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:
I also really enjoyed this clownfish nursery:
And the pinnacles in St John were quite spectacular:
As well as an encounter with a pod of dolphins:
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!
Happy to answer any questions …