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Dive Review of Tropic Dancer in

Tropic Dancer, Nov, 2012,

by Gary D Simms, MD, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6765.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 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 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Tropic Dance is all about service - on shore, on board, in the water. The staff was really outstanding, friendly, professional. and eco-aware. Safety was always important. Food and drink terrific - wake up coffee service at the cabin door, continental and regular breakfast before the 7:15 am first dive (I know it's early, but we got quite used to it), lunch buffet, plated dinners, and snacks after each dive. There were always veggie options, and the chef was amendable to helping those with food allergies or special needs. Because Palau diving is highly dependent on current conditions, the staff knowledge of the local area was great. They usually briefed at least two possible dives, and made a final decision when personally inspecting the site.

The boat uses a hydraulic lift skiff (where gear is stored after initial set up)making us the first ones to particularly popular sites. Great ease of entry and exit, and most rides to dive sites were 5 minutes or less (the exceptions being when currents at the site were too difficult, and an alternative was selected).

When we've been on previous trips, we made a point of asking more experienced divers where to go. They often mentioned Palau. They were so right! The upside is that in one place, you can find extraordinary unspoiled hard and soft corals of all kinds, little stuff and big stuff, schools of sharks, huge schools of fish, wrecks, and caves. The downside is that it takes forever to get there, and it's a long trip back to the US (took us 28 travel hours from Palau to the east coast with 4 plane changes). Highlights: swimming with 8-10 giant manta near sunset (not once, but on two days). By staying within a huge bait ball of snapper, we got within 10 feet of these beauties.

Here. I have to thank Captain Ike, who was leading the dive. He spotted a group of 9 mantas overhead, and grabbed my wife's hand and (using his extra large fins) pulled her along until she was just a few feet away. She's a strong swimmer herself, but his help was wonderful It was only later that we realized that this extraordinary experience came on her 100th dive.

The "hook in" dives at several key spots allowed us to watch the pelagics in huge numbers swim by; large schools of sharks (white tip, black tip, some leopards, reef, etc) came within 5-10 feet as the 2-3 knot current kept our tie-in lines fully extended. Great, great experience.

Most of the diving is of the drift variety, which for less experienced divers can be a bit unnerving. The crew and dive masters made it a snap. In addition to requiring use of sausages and horn alarms, they usually made a clear, tank banging ascent near the end of the dive used regulators to inflate a bright yellow safety sausage and gathered those who were a bit anxious about being found by the skiff (there were times when the skiff was loaded with 17 divers; this made for some initial crowding on descent, but we generally broke into several groups, made possible by 2-3 dive masters on each dive who took the time to check on us and point out some of the really great sites). Pick up could take up to 10 minutes of surface bobbing in relatively calm water. We had one rough pickup when a sudden squall during the dive resulted in 2-3 waves, some surface current, heavy rain, and difficulty in spotting the skiff. The dive master with the 6 of us was calm, cool, collected and eliminated our concerns.

Palau offers some of the best diving anywhere. The live aboard helped us avoid long (1-2 hour) rides from shore operator locations to the best dive spots, and gave us the luxury of 4-5 dives daily. The Dancer crew carefully filled out tanks with nitrox which was remarkably stable percentage-wise, and easily read on a big wall mounted gauge. (Tanks consistently were at the 3200 pound fill level, too). Water temps were high enough (80-84 F) so that I was always comfortable in a 1 mil suit (although some of the divers used as much as 5 or 7 mil suits).

The last day included a snorkel in Jellyfish Lake, an experience not to be missed, and a shallow dive into air-pocket laden caverns that was kind of fun.

This was our first live-aboard experience. It's how we plan on diving in the future whenever possible.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Caymans, Bonaire, Roatan, Turks, Eilat, Panama
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 50-150 Ft/ 15-46 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Recreational noDC limits (eg, 110 ft, 60 minutes)
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Excellent, supplemented by staff photographer and videographer
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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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