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Dive Review of Tropic Dancer in

November, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Gary D Simms, MD, US
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 6765
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Caymans, Bonaire, Roatan, Turks, Eilat, Panama
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, currents  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Recreational noDC limits (eg, 110 ft, 60 minutes)  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Excellent, supplemented by staff photographer and videographer
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
The Tropic Dance is all about service - on shore, on board, in the water.
The staff was really outstanding, friendly, professional. and eco-aware.
Safety was always important.  Food and drink terrific  - wake up coffee
service at the cabin door, continental and regular breakfast before the
7:15 am first dive (I know it's early, but we got quite used to it), lunch
buffet, plated dinners, and snacks after each dive. There were always
veggie options, and the chef was amendable to helping those with food
allergies or special needs. Because Palau diving is highly dependent on
current conditions, the staff knowledge of the local area was great. They
usually briefed at least two possible dives, and made a final decision when
personally inspecting the site.

The boat uses a hydraulic lift skiff (where gear is stored after initial
set up)making us the first ones to particularly popular sites. Great ease
of entry and exit, and most rides to dive sites were 5 minutes or less (the
exceptions being when currents at the site were too difficult, and an
alternative was selected).

When we've been on previous trips, we made a point of asking more
experienced divers where to go. They often mentioned Palau. They were so
right! The upside is that in one place, you can find extraordinary
unspoiled hard and soft corals of all kinds, little stuff and big stuff,
schools of sharks, huge schools of fish, wrecks, and caves. The downside is
that it takes forever to get there, and it's a long trip back to the US
(took us 28 travel hours from Palau to the east coast with 4 plane
changes). Highlights: swimming with 8-10 giant manta near sunset (not once,
but on two days). By staying within a huge bait ball of snapper, we got
within 10 feet of these beauties.

Here. I have to thank Captain Ike, who was leading the dive. He spotted a
group of 9 mantas overhead, and grabbed my wife's hand and (using his extra
large fins) pulled her along until she was just a few feet away. She's a
strong swimmer herself, but his help was wonderful It was only later that
we realized that this extraordinary experience came on her 100th dive.

The "hook in" dives at several key spots allowed us to watch the
pelagics in huge numbers swim by; large schools of sharks (white tip, black
tip, some leopards, reef, etc) came within 5-10 feet as the 2-3 knot
current kept our tie-in lines fully extended. Great, great experience.

Most of the diving is of the drift variety, which for less experienced
divers can be a bit unnerving. The crew and dive masters made it a snap. In
addition to requiring use of sausages and horn alarms, they usually made a
clear, tank banging ascent near the end of the dive used regulators to
inflate a bright yellow safety sausage and gathered those who were a bit
anxious about being found by the skiff (there were times when the skiff was
loaded with 17 divers; this made for some initial crowding on descent, but
we generally broke into several groups, made possible by 2-3 dive masters
on each dive who took the time to check on us and point out some of the
really great sites). Pick up could take up to 10 minutes of surface bobbing
in relatively calm water. We had one rough pickup when a sudden squall
during the dive resulted in 2-3 waves, some surface current, heavy rain,
and difficulty in spotting the skiff. The dive master with the 6 of us was
calm, cool, collected and eliminated our concerns.

Palau offers some of the best diving anywhere. The live aboard helped us
avoid long (1-2 hour) rides from shore operator locations to the best dive
spots, and gave us the luxury of 4-5 dives daily. The Dancer crew carefully
filled out tanks with nitrox which was remarkably stable percentage-wise,
and easily read on a big wall mounted gauge. (Tanks consistently were at
the 3200 pound fill level, too). Water temps were high enough (80-84 F) so
that I was always comfortable in a 1 mil suit (although some of the divers
used as much as 5 or 7 mil suits). 

The last day included a snorkel in Jellyfish Lake, an experience not to be
missed, and a shallow dive into air-pocket laden caverns that was kind of

This was our first live-aboard experience. It's how we plan on diving in
the future whenever possible.
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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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