Boarded the Seadoors live-aboard at the Cebu Yacht Club on Mactan Island near Cebu City. The Seadoors has been in operation as a live-aboard since about 2012. This was a nine-night trip, the last one before the vessel went into dry dock for several weeks.
The original itinerary was to take us over to Leyte for 3 days but due to some very bad weather it was necessary to change our route. As planned, we headed North to Malapascua for 2 days of diving. Here we did 3 dives on Monad Shoal for thresher shark encounters. The diving at this site is very early, 5 AM, and no dive or video lights are allowed. The dives are also quite deep – 90’-100’+. So the dive conditions are not conducive to very clear, close sightings. We did see some threshers passing in the distance appearing as outlines and shadows. At Malapascua, we also dived Gato Island. The night dive here was quite good.
Then, instead of going to Leyte, we headed South diving Kalaggamann and Capitancillo Islands. The next day, we motored to Bohol where we dived several sites about Cabilao and Panglao. The diving here was challenging to the weather conditions – high seas and strong winds. My dive buddy and I had to abort one dive due to very strong currents. With a DM, we had to wait about 20 minutes at the surface in 5’-6’ seas before being picked up by the skiff.
After diving the Bohol area for 3 days, we motored down to Apo Island for 4 dives. Then we were off to dive the black sand at Dauin at Negros Island. Here we had very good macro-photo opportunities. Next stop was Oslob for a whale shark encounter on SCUBA. We had a nice hour of close-up action with the large creatures. We finished the trip with dives at Sumilon Island and another dive at Panglao.
The crew of the Seadoors was very friendly and helpful, always available to assist and lend a hand. The food was plentiful, tasty and varied. All meals were served buffet. With the first dive usually set for about 6 AM, there was no early continental breakfast just cookies (sometimes with roaches), bananas and coffee – no toast, no cereal, no yogurt, etc. The Seadoors had local and Belgium beer on board with a very limited selection of wine. The Belgium beer was priced at $6 USD per bottle so none was consumed by any diver.
The cabins are spacious with lots of storage space and hooks. There are limited electrical outlets. The head has an open shower in it so the toilet tends to get wet. The A/C was usually dripping even when the thermostat was at the recommended temperature. No TP is allowed in the toilet due to the boat’s sensitive plumbing system. The head was usually a gathering place for many ants and gnats.
The Seadoors has very limited camera space. The camera table was sufficient for this trip because there was only one large camera rig. But there is really only enough space for 2 large rigs. There are plenty of outlets for charging batteries. There was a leak on the camera table from the ceiling above coming from the shower in a cabin on the upper deck.
The dive deck is a bit small; at times it was congested on this trip with 7 divers; the boat can take 12 divers. Nitrox is available. The dive routine was to board and unload from the skiff without gear on. Such was donned on the skiff. During the 2 days of choppy water, it was a real challenge making the transfer from big boat to the skiff. The dive briefings were fairly thorough but not always understandable due to the limited English of the trip director.
In addition to his poor English, the trip director at times seemed to be just going through the motions; the dive guests were not his priority. Perhaps this was because we were on the last trip before dry dock. The trip director insisted on sticking to a nonsensical early dive schedule. The first dive of the day was usually set for about 6 AM. This was the schedule even when not diving with threshers. The next dive was usually at about 9:30 AM (after a real breakfast). Then the next dive wasn’t until about 2:30 PM with a night dive at about 6:15 PM. Several divers asked the Trip Director for a more reasonable dive schedule that did not unnecessarily require such an early start to the day. Incredibly, the trip director’s response was that too much sleep puts divers in bad moods. Really??!! He was totally inflexible in this regard.
Clearly, the top priority for the trip director was his U/W photography. He would often have the local dive guides on the trip find critters for him. He would often take photos before guests and monopolize photo ops. This was very inconsiderate and unprofessional. Even the boat’s dive crew commented negatively about this. The local dive guides were always helpful and wanting to give the guests a positive experience. They were excellent at finding photo subjects.
The boat itself is in need of lots of fixing and repairs. There are lots of insects and leaky walls and ceilings. One cabin even lost the porthole in its head during the rough weather. This occurred about 3-4 days into the trip. The trip director did not take action to patch up the opening for the remainder of the trip.
In summary, the Seadoors has very good local dive guides, good food and good dive locations. However, clearly the boat is in serious need of repairs and upgrades. The trip director should be replaced or receive some comprehensive training. I can’t see myself taking a trip on this boat again and certainly cannot recommend it especially when there are other options available.