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Dive Review of Explorer Ventures --Caribbean Explorer II in
Saba/Saba & St. Kitts

September, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Jeanne Reeder, MO, US
Contributor   (13 reports, with 9 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6723
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Raja Ampat, Alor, Fiji, Palau, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Japan,
Turkey, Sudan, Saba, St. Kitts, Statia, Bonaire, Cozumel, Cayman Brac, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
calm, choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
70 minute dives, dive with buddy unless solo certified, 110 for Nitrox, no
deco diving, carry safety sausage  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
Caribbean Explorer II Saba-St.Kitts beckoned me for my third trip with
their 25th Anniversary Special for only $1250; nice reduction from the
usual $1895.  Look for their frequent specials! Familiarity with a vessel
is like wearing your favorite BCD -- you know its secrets. It's nice to
know up-front the vessels procedures, where your cabin is, and the location
of their complimentary liquor cabinet.  As usual I felt welcomed even
though the faces had changed. I set up gear in a preferred spot and got
settled in for an enjoyable dive week.  The night crossing from St. Maarten
to Saba was relatively easy with waves topping at 4', providing some ample
rocking side-to-side in this 115' vessel as sleep was attempted.  Judging
from the wan looks on a few divers faces the next morning, I knew it hadn't
set well with some. Don't forget your med-of-choice if you are prone to
seasickness, as you'll feel the waves on this boat.

We had full occupancy of 18 divers, all well experienced except for one
beginner who was spooked by the more advanced diving at Saba, ie changeable
and strong currents. Also, there was a 20 mph wind much of the time which
made some of the exits challenging with the waves and surge.  The 3 dive
crew were generous in offering her a hand to hold undersea, and an easier
entrance from the back of the boat.  The rest of us took a long stride from
the side about six feet down.  Because of the currents and depth we usually
followed the mooring line,gathered at the bottom, and dispersed in
preferred directions from there with a buddy or following the dive master. 
On the dive at Tedran Wall,  my buddy and I followed the dive master,
pulling ourselves along the granny line and descending hand over hand on
mooring line. At 75', I eyed the Wall, hoping to slip over it into calmer
water, but the very strong current was not any less there. Finger-walking
on the sand was nearly impossible, and after gaining only a few feet, the
DM aborted the dive.  Two other divers had made it to that point; most
others had returned to the boat within a few minutes. All diving is done
from the mother-boat.  There is one tender, 16', for emergencies, but it is
'understood' that there will be no drift-diving and expecting the tender to

Saba did not disappoint in its usual high quality of diving. Soft and hard
corals are plentiful, colorful and the fish abundant.  Sightings of all the
stages of trunkfish bridled burrfish, drumfish, highhats, and jackknife
were frequent. Crab, lobster, and nurse sharks were found under overhangs. 
Keep your eye out for scorpionfish -- they are there.  The lettuce sea slug
was a favorite at Torrens Point.  Diamond Rock was as amazing as ever as I
finned around the three tall outcrops, watching alternately for stingrays
and morays -- it was teaming with life.   

On day four, we were diving in St.Kitts calm waters, but visibility was
lower.  Paradise has interesting topography with sand gullies meandering
around 20' coral fingers. I reveled in wending my way in these pathways, 
at times being led into a cul-de-sac where the fish seemed surprised I
found them.  It was definitely the dive for my light as I hovered, peering
underneath overhangs and into crevices. I concentrated on finding smaller
critters in the short seagrass at Old Bay Road such as baby octopus, grass
squid, and pipefish.  A 1" black and yellow-barred baby gray angelfish
at Cornithian fluttered erratically near an outgrowth on the tugboat.  On
our last day of diving we went to Monkey Shoals where we all successfully
searched for sailfin blennies.

Captain Ian, with his delightful sense of humor, was always available and
set a professional tone of efficiency.  He always gave his part of the dive
briefing before the dive crew filled us in.  Need something fixed? 
Engineer Chris was always at-the-ready with a friendly smile and eager
willingness.  Chef Sarah is a master in the kitchen creating unique
combinations which amuse and delight the palate.  The red wine sauce on
very tender steaks was the best I've ever had; chicken cordon blu tasty;
ample salads creative; and breakfasts substantial including offerings eggs,
sausage, banana pancakes,&  french toast.  One evening a local
fisherman brought wahoo, Sarah marinated it, and he grilled it.

There were three dive crew, Brett, Margo and instructor/purser Clair, who
were ready to assist when asked. When not intent on spearing & killing
lionfish, Brett was good at pointing out well hidden critters. The last
couple of days Margo did not feel well, did not appear, and left when the
boat docked at St. Kitts.  

My stateroom was air-conditioned, barebones but very clean, bed was
comfortable and the water was hot. Two reverse osmosis water-makers make
drinkable water; we were just advised not to waste it. For this 7 night
trip, four to five dives were offered for 5 days, and two on day 6. 

CEX II varies from which port it sails.  I departed from St.Maarten, ending
the trip at St. Kitts.  Then another group boards for the reverse
itinerary.  To avoid possible luggage delays before sailing, I arrived one
day early, spending the night in St. Maarten at the very comfortable and
the nearby Holland House.  For additional off-gassing, I also spent an
extra night at St. Kitts, at my favorite go-to place, Ocean Terrace Inn. 
For beginning divers, I highly recommend selecting the option beginning the
trip from St. Kitts, as there is more time to adjust to ocean diving before
hitting Saba's currents.  My extra charges for the trip: Nitrox for one
week = $150; Port & Marine fees = $115; Fuel Surcharge = $125.  

I still wish Statia would be put back into the itinerary as a third island.
 Owner Clay indicates that he's recently met with the dive operators there,
but...  Other locations in the mix for Explorer Ventures?  Stay tuned!
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Subscriber's Comments

By lyndad2 at Oct 13, 2012 01:30 EST  
I'm booked for my 3rd trip on the St. Maarten-St Kitts itineray next
January.  Last two times included Statia, and I, too, wish they'd add it
back, but I understood that the Statia govt wanted a lot of money for the
one day of diving.  Glad to get a recent review and learn the quality of
the dive sites, crew, and food (yum!) was still high.
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