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Dive Review of MV Tala Red Sea Explorers in
Red Sea/Marsa Alam - Deep South

MV Tala Red Sea Explorers, Dec, 2005,

by Sandra Tullis, ca, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 2224.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Boat:
Launched in July 2005, the MV Tala is 120ft long and can handle up to 22 divers. The salon where meals are served is a huge wood paneled room with comfortable couches and a full bar. Coffee and tea are available 24 hours a day. The cabins are about the size of those on the Nekton Pilot (ie above average size) with 2 outside suites that are even larger. Each cabin has its own A/C and bathroom including shower and is cleaned daily. The bathrooms are small. On the dive deck, there is a water cooler, a head with heated shower, 2 freshwater showers for rinsing gear and 2 freshwater dunk tanks for cameras and masks. There are also bins under the wide benches to store fins and other wet things, as well as wall shelves for sunglasses and other small items you want to keep dry. The top sundeck has another water cooler, a bar and several padded loungers for those between dive naps. The separate TV room doubles as a classroom. The captain has many years of experience in the area, which is important as you will see there are several live aboard wrecks in the area as a result of less experienced crew.

The Diving and Dive Sites (Southern Marsa Alam Itenerary):
Mooring ropes, not anchors, are used by all boats. There is no fishing allowed on the reefs. Some areas are still recovering from crown of thorns damage but most reefs look healthy. used a drysuit with a light undergarment since we were doing several long dives a day. My understanding is that in the summer, a 5m wetsuit is fine. Reefs usually start at 10 or 20 feet and go to 200+ so there is plenty of dramatic diving in all depth ranges. Currents can vary but you can usually find a sheltered side of the reef. We dove from a zodiac about 50% of the time and just jumped off the back of the boat for the rest. We chose to do all of the diving with a DM. Dive briefings were very detailed. Some of the more exciting sea life we saw is as follows:
lionfish, octopus and cuttlefish (particularly on night dives), giant loggerhead turtles (bigger than Kona HI turtles!), giant moray eels, oceanic white tip sharks (that like to follow divers), white and black tip reef sharks, 4ft long napoleon wrasses, eagle rays, blue spotted rays, large pufferfish, crocodilefish, barracuda and guitarfish.
Our favorite dive site was Elphinstone where we got to swim with Oceanic whitetip sharks.

The Gear (including gas)
I addition to air, Nitrox 32% is blended continuously. They also do custom helium mixes at an additional cost. Wetsuits, drysuits, regulators and BCs are available for rent. Just let them know what you need in advance. Rental regs are in DIR configuration. You can also rent scooters, which we did for one dive and had a great time buzzing around coral configurations once we had a quick tutorial on scooter use. Single tanks have thermo valves that can be Yoke or DIN and doubles tank setups are available. All tanks are AL 80s. Weights and belts are included.

The Food
The chef has 27 years experience. Note I said chef, not cook. As a vegetarian I am usually stuck with condiments and side dishes. The meals were the best I have had on a boat and much better than anything we ate while we were in Cairo sightseeing. Produce from the Nile delta and homemade falafel is not to be missed. The carnivores told me that the fish dishes were excellent. Additionally, fresh juice is brought to you when you surface from a dive.

Getting There (setting up the trip)
The best way to communicate with the Tala is through the two email addresses, and
Copy both on all communications including booking. If the boat is far from port it will be a few days before you get a response, so give yourself plenty of time. If you want to come straight to Marsa Alam (deep south) where the Tala is docked most of the time, Red Sea Explorers (RSE) can set up a flight from Frankfurt Germany directly to Marsa Alam.
We chose to go to Cairo to sight see for a couple of days, so RSE set up a flight from Cairo to Hurghada and then a 3.5 hour car ride from Hurghada to Marsa Alam. They reserved our Cairo hotels and setup the transfers and tours and can do a 3 or 5 day itinerary. The knowledgeable young lady who let our tours of Giza, Memphis, Saqqara, Museum and old Cairo was Islamic but did not wear the traditional head covering. I would highly recommend Lady Egypt tours. On the other hand, we had several problems with the land transfers (airport etc) through another agency. This was the only source of stress on the trip and I would make sure RSE is not using the same transfer agent before making final commitments. Although the website shows credit cards accepted on the booking page, they prefer cash due to high card fees in Egypt. We brought travelers checks and cashed them in Egyptian pounds at the Hurghada Marriot.

2006 upgrades to the boat
I had a discussion with the business partners about upgrades to the boat and the following improvements are coming in the 2006 season:
New boarding ladder with parallel steps rather than staggered
Additional tank racks to create more room to gear up when the boat is full
New ventilation for the 2 outside cabins to keep out smoke from crew quarters
New metal doors for the 2 outside cabins so they close properly
Non-skid material on all bathroom floors and deck by outside cabins
Expansion of the sun deck
Improvements to the ladder to the sundeck to make it more user-friendly

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Belize, Hawaii, Northern and Southern California
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm
Water Temp 71-73°F / 22-23°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 80-100 Ft/ 24-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions no solo diving, no deep air, must attend the dive briefings, must show technical certification to go past 120ft.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The salon has 4 wide shelves for charging lights and camera batteries at either 110 or 220 voltage. Call ahead to make sure there are enough 110V charger adapters. The DM will download digital pictures from your camera and burn a CD for you. There is no E6 processing.
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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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