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Dive Review of S/Y Philippine Siren in
Philippines/Tubbataha to Cebu

S/Y Philippine Siren: "Tubbataha on the Siren: Great & Not-So-Great", Jun, 2015,

by Michael Wood, WA, US (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 10 Helpful votes). Report 8257 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Great: Definitely among the top 5-7 dive itineraries I've been on in past 25 years. Comparable to Raja Ampat in terms of healthy hard corals (not nearly as many soft corals as Raja), mantas, whale sharks, tropicals, white-tips, muck for 2 days on the way back to Cebu. The food was very good, varied. My twin cabin #7 was spacious with tons of storage (more than I needed). Davide our dive guide was good, too, especially given the experienced divers and photographers he had to herd up on every dive. One hour dive times, sometimes 75 minutes; all dove nitrox. Stayed at the nice Hotel Central the night before the boat sailed, which is highly recommended, as getting your dive gear on the same plane is sometimes a challenge. One passenger had a 3 hour connection in Hong Kong to Manila and still didn't get her gear to the boat from Puerto Princesa, so build in an extra day or two coming here. This is a "crossing" 13 day tour at the end of the Tubbataha season. We had dead calm seas all the way, mild currents, good viz. Camera handling by crew and rinse tanks were very good. Good briefings. Good, safe dinghy drivers, helpful dive staff. Storage drawers by your gear and in the Salon were handy. The hostess (Marife) and cook were also very good, efficient and friendly. Good coffee/espresso maker, but no decaf options if you need that, or it's instant Nescafe'.

The Not-So-Great: The Philippines Siren. First, it's a defective layout. The dive deck area has very narrow outside passages between where you sit to put on your gear, and the railing. Consequently people going ahead of you to the dinghies have to squeeze by you and bump into riggings and your knees. Gear is not kept on the dinghies, so you have to schlep down a ladder onto the zodiac with all your gear, accidents waiting to happen. Ditto coming back on board. There must be a better way. The dive deck has all kinds of wasted space which could have been designed to widen the outer passageway to the dinghies.

The Salon is 5ft. 8" tall ceiling at best, so I couldn't stand up straight, and WORSE, 2 of the 3 air conditioners didn't work so it was hot and stuffy and not the relief you needed in a 95F sun with no breeze between dives. Two of the 8 cabins' AC also didn't work at all or consistently, making for very unhappy passengers. The shower floors were horribly slippery and 2 guests fell in the shower, one nearly broke his elbow and couldn't dive for 3 days. Simple rubber bath mats would solve this. The front two cabins had terrible layouts, inconvenient storage, no room on one side of the bed to get out, noisy anchor chains in the mornings, showers that leaked onto the cabin floor. The Divemasters quarters were so full of mold that they slept in the Salon every night, they told us. Maintenance seems to be a real problem on this Siren vessel.

The camera stations are few and small and inside the Salon, vs. a desperately needed dedicated camera room (another idea for the dead space in the middle of the forward dive deck where crew hung out).

The eating area is a U-shaped booth, which people had to climb over or ask others to slide out to get in for dinner and lunch; not very good for older divers. The fans there were a nice touch, but one of them never worked.

The sun deck had a very small ineffective sheet for shade, which should be doubled in size.

While I would highly recommend this itinerary, especially the Tubbataha portion and muck diving on the way back to Cebu, I'd want some assurances from the Siren that the AC will work, that I get a cabin toward the stern and there are non-slip bath mats (this is not trivial, seeing as you're taking showers 3-5 times per day). Most of the Tubbatah season has only 7 night cruises, which is not enough to justify traveling 40 hours for. Try diving a few days on Cebu ahead of time at Magic Island if you can't do the crossing 13 night cruise. We heard that the March crossing from Cebu to Tubbataha is pretty rough and the seas are rough at Tubbataha then as well, with lots of seasick passengers. Crew said April is the best month for a 7 day cruise.

Despite the criticisms, I'm deposited on the Palau Siren for January, 2016, as two of the Tubbataha passengers had been on that boat a few months earlier, and said they didn't have the problems of the Philippines Siren (Gear kept on the dinghies; AC worked;).
Websites S/Y Philippine Siren   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Indonesia, Maldives, PNG, GBR, Philippines, Hawai'i
Closest Airport Puerto Princesa Getting There Through Cebu or Manila via local jets

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 83-90°F / 28-32°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-75 Ft/ 15-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Nitrox 28% because of deeper dives on Tubbataha.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Wide variety, from corals to pelagics to tropicals to muck. Decent viz. Night dives crowded.
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Report currently has 1 Helpful vote

Subscriber's Comments

By Mark Shandurin Phuket, TH at Jun 24, 2015 05:14 EST  
Hi Michael, Thank for taking the time to review your cruise, good to hear that on whole you enjoyed it and even more so that you decided to dive with us in Palau. We are constantly striving to improve our service and constructive criticism is always welcomed so wed like to quickly address a few points. Firstly, we already have non-slip mats for the bathrooms which are already on board (they are also already on-board in Palau you will be pleased to know). With regard to equipment being left on the RIBS, this is unfortunately not practical aboard the Philippines Siren as the vessel is often moving between dives and so tank fills are not possible. In Palau the boat is often anchored between dives and so fills on the skiffs is a much easier proposition. However, our crews are always to carry guest's equipment to and from the ribs if they are requested to do so, and often are. We are limited with response length here so we have sent a more detailed response via your agent, Again Michael, thank you for taking the time to write the report, we look forward to seeing you in Palau.
By report author: Michael Wood in WA, US at Jun 24, 2015 09:28 EST  
Thank you for replying. One point is two people fell in the shower because there were NOT mats in them, and the crew did not offer to give them out, people had to ask. Second, it is not acceptable to have non-functioning air conditioners in 95F heat with no wind in the salon and cabins. I hope these have both been corrected. The boat design for divers walk to the dinghy ladder is poor, and unless you make the outer corridor wider, will continue to be problematic.
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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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