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Dive Review of Ultimate Getaway in
The Continental USA/Florida, Dry Tortugas

April, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by John Hardison, MD, usa
Report Number 1653
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, Fl Keys, West Palm (FL), Maryland, California, St. John, Belize,
Grand Cayman, San Juan Islands (WA)
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, cloudy, dry  
Water Temp
72   to 74    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
If your computer locked you out, you were done diving for the trip.  If you
dove tables, they would be checked for accuracy. 1st beer = last dive of
the day.    
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Seperate (and multiple) rinse buckets for washing or soaking camera
equipment.  Nice table for setting up your camera.  Emphasis on handing
your camera to you in the water and taking it when you came out.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
4 stars    
Took a group of 9 divers on a 3 night live aboard to the Dry Tortugas (Gulf
of Mexico).  Total of 16 divers on board and 7 crew.  First time with this
operation for myself and my group.  Some of other divers repeat customers. 
Water was choppy, windy, some current on the surface.  Boat rolled a lot
because of weather conditions and we had some seasickness.  Offered four
dives on day 1 and six on day 2.  Advertised 7-10 dives per day.  Third day
advertised 2 special dives, but weather was poor and we made for port. 
Repeat divers said other trips had many more dives, calm seas.  I have dove
in worse conditions (Atlantic) and would have dove everytime they stoped
the boat.  Boat did a lot of puttering around same area without stopping. 
We think they were looking for good spots, but no communication ever to
divers as to schedule, conditions, or what they were trying to do.  Crew
never entered water as guides or dove.  Upon arrival at dock, crew very
helpfull and took all luggage aboard.  Upon return, divers did all the
work.  Nitrox available entire trip, $40 for unlimited refills (just wish
we had more opportunities to refill).  John, the cook, very personable and
food was good.  Al, the tank refiller, always had a joke to tell and paid
close attention to cameras and getting tanks refilled.  Other crew were
invisible for the most part, helped grab cameras and fins when coming
aboard, but that was it.  Advertised 14' chase boat conspicuously absent
from trip, it would have been helpful to get current-swept divers back on
board.  Community bunkroom was exactly as expected - no frills, and bunks
were actually roomier than anticipated.  On first dives, divers were told
to swim to bow and decend on anchor line, but current was too strong.  When
divers complained to Captain Rick, resistance was met and he became
defensive - not what you want when trying to work out a solution.  Although
we felt his communciation and customer service skills lacked, diving
improved dramatically after discussion, with lines attached from stern to
bow.  We think we caught the crew at a bad time, some members were new, and
the weather report may have had some of them thinking they would not be
working that weekend because they did not seem "in to it" at all.
 Diving was good all around, always on a healthy reef with plenty of
angels, small grouper, and the usual suspects.  Spotted a 400lb. Goliath
Grouper at 26 feet once, and 2 divers saw a hammerhead in 90 feet. 
Dolphins chased the boat but were absent on dives as well as turtles and
any other sharks.  The single night dive produced 6 snowflake eels and
plenty of lobster.  One diver reported a large octopus but I searched in
vain for them.  The area needs to have mooring bouys in popular locations,
our boat's anchor was always lodged against live reef.  Overall the
experience was fair.  Communication with the divers would have improved the
trip 10 fold.  Less chop and less surface current would have made things
better, but crew cannot predict the weather, but I expect more than 10
dives on a three day live aboard.  Not recommended for novice divers.
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