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Dive Review of Aggressor Fleet/Maldives Aggressor in
Maldives/N & S Male & Ari Atolls

Aggressor Fleet/Maldives Aggressor, Dec, 2013,

by Pat Wikstrom, NC, US (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 7499.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Maldives Aggressor ----Dec 1st – 8th 2013

Of the 22 liveaboards I’ve done this was one of the three most beautiful. At 115 ft. long this twin masted iron hull motor sailor sure looked magnificent when they unfurled the sails during a couple of crossings. Bright white paint and polished stainless steel dressed the exposed surfaces; interior spaces are constructed of Mahogany and other hardwoods. The common/public spaces are expansive and very comfortable, partially because all our dive gear follows us around puppy dog style in the wooden 50ft long Dhoni. All diving was conducted from the Dhoni which is well laid out and easily able to accommodate the 19 divers on my trip. Nitrox was consistently pumped at 32% with 3000psi fills.

The passengers were a mixed group of Americans, Canadians, one Japanese couple, and one Swiss national. Ages ranged from 21 to well over 60, experience levels ranged from “just certified” to “thousands of dives”. The weather was beautiful with bathtub warm water. Visibility ranged from a low of about 30ft to somewhere between 65 to 70ft. Dive sites were a mixture of wall ledges for the sharks and gorgeous shallow reefs for the mostly rejuvenated coral with a whale shark snorkel and a wreck thrown in. Just about all the dives were drifts and current ranged from nice and gentle to “ripping”. Several planned sites were abandoned as “too challenging” after the dive staff checked the current, luckily they always had a plan B or even once a third option that was not too far away. Some divers felt they should have figured out a way to break us into two groups so that those with the skills could take on the current. But with the single diver support vessel it was “everybody in together -Dive, Dive, Dive”.

Although the Maldives took a real whack a few years ago from the coral bleaching wrought by el Niño and the 2004 tsunami much of the coral reef is bouncing back. Some sites along the sides of the current cuts still show the bones of dead hard coral forests but most of the reefs that aren’t being regularly scoured look gorgeous. Fish life and coral condition were definitely up to my expectations. Hundreds of species of coral crowd each other out with literally acre sized fields of healthy staghorn and table corals. Piscine biomass was robust as well. Long dense schools of various carnivores and herbivores went marauding through the reef while hundreds of brightly colored reef fish congregated around their particular home base and disappeared into the reef as a diver cruised into their territory. On many sites schools of iridescent fusiliers, marbled grouper, scarlet soldierfish, yellow scalefin antheas, blue faced and emperor angels paraded over a seemingly endless expanse of healthy coral from 60ft to the top at 15 to 20ft. Yellow pipe organ coral, featherstar flowing in the current, thorny oyster and giant clams fought to have any real estate in this garden of staghorns, brain coral, giant plates, and table corals.

Large animals were in abundance as well, giant Napoleon Wrasse lumbered around, hawksbill and green turtles were plentiful. White tip and grey reef sharks patrolled the edges of the walls where we were instructed to hold on or use a reef hook to stay in place and watch the show. Hammerheads were out there but I never saw them or the single manta that flew by on our shallow checkout dive. In the South Ari Atoll we were taken by skiff to a sandy lagoon where whalesharks were feeding. Dropped off in snorkel gear in front of the fish our group kicked like the dickens to keep up with its lazy relaxed swim style. It was surprisingly tolerant of all these folks diving down and taking pictures from every imaginable vantage point. After the shark outdistanced each diver the skiff would pick ‘em up and plop us back in front of the fish for another round. When everyone had enough we boarded the Dhoni, geared up, and dove over the edge of the wall where three more large whalesharks were cruising through the plankton. I very much appreciated them giving us the whale sharks early in the week cause many folks who’d never seen them could now relax and go with the flow.

For a boat this long I was a bit surprised at how small the cabins were. All 10 passenger cabins were below decks situated left & right off a long central corridor. Trimmed in dark hardwood the closets and storage nooks were well designed. Each room had individual A/C control but during the day the central system needed the assistance of a small oscillating fan that was clamped over the medicine cabinet. The floor space of my stateroom was decreased considerably by the up thrust curve of the hull so that it was pretty tight if my cabin mate & I tried to both stand in the space. We ended up taking turns standing up to access the closet, bathroom, or sink.

I was assigned one of two “value twin” cabins in the bow along with the vessel owner, George O, a big burly Italian business man who’d given up diving but was along for the ride to confer with Wayne Hasson, the fleet owner, about the boat’s operations. The forward cabins have the narrowest bunks at 28” with the top one having a roll in and out minimal amount of head space. No way could you sit up on that bed. While lying on my top bunk I was unable to hold a hardbound book on my chest without it contacting the ceiling above. I did my reading in the salon. There was a reasonable amount headspace in the lower bunk and the owner had laid claim to it before my arrival. Other cabins had larger bunks and the deluxe cabins had wide lower bunks such that couples could sleep in one and use the upper for storage. With an odd assortment of room and bunk sizes all detailed on the web page buddy pairs should look it up and make your cabin request specifically tailored to your space needs and sleeping arrangements. All bathrooms had a wet style toilet in the shower room with a flex hose shower. Water pressure and temperature was satisfactory and stable during my trip.

The daily drill was a wake up bell at 5:45, continental breakfast until 1st dive briefing at about 6:30. Climb down onto the Dhoni and in the water at around 6:45 -7AM. After an hour long dive we went back to the mothership for a hot breakfast. The second dive varied from 10:25 until as late as 12:00 depending on the distance we traveled to the next site followed by a hot multi-course lunch. Third dives fluctuated between 2:30 to 3:00. The fourth dive of the day was an early night dive which started at dusk and moved into night so that folks could see the changing of the guard on the mostly shallow reef sites. One night in the Vaava Atoll we did a true night dive starting at 6:50 on the Alimathaa house reef along with many groups of divers from the house resort and several other liveaboards. Each dive group settled into a different patch of sand at 45ft and watched a parade of giant stingrays, huge jacks, and monstrous nurse sharks that poured over and around us and even between our legs from time to time. Although the staff claimed no one fed these guys anymore it was obvious that they were well fed and used to this regular invasion of camera toting night divers.

Multi-course dinners were served on linen table cloths with bottles of decent red and white wine on each table. Presentations in both the salon and on the forward deck were nice leisurely affairs with much laughing and storytelling going on between each course. Food was plentiful with good variety from day to day and several choices at each meal, however I felt that much of it was sort of bland. The chef could have made a bit more use of the spice rack.

Overall the Maldives was a worthwhile dive spot, even with the brutal 32hours needed to get there. Although not quite up to the hard and soft coral standards of Indonesia or the big animal action of some other premier locations it had plenty of great diving with lots of small stuff, big stuff, and pretty stuff to see. After a few more bucket list trips get checked off I’d like to go back. The mostly Maldivian and Sri Lankan crew of 10 on the Maldives Aggressor was service oriented, friendly, and seemed genuinely interested in our having good dives and a pleasant trip. Our adventure which featured a mixture of both their Ari Atoll and North and South Male’ itineraries provided a great mix of dive sites within the 21 dives they served up. No way an island based resort can offer up that kind of variety. A liveaboard is definitely the way to go!
Websites Aggressor Fleet   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas; Belize; Bikini Atoll; Bonaire; California; Cancun; Cayman Brac; Little Cayman; Cocos Isl; Costa Rica; Cozumel; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Florida- (springs, keys); Galapagos; Indonesia; Massachusetts; N.C; Palau; Puerto Rico; Red Sea; Roatan; Saba; Socorro; South Africa; St. Kitts; Thailand; Truk; Turks & Caicos; TVA lakes; Yap; Yucatan Caves;
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas currents
Water Temp 83-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-70 Ft/ 9-21 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 110ft max, come back with 500psi,
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments decent camera table on stern of mothership, separate camera rinse barrel on Dhoni
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Subscriber's Comments

By philip nicozisis in FL, US at Jan 20, 2014 20:56 EST  
I was on this liveaboard with Pat, and agree with his detail storytelling of our trip. Brought back great memories. I plan to go on the Aggressor liveaboard in Palau on August 24 please join
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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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