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Dive Review of Peter Hughes Island Dancer II in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Around the major islands

Peter Hughes Island Dancer II, Jun, 2010,

by NEAL LANGERMAN, CA, US (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 17 Helpful votes). Report 5599.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments TWO WEEKS on a live-aboard; 13 days of diving; a skipper who really knows the best dive-sites of the entire island nation! All of this aboard an Aggressor vessel. Too good to resist, we made our reservations about one year in advance. Then, things changed. The Aggressor was pulled from Fiji water and we were offered a trip on the Peter Hughes vessel, Island Dancer II. Unfortunately, the Peter Hughes reservations people did not understand we booked a two week trip and it took us (and most of the other seven guests) months to get the actual itinerary confirmed. Finally the trip arrived and the next two weeks varied between absolutely amazing diving and absolutely terrible diving.

The crew earned a solid “F” on both the “meet and greet” and the “thank you and farewell” aspects of the trip. We were scheduled to be picked up in a nearby hotel at 11:30 sharp. At 9:30, the desk called saying our ride was waiting. Fortunately, we were packed and ready. All of the guests arrived and the crew was around, but there was no direction on getting settled. We had to ask several times to find our cabin. Dive bags were left on the deck – no one told us to stow them in our room. They eventually got put in a boat storage space that left them reeking of diesel fumes when retrieved two weeks later. We expected to depart the vessel at 8:30 Saturday morning. We were told very clearly that a light breakfast would be ready at 7:00 AM and that everyone had to be off the boat at 8:30. Breakfast did not appear and several of us went looking for coffee. The chef finally appeared around 8:00 AM and set out coffee and bread. At 9:45, with no sign of other crew, the chef was prevailed upon to make arrangements for taxis. Just before we finally disembarked, one of the dive masters showed up, badly hung-over and still moderately drunk. The skipper never appeared for the “thank you and good-by”.
Dinners were usually excellent, breakfast was boring and lunch was spotty. Overall, however, the chef did a good job. He also did an excellent job of meeting the dietary needs of a passenger who followed a vegan diet. While the Peter Hughes reservations people told us the chef was fully prepared to handle this diet, it was not until it was clearly explained that “vegan” means no animal products, including eggs and butter, that he was able to always prepare an outstanding dinner for her.

Given a two week trip, one would expect advance preparation on part of the crew. However, we eventually realized that they were running out of fresh water – the tap water started running brown and fresh fruits and vegetables. They also ran out of fresh laundry. So, we did a morning dive on a totally trashed reef and then sat all day while we took on water and the crew had sheets and towels laundered at a local hotel. We had the real pleasure of doing a late afternoon dive on the same trashed reef.

We did get to dive some spectacular reefs, filled with soft corals and amazing small critters (visit wwwDOTsharnealDOTcom/IMAGES/Fiji_Images/index.html to see some of the images). Two of the three guides did a very good job of slowly leading the group of nine divers; paying attention to them and finding critters for we who carry cameras. One guide simply headed off in the direction he wanted and seldom, if ever, looked back. Because of wind and current, the boat was often swinging in an arc such that it was necessary to time an entry into the water to be able to hit the dive site. On several occasions, the dive master assisting the entry neglected to help the divers with this and dive sites were missed or almost missed. One such instance was on the second dive of the day on the famous “Great White Wall.”

Once we left the waters that the Island Dancer normally plied, the crew needed input from local villages to find out where to dive. Seldom did this turn out as expected. Most such dives were mediocre to poor.

Dive safety was generally good. Diving was either from the Island Dancer, which required standing on a water level platform often awash with heavy waves or from an inflatable. Getting into the inflatable from the Island Dancer required a combination of timing, strength and support from the crew. Exits from the water were either up a good ladder to the dive platform, for hoisting oneself (of being hoisted) into the inflatable.

I did 49 dives in 12-1/2 days of diving. In this sense, we got our money’s worth. However, the overall impression of a very poorly managed operation, from reservations through actual guest contact, convinced me never to book a Peter Hughes trip again. Now that the Aggressor fleet and the Hughes fleet are combined, I am questioning whether I want to risk diving with the Aggressor fleet again.

The diving cost $5700 per person and the total trip, including airfare, hotels, etc cost the two of us $15,700.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Most major dive areas around Pacific and Atlantic; Gulf of Mexico, etc
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents
Water Temp 79-82°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility -200 Ft/ -61 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth via Nitrox; 60 minutes or so per dive
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There was a severe lack of adequate camera workspace. The designated camera table could handle 2-3 full size DSLRs. The charging station was much too small. When underway in heavy seas, cameras were placed on the galley floor to prevent being bounced to the deck. Cameras were handed to divers in the water. When in the inflatable, cameras were stacked on the floor near the bow. After about 8 days, one of my Ikelite DS125 strobes died. It wasn’t until I returned to the USA and had it diagnosed that I learned the hard injection-molded plastic case was cracked. While I cannot prove it, I suspect something heavy got dropped on it during diver recovery in the inflatable. So, the trip cost an additional $]
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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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