Thanks Elaine.....I did see your trip report = very useful! Can you tell me more about your experiences on Humboldt vs. Dancer and now why you've chosen Deep Blue?
Also noticed you've been to the Maldives. My buddy and I are weighing Galap. vs. Maldives at the moment since our shop is running 3 Maldives liveaboard trips/year...owner raves about operator (Manthiri) and the density of marine life, quality of reefs and frequency of whalesharks.....
In my mind it seems like Galapagos would be the big animal adventure of a lifetime, albeit with colder/deeper diving; Maldives would be an all-rounder with tropical temps year round, currents/big stuff in some spots and reef/small life in others. We would have the added bonus on this trip of traveling with other Boston-area folks/shop camradery...plus boat only takes 12 divers. Long way to go, but itinerary is 10 days/11 nights.
Would be interested to hear your opinion on these 2 destinations (in the end we will prob do both over multiple years....but trying to choose which one first...which in the end may be dictated by availability.)
Last edited by large_diver; 09-17-2013 at 05:04 PM.
My advice to you is to make sure that you do not go when El Nino is present. Do what ever internet searches is needed to find out if El Nino is present before you book your trip because the warm waters of El Nino will keep the large schools of sharks, rays, etc. either in much deeper, cooler waters or out of the region completely. This us what happened to me in 1998. We still saw all the large critters but only in groups of 10-25, instead of the usual ~100's. Also, if you should go on a liveaboard sailboat, make sure that the main sail is 100% okay. I went on the Lammerlaw and its' main sail was being repaired, so we traveled on engine all the time and it was not that fast. Wish you the best!
Thanks Bob - great advice.
[QUOTE Can you tell me more about your experiences on Humboldt vs. Dancer and now why you've chosen Deep Blue? QUOTE]
I enjoyed the Humboldt very much, My only concern was the dive deck. If you were on the lower part of the dive deck, close to the showers, it was inconvenient gearing up/gearing down if someone was using the shower; you couldn't get away from the splash! Also, it was just a little too congested. I thought the preferred location on the dive deck was separate and apart from the shower area (the upper deck area, if I recall correctly). Rooms on the Humboldt were very comfy: a/c and plumbing all worked fine. I chose the Humboldt at that time because they were offering 10-day trips; unlike the other liveaboards which were locked in to the 7-day turnaround. The booking for that trip was done through a dive agency in either Germany or Switzerland (can't recall which). I thought they were a bit of a ripoff in that the domestic flights were at the max ($500) whereas they should have been a few bucks cheaper, maybe $75-$100 less. Not a lot of money, but I felt I was being gouged. For my trip next month, my domestic flights are $450. I recall paying a fuel surcharge, and I thought the premium for nitrox was a tad excessive. I believe I had no choice but to book through this company; I think the name of Schoner Tauchen. My biggest peeve was cigarette smoking on the dive deck, by both patrons and crew members. I thought it should have been restricted to some part of the boat like the upper deck where it would be more distant.
I chose the Deep Blue because the prices were OK, to the point where I could justify 2 trips! Both trips are discounted by $1000-$1200 each. I don't think there were any trips offering anything over and above the 7-day turnaround.
[QUOTE] Also noticed you've been to the Maldives. My buddy and I are weighing Galap. vs. Maldives at the moment since our shop is running 3 Maldives liveaboard trips/year...owner raves about operator (Manthiri) and the density of marine life, quality of reefs and frequency of whalesharks.....
In my mind it seems like Galapagos would be the big animal adventure of a lifetime, albeit with colder/deeper diving; Maldives would be an all-rounder with tropical temps year round, currents/big stuff in some spots and reef/small life in others. We would have the added bonus on this trip of traveling with other Boston-area folks/shop camradery...plus boat only takes 12 divers. Long way to go, but itinerary is 10 days/11 nights.QUOTE]
The Maldives were gorgeous: beautiful reefs, lots of fish, lovely corals, fabulous manta encounters but only saw 1 whaleshark and we were on snorkel. I did 2 back-to-back liveaboards on the MV Sea Spirit (both discounted, so I save a few $$$) It's a gem of a boat; they get a lot of repeat business of Brit divers. I'm still trying to find the time to put together a TR in the coming weeks.
I'm not sure if I handled the QUOTE function correctly, but I hope my response makes sense!
Last edited by browneyedgirl; 09-17-2013 at 06:23 PM.
Thanks so much for all the details...and well done with the quote :-). I'll let you know what we end up doing.
I've dove 5 Galapagos liveaboards, three in the last 3 years, covering 4 boats total. My two cents:
For time of year, I like whale shark season best (Aug-Sep ideally, rather than more shoulder months) since you see everything you normally see plus whalesharks. I have dove Jul, Aug and Sep and think the quality of our sightings was more about the week and year (ie luck) than the month. The orca pod visited Darwin for the late Aug trip and as a result there were only 3 brief whaleshark sightings. As suzbo wrote, there are never any guarentees.
I've written this before but for me the guides have a far greater impact on the quality of Galapagos diving than the boat. One of my favourite cruise directors (CD) regularly cruise directs the Humboldt (Macarron - very experienced guide and a stellar guy). He also CDs for the Buddy boats. The regular CD for Deep Blue is great for close Galapagos shark encounters. Since all of the DMs move around it's very difficult to know who will be guiding. I have had shockingly weak guides and cruise directors on top tier boats, one of whom I know is still working there. We did the HE two Decembers in a row and I was sad to see the chef I really enjoyed had already moved on. Leslie of Dive the Galapagos is a great source on who is guiding which boats.
Purely for boat amenities I think many agree the Buddy boats are the best, but I also enjoyed the Deep Blue and Humboldt. The formerly-Dancer and Aggressor boats are both older.
You didn't mention itinerary. That's also important to consider. The GNP has reshuffled everything again since last time I went, but my last three trips I only considered boats which spent 4 days at Darwin/Wolf rather than losing one of those days to Isabela. Cabo Marshall has never wowed me, and besides being very cold (60s), we've twice had our worse vis of the trip there - with no wildlife payoff. I still want to see Vincente Rock's molas (again cold and low vis) but Darwin and Wolf are two of the most life changing places to dive on earth as far as I am concerned. Some people prefer the broader itineraries (e.g. the feeding marine iguana site), some the itins with more Darwin/Wolf dives. Maybe I've just had bad luck but our manta encounters in Indonesia have been far more spectacular (numbers, closeness) than any we've had in Galapagos and the Cabo Marshall dives are always touted as manta dives.
One recommendation - I would definitely plan a day to dive Kicker Rock/Leon Dormido from San Cristobel. The liveaboard and land-based ops have had their dive sites split, so you can't dive it by liveaboard. I have had two beautiful dives there (4 dives total) - ie dives better than many of the dives we did on the liveaboard.
Feel free to PM me if you want more info.
Last edited by NatashaS; 09-18-2013 at 01:06 AM.
Any time is good. I was there twice, spring & late summer.
What you see varies with season, what deep currents are doing, El Niño , La Niña, karma, luck/skill of your naturalist/divemaster,etc.
Did 10 days on Lammer Law, week on Aggressor.
more shore visits is better. explore the caldera, highlands, etc of the larger islands.
Quito is worth a visit.
Natasha raises an excellent point regarding itineraries. Of course you want max # days @ Wolf/Darwin. And Punta Vicente Roca is a wonderful dive site: mola-molas, bullhead shark (I believe also known as "hornshark", batfish, cormorants diving for fish, massive school of salema, huge turtles. And at the surface we saw marine iguanas, penguins, blue-footed boobies, juvenile fur seals. I had set aside a day on San Cristobal to dive Leon Dormida but none of the locals were going out that day. I was unsuccessful in trying to pre-arrange this outing via email with local dive ops. In restrospect, someone like Leslie at DivetheGalapagos might have been able to steer me in the right direction.
Originally Posted by NatashaS
Thanks Natasha - great and very helpful info. Yes, I've been looking carefully at the itineraries. It would seem that the Humboldt Explorer offers the most potential Wolf/Darwin dives (16)...but I also have to say that some of the info is slightly vague. Conversely, HE offers 20 total dives, fewer than the 22-23 offered by Aggressor/Buddy....but then again perhaps the trade off is worth it to maximize Wolf/Darwin. HE seems like a less cushy boat...but again, trade-offs.....
Originally Posted by NatashaS
Thanks for the tip about Leslie at Dive the Galapagos...I traded e-mails with her a few week ago for some initial info....but probably need to call her for more in depth info (buddy and I are still debating time of year and destination - Maldives or Galap). That is good to know about cruise directors. Buddy boats look great and seem to have received lots of positive reviews. In the end I think we may end up on Buddy or HE.....need to discuss with my buddy some more.
Last edited by large_diver; 09-18-2013 at 07:11 AM.
Thanks for the tips Fugu - very helpful.
Originally Posted by fugu