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“Great trip” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tubbataha Reef

Tubbataha Reef
92 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island, Philippines
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17 reviews 17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Great trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2015

We spend 5 diving day on Seadoors liveaboard. The diving here is fantastic! Vertical walls, healthy corals, lots to see and to explore!

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Yuba City, California
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Stella Maris excellent Dive Boat”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2015

We were on the live-aboard Stella Maris the middle of April 2015. What a fantastic trip. They picked us up at our hotel and dropped us off at the airport at the end of our trip. Our first welcome with the Boat Manager was thorough and complete. I felt I knew where everything was located on the boat and what was available to me and the rules and regulations.

We had a deluxe room with bunk beds. The room is spacious with your own bathroom. The aircon was fantastic. The beds were very comfy. We also had a TV that had a DVD player and they had many DVD's to loan to watch.

Food was very good. Very much liked the fact they had ice and you could purchase soft drinks.

Diving, WOW!!! I had on my bucket list to dive with a whale shark. I got to dive with a whale shark and we saw many whale sharks. We got some great photo's also. There are so many fish, it is a reserve so there are lots of fish. Seeing white tip sharks the first day was wow, then it was like oh, some more white tip sharks on the other dives. 4 dives a day!! I guess you could call me a diving diva. I like it when they set up my equipment and put it on the boat. They did all this and rinsed out your wetsuit. The crew were outstanding. The dive masters gave complete dive briefings and were there to answer any questions.

We were lucky, our trip wasn't booked completely so there were only 10 guests and you never felt crowded. A lot of space on board to spread out and enjoy a book.

Would I recommend this Dive Boat, MOST DEFINITELY. Not cheap but worth the excellent service you are given and the diving, I can stress how amazing it was.

Visited April 2015
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Karachi
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“M/Y Vasco - The most diver friendly live aboard imaginable!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2015

While reviewing live aboard’s, I was obviously attracted to some of the newer boats that looked good, were more pricey and claimed to offer more comfort. But a co-traveler insisted that we go on the M/Y Vasco, as she had friends who were going on it. That was the best decision we could have made. Here is what they had to offer:

A large dive deck to suit up so that we were not bumping into each other while wearing gear. Then just walk onto the rigid hull, fibre glass dive boat and wear the weight belt that is conveniently placed behind your seat. Sit in the boat for the one or two minute ride to the dive site. The boat driver picks up the tank which has your BC and regulator already attached to it and places it on the seat and helps you wear it. Then slip on fins and mask and do a gentle back roll into a piece of heaven!

When you surface, the dive boat, which has been following your bubbles has spotted the SMB and approaches you, once everyone has surfaced. Then, simply hand over your weight belt, tank and fins to the boat driver who places them carefully in the boat and climb aboard in just your wetsuit. No climbing stairs with full gear on!

Once back on the Vasco, you are met by a waiter who serves hot chocolate and clean towels all around. Remove wet suit, take a shower, (no pressure to conserve water) and simply put wet suit into a large drum filled with soapy water, dump your camera, mask, computer and watch into another fresh water filled drum. Towel off and eat yet another gourmet meal.

Four dives a day! And they repeated this four times a day. Each time the washed wet suit was found hanging in the wet suit area. A fresh tank with your washed reg, BC, fins and weight belt magically appeared on the dive boat. Each time a different hot or cold beverage and snack were served after the dive. And each time a fresh, warm, sweetly scented towel appeared in your dive drawer. How did they do it? And get it right each time! But that’s not all. If you go back to your room, you find that the bed is made and any clothes that you may have hurriedly thrown on the bed have been neatly folded.

We saw other live aboard’s with inflatable dive boats, in which the divers sat fully geared up with tanks and weight belts on their way to the dive site. Not us. We put on our tanks just before entering the water. That is why after four dives we were not tired. At home I am exhausted after two dives. It’s the carrying the gear and washing it which is tiring. On the Vasco, the crew does it for you.

It doesn’t get better!

And then there is the food. Cooked to perfection. With many choices of veggies, sea food and meats. Some Philippino food but mostly continental. And as much fruit as you could eat. Meals always ended with a delicious dessert. The chef was very accommodating and considerate of guests dietary needs.

The rooms are paneled with polished wood and are comfortable. There are four rooms on each side of the narrow corridor. The forward two rooms and the aft four are reasonably sized. Room numbers 3 and 4 are tiny. The forward two rooms on each side of the aisle also share a very tiny bathroom. The four aft rooms had reasonably large bathrooms. All the bathrooms had lots of hot water and the air conditioning was very effective in the cabins. Clean linen and towels were always available. And they even washed our clothes as the airline had misplaced our bags and we had very limited clothes.

Room tip: Remember to open the vent in the bathroom and cabin. It is located on the deck and can only be opened from there. Ask a crew member which one it is as they all look the same.

We were lucky that there were only 12 divers on a boat with a capacity of 16. So four of us got a room to ourselves. But there were some glitches. One room’s air conditioner stopped working. So they moved that couple to my buddy’s room, who moved in with me. And then the water pump broke down, and there was no water in the taps for half an hour or so (but the flush continued to work). Other than these two minor irritants, we had a perfect trip.

But the real attraction in Tubbataha is the diving. More marine life than you can imagine. I’d dived at Sipadan six months ago, and seen large schools of jacks and barracudas. But in Tubbataha they were three times as large! Both in quantity and in size, with sharks-a-plenty. But the real treat were the two whale sharks, the oceanic manta ray and the huge marble ray that came up to check us out. And the turtle that swam up to one of the divers and was no more than 20 cm from his face and seemed to hold that position for almost a minute appeared appeared to waltz with him. Wow! There were coral gardens as far as the eye could see. With water temps at 29 and 30 degrees Celsius and visibility that consistently stretched to over 30 or 40 metres every single day, it’s hard to see how diving could get any better! The excursion to Bird Islet and the Ranger Station were well timed to bring variety to the experience..

The M/Y Vasco offers the best of diving and luxury. What it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in its service.

Thank you M/Y Vasco. You’re my kind of live aboard!

Visited April 2015
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London, United Kingdom
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Extraordinary, super special, simply outstanding!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2015

I set sail on 15th April 2015 - the date of the previous,rather negative review! - on board the MY Stella Maris - Expedition Fleet.

The boat is a sea worthy vessel, not a purpose built dive boat but a good conversion with plenty of space and kitted out for divers. We were a group of 10; 50% occupancy meant I had my own cabin which was very comfortable with a nice bed, pillows and satin sheets. The cabin was made up daily and fresh towels provided. There are ample powerpoints for recharging of devices and the bathroom is excellent, the shower hot and the aircon quick. The rear and fly decks have ample chairs, tables and loungers for relaxation. There is even a hot-tub available. The dining area doubles up as a movie room and is very well kitted out if you want fresh coffee from a bean to cup machine or a beer from the fridge room next door.

The food was simply outstanding. Light breakfast before the first dive to line the stomach. A full breakfast once back from that dive. Lunch and dinner later in the day. Snacks available throughout the day and night. The cooked food consisted of fish, meat and vegetable options, usually pasta or potato bakes with a tasty lasagne on the last night. Excellent soup and rice available for lunch and dinner and the fresh fruit and deserts were delicious and very much appreciated. Everybody in the group complimented the food and there were no stomach issues at all.

The crew were amazing without exception. Colin the boat manager gave detailed briefings to ensure our safety and dive enjoyment throughout the trip, the Dive Masters Rommel, Norris and Shiao also briefing each dive. The chase boat drivers, compressor operator, deck hands and others all worked tirelessly to ensure none of the guests had to lift a finger and they did so with great humour and always with a smile. I even had my laundry done, dried and folded and delivered back to my cabin. Good job!

Lastly the reef and the diving was spectacular. Our first days diving had sharks - white tips and grey reef - on each dive. Lots of sharks. But the marine life was varied too with plenty reef fish, hard and soft corals and schooling fish - barracuda, jacks, etc. in abundance. I didn't think it could get better. How wrong I was! The next days diving included encounters with whale sharks on 3 dives and a manta sighting too. We found a huge marble ray stuck in a crevice in the wall and a free swimming eagle ray. The fish life was prolific and diving on nitrox meant more bottom time and less tiredness. The following days diving at various sites were equally amazing with whale sharks, groups of patrolling white tips, huge schools of jacks, barracudas and lots of turtles at Staghorn Point. We even spotted a huge tiger shark in the shallows at distance. I thoroughly enjoyed diving each of the sites but Delsan Wreck, Black Rock, Staghorn Point and Shark Airport / Washing Machine were outstanding. Strong currents made for some interesting drift diving at times. So big stuff everywhere and beautiful coral gardens at some sites, wall dives at others and plenty reef life to make deciding where to point the camera quite difficult. Jessie Beazley dives on the last day were not as spectacular,however, provided a nice wind down for the week. A trip to the ranger station was a nice break and allowed us to appreciate the work done to conserve the reef and maintain its UNESCO World Heritage status. Something which the crew of Stella Maris also participated in by removing a huge amount of discarded fishing net from Jessie Beazley reef on the last day. Well done to all.

If you love diving, marine life and spotless reefs then you would not be disappointed by going to Tubbataha. Especially if you are lucky enough to be on board the Stella Maris. Be respectful of the reef, the corals and the fragile marine life and have a wonderful time. I did just that and I hope to get the chance to do so again one day.

5 star diving!

Visited April 2015
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Hong Kong, China
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Over-stressed”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2015

It's just an ordinary reef, nothing special. Not outstanding. There will be marine life, but big animals were rare.

Visited April 2015
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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