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Dive Review of Peter Hughes Stardancer in
Papua New Guinea

Peter Hughes Stardancer, May, 2007,

by Don "Digger"Rowe, ca, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 3343.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Mexico, Martinique, Cozumel, Bahamas, Tahiti, Red Sea, Maldives, CostaRica, Galapagos, Revillagegedos,
Jamaica, Fiji, Indonesia, Belize, Sea of Cortez, Maui, Kona, Cayman Islands, Catalina, Santa Cruz, Ana Capa.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas calm
Water Temp 84 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco. Some dives limited to 1 hour.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Only bad was the arduous travel time,(about 24 hours each way).
Diving was about equally split between the Witu and Father's islands off of Milne Bay, and was remarkable. In the Witus, we had native visiting in dugouts with outriggers every day. We visited one village and the paucity of their belongings was unbelievable. But the natives don't even have a word for unhappy in their language.

We had sharks in the water with us almost every dive, sometimes 4 or 5 under the boat on entry that followed us to the dive site. Two of the dives were shark feeds, and the sharks stayed around for the whole dive, even after having emptied the bait box. Photographer divers must have gotten some great shots. Turtles, mostly small showed up on five or six dives. I love them.
Schools of Batfish were plentiful and almost too friendly, particularly for the photodivers.

Captain Peter Manz threw in a few muck dives to show us the amazing diversity of the waters of PNG, with Mandarin fish, assorted flatworms,pigmy seahorses,Blue Ribbon eels, Pipefish,Leaf Scorpion Fish, Peacock Flounders, Squat Lobsters,Mantis Shrimp, and of course,Nudibranchs.

On the Bommies, we had many Octopi and Moray Eel encounters, large Maorie Wrasse, dense schools of Jacks and lesser dense schools of Barracuda, Black and White and Red and White Lion Fish, Banded Shrimp,many different colored anemone fish,Coral Morphian Shrimp,large Humphead Parrot Fish,large Puggerfish,Scorpion Fish,George, a Great Barracuda that stayed under the boat for several dive sites in the Father's Islands, (which were not really islands but bommies the never quite reached the surface, and many more minute animals that I could barely see, even with my magnifying glass, and immediately forgot the names of. Martin an eagle eyed New Guinean had an outstanding ability to find these minute critters. Jamie Queensberry the tour director and also one of the divemasters doesn't yet have the exploration skills of Martin, but is well on her way.

On a few dives we had adverse currents, which Captain Manz, ( who incidentally was an expert skipper) countered by running a Darby line to the anchor line and from the tie down point to the current side of the reef where we hung and watched the parade of fish, both large and small. Even the more inexperienced divers handled it with ease.

The boat, though not new by any means was comfortable and Jana Gibson, from New Zealand provided family style cooking with "to order" breakfasts, sumptuous lunches with some native cooked vegetables and several main courses. Dinners were after night diving and were less diverse than the lunches. Between dives, cake or muffins or varied spreads and crackers kept us from losing any weight. A complete bar was available with assorted liquors and red and white wine, all complementary.

4 dives a day were available for all but the last day. Night diving was available on 6 of the 10 days. The dive deck crew was always available to provide whatever assistance was needed, including washing and rinsing the dive gear at the end of the trip. All diving was done from the Stardancer.

The water was almost too warm. I wore a 3mm hyperstretch and would have preferred a 1mm. Some overall covering is recommended because occasionally we encountered reefs covered with coralimorph which could cause a nasty sting if touched.

Visibility was generally at least 80 feet horizontally with maybe a hundred looking down when the sun was overhead.

This was my third trip on the Stardancer in PNG and by far the best. Overall, I rate the diving as the best in my experience.
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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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