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Dive Review of Ocean Rover in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

Ocean Rover, Aug, 2005,

by John Sommerer, MD, United States . Report 2612.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Costa Rica, Galapagos, Indonesia, Micronesia, PNG, Revillagigedos, Polynesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Excellent camera work stations on boat, both dry and wetside. Two-stage dunk tanks for cameras. Crew very careful with your gear.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Ocean Rover has done a N. Sulawesi itinerary for the last couple of years, though apparently will not be doing it next year. A nice mix of Lembeh Strait, Bangka Is., Bunaken National Park, Minahasa Lagoon area, and Sangihe Archipelago. Unfortunately, on our trip the weather was a bit windy, and some of the divers were bad sailors, so we didn't go farther north than Ruang Is., missing a current eruption of Kahengateng volcano on Siau.
Other northern destinations listed on the OR website are apparently not dived very often, either because of currents, or unfriendly locals. These sites should be removed from the website and the advertised itinerary.

Ocean Rover is probably the best constructed, best organized liveaboard we've been on. Large cabins with plenty of storage, excellent bathroom. Everything laid out with great thought and convenience. Unbelievable service from the Thai crew, though they were very quiet and not too interactive. Dive staff were not regular OR crew members. Gerome (Swiss) and his Thai wife Kay usually guide on the June Hong Chian Lee (the Chinese Junk) out of Phuket, though it's possible they may continue working on the OR in the future. The other dive guide, Nelson, was from N. Sulawesi. All were excellent at critter spotting, though Kay had an amazing ability to find truly tiny things (like juvenile frogfish, lionfish, etc. only a few millimeters in size; better have a magnifier and a long macro lens).

The muck diving in Lembeh, near Minahasa Lagoon, at Paradise Jetty, and at Ruang Is. was outstanding. The wall dives in Bunaken are very pretty, but lack large fish (though an occasional bumphead parrotfish or Napolean wrasse was seen). A dive on a relatively recent lava flow at Ruang was astoundingly beautiful, and had a few spotted eagle rays to spice things up. The Bangka dives were good, but many of the divers complained about the current.

In fact, the worst problem with this trip was about half the other divers. Why go diving if you are so heavy, you can't put your own fins on? Why go on a trip that advertises open ocean crossings if you get seasick? Why go on a trip that advertises muck diving if you don't like muck diving? Why go muck diving if your bouyancy control is terrible? Those of us not so impaired kept a running list of "can you top this" stories. Two of the best (well, worst): A photographer sets up on a nudibranch on the bottom only to have one of the bad divers "land" next to him, stirring up the silt, grab a handful of it, and then drop it back on the nudi. Another diver swims directly over a mimic octopus, despite the STOP signals of three other divers and two guides, and continues to kick and thrash just above the bottom for 20 minutes, rather than settle down and hold still, despite one of the guides repeatedly urging her to do so. This kind of thing really can ruin a trip for the other guests, and it's hard for a cruise director to do anything about, though I give Gerome credit for some dive etiquette lectures and a few private chats. Unfortunately, this is not atypical of the OR clientel, according to the crew. What a waste! Next year they're doing a dive and golf cruise....
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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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