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Dive Review of Mermaid Liveaboards/Mermaid 2 in
Thailand/Similans, Richelieu Rock

Mermaid Liveaboards/Mermaid 2, Mar, 2011,

by Randall S Preissig, TX, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 32 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 6001.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Cayman, Cozumel, Bonaire, Virgin Islands, Red Sea, Sipadan, PNG, Truk, Ponape, Palau, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, Cocos, Galapagos, other
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas surge
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Maximum depth 100 ft. No decompression diving. Maximum time 60 minutes including 5 minute safety stop. Buddy diver assigned.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Rinse tank, compressed air blower and (very) small table supplied. Equipment handled very well, but no segregation of dive table from drinks, drips, towels, food, etc.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments There were 14 staff on the boat--5 divemasters and the rest Thai helpers, captain, cook, etc. All were extraordinarily anxious to help/please the 16 guests. I had read Undercurrent comments from prior reports on the level of service on Thai dive boats, but it has to be experienced to be believed. Every dive, including night dives were guided, and guided well with groups of 2 to 5 per divemaster. This wasn't babysitting from afar--it was active "show and tell", which allowed me to do my own thing while staying close enough to see each of the finds by the divemasters. This very significantly expanded the number of critters sited by everyone. The Thai helpers even put our flippers on our feet after we entered the skiff. Most dives were from the two skiffs unless the boat could be anchored at a good access point. The rooms were a little on the small side and the AC in our room was barely adequate when supplemented by a fan, but others seemed to have good AC. Food was plentiful, offered often, varied with a lot of local food and very good. Pre- and post trip arrangements at their hotel were excellent(free wireless, pool access, etc.). Dive briefings were clear, well illustrated and helpful from a safety as well as "what to see and where" aspect. Altogether the best service I've ever had on a liveaboard, and I've been on over 20. The staff videographer JPepe was excellent and anxious to help all in sightings, their own photography, etc. I bought the video, which is rare for me to do.
The water was very warm and a 3mm shorty was all anyone needed for the maximum of 4 dives a day. There was some unseasonable rain and wind, but not much. Probably a La Nina effect(think Australian floods).
Now for the "what I saw" part. There are many liveaboards that service the Similans, and you can expect most dive sites to be crowded. Out crew minimized this by diving at somewhat different times, but sites like Richelieu will always have other divers in the water. There were Mantas Shrimp, Harlequin shrimp,nudibranchs galore, spinndle cowrie,pipefish, ribbon eels, crabs, flasher wrasse, juvenile rock mover wrasse, tiger tailed seahorses, etc. There were large schools of barracudda at Koh Bon and Koh Tachai pinnacle and a huge grouper at Koh Tachai. However, there was a shocking absence of sharks! I did not see one shark in 49 dives in Burma and Thailand(see my other current reports)! Fishermen can make a month's profits by selling one shark for its fins--guess where all the sharks went? Divemasters report seeing fewer that 10 sharks in an entire season! Although I did see one manta at Koh Bon on another trip and one whale shark(the first sighting of the entire season) was sighted(not by me) on another trip, the days of routinely seeing these pelagics in Thailand is long past. This was my only disappointment of the trip, as many web sites report routine sightings. This has changed in the last 5 years, and divers should be aware of this when they decide on where to spend their dive time/dollars. Overfishing is obvious, with fishing boats even seen in the marine park.
Reportedly, the Mermaid 2 is moving to Indonesia due to the superior diving. Apparently, other boats are also moving. The diving was very good but not the extraordinary experience that we hope for when we travel 12 time zones. The extraordinary service on the Mermaid 2 definitely made the trip worth doing and I plan on following them to Indonesia.
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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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