Sharm el Sheikh – Moon Divers
On rather short notice I learned, I still have 5 days of vacation left for this year. Immediately I looked for some warm place with good diving not too far away. Red Sea I dove from Hugharda, Marsalam, El Quesier and Sudan, so I thought why not try the other side once. My aim was as cheap as possible some last minute booking package deal which I found on the internet. Train to airport, direct flight, accommodation, all-inclusive one week for 460 € looked just right. Viva Sharm Hotel had only 2 stars, was a bit worried, and looked into trip advisor, where some wild stories were published. Well everybody has different ideas and feelings, so I booked the place. Searched for some dive center close by and found Moon Divers right next to the hotel, with these guys I prebooked 5 days of two tanks diving including a trip to the wreck of the Thistlegorm.
I wanted cheap and with Viva Sharm I got exactly that – you get what you pay for ….. The room and pool were the best things in that place. The hotel is booked 80 % by Russians. Buffet offered a poor choice mixture of Egypt – Russian food, was introduced to some strange new cooking and dishes, some not bad at all. Fish and meat was rare, so the chef counted the pieces you got, no self-service there. Red wine was served in a plastic cup, I guess that gives you the picture overall. Breakfast was rather modest, couldn´t find butter, coffee spoons plastic again, on and under the table bits and pieces from last night’s dinner. Staff was friendly but seemed to be bored and in no hurry at all to serve you. Was 2 days without towels in my room, which they promised every time I complained, I had to grab the room boy to get some. Cutlery and plates they seemed to be short of, some days you were lucky to find some to start your meal.
Moon Divers were the extreme opposite thing. They run an efficient and very good dive operation. Some days they chartered a whole boat and filled it with snorkelers. So a two tank dive might turn into a pick up at 8 and drop off at 4 in the afternoon cause they stopped 2 – 3 times to allow them some time in the water. Dive guides rotate every day and were very experienced and thorough in their briefing. Only once we had a guide who at first rushed ahead, later insisted on a rather tight and close buddy system. He even urged experienced divers to get closer to their buddy, gave signals for safety stop and ascends, several times checked our air consumption. He took a shaker with him and each message he planned to give was accompanied by ratatata. Thistlegorm should have been my grand finale on that trip. I had tried to dive it out of Hugharda but the sea was choppy, the captain refused to take us that far out into the open sea – bad luck, shit happens. The wreck did not meet my expectations. I would not rate the Thistlegorm among the top ten wreck dives when you think of Chuuk and/or for example the President Coolidge. 6 day boats came together on that spot. During briefing the guide told us, we would spend as long as possible on the wreck. The first two with around 70 bar left would be send back to the ascend line, the guide would buddy up with the remaining guy and continue the dive. This however never happened. We four went up together. So that day I did 3 dives (2 on Thistlegorm) of around 30 minutes, each time with 100 bar back on the surface. I feel, Moon Divers owe me at least one dive free of charge for that. I know there is the “weakest link in a chain …. “ but dive centers should build a group of divers with the similar experience and air consumption or allow buddy teams to continue the dive when other teams have to surface. We had one guy with us, an instructor with 200 logged dives! He was low on air after 30 minutes and even had to use the extra tank underneath the boat on safety stop. He started a side mount intro dive the day before. We were waiting on the surface for more than 10 minutes to watch him get ready. Another 10 minutes passed on the reef till he had arranged the gear around him properly. At the end his buoyancy was wrong, the dive guide had to help and aborted the dive. I don´t feel this is fair for the others but the guide went along with it. We had been the first boat on site and briefing told us to expect good fish life being the early bird in the water. However when this guy at last was ready to dive, we had 5 day boats around us and bubbles all over the place. Moon Divers I feel exaggerated their looking after us experienced divers. I don´t need to be asked 3 – 5 times during the dive how much air I still have, I don´t need a guide signing me to get close to my buddy, do a 3 min safety stop in 5 meter or urging me to come up faster, when my computer complains already.
Brought a new go pro Hero 3 on this vacation for a trial run, as I so far never had taken any pictures under water. The first photos turned out to show big big blue and not much else. Then one guy passed me a red filter and recommended to get as close as possible. From then on it started to get better and better. Each day was a big and lovely surprise when I transmitted all onto my cell phone to watch. Sharm el Sheikh I would visit again, the reef was lovely, with good coral and fish life all around. My favorite was Shark Point Yolanda, where we had a great drift dive with a big school of snappers and a fantastic wall with colorful soft coral all around. The many day and safari boats on nearly every place sometimes were a nuisance, the crowds and passport checks in the harbor awful. Moon Divers charge 48 € for prebooked two tank dives, 6 € extra each tank for Nitrox, Thistlegorm amounts to 75 € extra. I got a little discount, they gave me 3 Nitrox dives for free.