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Dive Review of Maldive Scuba Tours in
Maldives/central atolls

April, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Jim Garren, FL, US
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6026
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Florida, Hawaii, Bahamas, Roatan, GBR, Red Sea.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
81   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Maldive law prohibits dives deeper than 90 feet, decompression diving was
prohibited, divers encouraged to limit dives to 60 minutes, guides in the
water on all dives and were excellent at finding special sights.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
[None]rinse tanks provided on liveaboard vessel, but none on the
"dhoni" from which dives were made, however most dives only
required a short return trip.  Charging station for batteries in main
saloon. Camera storage on liveaboard vessel was limited and small for those
using larger housings with strobes attached.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
5 stars   
3 stars    
[None]There was some delay and confusion while waiting for representatives
at the airport in Male, but it was resolved after a short wait.  Our gear
was loaded on a boat we came to know as a "dhoni" for transport
to the main vessel.  First impression of Sea Spirit was somewhat of a
letdown, she was smaller than previous liveaboard boats and not the sleek
sparkling white yacht we are used to seeing.  We eventually learned that
Sea Spirt like many liveaboard boats in the Maldives was built locally, the
design reflecting elements of tradition and adaptation to local conditions.

Once onboard and briefed by husband and wife cruise director team David and
Tracy we became more comfortable.  Sea Spirit is well appointed and clearly
maintained to a high standard.  We learned that dive gear would be stored
aboard a separate vessel, the "dhoni" Niumath which had
transported us from the airport, all diving  would be conducted from the
dhoni, it was also home to the air compressors and oxygen used for mixing
nitrox. (more on that subject to follow)
Niumath herself is a substantial vessel approximately 50' in length, with
all gear stored aboard her we realized the smaller size of Sea Spirit,
about 90' compared to previous boats of 110' to 120', would not be an issue
especially with only 12 divers in our group.  
We were very disappointed however to learn that due to problems obtaining
O2 we would NOT be able to dive nitrox contrary to what we had been told
prior to booking the trip, but since we were half way around the world and
almost 30 hours travel time from home we decided to ignore any minor
irritation and enjoy ourselves.
As we met our fellow divers we learned all were from the UK and all but one
belonged to the same dive club, cruise directors David and Tracy were also
from the UK.  Accents aside at least communication for we two Yanks would
not be a problem, all of our companions proved to be well trained competent
divers and pleasant company for the entire week.  Crew members were
Maldivian locals, most spoke English well, all were helpful, courteous and
The schedule was 3 dives per day except for one when a night dive was
added. There were some strong currents depending on tide and location, but
most diving was easy with good visibility. Dive sites were outstanding,
highly recommended for any who can brave the long flight from the US, the
Maldives are no secret to Europeans who visit here often much as North
Americans do the Caribbean.  
Hard and soft corals were magnificent, more colors on the reef here than
any other we have visited. Nudibranchs, ghost pipefish and Leaf Fish were
some of the small creatures observed. Huge schools of tropicals surrounded
us on nearly every dive, many species new to us while others were familiar
from previous trips to Australia and Egypt. We saw several eels including a
beautiful Honeycomb Moray, divers should heed warnings to be cautious
around a variety with a black eye patch called Bandit Moray.  Dive guide
David said they would bite and two of our group including myself confirmed
the truth of that statement,I have video showing the green martian blood to
Larger animals included several Grey and Whitetip reef sharks, Napoleon
Wrasse and large Dogtooth tuna, unfortunately we were denied the elusive
whale shark experience once again. Many turtles were sighted, one feeding
on the reef was a star photo and video performer. The highlight of the trip
however were the Manta Rays, more than we have ever seen and on several
different dives,often only an arms length away. If you want to see Manta's
you will not be disappointed.
A whale was sighted spouting during our return to Male, but the distance
was too great to make positive identification.
While we did get some nice pictures, failure of the sync cord for wife
Karen's strobes ruined many of her macro shots.  
About midway through our dive safari, we were told they had obtained a
limited supply of oxygen so we were able to use nitrox for the last dive of
each day for the remainder of the trip.
Accommodations while not 5 star were clean and comfortable and it should be
pointed out that rates for Sea Spirit are less than many other boats in the
area.  Food was plentiful and tasty, everyone seemed amazed at the creative
dishes prepared by the chef in a galley that was small by any standard.
Omelets or eggs to order were the rule for breakfast along with staples
such as toast, cereal, coffee and of course tea, most guests are from the
UK after all!  Lunch was varied and often included excellent salads of
amazing variety.  Evening meals usually had a theme such as Italian,
Mexican, seafood, local cuisine such as  curries and so on.  Wine was
served with diner and desert followed all meals except breakfast, fresh
fruit usually common following lunch. 
The crew often trolled a line from the stern when the boat was moving and
caught a Mahi Mahi one day while moving between atolls, it was served that
evening at dinner as sashimi and was a welcome treat for all.
Only one meal was disappointing and it was kind of humorous since the chef
seemed especially proud of "steak night", all I will say is that
a Maldive steak and the American version are very different indeed. 
Water and soft drinks were always free from a refrigerator in the main
saloon, another cooler held beer and other alcoholic beverages for those
who wanted them, billed on the honor system at the end of the trip.
I will mention two negatives since they are safety related.  We witnessed
no head count or roll call following any dive so bring a SMB and other
signal devices!  When I inquired about location and evacuation time to the
nearest decompression chamber I was told it was located on one of the main
islands.  Transport would be by fast boat if necessary and could take as
long as 4 hours depending on our location.  This conversation was followed
by the admonition to dive conservatively.  Certainly all responsible
divers would follow this advice, but accidents do happen during repetitive
diving even when all the rules are followed.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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