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Dive Review of Avalon 2 in
Cuba

 
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Avalon 2: "Good diving in Garden of the Queens", Aug, 2018,

by Alice Ribbens, MN, US (Contributor Contributor 17 reports with 16 Helpful votes). Report 10471 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We were on a REEF trip (www.reef.org) on the Avalon boat, so all of the divers were doing REEF fish surveys and most of us were diving with cameras, although only a few divers had big camera rigs.

The cabins are fairly spacious, but there is very little storage space on the boat. We had a couple of shelves in our room and a small area for hanging a few things. There was nowhere to put empty suitcases for storage during the week (other than our room), virtually no storage on the dive deck (other than places to hang wetsuits), and no bins or boxes or anything on the tenders. Bring a drybag if there is anything you want to keep with you on the tender like sunglasses, hat, etc. Also, there is no shampoo or conditioner provided in the bathrooms in the cabins.

Food was good, but somewhat repetitive. Diving was good, but the biodiversity was not as high as other places in the Caribbean (like Bonaire). And a lot of the dive sites were very similar to one another. Although no one was feeding the fish or the sharks on our trip, I would not be surprised if they were regularly fed since a lot of reef and silky sharks showed up on some of our dives and a lot of the big groupers were more than a little friendly.

One thing that was interesting was that the staff on the boat is all Cuban. They were all very nice and helpful when asked, but they seemed more reactive than proactive when it came to assisting with any issues. My husband and I had some minor equipment issues, requiring moving some hoses and gauges around. At least 3 of the dive crew sat around and watched me do this, but did not offer to help in any way. The dive staff did come around with Nitrox analyzers before every dive, but otherwise pretty much left us to our own devices. I wonder if this is a cultural thing because I certainly didn't get an unhelpful vibe, they just didn't help unless asked. They did allow us to do some unconventional dives in the shallows, which our group asked to do to try and look for some different fish.

Water temps were quite warm (80-86 F). Some of us were in wetsuits or shorties, but some people just dove in rash guards.

One thing that seemed a little screwed up was that the boat had told us to either fly into Santa Clara or Camaguey. Pretty much everyone opted to fly into Santa Clara, but the American Airlines flight to Santa Clara doesn't get in until 5, which means we weren't all through customs with luggage and everything until 6 or later. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive to the marina where the boat is. We were told initially that it was okay to take that flight, but then we couldn't leave the marina that night to head to the Garden of the Queens because we didn't get there until close to 9 pm. We didn't leave the marina until 6 am the next morning so couldn't start diving until after lunch.

Another reviewer noted that AA limits you to one checked bag if you fly to Camaguey. I am not certain if that is still true. (I found it on the AA website when that review came out, but could not find it again recently.) Flying to and from Santa Clara, we were only charged for luggage (2 bags each) on the leg from MIA to Santa Clara (even though the AA people in MIA seemed to think we would be charged again on the way back, contrary to what it says on the AA website). Also, we were told we needed to have Cuban currency to pay our departure tax, but apparently this is now part of the plane ticket.

We enjoyed the trip a lot, but probably would not do a repeat.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Komodo, Raja Ampat, Banda Sea, Philippines, Maldives, Palau, GBR, Fiji, British Columbia, Monterey, Puget Sound, Hawaii, Bonaire, Turks & Caicos, Caymans, Honduras, Belize, Cozumel, Akumal, Sea of Cortez, Lake Superior, Solomon Islands, etc.
Closest Airport Santa Clara or Camaguey Getting There JetBlue and American fly to Santa Clara and Camaguey from FLL and MIA

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-86°F / 27-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Time limits on certain dives, don't go into deco
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There were dedicated camera buckets on the dive deck, but no camera or charging tables. No camera buckets on the tenders.
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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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