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

April, 2002, an Instant Reader Report by Jose Kirchner, CA, USA (4 reports)
Report Number 201

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

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 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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  
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  
 
 

Overall Rating

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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