By April Fung
I recently returned from my third aboveboard trip to the Maldives and was my best trip so far. Our group was aboard the Blue Force One, which I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone considering a trip to the Maldives. Here are seven things I loved about this trip.
1. It's Really Comfortable. The Blue Force One is a big boat — 138 feet long and 30 feet wide. But instead of packing on more passengers, they keep to a maximum of 24 divers in 12 cabins. It's the most spacious liveaboard I've ever been aboard, and the cabins feel like hotel rooms — no bunk beds, just double beds or doubles+twin. One of the couples in our group booked an onboard suite, and they said the bathroom was larger than theirs at home. And it's not just the guest quarters. All the public areas are equally spacious. There's a huge indoor lounge, outdoor relaxation areas, a hot tub, big sundeck, full bar and some additional areas for private time.
2. The Food Was Great. No complaints in the meals department. The crew served a lot of healthy fruits and salads, fresh meat and seafood, plus there were plenty of delicious snacks and desserts. Especially remember us having the best banana milkshake after one dive. On several nights they served excellent sashimi and ceviche dinners. In addition to the food, a nice added touch to each meal was the setting. The Blue Force One has an open-air dining area near the bow where you can enjoy the view while you eat.
3. First-Class Service. The crew was top-notch. Really friendly and professional. Our group had no complaints, only compliments. I can’t say enough good things about the dive masters. Briefings were both fun and detailed, and our divemaster was attentive and especially helpful to one of our group divers who needed a little bit more guidance. She was made to feel comfortable the whole trip, but without overdoing it. Both she and her husband were impressed and said they never experienced this level of attention before.
4. Plenty of Elbow Room. Maldives liveaboards do all diving from a support boat known as a dhoni. The Blue Force One's dhoni was the most spacious I have experienced. Even with all divers aboard, we never felt overcrowded. There was plenty of room to gear up and overhead shelves for divers to store anything that they want to keep dry. With so much space on board, moving around and making easy giant stride entries was easy.
5. Lots of Sharks and Mantas. Lots of black-tip and white-tip sharks, and even one tiger shark at a distance. We also had a very long snorkel encounter with a whale shark at night — it was hanging around the back of the boat feeding on plankton. We were so close that I got pictures of him feeding with his mouth open, right in front of me. And the MANTAS GALORE! At one point we had at least 15 show up. We saw them when both diving and snorkeling, and right at the back of the boat as well.
6. Added Adventures. In addition to a lot of great diving, the Blue Force One crew organized some non-diving excursions. There was a trip to a beautiful, postcard-like deserted island for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding, a trip to an island village for souvenir shopping, and a fun barbecue on the beach. On the last day of the cruise, we enjoyed a guided visit to the capital city of Male before leaving.
7. They Go The Extra Mile. The crew selects each week's route to avoid other dive boats and ensure uncrowded dive sites. The Blue Force One is one of the few liveaboards that includes Alimathaa Island visits on what is known as the Central Atolls route. This is where there are tons of friendly nurse sharks gather, ranging up to 9 feet in length, almost like overgrown puppies.
An Extra Word – Some clients have asked me if there are currents in the Maldives, and my answer is yes. While some sites are quite calm, others can have fairly strong water flow, and this is not such a bad thing, as this is where you get to see the sharks going by. This is where the Blue Force One's competent dive masters and detailed briefings became most important. They took their time to show the proper use of a reef hook, (which is mandatory) for these sites, and we practiced surface marker deployments, just in case. Diving with a reef hook is great fun. Once you hook in you can just chill out and watch the action with no effort at all.
Below is a video from our trip, and I think that captures the experience as well as can be done without actually being on the trip. Which, by the way, is something I highly recommend! Want to know more? Just give us a call at 800-329-9989 or send a note to email@example.com.