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Dive Review of Emperor Divers in
Red Sea/southern Red Sea

April, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Mel McCombie, CT, US
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6538
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
all over the world
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
Water Temp
71   to 74    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 15    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No decompression diving; must use SMB when surfacing; depth limits
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
1 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
3 stars   
3 stars    
We dived the southern Red Sea itinerary (Saint Johns and South) on Emperor
Elite during mid-April. It had been a cold winter, and the waters were, to
us, shockingly cold. Despite wearing 7mm steamers and hooded vests,
neoprene socks and gloves, we were freezing on every dive. As a result, we
did only 13 of 21 possible dives, which was bitterly disappointing. After
diving the Red Sea for a year, my advice is to remember that its waters are
surprisingly cold; warmest dive months are August and September. 
This southern itinerary involved a lot of boat travel, and the best diving
was in the Saint Johns reef area near the Sudanese border. Because it takes
many hours to steam there, the boat can only stay at Saint Johns for two
days, which is a shame because it is hands-down the prettiest. The reefs
are pristine and the water clear; it's a truly scenic area. We saw mantas
and sharks there, as well as a number of pelagic piscavores like tuna. The
more northerly sites nearer Marsa Alam are more dived and the water can be
less clear. There is one area where we saw a dugong from the boat, which
was quite a thrill.
Our disappointment about the water temperature is no one's fault; the dive
guides, Daniela and Cseba, were terrific; but I do point a finger at the
company for a few things. One is the food. It was as bland and overcooked
as possible, and in a country where the local food is tasty and full of
flavor, there is no excuse for that. Did they aim at pleasing a bland
western palate? If so, peppers or seasonings other than hot sauce on the
table should be offered. And overcooking the vegetables was inexcusable,
meal after meal. Excepting salads, nothing crunched. We found that we ate
enough to not be hungry but never ate with real pleasure.  
Another aspect of the trip that made it less pleasurable was the mix of
divers. About half were from eastern Europe and Russia, and in one case,
spoke no English at all. The language difference meant that excepting the
one or two with excellent language skills, the  eastern Europeans kept to
themselves at table and diving. It diminished the sense of camaraderie that
"makes" a liveaboard. Everyone meant well and no one was rude; it
just split the group.
Finally, we were rather unceremoniously shunted off the boat a day early
(Thursday lunchtime rather than Friday morning) so the boat could
accomodate a group arriving from Sweden Thursday afternoon. All of us were
driven from Marsa Ghalib to the Hilton in Hurghada (3-4 hours, typically
Egyptian bumpy roads), where we stayed overnight and awaited our afternoon
flights on Friday. Frankly, we would much rather have just gone to our home
in Cairo after the trip. Spending time at the Hilton was boring and wasted
time we could have used at home. Had Emperor informed us ahead of time that
we would be taken off the boat early, I could at least have booked a flight
home on Thursday rather than idling away until Friday afternoon. I
considered that highly unprofessional and resented having my time wasted.
The staterooms on the boat were quite nice, and each came with a flat
screen TV hooked up to a server; you could watch all kinds of movies and
shows on demand. Considering how many dives we sat out because of the cold
water, that was particularly nice. Towels were changed mid-week, the water
was usually hot in the shower (thank heavens, given how cold we were after
diving!), little problems with the cabin were fixed promptly, and the bed
was firm but pleasant. It was not luxurious but quite comfortable.
Wine was served with dinner on the Elite (only on the Platinum class of
Emperor boats) and it was a decent Egyptian brand. You could buy beer and
wine outside of dinner from an honor bar (and if the count was off, it was
taken out of the dive guide's salaries!). They offered hooded robes to wear
on the dive deck; Nitrox fills came from a membrane system for a small
extra fee for the week; and each diver got one beach towel. I don't use a
camera but it looked like there was enough room for shutterbugs, and ample
charging facilities in the saloon. The saloon kept a stock of ID books on
Red Sea reef life and dive sites.
Although it was no one's fault that the water was so cold, the food, the
mix of divers, and the day-early departure should be addressed. It was only
the second time we finished a dive trip wishing we had not bothered to go
(after thousands of dives), disproving the bumper sticker that says "a
bad day diving is better than a good day at work." I'd rather have
been at work, and that's just a shame.
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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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