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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Ocean Dancer in
Maldives

Peter Hughes/Ocean Dancer, Feb, 2009,

by Phil & Nancy Hamilton, MA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 5160.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Philippines, Galapagos, Indonesia, Caribbean, Cozumel, Sea of Cortez, Utila, Roatan, Costa Rica, Belize, Australia, Curacao, Florida Keys, California, New England
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas currents
Water Temp 80 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

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

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Work area was good for the number of photographers/videographers on board. Some competition for outlets for chargers, etc. but not a major issue as the divers were very cooperative and considerate.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments We were very disappointed with the dive masters - the first was an inexperienced "dive master in training" who didn't spot much and interacted very little with the other divers during the dives. The other was the captain/dive leader who was more interested in taking video than ensuring that the divers got to the right location. On one particular dive to a manta cleaning station, the DM-in-training led 15 divers to the wrong spot where there were no mantas, while the captain just had one diver with him. Instead of trying to find the rest of the divers and get us to the correct place, he spent 40 minutes shooting video of all the mantas with only a single diver. Then he blamed the rest of the divers back on the boat for not following him (everyone was following the other DM). So, at least he and one other diver had a great dive. To the rest of us, it was very frustrating and disappointing. In contrast, when we went to the Galapagos in 06 with Sky Dancer, the DM went out of his way to find us during a dive and lead us to a whale shark! He was doing his job leading the dive, and actually seemed to care that we had a great experience - unlike the Ocean Dancer DM.
Whenever anybody had an issue, the Ocean Dancer captain got very defensive and insulting to us and several other guests. For example, we had a concern about the whale shark watch, where, if a whale shark was spotted, we would be snorkling instead of diving (not mentioned in any of the literature by the way). At one point during the conversation he said to me "this isn't a zoo" and "What do you want me to do, tie a whale shark to the back of the boat?" We've logged 600+ dives, and we DO know that nature is unpredictable, and his comments were very offensive - we just wanted to discuss the snorkling vs. diving approach. Other passengers mentioned that they were offended other insulting comments made to them. Also, we booked the 10-day charter rather than the 7-day to increase the chances of seeing a whale shark - it didn't matter because we spent very little time even trying to find one; just up and down the reef once on the boat, and then only one dive in the only area where there was likely to be whale sharks. Interestingly, after the charter, we stayed 2 nights at the Conrad resort in S. Ari Atoll, and they were spotting whale sharks the same week as our charter. We wished we had done a land-based trip rather than this charter - we would have had much better diving and probably would have seen whale sharks! We did two dives with the resort which really saved the trip for us. We saw more mantas than we did all week, plus the DMs from the resort pointed out a ghost pipefish and other critters that we never would have spotted ourselves or with the DMs on the Ocean Dancer. Also, the conditions on the resort dives were excellent, and the overall atmosphere was calm and pleasant. Conversely, many dives on the Ocean Dancer were in extreme current, where the DMs were using reef hooks (better for them to shoot video) and the rest of us were hanging on to anything we could find to avoid getting swept away. The dives were run like a military operation, with the DMs shouting out "GO GO GO" whenever it was time to get into the water. In two dives to a manta cleaning station, if you couldn't drop 60 feet in 60 seconds, you missed the spot and there was no way you could physically get to where you needed to go - plus the DMs just charged ahead without waiting or helping, so you were left behind anyway without knowing exactly where you needed to go. We couldn't understand why we weren't dropped a little further up from the current, so we had more time to clear our ears and get down to the site. Several passengers were disappointed that there were only 3 dives per day.
Apart from the diving, the service topside was very good. Meals were tasty and varied, although a bit rushed (guests are asked to leave the table after dinner so the crew could sit there for their meal, which kind of breaks things up for the night). It would have been nice to have had a top sheet on the bed.
The planning guide contains a few errors/omissions: It states not to bring in any alcohol into the country, then later it says to purchase any brands of alcoholic beverages we may want at any airport's duty free. Unlike other PH charters, adult beverages are not included and are quite pricey. Also, we're told that there are hair dryers in the staterooms - this is not the case, although probably not a concern to most passengers. When listing what dive equipment to bring, there's no mention of reef hooks or gloves. We wished that we had brought this equipment, but were unaware that the current was going to be so strong at these particular sites that the captain chose that hooks and gloves would be necessary. Although, when we went out after the charter with the resort, we had 2 great dives and the conditions were fine, so then reef hooks and gloves were unnecessary.
Bottom line: We will be returning to dive in the Maldives, but definitely not with Ocean Dancer.


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Subscriber's Comments

By BoxOnline in ZZ, CH at Aug 03, 2014 11:14 EST  
What was the captain's name? After ten days aboard, surely you can remember such an important detail.
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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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