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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Mexico (Western)/San Benedicto, Roca Partida

February, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by NEAL LANGERMAN, CA, US
Reviewer   (4 reports)
Report Number 5376
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
All around the US, Gulf, Caribbean, Western Pacific, Australia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
73   to 75    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dives allowed to dive with the same freedom the "divemasters would
expect to dive with"  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
A wet camera station and a "dry" battery charging station were
well designed and convenient.  The rinse tanks were adequate with fresh
water changed daily.  Overall camera handling and protection was very good
to excellent.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
1 stars
Service and Attitude
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
1 stars   
4 stars    
We have over 10,000 dives in many locations.  We have been to the
Revillogigedo archipelago before on a different vessel.

Deep dives with strong current.  Water was cool (75oF/20oC).  Diving was
from the stern of the Nautilus Explorer when in the Canyon (4-1/2 days, 15
dives) or the Boiler (1/2 day, 2 dives).  At Roca Partida, diving was from
a panga.  Generally gear handling and diving was very efficient, with
cameras being well protected.  Dive stations on the Explorer were mainly
along a sloping deck and poorly designed for smaller divers.  The
ergonomics of donning and removing tanks was poor.  The bungi tank retainer
was especially difficult for many passengers to remove or put in place. A
significant trip hazard was in the middle of the ramp to the stern deck and
did cause one fall, which did not result in an injury.  The very
uncomfortable dive stations downgraded the ease of diving.

The crew did not immediately address the high current which forced divers
to pull themselves along a long tag line/anchor chain and then crawl along
the bottom.  The configuration results in more than 6 minutes to reach the
bottom and then more current fighting to reach locations to interact with
Mantas or see hammerheads.  The current at Roca Partida was strong, but the
dive profile did not require fighting it.  After 3-1/2 days of fighting the
current, a descent line directly to the canyon wall was used for one dive. 
It helped a lot.  The current dropped significantly shortly after that

Animal interaction was random, but intense.  Mantas were incredibly
interactive and often remained in the area all day.  This provided
excellent photography.  The hammerhead and shark viewing generally required
deeper dives (100 foot/30 meter and deeper) and frequently were not
productive.  Hammerhead photography was poor.

The crew was superb.  They were extremely friendly and their training
showed in their professionalism and attention to details.  There were three
Dive Masters. As always on live-aboards, there was one Dive master who was
particularly camera oriented, rather than passenger oriented, in the water.
 The galley staff and the other crew members were also excellent.  A
significant number of the 24 guests were French-speaking, and an additional
staff member was on-board to accommodate possible language difficulties.

The food was plentiful, but uninspired, and boring.  For the first three
days, the amount of salt in almost every dish rendered the food
unpalatable.  A request to the crew did not change things.  Only when
hamburger was served for dinner, and I totally lost my cool about the food,
did the head of the galley address the problems.  The boring menu did not
improve, but the salt load decreased markedly.  The fresh-baked breads and
desserts stood in marked contrast to the dull cuisine.  Overall, the
quality of the cuisine was far below what the live-aboard industry has set
as a norm. 

Aside from the poorly designed dive stations, the boat is roomy and
comfortable.  The private rooms are large and more than sufficient for a
couple or two divers.  The salon is very comfortable, but tight quarters
for a meeting of all of the guests and crew.  The dining area is large and
well designed for meals, even during heavy seas.  I found the only
available locations to download image files and work on a computer
uncomfortable.  The dining area would be best, but was only available for
brief periods between meals.

Moneys Worth
Mike Lever, owner of the vessel, contacted us immediately upon our return
to home to find out more about our poor experience with the food. 
According to him, changes were implemented immediately and a long term food
quality maintenance program was being implemented.  This speaks highly to
the concern of the vessel for its guests experience.

The nautilus Explorer is a vessel designed for hardcore divers seeking
high-adventure diving.  This trip costs about $350 per day (10 days), but
the diving is only for 7 days.  Nitrox, bar tab, port fees, and gratuities
are extra.  Overall, we got our moneys worth on this trip.

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All Mexico (Western) Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Mexico (Western)
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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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