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Dive Review of Emperor Divers in
Red Sea/St John's Reef - Fury Shoals

Emperor Divers: "Second Time Wasn't the Charm", Aug, 2015,

by Eric Eckes, CA, US (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 11 Helpful votes). Report 8720 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was my second trip to the Red Sea and second time diving with Emperor Divers. Our home for the next seven days would be the Emperor Elite, pride of the Emperor fleet.

We started our journey with a flight from Los Angeles to Paris and then onward to Cairo via Air France. We chose to fly Premium Economy and while nice, it didn't measure up to the Premium Economy service provided by Qantas. We spent the night in Cairo where the next morning we boarded our flight to Hurghada.

Upon arriving in Hurghada we gathered our gear and loaded it along with fifteen divers into small minivans for the three hour trip to Port Ghalib where we would board the Emperor Elite. We started off and the first we noticed was that Emperor Divers had not provided any water for the trip to Port Ghalib. Approximately 2 hours into the 3 hour trip our drivers pulled over at a rest stop after persistent begging by all passengers. A brief stop here and then we were off to Port Ghalib.

We boarded the Emperor Elite and were greeted by an old fiend, Sonia Goggel. Sonia has been working in the Red Sea for in excess of 15 years and knows its dive sites as well as anyone. We learned that on this trip Sonia was overseeing two new dive masters, Ana and Sergio who hail from Spain. Throughout the trip Ana routinely took notes while we had no clue why Sergio was on the boat. More on Sergio in a moment.

During our first Red Sea dive trip in 2010 we visited the northern Red Sea and its famous dive sites such as Ras Mohammad and the Thislegorm wreck. This time our group was headed south towards St John's Reef and and Fury Shoal.

Our dives were led by either Sonia (who started out the trip on the sidelines with a bad cold), Ana and Sergio. Ana did her best to show us sealife. As for Sergio, he brought along a point and shoot camera on every dive and seemed interested in only his camera. On one dive my wife told Sergio that she would love to see a certain marine animal. Sergio responded by taking his camera down, photographing the subject, and then showing my wife the animal on his camera. At no point did he attempt to point out the animal underwater. I have never seen a dive master charged with leading a dive take their camera on the dive and I hope I never see one again! Sergio was oblivious to those around him!

Our dives took us to many sites full of beautiful soft corals. My wife and I had never seen a Spanish Dancer and on one night dive we saw many. We were able to do dive twenty one times during our week-long trip of which there were several memorable dives. At St John's Caves (Umm Kharaim) we were greeted by a friendly Napoleon Wrasse which kept swimming in and out of the various divers. On another dive we were greeted underwater by two female dolphins and their offspring snuggled close to their mothers. On our trip back we stopped at Elphinstone where we spotted a scalloped hammerhead well below 100 feet. Too deep for my wide angle lens on my D810. The sea life was varied and plentiful. We saw plenty of turtles and blue-spotted rays.

The cabins on board the Emperor Elite were rather small given the size of the vessel. Each room had its own bathroom with ensuite shower. My wife and I prefer to share a bed while on vacation and were turned off by the twin beds which seem to be a hallmark of Emperor boats.
One thing that stood out from our 2010 trip was how bad the food was. Fast forward five years and it appears Emperor Divers hasn't learned a thing nor read guest's comments. The food was routine and uninspired. The only highlight to the dining service was the steward named Mustafa who made life enjoyable onboard the Emperor Elite when we weren't dining.

The Emperor Elite has a fairly large salon although it seemed small when occupied by all fifteen guests plus the three divemasters. In fact we often had to fight Ana and Sergio for places to sit down. We weren't sure if they understood they were crew and not paying guests.

Anyway, I have dived twice with Emperor Divers and after two strikes won't give them a chance for strike three. The divemaster trainees failed in their duties and I was disappointed that Sonia, as their mentor, did not counsel them on proper diver master etiquette. The Red Sea holds a lot of interesting dive sites but my recommendation is do your homework and fine a better dive operation.
Websites Emperor Divers   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Malaysia, Philippines, Truk Lagoon, Palau, Yap, Mexico, Galapagos, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, So Cal Local
Closest Airport Hurghada Getting There Los Angeles to Paris to Cairo to Hurghada

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 84-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions The only restriction was that you had to be back within a given time so that the boat could move to a new location.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The Emperor elite provided plenty of shelf space in the salon to manage our camera gear along with plenty of power. On the diving deck they had three plastic milk crates to store cameras. If you weren't there early you had to fight for space to store your camera while you geared up.

The Emperor Elite has a large swim step below the dive deck and it is here they have two small camera rinse tanks. The crew had to be repeatedly asked to change dirty water and on several occasions we had to ask them simply to fill the tanks with water.
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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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