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Dive Review of Archipelago Expeditions/Sea Safari III in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat/Misool

Archipelago Expeditions/Sea Safari III, Nov, 2010,

by Joan Fuhry, CA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 5798.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Banda/Maluku, Galapagos, Micronesia/Chuuk/Pohnpei, Malaysia, Caribbean, Florida, Monterey Bay, Red Sea, Hawaii, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 78 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 30 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth/time limits gently, enforced; however, early surfacers were taken back to the the mother ship as long as another tender remained for later divers. Pretty much we all dived our own profiles.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Freshwater rinse tank for cameras. Crew very careful with photo equipment. Topside padded table for cameras between dives with dry towels. No pressurized air jets. Multiple power strips for charging stations inside dining salon area.

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

Accommodations 3 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 $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments As a previous client of the Archipelago Adventurer II in Banda/Maluku area, I was excited to return to the AAII for the 12-day Raja Ampat itinerary. Upon arriving in Sorong, we found that the AAII had been damaged in an accident on the previous trip and was in drydock for repair. The management scrambled and within a couple of days had leased the Sea Safari III (formerly with Kararu-Komodo) and prepped her as a substitute boat to save our dive trip, including buying and installing 2 new air compressors. Outstanding effort by Archipelago Adventures management and staff!!! The SSIII's captain and engineering crew came with the boat, but the superb AAII service and dive op crew transferred over, to our delight. The SSIII proved to be so much more stable and comfortable compared to the pronounced side-to-side rolling of the AAII, even in flat water (the AAII's biggest--and only--negative).

There were some drawbacks to this arrangement though: we missed the luxurious accommodations of the AAII which we had experienced and expected, including the large rooms with breatheable air, the dedicated camera salon, in-room amenities, outdoor dining deck and surrounding cushioned banquette, but also on-board Nitrox and watermaker. The SSIII's rooms were generously-sized with ensuite combo marine toilets and showers, with varying water pressure from drips to good. Beds were comfy and linens changed x3 during voyage. Many of the lower rooms were gassy with diesel fumes, causing some guests to escape to sleep on upper outside decks on lounge cushions and/or chairs. Respiratory difficulties affected many of the lower cabin guests, causing some lost dives. Accommodations for the large AAII staff were inadequate, so that some staff had to sleep in the dining salon on the floor. They're such a great staff, we felt badly for them.

The dive op is top-notch: Ali has departed, leaving the irrepressible Made as lead DM, with his famous yellow socks, infectious laugh, hammerhead hat, and great briefings ending with "Let's go DIVING!!" Cruise Directors Erwin (NZ) and Nora (Germany) were professional, fun, helpful, and responsive, as is the entire AA operation. I especially appreciated Erwin's efforts to keep divers from accidentally injuring marine life.

A couple of freebies thrown in (like comp'd alcohol or a T-shirt) would have been a nice gesture for the lack of the AAII's benefits like Nitrox, the usual generous amount of fresh water, and breatheable air in the lower cabins; but the fact that we were able to complete our dive trip in its entirety meant the most. And for this the AA folks deserve major kudos.

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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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