We had to spend a few days in India separated by a gap, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend the gap by making a diving trip -- we ended up choosing the Blue Force liveaboard which was running its best of Maldives diving schedule (dec 19-26). This is a pretty well appointed boat; our cabin had a double bed as well as another single (not bunk), a very spacious en suite, and plenty of space on various decks (not to mention a couple of jacuzzis). Probably one of the most comfortable liveaboards that we've been on so far. It felt even more spacious since the boat had only a bit over a dozen divers/guests despite a capacity of twenty.
The food pattern is typical of any liveaboard -- morning coffee, dive, big breakfast, dive, lunch, dive, and maybe another dive before dinner. This being a muslim country, there is no pork; but they do serve wine and beer on board. Breakfast was basically English breakfast and the chef would cook up eggs on order. Lunch and dinner were buffet style, with perhaps six dishes (three meat/fish, and three vegetarian), couple of salads, and fresh fruits. The cook did a pretty good job; I especially liked the Maldivian style curries, which were good and spicy. I think they had more vegetarian fare than in other boats, since the Spanish couple who were running the diving operations (Silvia and Fernando) are both vegetarians.
Diving really was superb on this trip; much better than I expected: partly because the boat does care about going to the best possible dive sites, and partly because conditions were decent -- nice warm water, lots of marine life, and well-managed diving coordination with other boats in each location. We were typically twelve divers each time, diving in two groups. Silvia and Fernando and Zilal (the Maldivian guide) were guiding the groups, and usually a couple of apprentice staff were also with the group. Diving was alsways off the huge dhoni that travels together with the boat. The water conditions were excellent -- visibility always over 20m and upto 30m, temperature around 29-30C, and probably the strongest current we saw was a knot or so. The liveaboard route started at Male, going south along the east side of Male atoll, and then swinging to South Ari (for whale sharks) and then moving up along the west of South Ari atoll, turning back to Male from Rashdoo. The dives we made were:
20 Dec (North, South Male): Lankan Beru, Lmosfushi Kandu, Miyaru Kandu, Alimathaa (Felidhoo)
21 Dec (South Ari): Maamigiri, Maamigili, Kudarah Thila
22 Dec (South Ari): Camel rock, Mahibadhu Madivaru, Lamiyaruga Thila
23 Dec (North Ari): Moofushi Beru, Fishhead, Maaya lagoon (x2)
24 Dec (North Ari, Rashdoo): Maaya thila, Hafsa thila, Madivaru beru
25 Dec (Rashdoo): Madivaru beru, Lankan beru
About the photos
Gear: Sony Nex7 with stock 18-55 lens with a Sealife +10 wet diopter (that almost never got used); Sea & Sea YS-01 strobe in slave mode. Kitty used her Canon G12 in Canon housing and an AdventureX 1200 lumen video light; her housing is leaking a bit, so we will take the chance to upgrade this camera next trip, probably looking at the Canon G1x.. If you'd like the originals of any of these images, email me.