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Dive Review of M/V Emporer Leo in

M/V Emporer Leo: "A week diving the", Dec, 2018,

by Richard Hart, TX, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 10810 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation N/A Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments [None]This was a bucket list trip for me. I was also a single diver. I chose the Leo based on reviews, price and availability. My trip was in early December, which is the end of the rainy season. While we had really nice weather, the visibility was still poor.
The diving is from a smaller boat called a dhoni. All diving equipment is stored on the dhoni which leaves more room on the Leo. The Leo has three decks. The bottom and top have cabins and the middle is the lounge and main deck.
The rooms are nice and have two beds versus bunk beds!! The boat can accommodate 22 divers and we only had 16, so I got my own cabin which was very nice!
Boat PROS:
- Nice size cabins with two beds
- Very accommodating staff
- Excellent briefings
- Nitrox is included
Boat CONS:
- Lots of issues with their A/C systems. Not uncommon for the system to turn off in the middle of the night. And the A/C could not keep up with the humidity
- No snacks after dives. Some nice warm cookies would have been welcome!
- Not much room for divers with large camera setups. Fortunately, more and more divers are using GoPros.
There were more strong currents than I expected and the visibility was less than expected. On several dives, we had to swim against the current to get to the right area. That caused us to tire and suck down a lot of air.
The coral was in fair shape and there were some areas of soft corals.
As the liveaboards all depart from Male, it seems that most follow the same itinerary and there would be at least 4 other boats in the same area most of the time.
Reef hooks were used on most dives to be able to stop and look.
The main focus on this trip were the mantas. Several dives to areas where there was a manta cleaning station. But, due to the need to not get too close and poor visibility, it was tough to see and get any good photos. One evening, they did mount a bright light off the back of the boat which attracted mantas. We did dive under the boat and let the mantas swim over and through us. that was cool!
There were three dive guides that did a really good job of watching their groups. On one night dive, our guide was not able to equalize and had to abort leaving us to fend for ourselves in really strong current and darkness. We did get separated and being a single diver wound up using my reef hook at 30 meters trying to figure out what to do next. About 10 8 foot nurse sharks came to keep me company and literally were bumping into me. After about 35 minutes, I surfaced alone in dark water away from the boats. After about 15 minutes, my dhoni finally picked me up. Not the most pleasant experience.
Overall, the price of the liveaboard was reasonable and I used air miles to travel, so a pretty inexpensive trip. However, after being in the Maldives, I wish I had gone to the Red Sea instead.
I do want to give shout outs to Russ and Diego on the Leo who were amazing with trying to take care of our various needs. Their excellent service made up for much of the issues with the boat. By the way, the pictures on the Leo's website are misleading. The boat is ok, but not glamours.
I always am asked if I went back, would I use the same liveaboard. In this case, yes, if they make a couple of changes.
Websites M/V Emporer Leo   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Palau, Moorea, Fiji, Costa Rica, Belize, Bahamas, Utila, Roatan, Bonaire, San Salvador, Cozumel, St Marteen, Phillipines,
Closest Airport Male Getting There DFW to London; London to Abu Dhabi; Abu Dhabi to Male

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas currents
Water Temp 80-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Maximum of 60 minutes and 30 meters
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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