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Dive Review of Mermaid Liveaboards in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Mermaid Liveaboards, Feb, 2013,

by Bart Mertens, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 7439.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my 2nd time on the Mermaid I; had done their Komodo cruise in 2011 and really appreciated the boat and the crew to do this again in Raja Ampat.
The air-conditioned cabin was large and comfortable with an en-suite bathroom, and each cabin had its own TV plus DVD player.
The vessel has a large sun deck with lounge chairs, plus comfortable inside and outside lounges. The inside lounge and eating area also provided a large selection of books, magazines and fish and critter identification guides. Towels were changed every other day and the bed linens were changed at least once during the trip. Warm towels were provided after every dive. The service by the entire crew is excellent from helping you gear up, getting the gear in and out of the zodiacs to helping you with getting your wetsuit off and washing and hanging it up after every dive.
Most of the time the day was organized as follows: wake-up call and small breakfast around 6:30, dive 1 at 7:30, hot breakfast (eggs, etc) around 9, dive 2 around 10:30, lunch, dive 3 around 15:30, night dive at 18:30, dinner at 20:00.
A maximum of five divers were with each guide; guides Andrea and Harry were very knowledgeable and helpful and excellent at spotting critters; they paid attention but in the end everybody was free to do their own thing and dive their own profile. Dive times were limited to 60-70 minutes; nitrox is available and almost a necessity with doing 4 dives a day, 8 days in a row.

Getting to Raja Ampat from the US is a bit of a hike; it's a 2 day deal with an overnight in Jakarta and a stop in Ambon or Makassar.
However, the diving is pristine with rich coral gardens and massive aggregations of tropical fish everywhere. We visited the northern part first (Waigeo area), then back down to the Dampier strait, then dove the beautiful mangroves of Yanggefo (a truly unique experience), then down to Misool.
Besides the ever present wobbegongs, the mantas at Manta Sandy, and the most breathtaking coral garden you'll ever see at Melissa's Garden we were treated to pygmy seahorses (Bargibanti, Denise and Santa Claus), walking sharks, Indian walkmen, schools of batfish, barracudas, bumphead parrotfish, plus numerous scorpion fishes,
stargazers, ghost pipe fishes, frog fishes and nudibranchs. Raja Ampat truly has it all.
The diving was pretty relaxed, currents weren't bad and water temps in the 75-80 degree range.
Websites Mermaid Liveaboards   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving California, Channel islands, Hawaii, Komodo, GBR, Sea of Cortez
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 76-80°F / 24-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80-120 Ft/ 24-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Typically 60 minutes maximum dive time
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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 Plenty of room on the dive deck laid out for photographers
including a large camera table and dedicated rinse tanks.
Although there were no power outlets for charging on
deck, there were more than enough outlets provided in the cabins. There were also compressed air facilities.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Laura A. Sonnenmarkin VA, US at Jan 02, 2014 10:45 EST  
Thanks for the informative review! My husband and I are looking for a liveaboard to do Raja--I was a bit worried about current, so good to know they aren't so much a problem. (Actually, it isn't current I mind so much, per se, but getting caught in one of those up-down "washing machine" currents.) Did you find February a very good time to go?
By report author: Bart Mertens in CA, US at Jan 02, 2014 12:03 EST  
I definitely did not encounter "washing machine" currents in Raja (I know what you mean; I encountered those in Komodo). The weather I encountered in February was fantastic, but from reading other reports it can be hit-or-miss.
By Laura A. Sonnenmarkin VA, US at Jan 03, 2014 17:11 EST  
Yes, I've been warned about Komodo already--Raja sounds more my thing. To tell you the truth, I must be the only person on the face of the planet who just isn't interested in the Komodo Dragons. No idea why. The flights to Raja Ampat do seem problematical, but worth it--thousands of divers cannot be wrong! I think we'll try to get there a little later in the year.
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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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