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Dive Review of Komodo Dancer in
Indonesia/Bali/Komodo

Komodo Dancer, Nov, 2005,

by William & Frances Ungerman, California, USA (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 2190.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Pacific and Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 72 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 4
Water Visibility 20 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None enforced, suggested limits time and depth
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Camera table and two separate rinse tanks on board.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We boarded the boat in Bali after a delightful three-day stay at the Puri Santrian hotel on the beach. During the eleven-night cruise we experienced the typical Peter Hughes approach to liveaboard diving, which is to say, attentive without being intrusive. The boat is ninety-eight feetlong, an all-wood sailing/motor vessel, although the sails are never used. (The ones shown in the promo video are unfurled for show only). The extra-wide beam makes for a stable ride even in rough seas, and there were some of those during passage. The crew hoses down the decks three or four times a day to keep the wood from cracking (watch out in bare feet; slippery to the max). Diving is in and around the Komodo National Park and Bali for a day on the return. A total of 34 dives (including many night dives and one nice wreck dive) were offered, mostly four a day, but occasionally three on a transit night. There is a land excursion to a volcanic lake and of course the signature trip to Komodo Island to see the prehistoric dragons. We had to wade onto the island because the low tide prevented beaching the runabouts. After, we made the land trek 2-1/2 miles in the 103 degree equatorial sun). Saw dragons loitering around the small settlement near the dock. Two park rangers armed with forked sticks (one fore, one aft of the column) take you up the savanna hllls and through the parched jungle to look for dragons. It's not as much fun they say as when the park rangers used to feed the dragons goat meat pieces, but still worth it. You have to run the gauntlet of the natives selling carved dragons on the way back to the boat, but what the hell. The kids are real sales persons!

Back to diving. All diving is off two "pangas," designated the "red boat" and the "black boat." Water temperatures vary dramatically, as does visibility. Expect anything between 72 degrees and 85 degrees Farenheit. Many divers wore seven millimeter neoprene on some dives. Water visibility flucuated between twenty (muck diving) and one hundred feet, depending on the site. This is fairly diverse diving. Expect to see a few Mantas and White Tip sharks along with macro stuff like Pygmy seahorses and little crabs. Frogfish, scorpionfish, and leaf fish are all here. For the macro fan, Lembeh Strait is still far superior, and for the wide angle or big critter buff, there're better places, but for a great compromise location, this is a hard trip to beat. Dive briefings were thorough and conducted by a Dutch "Cruise Director" and/or his German/French fiance. They also lead the dives along with "Wayan," an Indonesia Divemaster and great guy. Safety saugages and EPIRBS are provided and belive me, they are needed. What with current and waves, you could be missed and adrift, headed for the Philipines. Several times it took us twenty minutes or so searching for divers who had drifetd off. Use of the saftey sauage was not uncommon. Signal mirrors? Strobes? Bring 'em. Some notable dives were Cannibal Rock, Torpedo Alley, The Alley (exceptionally great!), Batu Bolong (featured in Scuba Diving magazine), The Estuary, Bonto Reef and the wreck of the USS Liberty (erroneously described as a WW II "Liberty Ship."

When paying for our on-board bill we were charged 2.25 percent as a "credit card surcharge." This is disallowed by VISA/MC and the charge was reversed after I protested upon returning home. But note that Peter Hughes is now only a booking agent, having divested himself of interest in the boats, probably after the Wave Dancer fiasco in Belize.

Incidentals: 32 percent nitrox is available at $10.00 per tank or $200.00 for the eleven-day trip (9 1/2 days of actual diving). The crew sings American ballads and rock songs, e.g. "Country Road" and "Hey Jude" at night. The head steward, "Sebastian", is remarkable, an absolute gem of a guy who's attentivness is legend. All cabins are below deck except for the "Owner's Suite" on the top deck. For the extra money, it would be worth it, although all cabins are laid out in an effective manner and individually air conditioned with en-suite showers and electric marine heads that actually work great. There is no smoking except in the wheelhouse. Food is good and of course the service is impeccable. There are fresh towels and a short back and shoulder massage rendered after each dive. Full one-hour massages are available on board for US $10.00. One sunset we watched a million fruit bats migrate from one island to an adjoining one, on the hunt. An amazing sight.

Cost of the November 2005 trip was around $2,700.00 per person plus air which was an additional $1,600.00. Three nights at the Puri Santrian (all arranged by Peter Hughes Diving) was about $360.00, a bargain for a 5-star hotel on the beach. I'm still brooding about Hughes tacking on a $40.00 fuel surcharge AFTER we had contracted and agreed to a price. Last thought: Before the terrorist bombings on Bali, approximately fifteen thousand tourists a day passed through Bali. In November 2005, that amount was reduced to 600 per day. The tourist infrastructure is hurting and they desparately want Americans (especially) to return. The area is about 90% Hindu, five percent Christian and five percent Muslim. Everyone who introduced themselves to us prefaced their remarks with, "I'm a Hindu, not Muslim." Bali is beautiful and the people charming and gracious. The Komodo Dancer trip was worth the money, so seriously consider it when contemplating your next dive adventure.
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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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