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Dive Review of Caribbean Explorer II/Ocean Terrace Inn in
Caribbean (General)/St. Kitts & Saba

Caribbean Explorer II/Ocean Terrace Inn: "Undersea Delights in Northeastern Caribbean", Aug, 2015,

by Jeanne Reeder, MO, US (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 19 Helpful votes). Report 8345.

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 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments My August diving trip on the Caribbean Explorer Liveaboard to St. Kitts and Saba was delightful as always. Im nearing ten excursions with Explorer Ventures (www.explorerventures.com), expected excellence, and got it again.

The Caribbean Explorer II is a 115 vessel with nine double staterooms, including bunks and king sized beds. My shower had good pressure, hot water, and bed was comfortable. There is adequate storage space and a few hangers. AC runs cool, and can only be controlled by closing the vent. The extra blanket provided is handy. The sun deck is adjacent to the dining area. All diving is done from the Mother Boat, and a rubber dingy is available for emergencies. Good dive briefings are held in the dining room, then we traipse downstairs to dive deck to gear up and giant stride. Dive crew are very helpful in spotting potential problems with gear. Tanks are filled in place; nitrox is offered for a fee. My nitrox fills varied from 32-34%, and psi 3000-3200.

Twenty-seven dives were offered over 5 ½ days of diving; 7 nights on board. Three days were spent at St. Kitts, and 2 ½ on Saba. There were 8 divers on board, all experienced divers. Age range was about 35-70. The group was convivial, with a lot of table hopping at meals. Some of the crew and Captain Bob Magilligan usually joined us for dinner. This very experienced & conscientious Captain could always be depended up for lively conversation, and I never could guess in which direction it would go. Purser Ashley was a ray of sunshine,helping out, and keeping things upbeat. Liam is a twenty-one year old divemaster from South Africa, new to liveaboards. His exuberance about diving, his love of being in the water, had me in awe. But, hey Liam, slow down! If Liam was the 'youngster,' dive guide Tuna was the 'old' man of the sea, and the go-to-person for anything dive related.

The trip began with leisurely St. Kitts diving, partly cloudy to sunny, no current, and only a light chop from the persistent light wind which generated some surface current. Day time temp was mid-80s, and water temp 82-84 degrees in both St. Kitts and Saba.
Everyone but me took the 5 giant stride from the side, and I went off the back, being respectful of an old knee injury. One of the crew was always at the ready to take my gear and balance it on one of the steps leading down to the dive platform, making it easy to don, then stride. CEX--2 varies its port of departure between St. Kitts and St. Maarten -- it's a turn-around trip of seven nights


Two dives on the wreck of the River Taw, a cargo ship split in sections 1981, with max depth of 42, was a slow, easy way to begin the trip, and my least favorite of the dives in St. Kitts. But, I might have to change my mind. Visibility is often poor there, and was, around 30. It was clear enough, however, to enjoy the sponges and coral on the wreck. Several lobsters were jammed in together under the wreck, and an octopus crawled from underneath and up the side, giving a great view. Nearby were a turtle, many juvenile fish, adult drum, and a 4 lionfish.

The diving just got better after that, with the next dive, on Corinthian, revealing mating octopi, changing colors and caressing each other. I hovered there watching them for at least 15 minutes. They were in the open on the sandy bottom of a reef, playing a slow game of chase and seize. Thats one of the great things about this liveaboard plenty of time to go slow and observe behavior rather than covering a lot of ground and seeing little.

St. Kitts was very fishy with juveniles, small parrot fish and other colorful tropicals. Looking for the one that stands out, one morning on Paradise Reef I saw a terminal phase 5 blue lip parrotfish, alone, hovering over 3 short sea grass. Unlike the less colorful adults and juveniles, the coloration was beautiful green, orange, blues, red and yellow. Instead of the usual rapid zipping around, he allowed a close approach and hung around the few minutes I observed him. This site also offered up barracuda, stingray, sea horse, red-heart urchin, and lots of green and lavender lettuce leaf slugs.
Monkey Shoals, between St. Kitts and Nevis, never disappoints. Sailfin blennies were popping up in many spots, giving us wonderfully long looks at their large sail. A couple of pike blennies were lured out of their holes with a mirror. And jawfish, seen on many of the sites, were dancing above their holes in the sand. On a different scale, two spotted eagle rays gracefully made passes, and one stayed around the divers for at least five minutes.
On day four of the trip, we headed to Saba, a little over 3 hour motor away, with only a little rocking of the vessel. As I expected, at Saba there was more surface current, slight current at depth, and deeper dives were taken. Because of the currents, we were unable to dive two signature great dives there, Man-O-War Shoals and Diamond Rock. Torrens was a great substitute -- calm cruising and winding around and between huge boulders and the treat of a tunnel dive led by Tuna, master diver par excellence. There were barracuda, juvenile post larvae stage trunk fish, many species of parrotfish, orange spotted file fish, coney being cleaned, and a lot of Sgt. Major eggs being aggressively guarded by the male.

Tent Wall and Reef never fails to delight me. It covers a lot of varied terrain and my depths varied from 100 feet on the wall to 43 on the Reef. Im delighted when I spot just one juvenile trunk fish (looks like a dice), but I saw nearly a dozen over the 5 dives at this site. Also making appearances were turtles, nurse and reef sharks, and in contrast, tiny coral shrimp on rope coral. Barrel sponges and azure vases were impressive.

Night diving on CEX-2 is always made especially nice by the hot towel draped over my shoulders at the end of the dive, and pouring a few dollops of Irish Cream into my awaiting hot chocolate.

Two excursions were offered off-boat, at St. Kitts and Saba. I elected to stay aboard the vessel and dive the one dive missed for each, as I had toured both locations a few times. They are worth the time!

Volcanic Saba, as one might expect, has patches of yellowish sulfur undersea which are warm to the touch, and downright hot when I reached down six inches. Tuna buried a dozen eggs a couple of weeks ago on Ladder Labyrinth, and dug them out this week to check to see if they were boiled. Carefully lifting each out, he put them in a ziplock bag a fellow diver was holding. On board we took turns (the braver of us!), cracking the brownish eggs open. Soft boiled was as good as we gotand the smell was strong, very unpleasant, and it took several washings to get the stench off hands.

Chef Cathy provided delicious meals and snacks. My favorite dinners were beef stroganoff with smooth flavorful gravy, barbequed pork ribs, roast pork, and freshly caught mahi-mahi by a local fisherman. Soups were presented lunch and dinner and were varied and eagerly consumed. There were always lots of fresh salads, fruit, vegetables, and often yeast rolls. Breakfasts included eggs of choice, bacon, sausage, waffles, etc. All liquor was complimentary. But when you have your first drink, your dive day has ended.

Im still hoping that Statia can once again be on the itinerary, as well as Devils Cave on Nevis.

I arrived in St.Kitts the day before boarding CEX-2 in order to avoid woes of delayed luggage for the trip. Ocean Terrace Inn was reopened after their extensive renovations, and my room reflected the complete remodeling -- all was ultra clean and spacious, with a comfortable balcony. As the name implies, rooms are terraced above a gorgeous two tiered pool, surrounded by flowering plants &, waterfall. Two restaurants are on the grounds, and others nearby.

Be sure to check for Specials! I got a Caribbean Easy Pass, which paid for my nitrox and $150 off of my room in St. Kitts, and the price was reduced by $300 to $1695. It is a great deal!! Their Turks and Caicos vessel and itinerary are also worth looking into for a very fine all around diving experience.
Websites Caribbean Explorer II   Ocean Terrace Inn

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Sudan, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Palau, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Raja Ampat, Turkey, Saba, St. Kitts, BVI, Barbados, Tobago, Bonaire, Cayman Brac, Cozumel, Turks and Caicos, Statia, Nevis
Closest Airport St.Kitts Getting There American Airlines has good timing on flights from US.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-100 Ft/ 9-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions return to boat with 500 psi, buddy-dive unless certified as a solo diver (lots of freedom within that caveat) If currents were strong or visibility poor, we were asked to go down mooring line and meet at the bottom.
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 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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]
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Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfeein VA, US at Aug 30, 2015 20:02 EST  
Jeanne: Thanks for your detailed report. I've made 5 trips on CEX II (four on the St Maarten to St. Kitts route and once in the Bahamas) and two on T&C Explorer. Just waiting for the right time to book another trip. Glad to hear the sites and crew are still good (my last CEX trip was Aug 2014). Monkey Shoals and the northern sites at St. Kitts is rarely dived by the day boats, so the CEX II is about the only way to dive them.
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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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