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Dive Review of MIke Ball in
Australia/Great Barrier Reef

MIke Ball, May, 2009,

by Lori Pottinger, CA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 4827.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Fiji, Hawaii, Bonaire, Florida Keys
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas choppy
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 40 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Come back w/ 750 psi. If you have an alcoholic drink, that's it for diving for you for that day (BRAVO Mike for the strict rule!)
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments dedicated area for gear set up. Computer to download pix.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The good: Truly amazing, professional, friendly staff who were all really dedicated to making our experience the best they could (including office staff). Comfy boat, very good food (tho served buffet style, which meant some things disappeared before everyone could have some). Good choice of dive sites. Excellent safety standards and protocols, and especially great system on night dive, which made even a first-timer in our party very comfortable about jumping in in the dark. Even on a short (4 nights, 3 diving days) trip, staff managed to squeeze in an informative naturalist presentation, a photo contest, a BBC ocean documentary, and a very fun end-of-trip party!

The highlight was probably the very well organized night dive. I wish I'd gone on both instead of just one! The 20 or so participants were divided into teams, with a team leader, and all were given a specific color glow stick so you could easily find your group. (the leader had two of that color.) And of course everyone had a flashlight ("torch"). This system made even a new diver in our group confident to try a night dive, and what a dive it was--huge crabs, a big resting puffer fish, free swimming eels, schools of hunting trevally, giant basket star, a feather-mouthed sea cucumber,tons of hunting small critters, etc.

The bad: Billed as a "Fly-dive Coral Sea," rough seas meant we never made it to the Coral Sea, with its deep walls and more exciting sites. (It must be said that I totally respect the Captain's judgement on this, and am glad we did not have to endure a dangerous and rough passage to get to better diving!) Although Mike Ball (and most other operators) note that they may charge an extra fuel surcharge w/o warning, maybe there could be some kind of (small) rebate when fuel savings are large due to a change in destination. On the other hand, this would probably open a can of worms that no operator would want to touch! And while it was a disappointment not to reach the Coral Sea, perhaps that's just the breaks when one chooses one of the windier months to travel! (The captain told us that Sept. is a better, predictably flat time of year.)

We would definitely travel w/ Mike Ball again.
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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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