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Dive Review of Explorer Ventures/Caribbean Explorer II in
Caribbean (General)/St. Kitts to St. Maarten

Explorer Ventures/Caribbean Explorer II, Jul, 2007,

by Jeanne & Bill Downey, PA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 52 reports with 16 Helpful votes). Report 4303.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The Caribbean Explorer II is a great way to experience a smorgasbord of Caribbean diving without the hassle of flying between islands. The boat travels back and forth between St. Kitts and St. Maarten; our group of 17 started in St. Kitts. Most of us jetted in one or two days early, staying at the Palms Hotel, located in the heart of Basseterre and the “Circus”.

Except for noisy nights from partiers’ boom boxes (ear plugs and the AC solved that), the Palms Hotel was the perfect place to be. Each room is different; ours was large and roomy, with a refrigerator, bathroom, queen bed, sitting area, and a veranda perfect for watching the island go by. There’s a cozy bar on the premises, plus an awesome ice cream stand. The Palms Hotel is central to shopping, groceries, restaurants, and the docks.

Everyone in our group had arrived by Saturday afternoon; as we wandered to the dock after an island van tour, some of the passengers from the previous week were gathering their luggage and raving about their trip. We were welcomed aboard the Caribbean Explorer II by Captain Dave and the rest of the enthusiastic crew. They all went out of their way to make us feel welcome and keep us happy, and they seemed to get along well with each other. Bill the engineer did a remarkable job of keeping the boat running smoothly. Chef Zach conjured up many excellent meals and home made treats and did his best to satisfy individual requests. Steward and kitchen help Ryan was just completing his open water training. Anita, the purser, also acted as a divemaster. Darlene, another divemaster, was dealing with some major upper respiratory issues and only managed to complete a couple dives during the week, but still kept busy and cheerful. Divemaster Dawn was a dynamo, leading most of the dives by default.

The Caribbean Explorer II is a comfortable boat that can accommodate up to 18 passengers in 9 cabins of various sizes and configurations, all with private baths. There are no individual AC controls in the cabins. Some of the cabins down below were quite cold, with air blowing directly in our faces as we entered the door; a couple cabins on the main deck were very warm. The smallest cabin, with two bunk beds, was clocked at 83 degrees. The cabins seemed to be pretty quiet. Towels were changed once during the week. Our room could have been kept a bit cleaner—the commode started getting discolored, the sink was never cleaned, and at least one day the bed was not made, not a big deal, but noticeable. The dive deck, with the usual individual seating with storage underneath, is roomy, and there’s a handy head. A small skiff, available for rescuing divers that come up too far from the boat, was towed behind. The upper deck, where we spent most of our time, consisted of a sunbathing area with several lounges and an area enclosed in heavy duty plastic with zip-open windows where we ate, played cards, watched movies, and relaxed. Swimsuits were allowed, but not wetsuits. Some of us were getting bit by something, especially under the dining tables, unusual on a liveaboard. The last day in dock a different divemaster came on board with her dog, and the light bulb went on, especially after one of the divers went to an ear doctor after the trip for swimmer’s ear and dead fleas were found in her ear!

Our week began with two days of diving at St. Kitts, including a wreck, a van, a tug, a barge, and a Mercedes; we saw numerous cleaning stations, a lancet dragonet, and an unusual looking decorator crab. We also saw the normal Caribbean fish, squid, and our first decorator sea cucumber. The visibility was not the best, possibly due to a tropical wave the previous week, but the diving was quite pleasant and relaxing. One day was spent at St. Eustatius; all dives were accompanied by a park ranger who watched that no one damaged the reef. Besides the usual fish, we saw a nurse shark, a not commonly seen jackknife fish, a chain moray, flying gurnards, pike blenny, turtles, an octopus, and a tiny mantis shrimp, At Saba, where we spent 2 ½ days, the visibility was much better and the scenery around the pinnacles impressive. Some of the better sites do not have moorings adequate to hold boats the size of the Caribbean Explorer II, but we saw nurse sharks, huge anchors embedded in the coral, turtles, mating (or fighting) crabs, lobsters, eels, sailfin blennies, peppermint bass, tarpon, and sharks feeding on a night dive. The last day included a 6am dawn dive, one of the better ones I’ve done. The last dive of the trip we saw at least a dozen turtles, a male lobster in pursuit of a female and lots of blennies. On the negative side, there was at least one incidence during the week when a diver surfaced early needing assistance, and none of the staff was on the dive deck—something that should not have happened.

We arrived in St. Maarten Friday afternoon and spent the rest of the day exploring, shopping, and hanging out. Dinner was at a nice restaurant within walking distance. We spent one last night on the boat with departure at 9am sharp Saturday morning, so cleaning could commence; luggage stayed aboard until it was time to depart for the airport.

This is a trip I would do again.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Caribbean, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bikini, Cozumel, Caymans, Fiji, Cocos, Socorro, Micronesia, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 83-0°F / 28--18°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max depth 110'.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Two tier camera table, but bottom shelf full of other stuff. Would be crowded if everyone had a camera.
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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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