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

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O-ring

Beyond the Pale
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I think the Aggressor included airport transfers as part of the booking, but I can't remember 100% since I didn't use them. I got to the island a few days before and stayed elsewhere and did some diving pre-boarding and the owners of my villa drove me over to the Aggressor. Similarly, my flight was out later so I took a taxi on my own into Grace Bay and did some shopping and eating so didn't use their transfer service.
 

stronj1

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The Aggressor does include the transfer. I don't think they had a fuel surcharge either which Explorer did have. Both had port charges. I liked the boat layout, size of room, and vacuum flush toilet system on the Explorer boat better than on the Aggressor boat. On our Aggressor trip, there was one guest who gave the crew trouble about wanting to dive solo though it wasn't allowed (more the fault of the guest but still a bit of tension). On the Aggressor boat the crew would take pictures and give the guests the pictures at the end. This part is great but I feel the divemasters who are not taking pictures tend to lead the trips at a slower pace and spend more time pointing out things of interest to the guests. We did get in two dives on the last day on the Aggressor boat so not sure the reason. They dock in different places and our timing was a few months different so maybe one of these. Both the Aggressor and Explorer Ventures are great choices for this itinerary.
 

stronj1

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Each room does have it's own bath/shower. When we are doing 5 dives a day, I just use the shower at the back of the boat. I did not ever feel crowded on the boat. I liked having a fairly full boat as there were more people to get to meet. I think a liveaboard is the only way to be able to get in 5 dives a day. You set up your gear when you first arrive and take it down when you leave. Otherwise, it is filled right at your station at the back of the boat. My husband won't do all the dives but I never have a problem buddying up with someone else on board or the divemaster when he sits out.
 

Streydog

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After we docked, a few hour later, don't remember how long but long enough for one more dive, the Aggressor came to the same harbor.and tied off to the the Explorer. The crew and passangers walked through the Explorer to deboard.

There were only 13 divers on the boat and only 2 of us did all available dives, 25. One night dive was canceled so the boat could be anchored in a bay overnight due to strong winds.

Here is a pic I took of the Aggressor from the Explorer at the harbor.


upload_2021-8-13_23-36-40.jpeg
 

chillyinCanada

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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

Beautiful shots. Look how cute is the face of the rough back shrimp. :)
 

chillyinCanada

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I've been on the Explorer boat for this itinerary and it was great. Unfortunately for me, I had caught a cold, and my diving was over by the 3rd day.

I've always meant to return.
 

stronj1

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Hmmm, interesting. The Aggressor boat did not come to the same harbor for our week (at least that I am aware about).
 

SFTechGeek

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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
Love your trip report! Great photos. I have a ton of technical photography questions. Could you contact me?

thanks
John
 

stronj1

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I'm afraid that If you have technical photography questions, I am not the right contact for you! I use an Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera in the Olympus housing with one Inon D2000 strobe and a focus light. I use the camera setup from Bluewater Photo's online worksheets, shoot in RAW, and use Adobe Lightroom to process the photos post production.
 

SFTechGeek

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You’re being modest. Do you spend a lot of time post production? Do you have any control over depth of field? I love your photos. You really captured the essence and exhilaration of diving.
 
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