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July 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Bahamas, Hawaii, the Red Sea. . .

one Micronesia resort worth visiting, another that’s not

from the July, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Royal Evolution, Egypt. While European divers flock to the Red Sea, Americans continue to steer clear -- especially from boats that venture into more southern areas and the Sudan -- without good reason. So we find this report on the liveaboard Royal Evolution by subscriber Michael Joest (Kehl, Germany), very intriguing. "There are boats starting out of Port Sudan (like Andromeda and Don Questo), where you come in via Dubai on a not-too reliable airline, or the Royal Evolution, which starts out of Port Ghaleb, Egypt. I went from Frankfurt with Sun Express, one of the airlines where you have to pay for everything. The flight was 4.5 hours into Marsa Alam. You need two visas for Egypt and Sudan; the Egypt visa was only $29, but the Sudan visa plus the dive permit costs $547)! Two weeks on the Royal Evolution cost $3780), and with the flight and all these mentioned extras, one can easily reach $5200. This is steep compared to Egypt's liveaboards, where you might get the same for much less.

The big question is, will there be so much more in the Sudan compared to places like Brothers, Elphinstone, Daedalus, etc.? The boat is nice -- good cabins, large bath, good food. I even got glutenfree breakfast and pastries. We were a mixed group of four Egyptians, eight Swiss, four Germans and four British divers. With 24 divers, the dive deck sometimes got a bit crowded when all groups together geared up. A good idea would have been to start each group 10 minutes apart. Diving is from the dive platform of the mother boat or by Zodiac. They offer Nitrox at $180 for the two weeks. Water temperatures were 84 to 86 degrees. The thermoclines were deeper but not that bad, with temperatures only one degree cooler.

"The staff insists on buddy teams, one hour or 500 psi to the surface, and you can choose to follow the dive guide. I got a buddy who was not that fit. One dive guide told me not to pass him in the water because he always wanted to stay in front. This was a bit too kindergarten for me. Visibility most times was good, 130 feet or more. The reefs were beautiful, with a good variety and abundance of healthy soft and hard coral with plenty of colorful fish life around. We often had big schools of jacks, barracudas, humphead parrotfish, some tuna, groupers and fusiliers all around, which was a pleasure to watch. Some places had triggerfish nearly everywhere. I hate these guys; one took a bite on my fin. Twice when we swam along a reef, there was nearly nothing; the only fish life was on top of the reef. Often we found small schools of hammerheads at 130 feet; some came really close, and it was awesome to see these big guys. Silkies were circling above us, and once in a while some gray reef shark cruised by. We had dolphins in the water twice, and one group encountered a tiger shark near the top of the reef. ...

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