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Dive Review of Aggressor Fleet in

Aggressor Fleet: "Belize Aggressor III, Dec 2014", Dec, 2014,

by Carol D Cox, FL, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 13 Helpful votes). Report 8117.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was our first Aggressor liveaboard in a long time; our trip was in early December. Although the weather wasn’t the best, the trip was a great success due to the captain and crew, and the variety of life on the reefs we visited.

Our first impression of Belize in the airport was not the greatest. One of the Customs workers asked us if we were on the dive boat, and then pointed out a porter and said “he’s your guy”. We loaded up our bags only to walk a few feet out the door and meet our “real” member of the Aggressor crew, complete with an Aggressor/Sun Dancer logo on her shirt and a sign in hand. It was the classic rip-off to get porter tips although the service was not needed for the few feet to our van. But according to a sign posted outside, we were required by law to pay $1 for each piece of luggage that had been loaded by the porter. Future travelers beware!

We were in good hands once on the van and underway to our dive boat. It was a short ride through Belize City to the pier, where the crew took over and loaded all our bags on board, somehow separating the Aggressor bags from the Sun Dancer bags. We were given a quick orientation and then allowed to set up our gear and check out our rooms.

Our captain, Jay, decided we would be more comfortable if we stayed at the pier overnight and headed over to the atolls early in the morning. All through the trip, Captain Jay’s good judgment insured we never missed a dive or a chance to visit the Booby colony on Half Moon Caye. We had some rain and wind at times, but Captain Jay always managed to safely work our schedule around it.

We found our fellow passengers to be an entertaining group of international divers, travelling from Germany, Canada, Great Britain, France, and the US. It was a well-knit group with some lively conversations at meal time. We especially enjoyed Jean Pierre’s comments about how eggs “were impossible” for French people at breakfast. When asked what he would eat for breakfast, he explained how it was a man’s job to go out in the cold and get fresh croissants after a night of love making. Other than Jean Pierre lamenting the lack of croissants and espresso for breakfast, I didn’t hear any complaints about Yanis’ cooking. Her fish was so good, that guests requested it again and she ended up serving what I considered her best dish, almond-crusted snapper. Other meals consisted of steak, chicken and pork loin. Lunches were buffet style and included chicken and steak sandwiches, Mexican, and the Italian buffet which was my favorite lunch. Snacks between dives ranged from sweet cookies and monkey bread, to savory chicken wings and conch fritters. It was getting dark very early in December, and several of the guests requested dinner be served after the night dive. After checking with the other guests, Captain Jay was glad to accommodate. I enjoyed the change and being able to have some wine with dinner.

Although the water was a chilly 78 to 81 (I’m a wimp and I was doing some 80-minute dives so I got cold), I thought the overall diving was better than my recent trips to Great Exuma and Roatan. Belize offered a better variety of marine life. Most of the dives consisted of a wall dive starting in 25 to 50 feet, with lots of sand and patch reefs between the wall and the atoll. We started off at Turneffe Atoll where we saw mostly small and medium creatures. Dive guide Jody was quick to spot a small neck crab on a sea fan. From there we saw lots of porcupinefish, spotted morays, large and small spotted drums, butterflyfish, several different kinds of hamlets, and free-swimming green morays. The green morays had become conditioned to divers when they were once fed lionfish. The practice has ceased, but that has not stopped the morays from weaving in and out of divers hoping for a handout. Our dive guides were very adept at finding whitespotted toadfish, which are only found around Turneffe. We had several photo ops with these elusive fish. Our night dives at Turneffe were mostly filled with small stuff like a cardinalfish, shrimps, and crabs. The highlights were a Caribbean octopus and a couple of reef squid.

On our third day, we moved to Half Moon Caye at Lighthouse Atoll. Just a few miles distance made a pretty big difference in the marine life. We started off at the famous Blue Hole where we marveled at the large cave formations. Then we made our way up to the top of the hole to pursue the small stuff while performing a long safety stop. Like many divers in the past have said, it is nice to see the Blue Hole once, but once is enough. There was an absence of fish life in the hole, except for a couple of passing snappers and a lobster on a small ledge.

After the Blue Hole, we made our way to Half Moon Caye in a small boat captained by the islands salty lighthouse keeper. The ride to the island was windy, rough, and wet. Once there, we enjoyed the short walk through the jungle to visit nesting boobies and frigate birds. Along the path we found coconut crabs and iguanas.

Back onboard, we were happy to continue with our diving. Lighthouse Atoll diving was kicked up a notch by the presence of a few reef sharks and turtles. We could almost count on the sharks cruising the wall during the first part of our dives. Sightings of loggerhead, green, and hawksbill turtles were plentiful. Some of the turtles approached divers closely, allowing for great photos. We even had large Nassau groupers sidling up to divers for a chin scratch. For the macro photographers there were arrow and sailfin blennies, and linesnout gobies. During our late afternoon dives, I noticed hamlets beginning to pair up. I waited patiently and was rewarded with some great shots as they spawned. Our dive guide, Monique, pointed out some tiny skeleton shrimp and miniscule yellow and red worms no larger than a grain of rice.

The night dives on Turneffe were especially exciting. By late afternoon, we had a large school of jacks, chubs, and a few tarpon waiting under the boat. They enjoyed the feast of night creatures attracted by the boat’s lights. We even had a visit from a reef shark as it came through to check on all the commotion. You could enjoy the entire night dive right under the boat with all the activity going on there.

Besides pointing out lots of critters, the crew did a great job of helping folks onboard. When my fin strap broke, a replacement was quickly found so my dive wouldn’t be delayed. When we requested anything, we only had to ask once. The only room for improvement we saw was the fill on the larger tanks. My husband was using a steel 100, which you get charged for, and only one of the crew would fill it to capacity. Being that it is a smaller tank, you don’t get your money’s worth unless it is bumped up to a higher psi than the aluminum 80 tanks.

One of the things I enjoyed most on this trip was the freedom to dive our own profiles. We were asked not to go below 110 feet (except at Blue Hole), and to come back to the boat with 500 psi. Other than that, we could dive as long as we wanted to – either with a guide, or in our own buddy teams.

The Belize Aggressor offered several activities for the Friday afternoon back at port. Some of the offerings were massages and pedicures, a trip to the zoo, cave tubing, and Mayan tours. We did the Mayan tour and felt like we got our money’s worth, but don’t believe it when you are told the ruins are 30 minutes away. Our trip was at least a good hour each way. I could have used a massage after the bumpy ride.

Let me finish by saying the great Aggressor service didn’t begin or end with the boat. It started from the time we made our reservation. I called to make the reservation for our group to see if anyone qualified for a discount. Three of us received military discounts, and our other diver got a free Suunto dive computer. After the trip, I took the opportunity to fill out a survey the Aggressor sent via email. When I submitted the survey, they sent me a code for a 20 percent discount if I shopped their online boutique. I was already thinking about getting a pair of Nautilus Lifelines and remembered seeing these on the Aggressor site. I was able to order them with the great discount. When the radios arrived, we couldn’t get them to charge up or connect to a computer, and then I read online that the Nautilus company had sent out what was considered a “bad batch” of the devices. I emailed Aggressor about the problem, and received a reply from one of the owners. He offered to send me a pair of radios they would check out in advance, along with a return slip for the bad radios. All of this was done in a timely manner and with follow-up from their end. All I can say is “Wow”!

My photos can be seen atv[ link].
Websites Aggressor Fleet   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Red Sea, Guam, Palau, Truk, Florida, Roatan, Cozumel
Closest Airport Belize City Getting There Direct flight on Delta via Atlanta

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 60-90 Ft/ 18-27 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Return to boat with 500 psi. Have a buddy. No time limit most of the time.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
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 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments We had a large camera table on the dive deck. The top level was for cameras only, and the second level was the charging station. They had a number of charging strips available, and we carry our own pigtail since we have 4 strobes and two cameras between us to keep charged up. The camera soaking bin was adequate for the gear on our boat, but we only had two or three big rigs onboard. The rest of the divers were mainly using compact cameras and videos, without strobes. The soaking bin would have been tight with more large gear.
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Subscriber's Comments

By peter bernstein in FL, US at Feb 04, 2015 09:11 EST  
Very good report and I enjoyed looking at your shots-what camera/lens were you using? peter bernstein
By report author: Carol D Cox in FL, US at Feb 04, 2015 10:16 EST  
Hi! I'm glad you enjoyed my Undercurrent report on Belize and the photos on my website. I am using a compact setup-- Canon G15 in an Ikelite housing with a single DS161 strobe. I also use the strobe as a focus light since it has a video light mode. Also, I have a Subsea +10 and +5 macro lenses for the really small stuff like the arrow blenny. I like this setup because I can get shots of divers when the water is clear, but can also do close-up and macro. My macro lenses are on an adapter that quickly flip into place when I want to use them, also from Subsea.
By Howard Lewis in CA, US at Apr 25, 2015 20:15 EST  
Liked your report. We just finished a trip with a stay at Itza resort on Long Caye. I had finished a report with listing lots of fish and lost it as I tried to add a few more things. My report now is shorter. Loved the diving! Glad to see you feel the same way about Blue Hole diving. You were there during lobster season. Did you get to eat any? We saw the Aggressor several times while there. Our dive boat was much smaller!
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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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