Review Philippines Aggressor - Review of Feb/March 2023

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Kruzifix

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Hey everyone,
since there are no reviews of the Philippines Aggressor (or only very few) out there, I decided to take a bit of time to review :wink:

This was not paid for nor asked for by any of the crew members - I was just a guest. It was the first liveaboard for me and my girlfriend - so I can't compare well with other boats. We just saw other smaller ones on the way in Tubbataha - just from a size, I liked the boat very much. so... let's get to it:

All Pictures and Videos (focus on boat, food and cabin): Click This Link

Organization on the boat
It was pretty much a hardcode diving adventure. 6am bell - 6:15 first dive briefing while shoving light breakfast in, 6:30 first 2 groups go on to prepare. second group is in 15mins later. then dive, you return, shower, dry off. 8am breakfast buffet. then 30mins max break, another dive briefing at 9:15. 9:30 first two groups go out. second groups follow. 11 lunch. 13:15 next dive briefing. 13:30 dive. 15:30 snacks after the dive, 16:15 dive briefing and 16:30 last dive of the day for the first 2 groups. 18:30 dinner. after dinner they explain the plan for the next day and show the "video of the day". then you are done and want to die. and for sure not hang out in more water or a jacuzzi. we just went to bed.
It was a lot of older people (we were the youngest guests with a gap of at least 10 years to the next few.) - but that's maybe because of the price? But hey - we learned a lot from very experienced divers.
After dinner we had a few groups. one eastern European crew was drinking usually. others did picture discussions of the dives. i didn't see anyone do movie screenings or stuff like that.

The Ship
The ship is a newly built, pretty large vessel. I would choose for next time a upper deck cabin just to try it out. Overall it is new and well kept. The jacuzzi was never in use - the top sundeck area was only used for one dinner (the last night bbq) - could have been one or two more times, since it was nice.
You are allowed to visit the bridge, the machine room downstairs - if you want to. Pics are included of all the areas.

The Cabin
We were in Nr 1 downstairs and a video of our arrival state is in the Link. They make up the cabin twice a day (during first dive and during last dive of the day usually) with a nice little chocolate kiss on your pillow. They change the towels on request, that you drop on the floor. The cabin was totally ok. Beds fine, aircon fine and storage space was more than enough. We had 2 beds, both were the same size. some cabins have a big double bed, some have two different sized beds but overall they are all ok. no crazy smell (the only thing we removed was a "air freshener" that smelled like chemicals - we gave it to the crew and the smell was gone. at night the toilet was blubbering and we recommend closing the lid all the time, with bigger waves. some people had sea sickness, but we were ok during the trip with always a nice space to go back to and have nobody around.
Shower was super good in water pressure and hot. it was noisy (as on every ship with a generator and the anker chain and waves bashing and so on) - but I always slept with earplugs and it worked out great. The windows in the bathroom or the main cabin didn't open - venting the place was a bit tricky but the aircon made it cool so the air could leave through the hallway. a lot of people had the doors to their room open so they have fresher air coming in.

Aggressor Company
They are basically the brand holder of Aggressor. So Philippines is one ship of many franchise partners afaik. They are supposed t do the marketing and booking, the guys here run the boat. A ton of other guests were there for the 10th+ Aggressor trip, we didn't understand the fuss... The merchandise they provided was either not available in cool OR the right size (XXL-XL male) for me at least. most of it was plastic / polyester - not many good things in cotton available. also trying to get hold of Tubbataha Ranger Merch at the station or at their local office in Porto Princess was not doable. We visited and they said they have none.

Booking Process
This was actually annoying... reaching the right person (until we got a hold of Marisa and Jimmy) was crazy. I tried several times over weeks and in Europe (we are from Germany) nobody is responsible. Then once all is done you fill in the online Guest Information System and it goes on smooth from there.

That's why I post their info here:
Marisa Harris
Adventure Planner
Aggressor Adventures

Mon – Fri 8:00 to 6:00 EST | Sat/Sun 9:00 to 5:00 EST
Toll Free USA : 800-348-2628 | +1-706-993-2531 ( For International guests )
Emergency After Hours/Delay in Travel: +1-706-664-0111
marisa@aggressor.com| info@aggressor.com | www.aggressor.com

Crew
They basically pay double the money of all other ships, which means they have good people. They all speak proper English, they show you around, are helpful. You need to ask, they do it. Sometimes things don't happen automatically like the SMB won't be folded back into place with certain dive guides or so but overall it is great.

Food
So - I am a foody, that's why we have a lot of pics of the food and the plans and whatnot. The food at dinner is good, I asked for bigger portions and from then on always got more. The breakfast and lunch things get "same old same old" after a few days. So i would next time choose a shorter voyage. we did 12 nights, which was 12 times the same early breakfast of fruit and cereal, then similar fried stuff for lunch and so on... there is a variety but it is quite fatty overall, I would say. Dinner is always a plate served meal (which lowers options for more - or at least you have to ask). They did vegetarian food for my gf, which she said was "amazing". She always had something special prepared and it was hot.
During the dives there was a race. The group, that was done first and had a big appetite had the first access to food and didn't have to pick from the leftover buffet. They tried to get more sparkling / soda water after 3 or 4 days and basically ran out of it. But they had a ton of coke and sprite and other sugar water - maybe that is a bit stuck in the 1970s :wink: but the Philippines are very Americanized so they love all the fried foods and unhealthy drinks.
I would suggest here to update this to more healthy stuff and actual smoothies instead of sugar water stirred with X flavor. But that's just my taste...
Overall it was a good experience.

Dive prep area
The dive prep area is not too big. they always go out in 2 groups of 6 people each, then the next 2 groups. otherwise there is no space. in the middle there is the camera table, on the left side a water dispenser + glasses and 2 toilets. they hang all gear on hangers and re prep it with tanks for you after every dive. even the super senior guests were treated with more service - so they didn't have to carry anything and so on. really good. there are benches and you have a charging area for the electric components + every diver has their own, numbered box underneath their bench spot, to store mask or whatnot. they bring fins and your things to the RIB and we all hop in. There are 4 Showers on the back end of the ship, so once you return you can shower (with shampoo and conditioner provided) and then they give you a special towel with your room number on it. ours were 1A and 1B so you just take yours, dry off, drop it in the bin and they wash it for next dive. they also give you a cup to drink with either a iced beverage or a tea or cocoa (at night dives) after each dive, when they ask for your dive depth and dive time.
All divers are handed an emergency device, which they get onboard, that can send distress signals to other ships (Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS) - it is free of charge and mandatory.
The dive gear we got was all in good condition - we were the first guests this season.

Rigid Inflatable Boat (the tiny thing that brings you to dive)
they are on the back of the boat, approach the ship and you hop in with your gear on, while they stead next to the boat. the crew explains and helps. never enter without at least 1 arm of another crew member. they are big enough for the 6guests+1guide+1driver and sometimes more people coming by. photographer, crew or so. one of ours got damaged during a stormy night so they had to delay all things for 2 days and then back to normal. they only run small motors - which makes them easier to fix but not as fast and a bit louder but, it is what it is. the drivers are really good! they also pick your crew up and they know what they are doing. no dangerous situations at all - they do what they can to make it easy. the stairs inside and out are big and comfortable. i would do that again for sure...(especially in the PH, where there is usually no safety standards - this is exceptional).

Conclusion
I would book again. With a shorter trip maybe - but it was fun! :) Thx to the crew.

for any questions, let me know - I can give detailed feedback, if you need anything.
 
Good review.

I was in the PH right around the same time and stayed at a dive resort down in Sogod Bay. I was tempted by a liveaboard, but the schedule just didn't work out.

I will say, when I was looking, the Aggressor charges quite a premium, especially compared to land-based diving in the PH. That might have impacted the age range on the ship. Younger people would likely be more willing to just trek to the different spots for a third of the price. Did you think it ended up being a good overall value?
 
Great report, thanks for sharing. How was the diving ?
 
Glad to see your review. Did the diving mainly feature big animals, medium animals or macro? (Or a good mix?). Any currents to fight or drift with?

Did they have Diet Coke or Coke Zero?
 
Hey everyone,
since there are no reviews of the Philippines Aggressor (or only very few) out there, I decided to take a bit of time to review :wink:

This was not paid for nor asked for by any of the crew members - I was just a guest. It was the first liveaboard for me and my girlfriend - so I can't compare well with other boats. We just saw other smaller ones on the way in Tubbataha - just from a size, I liked the boat very much. so... let's get to it:

All Pictures and Videos (focus on boat, food and cabin): Click This Link

Organization on the boat
It was pretty much a hardcode diving adventure. 6am bell - 6:15 first dive briefing while shoving light breakfast in, 6:30 first 2 groups go on to prepare. second group is in 15mins later. then dive, you return, shower, dry off. 8am breakfast buffet. then 30mins max break, another dive briefing at 9:15. 9:30 first two groups go out. second groups follow. 11 lunch. 13:15 next dive briefing. 13:30 dive. 15:30 snacks after the dive, 16:15 dive briefing and 16:30 last dive of the day for the first 2 groups. 18:30 dinner. after dinner they explain the plan for the next day and show the "video of the day". then you are done and want to die. and for sure not hang out in more water or a jacuzzi. we just went to bed.
It was a lot of older people (we were the youngest guests with a gap of at least 10 years to the next few.) - but that's maybe because of the price? But hey - we learned a lot from very experienced divers.
After dinner we had a few groups. one eastern European crew was drinking usually. others did picture discussions of the dives. i didn't see anyone do movie screenings or stuff like that.

The Ship
The ship is a newly built, pretty large vessel. I would choose for next time a upper deck cabin just to try it out. Overall it is new and well kept. The jacuzzi was never in use - the top sundeck area was only used for one dinner (the last night bbq) - could have been one or two more times, since it was nice.
You are allowed to visit the bridge, the machine room downstairs - if you want to. Pics are included of all the areas.

The Cabin
We were in Nr 1 downstairs and a video of our arrival state is in the Link. They make up the cabin twice a day (during first dive and during last dive of the day usually) with a nice little chocolate kiss on your pillow. They change the towels on request, that you drop on the floor. The cabin was totally ok. Beds fine, aircon fine and storage space was more than enough. We had 2 beds, both were the same size. some cabins have a big double bed, some have two different sized beds but overall they are all ok. no crazy smell (the only thing we removed was a "air freshener" that smelled like chemicals - we gave it to the crew and the smell was gone. at night the toilet was blubbering and we recommend closing the lid all the time, with bigger waves. some people had sea sickness, but we were ok during the trip with always a nice space to go back to and have nobody around.
Shower was super good in water pressure and hot. it was noisy (as on every ship with a generator and the anker chain and waves bashing and so on) - but I always slept with earplugs and it worked out great. The windows in the bathroom or the main cabin didn't open - venting the place was a bit tricky but the aircon made it cool so the air could leave through the hallway. a lot of people had the doors to their room open so they have fresher air coming in.

Aggressor Company
They are basically the brand holder of Aggressor. So Philippines is one ship of many franchise partners afaik. They are supposed t do the marketing and booking, the guys here run the boat. A ton of other guests were there for the 10th+ Aggressor trip, we didn't understand the fuss... The merchandise they provided was either not available in cool OR the right size (XXL-XL male) for me at least. most of it was plastic / polyester - not many good things in cotton available. also trying to get hold of Tubbataha Ranger Merch at the station or at their local office in Porto Princess was not doable. We visited and they said they have none.

Booking Process
This was actually annoying... reaching the right person (until we got a hold of Marisa and Jimmy) was crazy. I tried several times over weeks and in Europe (we are from Germany) nobody is responsible. Then once all is done you fill in the online Guest Information System and it goes on smooth from there.

That's why I post their info here:
Marisa Harris
Adventure Planner
Aggressor Adventures

Mon – Fri 8:00 to 6:00 EST | Sat/Sun 9:00 to 5:00 EST
Toll Free USA : 800-348-2628 | +1-706-993-2531 ( For International guests )
Emergency After Hours/Delay in Travel: +1-706-664-0111
marisa@aggressor.com| info@aggressor.com | www.aggressor.com

Crew
They basically pay double the money of all other ships, which means they have good people. They all speak proper English, they show you around, are helpful. You need to ask, they do it. Sometimes things don't happen automatically like the SMB won't be folded back into place with certain dive guides or so but overall it is great.

Food
So - I am a foody, that's why we have a lot of pics of the food and the plans and whatnot. The food at dinner is good, I asked for bigger portions and from then on always got more. The breakfast and lunch things get "same old same old" after a few days. So i would next time choose a shorter voyage. we did 12 nights, which was 12 times the same early breakfast of fruit and cereal, then similar fried stuff for lunch and so on... there is a variety but it is quite fatty overall, I would say. Dinner is always a plate served meal (which lowers options for more - or at least you have to ask). They did vegetarian food for my gf, which she said was "amazing". She always had something special prepared and it was hot.
During the dives there was a race. The group, that was done first and had a big appetite had the first access to food and didn't have to pick from the leftover buffet. They tried to get more sparkling / soda water after 3 or 4 days and basically ran out of it. But they had a ton of coke and sprite and other sugar water - maybe that is a bit stuck in the 1970s :wink: but the Philippines are very Americanized so they love all the fried foods and unhealthy drinks.
I would suggest here to update this to more healthy stuff and actual smoothies instead of sugar water stirred with X flavor. But that's just my taste...
Overall it was a good experience.

Dive prep area
The dive prep area is not too big. they always go out in 2 groups of 6 people each, then the next 2 groups. otherwise there is no space. in the middle there is the camera table, on the left side a water dispenser + glasses and 2 toilets. they hang all gear on hangers and re prep it with tanks for you after every dive. even the super senior guests were treated with more service - so they didn't have to carry anything and so on. really good. there are benches and you have a charging area for the electric components + every diver has their own, numbered box underneath their bench spot, to store mask or whatnot. they bring fins and your things to the RIB and we all hop in. There are 4 Showers on the back end of the ship, so once you return you can shower (with shampoo and conditioner provided) and then they give you a special towel with your room number on it. ours were 1A and 1B so you just take yours, dry off, drop it in the bin and they wash it for next dive. they also give you a cup to drink with either a iced beverage or a tea or cocoa (at night dives) after each dive, when they ask for your dive depth and dive time.
All divers are handed an emergency device, which they get onboard, that can send distress signals to other ships (Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS) - it is free of charge and mandatory.
The dive gear we got was all in good condition - we were the first guests this season.

Rigid Inflatable Boat (the tiny thing that brings you to dive)
they are on the back of the boat, approach the ship and you hop in with your gear on, while they stead next to the boat. the crew explains and helps. never enter without at least 1 arm of another crew member. they are big enough for the 6guests+1guide+1driver and sometimes more people coming by. photographer, crew or so. one of ours got damaged during a stormy night so they had to delay all things for 2 days and then back to normal. they only run small motors - which makes them easier to fix but not as fast and a bit louder but, it is what it is. the drivers are really good! they also pick your crew up and they know what they are doing. no dangerous situations at all - they do what they can to make it easy. the stairs inside and out are big and comfortable. i would do that again for sure...(especially in the PH, where there is usually no safety standards - this is exceptional).

Conclusion
I would book again. With a shorter trip maybe - but it was fun! :) Thx to the crew.

for any questions, let me know - I can give detailed feedback, if you need anything.
Can you tell me if the beds are hard? Did you find the pillows acceptable? Are there Tvs in the rooms? Did they give you a refillable water bottle? Do they have mask defogger on the boat that we can use? We leave on Wednesday. We are trying to keep the weight down in our bags so any advice is appreciated.
 
The diving is pretty good. Nice coral and tons of fish. Whitetips and Grey Reef sharks are the only big things although I hear that mantas are occasionally spotted. Easy for the most part with only a light current on a few dives. I compare it to Belize as far as the diving. I can tell you that you get a 60 minute dive every dive.
 
Thanks for the info!
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

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