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Dive Review of MV Orion in

October, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Karen Woods, TX, US
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 6247
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Cayman,Belize, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Bonaire, Curacao, Hawaii, PuntaMita
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, currents  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
70   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
100 feet, to surface with 500 psi, buddy diving  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Large flat protected area on dohni for cameras only, rinse tank on dohni
for cameras only.  Dive staff very sensitive to camera handling in and out
of water.  Charging station in main cabin area and ample outlets in rooms
for charging.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
2 stars   
5 stars    
This was my first liveaboard, so I have no comparison to other operations. 
The rooms are spacious and comfortable. The diving was good, not always
great.  Currents limited access to some sites and affected visibility at
times.  Current often created a need for reef hooks or simply holding onto
the rocks and crawling forward to see the reef.  This limited viewing,
increased gas consumption and limited photography at several sites.  We
traveled north and south Ari Atoll.  Dive masters were knowledgeable about
all sites and drew the site at each briefing and carefully outlined the
underwater plan depending on incoming or outgoing currents.  More fish life
here than any other place I have been diving.  Coral is well preserved and
beautiful.  Many shark, saw whale shark twice.  Several small groups of
manta at cleaning stations or just free swimming.  No hammerheads.  

I was nervous about this trip after reading the reveiws about it on this
website.  I can say that things have clearly improved from prior reviews. 
The staff are excellent from divemasters who speak good English and clearly
know the sites, to the boat staff that took care of us.  Only negative
about dive staff is they do not watch divers carefully, so a beginner diver
would not be as safe here.  Good bouyancy control and controlled gas
consumption with the current is essential.  The tanks are filled with one
compressor, which takes 2 hours for 22 divers, and makes frequent
repetitive diving impossible.  We only were allowed 3 dives daily, and on 3
days had night dives for a total of 4 dives.  We were told this was due to
time difficulties filling all the tanks.  Every diver on our boat was on
Nitrox, and the fills were never complete to 3000psi.  Most fills were 2700
only!!  This was annoying and obviously led to shorter bottom time when
current or open swimming to the dive site was needed. Food on the boat was
excellent and varied.  Dinner was always excellent with several meat
choices, good spices and sauces.  Mary is the on site manager and made sure
everyone had what they needed.  Breakfast includes made to order eggs
daily.  There was an on board massage speciailist who was excellent and
gave wonderful Thai massage for $65.00 per hour.  The bartender was great
but the wine selection was marginal.  No good reds and a few good whites. 
most wine was $47.00 per bottle, hard liquor was $7.00 per shot.  Ample
free bottled water.  Soda expensive.  Minimal ice.  Biggest negative about
the boat was the air conditioning.  The main dining area is stuffy and has
only 2 working vents for this large area.  Eating while dripping sweat is
not pleasurable.  Bedrooms AC was variable depending on the room.  My room
was comfortable but others along the hallway were not.  A new land manager
for the operation has been hired, John Kreider.  He is American and has
worked in the dive industry for years.  He accompanied us on this trip and
was highly sensitive to our negative input regarding the AC and tank fills.
 It appears that a 2nd new compressor is to be installed soon so the fills
can be quicker and fuller tanks .  Also plans are underway to install
ceiling fans in the dining hall and sleeping rooms according to him.  Staff
offered us a trip to a small island to shop and visit a local school.  Also
took us on a small boat to an unihabited sandy island for sevaral hours to
enjoy the beach and the water.  A highlight at the end of the trip was a
special Maldivian drum show put on for us by the entire crew.  The crew sat
on the floor and played multiple local songs on 3 drums while several of
the others danced for us, ultimately pulling all of us up to dance with
them.  It was so nice to see them relaxed and having fun with us.  The boat
has 4 decks, with the dining hall on the main deck, the bar and outdoor
sunning area and hot tub above this and a beatiful top sunning deck with a
shady covered area and lovely breeze for relaxing between dives and in the
evening.  Definitely a luxury boat and with a few modifications, as above,
could be even better.  I would not hesitate to recommend this trip to
experienced divers.
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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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