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Dive Review of Avalon Cuban Diving Centers/Avalon II in
Cuba/Gardens of the Queen

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Avalon Cuban Diving Centers/Avalon II: "A trip back to the past -- in some ways good, some ways not so good", Feb, 2015,

by Greg White, IL, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 8142 has 5 Helpful votes.

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

Accommodations For Subscribers Only Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude For Subscribers Only Environmental Sensitivity For Subscribers Only
Dive Operation For Subscribers Only Shore Diving For Subscribers Only
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ For Subscribers Only
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced For Subscribers Only
Comments Whenever we see images of Cuba, they show old U.S. cars from the 50s. Likewise, Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina) is billed as being like what the rest of the Caribbean was 60 years ago. Well, in some other ways diving on the Avalon II was like a trip back into the past, not always for the best.

One of these trips back to the past occurred shortly after we boarded the Avalon II in Jucaro and began the 4-5 hour crossing to reach the Gardens of the Queen. Every liveaboard we have been on in recent years has devoted time at the beginning of the trip to explaining safety procedures, indicating locations of life vests, life rafts, fire fighting equipment, and first aid supplies. They also have held muster drills and explained signals to be used in an emergency. On the Avalon II, the safety discussion consisted of the following: "You may have noticed life vests in your rooms. You won't need them because this is a safe boat." That was it. I was bothered even more by this cavalier attitude when I walked around the boat and saw not one single life preserver or life raft, and no sign of any firefighting equipment. I was left hoping they were right and that it was a safe boat.

The Avalon II is a beautiful new liveaboard boat. It has a very spacious dining area, nice size lounge with wide-screen TV and a huge top sundeck. However, one has to wonder whether it was designed by people who are not divers or people who have not been on a liveaboard in the past 10-15 years and don't know what the newer liveaboards are like. Staterooms on the Avalon II are probably the smallest we have ever had -- even on some of the old Aggressor boats. The only storage space in the stateroom is one small drawer. The beds are like the old Aggressor bunk beds, with the lower one being smaller than a double and the upper one being about the size of a twin. Fortunately, my wife and I were both able to fit into the lower bunk, although not very comfortably, so we could use the upper bunk for storage. On the other hand, the bathroom is relatively large with a separate enclosed shower that was also relatively roomy.

Another trip back to the past occurred when I went up on the sundeck. This sundeck is huge and has many places to sit, but unfortunately there is no ... Subscribe to get the full story. For Subscribers Only  Active subscribers continue reading here

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Many Caribbean locations, several Philippines, Indonesia, Hawaii, California
Closest Airport Havana Getting There Charter flight from Miami to Havana, then 5 hour ride to Jucaro to board the boat.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 77 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions No one could go below 100 ft. Everyone was expected to stay with the group, but we were allowed to stay down longer at the end.
Liveaboard? yes 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 For Subscribers Only
Small Critters For Subscribers Only Large Fish For Subscribers Only
Large Pelagics For Subscribers Only

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

Subject Matter For Subscribers Only Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's For Subscribers Only Shore Facilities For Subscribers Only
UW Photo Comments Don't plan on having much space at all. No rinse tanks on runabouts. Limited size rinse tanks on liveaboard. ... Subscribe to get the full story. For Subscribers Only  Active subscribers continue reading here
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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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