Belize Liveaboard Review
Belize – Sun Dancer II – November 2005
We wanted to try a liveaboard that was more “luxurious” than Blackbeards and we wanted to see some of the interesting dive sites of Belize, so we booked on the Sundancer.
Getting There and Back:
There were no direct flights when we went to Belize and since the boat leaves the dock at 5pm on Saturday, we choose to fly US Air. We flew from Toronto to Charlotte, NC and spent the night, then flew on to Belize City the next morning. Peter Hugh's will arrange pickup at the airport and a transfer to the Radission Hotel by the boat dock. On the following Saturday, they will arrange transport to the airport if you are leaving in the morning.
The rooms were surprisingly large for a dive boat and the large window gave a great view of the water. Because of the terrible weather no one used the upper sun deck and we all spent our time in the lounge/dining room or in our rooms napping and reading. At the dive area, every diver had their own bench and storage area. You had one tank for the whole week. When you came back from a dive you removed your first stage from the tank and the dive staff used long hoses to fill the tank where it sat. Entry was from the back or sides and there were two large sturdy ladders at the back for returning to the boat. The boat seemed very steady in the water even when we were racing tropical storm Gamma back to shore.
Food and Drink:
The food on the boat was excellent, the snacks between dives were delicious and the beer in the cooler good and cold. If you did start to drink that was the end of your dive day. The hot chocolate with rum when you returned from a night dive was heavenly, and so were the warm dry towels. The staff were all very helpful and the boat and rooms were kept very clean.
We took a Nitrox course while on board and found we had much more energy than normal. There were five dives a day, the first two at the same site. We moved during lunch and then were at the second site for two afternoon dives and a night dive. Because of bad weather we sometimes had to change sites more often to get out of the wind. The diving was great. The first dive we did along the wall and deeper. The second dive on a site we did on the top of the wall and into the shallows or on the wall, shallower and in the other direction if possible. We had to go back and do Tarpon Cave on another day because of the weather but there was lots to see so no problem (and we had 70' of viz). We saw lots and lots of huge grouper in most sites, barracuda, butterfly fish, permit, horse eye jacks, southern stingrays, eagle rays, queen angels, etc. There were lots of healthy hard and soft corals, barrel sponges, rope sponges, etc. The viz was 80 to 100 feet on the wall and 20 to 50 feet in the shallows despite the stormy weather. We did lose a day of diving because we had to head back to shore early. We were put into a hotel for the night and given dinner and breakfast.
We spent an extra night in Belize City and went on a tubing trip through some caves in the interior. This was a lot of fun and we got to see some of the countryside on the way. Because of the extra day ashore from the storm, we also booked a trip to one of the Mayan sites nearby. Our guide was fantastic (booked through the boat staff) and the missed day of diving was not such a hardship. The Radission is a very nice hotel with good rooms.
The Crew/Above and Beyond:
In the middle of moving all the divers from the boat to the hotel, my dive buddy developed a pain in his knee. The dive staff called DAN for us and on DAN's advice brought oxygen out to the hotel we were evacuated to for my buddy to breathe. After breathing the whole tank, we decided that the pain was not DCS, but better safe than sorry. The dive staff were great through the whole event, helping all their guests and taking care of a worried diver.
The best question is would you go somewhere again? The answer is yes, we did not get to see all the dive sites and it was too rough to get to the Blue Hole. The diving was great, the food was great and the dive staff were fantastic.