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Dive Review of Royal Evolution in
Red Sea/Egypt & Sudan

Royal Evolution, Sep, 2008,

by Carol Cox, AE, AE (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 4453.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Palau, Truk, Guam, Turks & Caicos, Caymans, Cozumel, Roatan, Florida, Cyprus, Turkey
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 89 to 92 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions 40 meters, dive with buddy, back on boat with 450 PSI (30 bar), usually 60 minutes if RIB diving
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Two rinse tanks on stern, but they were not filled to capacity, which would have been better. Camera table with air hose, but top was cluttered with tools, analyzers, snacks, drinks; i.e. it wasn't reserved for cameras.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We spent 2 weeks on the Royal Evolution liveaboard on a Sudanese Expedition trip. We booked through Tony Backhurst in London and flew a charter flight from London to Marsa Alam. Our departure went OK except for a bad conveyor system that slowed down check-in. However, on return our carryon bags were weighed in addition to our checked bags. We were 8 pounds overweight and had to pay $60.
A bus picked up several Backhurst groups at the Marsa Alam airport. Our group spent the first night in a hotel. It was bedlam getting the correct bags off the bus and check-in was slow, but everyone eventually got rooms despite some missing reservations. Guests were confused on what hotel they were in, and what arrangements were for the next day. It would have helped if a crewmember had met us at the airport. The hotel had a pool, restaurants, and small shops, but not much to do while waiting until 17:00 for the short RIB ride to the boat. We found later we could have boarded the boat sooner, but they thought some of the group went diving with the hotel outfit. We paid $30 for late checkout--the alternative was to hang out in the lobby.
Upon boarding, we were given the evenings itinerary--Customs, dinner, and safety briefing. 23 divers were on board, Brits, Germans, two Swiss and us. We reserved a deluxe cabin on the deck with the dining room, lounge and dive deckgreat to minimize using stairs. The cabin was roomy with a queen bed (with room to walk around), storage and two picture windows. The bath had a spacious counter and another picture window. We had individual A/C and I could sit at the desk to use my laptop. Engine noise was minimal. Cabins below were reached by stairs, not a ladder, and were roomy but with no windows. One passenger complained about a smell of fumes. Issues with cabins were attended to promptly by staff. Guests were given deck towels.
After clearing Customs, the boat got underway as we ate dinner, and we motored over smooth seas to our first site all night.
In the morning we were briefed on dive safety and the dive site. After a check-out dive, guests could follow a guide or wander off to investigate coral heads. We moved onto another reef and did afternoon and night dives. We saw lots of blue-spotted rays, groupers, anemones with clownfish, butterfly and angelfish, and bumphead wrasses. On the night dive we saw moray eels and large lionfish followed us to gobble up small fish blinded by our lights.
After our first day, the boat motored all night and the next day with one stop in route to dive a large underwater plateau. We continued motoring through the night to reach Port Sudan to clear in and out of Customsvery efficient! We stayed on board while the crew handled everything.
We stopped a short distance outside the port to do three dives on the Umbria wreck, including a night dive. The 23 divers were divided into 3 groups and led through different sections of the ship to avoid overcrowding.
The routine for the next week was four dives a day, some from the stern of the liveaboard, and some from RIBs. The divers on board were highly experienced, making the dives very enjoyable. We were usually divided into 3 groups to avoid overcrowding during dives.
The boat ran very efficiently at sea, with lots of helping hands. The entire staff was very safety conscious. Divers were issued a safety sausage , air horn, and signal mirror and were required to carry an extra signal light on night dives in case they drifted off (which hasnt happened to date). Guides checked out riskier sites. We had one passenger on board that got around on crutches. She was helped when needed without any embarrassing fuss. She was a good diver once in the water and the crew did not let her mild handicap prevent her from using the RIBs or missing any dives. Right before plunging in for a night dive, an observant deck hand spied a small leak in my octopus hose. It was quickly changed out, saving the dive for me.
Food could have been better. The main course was often overcooked, but one day we had raw meatballs. The buffet had plenty of variety to include salads, side dishes, two main courses, and desert. Breakfast was virtually the same every day, except for eggs cooked to order. There was always a line for the slow toaster. There was no filtered coffee unless you purchased an espresso.
The first two dives usually consisted of deep dives over drop offs to look for sharks. Unfortunately, the water is warm in September and my husband and I only saw one gray reef shark and a small white tip. Hopefully they havent been fished out and theyll return with cooler water. After looking over the drop-off, we wandered back to a wall, plateau, or pinnacles to enjoy the spectacular reef creatures. The boat moved to a shallower site for the afternoon and night dives.
We saw butterfly and angelfish, jacks, groupersincluding coral and lyretails, anemones with clownfish, sea slugs, and colorful soft corals. We got close to giant bumphead parrotfish as they slept and saw moray eels, tons of lionfish and the ever-present Red Sea anthias. We even snorkeled with a school of manta rays.
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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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