This trip definitely met my expectations. We had it all. Giant mantas, a whale shark, school of hammer heads, …. The water temperature was at comfortable 28°C which resulted in a free hot tub after the dives. Or maybe the hot tub stayed empty due to lack of sunshine and some unpleasant winds on the sun deck.
These winds made the crossings a bit rough and bumpy, but the Captain had everything under control and navigated us safely through the waves.
The whole crew did a great job to make the trip as pleasant and smooth as possible. Although you could realize that part of the team was new to the boat, you could see great teamwork from the beginning. They picked us up at the Tesoro hotel, brought us and our luggage safely to the Belle Amie.
After a welcome reception, where they served cool Margaritas, we moved into our cabin and called it a day. I have to say this ship is really spacious compared to other boats. Nevertheless, the space could be used a bit better and it could have some more lockers/cupboards in the cabin to store stuff. For tall people the beds could be a bit longer, at least if you don’t like your feet hanging out of the bed during night. The bathrooms are also large, but not designed for tall people. Mirror hanging too low and shower is mounted below head level. And again not much space to store toiletries.
The dive deck has lots of space to safely place camera equipment and power sockets are mounted at all spots. The whole group of divers was divided into 3 teams and diving takes place from three skiffs. The departure of the skiffs is scheduled 15 minutes after the other to make sure, the dive spot is not too crowded. This worked out most of the times. The crew takes care of lifting the gear into the skiffs and the tanks stay there during the day and are filled there. All three skiffs are supposed to have metal ladders, but at the end of the trip only one was left. Dale, the chief engineer, had a solution to that by providing a self-made ladder (rope and plastic tube) for the other two skiffs. With this, entering the skiff after the dive became a little bit of an exercise, which was welcome after the all the daily routine of eating-diving-eating-diving-… Our Chef Marco prepared great and delicious meals 4 times a day and our hostesses Ana and Cecilia welcomed us in the salon with their charm and always a smile on their faces. They almost read our wishes from our minds. Btw- The freshly brewed Espresso-Macchiato was great. And in Spanish it is called Cortado J.
After fighting the hunger, the dive guides and cab drivers brought us to the spots and took care that nobody got lost under and above water. This was not as easy with changing strong currents and up/down swell at every dive. The good food also helped to survive the conditions and have enough energy for 4 dives during the day. Sometimes breaks were quite short in between dives, but diving is what we were here for and we should not complain. The Mantas and all other underwater encounters did pay back. We had 19 great dives and one night of snorkeling with the Silky sharks, which is a spooky experience if you don’t take a torch, but want to get some nice close ups of the Silkys. In the end even a Galapagos Shark joined the party. Then it was time to get out of the water.
I believe all guests had a great time aboard and a lot of fun. Not to mention that almost everyone got addicted to solving the four 1000pcs jigsaw puzzles that Jan and Bill brought to the ship. This was definitely a good team-building exercise.
It is always amazing how the same passion for diving (and jigsaw puzzles) can bring people from all over the world together and make new friends.
Thank you for a great trip on the Nautilus Belle Amie to Socorro (Dec 6-14, 2015)
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This post was written by Rachel