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Dive Review of Nekton Cruises - Pilot/Nekton Pilot in
Belize/Outer Reefs

Nekton Cruises - Pilot/Nekton Pilot, Dec, 2007,

by Monty Chandler, NC, USA ( 2 reports). Report 3795.

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 N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I did not know what to expect as I headed down to Belize for a week of diving. I had heard that it was home to the largest reef system in our hemisphere, but that was about it. Due to its proximity to Honduras I guess I thought in the back of my mind that it would be very similar to the diving in Curacao or Roatan. With that in mind I had really settled on my macro setup featuring a 100mm macro lens with a single strobe to focus on the little stuff. As is usual when you try to guess at what will be below the surface, I was wrong.

Getting to Belize from Charlotte was very easy. There's a direct flight which takes a little less than three hours. It doesn't get much easier than that - which is very important due to the amount of "stuff" I have to carry.

Flying in on Saturday and arriving around noon, a Nekton representative meets you at the airport (a relatively small place where immigration, baggage and customs are all contained in an area not much larger than most high school gymnasiums), gathers your luggage and yourself and transports you to a local hotel (The Princess hotel). I found that this is done for a couple of reasons. You need to go somewhere to spend the next 6 hours until it's time to go to the boat and they need you to go somewhere safe for you to spend this time. So Nekton has entered into agreements with the taxi service to meet and greet its arriving passengers and with the hotel to hold their passengers over for these 6 hours.

At 6:30 PM the transportation guys showed up, gathered the guests and took us to a small local grocery store on our way to the marina where the boat awaited. The store stop is for those guests that want pick up some alcohol or soft drinks for the week as they are not provided on the boat. I bought a 2 litre bottle of diet coke, which must have been laced with gold given what I paid for it.

Saturday night we arrived at the boat and were met by the crew. They welcomed us warmly and told us which room we had been assigned and were shown where it was. The crew had already placed our luggage in our rooms so I proceeded to unpack and settle in. Next was an briefings/overview by the captain and the crew of what will happen during the week, a talk about the boat in general, its safety features and location of all the gear needed in the event of an emergency, along with introductions by all of the crew members.

On a live-aboard the daily agenda is as follows. Breakfast at 6:30, morning dive site briefing at 8am, pool open from 8:30 to 11:45, lunch at noon while the boat moves to the afternoon dive site, 1pm is the afternoon dive site briefing, pool open from 1:30 to 5:45, dinner at 6pm, night dive briefing at 8pm followed by the night dive. This is the schedule for Sunday through Friday (Friday has a dawn dive if you care to wake up before even the chickens have).

Diving on these reefs in Belize was fantastic. The health of the reefs, the abundance of life, the variety of fish, coral, sponges, rays, shellfish, octopus, squid, etc was unlike most diving I've experienced in the Caribbean. Most of the dive profiles allowed for a cruise along a wall at whatever depth you choose followed by a return swim to the boat at the top of the wall - with nitrox filled steel 95 tanks this translates into minimum 1 hour dives.

What stands out is the abundance of healthy coral, sponges and marine life at all depths of these profiles. Most diving in the Caribbean has nice coral, but the size of these in Belize stands out. Barrel sponges larger than yourself, sea plumes that look like small trees, huge brain coral formations and a diversity of coral and sponges found in dense configurations that are consistent throughout your dive.

The clarity of the water - as evidenced in the wide angle photographs - also stood out on most days and most sites. There was little to no current all week. Only one site that we visited had any appreciable surge in the shallows. The water temp was a refreshing 27c - about equal to the surface temperature. I wore a 3/2 wetsuit all week and was very comfortable.

I should mention the food since it is a staple in the daily agenda! :-) Arminda is the cook and she is a wonderful Belizean lady who takes personal pleasure in your enjoyment of her food. If you need anything just tell her and she will do everything she can to accommodate you. Her breakfasts varied every morning, a snack was prepared every morning and afternoon, a hot lunch was available every day and a tasty filling dinner was promptly served at 6 each evening.

The Nekton Pilots dining area/salon was spacious enough for the guests to spread out, eat and discuss the previous dives and experiences. On several evenings one of the crew members would hold a discussion on topics of interest after dinner. These included a fish ID forum, a talk about turtles, and a guest photo sharing on Friday evening.

The week went by too fast, but after 23 dives (I skipped 3 dives during the week) I was ready to call it a week and head home (of course now I'm ready to go back!). Saturdays transport to the airport and subsequent flight back home were as uneventful as the trip down to Belize - all a good thing.

All in all I had a wonderful week of diving and fellowship with other divers. Photos of trip at


Monty Chandler

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Australia (GBR down to Sydney), Maui, Curacao, T&C, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Saba, Statia, Aruba, Caymans, Roatan
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 27-28°C / 81-82°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-120 Ft/ 18-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Recreational Limits were stated as the max depth on the walls each dive briefing. No Deco diving as well.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Two large dedicated & carpeted tables as well as large dedicated rinse tank by the tables. Two additional rinse tanks dedicated to Cameras by the dive ladders for entry / exit use. DM's made it their business to know who had cameras so they knew who to hand what camera to without you having to ask every time (that was a nice touch).
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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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