local song one day and asked if I could shoot some video of them singing a little bit... that night the entire crew came out with a set of drums and did about 45 minutes of traditional Maldivian music which was all rhythms and chanting and singing and dancing. I'm sure that isn't on the normal list of activities for the week, but they were very proud and happy to share their culture with us.
Overall I had a great trip, what the boat lacked in amenities it made up for with service, and with a little creativity I managed to stay very comfortable all week. Considering the week cost under $1400, I have to say that I probably got what I paid for.
My trip form Ohio was about 30 hours each way, connecting in New York and Dubai. We arrived on Sunday morning and did our checkout dive four hours later after I had been up for almost 48 hours. If I had it to do over again I would have broken up the travel or at least arrived a day earlier to adjust.
The beginning of May is the start of the rainy season and the first two days were nothing but clouds and rain, but the rest of the week was bright sun and heat.
If you don't mind roughing it a little this boat can be a real adventure. If you're looking to be pampered in luxury I would probably go another way.
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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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