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Galapagos Aggressor

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#1 Oceanshutter

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 03:10 PM

Today I received an email from the AGGRESSOR Liveaboards, advertising a 2 for 1 deal......and some of the dates are in whales shark season. I am tentatively booked for the first week in August....but needed to do some research as this seems too good to be true. I have never seen this type of deal, especially in Galapagos.

Are we going to have to paddle out ourselves? Fish and prepare our own food? I can't figure it out.....is Aggressor not good in Galapagos?

Any thoughts on this?

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#2 kc_moses

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 09:06 AM

Dustin,

 

The Agressor Fleet seem to be reputable and popular liveaboard company. I do see that kind of deal from them from time to time as I plan on going to Galapagos in 2015. I saw a few dive shops use them when the organize trip.

 

In face, in Febuary this year, I got email from them about their new Thai Aggressor, with $700 off. I decided to give it a try since I will be in Asia anyway. The Thai Agreesor trip I join is early Jun so if I like their service, I would use them for Galapogas. The whole booking system is really systematic, they sent me luggage tag etc once I have fully paid my trip.

 

I think there are a couple more liveaboard operators for Galapogas, they're somewhat around the same price ($5000+) and is consider luxury line. But make sure you extend your trip to get some land tour as many say the diving is just okay, it's the land tour that make the Galapogas experience!



#3 johnspierce

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:09 PM

They must be having a tough time filling their boats.  I was on Aggressor II in Galapagos in May, 2010 and had a great time.  Nice boat, great crew, superb diving.   We got ours on a $500-off per person deal, so not as good as what you are seeing, but there is a lot more competition now.   In addition to having two Aggressor boats , there is the Explorer Venture boat and Peter Hughes' has a new boat there too so just more boats on an expensive itinerary with a limited number of customers.  

 

I have absolutely no complaints about my trip and would do it again.


Edited by johnspierce, 29 April 2013 - 12:11 PM.

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#4 DamonA

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 02:42 PM

I don't know about the seasons of the Galapagos but the Andaman sea side of Thailand it is the wet season/low season and is a real punt as to whether or not you'll get reasonable viz.

 

Also you'll be restricted to the phi phi area as the sea conditions off Khao Lak are terrible- most boats move down to work Phi Phi/Koh Doc Mai which are the best dive site close to the mainland making the live aboard trips less worth while- you could dive the same spots, the same number of dives, sleep in a nice hotel, eat better food for the same money albeit you travel around abit more, but not much. It cost around 5000baht/day on a live aboard, a day trip is 3000 baht and if the weather/conditions are bad the next day, you can pick and choose unlike on a live aboard. In any case you will get better value NOT booking ahead as franchisees reduce their margin to get any sale.

 

My wife is Thai and used to work in the alcohol wholesale management side of tourism and real estate, we have worked out what is the best value there. pricing things out thoroughly and looking at the service and quality side also. For me it is cheaper to dive Thailand on holidays then going just up the road to Cairns,Townsville or port Douglass- even if the diving is better here in Australia, which it is!!!!!

 

Prices here in Australia are starting to fall too, that and a few of the inefficient operators going out of biz.

 

I think the discounts reflect consumer fall off; both annually with the end of the fin. year and the prevailing economic global environment(ie;spain unemployment 57%).

 

Public services are costing way to much in developed countries, the bloated levels of staffing and overtly high senior administrative renumberation, pay and conditions above its counter parts in the private sector and the inability/unwillingness to retrench/layoff public servants are spiraling down thru to the revenue base of all governments- the delays in reduction of spending and the low productivity of the public sector is going to make the ride even harder for those directly attached to that end of the economy- which likes to see it self as impervious and "above" the private side.

 

The private side having already taken its hit from the seemly unfettered fraudulence of the banking sector.

 

 

The eventual raising of taxes means less disposable income to go diving with........so if your got the bucks, lack of demand is making some value to be had. Lots of operators have "specials" available now.


Edited by DamonA, 29 April 2013 - 03:03 PM.


#5 scorpio_fish

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 05:47 AM

I've been on the Galapagos Aggressor II three times.  We didn't have to paddle or do any fishing.  Sounds like a good deal to me, 2 for 1.   That's like, almost around 50% off. 


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#6 Oceanshutter

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 06:28 AM

Thanks guys for the feedback. For my wife and I, we are saving $5300! It is still expensive, but puts it into the affordable range. Surprised to hear someone say the diving is okay. Everything I have read always says the diving is great. Cold water...yes. Currents...yes. But always a ton of stuff.

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#7 johnspierce

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:05 AM

Thanks guys for the feedback. For my wife and I, we are saving $5300! It is still expensive, but puts it into the affordable range. Surprised to hear someone say the diving is okay. Everything I have read always says the diving is great. Cold water...yes. Currents...yes. But always a ton of stuff.

Dustin

 

Yeah, in my opinion the diving was absolutely unique and spectacular.  

 

As I mentioned, my wife and I went in May which is the best time for schooling hammerheads.  We saw one Whale Shark briefly, but it was early in the season for them.  The water was actually not cold at all in May since that's essentially the end of their summer season;  it was about 74 degrees fahrenheit at Isabella and a toasty 81 degrees at Darwin.  I know it's quite different in August -- a friend went a few years ago and she said it was in the low 70's at Darwin and they saw lots of Whale Sharks.  She still saw hammerheads, but not to the same extent we did.  Both of us saw lots of Eagle Rays and many other types of sharks - silky's, white tips, Galapagos.

 

So if you are looking for Mr. Big, looks like you have booked the right time!  You won't regret it.  The land tours are fantastic too, but certainly the diving is some of the best in the world.

 

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#8 kc_moses

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:38 AM

Thanks guys for the feedback. For my wife and I, we are saving $5300! It is still expensive, but puts it into the affordable range. Surprised to hear someone say the diving is okay. Everything I have read always says the diving is great. Cold water...yes. Currents...yes. But always a ton of stuff.

Dustin

 

I read it in some other forum, not sure if it's Scubaboard or Divebuddy, it could be subjective, or it could be because the diver went there at the wrong season. But if you can make that trip and save $5300, it would be like a trip of a life time. I spent about $6k to go to Red Sea, yes, it hurts my bank account, but I still glad I did it.



#9 Oceanshutter

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:38 AM

 

Yeah, in my opinion the diving was absolutely unique and spectacular.  

 

As I mentioned, my wife and I went in May which is the best time for schooling hammerheads.  We saw one Whale Shark briefly, but it was early in the season for them.  The water was actually not cold at all in May since that's essentially the end of their summer season;  it was about 74 degrees fahrenheit at Isabella and a toasty 81 degrees at Darwin.  I know it's quite different in August -- a friend went a few years ago and she said it was in the low 70's at Darwin and they saw lots of Whale Sharks.  She still saw hammerheads, but not to the same extent we did.  Both of us saw lots of Eagle Rays and many other types of sharks - silky's, white tips, Galapagos.

 

So if you are looking for Mr. Big, looks like you have booked the right time!  You won't regret it.  The land tours are fantastic too, but certainly the diving is some of the best in the world.

 

JP

I am looking forward to it.  I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself.  Galapagos has been on the top of my list for a while.  The last few years have been more of the macro variety style trips.  The most big animals we have done has been Palau, which we loved.  For me it is hard to justify going to either Galapagos or Cocos because of the cost involved. (both top my list).  I could do 3 trips to the Philippines for the cost of 1 trip to Galapagos.  But with Aggressor saving us $5300, that is a no brainer....Plus air tickets on frequent flyer miles for free....I am stoked out of my mind!!!

 

Definitely wanted to go during whale shark season.  Never seen one.  That is the top of my list.  Every time I go somewhere I tell the guides...that a whale shark is what I want to see....For some reason the guys in Lembeh and Anilao looked at me funny and then laugh at me....;)

 

Now the question is what wetsuit should I buy?  Semi Dry...or plain old 7mm?

 

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#10 Oceanshutter

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:53 AM

 

I read it in some other forum, not sure if it's Scubaboard or Divebuddy, it could be subjective, or it could be because the diver went there at the wrong season. But if you can make that trip and save $5300, it would be like a trip of a life time. I spent about $6k to go to Red Sea, yes, it hurts my bank account, but I still glad I did it.

 

I agree.  Certainly any location can have bad weeks or bad parts of the season.  I think you just need to set your expectations properly and do the research.  We went to Komodo last July knowing that during that time of year we might not be able to to get down south to Horseshoe Bay or Manta Alley because of wind...sure enough it was too windy and we didn't get down there.  Most people on the boat were disappointed because they didn't know  that was a possibility.  Because of this, I thought Komodo was a very average dive destination....but again, didn't get to see it in the south, so I don't know how much that would change my opinion.  But many people think it is one of the best places in the world. To me there wasn't any special about it.  But again....could have been the time of year.  One day we will get back there at a different time.  But it isn't on the priority list anymore.

 

We did the Red Sea a few years back.  That was back when Delta flew there....used miles.  I think my wife and I did the whole land tour/liveaboard for 10 days for only about $4500.00 total.  I wouldn't go back......But I too am glad I did it.  Too bad the politics are difficult right now.  Egypt has so much to offer underwater and topside.

 

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#11 johnspierce

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:56 AM

I am looking forward to it.  I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself.  Galapagos has been on the top of my list for a while.  The last few years have been more of the macro variety style trips.  The most big animals we have done has been Palau, which we loved.  For me it is hard to justify going to either Galapagos or Cocos because of the cost involved. (both top my list).  I could do 3 trips to the Philippines for the cost of 1 trip to Galapagos.  But with Aggressor saving us $5300, that is a no brainer....Plus air tickets on frequent flyer miles for free....I am stoked out of my mind!!!

 

Definitely wanted to go during whale shark season.  Never seen one.  That is the top of my list.  Every time I go somewhere I tell the guides...that a whale shark is what I want to see....For some reason the guys in Lembeh and Anilao looked at me funny and then laugh at me.... ;)

 

Now the question is what wetsuit should I buy?  Semi Dry...or plain old 7mm?

 

Dustin

 

I guess that depends on if you get cold easily.  For me, a 7mm is good down to high 50's, but to someone else that may not be enough warmth.  My friend who went in August took a full drysuit and says she thought it was overkill.


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#12 DamonA

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:24 PM

Thanks guys for the feedback. For my wife and I, we are saving $5300! It is still expensive, but puts it into the affordable range. Surprised to hear someone say the diving is okay. Everything I have read always says the diving is great. Cold water...yes. Currents...yes. But always a ton of stuff.

Dustin

This is a Big picture man!
Most people think marine environments are all subject to only local issues- the kind of rape thats happening to the worlds fisheries is just like what happened to whales and seals 100 years ago- hunted to the point of economically unsustainable, meaning not enough catch to cover costs and still make a profit......but still they continue because they know nothing else.
 
Most of all commercial operations in all fields of industry need to adopt greater respect of "their" natural ecosystems; what is making them rich- not just figured as "another cost" that needs to be reduced.
 
Also there is no nirvana in diving, you must spend the time in an area to see it's multiple facets- moon phase, time of year and annual weather patterns influence behavior there is no timetable this isn't a train ride- even if it looks as though it will hit the wall ATM.

Edited by DamonA, 04 May 2013 - 02:20 AM.


#13 eyu

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 03:19 AM

I used a 7 mm wetsuit on my trip to the Galapagos, but in retrospect a 5 mm would have worked.  Wolf and Darwin the water was 78 degrees and the southern sites were 73-74 in late July.  I would suggest kevlar gloves since you are holding on to boulders covered with barnacles for your dear life so you are not swept into the blue with the currents and surge.  You will tear though regular gloves quickly.  You will experience what it is like to be in a washing machine, but the trip is well worth it.  The fish life is wonderful, schools of sharks, rays and whale sharks as big as school buses.  

 

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#14 Oceanshutter

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:22 AM

I used a 7 mm wetsuit on my trip to the Galapagos, but in retrospect a 5 mm would have worked.  Wolf and Darwin the water was 78 degrees and the southern sites were 73-74 in late July.  I would suggest kevlar gloves since you are holding on to boulders covered with barnacles for your dear life so you are not swept into the blue with the currents and surge.  You will tear though regular gloves quickly.  You will experience what it is like to be in a washing machine, but the trip is well worth it.  The fish life is wonderful, schools of sharks, rays and whale sharks as big as school buses.  
 
Elmer


Thanks for the info Elmer. I have a 5mm but it isn't very tight on me so it isn't as effective. I was thinking possibly doing a semi dry...instead of just the standard 7 mm...not sure if that would be overkill.

I was also thinking of taking the reef hook. Would that be effective instead of holding on to the rocks?

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#15 johnspierce

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:46 AM

I used a 7 mm wetsuit on my trip to the Galapagos, but in retrospect a 5 mm would have worked.  Wolf and Darwin the water was 78 degrees and the southern sites were 73-74 in late July.  I would suggest kevlar gloves since you are holding on to boulders covered with barnacles for your dear life so you are not swept into the blue with the currents and surge.  You will tear though regular gloves quickly.  You will experience what it is like to be in a washing machine, but the trip is well worth it.  The fish life is wonderful, schools of sharks, rays and whale sharks as big as school buses.  

 

Elmer

 

+1 on Kevlar gloves...


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#16 johnspierce

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:58 AM

Thanks for the info Elmer. I have a 5mm but it isn't very tight on me so it isn't as effective. I was thinking possibly doing a semi dry...instead of just the standard 7 mm...not sure if that would be overkill.

I was also thinking of taking the reef hook. Would that be effective instead of holding on to the rocks?

Dustin

 

One of our divemasters used a reef hook because he was taking video.   Hanging on to the rocks is fine, there are plenty of places to do that and sort of "duck" under the hardest of the current.

 

My biggest concern with using a reef hook would be getting it "un-hooked" when you want to leave.  I know it varies quite a lot, but the current was seriously ripping on Darwin.  I asked our divemaster about it and he said "yes, it's a bit stronger than usual"  LOL.  What a master of understatement.  Having said that, he obviously used it on almost every dive and it worked well for him.  

 

On one dive, my wife and I were hanging on to the rocks with the others at about 60 ft. and I signaled the divemaster we were going to go up early.  He acknowledged, and when we let go we took off sideways like a rocket!   After our 3 min. safety stop we surfaced so far away from the main boat we could hardly see it.  We used both 6 foot extendable dive flags and my air alert horn to help the panga driver find us.   I know having such strong current was a big part of why we saw hundreds of schooling Hammerheads on each dive at Darwin.  What a spectacular memory!  Surely some of the best dives I've ever done in 30 years of diving.


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#17 Oceanshutter

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:33 AM

One of our divemasters used a reef hook because he was taking video.   Hanging on to the rocks is fine, there are plenty of places to do that and sort of "duck" under the hardest of the current.
 
My biggest concern with using a reef hook would be getting it "un-hooked" when you want to leave.  I know it varies quite a lot, but the current was seriously ripping on Darwin.  I asked our divemaster about it and he said "yes, it's a bit stronger than usual"  LOL.  What a master of understatement.  Having said that, he obviously used it on almost every dive and it worked well for him.  
 
On one dive, my wife and I were hanging on to the rocks with the others at about 60 ft. and I signaled the divemaster we were going to go up early.  He acknowledged, and when we let go we took off sideways like a rocket!   After our 3 min. safety stop we surfaced so far away from the main boat we could hardly see it.  We used both 6 foot extendable dive flags and my air alert horn to help the panga driver find us.   I know having such strong current was a big part of why we saw hundreds of schooling Hammerheads on each dive at Darwin.  What a spectacular memory!  Surely some of the best dives I've ever done in 30 years of diving.


John,

I appreciate all your input...what kind of depths are we looking at? It seems most is around the 60 ft mark. Or am I mistaken in my assumption? What are the dive times typically like?

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#18 eyu

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:57 AM

We would do a backward roll off the panga at Wolf and Darwin, and swim hard to 60-70 ft where out dive guide would station us until a whale shark went by, then we would swim like crazy to try to get along side.  By then we would be low on air and have to swim into the blue and surface.  If you surface near shore you run the risk of being pushed into the rocks and the panga can not pick you up.  A reef hook is ok in the current, but not so good in the surge.  It is better to just hang on the rocks with your hands and enjoy the spectacular show in front of you.

 

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#19 johnspierce

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 11:23 AM

John,

I appreciate all your input...what kind of depths are we looking at? It seems most is around the 60 ft mark. Or am I mistaken in my assumption? What are the dive times typically like?

Dustin

 

Yes, you are correct -- it seems we spent a lot of time at 50-60 ft.   There were a couple of dives down to 80, but no real need to go deeper than that.  We had plenty of bottom time at each location because you would either a) drift with the current or b) find a place to "lock in" and watch the show.  The current was wayyyy too strong to swim against.

 

Now -- I should qualify a bit more about the current.  We did our checkout dive on the edge of the harbor at San Cristobal and there was no current at all.   Then, we went to Bartolome and Santiago and there was "some" current.  Still wouldn't want to swim against it, but think Cozumel-like current.  After that we went to Cousins and there was no current at all there.  

 

I was starting to think the Galapagos reputation for strong currents was exaggerated, then we went to Wolf.  Oh yeah!  Currents were pretty strong at Wolf and we would backroll in, swim to the bottom as fast as we could and watch the show.  Lots of eagle rays at Wolf along with plenty of silkys and reef sharks.

 

Darwin cranked it up about 3 notches over Wolf.   You backroll in right in front of the arch.  The panga is jockeying back and forth in the surge because where you drop there are two currents from opposing directions which are slamming right into the reef underneath.   Washing machine is an apt description.  Your goal is to get in as fast as you can, drop down to about 50-60 ft and find a place to hide in the rocks.  If you turn your head sideways against the current you are risking losing your reg out of your mouth or possibly your mask if it isn't pretty snug.   It feels like you are in a raging river.  Your regulator hose is shaking up and down and your bubbles go straight sideways with the current.

 

Then, you look up.   It's the Hammerhead Highway!  Hundreds and hundreds of them no more than 10 feet away swimming leisurely in the current, totally oblivious to the divers below.  Just simply one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

 

On one dive, we all let go and drifted right up in the thick of the Hammerheads.  They gently parted way and allowed our group to drift along with them in the current as we slowly made our way to the surface.

 

You are gonna have such a good time :D


Edited by johnspierce, 04 May 2013 - 11:26 AM.

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