Trip Report Trip Report - Turks & Caicos Explorer II July 17-24, 2021

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stronj1

Contributor
Messages
278
Reaction score
468
Location
Texas
# of dives
500 - 999
Trip Report - Turks & Caicos Explorer II – July 17 – 24, 2021

My husband and I flew from Dallas, Texas to Providenciales on a direct flight on Friday, July 16, 2021 with American Airlines. This was a trip we had originally booked for June 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. We had to take a Covid test within 5 days of departure which we did at our local CVS Pharmacy for no cost. This has now changed to within 3 days. We also had to have travel insurance that included coverage for Covid. We had purchased our trip insurance with Allianz Global Assistance before Covid was a known disease. I called them to ask if we were covered and was told we were and was provided a letter to confirm. Proof of these items was entered into an online travel authorization prior to travel.

We chose to come in a day early because the available Saturday flight times were arriving after the liveaboard boarding time of 3:00 p.m. and the cost to fly on Friday was about $400 less ($200 each). This was enough to pay for our hotel and meals for the extra day and take some of the stress out of possible “day of travel” delay possibilities. We are both retired so using an extra vacation day was not a concern. We stayed at Ports of Call Resort which was an easy walk to the beach, shops, and restaurants.

Explorer Ventures arranged our taxi to the hotel on Friday and the taxi from the hotel to the boat on Saturday though we did have to pay the fares. We arrived at the boat a little before 3:00 p.m. but the crew was ready for us so we were able to board right away.

After boarding, we unloaded our gear that would be used on the dive deck and then were shown to our cabin to unload the rest of our items. There was no room to store suitcases under the bed so once they were empty, they were stored elsewhere on board.

Our room had a queen bed that was against the wall at the head and one side. There was a desk, set of drawers, and drawers under the bed, plus a closet, and in-suite bathroom. The room had its own temperature control and a vacuum flush system for the toilet. These are both great features on a liveaboard and worked very well on this boat.

The meals were all delicious and served buffet style. Masks were only required while going through the buffet. There was generally a sweet, baked snack mid-morning and a savory snack or watermelon slices mid-afternoon. Wine and spirits were provided but no diving allowed after partaking. Hot chocolate was served with or without Caicos Cream after the night dive. The vent for the air compressor had the effect of drying and warming the wetsuits. This was particularly nice prior to suiting up for the night dive.

There were eighteen of us on this trip. Two of the rooms had single occupants so slightly less than the max capacity of twenty guests. All the guests were from various parts of the USA and it was fun to meet all of them.

We had five dives each day (Sunday through Thursday). These were at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. On Friday, we could only get in one dive at 6:00 a.m. before needing to head back to port. I was able to make all 26 dives achieving the Iron Woman award along with five other divers on our boat.

Our dive sites were located in the Northwest Point Marine Park or West Caicos. We were not able to make it to French Cay this trip (we were told only about 20% of the excursions make it there due to wind conditions). We had been to Turks and Caicos on the Aggressor boat before and did not get to French Cay on that trip either. We enjoyed the variety of the dive sites selected. I love to find new critters and take photos so that I can later identify what was found. On this trip, new finds were an orange ball corallimorph, a roughback shrimp, a Cuban aglaja, Berolina’s aglaja, a red-orange ghost shrimp, a palehead blenny, a rusty goby, and a few finds we have rarely seen before including a batfish! Caribbean reef sharks were present on almost every dive. There was some coral disease present on some of the sites.

The crew on this trip was amazingly good. The dive briefings were fun and included costuming (pirates, tutus, Elvis, etc.). I always felt well informed about happenings and procedures.

On Friday after lunch, Covid tests were administered on board. We were provided our negative certificate immediately. I assume it would have been rescinded had it later turned out that was not the case. For those who wanted to go shopping, a 3:00 p.m. taxi ride to the Grace Bay area was provided at no charge, at 5:30 p.m. a taxi ride was provided for the trip to Bistro Bay, a restaurant with open beachfront views. Captain Bob recommended the key lime pie for dessert. This meal was at the guest’s expense as is typical on the other liveaboard trips we have taken. The view, food, and service were great.

On Saturday morning a continental breakfast was provided on board and departure was no later than 9:00 a.m. The taxi was arranged to return us to the airport. This was at each guest’s expense of $23 per person.

We really enjoyed the trip and plan to return again.

Dive briefing for Spanish Anchor complete with pirate costumes!
20210721-P7210980.jpg
Berolina's aglaja
20210718-P7180295.jpg
Rough file clam with rusty goby perched upside down above it
20210718-P7180339.jpg
Orange ball corallimorph during a night dive

20210719-P7190617.jpg

Roughback shrimp during a night dive (only about 3/4" long) A new find!
20210719-P7190629.jpg

Red-orange ghost shirmp - another new find for us!
20210718-P7180292.jpg

Palehead blenny - another new find!
20210721-P7211108.jpg
Beautiful stove pipe sponges and plate sponges off the wall
20210719-P7190406.jpg
Common octopus nestled under a coral head during the day!
20210718-P7180129.jpg
Wire coral shirmp (1/2" long)
20210722-P7221236.jpg
 

Doc

Was RoatanMan
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Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
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Great report, thank you for something that makes SB a great resource.

Orange Ball Corallimorph, indeed! Not an “easy” photograph.
 
OP
stronj1

stronj1

Contributor
Messages
278
Reaction score
468
Location
Texas
# of dives
500 - 999
Thank you Doc! Yes, I found that the corallimorph starts shrinking as soon as light hits it so I had to be fast!
 

deeper thoughts

Contributor
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Thnx for sharing
 
OP
stronj1

stronj1

Contributor
Messages
278
Reaction score
468
Location
Texas
# of dives
500 - 999
Trip Report - Turks & Caicos Explorer II – July 17 – 24, 2021

My husband and I flew from Dallas, Texas to Providenciales on a direct flight on Friday, July 16, 2021 with American Airlines. This was a trip we had originally booked for June 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. We had to take a Covid test within 5 days of departure which we did at our local CVS Pharmacy for no cost. This has now changed to within 3 days. We also had to have travel insurance that included coverage for Covid. We had purchased our trip insurance with Allianz Global Assistance before Covid was a known disease. I called them to ask if we were covered and was told we were and was provided a letter to confirm. Proof of these items was entered into an online travel authorization prior to travel.

We chose to come in a day early because the available Saturday flight times were arriving after the liveaboard boarding time of 3:00 p.m. and the cost to fly on Friday was about $400 less ($200 each). This was enough to pay for our hotel and meals for the extra day and take some of the stress out of possible “day of travel” delay possibilities. We are both retired so using an extra vacation day was not a concern. We stayed at Ports of Call Resort which was an easy walk to the beach, shops, and restaurants.

Explorer Ventures arranged our taxi to the hotel on Friday and the taxi from the hotel to the boat on Saturday though we did have to pay the fares. We arrived at the boat a little before 3:00 p.m. but the crew was ready for us so we were able to board right away.

After boarding, we unloaded our gear that would be used on the dive deck and then were shown to our cabin to unload the rest of our items. There was no room to store suitcases under the bed so once they were empty, they were stored elsewhere on board.

Our room had a queen bed that was against the wall at the head and one side. There was a desk, set of drawers, and drawers under the bed, plus a closet, and in-suite bathroom. The room had its own temperature control and a vacuum flush system for the toilet. These are both great features on a liveaboard and worked very well on this boat.

The meals were all delicious and served buffet style. Masks were only required while going through the buffet. There was generally a sweet, baked snack mid-morning and a savory snack or watermelon slices mid-afternoon. Wine and spirits were provided but no diving allowed after partaking. Hot chocolate was served with or without Caicos Cream after the night dive. The vent for the air compressor had the effect of drying and warming the wetsuits. This was particularly nice prior to suiting up for the night dive.

There were eighteen of us on this trip. Two of the rooms had single occupants so slightly less than the max capacity of twenty guests. All the guests were from various parts of the USA and it was fun to meet all of them.

We had five dives each day (Sunday through Thursday). These were at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. On Friday, we could only get in one dive at 6:00 a.m. before needing to head back to port. I was able to make all 26 dives achieving the Iron Woman award along with five other divers on our boat.

Our dive sites were located in the Northwest Point Marine Park or West Caicos. We were not able to make it to French Cay this trip (we were told only about 20% of the excursions make it there due to wind conditions). We had been to Turks and Caicos on the Aggressor boat before and did not get to French Cay on that trip either. We enjoyed the variety of the dive sites selected. I love to find new critters and take photos so that I can later identify what was found. On this trip, new finds were an orange ball corallimorph, a roughback shrimp, a Cuban aglaja, Berolina’s aglaja, a red-orange ghost shrimp, a palehead blenny, a rusty goby, and a few finds we have rarely seen before including a batfish! Caribbean reef sharks were present on almost every dive. There was some coral disease present on some of the sites.

The crew on this trip was amazingly good. The dive briefings were fun and included costuming (pirates, tutus, Elvis, etc.). I always felt well informed about happenings and procedures.

On Friday after lunch, Covid tests were administered on board. We were provided our negative certificate immediately. I assume it would have been rescinded had it later turned out that was not the case. For those who wanted to go shopping, a 3:00 p.m. taxi ride to the Grace Bay area was provided at no charge, at 5:30 p.m. a taxi ride was provided for the trip to Bistro Bay, a restaurant with open beachfront views. Captain Bob recommended the key lime pie for dessert. This meal was at the guest’s expense as is typical on the other liveaboard trips we have taken. The view, food, and service were great.

On Saturday morning a continental breakfast was provided on board and departure was no later than 9:00 a.m. The taxi was arranged to return us to the airport. This was at each guest’s expense of $23 per person.

We really enjoyed the trip and plan to return again.

Dive briefing for Spanish Anchor complete with pirate costumes!
View attachment 675651 Berolina's aglaja
View attachment 675653 Rough file clam with rusty goby perched upside down above it
View attachment 675654 Orange ball corallimorph during a night dive

View attachment 675655
Roughback shrimp during a night dive (only about 3/4" long) A new find!
View attachment 675657
Red-orange ghost shirmp - another new find for us!
View attachment 675652
Palehead blenny - another new find!
View attachment 675658 Beautiful stove pipe sponges and plate sponges off the wall
View attachment 675662 Common octopus nestled under a coral head during the day!
View attachment 675660 Wire coral shirmp (1/2" long)
View attachment 675659
 
OP
stronj1

stronj1

Contributor
Messages
278
Reaction score
468
Location
Texas
# of dives
500 - 999
Here are a few more pictures taken during this trip! Hope you enjoy them!

Princess parrotfish
20210718-P7180272.jpg

Balloonfish

20210719-P7190488.jpg

Arrow blenny and branching anemone
20210719-P7190495.jpg

Schoolmasters all lined up!
20210719-P7190526.jpg

Juvenile spotted drum
20210719-P7190550.jpg

Barred hamlet
20210719-P7190566.jpg

Leech aglaja
20210720-P7200683.jpg

Stareye hermit crab (first time seeing these)
20210720-P7200688.jpg

Caribbean reef shark with bar jacks
20210720-P7200737.jpg

Shortnose batfish (second time seeing these!)
20210720-P7200759.jpg
 
OP
stronj1

stronj1

Contributor
Messages
278
Reaction score
468
Location
Texas
# of dives
500 - 999
Trip Report - Turks & Caicos Explorer II – July 17 – 24, 2021

My husband and I flew from Dallas, Texas to Providenciales on a direct flight on Friday, July 16, 2021 with American Airlines. This was a trip we had originally booked for June 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. We had to take a Covid test within 5 days of departure which we did at our local CVS Pharmacy for no cost. This has now changed to within 3 days. We also had to have travel insurance that included coverage for Covid. We had purchased our trip insurance with Allianz Global Assistance before Covid was a known disease. I called them to ask if we were covered and was told we were and was provided a letter to confirm. Proof of these items was entered into an online travel authorization prior to travel.

We chose to come in a day early because the available Saturday flight times were arriving after the liveaboard boarding time of 3:00 p.m. and the cost to fly on Friday was about $400 less ($200 each). This was enough to pay for our hotel and meals for the extra day and take some of the stress out of possible “day of travel” delay possibilities. We are both retired so using an extra vacation day was not a concern. We stayed at Ports of Call Resort which was an easy walk to the beach, shops, and restaurants.

Explorer Ventures arranged our taxi to the hotel on Friday and the taxi from the hotel to the boat on Saturday though we did have to pay the fares. We arrived at the boat a little before 3:00 p.m. but the crew was ready for us so we were able to board right away.

After boarding, we unloaded our gear that would be used on the dive deck and then were shown to our cabin to unload the rest of our items. There was no room to store suitcases under the bed so once they were empty, they were stored elsewhere on board.

Our room had a queen bed that was against the wall at the head and one side. There was a desk, set of drawers, and drawers under the bed, plus a closet, and in-suite bathroom. The room had its own temperature control and a vacuum flush system for the toilet. These are both great features on a liveaboard and worked very well on this boat.

The meals were all delicious and served buffet style. Masks were only required while going through the buffet. There was generally a sweet, baked snack mid-morning and a savory snack or watermelon slices mid-afternoon. Wine and spirits were provided but no diving allowed after partaking. Hot chocolate was served with or without Caicos Cream after the night dive. The vent for the air compressor had the effect of drying and warming the wetsuits. This was particularly nice prior to suiting up for the night dive.

There were eighteen of us on this trip. Two of the rooms had single occupants so slightly less than the max capacity of twenty guests. All the guests were from various parts of the USA and it was fun to meet all of them.

We had five dives each day (Sunday through Thursday). These were at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. On Friday, we could only get in one dive at 6:00 a.m. before needing to head back to port. I was able to make all 26 dives achieving the Iron Woman award along with five other divers on our boat.

Our dive sites were located in the Northwest Point Marine Park or West Caicos. We were not able to make it to French Cay this trip (we were told only about 20% of the excursions make it there due to wind conditions). We had been to Turks and Caicos on the Aggressor boat before and did not get to French Cay on that trip either. We enjoyed the variety of the dive sites selected. I love to find new critters and take photos so that I can later identify what was found. On this trip, new finds were an orange ball corallimorph, a roughback shrimp, a Cuban aglaja, Berolina’s aglaja, a red-orange ghost shrimp, a palehead blenny, a rusty goby, and a few finds we have rarely seen before including a batfish! Caribbean reef sharks were present on almost every dive. There was some coral disease present on some of the sites.

The crew on this trip was amazingly good. The dive briefings were fun and included costuming (pirates, tutus, Elvis, etc.). I always felt well informed about happenings and procedures.

On Friday after lunch, Covid tests were administered on board. We were provided our negative certificate immediately. I assume it would have been rescinded had it later turned out that was not the case. For those who wanted to go shopping, a 3:00 p.m. taxi ride to the Grace Bay area was provided at no charge, at 5:30 p.m. a taxi ride was provided for the trip to Bistro Bay, a restaurant with open beachfront views. Captain Bob recommended the key lime pie for dessert. This meal was at the guest’s expense as is typical on the other liveaboard trips we have taken. The view, food, and service were great.

On Saturday morning a continental breakfast was provided on board and departure was no later than 9:00 a.m. The taxi was arranged to return us to the airport. This was at each guest’s expense of $23 per person.

We really enjoyed the trip and plan to return again.

Dive briefing for Spanish Anchor complete with pirate costumes!
View attachment 675651 Berolina's aglaja
View attachment 675653 Rough file clam with rusty goby perched upside down above it
View attachment 675654 Orange ball corallimorph during a night dive

View attachment 675655
Roughback shrimp during a night dive (only about 3/4" long) A new find!
View attachment 675657
Red-orange ghost shirmp - another new find for us!
View attachment 675652
Palehead blenny - another new find!
View attachment 675658 Beautiful stove pipe sponges and plate sponges off the wall
View attachment 675662 Common octopus nestled under a coral head during the day!
View attachment 675660 Wire coral shirmp (1/2" long)
View attachment 675659
 
OP
stronj1

stronj1

Contributor
Messages
278
Reaction score
468
Location
Texas
# of dives
500 - 999
And one more set of pictures! Only ten can be loaded at a time.

Hawksbill turtle
20210720-P7200839.jpg

Arrow crab and branching anemone
20210721-P7210133.jpg

Queen angel
20210721-P7210146.jpg

Solitary gorgonian hydroids
20210721-P7210204.jpg

Ocean surgeonfish
20210721-P7210218.jpg

Slender filefish

20210721-P7211012.jpg

Caribbean reef octopus during a night dive
20210721-P7211067.jpg

Gray angelfish
20210722-P7220281.jpg

Shy hamlet
20210722-P7220329.jpg

Great anemone - blue var.
20210722-P7221128.jpg
 
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