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Dive Review of avalon in
Cuba/Garden of the Queen

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avalon: "Avalon: more bang for the buck", Jun, 2018,

by DAVID C SCOTT, FL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 10469.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Avalon II compares reasonably well to the newer Aggressor II; main difference is a cabin up layout as opposed to the cabin down in the Aggressor. The food is comparable which is to say excellent. Aggressor supplies more frills: uniformed crew, hot towels after dives and beds turned down at night, that stuff is nice but cost about a grand more. Both boats can benefit from the addition of satellite weather services to their navigation displays. Apparently satellite phones are a no no in Cuba and it appears that both boats have only VHF. I'm told that if an emergency were to develop the Military would have a rapid response,maybe so but I'd feel more comfortable with a sat. phone or at least a marine HF radio.

This June trip had much better sea conditions but somewhat less visibility than the October 2017 trip.

Both operations offer 4 dives per day with two to three night dives.

The diving remains the best in the Caribbean or I guess I should say the best we have seen to date in 35 years of diving. My only complaint is I wish the sharks could unlearn their acquired trait of associating divers with a free snack. The sharks have been chummed up for years- maybe even decades. While this does make for a world class shark dive, the behavior is completely unnatural. In fact at the "la cana" dive site, there are more sharks and more big sharks than one encounters at Palau's blue corner during a heavy current. Way more.

I suppose the same unnatural behavior can be said for crocodile population at the gardens of the queen. Tossing out chicken parts and calling out the crocks for the snorkelers photo enjoyment, well seems kinda silly to me.

The cultural experience is limited to the afternoon of the day of departure. Santa Clara seemed a bit more interesting than Camaguey. Both are old colonial towns. The roads are better from Santa Clara to Jucharo than Camaguey to Jucharo. Of the two airports I would opt for Santa Clara.

We will be going back, probably on the Avalon II, if all things stay the same, Avalon is a better bang for the buck. About $3.5K plus air + visa costs. About a grand less than Aggressor II.
Don't forget the 10% tip. That is basically how the crew is compensated.
Websites avalon   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving most of the Caribbean, a good portion of the central and western pacific
Closest Airport Santa Clara Getting There AA Mia-Snu $300 + 5hrs by bus to hailing port of Jucharo

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 86-88°F / 30-31°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 70-120 Ft/ 21-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions reasonable request to dive as a group
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A 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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