Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes

Dive Review of Caribbean Explorer II in
Caribbean (General)/Saba-Statia-St.Kitts

Caribbean Explorer II: "Happy 30th to Caribbean Explorer!", Jul, 2017,

by Jeanne Reeder, MO, US (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 19 Helpful votes). Report 9666 has 2 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 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments What a great trip! In June I joined the cruise celebrating thirty years of the first Caribbean Explorer plying the waters in the Northeastern Caribbean. And, itís still the only liveaboard in that area. Clay McCardell, President of Explorer Ventures, and his family and friends gathered for this gala event, which included the obligatory Ďroastingí and a cake. His wetsuit was turned into a tuxedo with colored chalk. It was a trip for exchanging stories and wonderful diving. Greg Norman, host of Scuba Radio, drew frequent laughter and great interest during his interviews with the divers and crew, to be aired the following Saturday on his weekly show. Dive travel guru Jerry Beaty (Dive Training) has amazing stories dating waaaay back which kept his listeners mesmerized.

Iíve been on this itinerary many times, which speaks highly of the diving venue and crew which supports it. This trip began in Sint Maarten, ending in St. Kitts; after doing a major cleaning, the vessel returns to Sint Maarten with another group of divers. As a Ďspecialí treat, diving Statia for a day was added since it was on the original itinerary, and only rarely makes a reappearance after it was taken off their schedule in 2010. (See Undercurrent Newsletter January 2010) And itís well worth it when it does! Diving around this tiny mountainous island in its marine park is monitored by a dive representative from St. Eustatius national parks, who joins us for the day of diving and to talk about the marine parkís goals in conservation and research.

The trade winds were brisk, which kicked up surface current. Using the granny-line to get to the mooring rope was the easiest way to descend with the group. Since their one dinghy is Ďnot a taxií and only used for emergencies, staying within sight of the group is a good way to avoid a long swim back to the mother-boat. On most dives, the current was negligible at depth. CEX-II offers 5 ½ days of diving and 26 dives for the week. For most divers on this trip, enjoying complimentary liquor before dinner was the choice; so, there were few night divers. Watching the sunset from the sundeck with convivial conversation and a gin and tonic in hand was my preference.

The four dive crew were exceptionally talented and diverse in their diving worldwide. One dive guide accompanied our group of eleven. Dive briefings were well detailed with a large map of the site for visual reference. Their style was to dive slowly and point out interesting fish and critters, pausing for the group to get photos or observe behavior. Diving with a buddy was required unless one has PADI Solo Diving Certification (which they offer). If no buddy, the option was to dive with the dive master, keeping in sight.

Iíve seen dozens of the delicate slender appearing seven inch yellowhead jawfish, but have rarely seen their mouthbrooding. At River Taw in St. Kitts, I noticed dive master Phil hovering barely above the sand. I slowly approached and settled beside him. About three feet away, two jawfish were hovering above the respective entry to their home, and one had very distended cheeks. We watched them for about ten minutes, as the male aerated the egg cluster by partially expelling them from his mouth, before sucking them back in. When another diver approached, the jawfish pair would quickly back tale-first into their burrow complex. This fascinating sighting was a dive-career high for me. It is definitely worth taking those extra minutes to look for the distended cheeks.

The topography undersea at Saba, influenced by the volcanic nature of the island, never fails to impress. Yellowish sulfuric patches on the black sand are warm to the touch when you stick in your hand. Ladder Labyrinthís diversity offers 10í coral and rock ridges, lava flows and sand chutes, with sea turtles and a few sharks. Another characteristic of Saba is its variety and high numbers of fish, such as pipefish, adult and juvenile drum, juvenile jackfish, parrotfish, reef and nurse sharks, stingrays, butterflyfish, yellow goatfish, damselfish, morays, and plenty of turtles in the sea grass.

At St. Kitts, I enjoyed the coral fingers, bommies, and lots of fish life. For the last dive of the trip, the Captain motored thirty minutes out of his way to go to the beautiful white sands at Monkey Shoals. Within the low level reef and coral heads hid pike blennies, slender filefish, and two small patches of coral I had not seen before, warty corallimorph, which amazing dive instructor/guide Polly pointed out. Reef fish abounded. The highlight were two large schools of squid, around 60.

This 115í made-for-diving vessel has 9 guest cabins on the main and lower decks with varying configurations, accommodating 18 divers. The cabins are cleaned and beds made daily, with towels changed mid-week unless request is made for more often. Turn-down in the evening is accompanied by a piece of candy. Nice touch. Lots of hot water in the shower. The cabinís walls and floors are carpeted. There is no closet, but hangers and a small dresser.

Tanks are positioned on either side of the spacious dive deck, so there is ample room to gear-up. My nitrox levels were within a fraction of thirty-two percent each dive. Most divers elect to giant-stride off the side with a 5í drop. My preference is entering from the dive platform near water-level. Returning to the mother vessel was facilitated with two weighted hang lines for safety stops, and a trailing rope to pull-along back to the two ladders. A crew member records each diverís entry and exit. The two hot showers on the dive deck felt great. There was a large barrel with chemicals for rinsing gear, another designated for cameras, and others for masks. A hot towel at the end of the dive was appreciated.

The galley easily sits eighteen and can be alfresco or enclosed with heavy transparent plastic depending upon the weather. Breakfast was made-to-order, and lunches served buffet style. There was always freshly baked bread or rolls, wonderful soups for lunch, along with salads and main items such as pizza, tacos, and hamburgers. Tasty dinners included lobster, fish, chicken, lamb and tender delicious b-b-q ribs.

I donít go on the CEX-II expecting luxury. I go for great diving,a superbly run ship, excellent and plentiful food, outstanding dive masters and instructors, comfortable rooms, environmental awareness (which they live, not just voice), and a safety-first philosophy. Thatís why I keep returning!

Websites Caribbean Explorer II   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Andamans, Sudan, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Alor Indonesia, Philippines, Palau, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Raja Ampat, Turkey, Saba, St. Kitts, BVI, Bonaire, Cayman Brac, Cozumel, Turks and Caicos, Statia, Nevis
Closest Airport Getting There Arrived in St. Martin, departed from St. Kitts; easy flight schedule from St. Louis

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 82-83°F / 28-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-80 Ft/ 9-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions You could dive your own profile with a buddy. Nitrox depth limits of 110. Return to vessel with 500 psi, which was recorded at end of dive, as well as was depth.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
Was this report helpful to you?
Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfee in VA, US at Jul 22, 2017 01:43 EST  
Glad to hear the high quality of diving and crew I've experienced on 5 trips on this vessel have been maintained. Monkey Shoals is definitely worth it. None of the local dive shops will go that far on day trips. Statia is worth the day.
Leave a comment (Subscribers only -- 200 words max)
Subscribers can comment here

Subscribe Now
Subscribers can post comments, ask the reviewer questions, as well as getting immediate and complete access to ALL 39 dive reviews of Caribbean (General) and all other dive destinations. Complete access to all issues and Chapbooks is also included.


Want to assemble your own collection of Caribbean (General) reports in one place?
Use the Mini Chapbook Facility to create your personalized collection.

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.

Undercurrent Home

Get more dive info like these and other important scuba updates sent monthly to your email.
And a FREE Recent Issue of Undercurrent

Free Undercurrent Issue
Get a free
monthly email and
a sample issue!

Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2023 Undercurrent (
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.

Page computed and displayed in 0.86 seconds