Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
X
 

Dive Review of Jardine's Aggressor I in
Cuba/Jardines de la Reina

 
Other Cuba reports
Subscriber Content Preview
Active subscribers go here Subscribe Now

Jardine's Aggressor I: "Great diving in Jardines de la Reina", Nov, 2017,

by Bonnie MacKenzie, BC, CA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 5 Helpful votes). Report 9989 has 4 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We really enjoyed our trip aboard the Jardine’s Aggressor I.

When the Obama administration loosened the restrictions on Americans travelling to Cuba a couple years back, an American dive buddy of ours immediately booked the 20 person Jardine’s Aggressor I through the Ocean’s for Youth foundation and Aggressor fleet. He proceeded to fill the boat with his dive buddies and family. We were happy to be included on the guest list!

As Canadians, we have no travel restrictions in Cuba. But Americans do, so the Aggressor fleet and Oceans for Youth developed a program so that American divers can visit and enjoy the Cuban waters too. It includes an educational component involving 4 short presentations throughout the week focusing on the marine environment in Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina (longest = 1 hour, shortest = 15 min) Being a fish geek and having an interest in marine science, I considered this to be a plus, not a minus. We also participated in a fish counting exercise. Each diver was assigned a fish (I had Yellowfin Grouper), and after each dive we reported our fish counts.

The program also included a day tour of Old Havana, and this was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the city and taught us a lot about what it’s like to be a resident of Cuba, both now and in the past. I still don’t completely understand how it all works, as their society is a mix of communism and capitalism. Old Havana is a beautiful city with Spanish architecture, but the infrastructure is suffering after decades of neglect. Faded elegance perhaps? The areas intended for tourists have been beautifully restored, but you only need to walk a block or two off the beaten path to see that the city is crumbling and the people are poor. There simply isn’t any money or access to supplies. As with all other Caribbean cities, the shopkeepers are relentless at getting your attention. There’s no such thing as quietly browsing in the shops. You’d do well to study up on your high school Spanish before coming to Havana. A six hour bus ride then got us to the dive boat.

Many years ago, Cuba had the foresight to make Jardines de la Reina into a marine park with heavy restrictions on fishing and tourism. Combined with the fact that the sheer volume of tourists is so much lower than the rest of the Caribbean due to American travel restrictions, the reefs are in superb shape.

The diving in Jardine’s de la Reina is nice and easy. There were no currents to speak of, and no surface waves or chop. 90% of the dives had a bottom well within recreational limits. Great for photographers as you aren’t being tossed around in the current or worried about being swept away. The majority of the dive sights we visited had the same general typography. There was a coral garden at about 20 – 35ft, and a wall that drops down to a sandy bottom at about 60 – 75ft. The typical dive plan was to descent to about 35 – 45 ft, and travel along the wall for 25 – 30 minutes, then turn around, ascend to the top of the wall, and return to the tender through the coral garden. If something in the sand caught your eye, we would go deeper. All dives ended at 60 minutes regardless of your air consumption. There were a few “drift” dives, but we could have easily returned to the starting point if that had been the dive plan.

This was the “sharkiest” spot we’ve been to in the Caribbean. Reef sharks patrolled about half of the dive sites we visited. One specific area was home to Silky sharks, which circled under our boat at about 20 ft. It was magnificent to hover in the water with 12 – 20 silkies, and that was after spending the first half of the dive with Caribbean reef sharks at depth.

The reefs are lovely and healthy. Lots of soft coral and sponges in every colour of the rainbow. We noticed some bleaching here and there, but on the whole the coral is healthy. The dives were very fishy, including schools of creole wrasses, porkfish and grunts, as well as lots of parrotfish and lots of single groupers (seeing a dozen or more groupers per dive was not uncommon). Less common but seen several times were spiny lobsters, various crabs, moray eels, stingrays. A couple turtles and octopus. I saw my first goliath grouper, which was pretty amazing. The photographers were kept very busy!

Between dives, we snorkeled with El Nino (the local crocodile), and visited the iguanas and Jutias on the beach. High speed rides on the tender through the mangroves were a fun way to travel back to the mother ship after finishing up our dives.

Jardine’s Aggressor I is in really good shape. Everything worked, and was clean and in good repair. The staterooms were small (typical for liveaboards), but with cooperation and stacking, there was enough room. This boat has two single beds in most staterooms (as opposed to the single bunk bed over the double bed that’s typical of many other Aggressors.). Hot tub, sun deck.

Food was plentiful. Fine-diners won’t be impressed, but many of the guests on our boat were gushing about the food.

The diving was all from one of two tenders. On the first day, your gear was loaded onto the tender, and it stayed there for the duration of the trip. Back roll entry, and ladder re-entry. Some improvements could be made, but no deal breakers.

The staff were all very friendly and went out of their way to help and meet any requests. English is not their first language, so it sometimes took a couple attempts to understand each other. Yoel the Cruise Director was particularly delightful, from chasing us with hot towels after the dive, to teaching us to salsa dance.

Note, the first few days were cold and rainy. Bring warm clothes if you travel in November! Most people were wearing 5 mil suits, but 7 mil would not be out of place most days.

Make sure you bring everything with you from home. Finding things like toothpaste or sunscreen in Cuba won't be easy. There's not a drugstore or 7-11 on every corner like at home. However, finding rum and cigars is extremely easy!
Websites Jardine's Aggressor I   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Saba, St Kitts, Turks and Caicos, Belize, Utila, Roatan, Costa Rica, Sea of Cortez, Cabo Pulmo, Palau, Catalina Island, Kona, Kauai, Maui, BC.
Closest Airport Getting There We didn't take the shortest route. Vancouver - Toronto - Havana by air. Then six hours by bus to the launching point for Jardine's Aggressor I. Then a six hour boat ride to the Jardines de la Reina.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 84-°F / 29-°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 45-70 Ft/ 14-21 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions One hour limit per dive, regardless of air consumption.
Be back on boat with 500 psi.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 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 Like many liveaboards, there was a dedicated camera rinse tank and camera table on the dive deck. One high pressure air line. Ample power outlets on shelf below. Maybe about 60% of the divers were photographers, and there seemed to be enough room for everyone.
Was this report helpful to you?
Report currently has 4 Helpful votes
Leave a comment (Subscribers only -- 200 words max)
Subscribers can comment here
 

Subscribe Now
Subscribers can post comments, ask the reviewer questions, as well as getting immediate and complete access to ALL 65 dive reviews of Cuba and all other dive destinations. Complete access to all issues and Chapbooks is also included.

 

Want to assemble your own collection of Cuba reports in one place?
Use the Mini Chapbook Facility to create your personalized collection.

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.

Undercurrent Home


Get more dive info like these and other important scuba updates sent monthly to your email.
And a FREE Recent Issue of Undercurrent

Free Undercurrent Issue
Get a free
monthly email and
a sample issue!


Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2020 Undercurrent (www.undercurrent.org)
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.

Page computed and displayed in 0.09 seconds