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Dive Review of Blue o Two/M/Y Blue Melody in
Red Sea/Northern Wrecks/Brothers

Blue o Two/M/Y Blue Melody, Aug, 2012,

by Carol Marzuola, Gloucestershire, UK ( 1 report). Report 6648.

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 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments My husband and I decided on this trip, as we’d been to the Red Sea once before and like the challenge and beauty of the dives. We settled on the Wrecks tour, mainly because the dates were available and felt we should see the historical Thistlegorm at least once in our lifetimes.

We were slightly disappointed, as our previous experience on the M/Y Blue Seas (Blue Planet) in October 2008 was excellent, and we expected similar quality. To begin with, our first day of diving at Dunraven wreck was thwarted when we had to return to Hurghada due to compressor problems. Some of the divers had complained of smelly air and headaches after our first shallow checkout dive. Then the problem really became noticeable after the second tank fillings, with many divers flat out refusing to dive unless Blue o Two made sure our air was safe (which they agreed to, after some discussion!). We crossed a rough sea back to Hurghada, where engineers checked the problem with an apparently newly installed compressor. (Turns out, they didn’t detect any threatening gas with their instruments in the tanks, which they emptied and refilled, along with flushing the compressor. However, something was definitely wrong with the smell. One former commercial diver with experience in these matters believes that perhaps they had not properly purged the air lines after installing the new compressor, and instead pumped chemical vapor from the glues used into our tanks. He shuddered to think what would have happened to us on our next deeper dives... We will never know.)

We did set sail for the Thistlegorm that same night, but not without further irritation. Crossing rough seas again, we woke to sea water running through the light fixtures and raining on top of us in our beds. The crew, which seemed genuinely concerned, relocated us to the salon upstairs for a restless night’s sleep. Other cabins had been affected as well, so we weren’t alone. The next morning, I expected other important members of Blue o Two’s staff to approach us about it and perhaps offer their apology, but they didn’t. Rather, I was surprised that we had to tell them about it, and they brushed it off by saying, "This happens sometimes." Really?

So... after a rough start, we did get some good dives in the next day on the Thistlegorm, which we had all to ourselves, followed by the Rosalie Moller (less visited, deeper) and Abu Nuhas wrecks over the next two days. We were disappointed to arrive at Abu Nuhas on Monday afternoon, only to be told we couldn’t dive the outer reef wrecks because of wind. However, we watched at least 2 other dive operators send their zodiacs out and wondered why we couldn’t join them. The next morning, we took in the Carnatic, Chrisoula K and Ghiannis D, all interesting from the wreck perspective, especially the Carnatic.

Midweek, the wind finally died down for a smooth 11-hour sail to Brother Islands, which were fantastically calm. (So unlike our previous visit there with the wild surf and currents.) We actually could hover around and take our time looking at stuff instead of being ripped off the reefs by howling currents. All that’s great fun for drift diving, but the conditions on this trip to Brothers provided an invaluable opportunity to explore the wrecks, shark cleaning station and shallower reef plateaus.

Our dives included the Numidia and Aida wrecks at Big Brother, and the reefs and shark cleaning station at Little Brother. The Numidia was a different perspective on wrecks, as she lies nearly vertical on the reef, and plunges to +200ft depth. At Little Brother, we enjoyed a 15 minute seated viewing of a gray reef shark getting groomed. The last couple of dives ended with a pleasant safety stop on the reef plateaus, normally awash with surf. The hard corals there are healthy and surprisingly inhabited by giant morays poking their heads out like garden eels.

After 4 dives on the Brothers, we headed back towards the north and Hurghada that same night. The next day, which was our last, was a complete waste of time. With all the Red Sea has to offer, we didn’t understand why we were visiting mediocre sites as well as sharing them with day boats. On our second dive at the Miniya wreck in Hurghada Harbor, we pulled up behind a party boat and rolled off the zodiac on top of a dozen other divers ascending the line. (I thought of recent stories of bottlenecked trails on Mt Everest.) We decided to forego the very last dive of the trip, as it was a popular reef also choked with divers, and snorkel instead. We don’t know why we couldn’t have stayed at Brothers for a couple more dives or returned straight back to Dunraven (the wreck we missed the first day) or some other more attractive site away from the crowds. They had their reasons – low fuel (due to the compressor problem), guests leaving early on Friday, not in the plans, blah blah blah. It just seemed a waste of a precious day with so many interesting sites out there.

On our next trip to the Red Sea – hopefully the deep south - we won’t dive with Blue o Two again, as we felt short-changed on the wasted days (2 out of 6 days essentially gone). We thought the crew was excellent, but found the guides’ approach to the diving a little slack and disorganized for our taste. Although they offered to guide each trip, they weren’t always in the water, and many divers missed key opportunities on wrecks, or missed them altogether, as they weren’t sure where to go. Blue o Two say that’s their policy, but we question the wisdom of throwing even experienced divers into unfamiliar deep water and suggesting they penetrate unknown wrecks like the Thistlegorm and Rosalie Moller, all unguided, as they were doing.

We finally started raising our hands when they asked if we wanted guides, as all the wrecks were new to us, and they were fine. We just got the overall sense they were a little comfortable with not diving, not sending out the zodiacs, and worse yet, one of them didn’t even like the sites. He repeated no less than four times how much he disliked piles of metal, on a Red Seas Wrecks tour! Maybe it’s just me, but I like my guides happy pappy about every dive they’re guiding or briefing, and I expect them to show me the best of what their area has to offer. (On our previous trip in 2008, with equally experienced divers, our guides were in the water with us on most excursions, which resulted in great team spirit and dives.)

Also, sometimes the information they provided in the briefs – direction of current, map depiction of a reef, line to follow – was just plain wrong. We had enough experience to compensate for these little errors, but when one of the guides would quip to us about safety, we were, well, humored.

Food on board was ok, but they cater to a British clientele, which might explain the bland palate. Several guests got ill halfway through the trip and at first we suspected food poisoning. However, people didn’t get better right away, and we now suspect it might have more to do with bilge waters (shit) being pumped around the dive sites. At the end of one of our dives, our boat was emptying bilge as we ascended! We would have liked a little more warning (and disinfectant) onboard.

In summary, we expected better value for the money. Blue o Two had a Hurghada representative who greeted us and listened to all our above complaints, so maybe some of our concerns will filter through to management. (On a plus side for Blue o Two, they do cater to English-speaking clients, important for liveaboard harmony and communication.) I was still surprised that she didn’t know about the leaking cabins, but she did rush to the boat to check and later informed me that a contractor was on the way to fix the problem with sealant on the cabin floor above.

We found out later that another policy of Blue o Two’s is to rotate their guides on different boats. That, along with hands-off guide policy, may not be the best practice for a liveaboard fleet in what could be sometimes tough diving conditions requiring team camaraderie. Now we know.
Websites Blue o Two   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Northern California, Great Barrier Reef, Gulf of California, some freshwater
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-100 Ft/ 9-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 50 minimum dives, No Deco, 120ft max
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A 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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