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Dive Review of Red Sea Aggressor in
Red Sea/Southern Red Sea

Red Sea Aggressor: "Spectacular Red Sea Reefs And a Great Value", Jun, 2018,

by Sandy Falen, KS, USA (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 28 reports with 17 Helpful votes). Report 10364 has 5 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Late last year I had a “diving epiphany”: If I am going to dive the Red Sea, I’d better quit dreaming and get planning. Seven months later, I found myself in mesmerizing Egypt.

My dive buddy and I spent two days exploring Cairo with our private guide before flying to Hurghada, where we were met by representatives of the Red Sea Aggressor (RSA). An approximately three-hour road trip placed us at Port Ghalib, where we boarded the boat on a Saturday afternoon in June.

Be aware that the Aggressor doesn’t leave port until Sunday, and it returns to port the following Friday afternoon. Thus your “seven-night sailing” is really only five full nights at sea. But there’s a lot packed into the days between, including stellar service and stunning coral reefs.

We sailed the “Southern Route” after leaving Port Galib. The first dive of the trip, the proverbial “check out dive,” was ho-hum and murky – but it served its purpose as a warm-up. The next day we hit the stunningly gorgeous reefs of Elphinstone, and I knew then that the trip had been worth the effort. The visibility was excellent, and the water averaged 82-84 degrees; I wore a polyolefin suit over a 3-mil vest, and never got cold. The Red Sea coral is simply spectacular. Throughout the week, I was amazed by the literal mountains of healthy, hard corals, as well as the lush underwater gardens of soft corals. It’s a dream for any diver with a camera.

The small, colorful reef fish create a swirling circus, with orange and neon green chromis, anthias, cardinalfish, parrotfish, and fusiliers setting the backdrop, while unicorn fish, Picasso triggers, coral groupers, surgeonfish, striped butterfly fish, masked butterfly fish, and Red Sea bannerfish cruise about the reef. I don’t think I’ve ever seen larger clusters of anemones and their always-entertaining, resident clownfish. Masked puffers were everywhere, sometimes hilariously fighting off cleaning gobies looking for a free meal. Bird wrasse, sling jaw wrasse, unicorn fish, lionfish, schools of batfish, and serene royal, emperor and yellowbar angelfish were regular sightings. With less frequency, I enjoyed reef squid, cuttlefish, schooling barracuda, pipefish, giant morays, and one octopus slinking across the reef.

What wasn’t seen with frequency was anything big. Throughout the week, I saw only a few turtles, a single shark (a sleeping juvenile), and zero mantas. Dolphins were present in droves at “Dolphin House,” a shallow, sheltered reef where they come to spend time with their young. Snorkeling with the dolphins was the program here, but with several other liveaboards and day-trippers present, it was a bit like a frenetic, underwater zoo that bordered on harassment.

The diving at Elphinstone and Daedalus was the best of the trip, and it’s probably not a coincidence that these reefs are the most remote we visited. Rocky Island was the most southern point of the itinerary; the corals and tropical fish were lovely there, but the real treat was the sudden appearance of a pair of green sea turtles, who performed an underwater flirtation ballet of pursuit and rejection while our cameras rolled.

As for the boat, it would be hard to fault the service we enjoyed during our sailing. The RSA crew is exceptional, and we were treated to some of the warmest hospitality I have ever experienced in my travels. They simply could not do enough for you, and they were always there to offer a post-dive beverage or a warm towel. The boat is brilliantly set up for divers, with a spacious dive deck, ample camera table and charging space, and rinse tanks. Your personal station includes a crate for your small gear, and your tank is filled in place after every dive. The dive deck includes the luxury of two hot-water showers (with shampoo & conditioner), and once you peel off your dive skin, there is always someone ready to take it away for a quick rinse before hanging it to dry. Trays of tasty refreshments are served after every dive like aperitifs at a cocktail party, minus the alcohol, of course.

We had 18 guests on board (the max is 20), and the boat never felt too crowded. My dive buddy and I had booked the two, upper deck master suites, and we both felt the price differential was worth it. The rooms were spacious by liveaboard standards, particularly the bathrooms. There was generous storage space, and the bed was pretty comfortable. The a/c is noisy, as the compressor is under the bed, but on a couple of nights, I slept with my door and windows open to the night air. The cabin was serviced several times daily, including turndown service (a classy touch), and I was impressed with the way the steward always seemed to know when I’d left my cabin: he’d slip in and make the bed or service the bathroom and be gone before I’d returned.

The food was quite good, with plenty of quantity and variety. Particularly noteworthy was the availability of fresh fruit, veggies, and salads. Wonderful, homemade soups were on the menu every day at lunch. Dinner for the last night at sea was a traditional (and huge) roast turkey, and every lunch and dinner was followed by a delicious and creative dessert. Cold beer and wine was always available after you’d finished your day of diving.

After the last dive was logged on Friday afternoon, the crew rinsed and laid the gear out to dry on the upper sun deck. We arrived back in port late afternoon, where you’re on your own to have dinner in town. A continental breakfast is provided on Saturday morning, and guests are asked to disembark by 8:00am.

After leaving the RSA, my buddy and I headed to Luxor by private car – a five hour drive across the Egyptian desert – and ensconced ourselves in a luxurious (but ridiculously inexpensive) hotel along the Nile. After two days exploring the Valley of the Kings and other sites of ancient Egypt, we flew back to Cairo and on home.

The RSA is an outstanding value, given the exchange rate with the Egyptian pound (and compared to Aggressors in other parts of the world). And, yes, it is absolutely worth the effort to get there. I found the Egyptian people to be kind and welcoming, and I can’t imagine having missed this experience. I strongly recommend taking enough time to enjoy some topside touring, as the sites in Egypt are just too spectacular to miss. While Aggressor offers in-house travel services for Cairo and Luxor tours, my buddy and I decided to make our own arrangements.

I would not say that the Red Sea was the best diving of my life (Raja Ampat is still tops), but it was way up there. I missed seeing the big creatures, but sharks are over-fished there as they are nearly everywhere – and maybe we just weren’t lucky. The coral reefs were spectacular, the boat experience was superb, and topside Egypt is unlike anyplace else in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be able to add the Red Sea to your diving resume, by all means, book it. And I give the Red Sea Aggressor an unqualified recommendation.

Websites Red Sea Aggressor   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Most of the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Palau, Sulawesi, Kosrae, Fiji, Raja Ampat
Closest Airport Hurghada Getting There International flight to Cairo, then domestic to Hurghada

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 80-120 Ft/ 24-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions An excellent briefing was given, and then you and your buddy were free to dive your own plan.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Roomy camera tables with ample recharging outlets, dedicated rinse tub and air compressor for drying cameras.
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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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