We went to swim and snorkel with the whale sharks and that indeed was fabulous. They are beautiful calm fish and we got up close to them. Be warned though, it is a somewhat artificial experience. The fishermen on the bagans are paid to feed them for the tourists. Also, to get the most out of the experience one needs to be able to free dive if not scuba dive. Snorkelling on the surface is third best. That would have been good to know before departure.
The staff were polite, friendly and helpful. One rescued me when I drifted away in a strong current while looking at the whale sharks and another gave me helpful lessons on free diving. I didn’t nail it, but that’s no criticism of the instruction.
The food was just okay. It’s basically pub food trying to be gourmet and very meaty, which was surprising on a cruise costing this much. In contrast we went to the Kimberley on Great Escape a few years ago and the food was fresh, varied and top restaurant quality.
My main criticism is of the helicopter rides. They are provided by Air Bali and are a complete rip off. We paid $750 per person for an hour long trip during which I had to sit facing away from the direction we were flying (and so could see little without turning my head 90 degrees) and the commentary could have been written on half a page. Further, it was barely comprehensible. We didn’t meet the pilot and I didn’t get a safety briefing. I’ve done helicopter rides in the Kimberley and in Africa and loved them all. This one was awful. I gave the cruise director my feedback and she merely said she would pass it on to the head office.