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My wife and I just got back from a week long diving vacation in the Bahamas (Nassau area). While we had a good time, we just were not all that impressed with the quality of the reefs and the variety of aquatic life in the Bahamas. In comparision, we spent 2 weeks last year in Maui and absolutely loved the diving. These two dive vacations are our only reference points...
We enjoy diving vacations and are in the beginning stages of planning our next one. We are considering a live aboard for our next vacation because of the number of dive opportunities in a week without the hassle of lugging our gear each day. Ideally, we would like to do around 20 dives with at least 3 night dives during a week long vacation. Having never done a live aboard, I am hoping for some advice in which operations we should consider based upon our preferences.... With so many companies out there, I am having a difficult time determining the top 3 or 4 to look at. Anyhow, all input is appreciated based upon the below criteria:
We are PADI AOW divers with 32 logged dives; I am not sure if this would still be classified as beginners or intermediates. We are both fairly confident with our buoyancy and neither of us would be considered hoovers when it comes to air . We enjoy reef diving a lot more than wrecks, and our ideal location would have both healthy corals and a large variety of marine life as well. My wife enjoys underwater digital photography, so an operation that caters to photographers is preferred. We would NEED a cabin that has some privacy and a bed that we can share - it is vacation after all! My wife gets cold easily when doing multiple dives, so a hot shower after each dive or a hot tub would be a nice plus. Other than that, I think we would like something more upscale than Blackbeards (i.e. no camping at sea), but by no means would we need to be eating off china each night either.
We really do not have a preference for location as long as it meets our criteria above and the diving is great! Ideally, we would like to keep the cost under $5,000 for the two of us including gratuties and flights from Chicago. Your suggestions are appreciated...
I've had the pleasure of two Aggressor trips and was trapped aborad one of the peter hughes boats boats for a week. My best was the Turk & Caicos Aggressor followed closely by the Cayman Aggressor. While I know people have their own opinion my experience on two hughes boats was the crew was going diving and drinking while these people that were bothering them were along for the ride. The Aggressor Crew was professional and the service was outstanding.
I just returned from a live aboard in Palau (the Big Blue Explorer) and did a live aboard several years ago in St Kitt / Saba (the Caribbean Explorer). Both live aboards were great.
The Palau trip, six other friends came with. This was their first live aboard, and now our group is only planning on doing liveaboards.
Looking at the prices, the Agresssor fleet always seems a little higher priced that the competition. In Palau, I think it was several hunderd dollars a person. I have never been on the Peter Hughes live aboards. Interesting comment from the other post about the Peter Hughes, our group is looking at the Hughes live aboard in Beliez for next year's trip.
The price for Palau with a week diving in Yap came out to over $5000.00 for each person, and we did 40 dives in the two weeks.
When I did the Caribbean several years ago, they were running a special and I think the live aboard was about $1200 per person with the air fair almost that much from California.
Basically count on being able to do 5 dives a day. Make sure you each have dive computers.
If you haven't been to the Caribbean, that is the best diving for the dollar, plus you don't have a 20 hour air plane ride.
You might try the Turks & Caicos Explorer. This boat was formerly the Caribbean Explorer I. It had a major refit and since October has been doing weekly shots out of Provo diving in the West Caicos/French Caye areas. Excellent and easy diving. It's all walls so you can pretty much pick whatever profile you want. Great value relative to other boats. Provo is easy to get to too.