- Reaction score
- Washington DC metro
- # of dives
- 500 - 999
This is an interesting review! I did the BDE trip with JP Marine back in August 2018 but looks like I neglected to share a trip report - I honestly thought I had! For the most part, it looks like not much has changed on this LOB. On my trip the Russian owner was not there (luckily, it seems) but about 6 of his Russian/Ukrainian "friends" were. They were a giant pain and were constantly trying to change the dive sites (to the chagrin of the dive guides who tried to explain why their preferred sites were not workable at the moment, such as things like "no light there right now") and the rest of the boat which was fed up with them but they were largely outnumbered by the rest of us so didn't often get their way. We also had a sizeable group of Turks (fun and nice people but mostly kept to themselves) and then a mix of fairly young (20s and 30s) European divers, both male and female.
Don't know if this has changed but my biggest gripe was the fact that they had only 2 dive masters for up to 24 divers. Especially with hectic currents on the BDE route (and the massive numbers of other LOBs on site), I found the group size was too large (also led to a lot of waiting around for people both pre-dive topside and in the water). Both DMs were Egyptian but I only found one of them to be good - the other one caused an incident where some of us were separated from the group in high currents because the DM (who was on the other panga with half of our dive group) changed the dive profile without telling the other half of us, jumped in without explanation and took off before the rest of us could catch up. After that I switched to the other group for the remainder of the time as I just didn't feel safe with him (his explanation to me was that I was an experienced diver and he felt I was fine! I was not an experienced diver of THAT site however and highly suspect he never noticed that he lost 4 people in the group - until we told him about it on the boat afterwards).
The boat was decent and spacious but as OP stated, a bit run-down. I was in a top-side cabin but the AC was shared with a second cabin (and controlled externally) so we had to come to a consensus on temperature which left my roommate sleeping outside as she was too cold (that being said, we had like 22 degree AC and it was literally 40 degrees outside). The door to our head also used to get stuck when shut so I got stuck in there several times throughout the week lol!
Best part of the boat was the excellent food - it was varied, fresh, local, amazing. The crew overall were excellent and friendly and helpful (I do speak some Arabic though so that helped me engage with everyone a bit better).
Last gripe was that our BDE ended up being a BD route only only. Halfway through the trip they broke it to us that they didn't really want to waste the fuel going down to Elphinstone and told us we would have to sacrifice time at Brothers (this was before the rules changed and you were still allowed to moor there overnight) and then put it to a vote amongst the dive guests. As expected it caused a giant fight between the guests and sowed a ton of discontentment!
However, we did get a lot of dives in over the week and were well fed, for the basement bargain price of 750euros. I wouldn't do it again (especially hearing about their current lack of COVID protocols) but for someone on a budget, this could be a great way to get a lot of Red Sea diving in (and to meet some fun people!), provided you prepare yourself for some of the negative points mentioned here.
I experienced much of your gripes as well. Comically large dive groups that sometimes collided in a bubble storm, changes in route (“we only put Rocky on the itinerary for marketing purposes”) and lousy AC shared with another cabin. I wouldn’t dive with that boat again, but I will miss Peter the guide and the great food.