Trip Report Southern route Red Sea (St. John) on JP Marine June 2021

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nippurmagnum

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Just wanted to share a quick review of my week on the JP Marine, diving the southern route from Marsa Alam to St. John. I found very little info on the boat before my trip, so maybe this helps out somebody contemplating diving this boat. Liveaboard.com unfortunately heavily censors reviews on its site, so here is my unedited review of the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The good — the lead dive master, Peter, was excellent. He’s an Egyptian guide, and really enjoyed getting to know him. Super calm and competent, above and below the water. The rest of the Egyptian crew was very helpful, though spoke relatively little English. The food was really excellent home cooking, combination of Egyptian and Western food. On the southern route, we had a night dive every night, and often we were able to self-guide in buddy teams. When it was a guided dive, there was a legit need for a guide.

The bad — the owner of the boat is Russian, and the boat caters to a lot of Russian divers. On our outing, 17 of the 22 divers were Russian, and very few spoke English. Nothing wrong if you like Russians, but if you want more diversity among your fellow divers, you may want to consider another boat. The other thing is that the owner, Sergey, has a very strong and rather abrasive personality, and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. He was only on our boat the first day, but he frequently is on the boat the whole week, and I don’t think I would have enjoyed spending the week on the boat with him at all.

The other thing about the JP Marine is that the boat is showing its years. The A/C was spotty and weak, and the boat, while in working order, could really use an overhaul. Still, you get what you pay for.

The southern route to St Johns, to me, was not quite as interesting as the northern route from two years ago, as there were no wrecks, and the southern dive sites were pretty similar to each other. Still, it was great diving for $1,000 for the week, and unquestionably the highlight for me included seeing a Spanish dancer swimming in the water column on a night dive:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZD1Yg2jwbYXYpcwj7

I also really enjoyed this clownfish nursery:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Qb1BXEakZQ5QXUMT9

And the pinnacles in St John were quite spectacular:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/whUtWiEcyEPjBZcQA

As well as an encounter with a pod of dolphins:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/i7auTiDHjDQurXqH8

Nobody caught COVID on the boat, as far as I know, though many of the Russians were not vaccinated. (I had my double Moderna shots.).
Nobody wore masks the entire week.

Marsa Alam was a 3 hour drive from Luxor, where we had the Valley of the Kings to ourselves, as there were virtually no tourists. The drive from Marsa Alam to Cairo took 7 hours. Very few tourists in Cairo either. I spent about 10 minutes entirely alone with the Tut treasures in the Egyptian Museum, and had most other parts of the museum to myself. I enjoyed wondering around traditional markets in Cairo, with nobody paying me the slightest notice. And it’s eery being pretty much alone in the Giza pyramids!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/PohPxfCYEcemTut59

Happy to answer any questions …
 

drrich2

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Thanks for including something of the 'personality' of the operation; useful info. for people considering a trip with them.

How long were your flights and travel time to and from this trip?

Richard.
 

scubadada

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Hi @nippurmagnum

Were you in the new Egyptian Museum? If yes, how was it? It was not open during our visit in 2016.

There were essentially no tourists during our visit either, We were nearly alone at Giza and at Abu Simbel. Sounds like this would be a good time to see Egypt, without the hordes.

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deeper thoughts

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nippurmagnum

nippurmagnum

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Thanks for including something of the 'personality' of the operation; useful info. for people considering a trip with them.

How long were your flights and travel time to and from this trip?

Richard.

EgyptAir flies nonstop Washington Dulles to Cairo, for about $650 round trip, about 10 hours. I had a 2 hour connection to a flight to Luxor, which added $150 to the ticket. The plane was a Dreamliner, super modern, good food, only about a third full on the way to Cairo, two thirds full on the way back. Only thing I didn’t like about EgyptAir was that their customer support pre flight is very bare bones.
 
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nippurmagnum

nippurmagnum

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Hi @nippurmagnum

Were you in the new Egyptian Museum? If yes, how was it? It was not open during our visit in 2016.
Hi @nippurmagnum

Were you in the new Egyptian Museum? If yes, how was it? It was not open during our visit in 2016.

There were essentially no tourists during our visit either, We were nearly alone at Giza and at Abu Simbel. Sounds like this would be a good time to see Egypt, without the hordes.

View attachment 666761

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The new museum is still not open. They moved most of the mummies from the old museum to a different museum, not to be confused with the “new” museum (which still needs a lot of construction, from what I saw from the road). The “old” museum is still very much open. minus most of the mummies, and remains by far the most fascinating museum I’ve ever been to anywhere. It’s as decrepit as always, but it has mind blowing treasures around every corner.
 

Sunn

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Thank you for this trip report, I've seen many times the JP Marine (in the sea) but had never heard anybody having been onboard.
 

bvbellomo

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Nobody wore masks the entire week.

How do you scuba dive without a mask?


Seriously, though, I just got back from a BDE trip - we did Abu Dabab instead of Elphinstone due to weather. I absolutely loved Abu Dabab. Don't get me wrong, the blue water dives where we saw hammer heads were incredible. But I've never seen corals that big, the whole place was beautiful, incredible swim throughs and I was wondering if I should do a St. John's route next time. I've heard the Red Sea is the only place with coral reefs and without hurricanes or typhoons, so there are massive structures unlike anywhere else in the world.

Was this just something you didn't care for? Everyone has their own opinions on what's impressive, I understand that. Or was St. John's just not that impressive?
 

NootFish

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Thank you for your writeup, thinking to go to Egypt this Sept-Oct (ideally 2 back- to back liveaboards)
 
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