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Dive Review of Amira in
Indonesia/Banda Sea

Amira, May, 2013,

by Frederick R. Turoff, PA, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 29 reports with 12 Helpful votes). Report 7017.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 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 I boarded the Amira in Ambon after two dive days at Maluku divers, where I checked out my gear and started acclimating to the 12-time-zone change from Philadelphia. Our group of 13 divers was separated into three groups of 3, 4, and 7 to fit the three dive tenders. Dive guides rotated each day. The first day, when we were to depart, the harbor master wouldn't give us permission to leave, so we did two dives in Ambon harbor. This allowed me to revisit the site Rhino city, where I did get to see both a yellow lacey scorpionfish and a purple weedy scorpionfish, two rhinopius I hadn't seen before. Once we got underway the next day, we did one dive at the SW end of Ambon harbor, then headed out to the Banda Sea. Our later departure meant we couldn't visit Bandanera, but other sites gave us plenty to see and photograph. Reaching the Lucipara group on day 3, we saw many turtles plus some large fish - dogtooth tuna, bumphead parrotfish, mackeral. With water temp 84-85, I was quite comfortable in my 3mm suit with hood.

We next hit Gunung Api, the snake island. It lived up to its name, as scores if not hundreds of curious olive sea snakes swam around us without a hint of aggression. Anemones of various colors dotted the sea floor. Heading next to Wetar Island we found healthy walls and more colorful anemones. Before the next morning dive, my 1st stage O-ring blew, but the crew quickly fixed this for me so I could join the dive. Heading to Alor, the water got much colder so I had to rent a second 3mm suit to wear over mine, which made me just barely comfortable (I'm a thin guy). This area has a dive site called anemone city which features a sea floor literally covered with anemones, with no place to put a hand. There were so many that few had anemonefish in them, but there was quite a variety of colors of both anemones and corals. We also dived a site called Mandarin condos, where mandarinfish shuttled around in the piles of dead staghorn coral in the daytime, allowing us many photo opportunities.

The next day at South Pantar the water remained cold but we had some excellent muck dives. at Tanjung Wili we had a beautiful wall but had surge both side-to-side and up-and-down. When we moved to Pulau Kambing next we had the strongest current of the trip, a ride that didn't allow any photography, just watching the leather coral forest go by.

After that we returned to warm water (84) and beautiful walls. Several spotted eagle rays cruised by, and I spotted a white tip shark, only the second shark I saw on our trip. If this is the result of the shark-finning trade, it's decimating our oceans there and removing those magnificent apex predators. Sadly, two of our group got DCS after our second dive, so we had to scrap our last two dives and head to Maumere for medical assistance at DAN's direction while they breathed oxygen kept on board for such purposes. The trip lasted overnight so we were offered a final muck dive in Maumere harbor which two of us took in 20' vis. Still we found several octopi including two in containers and one that ran from me on two legs. Eels also occupied many bottles and we found an Ambon scorpionfish plus several sea horses.

The DCS divers departed the day after we arrived in Maumere, with diminished symptoms but not gone completely. The US victim, with DAN insurance, was flown by DAN travel assist to Singapore, where he had recompression treatments which resolved his symptoms. He returned home to the US shortly afterward.

Each day featured four dives generally. Nitrox is free but not required. Breakfast orders were taken before each day's first dive, as we ate breakfast after that dive. After each morning dive, we were greeted with a cup of ginger tea, which warmed us quickly. After night dives, hot drinks were also offered. Lunch and dinner usually had several main course choices plus salads and desserts. Lunch was buffet style, while dinner was served. We ate outdoors whenever weather permitted. Food was varied enough that I was able to avoid spicy food and get plenty to eat. A final night buffet of 9 kinds of sushi plus other main courses filled us all easily and quickly.

We lucked out having mostly calm seas for diving and travel. On at least two traveling occasions the seas were nearly glass. Night time temperatures were so pleasant that I often took my mattress on deck and slept under the stars (if clear) or under the large awning (if cloudy). I had to retreat below deck to my cabin only once due to rain.

Captain Bruno Hopf gave clear, concise and detailed dive briefings at each site. All dive guides were terrific at finding photo subjects. Anyone who takes a trip on Amira will have a great time.
Websites Amira   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving BVI, USVI, Saba, St. Lucia, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, Costa Rica, Coco Island, Revillagigedos, Sea of Cortez, Palau, Yap, Red Sea, Sipadan, PNG, Indonesia, Philippines
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 73-85°F / 23-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-100 Ft/ 6-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions try to be back at boat with 500psi
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Camera room was a bit crowded with 6 of us having large housed cameras and several having small housed cameras. Tools, electrical supply and towels available for everyone's use. Camera room was adjacent to dive prep area, with two large rinse tanks dedicated to cameras in the rear dive prep area. Staff handled cameras with care.
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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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