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Dive Review of Emperor Divers/Emperor Elite in
Red Sea/Marsa Alam

Emperor Divers/Emperor Elite, Jun, 2009,

by Jim Garren, FL, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 4943.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Roatan, Hawaii, Australia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 70 minutes, 40 meters depth
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Storage space for camera rigs was limited on the dive deck, but fresh water was always available for rinsing post dive.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was only our second live aboard so our experience is limited but it was much better than the first one to the Great Barrier Reef so it receives high marks. We paid extra for the largest suite in the bow of the boat and the accommodations were excellent, we discovered however this was not the best choice for my wife who is subject to mal-de-mer.
The dive itinerary (Only the Best) was chosen for being far offshore beyond the reach of the many day boats operating from Port Ghalib and Marsa Alam, large pelagics are the primary featured attraction. Dive locations included the Brothers Islands and Daedalus Reef in the south central Red Sea. The typical strong currents at these locations require that divers who book this itinerary be AOW certified with a minimum of 50 logged dives.
Strong winds, rough conditions, and long travel distances made several days uncomfortable for my wife Karen, accentuated by our location in the bow of the boat, live and learn as the saying goes.
Visibility was good but not excellent, due in part to the rough seas, aside from one close encounter with a huge Manta we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of photo opportunities with the shark species encountered which are advertised as the primary attraction. While we could see and identify Gray Reef, Great Hammerhead, and Oceanic Whitetip sharks, visibility prevented good photos, other divers identified Thresher sharks as well but no one had much success photographing them, no fault of Emperor Divers of course.
On the flip side we were pleasantly surprised at the huge variety of small fish, and brilliant corals. Friendly Napoleon Wrasse nearly the size of Goliath Grouper and many tropical species not seen previously took the sting out of poor photo opportunities for pelagic species.
Food was plentiful and very good quality. The entire staff was cheerful and attentive, dive guides were available for those who wanted them, but divers were permitted to dive their own profiles within the guide lines described.
Much of the diving was done by drops from Zodiac tenders, the mother ship remained fixed to mooring balls located in the calmest spot at the offshore locations. In the rough conditions during our trip boarding the Zodiacs in full dive gear was a challenge at times, the ride to the drop zone could also be very uncomfortable depending on the travel distance neccessary. Depending on location and current some dives were permitted directly from the dive deck for those who disliked the Zodiac ride.
Many of our live aboard companions hailed from Europe, Americans were in the minority no doubt due to the travel required, for Europeans the Red Sea is a common dive travel destination much as the Caribbean is for North American divers.
Emperor Divers also operates the Marina Lodge Hotel in Port Ghalib, home port for several live aboard boats including Elite. We spent one night in the hotel following our Red Sea dive safari, accommodations were comfortable and good food is available in the hotel restaurant. We were a little disappointed at the lack of location specific dive souvenirs in Emperor's dive shop also on the premises. Emperor day boat trips can also be booked from this location.
We picked the summer months for our Red Sea trip since it normally offers optimum dive conditions, but Mother nature did not read the same brochure for this excursion. Something travelers to Egypt should understand is that the summer months are the off season for land based tourism, consequently Egyptian domestic airline schedules are reduced during the period, this required us to make a long trip by car from Hurghada to Port Ghalib near Marsa Alam that would not be required in the winter months. No one goes to Egypt without a visit to the Pyramids and ancient temples and we were no exception. There is a reason non diver types consider winter to be the travel season in this part of the world, all land based activities were planned for early morning and it was still hotter than you know where!
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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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