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

Emperor Divers/Emperor Infinity (Gold Level Boat), Sep, 2008,

by David Reubush, VA, USA (Top Contributor Top Contributor 47 reports with 14 Helpful votes). Report 4872.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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