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Happy New Year all!

Like many others, I'm sick of the poor vis here and I'm going to get myself off to Egypt in the next few weeks and remind myself what 30m vis looks like!

I haven't dived there for nearly a decade and I guess things have changed.  Can anyone tell me if it is possible to hire cylinder + weights and organise shore dives myself?  Do I have to dive on organised boat trips?

Also, are there any companies doing boat trips that you would recommend?

Finally, Liveaboards.  Is the diving worth the risk of being stuck in a confined space with 15 total strangers (who may not be British!), or should I stay in a hotel and pick and choose the dive trips?  Is it busy there at this time of year?  Will I be able to twin up/get a pony?

So many questions... any answers gratefully received!

John
 

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Hi,

I don't know about hiring kit, and doing independant diving, it is very organised out there now, I think, with the very slim chance of Dahab, all the diving is done in organised groups. I would avoid Hurgada, I was there for a day on the way back from a Southern liveaboard last year and it is a bit of a #### hole. Certainly all the diving in Sharm is done by boat trip. It is possible to travel there and organise your diving whilst there. But, to be honest, if what you wnat is to go there and dive, then, it is easier and cheeper to just book a package trip, i.e. contact a company like Explorers www.explorers.co.uk or Regal www.regaldive.co.uk and arrange a trip through them. You tend to do the same sites year in year out. But for a nice way to spend a hassle free week diving in warm water you just can't beat Sharm in my humble opinion. Personally, I wil be there in March and can't wait.
On a personal note, Explorers have really pi**ed me off this year, so Regal seem a fantastic alternative as they were very helpfull for the Livaboard last year.

On that note, livaboards are fantastic, you get more and better diving, but I have to say you get a better holiday if you dive a day boat.

I guess it just depends on what you want

Enjoy where ever you choose.

Andrew
 

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A journalist friend of mine who is an expert on Middle East affairs and US and UK military strategy is quite convinced the balloon will go up in Iraq not later than Feb 4th or 5th, i.e. more or less immediately after the UN inspectors submit their report. He says the info' in the Daily Express etc about the attack starting around Feb 21st is disinformation to confuse Sadam and co. If he is right,  the best time to go to Sharm would be now, as soon as possible. I'm sure you would be perfectly safe in Egypt at any time but things might be a bit chaotic as regards travel, dive centre operations etc in connection with the attack. By the way, there are some excellent deals just now for the next few weeks. For example, Emperor Divers have an offer that allows two to dive for the same price as one (see their website).
 

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Andy

What have Explorers done to upset you ? I'm just about to take them up on a Sharm deal and would appreciate any info !!

Cheers
Paul
 

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Hi Paul,

Attitude, attitude, attitude,.

Every year we go to Sharm in March and again in September, it's a kind of start of season, end of season tradition which we have done for the last 6 years.

I have travelled with Explorers and dived with Ocean College for all but one of these trips. I noticed last September that they had a bit of an attitude shift, insted of actually trying to accomodate us (there are always 10 or more) they started to TELL us what we would do. This year they just refused to do anything but what they wanted.
It is my opinion that service related companies are supposed to provide exactly that and help the customer to have the best time possible. I think they have just grown too big for there boots. Regal on the other hand could not do enough to help.

Having said that, and this is the reason we have stayed with Explorers. Ocean College have consistantly proved to be fantastic, obviously dependant on the guide on the boat but we have always had a lot of fun, and, more importantly, they listen, if you want to do a specific site they always do there best to accomodate you.

So there you go, caught between a rock and a hard place.

Have a great trip despite the people you have to book it through.

Andrew
 

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Thanks for that Andy - I agree that companies like that should be doing all they can to accomodate/help the paying punter - especially when, like you, people go with a large group twice a year or so.

Holidays aren't cheap (esp diving !) and whilst Sharm/Hurghada etc have a reasonable monopoly on the short haul, winter type of deal, it is getting comparitively cheaper to go long haul too and I guess they need to think about the 'cattle market' type of approach on offer soon or lose business later.

I'll take another look at Regal now and see whats what !

Cheers for that
Paul
 

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Thanks for the info Andyp.  

About livaboards:  Do you do longer dives than the day boat dives?  Or is it only the ability to dive areas beyond day boats which make it special?

Do they dive every day, or do you have a no-diving last day because of the flight?
 

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All the livaboards I have done with the exception of Australia have given no maximum dive length, only a max RECOMENDED depth. Also, with Diving World they put a guide in the water with the last group but aside from that you are free to dive your own profile. On top of this you get to some fairly undived sites. The last trip we did was to Southern Egypt, St. Johns etc and it was simply fantastic. The opening dive we dropped in through a whole load of jacks, got to about 30M an below us on the wall were some of the biggest fan corals I have ever seen. We were a bit naughty and nipped down to take a look at about 55M but that was the deepest we went all week. There was no dive worse than that, so you can imagine what it was like.

The real joy of livaboards is that you are away from the crowds, the only downside is that there is a limited number of things to do at night, except of course a night dive.

You tend to have a night and a day on land at the end of the trip so that you can clear your computer for the flight.

With day boats, all the dives are guided, you get a max dive of an hour, and the guides tend to keep moving, after all this is like the hundreth time they've seen the site etc etc.

All the best,

Andrew
 

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I've done almost 40 trips abroad over the years, quite a few on liveaboards but more staying at hotels and diving from dayboats. The great advantage of liveaboards, in my opinion, is that you get to dive the more remote sites, sites that cannot be reached by dayboat. The downside is that cabins are usually more cramped than hotel rooms, you only get to try one restaurant all week, and you are stuck with the same people all the time – that's great if you like them, not so great if you don't. In places where the good sites can be reached by dayboat, I personally prefer to stay ashore and enjoy the comforts and amenities of a hotel, eating out at different places and perhaps doing some sightseeing as well as diving. You can still usually do 3 dives a day, which is enough for me. I can't see any point in going on a liveaboard that goes to the same places as the dayboats.

(Edited by John Gulliver at 1:12 am on Jan. 6, 2003)
 

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Anyone know what Tenerife is like for diving?  Thought I'd try it out since they fly from my local airport, rather than treking across the country to Gatwick.  Except all the deals had gone by the time I came to book.  Bugger.

So I'm going to Sharm after all.  Bummer eh!  Cheaper than Tenerife too.  Weird.  The dive pack is with Emperor Divers - anyone heard of them?

Thanks for all your help - though the really important info you left out.  Where are the best bars?
 

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Emperor Divers are arguably the best of all the dive centres in Egypt. Their boats, crew and diveguides are all first rate. They are British owned. They have centres in Sharm, Hurghada, Nuweiba, Sonora Bay and Marsa Alam, as well as a couple of liveaboards. They were voted divecentre of the year two (or was it three?) years running by Diver's readers. You can't go wrong with them. Their website is http://www.emperordivers.com
 

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I have dived with them,Emperor, 6 times untill they filled our regs up with carbon from their unserviced compressor, that was bad enough but when they gave us a load of c&#36&#36p about servicing our regs, 15 of us by the way, i never went back, i prefered easy divers, very helpful, took us where we wanted  to go and so on...
 

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2 out of 3. Hmmmm.  Good ratio for lottery ticket wins, not so good for dive centres!  

Thanks for the reassurance (and I am reassured!), although the reg situation sounds dodgy.  So much for O2 clean... I was going to do a TDI course through them - not sure now.

Of course, the next lottery will be the buddy I end up with...!


Cheers all.
 

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I second Steve's recommendation of Camel Dive Club. It's some years since I was there but they have always been very good.


(Edited by John Gulliver at 3:40 pm on Jan. 9, 2003)
 
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