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Dive Review of Aggressor Fleet/Belize Aggressor IV in
Belize

Aggressor Fleet/Belize Aggressor IV: "Aggressor IV: A Great First Liveaboard Experience", Apr, 2017,

by Ryan Black, MI, US (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 9585 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Belize Aggressor IV (BAIV) has been reviewed by a number of people before myself. The existing “literature” on BAIV is quite thorough, so I recommend hoofing over to ScubaBoard and reading the reviews of both drrich2 from May 2015 and also Lavalamp from December 2016.

By way of context, this was my wife and my first liveaboard experience. We started diving “seriously” in December 2015 and have thus far done Kona, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Little Cayman, and, most recently, two blissful weeks in Bonaire. We booked the trip in early 2017 with a $500/person discount promotion.

Boat/Crew

A number of reports sing praise for Captain Eddy. He apparently is from Honduras and will be taking over at the helm for the Roatan Aggressor that will start sailing in early June 2017. (Though I just glanced at the Aggressor-provided logs and saw that Eddy captained the May 6 cruise) We had Lowell O’Rourke as our captain. Dive guide duty was divided among Lowell and Monique, John, and William. Jerry had chef duties and was assisted by Jean. Elia was the steward.

As for the ship, take a look at drrich2’s great review (on ScubaBoard), which provides a wonderful photo tour of the ship. His photos are still accurate as of April 2017, though I think the carpet in the dining room/salon area has been refreshed. Bathrooms are small, but we only ended up using the in-room shower once -- the morning that we left the boat. All of our other showers took place at the stern, which has one very warm shower on each side (along with big jugs of shampoo and conditioner).

One thing that might be helpful to know is the storage situation in your room. There are two bedside stands in each room with a couple of drawers. The beds also have a single floor-level pullout drawer. There is a cutout at the foot end of the bed for stashing a duffle or something like that. There is a cabinet over the bed but this is difficult to access if you’ve got the room configured as a king-sized bed (as opposed to 2x twins). The bottom side of the cabinet (i.e., what you look at if laying in the bed) has an individual light and double socket 110v plug. My socket also had two USB charging ports as well but my wife’s side did not. Finally, there is a single closet in the room as well.

The BAIV website says that each cabin has a TV and DVD player, which wasn’t the case for us (although we didn’t really care). Our room had a wall-mounted LCD and digital media player, from which you could plug in a USB drive or SD flash card to play movies or shows. The unit itself is a Micca Speck G2 ([miccatron.com link]). The salon/lounge area has a DVD player and assortment of movies.

The “Know Before You Go” sheet asks that you pack with soft-sided luggage. I wouldn’t worry too much about this. Once you arrive, you are told to pick a place on the dive deck where you’ll keep your gear all week. NB: I recommend picking someplace the middle. The areas closest to the stern are high traffic because that’s where the showers are located. The areas closest to the bow are opposite the camera tables, so that could be a high traffic area depending on the number of photographers on your particular cruise. After you’re done unpacking, you simply leave your luggage outside your room and it disappears into the bowels of the ship and returns at the end of the week when it’s time to pack up (i.e., you’re not responsible for stowing your luggage).

Lavalamp’s review noted nightly power outages. Speaking only for our trip, we didn’t experience anything quite that systematic. The air conditioning conked out on the first night when we were transiting out of Belize City, but other than that (very warm) hiccup, things on the boat appeared to run smoothly.

The daily schedule was as follows:

6 am: Cold breakfast available (buffet)
7 am: Hot breakfast available (cooked to order)
7:50 am: Dive briefing
8:00 am: Dive #1 with sweet snack afterwards
11:00 am: Dive #2 (same site as first)
12:30 pm: Lunch buffet
1:50 pm: Dive briefing
2:00 pm: Dive #3 with savory snack afterwards
4:30 pm: Dive #4 (same site as third)
6:00 pm: Dinner (mixture of plated and buffet style)
7:30 pm: Dive #5 (same site as third) with boozy hot chocolate afterwards

We had a bit of a weird schedule because the tour of the island wasn’t available on the day of our Blue Hole dive, which is when they normally try to schedule it. As a result, one of our “normal” days had a trip to the island slipped in there, which made for a pretty busy day.

Food

Very good in my opinion. Better than CoCoView in Roatan but not quite as good as Little Cayman Beach Resort. I never went hungry -- that's for sure. Menus posted on the Aggressor's website were exactly what we had. My wife is a vegetarian and she was quite happy with the accommodations made for her dietary disability. In terms of booze, the boat brought bottles of Belikin Lager, Lighthouse Lager, and had a couple of kegs of Belikin Lager. Red and white wine were available at dinner each night. Plastic bottles of sodas (Coke products) and cans of both club soda and tonic water were also available.

Diving

The winds were stronger than normal during our week. The ride out from Belize City was a bit of a rollercoaster -- enough so that it was hard to sleep until we made it to our night mooring. No one got sick so far as we know. We only made it over to Turneffe for our last day of diving. The plan was to do two dives there -- a dawn and morning dive -- before headed back to Belize City, but the visibility was bad and so we only did one dive before heading in. The rest of our diving was done mostly on Long Cay.

The visibility seemed lower than we’ve observed elsewhere in the Caribbean, but I suspect we just had a below average draw from the distribution. We found Belize to be decently fishy. On par with what we observed in Bonaire a few months earlier in February. We regularly saw spotted eagle rays, turtles, and both spotted and green morays. One of the most interesting things we saw was on the last dive, where we saw yellow stingrays mating. Also a few juvenile spotted drums here and there. A few people saw a shark or two but we only caught a quick glimpse from a distance.

With two exceptions, there was a single dive guide in the water on our dives. The exceptions were the first dive, which was to help make sure people were good with weights and the like, and the Blue Hole dive -- for obvious reasons. We did our own thing on all but a couple of dives. You are allowed to dive your own tanks with the proviso that if you’re good on gas consumption, try to be among the first to hop into the water. My median time across 21 dives was 68 minutes and we never felt rushed. Water temperature was 81-82 degrees per my Mares Puck Pro, which After the first day, a couple of the guides would spear lionfish while they were diving, which they stuffed back into the reef (i.e., they didn’t proactively try to feed sharks with them).

Our particular week was pretty loose with regards to enforced buddy diving. There were 4 individual travelers. One of them followed the dive guide on all of the dives. The other three were, at times, de facto solo divers in that they were often only within very distant visual contact with any other divers. Of those three, one carried a SpareAir. The rest had no additional gear that we saw. We weren't huge fans of this.

We also weren’t thrilled with some of the reef behavior we saw. A significant number of people carried and used on a regular basis reef pointer sticks. We also observed two other divers grabbed handfuls of the reef to steady themselves to take pictures and on other occasions to simply feel the reef itself.

A few miscellaneous things I thought worth noting:

(*) Highly recommend having spring-backed fins. As others have noted, the BAIV provides “fin-tastic” or “fin-nomenal” service of putting on your fins for you on the swim platform and taking them off before you get back on. Spring-backed fins make life easier on the crew and prevent you from holding up the line of people wanting to get in.

(*) Recommend bringing a roll of masking or gaffer tape that you can use to secure doors and the like if the boat encounters rolling seas. The closet door, for example, closes but there can be a bit of a rattle that pops up at 3 am while you’re trying to sleep.

(*) If you’ve got a windy week, believe the crew when they tell you the hang bar will come back! Don’t swim after it. Just wait for it. And, once you’re on it, we found it to be a heck of a way to spend a few minutes flying through the water like Superman -- even if you’ve already done your safety stop. A school of jacks hung out below the boat waiting for food leftovers and we saw some big tarpon there, too.

(*) We are highly risk averse, so we flew into Belize City a day early and stayed at the Radisson Fort George. None of the touristy excursions really appealed to us (cave tubing, zip lining, or seeing the ruins), so we just loafed by the pool at the hotel, which was fine. As of April 2017, the BAIV is departing out of the cruise ship area, so folks were able to do shore excursions on the Friday after we returned to port. We stayed on the ship but others hung out at the hotel, which is a few minutes walk away.

Summary

Despite what we believe were subpar diving conditions, we still had a terrific time. Diving doesn’t getting any easier than this. Across just under 5.5 days of diving, I spent 23 hours underwater and loved just about every minute of it. We’re looking forward to giving other liveaboard destinations a try, though BAIV has set a high bar for us (and we could definitely see ourselves coming back to Belize on BAIV for another trip).
Websites Aggressor Fleet   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Maui, Kona, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan, Little Cayman
Closest Airport BZE Getting There DTW-ATL, easy peasy on Delta.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 81-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-80 Ft/ 9-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Nothing enforced (see below).
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There was a dedicated rinse tank for cameras and a multi-level carpeted table for gear. This setup is on both sides of the boat, so you're sharing it with, at most 10 divers. There is a charging station on the starboard side with a number of outlets and power strips. Things could get kinda tight there if there were lots of photographers along.
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Report currently has 3 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfeein VA, US at May 19, 2017 16:15 EST  
Hi Ryan. I submitted a report, too. I was one of the solo divers, but not by choice. Never could find the DM again after the first 10 or 15 minutes, so I tried to stay close to a buddy team. I usually stick with the DM rather than depend on the luck of the draw on buddies, but this wasn't possible on this trip.
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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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