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Dive Review of Manthiri in
Maldives/North/South combo trip

Manthiri, Aug, 2014,

by Chris Watt, MA, US (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 7712.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Went on an 11-day liveaboard (9.5 days diving) trip to the Maldives Aug. 1-11. This trip was an LDS-led trip aboard the Manthiri. More on the boat in a moment.

[manthiriliveaboard.com link]

Travel was long but relatively painless. Outbound we flew on JetBlue from Boston to JFK and then Emirates JFK-Dubai-Male. On the return we flew on Emirates Male-Dubai-Boston, as there is a relatively new direct flight from Dubai to Boston (12.5-13.5 hours 1 way depending on direction; Dubai-Male is about 4 hours). We flew through JFK outbound as the flight cost was much cheaper. Emirates really does a nice job and on the JFK-Dubai leg we flew on an A380…so big! The flight connections on this trip weren’t particularly tight (e.g. 7 hour layover in Dubai on the way home), so travel was about 24 hours in both directions from Boston. Emirates’ checked baggage allocation is 2 bags up to 50 lbs. each – a luxury! The only downer is that carry-ons are limited to 15 lbs. That said, although I planned carefully and had my Canon G11 in my pants pocket during check-in, I don’t think any of us had our carry-ons weighed at any of our check-ins in either direction. Other travelers did…but most of these folks had carry-ons that looked big and heavy. Most of us were carrying camera backpacks or something similar.

We arrived in Male at about 3PM local time (Male is EDT + 9 hours) and were met by cruise director/DM/host extraordinaire Moosa Hassan from the Manthiri. Our LDS owner has led 12-13 trips on the Manthiri, so he and Moosa are literally old friends. First night was spent at the HulHule Island Hotel adjacent to the airport…about a 1 minute shuttle ride from just outside baggage claim. Accommodations were comfortable, nice pool and nice buffet dinner and breakfast.

The next morning we were picked up at the airport by the dive dhoni for a quick trip to the Manthiri mother ship. There were so many things I loved about the Manthiri experience….and one of those is certainly its smaller size. There are only 6 cabins…room for 12 guests (we had 11 on this trip). The crew is also just awesome – so helpful and hard-working. They really do EVERYTHING for you, including nice little touches like hanging/drying/folding bathing suits after each dive, adept handling of cameras, defogging masks…even doing laundry! There was a crew of 10 for only 12 guests, so someone was always available to help out if needed.

The rhythm of life on most days during this trip was wake-up call at 6AM for coffee and light morning snacks, dive briefing/dive at 6:30AM, breakfast, dive mid-morning, lunch, dive early afternoon, afternoon tea/snacks and then a late afternoon or night dive with dinner after or before. There were some days when the boat was moving between atolls when we only did 2 or 4 dives. I logged 33 dives during the trip (I did all of the offered dives).

Food was plentiful and absolutely fantastic. So many choices at every meal. Large plates heaped with various dishes were served to us at 2 round tables and then passed around family style. Meat/curry dishes, seafood, south Asian style pizza, salads, vegetables and great desserts. Water, coffee, tea and juices were all included. Sodas, beer, wine were available for an extra charge, although no big drinkers on this trip.

THE DIVING:
With our LDS owner having such a close relationship with Moosa and the Manthiri, we did a sort of sampler trip covering territory in both the north and the south atolls.

The Maldives has a really nice mix of larger pelagics, incredibly beautiful hard/soft corals and plenty of macro stuff. One of my French diving friends had described her past trips as being “Man-tas-tique”….and the Maldives certainly delivered on this front = many, many big mantas up close and personal. Plenty of grey reef and white tipped reef shark action. A crowd of big nurse sharks swimming around and among us on a very fun night dive. 1 small whale shark during a snorkel. Clouds of fish as far as the eye could see on most dives. Pulsating waves of orange Anthias around every reef. Eagle Rays. Morays of all shapes and sizes – favorites were the honeycomb morays. Ribbon eels – both blue and black. Sweet lips. Surgeonfish playing among the bubbles above our heads. Huge schools of beautiful yellow-white-black striped bannerfish. Octopus on almost every dive. Napoleon wrasse. Multiple types of butterfly fish (raccoons were my favorites). Extensive beautiful anemone gardens (one football field-sized pinnacle aptly called “Anemone City” covered completely with anemones, with anemone bases colored purple, green, orange and white – we hardly knew where to look) and anemone fish. Moorish idols. Lots of turtles. Angelfish – emperor, royal, blue-faced. Grouper. Many types of triggerfish – the clowns were my favorite. Cleaner shrimp and the crazy-looking mantis shrimp. Scorpionfish. Tuna. Schools of jacks and aggressive hunting jacks at night. Southern stingrays. Nudibranchs and flatworms of various types. Very colorful giant clams and thorny oysters (incredible colors!). A few wrecks. Overall just an explosion of light and color that was so mind-blowing at times that it almost looked fake..

Diving was all done off of the separate dhoni/tender vessel, which was quite convenient. Plenty of room on-board for up to 12 divers. Full-sized head with shower inside, plus a separate open-air shower on the stern of the boat. Each diver had his or her own station, with a sizeable basket underneath for stowing gear. Nitrox was available and was very close to the 32% I asked for on all dives. Crew did the analysis with us watching the gauge as they did it and signing off on the analysis. There was always an adequate supply of water bottles on board both the mother ship and the dhoni. 4 side exits on the dhoni for giant-stride entries and a fins off ladder for re-boarding. The crew worked hard to take our wetsuits/booties/rash guards/skins/lycra socks as soon as we took them off and rinse/hang them on the dhoni after every dive. Clean towels were left at our dive bench stations while we showered off on the dhoni.

Most dive sites were un-moored drops and pick-ups due to currents. There was current present on most dives, varying from mild to vigorous. Reef hooks are a definite on this trip and although I didn’t use mine, many folks did. Dive times were targeted for 60 minutes, but in general dives were only limited by gas capacity and NDLs. I had a few heavy current, deep dives that were only about 45 minutes long…a few others that were as long as 77 minutes. The Manthiri offers both 80CF and 100CF AL tanks that can have convertible valves that fir either DIN or yoke regulator fittings. Depths were generally shallower than 100 feet and most things to see were in the 50-70 foot range. There was one deeper wreck dive where some folks went as deep as about 130 feet to see the prop. We were often diving on pinnacles or ledges, although depths at the top of each formation varied from 10 feet to 40-50 feet. SMB is definitely a must on this trip, although I only deployed mine once during a safety stop in a heavy current where a small group of us were far away from the main group.

Briefings where among the best I’ve seen. Moosa (lead divemaster) and the Mohamed the dhoni captain seemed to always drop us exactly where they said they were going to during the briefings. There were a few descents in heavy current where we had to make a bee-line for the bottom to avoid being swept off the pinnacle. We had 2 divemasters in the water with us at all times plus our LDS owner….so pretty good ratio and they seemed to keep close tabs on us. Moosa and Ali the other divemaster were fantastic at finding both the big and the small. Although we didn’t formally split up into separate groups, we seemed to naturally separate into smaller subgroups, with Moosa up front with the fast swimmers and Ali bringing up the rear with the more casually-paced folks.

Water temp was a consistent 84F. Visibility varied from 100 feet to about 50 feet. Typical was 80-100 on most dives.

The mother ship itself was quite comfortable. Our room (all rooms are 1 level down from the main deck) had 2 single beds with a mini-fridge nestled under the nightstand between the beds. There was also a small closet for hanging clothes with an integrated 3 drawer dresser. Plenty of storage under the beds for suitcases = I was able to fit my large dive bag, rollaway “carry-on” sized suitcase and my large camera back-pack under my bed with no problems. Our room had a comfortably-sized en suite bathroom with sink, toilet and shower. Beds were very comfortable – they were made by the crew every day and sheets were changed at least once during our 10-day trip. Bottled water was always available in our in-room fridge and in the main salon. Toilets functioned well and the 1 clogging incident we had was handled within about 5 minutes of mentioning it to the crew. Most people spent their time on the main level of the ship in the air-conditioned salon where we ate our meals and where there are several couches and a TV/DVD player. I really enjoyed the open air upper deck during the day, where there comfortable places to relax in both the sun and the shade.

There was an entire room on the mother ship dedicated to cameras/battery charging. Cameras were rinsed thoroughly and then placed on the tables in this room after diving. Outlets were a mix of UK/US voltage and plug style….most of us brought a powerstrip plus a US/UK or multi-country adaptor just in case. We were asked to do all battery charging in this camera/battery room and not in our cabins. No air for drying cameras, but clean microfiber towels always available in this room. Moosa himself is quite an accomplished photographer and takes pride in the way he and the crew care for and handle the cameras. He is also available for shooting and processing tips if you need them.

There is not any wifi on the ship, although a few folks in our group bought phone/data cards at the airport and had connectivity for both phone and internet pretty much without interruption while we were at sea. I thoroughly enjoyed being unplugged for 11 days J

We did not do any overnight sailing….the only exception was the first day where we steamed north until about 10:15 PM. As a result, most nights were spent in the calm lee of an island, in a harbor or at least inside of one of the atolls where the seas are much less rough. We did have one day of rough riding when passing through a storm squall between atolls, but overall pretty clam sailing.

I made probably one of my most bone-headed travel/packing moves ever on this trip, as I managed to leave all of my additional micro memory cards for my GoPro at home on my dresser. As a result, my GoPro filled up my 1 memory card I had in the camera after about 1-2 days. The reminder of the trip I used my Canon G11. I am still kicking myself for this, as most of the more beautiful soft coral sites were during the post-GoPro part of the trip L (I am not a very good still photographer)

The Manthiri experience was really a fantastic one = amazing food, absolutely wonderful crew, small # of passengers, smaller/cozy boat, great cabins, dive dhoni crew/DMs among the best I’ve experienced…all combined with some absolutely beautiful diving. There is also something to be said about going on an LDS-led trip with folks you at least partially know in advance. I would definitely go back!
Websites Manthiri   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Red Sea, Turks & Caicos, St. Vincent, FL Keys, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Bermuda, Italy, UK, Northeastern US
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 83-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80-100 Ft/ 24-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive time limit of 60 minutes gently suggested but not rigidly enforced. Depths within recreational limits
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Cameras handled carefully and professionally by the crew, including rinsing. Separate room with extensive camera tables and charging stations.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfeein VA, US at Aug 25, 2014 17:44 EST  
Wow! One of the most informative and detailed reports I've ever read. If I go back to the Maldives (did the Aggressor in Nov. 2014), I'll definitely try to book on this boat.
By J. Annin TX, US at Jan 27, 2015 13:59 EST  
Terrific thorough report....thanks for taking the time to do it right.
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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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