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Explorer Ventures’ Sustainability Promise

The global liveaboard company — which is a Green Fins partner — puts sustainable beliefs into action.
By Patricia Wuest | Updated On May 1, 2024
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Explorer Ventures’ Sustainability Promise

We divers love the ocean, coral reefs and marine life, but sometimes it can be tricky protecting what we love.

According to a 2022 report by the Reef-World Foundation, sustainable dive experiences are preferred by divers, even when they are more expensive. But how can you be sure a dive operator is truly engaged in conservation measures and not just making paper pledges? It’s not unusual for companies to make ambitious environmental mission statements and commit to support sustainable practices, but making those statements is often easier than following through on them.

It is challenging for dive operations to map a path toward a greener future for the planet, and there can be a huge gap between the rhetoric and action — it takes money and effort to “go green.” So it’s encouraging that one liveaboard company — Explorer Ventures, founded in 1987— is making genuine progress in delivering on its “Dive Green” sustainability promise that it first created in 2008, which stated in part: “We depend on a fragile marine ecosystem that is increasingly threatened by a multitude of formidable factors. We understand we have an obligation and a responsibility to act as stewards of our environment, so that future generations will be able to enjoy and experience the oceans as we do.”

In 2018, Explorer Ventures was the first liveaboard company in the world to be accredited as a “symbiotic partner” with Green Fins, a joint initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme and the Reef-World Foundation.

A group of people on a boat

The Caribbean Explorer II became an official member of Green Fins in November 2018, receiving the very first liveaboard membership.

Courtesy of Explorer Ventures

Captain Sarah Dauphinee has been with Explorer Ventures since 2010, when she was hired to work as chef on board the Caribbean Explorer II; today she is the Caribbean operations manager for the Explorer Ventures fleet. “Enhancing sustainability has always been one of our core beliefs at Explorer Ventures,” she says. “Implementing the Green Fins code of conduct onboard has strengthened our communication with guests regarding marine conservation and sustainable dive practices, and provided the framework for putting our beliefs into action.”

The Green Fins “code of conduct” identifies high-risk practices both above and below the water, offering practical alternatives to the business managers of tourism-related operations, such as dive resorts. It is implemented by resource managers who Green Fins trains and supports. The code of conduct was developed after the Reef-World Foundation survey showed that nearly all of the responding divers said dive operators should be doing more to protect the reef, but 85% admitted that they find it difficult to determine whether a dive operation is sustainable.

Explorer Ventures Adopts the Code of Conduct

When Explorer Ventures adopted the Green Fins code of conduct, it committed to testing how it would translate into actionable and meaningful practices onboard their vessels. It selected Caribbean Explorer II, which offers itineraries in St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Kitts & Nevis, to be the beta tester and provide insights to Green Fins. Today, three other liveaboards in the Explorer Ventures fleet have also implemented the code of conduct: Turks & Caicos Explorer II, Humboldt Explorer (Galapagos) and Tiburon Explorer (Galapagos).

A boat in the water

The Caribbean Explorer II is a 115 ft vessel that is well-known for its friendly atmosphere, lively crew, and delicious meals, making it a favorite among repeat guests.

Sarah Dauphinee

“We knew the ‘what’ of our code of conduct,” says Chloe Harvey, executive director of the Reef-World Foundation. “What the Explorer Ventures team helped us with was in understanding the ‘how’ — how the code of conduct can best be implemented in the liveaboard context. They helped us to understand more about how liveaboards are managed and operated, and how environmental policies can be introduced, refined and strengthened to improve the effectiveness [of the code of conduct].”

The Caribbean Explorer II team was able to give feedback on real-world roadblocks to following the code of conduct, particularly where guests were concerned. Eventually, says Dauphinee, “we want to expand our dive green practices fleet-wide. We’ll continue to work closely with Green Fins to exchange ideas and strategies for reducing our environmental impact, doing what we can so that future generations can experience the oceans as we do.”

The Lessons Learned From CEXII

Liveaboards are essentially “floating hotels,” and guests have come to expect high-end amenities while on board. Those amenities can have a detrimental impact on the marine ecosystem. “We learned more about the expectations of guests without compromising on protecting the very environment they have come to explore,” Harvey says. “Laundry needs to smell nice, but the effluent can’t be harmful to the marine environment. Drinks need to be served, but without creating copious amounts of plastic waste. Food waste needs to be stored odor-free without it being released into the marine environment.”

The beta testing led the Explorer Ventures team to not only pinpoint obstacles to putting the code of conduct into practice but it also led “to identifying additional sustainability measures we can incorporate into our daily operations,” Dauphinee says. The feedback led to practical solutions that can now be implemented by any liveaboard company that wants to commit to sustainability and join the Green Fins community.

A poster with a group of people standing in front of a sign

Explorer Ventures Caribbean vessels have pledged to practice the Green Fins guidelines and follow the 7 Codes of Conduct. In addition, they also ask their guests to join in by following these simple diving tips while onboard.

Green Fins

The Positive Impact of the Collaboration

From reeducating guests when they touch marine life to eliminating the use of single-use plastic bottles to sourcing biodegradable cleaning products and shampoos, Explorer Ventures has implemented a number of environmentally friendly measures that Green Fins can hold up as a model for other liveaboard operators to emulate.

“Liveaboards are in many ways the jewel in the crown of diving adventures,” says Harvey. “Divers get to visit hard-to-reach and extremely unique locations. But along with the privilege of experiencing these underwater splendors, comes a responsibility to ensure the operations that make this possible have as little impact on that very environment as possible. Achieving low-impact operations while providing a liveaboard experience to your guests is no easy feat, but as the Explorer Ventures team have proven, it is possible.”

A scuba diver with a flashlight underwater

The Caribbean Explorer II's Saba - St. Kitts liveaboard itinerary offers a unique and sustainable adventure that combines incredible diving experiences with optional island access.

Courtesy of Explorer Ventures

Explorer Ventures hopes its participation in the Green Fins initiative leads to other liveaboard companies joining the community. “We aspire to lead by example in the liveaboard and dive industry, encouraging others to prioritize ocean conservation and sustainability,” Dauphinee says.

FAQs about Caribbean Explorer II

Caribbean Explorer II accommodates 18 passengers in nine double staterooms, all with en suite bathrooms. The main salon on the upper deck includes dining tables, a TV, CD/DVD, a video library, a light table for underwater photographers, and a lounge area. Guests can kick back on lounge chairs and soak up the sun on the large sundeck. The large dive deck is equipped with a bathroom, individual gear lockers, a camera table with a low-pressure air hose, a recharging station, air and nitrox filling stations, tank racks, and separate freshwater rinse tanks for both scuba and underwater camera equipment.

A deck of a boat with chairs on the water

Featuring three decks, the vessel has nine comfortable staterooms, a top-deck sunning lounge, an air-conditioned salon, and a ‘boatique’ souvenir shop.

Sarah Dauphinee

For More Information

Read about the collaboration between Explorer Ventures and Green Fins. Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint while onboard an Explorer Ventures liveaboard by following these guidelines, including how you can take a Green Fins online course. Sign up for Explorer Ventures’ monthly newsletter to hear about last-minute specials and fleet news.


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