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Dive Review of Peter Hughes -- Star Dancer in
Papua New Guinea/Milne Bay

August, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Maria Chapman, TX, US
Reviewer   (5 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6677
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
PNG, Galapagos, Indonesia, Caribbean, Canada
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

rainy, cloudy  
calm, choppy, currents  
Water Temp
78   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
15   to 30    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Own computers, no deco.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or  
1 or 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
This is an old boat that has a small two tier camera table on the dive deck
with two small battery charging shelves at one of the corners.  On this
trip the facilities were adequate as there were only four divers with large
housings, the rest of the divers either point and shoot set ups or no
cameras at all.  Otherwise the camera table and charging facilities would
have been completely inadequate.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars    
2 stars   
3 stars    
This boat should not be operating at all.  On this trip there were six crew
for 11 passengers (cook, steward, night watchman, engineer/dive guide, new
photo pro, captain).  We had hot water for one day (our group leader
brought the spare part used for the one day before it broke).  There was no
Nitrox and upon inspection we found the compressor casing was cracked.  The
captain stated they were working on it but had no parts to fix it.  The
desalination plant was not working properly and we drank slightly salty
water until the last day of the trip.  All these are problems that should
no appear on a 4-5 star hotel, which the Dancer is compared to on the
Dancer Fleet website and brochures. 

The most important thing is this dive boat is UNSAFE and severely under
staffed.  Safety current line is taken out when the last crew member
surfaces, not when the last diver is out, occurring during moderate to very
strong currents.  In most cases, the engine on the chase boat is inadequate
to fetch more than one diver that may have been swept by the current,
specially if they are separated.  There is no board on the deck to account
for divers, the only means is when they ask each diver for time and depth;
this is done long after surfacing and sometimes not at all.  The
engineer/dive guide chews betelnut through the day and is mostly in his own
world under water and while watching for divers on the dive deck.  As
divers, we were offered to try betel nut several times by our captain. 
Several times we woke up late into the night to find locals on the dive
deck drinking and eating with the night watchman.  While we were told that
sometimes the Village Chief is invited to partake with crew and guests (and
this happened a couple of times), it is very unsettling to know that
thousands of dollars in equipment are easily accessible.  The photo pro was
new to the boat so we could not expect much, but nevertheless she acted as
if on vacations.

The Captain acted as dive guide on most dives having to do several jobs
onboard just to attempt to provide what was expected and paid for.  This
leaves the question:  on a boat so understaffed and with so many dives
conducted with current on the bommies, what happens if the boat becomes un
moored and both captain and engineer are underwater?  At the beginning of
the trip we were told that the current safety line was to be used for our
safety while descending or ascending with current, but it was taken out by
the last crew to surface because this is what we always do per the
Captain.  There was never a crew member u/w until the last diver surfaced
and we were never told that taking the current safety line with divers
still down was their practice.

We stopped diving altogether after the afternoon of the fourth dive, when
we found no current line at the mooring to ascend (with pretty strong
current).  We hung unto the mooring line at the surface with 3 plus swells
until one of the customers heard us and told us the chase boat was being
used to get another diver that was swept by the current.  Knowing we could
not count on the engineer/dive master to help or even keen an eye on us, we
decided the safest choice was to hang unto the line until the boat became
available to pick us up.  

We have been passengers on this same boat on their Kimbe Bay itinerary and
on the Komodo Dancer and we never encoutered any of these problems.  Both
the cook and the steward did a great job during this trip, and their
attitude was exactly what we expected from the Dancer Fleet.  We understand
that the Captain did more than his share of jobs during this trip, but at
the same time mistakes -sometimes grave mistakes- will happen when the
person entrusted with our safety is overworked. 

This is unforgivable and unacceptable.  
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Subscriber's Comments

By Alice Ribbens in MN, US at Sep 04, 2012 16:17 EST  
Yikes--this is the boat that is supposed to become the new Thailand
Aggressor.  Hope they overhaul it before it moves to Thailand... (or maybe
the crew is why they are moving it.)
By Maria Chapman in TX, US at Sep 04, 2012 18:16 EST  
I believe the new owner will do that.  The Captain is just overworked and
trying to do too many jobs in an understaffed boat with no spares, and the
crew will probably change with the location.  The Dancer used to be a very
good boat and hopefully will be again. My wish is for the company to take
customer's input seriously and change/repair/review so their reputation and
product remains high in this competitive industry.
By Holly Bent in HI, US at Oct 04, 2012 12:34 EST  
It appears dancer/aggressor have lost the ability to maintain their
standards.  Such a shame as they were a great.  Quality and caring about
the consumer is no longer a priority.
By thomas j dwyer in HI, US at Jul 04, 2013 19:53 EST  
I was on The Star Dancer in April, 2012. I found the conditions to be
extremely disappointing. I have been diving with Peter Hughes since 1986, I
could not believe what I was experiencing.... broken shower with little or
no hot water, No nitrox, slightly salty drinking water. Just a mess, never
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Other dive reports on Peter Hughes Diving

All Papua New Guinea Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Papua New Guinea
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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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