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Dive Review of Blue Manta in
Indonesia/Banda Sea

Blue Manta: "Think twice before booking a transpositioning charter!!!", May, 2017,

by Holly Bent, HI, US (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports with 10 Helpful votes). Report 9610 has 7 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments I would rate the Blue Manta as a solid 3/5 on my personal liveaboard scale. I consider myself a Harsh critic, having worked as crew with the Aggressor fleet in the late 80’s. I am specifically comparing this boat to other high end luxury liveaboards in Indonesia that I have been on (Wakatobi Pelagian, Arenui, Dewi Nusantara, and Damai).
This was a transpositioning cruise from Ambon to Maumere (following the islands that make up the ring of fire). I would not do this one again (the boat or the journey). It was a good thing I arrived in Ambon a week early and spent time diving with Dive into Ambon (see separate review), as the Blue Manta did not dive in the Ambon area at all.
The boat: it was chosen for its steel hull design, the boat would be traveling a distance of nearly a 1000 nautical miles. I booked this boat as I believed the blue manta would be a smoother ride than the traditional wooden pinisi boats most companies operate in these waters. The design of the Blue Manta, makes her top heavy with a strong rolling pitch. The vibration from the main engines, coupled with a cavitation made sleeping difficult in rough seas (which we had plenty of). This boat is only 2 years old and appears to have been put together with a variety of cheap materials. The flooring is a one piece faux wood vinyl and the cabinetry is pressboard. Consequently, on our journey the main dive deck lifted off during rough seas. Our cabin’s bathroom was full of mold and the sink counter was falling apart. The cruise director Cedric made a variety of excuses about why the nitrox and one water maker broke down during the journey.
On a positive note, the boat is the most spacious I have been on. Unfortunately, the majority of this trip was disrupted by multiple days of bad weather, and I could not utilize the spacious top deck very often.
The meal area is large with seating capacity for all guests, the Indonesian crew did not eat with the guests only the managers, who sat in a separate area.

The boat has the capacity of 10 knots, yet we traveled at an average of 6 for the entire trip.

Managers: Cedric was our cruise director who was apparently training a relief for himself, Michael. At the boarding of the cruise they were both extremely friendly, which made me think how wonderful of a trip this was going to be based on the initial portrayed personalities. This meet and greet was about the extent of our conversations for the entire 12-day trip, as Cedric had repeat guests on board, which he and Michael spent the majority of their time with.
I was really taken back by the amount of alcohol consumption the managers blatantly drank.

Crew: I learned from a repeat customer that the boat is having an internal struggle with its crew. This became evident only once to me when I witnessed a conflict with Cedric and one of the tender drivers. The Indonesian crew worked very well together.

Dive guides: I got lucky with “GUN” as my guide. You were assigned at the beginning and had the same guide for the whole trip. This young boy was from Manado and had a specialty of finding macro species.

Diving: We dove off the 16 foot ribs for the majority of the trip, as both of the main tenders were leaking badly, and admittedly were going to be decommissioned after our journey. The ribs would not have been that bad to dive off of if they had kept them at proper pressure. They were always under inflated.
Site selection was chosen by Cedric, who likes wall diving and to search for schooling fish in the deep. The thing I could not understand was why we did not do more muck diving when clearly the majority of the passengers enjoyed it so much. For a few days, we dove the same site more than once, without a choice. We dove on areas that had damage by reef bombing and were told it was from heavy wave action.
In fairness, we did experience some phenomenal dive sites with pristine reefs. The problem with a transposition cruise is some areas are exploratory or dove due to word of mouth from other boats.
The highlight for me, was the day spent at Manuk island with the sea snakes, we spent 3 dives here which were extraordinary.
In total for a 12 day 11 night charter only 28 dives were offered. Not as many as I hoped and considering the cost of the charter, not enough. We did 3 dives a day on average, only one night dive and one dusk dive. When I questioned Cedrick about this he stated most people don’t want to do more than 3 dives a day.

Food: Let’s say they did an okay job. With 12 days of charter it became quite repetitive with cabbage salad at every meal. I have severe food allergy, and surprisingly got away with 3 allergic reactions, I attribute to cross contamination and poor hygiene of dish washing (dishes were washed in the dining room sink with cold water and a decrepit moldy sponge, hence most passengers were sharing illness). Most meals were deep fried, and in the beginning, they made me separate dishes from the assembly line buffet. This waned after a few days and it seemed the 2 food servers completely forgot about my special needs. A huge difference from the last 2 liveaboard trips (Damai and Arenui), for which I experienced no allergic reactions, and had phenomenal variety.

Medical on board: I was it when a passenger passed out on the first dive day. I travel with adequate medical supplies and was able to provide IV rehydration. Do not expect much from the crew, if you need medical supplies, bring your own.

Reflection: Now that I am home and back to reality, the banda sea has some world class diving. Was the Blue Manta the worst liveaboard I have been on…No…but for the price I would hands down pick the Arenui, Damai, or Dewi over this boat on the same route. In this day and age with so much competition, I believe I can be picky.
In fairness, I did receive an email from the manta office offering us a 20% discount for future bookings due to our inclement weather and lack of promised dive sites. We had to alter the trip itinerary due to weather.
Websites Blue Manta   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia (extensive), Maldives, Palau, Yap, PNG, Philippines, Fiji, Caribbean, Hawaii, Australia, Coral Sea, New Zealand, California, Central America, Micronesia, Mexico, Tahiti, Solomons, and more
Closest Airport Ambon Getting There Jakarta to Ambon

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 78-84°F / 26-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20-100 Ft/ 6-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Diving was limited to 60 minutes, unless our guide "gun" was super into the site, and a few times we did 70 to 80 minutes.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales > 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 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 Photography set up: The camera room was adequate and conveniently located near the dive deck. It had it’s own AC unit so as long as guests and crew did not manipulate the setting of the temperature too much, the camera’s would not fog if left in overnight.
The crew would, for the most part handle camera gear with care and carry to the tenders and to the general rinse tanks without incident. If you wanted to have your own private rinse tank, this was available next to your gear setup. I did end up with a scratch on my dome port one day which was due to the handling of the equipment.
PJ was on board, the Manta’s freelance videographer, who offered an hour-long video of the charter. He did a nice job with his footage that all guests were able to view on the last night. He operated a drone, displaying aerial photography of the areas we visited on non-rainy days. This video was the only introduction to all the crew I had during the trip. It was available to purchase for 90$ USD.
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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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