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Dive Review of Windstar Cruises/MSY Wind Song in
New Zealand/North Island east coast

Windstar Cruises/MSY Wind Song, Apr, 2002,

by Jose Kirchner, CA, USA . Report 201.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 0-25 dives
Where else diving Wordwide, 46 years' dive experience, including New Zealand previously.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 62 to 66 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions All dives guided by on-board dive instructors, limited to about 45' and 60 fsw normally, with some lattitude depending on dive group makeup.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Divers taken to site by rubber inflatable. Shipboard, crew very flexible for rinse, secure storage, etc.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments For upscale dive cruising, Windstar Cruises operates 4 motorsailing yachts (computer-operated sails): 3 with up to 148 passengers and 440 ft length, one 308 pax - 535 feet. These are upscale, luxurious full-service cruise motorsailers with diving offered as part of a watersports activities offering (at extra cost, about $50 for a one tank dive). Cabins are all the same- bright, spacious en-suite with 24-hour cabin service, one larger owner's cabin. Food is world-class and varied, served in open seating restaurant or terrace cafe. The comparatively small size and passenger load assures the service you will not experience on a larger cruise ship- this is more like having your own yacht. This is an excellent holiday for the diver with non-diving family members- you dive, they beach it or do a shore excursion- or a honeymoon for divers.

This trip, in late March / early April was in NZ's Fall, sunny and warm. Diving on the northeast quadrant of North Island can be specatular- White Island, an active volcano can be dived (Dive White Island in Whakatane does day trips, at [divewhite.co.nz link]). Bay of Plenty and Bay of Islands are diverse, fishy and have engaging topography with lots of swimthroughs. Tutukaka / Poor Knights offers wreck diving and a spectacular marine preserve with pristine diving. We'd recommend NZ as a dive trip on its own, and certainly as an add-on to an Australia or Fiji trip. And prices are low, with an exchange of almost NZD$2.50 to the US Dollar.

Windstar also offers diving in Caribbean and French Polynesia destinations. In New Zealand, this St. Marten-origin dive crew were reluctant to lay on much diving, one was led to believe, due to a small number of divers, lack of familiarity with the waters and cool temps. But our experience this trip in New Zealand would tell us that, in locations the onboard dive crew are unfamiliar with, don't count on doing much diving, and don't rely on Seattle sales agents to tell you much of value- they seemed clueless to our inquiries.

Not a liveaboard nor a cruise ship- Windstar boats put in at small, cozy destinations, offering shore excursions, watersports from sailboarding to snorkeling and dive instruction. Prices are over $4,000 per person for one week MSRP, but one can get 40% discounts advance booking, and some offers include free air to Tahiti. Of course, virtually EVERYTHING is included, there is a "no tipping required" policy, and "casual elegance" (no ties, jackets, my kind of luxury.) A very nice and luxurious vacation with diving in the Caribbean, a spectacular upscale holiday with very good diving in French Polynesia- where we had two dives day with experienced divers from Zodiacs (resort divers were accomodated separately). The dive crew were very customer oriented and enthused. French Polynesian diing included colorful coral-thronged dive sites with sharks, mantas, Napoleon wrasse and more. (This was our 4th Windstar trip with diving.)


Windstar Cruises
[windstarcruises.com link] /> (800) 258-7245
or book via your agent

Dive New Zealand magazine (stories, many links and resources)
[divenewzealand.com link] />
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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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