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Dive Review of Emperor Divers/Emperor Infinity (Gold Level Boat) in
Red Sea/Southern

September, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by David Reubush, VA, USA
Top Contributor   (42 reports, with 5 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4872
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Curacao,
Dominica, Galapagos, Grand Turk, Indonesia, Provo, Red Sea, Roatan, Virgin
Islands
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy, dry  
Seas
calm, no currents  
Water Temp
83   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
1
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Come back with 500 psi.  They asked and logged depth and time for everyone
for every dive.  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
The boat was not set up for photographers, other than a small rinse tank
and a charging station for batteries.  I had to ask for a towel to dry my
housing off.  There was no convenient location to work on the
camera/housing.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
2 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
2 stars
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
N/A  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
Beginners
2 stars   
Advanced
3 stars    
Comments  
First of all, the boats leave from Port Ghaleb.  If you don't fly into
Marsa Alam (We didn't.  I don't think they fly there from Cairo every day.)
you will fly into Hurghada and spend 3 hours on a bus going south. 
However, the trip is sort of interesting.  There are vast stretches of
desert interspersed with resorts or resorts under construction or resorts
that were started and then abandoned.  Port Ghaleb is also an interesting
place.  A Kuwaiti oil guy is building a whole resort town in the middle of
nowhere.  Right now there is an all-inclusive resort, docks where the
live-aboards are, and a whole bunch of shops with condos above.  Included
are a Pizza Hut, a TGI Friday's, a couple of coffee shops, a number of
tourist junk stores, and a number of empty spots.  They are even planning a
golf course.  At this point everything is very new.

As to diving.  It is better than the Caribbean, but not as good as
Indonesia (but is much easier to get to).  I typically took about half the
number of pictures per dive as I did in Indonesia (Wakatobis Pelagian). 
You will also find anywhere from 6 to 8 or more boats at any of the dive
sites.  Everybody either anchors to the reef (read coral damage) or ties up
to another boat.  (Note:  Seacology is helping to fund the installation of
mooring buoys at a number of spots.  This should help minimize coral
damage, but there are lots of locations that need buoys.  So I solicit a
donation to Seacology.)  About 2/3 of the diving is from zodiacs.  I did
not see any zodiac with a ladder.  You gear up on the live-aboard, step
down into the zodiac, and do a back roll at the site.  At the end of the
dive you take off your gear in the water, hand it up to the zodiac driver,
and it is the old "beached whale" routine getting back into the
zodiac.  There is so much zodiac traffic that the standard procedure is to
send up either your or your buddy's safety sausage at the end of every dive
while doing your hang at 15 ft. so that nobody runs over you.  One of the
dive masters said that 2 people had been killed at Sharm by September 2008
by being run over.  The standard day is only 3 dives.  Americans were 10
out of 11 divers on our boat so they tried to give us 4 dives most days. 
(Wake-ups were often at 5 on the 4 dive days.)  There were some days we
didn't get 4 dives because we spent a lot of time motoring between sites. 
There was also one night that we motored all night, with a very strong wind
and high seas so that the boat really rocked and rolled. Perhaps the
funniest/most interesting thing that I experienced was a night dive at a
location called Sataya with lots and lots of lionfish that have learned to
use divers' lights as a hunting aid.  I would try to take a picture and my
modeling light would attract a bunch of lionfish that would get between me
and the subject I was trying to shoot.  I would then have to use the light
to lead them away and quickly swing back and take the picture before they
returned.
  
I have to give the dive operation mixed reviews.  On a positive note most
of the crew we had were very service oriented and the food was really good.
 Unfortunately, the boat and operations negatives somewhat overwhelmed the
positives from the crew.  The boat seemed to have been designed by someone
who knew the boat was going to be used for scuba, but had never done any
diving or had any idea of how things needed to be arranged.  The small gear
area was oriented transversely across the boat with the wet suits hung up
at both ends so that you had to make your way through them to get to your
equipment station.  There were no camera facilities other than a rinse tank
dedicated to cameras (but too small for all the cameras on this trip) and a
charging station.  The cabins were relatively small with poor storage. (I
was traveling solo and was matched with another solo traveler.  Both my
buddy and I were photographers and if there had not been an empty cabin
that I was able to move to there would not have been room for us and our
equipment in the cabin.)  There was also a huge salon on the upper deck
that was never used, other than a place for some of the crew to sleep. 
Perhaps it is the cultural differences, but the thoughtful touches that are
common to the Peter Hughes and Aggressor boats or the Pelagian in Indonesia
were missing.  There were no towels after the dives.  You had to partially
drip dry before going down to your cabin.  Plus, there was the mystery a/c
man.  If left alone and run long enough, the air conditioning would keep
your cabin and the salon comfortable, however, if you left your cabin for
even 5 minutes the a/c man would come along and turn the a/c off.  So,
after most dives you would come back to a hot cabin.  Similarly, the salon
a/c would be turned off if there were nobody in it, including when we would
go into the next room for meals.  So, most areas of the boat were often
hotter than what was comfortable, but didnt need to be.  The lead dive
master indicated that Emperor Divers was interested in acquiring more
customers from the US.  While the business side of the operation was first
class the operations side needs to step up their level of customer service
to meet the expectations of the typical US customer.        
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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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