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“For those that have done other liveaboards: the DSDD experience is average. Here's why:”

Deep Sea Divers Den Day Trips
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Deep Sea Divers Den is the right choice for visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Deep Sea Divers Den has operated from Cairns, Australia for over 30 years, making us not only the largest but also one of the longest established Cairns Diving and Snorkeling companies in the area. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced Diver or Snorkeler, your safety and enjoyment is on the top of our list when you visit the Great Barrier Reef with us.
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
89 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“For those that have done other liveaboards: the DSDD experience is average. Here's why:”
Reviewed April 23, 2013

I'll start by saying I fully endorse Chris A.'s view below. I had a similar experience as him/his wife.

Writing this review mainly for the benefit of experienced divers (and I mean 30 dives plus) that have done at least one more liveaboard somewhere else (Mexico, Egypt, Bali or wherever).

I have 60+ dives, Nitrox/Deep certified and AOWD, have done multiple countries (Italy, Greece, Egypt, Switzerland etc) and a liveaboard before. So the rest of my words are based on the above experience while drawing comparisons.

To put it into perspective: if you've done a full-week liveaboard with 15-20 people somewhere else in the world and then you come to DSDD then you'll be disappointed.

I stayed for 3 nights/4 days which was 1 night too much. Did 15 dives (which was plenty) and chose to skip 2 dives (1 because of a headache and 1 more due to 24-hour flight rules)

Here are the many improvement areas for DSDD:
- Super commercialized. People come on-board and leave the boat on a daily basis. Difficult to bond with others as you may not see the same face for 2 days in a row (I got lucky and actually ended up having fun with some 22 year olds although I'm a decade older)

- DSDD have a licence to dive only 3 reefs in GBR (Norman, Saxon, Gordon). So after 2 days you'll end up at the same dive-site and you'll start recycling the dives (don't stay more than 2 nights!)

- The day is hectic with 5 dives/day. The schedule is packed and the first dive is after breakfast (while it should be before). Half the time you feel you're diving on a full stomach. You can of course choose to skip dives but that doesn't fix the scheduling problem

- You'll end up hearing the same "security/welcome/goodbye" briefings every day as new people come on-board. If you stay too long, you can do the briefings yourself (and you'll hear the same jokes as well...)

- It costs $10/dive to have a Nitrox tank. I do find this expensive vs other liveboards (or some boats that actually just give you Nitrox for free if you're certified...). I did use Nitrox for 4-5 dives to minimize fatigue

- Experienced divers will be disturbed by their approach to "No Reverse Dive Profiles". So you can't go deeper than your last dive. I understand the safety precautions for "intro divers", "adventure divers", even qualifying AOWD divers or new to deep diving. But if you're an experienced diver, with your own computer, qualified to deep dive, then having the crew being tediously repeat "no reverse profiling!" becomes tiring really fast. To their benefit, they've been told to be tiresome on this so they're following orders...

- The other unnecessary annoying rules are:
1) no dive should be longer than 50' (I don't understand their problem if someone is fit and doesn't consume, can stay under for 65' and still come up with 70 Bar?)
2) you need to be on the surface with at least 50 Bar (I had no problem with that but a lady came up with 40 Bar from a dive cause she got tired at the end and they gave her a really hard time...

- Last but definitely not least: the "Trip Director" onboard who's like the coordinator of the guides, the dives and the boat seems to have an attitude problem. He's name is Hiro, he is Japanese and is the most rude person I've seen on a boat. Ever. He would really be rude to people for staying too long in the water, for taking their weight belts while stepping on the boat, for coming up with 40 bar, for going deeper than necessary and a couple of other items. I even noticed some of the crew members rolling their eyes at his comments and trying to mitigate the damage by going to the customers and telling them to ignore the guy.

Now, to be fair, it wasn't all bad onboard. otherwise I would have scored a 1. Here are all the good stuff:
- The reefs are in good condition. They are not top-notch but they are definitely full of life and colour. You will see a gazillion of small fish varieties, moray eels, rays/stingrays (2-3 different species), Napoleon fishes (quite a few and very friendly), turtles, small crustaceans (difficult to spot and only during the night), plenty of puffer fish, nemos, barracudas, quite a few sharks (mainly grey reef, saw also 1 nurse), dolphins (potentially) and more. So the underwater experience is worth at least 7-8 dives (and 1-2 night dives as the sharks are more during night-time/under the boat's flood lights)

- Quite some of the crew members where exceptional and super friendly.
1) Many kudos to Joel the chef for cooking excellent meals throughout my 4 days there and some great desserts. The man is gifted and a star
2) Some of the divemasters (Olly was my favourite and kudos to Mat and Sol) were friendly, helpful and willing. Had quite a few funny discussions while looking at the Australian sky and smoking cigars/pipes.
3) Nina the purser was adorable. She may have received some bad comments on other reviews but I have only great things to say about her. Friendly, with a smile, helpful all the way
4) The volunteer on board (Johannes) was a nice young chap to dive with. Helpful all the time, I taught him how to pet the Napoleon wrasse and he found small crustaceans for me. Had a fun-time diving together
5) Equipment on the boat is of good quality and well cared for. At least the one I saw (although I used my own mask, suit and computer). Their compression system (both air and Nitrox) is excellent and very fast
6) The boat itself is relatively well maintained (although if you've done a bit of a luxurious Egypt liveaboard it may not compare well). Clean rooms, working bathrooms/showers, clean towels etc. Call it a good "hostel" liveaboard.
7) The briefings per dive are good. Their maps are accurate, their knowledge of marine-life is good (not excellent but good) and if you're an AOWD or equivalent you can jump on the water non-guided and have your own fun/exploration. Even at night.

I ended up "semi-guiding" a group of female OWD during my last 4-5 dives on the boat as they were happy not to pay $15 per dive per person and wanted to buddy-up with me. Although I was happy to have them along, I got again frustrated when Hiro (the trip-director), rudely complained to me because one of them came up with 40 Bar and, on a different dive, we came up at 55 minutes vs 50. But again, that's part of his attitude problem that needs fixing.

All in all: The DSDD experience is "good enough" up to 2nights/3 days and 12 dives as long as you go on the boat with "your eyes" open and knowing what to expect if you're an experienced diver. Plus it's on-par in terms of prices with other "mid-range" live-aboards in GBR.

Kudos to all the diving gang that made this journey fun: James, Paul, Pat, Annette, Audrey, Rika, Hannes, Zach, Sylvain and Jean-Paul. Without you guys/girls it would have been bored 2-days earlier.

And many kudos to Olly for some great jokes, good fun and his Bayleaf recommendation which I religiously followed ;)

Visited April 2013
4 Thank PaniosBanios
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Grande Prairie
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Overnight Trip”
Reviewed April 22, 2013

We had went on a multiable day dive trip which had to be cancelled due to weather. Our refund was based on a higher rate as we only had two nights of a 6 night trip. And also we did not get our dives in on the day the boat came back to harbour, so we should have gotten credit for them as well. Overall it is not to bad of a dive boat for new divers. As an avid diver with lots of dives I found the diving boring. To many new divers and the dive master/instructors really did not get newbies to stay away from reef. There was lots of things that just was not quite up to par, I would also read Chris A review, as I may have been on the boat with him as well. If I was not on the boat, my trip was really close to the same as his experience and agree with his statement. Suggestion if you are looking for a really good liveaboard look at Spirit of Freedom. I did the SOF the week before doing Divers Den. See my review on them.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank VinceDar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
32 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Day trip snorkelling/ diving the Great Barrier Reef”
Reviewed April 21, 2013

We had a fantastic time snorkelling around two different locations in the Great Barrier Reef with Deep Sea Divers Den. We were given a perfectly lengthy amount of time in the water, and a huge area within which we could swim and sea a huge variety of coral and fish, including a friendly Maori Wrasse. Whilst I didn't dive, the divers were also given a long time in the water and were able to get right up close to fish that were a little too deep for the snorkellers! The photographer took some amazing photos underwater as well, to make the day all the more memorable. Would definitely recommend them, and I would definitely book with them again in the future.

Visited April 2013
Thank Mandaliee1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Overnight trips - great for backpackers and the masses”
Reviewed April 20, 2013

My wife and I want on the Deep Sea Divers Den live-aboard trip in April of 2013. Before that we had gone on the same trip two years earlier. To us, there was a noticeable decline in the quality of the trip. First, the ship we had originally stayed on, which was a large catamaran style boat, had been sold by the company. Instead, we stayed on what seemed to be a smaller and older monohull boat. But forgetting the boat itself, our experience otherwise just wasn't that good.

My wife and I are avid divers and we've been all over the world. Most trips, we dive with likeminded avid divers who are experienced and respectful of the reef. On this trip we got to dive with about a dozen or more backpackers, many of whom were just getting their certifications. Be prepared to watch fins, tanks and gauges get smashed up against the reef, and expect to have your visibility shot as these very new divers kick up silt and sand as they make they way around the dive sites. A few times my wife sat out from the dives and I dove with one of the crew. Even then, I watched this crew member struggle with their buoyancy and smash their tank into the coral overhead.

Like all dive trips, you are going to spend about 35% of your time having a ship's master or dive master give you briefings and lectures on ship and dive protocol. What I suppose was the most upsetting was that, given the overwhelming lack of experienced divers, there was little to no discussion about respecting the reef. Maybe a sentence the entire trip. To me, it should have been stressed before every dive.

Furthermore, while their was an eclectic group of passengers on board, the majority were young backpackers. So if you are a couple in your 30's (like us) who aren't living on $10 a day, you might look for something else. My wife had booked us on this because of our positive experience a few years ago and the fact that they are cheaper than most operators, but we see now that the word about the discounted price has gotten out and it's become a floating hostel.

The crew wasn't too bad, though they weren't always terribly nice. They seem to be learning the ropes of the business themselves, since I'm sure the staff are almost as transient as the customer's themselves. This led to some communication issues and a bit of frustration for me. They are also young and act like the backpackers they are servicing. One time, my wife and I were taking a nap between dives when the 19 year old crew member came by to wake us up for lunch. He pounded on our door so hard that items on the adjacent shelf fell over. When I burst out of the room and told him not to do that again, and that a simple knock would suffice, he smiled and explained he "had to knock and yell as loud as possible". Why, I don't know. He didn't do it again.

Also, we didn't do the day trip only, but keep in mind that on those day trips the company will pack on board as many people as they can legally put on the boat. In effect, it's a cattle car and your experience definitely won't be unique. You'll be shoulder to shoulder with people the entire trip, including in the water. Sure, you can scratch "Great Barrier Reef" off your bucket list, but there has to be better ways.

Now there are some positives. The reef is spectacular, though I am told by a few people that have visited it much more than us that the reefs visited by DSDD are in decline. Perhaps because of the environment and perhaps because of the over-diving by inexperienced divers. Regardless, I still found the reef to be quite nice and enjoyable. The night dives are a lot of fun and give you an opportunity to spend some time swimming with the sharks, even if you don't see any other fun night life creatures.

Also, the food on the boat wasn't terribly bad, and people always seemed to be well fed. There were alcoholic drinks available at a cost, but they didn't seem to take advantage of their monopoly status as a 'pub' to jack up the prices.

Overall, if you are a new diver, looking to get certified, on an extremely tight budget, backpacking across Australia, and don't care about being shoulder to shoulder with people the entire time, this trip is for you.

If you are more experienced, have more means, and are looking for something more intimate and unspoiled, look somewhere else.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Chris A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great value for money”
Reviewed April 16, 2013

Spent last weekend on TAKA with 9 other members from the local Nautilus Scuba Club. Although the weather was a bit windy, the boat was very stable and comfortable. The staff were friendly and professional and couldn't do enough to help. Stayed in the Stateroom which was extremely comfortable, and well worth the extra.

Staying on the same dive site for more than one dive gave us the opportunity to fully explore the large sites in both directions. Dive sites like "Playground" produced some cool photography subjects like pipefish, lionfish, a really weird fuzzy crab, and the usual assortment of reef creatures including anemone fish, bump head parrotfish, sharks, rays etc. One of our members got some excellent GoPro footage of the reef sharks off the back off the boat after the night dive. Very cool.

Overall - Excellent value for money.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Alison S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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