Red Sea Liveaboard company & route rec.? Experience requirements?

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Dan

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Don’t miss Elphinstone, blue water diving with Longimanus. That’s the main reason for me to go to BDE. The rest of the dive sites are so so. Frankly, I rather be diving in Maldives (since Indonesia is still closed) if I have to travel half around the world.

 

Christian

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Don’t miss Elphinstone, blue water diving with Longimanus. That’s the main reason for me to go to BDE. The rest of the dive sites are so so. Frankly, I rather be diving in Maldives (since Indonesia is still closed) if I have to travel half around the world.


I think a lot of divers would disagree (on some points) with you there Dan. Diving in the Maldives is also quite a bit more expensive (the per dive cost on a liveaboard). Looking at reefs, a lot more vivid and healthy coral in the Red Sea compared to any central Indian Ocean site. Elphinstone can be a great dive with the right conditions and is not to be missed. But anyone with some extensive Red Sea experience would rate a few other reefs ahead of it in Egypt.
Most sites also needs the right season— Egyptian Red Sea is very seasonal. I hear divers say RasMo wasn’t any fish!”, ”so when did you go?”, ”december!”… Well, it is comparably ”dead” then.
 

Dan

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My 2nd LOB on the BDE route (again, Aggressor) was problematic. A week before I was due to board, the vessel caught fire, the boat sank, 1 guest perished, the other guests and crew jumped into the water and were picked up by another vessel. Credit to the Aggressor organization for providing an alternative replacement vessel so that I could continue with my itinerary.

I was on that replacement boat, Scuba Scene.

Trip Report - BDE Trip Report, 21-28 December, 2019
 

Dan

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I think a lot of divers would disagree (on some points) with you there Dan. Diving in the Maldives is also quite a bit more expensive (the per dive cost on a liveaboard). Looking at reefs, a lot more vivid and healthy coral in the Red Sea compared to any central Indian Ocean site. Elphinstone can be a great dive with the right conditions and is not to be missed. But anyone with some extensive Red Sea experience would rate a few other reefs ahead of it in Egypt.
Most sites also needs the right season— Egyptian Red Sea is very seasonal. I hear divers say RasMo wasn’t any fish!”, ”so when did you go?”, ”december!”… Well, it is comparably ”dead” then.
I’m not surprised some of you Red Sea’s frequent visitors would disagree with me, as I have only been there once in Dahab (Blue Hole), Sharm El Sheikh, Ras Mo, Thristlegorm, BDE, Jeddah, which is more than enough for me, as there are still a lot more diving destinations that I have yet to visit.

I have to admit that Thristlegorm is one of the best wreck I have ever seen. Anyone who plan to dive in Red Sea, doesn’t want to miss it. I highly recommend it.

You made an interesting comment about Ras Mo. I was there in August & saw same bare underwater scene, i.e., NO FISH.

About Maldives diving cost, I guess I was lucky enough to pay €1000 for 8-day liveboard trip, as reported here:

Trip Report - The Best of Maldives, 20-28 March, 2021

There are some beautiful corals in Maldives, like under Nassimo Thila overhang as you see towards the end of this trip video (of course nothing in comparison to Raja Ampat):

 

brownie

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I was on that replacement boat, Scuba Scene.

Trip Report - BDE Trip Report, 21-28 December, 2019
The vessel I was on (can't remember the name) was different from "Scuba Scene". I figure I was on the 1st replacement post-fire--it ran for only a few weeks. By the time your itinerary came up, "Scuba Scene" was the 2nd replacement. I also think it may have been a nicer boat than the one I was on. Boat issue aside, I thought the dive crew was exceptionally good.

Seeing Longimanus up close was a thrill for me, too. And the Thistlegorm was fabulous.:yeahbaby:

Read your trip report back in late 2019 or early 2020--excellent!
 

Christian

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I’m not surprised some of you Red Sea’s frequent visitors would disagree with me, as I have only been there once in Dahab (Blue Hole), Sharm El Sheikh, Ras Mo, Thristlegorm, BDE, Jeddah, which is more than enough for me, as there are still a lot more diving destinations that I have yet to visit.

I have to admit that Thristlegorm is one of the best wreck I have ever seen. Anyone who plan to dive in Red Sea, doesn’t want to miss it. I highly recommend it.

You made an interesting comment about Ras Mo. I was there in August & saw same bare underwater scene, i.e., NO FISH.

About Maldives diving cost, I guess I was lucky enough to pay €1000 for 8-day liveboard trip, as reported here:

Trip Report - The Best of Maldives, 20-28 March, 2021

There are some beautiful corals in Maldives, like under Nassimo Thila overhang as you see towards the end of this trip video (of course nothing in comparison to Raja Ampat):


Living in Europe, the Egyptian Red Sea and the Maldives is places I'vefrequently visited. For different reasons. Colorful reefs has really never been a Malidivian specialty, even before the 1998 El Nino, but all the fish and rays!
€1000 for a week was in deed a great and unusual catch, I guess it was a Covid price! Congrats!
Best wreck in the Red Sea inmo—Umbrea. RasMo has a small window which is normally in July but August is usually good too. Each year a little different. Big schools of jacks, surgeons, batfish, snapper and barracuda off Shark and Yolanda, silkies lurk beneath them. Outside of it’s prime it can be kind of meh.
 

gwklein

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Added questions/comments above in red.
Thanks!
Added questions/comments above in red.
Thanks!
If your GF is comfortable and confident in the water, she shouldn't have any problem with either trip. On any reputable boat, if the crew is informed of any concerns she has, the crew will look out for her until she is comfortable. I have used Aggressor, Blue O Two and Royal Evolution. All three of the boats I was on were very professional. However, I did not research the specific Royal Evolution itinerary adequately and picked one that was not suitable to my diving taste (the dives were too deep and hovering in the deep blue looking for hammerheads). I don't fault the boat; it was my mistake for not properly researching.
 

Jordan23

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I have been on three different itineraries in the Red Sea with three different companies. Each route and boat was vastly different from the others. In June 2021, I did the Northern Wreck route on the Aggressor. This was by far the easiest of the diving and suitable for your girlfriend's level. Generally, only one DM was in the water leading those who wanted to be led. Many of the dives did not need a guide, but several did. Only a few of the dives had a strong current. What was needed on almost all dives was a DSMB and reel and knowledge of how to deploy it underwater. Even on led dives, diving pairs would ascent to the surface on their own when they were low on air to be picked up by the RIB. My recommendation to you is to research the boat for the type of diving you want to do and for the type of divers to whom they cater. Some boats focus on more technical divers. Some boats allow smoking almost everywhere on the boat. And there are a few boats that even allow divers to drink while diving and generally run amok. Unfortunately, I was on a boat at the Brothers that was often moored next to one of these boats that allowed divers to do anything they wanted..


hi im thinking to do as well the marsa alam rout and im very sensitive for smoking smell... dont know wgts better liveabord or resourt there
 

mises

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Hey scubaboard :wave:

We are a couple looking to dive a LOB in the Red Sea (Egypt) in October 2021.

We were looking at either the northern route or BDE.
We both are excited about BDE (since October seems to be the best time for shark sightings?) and the sites aren't accessible by day trips. (less crowded, more pristine?)

Never been diving in that region, would love to have opinion on a great liveaboard (LOB) operator? Perceived difficulty of diving in these 2 routes in October?



Following is probably way too much detail(s) on our experience and questions we have in case any of it is useful to make an evaluation and recommendation. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply!


Our diving experience:

Me:
I have 65 dives atm with 23 dives in Thailand (similan and andaman sea), 12 dives in Indonesia (4 bali, 8 at Komodo National Park), 2 dives in Costa Rica, 2 dives Cape Town before covid lockdowns and 26 in Canada (Ontario/Quebec) (Wreck St Lawrence River or Saltwater Escoumins dives).

I have experience diving in drysuit, wetsuit, doubles, nitrox
I have AOW, Deep Cert (40m), Nitrox, Doubles, Drysuit
I dive in a backplate & wing with dual halcyon backup lights, SMB & reel, Shearwater Teric, etc. (pretty much the GUE DIR setup except no primary w/ canister)

My last 30 dives happened within the past 12-18 months, mostly in strong currents, wrecks and cold water (4-12 degrees C)


Girlfriend:
She has ~25-30 dives
6 in Thailand Similan (OW), 2 Cape Town, ~17-22 at Sodwana Bay South Africa (AOW, Nitrox, Deep cert)

All her diving happened between Late 2019 to early 2021

She rents her gear, except dive computer + mask & wetsuit.
She never dove drysuit, very cold and low visibility (all don't seem to be concern for egypt). She's very comfortable underwater, hasn't had any issues with the OW and AOW skills, good SAC and good buoyancy for a beginner. However, she never had to fight strong downcurrents, vortex or done entire dives without a dive guide (teams of 2-5).

I'm pretty sure I qualify properly for either routes.
We were wondering more on the status for her? We want the diving to be safe (obviously) and always dive within our limit.

From my understanding.. diving in Egypt is often self directed on a LOB (often a severe lack of dive guides to divers? I read 24 divers to 2-3 guides...?)
Diving without a guide isn't ideal for new sites and conditions for someone without hundreds/thousands of dives in my humble opinion.
Diving without a guide for a sheltered area without currents isn't worrying because we can easily stay within our limits.

Is this the case? (mid vacation lost at sea is not a goal lol)

I’ve been watching quite a few dive trip videos of BDE liveaboards and I hardly see any difficult current circumstances. It seems to be light to medium currents that push you near a wall while you relax until you arrive at a slacker area and exit. However, there's mentions online of Strong currents and that being a worry (because everyone's notion of strong currents are vastly different, I have a hard time telling if it will be safe for us to dive there. ex: ppl in Canada think 0-5 Degrees isn't so cold, -15-30 is. For a person in Egypt 0 degrees is unfathomable)


Cheers! You are all a huge help

NOTE: if there's any info that's unclear or missing, please let me know

Hi again!
We ended up booking a wreck route with Blue O2.

We want to dive a day or two before the liveaboard begins and then another 4-6 days after the liveaboard.

I'd love recommendations of dive hotel/resort(s), which house reefs are best, which areas are most interesting and feature the best nearby diving and general information we should know (ex: good food at the resort, good restaurants around, good beach, other interesting activities?)

We look at a few sources online and here are some places often mentioned. If you have better places or have opinions on these from experience, I'd love to hear feedback:
- Hurghada (where we depart and land, is probably the ideal area to dive before we leave on the liveaboard? We will have 1-2 nights before departure.. any good house reef? local dives?)
- Soma Bay
- Abu Dabbab / Oasis Dive resort area
- Marsa Alam
- Wadi Lahami
- Quseer
- Sharm El Sheikh

Also, I was under the impression you could dive for "free" (+ a fee for air tanks/weights) if you had your gear and booked a room at a dive resort with a local house reef.. is this the case?
I noticed multiple hotels calling themselves dive resorts and referring you to a "in-hotel" dive shop for booking dives which charge anywhere between 40-60$ PER DIVE for a beach house reef dive?!

That's pretty much as expensive as their day boat trips (like maybe 10% cheaper..?)

Am I missing something...? Is this the standard in Egypt Red Sea?

Thank you so much for all the insights
 

bvbellomo

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I think a lot of divers would disagree (on some points) with you there Dan. Diving in the Maldives is also quite a bit more expensive (the per dive cost on a liveaboard). Looking at reefs, a lot more vivid and healthy coral in the Red Sea compared to any central Indian Ocean site. Elphinstone can be a great dive with the right conditions and is not to be missed. But anyone with some extensive Red Sea experience would rate a few other reefs ahead of it in Egypt.
Most sites also needs the right season— Egyptian Red Sea is very seasonal. I hear divers say RasMo wasn’t any fish!”, ”so when did you go?”, ”december!”… Well, it is comparably ”dead” then.

I don't understand this. Liveaboards go to routes when it is not a good time of year. Why don't they just go places that are better, especially with the pandemic when overcrowding is not an issue? Ask any liveaboard ahead of time and they will tell you it is a good time to take their trip. Look at reviews of Red Sea dive sites, and everything says it is great all year round. But actually go somewhere on a boat, and the dive guides complain how much better a place is in another 4 months.
 
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