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Dive Review of MV Orion in
Maldives

MV Orion, Oct, 2011,

by Karen Woods, TX, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 6247.

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

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 70 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 100 feet, to surface with 500 psi, buddy diving
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 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
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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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