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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands/Russell Islands, Mary Island,

Bilikiki Cruises, Nov, 2006,

by Janet & Bob Czapski, MI, USA (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 3503.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Thailand, Fiji, Bali-Komodo, Raja Ampat, Malaysia, Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 75 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The crew handled cameras wonderfully. They had a large camera table for storing cameras during the day on the back deck. The camera rinse tank was good. They do, however, move the cameras into the salon floor during transits and small baskets were provided each diver for lens, batteries, etc which were kept in the salon, not on the camera table. The charging area was in a nice room, but it was on the top deck, so lots of moving about was necessary for camera set-up changes. That was inconvenient.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The boat is an older boat with some unique features. Those who have difficulties with stairs, high steps in doorways, step-downs from cabins into hallways will not enjoy this boat. The cabins were clean, bathrooms were tiny but adequate. Noise travels very easily on the cabin deck level.

Food was mediocre at best. We did 4 liveaboards back-to-back on this trip and we rated this food the poorest. Breakfasts were never hot, food selections were extremely limited. The fruits, however, were the best and most plentiful we've ever seen. The crew did the best they could with the ingredients on hand.

The crew itself was extremely competent but very, very shy. They were NOT introduced to the group upon arrival, but thankfully they wear their names on their shirts so you could address them by name! Once you called them by name, they were a little more outgoing. The strength of the crew members is incredible! It was nothing for one of them to pick up two sets of gear and carry it easily into the tinnies! The tinny drivers were extremely competent in handling cameras & dive gear prior to boarding via the small ladder at the rear of the tinny. We did a few dives directly off the back of the Bilikiki and thoroughly enjoyed those also.

We felt that this was the least "guided" diving that we've ever done on a liveaboard in an "exotic location". If you were not familiar with the marine animals in that part of the world, it would be easy to miss things. One of the two cruise directors was in the water for every dive but they didn't seem to go out of their way to point things out. We didn't have a full charter so there were less divers than usual. If you were on a full boat, it would be very difficult to observe some of the unique critters with this type of guiding. None of the "local" crew were used as dive guides and most were not even certified divers.

We loved our village visits and visited three carving villages during the 10 day trip. We also were taken to a lovely village that performed a fantastic "sing sing" for us. The musicians used PVC piping of various lengths/diameters to produce incredible music! The Solomon Islands wood carvers are among the world's best.

I contacted the owners of Bilikiki Cruises with my concerns/comments upon return from the 6 week adventure and addressed all of the above issues with them. Their reaction was "well, everyone else loves us" so I feel that our concerns were totally dismissed. I felt like since we had done 4 "world-class" liveaboards back to back, giving them an update of the comparisons would be of value to them...apparently not.
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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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