Peter Hughes Dancer

One Response to “Peter Hughes Dancer”

  1. snagel says:

    Orignal post by TheSmoothDome on ScubaToys

    Trip Report: Peter Hughes Sun Dancer II, Belize – June 30th to July 7, 2007
    June 30th arrives and we rise at 4:00am PST. I check our flight status on line and find out that our 7:00am flight is delayed :57 minutes. This creates a small problem as our layover in Houston is only 1 hour. When we booked the flight back in December, it was a cushy 2 hour layover, but things change I guess.

    Well, I call Continental immediately and they inform me that they’ve rebooked us on our flight from Houston to Belize for the next day. Uh…the boat leaves dock Sat. night. This isn’t going to work! The helpful agent then tells me that I better haul buns to the airport and see if we can get on standby for the 6:15 flight to Houston. Long story short, we are #4 on the standby list, but since all the gate agents are telling us how good of a job we did by getting there at 5:00am, I’m feeling pretty good. We easily make it on the flight and life is sweet. We now have our original 2 hour layover in Houston.

    Naturally, it’s not all rosy though. We land in Houston only to find out that 1:40 flight to Belize is delayed due to thunderstorms in the immediate area. We’re the last flight going to Belize that day, so it’s pretty much time to ride out the storm and hope. I call Peter Hughes’ offices, it’s Saturday at 3:00pm there, and Felix answers the phone and tells me that he’ll call the boat and let them know the situation. No worries. He does ask that I call him if when I find out more info. 2 hours later, I call him back and tell him that we’re finally ready to leave. It’s Saturday at 5:00pm and he’s still taking my call.

    Ok, now to the real dive review Sorry. Just wanted to tell you the hell of my travel day. Never EVER EVER again will I travel the same day I’m trying to make a boat.

    We arrive in Belize City, breeze through customs and one of our divemasters, John, is at the curb to greet us with cool towels to wipe away the travel grime. A quick 20 minute ride through a very poor, poverty stricken city and we arrive at the docks, where 2 multi-million dollar yachts are docked, the Agressor and the Dancer. Pretty thought provoking IMHO.

    We’re last to board and everyone is waiting on us. Our Hostess and dive instructor, Ann-Marie sits us down and does the standard paper work. She then asks if we’d like to upgrade our cabin to one on the main deck with a picture window. I ask if the boat is sold out and she tells us it is, but another customer has offered to trade with us. She offers to have us tour both cabins and we do, and decide that between the slight diesel smell and the lack of windows in the cheaper cabin, we’d be much more pleased to be in a main deck stateroom. We find out later that it was Peter Hughes himself who requested that we be upgraded and he be housed in the less expensive cabin.

    Our bags moved in, we rush to dinner, where again, everyone is waiting on us. I don’t remember what we ate that night, only that we had a choice of 2 or 3 entrees and there was plenty of wine, kegged and bottled beer and softdrinks for everyone. Obviously, it’s not a heavy drinking night, but it was nice that after a long travel day, there was a cold beer to wash dinner down with.

    After dinner, crew introductions and safety briefings happen and Capt. Bert tells us that we’ll be pulling out of dock at 10:30 (change in plans because we were late arriving, I believe) and that the crossing may be a little rough. Naturally, we all slept right through it.

    Next morning dawns bright and clear. We’re at Turneffe Island, Amberhead dive site. At 6:30am there’s a knock on our door, right on time with the wakeup call request. I open the door and am handed 2 previously ordered mugs of coffee and tea. We throw on our Sun Dancer II robes, and head for breakfast. Barbara, our chef’s assistant, takes our order and fills us up with as much as want. In addition, there’s continental stuff out too. Fresh fruit, cereal, bagels, muffins, etc.

    8am, the dive briefing bell rings and we gather around a whiteboard that contains a map of the dive site. Anne-Marie then provides a detailed description of the site, complete with critter info and depth and current info. It’s gear up time!

    My wife and I are separated while gearing up. It’s one of the drawbacks of being the last to board. We didn’t pick our stations, we just took what was left. No worries though. After the first dive, Peter Hughes, who was gearing up next to my wife had switched our stations to allow me to be with her. Another nice touch and classy move.

    Anyway, as I ramble though this, the dive was a nice warm up dive and my wife, who hadn’t dove since 1996, has a great time. That is until the dreaded deco bar. At the end of the dive, we ascend to the rigid deco bar that hangs under the boat. You grab on, hold on and go for a ride. The boat swings in a wide arc and takes you on a high speed tour of the reef below. For some reason, this freaked my wife out at first and she ended the dive none too happy. We climb back onto the boat and rinse ourselves under the warm outdoor showers. Ann-Marie is right there with a warm towel and a back rub! Now this something I can get used to.

    Between dives, it’s resting on the top deck in the sunshine and listening to my Ipod. Carlos, the chef, comes by with fresh baked cookies, which were awesome all week. At 10:30, it’s time to gear back up and go for another dive at the Amberhead site. My wife sits this one out and I partner up with Elsie, one of our divemasters. Elsie is awesome. She finds critter after critter.

    After the dive it’s lunch time. Buffet style. The food is just what the doctor ordered after two great dives. During this time, the boat is underway and we’re off to our next dive site, Sayonara. After lunch, it’s time for a quick nap on top deck and then at 1:30, the briefing bell rings again.

    Same thing as before. Dive site is drawn on the map. Divemaster gives a solid briefing and off we go. My wife is back for this one and finds absolutely no problem with the deco bar this time. After the dive, my wife and I head to our stateroom and proceed to nap. Unfortunately, we woke up after the dive deck was closed for entry for our 4th dive.

    The dinner bell rings at 6:00pm and we eat and chat with some of the other guests. Towards the end of dinner, we’re asked who’s going to be doing the night dive and nearly the whole boat raises their hands.

    Back in the water at 7:30. Again, we’re at Sayonara, but it’s a completely different world once the sun goes down. At the end of the dive, we climb up, shower off and are wrapped in those wonderful warm towels and given a back rub. We’re offered hot chocolate and rum, which I gladly accept. That ends day 1 of diving.

    We can extrapolate this over the course of 4 more dive days, just changing the dive sites and my rest schedule. I made sure I wasn’t asleep for another dive after that first day.

    We arrived back in Belize City on Friday at noon. Had lunch and were taken to Jaguar Paw resort to do some cave tubing. We hiked for about 20 minutes, jumped on our tubes and meandered down a slow moving river and into the darkness of the caves. Dinner that night was less formal than other nights and Saturday morning came too quickly for most of us. After breakfast, it was time to head back to the airport and fly home. Naturally, the flight home was uneventful.

    Some highlights from the trip:

    Tarpon Caves: fantastic swim through. Starts around 85 feet and lets out along the wall at 110 feet.

    Blue Hole: have to put it. Awesome stalactites and at least 10 different reef sharks, some of whom came within 10 feet or so.

    Half Moon Caye Wall: Eagle rays and morays including a tiny baby moray.

    Half Moon Caye – Red footed boobies and iguanas everywhere. Just make sure you get a dry seat on the ponga. I was the only one who arrived on the island soaked.

    Sleeping on the Sun Deck – What a great place to just relax.

    Back rubs!!

    Cookies – Between Carlos’ treats between dives and the bottomless barrel of cookies, I must have eaten a thousand.

    The rigid deco bar – What a great ride it is to just sit on the bar and watch the reef float by beneath you.

    Mis-navigating during our last night dive and ending up a LONG way from the boat. No, I refused to have the haul of shame and have the tender pick me up, so I swam myself back to the boat. John, our dive master commented “Man, I thought you were swimming for the Grenadines” You have to do the accent for it to be funny though.

    July 4th: Good old fashion American Bar-B-Que. Chicken, hotdogs and hamburgers and all the fixins

    July 5th dinner: Surf and Turf! Nothing beats steak and lobster…Nothing! After dinner, the fashion show! Sure, it’s a sales pitch, but watching everyone dance around and generally make fools of themselves is too funny. It shows how comfortable people get with each other after 5 days at sea together.

    In general, the crew work their asses off to ensure every guest has a great time. Most mornings, Carlos, Barbara and Jean were up at 3:30am, getting breakfast going. David, the night watchman, was in the water scrubbing hulls during the day and helping out wherever he was needed. Bert moved the boat each night after most of us had gone to sleep and then was up at breakfast every morning. Even after a full day, Anne-Marie spent her evenings doing classwork portions of classes she was teaching and was willing to get up early to finish them off if the students were too tired.

    I know I haven’t provided a lot of details about each dive, because frankly, I could write a thousand pages if I get into details. I just wanted to provide a solid preview of what to expect if you travel with the Dancer crew. They’re great and I can’t wait to meet the Star Dancer crew next year.

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