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 ;)
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.