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Dive Review of Nimrod Explorer in
Australia/great barrier reef

Nimrod Explorer, Jun, 2007,

by fiona rattray, on, canada (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 3521.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I chose Nimrod Explorer due to reports in Undercurrent and also other on-line recommendations. This was my first ever liveaboard, and it will be the measure of any other liveaboards I take. The office in Cairns was very helpful both in booking and answering questions. I stayed at the Fig Tree Inn in Cairns before and after the trip.

The Nimrod is a catamaran that was built as a reseach vessel. She can take 18 passengers, on this trip there were 12, 11 divers and a snorkeler (partner of one of the divers). All divers were experienced, some with 30 years of diving under their belts.

What you see on the website is what you get in real life. I was lucky and got a cabin to myself on the upper deck. My room had its own head and shower. The A/C was a bit cold in my room, but the crew did adjust it after I requested. It was not noisy in my room. Electrical outlets had Australian style plugs, bring an adapter if you're from elsewhere.

Up to five dives a day including night dives; on this itinerary 16 were available and I did every one of them. I chose the Cairns to Cooktown, 4 nights, 5 days trip. The boat goes out to the reef overnight, works its way up the reef to the Cod Hole, then back down to Cooktown. You get a cool low-level flight back over the reef and the Daintree rainforest to return you to Cairns.

If you take this liveaboard, the crew may be different, and you may go on a different itinerary. There were 7 crew: captain, engineer, chef (AnneMarie), apprentice cook, houskeeper and two dive masters (Kelly and Dan). I took a tour of the bridge and the engine room, saw where the water was desalinated and the compressor lived. There are two double topside cabins, and the rest are quads located in the two catamaran hulls, the usual unique catamaran geometry. The "saloon" where dive briefings and food was served also had a video for movies and a small library. There was a front area for sunning, but the weather on this trip was unusually cloudy: sunny only on the last day. The dive deck was spacious, and entry usually off the platform at the back, although side entries could be made if conditions warrented. A hang bar at 10 feet was in place on all dives, though it could float up in a current.

The food was amazing. AnneMarie is a gem. She told me she had studied nutrition for athletes, and chose foods that were more easily digested for divers (ie, less grease). She had fresh herbs, locally grown meats and fish, and veggies/fruit. Food was placed on a sidetable and you helped yourself. A small breakfast was offered before the early morning dive, then a "real" breakfast (eggs, fruit, toast, etc). Lunch was salads, sandwiches etc. Dinner included fish, chicken, beef, stir fries, curries, and on the last night, barbequed ribs. Snacks were available between dives, tea, coffee, juice, soft drinks, and water always on hand. Hot muffins, brownies after night dives (plus hot towels!). You got a new spring water bottle and put your name on it on the first day, then refilled it (reduced plastic waste: good idea). Beer and wine available, if you paid in US$, alcohol was free. First alcoholic drink, last dive of the day.

Divemaster Kelly provided good drawings of the divesites, and had great information on critters to see. She and Dan alternated dives, one would be available for the chase boat if needed, the other led the dives. You could dive with your buddy on your own, or follow the divemaster if you liked. Training was available in everything from AOW to solo diving, availability depended on if the divemasters on board could teach the course. Solo diving permitted with solo card on most but not all dives (due to current and other conditions).

Each diver was given a dive flag on a collapsable pole which went on your tank. One quick snap and the shockcord locked the pole into a 5 foot high dive flag to wave if you needed help on the surface. Safety stressed at all times. Oxygen and first aid available. You're 30 km. off the coast and Nimrod crew are prepared for any event. You signed in and out of every dive, recording depth and PSI. Nitrox analyzer for those using nitrox. Dedicated camera table. Your gear (mask, fins etc) went under a bench and your tank and BC stayed where it was, and was refilled from a whip between each dive. Wetsuits hung up. Full gear rental available.

I can't begin to describe all the critters I saw. Some of them weren't in the guide books on board the ship. Cod hole dive with the giant groupers (called Potato cods in Oz) was everything advertized. Saw a Minke whale at the start of the second dive and surface snorkeled with it for 45 minutes on trail lines out behind the boat. Only a few dive operations in Oz have licenses to snorkel with the whales, and there are regulations on how this can be done: bottom line, no harassing the whales.

I saw lots of whitetip sharks, an octopus, tons of healthy coral, leaf scorpionfish, pipefish, stonefish, lionfish, a sea snake, hunting trevally, schooling jacks, turtles, on and on. Divesites I liked were Pixie Pinnacle, Cod Hole, Dali's Dream. We did a dawn dive on the last day; amazing to jump in the water in the dark, watch the sky getting rosy pink, look down for the schools of fish in your dive light indicating the bommie was down there, do the dive and watch the shift change from night to day on the reef, and come up into the sunshine of the new day. Worth every penny.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 79-0°F / 26--18°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 40-100 Ft/ 12-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions come back to boat with 500PSI
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments I was able to rent a digital underwater camera from a shop in Cairns. Nimord Explorer office recommended them. The camera shop owner came to the Eplorer office and gave me a 1/2 hour mini workshop on using the camera. At the end of the trip, I got a CD burned of all my pics.
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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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