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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Ocean Dancer in

February, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Phil & Nancy Hamilton, MA, USA
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 5160
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Philippines, Galapagos, Indonesia, Caribbean, Cozumel, Sea of Cortez,
Utila, Roatan, Costa Rica, Belize, Australia, Curacao, Florida Keys,
California, New England
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
80   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Work area was good for the number of photographers/videographers on board. 
Some competition for outlets for chargers, etc. but not a major issue as
the divers were very cooperative and considerate.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars    
1 stars   
2 stars    
We were very disappointed with the dive masters - the first was an
inexperienced "dive master in training" who didn't spot much and
interacted very little with the other divers during the dives. The other
was the captain/dive leader who was more interested in taking video than
ensuring that the divers got to the right location.  On one particular dive
to a manta cleaning station, the DM-in-training led 15 divers to the wrong
spot where there were no mantas, while the captain just had one diver with
him.  Instead of trying to find the rest of the divers and get us to the
correct place, he spent 40 minutes shooting video of all the mantas with
only a single diver.  Then he blamed the rest of the divers back on the
boat for not following him (everyone was following the other DM).  So, at
least he and one other diver had a great dive.  To the rest of us, it was
very frustrating and disappointing.  In contrast, when we went to the
Galapagos in 06 with Sky Dancer, the DM went out of his way to find us
during a dive and lead us to a whale shark! He was doing his job leading
the dive, and actually seemed to care that we had a great experience - 
unlike the Ocean Dancer DM. 
Whenever anybody had an issue, the Ocean Dancer captain got very defensive
and insulting to us and several other guests.  For example, we had a
concern about the whale shark watch, where, if a whale shark was spotted,
we would be snorkling instead of diving (not mentioned in any of the
literature by the way).  At one point during the conversation he said to me
"this isn't a zoo" and "What do you want me to do, tie a
whale shark to the back of the boat?"  We've logged 600+ dives, and we
DO know that nature is unpredictable, and his comments were very offensive
- we just wanted to discuss the snorkling vs. diving approach.  Other
passengers mentioned that they were offended other insulting comments made
to them.  Also, we booked the 10-day charter rather than the 7-day to
increase the chances of seeing a whale shark - it didn't matter because we
spent very little time even trying to find one; just up and down the reef
once on the boat, and then only one dive in the only area where there was
likely to be whale sharks.  Interestingly, after the charter, we stayed 2
nights at the Conrad resort in S. Ari Atoll, and they were spotting whale
sharks the same week as our charter.  We wished we had done a land-based
trip rather than this charter - we would have had much better diving and
probably would have seen whale sharks!  We did two dives with the resort
which really saved the trip for us.  We saw more mantas than we did all
week, plus the DMs from the resort pointed out a ghost pipefish and other
critters that we never would have spotted ourselves or with the DMs on the
Ocean Dancer.  Also, the conditions on the resort dives were excellent, and
the overall atmosphere was calm and pleasant.  Conversely, many dives on
the Ocean Dancer were in extreme current, where the DMs were using reef
hooks (better for them to shoot video) and the rest of us were hanging on
to anything we could find to avoid getting swept away.  The dives were run
like a military operation, with the DMs shouting out "GO GO GO"
whenever it was time to get into the water.  In two dives to a manta
cleaning station, if you couldn't drop 60 feet in 60 seconds, you missed
the spot and there was no way you could physically get to where you needed
to go - plus the DMs just charged ahead without waiting or helping, so you
were left behind anyway without knowing exactly where you needed to go.  We
couldn't understand why we weren't dropped a little further up from the
current, so we had more time to clear our ears and get down to the site.
Several passengers were disappointed that there were only 3 dives per day.
Apart from the diving, the service topside was very good.  Meals were tasty
and varied, although a bit rushed (guests are asked to leave the table
after dinner so the crew could sit there for their meal, which kind of
breaks things up for the night). It would have been nice to have had a top
sheet on the bed.
The planning guide contains a few errors/omissions:  It states not to bring
in any alcohol into the country,  then later it says to purchase any brands
of alcoholic beverages we may want at any airport's duty free.  Unlike
other PH charters, adult beverages are not included and are quite pricey. 
Also, we're told that there are hair dryers in the staterooms - this is not
the case, although probably not a concern to most passengers.  When listing
what dive equipment to bring, there's no mention of reef hooks or gloves. 
We wished that we had brought this equipment, but were unaware that the
current was going to be so strong at these particular sites that the
captain chose that hooks and gloves would be necessary. Although, when we
went out after the charter with the resort, we had 2 great dives and the
conditions were fine, so then reef hooks and gloves were unnecessary.   
Bottom line: We will be returning to dive in the Maldives, but definitely
not with Ocean Dancer.

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Subscriber's Comments

By BoxOnline in ZZ, CH at Aug 03, 2014 11:14 EST  
What was the captain's name? After ten days aboard, surely you can remember
such an important detail.
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