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Dive Review of Kararu Dive Voyages/Sea Safari VII in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Kararu Dive Voyages/Sea Safari VII, May, 2010,

by David E Reubush, VA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 48 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 5565.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Curacao, Dominica, Galapagos, Indonesia, Red Sea, Roatan, Turks & Caicos, Virgin Islands
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 85 to 87 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Don't do anything stupid.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments On the plus side there was a large rinse tank on boat dedicated to cameras and there were plenty of places to recharge batteries. On the minus side the "camera table" was a shelf outside the main deck cabins. Also, this appeared to be one of the first times the crew had dealt with photographers. It took a couple of days for them to handle the cameras as carefully as they should have. I ended up with a big gouge in my flat port as a result of mis-handling early in the trip.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my 3rd trip to Indonesia, but first to Raja Ampat. After reading Burt & Maurine's guide I was anxious to see the area for myself and I was not disappointed. It was definitely worth the hassle of getting there. The reefs were healthy, there were lots of fish and other creatures, and the water was generally clear and warm. As opposed to the Red Sea where all the dive sites are crowded we only shared a dive area with another boat for one morning of the whole trip. The rest of the time we were all by ourselves. There were numerous varieties of pygmy seahorses on just about every dive. In the process of reviewing my photos I found shots of a pygmy with the reverse color combination of the typical whitish body with red spots. I could not locate an identification in either my reference books or on-line. I emailed Burt & Maurine and Maurine responded that it had been seen before, but had not yet been identified as a new species or just a color variation of a known species. I also have shots of a couple of nudibranchs/flat worms that I can't find an identification for. We also saw a blue-ring octopus and a flamboyant cuttlefish among the other wild and wonderful creatures. As a fan of strange and interesting creatures my favorite dives were those we did at the pearl farm. It was amazing what all we saw, including a pair of pipefish that must have been more than 2 feet long. When diving remote areas like Raja Ampat you just don't know what you're going to find. I will also complement Nyoman and Bawa, the Indonesian dive masters, as they were especially good at finding stuff and coming to get you to show it to you. Other than showing stuff to you, once they saw that you were an experienced diver (as all on the trip were), they pretty much let you dive your own profile. As far as large pelagics are concerned, while we did see a number of wobbegongs and epaulette sharks we only briefly saw a couple of other sharks and saw mantas on only one dive. I will also note here that the currents were generally minimal, but a couple of sites we saw currents that were just ripping so I would not recommend the trip for beginners.
As to the boat itself, the Sea Safari VII was a last minute replacement for the Sea Horse, which was the boat that I had originally booked and this last minute change is most probably the reason for the few issues I had. The Sea Safari VII is a large boat with 4 cabins on the main deck and 9 on the lower deck. Kararu is dedicating 6 of the lower deck cabins to singles. I had one of these cabins and it was as large as a typical twin cabin on most of the other live-aboards I have been on. The air conditioning and everything else in the cabin worked fine the whole trip. The food was my major complaint. The cook was used to having Chinese and Indonesian passengers and knew how to cook for them, but not so well for Westerners. Pete and Kristine, the ex-pat cruise directors/dive masters, went food shopping in Sorong after the first Kararu trip on the Sea Safari VII (mine was the 2nd) and I was told the food was better on our trip than the first, but it still wasn't great. I do have hopes that the food will improve as the cook gets more experience and I do plan on returning in the future.
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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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