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October 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Choosing a Safe Liveaboard

dont just pick one for the large cabin and camera room plugs

from the October, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Some years ago, I was asked to write a feature about the worst liveaboards in the world. It was easy. I didn't need to do much research. I simply wrote about the ones I had experienced and, shamefully, even one that I had worked on as a dive guide.

Many divers tend to be rather nave when making travel decisions (unless, of course, they read Undercurrent). They are led by marketing hype, brand image and features that are important to them personally. When they choose a liveaboard for a diving trip, they are often keen to confirm that the cabin will be large and comfortable enough, the food will be to their taste, and that the vessel looks like their idea of the sort of luxury yacht that will make their friends and neighbors envious of their dive trip. Quite rightly so.

However, recent tragedies that have happened in the world might give us pause for thought. Who would have thought that a magnificent luxury cruise liner would run into a reef near an Italian island and turn turtle? Or that a modern Boeing 777 would simply disappear in flight, or that another would be brought down by a missile? When we choose a liveaboard, we should remember one very important aspect: It is not simply a hotel, it's a vessel floating on the surface of the ocean, and only by the grace of Archimedes' principle.

Coming back from a dive to find that your mother ship no longer exists is an experience that will live with you forever. Abandoning a vessel during a trans-ocean crossing is not something I'd recommend as a character-building experience. Swimming with nothing more than what you were wearing in your bunk (mainly nothing) because your vessel went down in the night might save your life but it takes the edge off your vacation. You might think that these are extreme examples, but they have all happened recently and on more than one occasion. (As proof, read my most recent story, "Fire Aboard !" in the August issue.)...

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