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Dive Review of Philippine Siren in
Philippines/Southern Visayas

Philippine Siren, Oct, 2011,

by Michael J. Millet, CA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 65 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 6308.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean; Galapagos, Socorros, PNG, GBR, Solomons, Vanuatu, Fiji, Indonesia, Palau, Yap, Korsae, Chuuk
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 82 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No Deco
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The Philippine Siren had adequate rinse tanks for cameras, and the crew was careful handling camera gear on/off the dive skiffs. The camera table is located inside the salon and away from the dive deck. It is not large enough to handle more than 2 larger camera rigs with strobes. Some cameras had to use space a raised floor area in the salon. There is covered space on the dive deck for a 1st class camera table, but this area is currently used for massages. Is this a live-aboard or a spa?
This area is touted for its macro photography, but I was a bit disappointed in this regard. 2 days at Apo and Dauin islands offered the best opportunities for such but the remainder of the 10 day trip did not meet expectations.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The Philippine Siren is a fairly spacious live-aboard that is kept clean and picked-up. It has 2 sailing masts that are for show not to go. The sails were raised only on the last day for photo ops. The dive deck is towards the bow, then the salon and then an open dining area where the helm is located. Cabins are roomy with a large window and in-cabin A/C. Storage is adequate; the bathroom could use more shelves that are not located in the shower area. I had a single cabin with twin bunks. With heavy rains at the start of the trip, my initial bunk got soaked from a leaky ceiling. Fortunately, I was able to move to the other bunk.

All meals are served buffet style in the open dining area. The food was generous and tasty with a nice variety of Filipino and Western foods. We all dug in when Chef Jimmy proclaimed: "What are you waiting for?"
The included beverages were beer, juice, sodas. Wine/spirits were extra and quite pricey. A very average wine was 40 Euros (about $54US). Since this live-aboard is rather expensive to begin with, all beverages should be included, especially beer and wine (ala Aggressor and Dancer live-aboards).

The dive operations were handled efficiently using 2 skiffs. Getting on/off the Siren to the skiffs with dive gear in choppy water called for some nimbleness and good timing. There were a few "do-overs".
The gear and camera rinse tanks were maintained well with clean water. The dive groups were on the large side with 6-7 divers per group, each with a dive guide. The dive guides did a good job IDing marine life.
The boat crew was generally helpful and friendly. There was a crew of 13 for 13 divers.

For the first 3 days of the trip, there was a very serious issue regarding smoking by 3 of the divers (and some crew). Smoking was supposed to occur in the bow area -- away from the open dining area and the salon. However, the first few days of the trip were rainy so the 3 smoking divers and the cruise director were smoking in the dining area because they did not want to get wet. Ironic, isn't it. The smoke drifted into the salon. So several ardent non-smoking divers, myself included, were essentially exiled to our cabins when not diving. After several VERY TENSE discussions (and fortunately some fair weather), the smokers began to light up at the bow.
The crew also smoked all about the boat especially the captain whose helm was virtually in the dining area. It took several requests of the cruise director to remedy this situation.

Another less strident issue was diver attire at meals, especially dinner. I am as laid-back as about any diver and wear shorts with tank top at breakfast and lunch and a sleeved T-shirt at dinner. On this trip, an 82 year old diver (bless his heart) would come to many meals, including dinner in his banana-hammock Speedo. Not a pretty sight.

When it came to pay the bill at the end of the trip, the dive company's credit card electronic swipe wasn't working (apparently it had not worked for the entire 10 days of our trip). So the divers had to pay the boat bills and crew tips in cash. I had to make a special trip to an ATM to get cash for the crew tip.

In summary, Worldwide Dive and Sail markets as an upscale live-aboard experience and charges a higher price. Based on this trip, I do not consider the additional $$ worth it. I have had a better dive experience with better food, drink and accommodations on Aggressor, Dancer and Nautilus Explorer vessels.

The diving in the Southern Visayas was good but not exceptional.I will not do this particular itinerary again. I will not book with WWDS if Aggressor, Dancer and Nautilus Explorer vessels or another comparable boat is available.




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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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