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Dive Review of Aggressor Fleets/Jardenes Aggressor in

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Aggressor Fleets/Jardenes Aggressor: "Cross it off your Bucket List!", Apr, 2018,

by Bette Nordberg, WA, US ( 1 report with 2 Helpful votes). Report 10480 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments [None]I went to Cuba after hearing so much enthusiastic talk about the “pristine” condition of the untouched reefs. Judging by what I saw on the Jardines aggressor, I’d say that’s pretty true. I’d also say that most Cubans can’t afford to dive, likely why there are few divers in the water.

I arrived in Havana and was met by the Aggressor crew. Many on my vessel had difficulty making connections at the Havana airport, and one had to buy a taxi cab to the boat – a two and a half hour drive from Havana. I’ll admit that I was shocked by the poor condition of the dock and surroundings of the aggressor boat. It was tied to a concrete pier in a tiny little mosquito-infested inlet, deep in the woods, hours from Havana. The adjoining building was windowless and roofless, with crumbling concrete. We were advised not to leave the boat during the first evening because it “wasn’t safe.” Great start.

The rooms were incredibly tiny. My roomie and I are both petite women (she weighs less than 110), and we couldn’t pass by one another in the aisle between our beds. Most of the guys on board had chosen to bunk alone; they knew the size of the rooms ahead of time. There was almost no storage in the room. The crew spoke almost no English, with the exception of the “cruise director” and our “education specialist.” (Travel to Cuba is limited to educational trips at this time). If you wanted anything, you had to start with these two. We never met the Captain. Because the crew spoke so little English, they made little effort to speak with the passengers. Dive briefings were “Go out with the reef on your left, come back with the reef on your right.” Same briefing every time. Our “marine biologist” turned out to be a Cuban college graduate with a biology degree – not a marine biology degree at all. He was a good diver though, and his English was poor, but he was trying.

Generally, the boat was clean; equipment was well cared for. As I indicated, this particular boat wants to STRONGLY control the divers. No one was allowed in the water without a guide. (I should mention that these dive guides largely herded divers. They did not point out species etc. They did summersaults out over the drop off!) No one could dive their own plan. No one could be in the water longer than 45 minutes. I even got “in trouble” with a dive master for being unwilling to chase a swinging boat at the end of my 3-minute safety stop. I knew the boat would swing back; why swim to chase it? Everyone was kind, smiling, wanting us to enjoy ourselves – but the rules were absolute. We did have one dive where the heavy presence of rules created a dangerous dive situation. In the midst of absolute obedience, our group turned around late, had members run out of air, and other members get flustered and confused – all requiring a rescue by skiff. Not good. I tried to talk to our Cruise Director about this, and she told me, “All diving is risky.” Right.

Food. I should say that I understand that food is hard to procure in Cuba. And the food on board reflects this. Though the chef gave it his best, he had little to work with. For instance, frozen carrot chunks were mixed with dressing to call a “salad.” It was far below the standards of many Aggressor Boats that I have traveled with. However, no one starved.

On the second day of our trip, I noticed the strong smell of what seemed to be propane in our cabin. I talked to the cruise director, who told me the engineer would come fix it. “Sometimes,” she said, “the exhaust from the generator gets in there when the wind is just right.” Great! I went down to find the engineer in our bathroom. He told me, “Keep this fan on all the time. Don’t turn it off.” That was the fix for exhaust in our cabin -- keep the fan on. We did, and we kept the door open as well. Made me wonder how they managed to keep the air pure for the tanks.

My last frustration was on our return. We hit a violent rainstorm on our last day, forcing us to dry all our gear under cover. We returned to the dock, where the boat tied up with the generator exhaust slammed into the concrete dock. As a result, the exhaust smell on the dive deck was overwhelming, and I believe dangerous. There was nowhere for the exhaust to go, and no place for fresh air to enter. None of the divers wanted to go out there to manage our equipment. We went home with wet stuff, and CO headaches to go along with it. On the last day, the Cruise director told us how much each of us should tip (400 dollars per person) and that they would take any currency (except Mexican) because they could go trade it on the black market.

On our bus ride back to the airport, I did forget an item on the bus. To my delight, the bus driver returned to the airport with the item a couple of hours later. Such honesty in the midst of such need. I was incredibly impressed!

One last comment. The Lion Fish problem in Cuba is beyond anything I’ve witnessed anywhere in the Caribbean. There were barrel sponges where six or eight LF were hanging out on every dive. They didn’t hide – they clearly owned the reef. I nearly swam into one hanging out eight feet above the coral. Thank goodness I looked up. In the shallows, (above 30 feet) there were entire species of the tiniest common fish completely missing from the ecosystem. Though at this moment, the coral looked pretty healthy, the little fish have been consumed, apparently, by the LF. I was baffled by the lack of concern about the invasion and then I remembered the obvious lack of concern about the Cuban people, evidenced by the drive through Havana and out into the southern island. With such poverty for humans, who is going to care enough to do anything about an invasive fish? Very sad. So much potential. So little reason to try.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]Because we are still working, we've mostly restricted ourselves to all over the Caribbean and Hawaii, including land and live-aboard operations.
Closest Airport Havana Getting There We flew via Houston. Not a bad flight situation. Must purchase visa at US airport before checking in for flight.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 81-°F / 27-°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-50 Ft/ 6-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]Unlike most Aggressor Boats, this was very controlled. No one in the water without a guide. No one staying in the water longer than 45 minutes. All divers stay together.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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