Black Pearl Explorer is the latest addition to the liveaboard operations of Explorer Ventures, in partnership with Pearl Fleet. Three itineraries are on offer, based on the “Palau Classic”, which visits the Micronesian shark sanctuary’s best-known dive sites, but with two “Spawning Special” variants at certain times of year.
These are designed to enable divers to see the rare spawning aggregations of bumphead parrotfish during new moon, and of red snapper at full moon.
Palau is known for its combination of wartime wrecks, blue holes and coral reefs and action-packed shark-diving in the channels, and it is home to more than 1400 species of fish, manta rays, dolphins and whale sharks.
Black Pearl Explorer was built for divers looking for luxury, says the operator, which promises that it incorporates the latest in navigation, safety and scuba equipment. It says that the vessel meets the requirements of the International Integrity Stability Standard for yachts of more than 46m – which happens to be the vessel’s length. “It is fast, stable and safe,” says Explorer Ventures.
A liveaboard of that size might be expected to take even more divers than it does, but with comfort and safety in mind it has ensuite staterooms to accommodate 22 guests. The main and upper decks have an outdoor saloon and bar with hot tub, and an indoor dining area with second bar. The covered sun deck is equipped with hammocks, and there is a second lounge with all-round views.
The dive deck offers “all necessary diving amenities” for guests and the four dive-guides, says Explorer Ventures. There is a large camera station, two diving tenders and also a recompression chamber.
All three itineraries are covered on eight-day / seven-night itineraries. Palau Classic takes in essential sites such as German Channel, Blue Corner, Blue Holes, Peleliu Express, Chandelier Cave and Ulong Wall, as well as snorkelling in famed Jellyfish Lake. The Spawning Specials are based around the same sites and excursions but taking in the aggregations dictated by the annual moon cycles.
An introductory discount of 45% is being offered on all departures up to 20 August this year, with prices starting from US $1,733pp (around £1,411). Details of the special offer can be found here.
The Explorer Ventures fleet also serves divers visiting six other destinations: the Red Sea, Maldives, Saba/St Kitts and the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, Galapagos and Indonesia. For 10 weeks in winter/spring Turks & Caicos Explorer II also offers snorkelling with humpback whales on the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic, under charter to Aquatic Adventures.