As peak season comes to a close in Egypt, Emperor’s safari guide Sonia Goggel reflects on an 18-month period during which she’s experienced diving in near solitude before the joy of having normality return to the Red Sea.
 
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It was with great pleasure that we saw the first planes landing in Hurghada in July 2020 and diving activities slowly starting again in the Red Sea.
 
In this new era of learning to live with the Coronavirus pandemic, companies suffered greatly but divers and dive guides were highly rewarded.
 
It was a time of half-full liveaboards and hardly anyone else on world-famous dive sites like the Thistlegorm, Ras Mohamed, Tiran, the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone. 
 
Even in the high season, in late autumn, we had two consecutive weeks of diving in which we did not see another boat on any site. It was a huge joy for us and our guests.
 
Emperor Superior by Paul Duxfield
 
Many dive sites visibly profited from reduced diving activities. The soft corals and density of anthias at the Brothers Islands were, and still are, absolutely extraordinary. We also had sightings of special marine life such as a couple of Mola-Mola at the north-west tip of the Little Brother in December. 
 
However, the density of Oceanic whitetip shark at the Brothers and Daedalus - and even at Elphinstone - was much lower at the end of 2020 than in previous years, probably due to the reduced amount of boats.
 
The beginning of the year is always slow with dry dock and maintenance time, but with spring a steady growth in the numbers of countries opening up to Egypt was noticeable and with it a rising amount of divers coming back to our beloved Red Sea. 
 
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Even the most reluctant European countries had offers of direct flights by autumn and with them a sense of normality finally returned to our Egyptian Red Sea diving atmosphere.
 
There were full boats (except for a quarantine cabin) and dive sites with a more normal volume of boats and divers. Many friends who had been visiting us every year for as long as we can remember, and who had to stay at home for almost two years, finally returned to diving in the Red Sea. 
 
Seeing each other again and sharing diving experiences was sheer bliss. 
We are all in desperate need of normality and of the social interaction with dear friends - above and below the waves - we missed for such a long time.
 
With growing numbers of divers the Oceanic whitetip sharks also returned in large numbers, mainly to Elphinstone where we have had some superb close encounters this year but also to Daedalus and the Brothers. 
 
We enjoyed our schooling hammerheads at Daedalus this year through spring and summer. At Elphinstone we also had sightings of hammerheads while the Brothers, of course, had its cornucopia of hammerheads, threshers, grey reefs, oceanics and silky sharks!
 
Hammerhead at Daedalus
 
Even though some of my most treasured diving moments in the last year and a half were to dive the Thistlegorm, Ras Mohamed, Tiran, Abu Nuhas, the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone with only five or ten other divers, seeing normality arriving back to the Red Sea is highly satisfying.
And being able to share the miraculous Red Sea diving with old friends again is an immense delight!
 
Daedalus by Jule
 
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With advent now under way, plans for the festive period are starting to take shape. However, if turkey and all the trimmings leaves you a little cold, it’s not too late to seal your escape to the beautiful Maldives.
 
There is still time to fly into Male on one of the many scheduled airlines, join one of our six vessels and start diving with the manta rays, grey reef sharks and the host of other pelagic the Maldives has to offer.
 
Our Best of the Maldives itinerary takes you to the wonderful and most famous sites in a beautiful week of liveaboard diving across Male, Ari and Vaavu atolls.
 
Awaiting you are channels, pinnacles and cleaning stations where you have every chance of meeting mantas, a variety of sharks and mesmerising marine life of so many varieties.
 
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You really get up close at the cleaning stations without disturbing the locals! One of the best-known dive sites is Fish Head; a marine protected site. This medium-size pinnacle has many resident turtles, huge schools of fusiliers being stalked by trevally and patrolling grey reef sharks. Overhangs and a large school of blue line snapper, the iconic reef fish of the Maldives, make this a genuinely great dive.
 
Other fantastic experiences this trip offers include the chance to swim with whale sharks at night and the world-famous Alimatha jetty night dive where the hunting nurse sharks, trevally and massive stingrays will keep you enthralled for the full dive.
 

Christmas getaway  Best of Maldives – Prices start from €1399 / £1189 / $1650

 
However, if Christmas plans are already in place then January could be the perfect time to get away. Starting 2022 with some big shark action on our Deep South Southern Sharks itinerary would be an amazing way to open the new year.
 
This itinerary takes you diving the southerly Maldivian atolls, allowing you to experience the shark action in the more remote sites between Huvadhoo and Addu Atolls.
 
Whale shark
 
Spend a week away from the madding crowds and dive Fuvahmulah and Huvadhoo on the lookout for some of the Indian Ocean’s larger residents; tiger sharks, silver tips, grey reef sharks, whale sharks, silky sharks and maybe even a Mola-Mola.
 
Huvadhoo offers many world class channels including Vilingilli, Koodoo, Nilandhoo and Mareehaa - all teaming with sharks and pelagic gems.
 
In Fuvahmulah you can expect to meet tiger, silky, silver tip and thresher sharks on the south plateau while Addu Atoll hosts the World War Two wreck HMS British Loyalty as well as majestic manta cleaning station Maa Kandu.
 
And with a more relaxing drift dive at Demon corner to either start or end the trip with, surely there is no better present to give yourself this Christmas?
 

January - Deep South & Southern Sharks – Prices start from €2715 / £2305 / $3205

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BOGOHP or up to 25% OFF

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A huge variety of liveaboard sailings from our 3 destinations are applicable for Buy One Get One Half Price (based on full price) or with up to 25% off for single travellers. The diving has been incredible as reefs and seas around the world have benefitted from less traffic, so it's time to book in for your piece of the action and grab a bargain while you do it! Don't forget our super low deposit scheme and flexible cancellation policy to give you peace of mind to book with confidence. Email our super Team on reservations@emperordivers.com to book your cabin!

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Red Sea 2021

  • 22/07, 02/09 & 16/09 Echo - Red Sea Sharks - was €1239, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €250, Now €989
  • 16/09 Asmaa - Simply the Best - was €1249, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €250, Now €999
  • 02/12, 09/12 & 16/12 Echo - South & St Johns - was €949, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €240, Now €709
  • 17/12 Superior - Reefs & Wrecks - was €999, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €250, Now €749
  • 23/12 & 30/12 Echo - South & St Johns - was €1179, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €300, Now €879
  • 24/12 & 31/12 Superior - Reefs & Wrecks - was €1229, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €300, Now €929

Red Sea 2022

  • 06/01, 13/01, 20/01 & 28/01 Echo - South & St Johns - was €949, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €240, Now €709
  • 04/02, 11/02 & 18/02 Asmaa - Reefs & Wrecks - was €899, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €180, Now €719

Maldives 2021

  • 05/06 & 12/06 Leo - Best of Maldives - was €1629, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €400, Now €1229
  • 10/06, 03/07, 10/07, 24/07 & 31/07 Voyager - Best of Maldives - was €1479, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €369, Now €1110
  • 15/08 & 26/09 Explorer - Best of Maldives - was €1979, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €494 , Now €1485
  • 22/08, 29/08, 12/09 Serenity - Best of Maldives - was €1829, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €459 , Now €1370
  • 19/12 Explorer - Best of Maldives 10 nights - was €3069, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €769 , Now €2300
  • 19/12 & 26/12 Atoll - Best of Maldives - was €1799, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €449, Now €1349
  • 25/12 Leo - Best of Maldives - was €1949, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €489 , Now €1460

Maldives 2022

  • 02/01 Atoll - Best of Maldives - was €1695, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €420 , Now €1275
  • 02/01 & 26/01 Serenity - Deep South & Southern Sharks 14 nights - was €4795, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €960, Now €3835
  • 08/01 Leo - Deep South & Southern Sharks 14 nights - was €3795, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €760, Now €3035
  • 09/01, 16/01 & 23/01 Atoll - Best of Maldives - was €1695, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €340 , Now €1355
  • 01/05, 08/05, 15/05 & 22/05 Serenity - Best of Maldives - was €1995, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €500, Now €1495

Indonesia 2022

  • 25/09 Harmoni - Komodo & Maumere 9 nights - was €4860, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €970, Now €3890
  • 19/12 Harmoni - Best of Raja Ampat 9 nights - was €4860, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €970, Now €3890

Indonesia 2023

  • 10/01 & 19/01 Harmoni - Best of Raja Ampat 7 nights - was €3780, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €945, Now €2835
  • 28/01 & 08/02 Harmoni - Best of Raja Ampat 9 nights - was €4860, BOGOHP or SAVE 20% / €970, Now €3890
  • 03/05/, 10/05, 17/05 & 24/05 Harmoni - Bali & Komodo 7 nights - was €3640, BOGOHP or SAVE 25% / €910, Now €2730

Offer Terms

Offers apply to a limited number of places per sailing and may be removed at short notice. Not applicable with any other offer or discount.

Applicable on new bookings only with immediate effect. Normal payment terms & conditions apply. Email info@emperordivers.com for more information.

Thank your Covid Hero

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Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? We know that people have had to step up all over the world as the pandemic affected so many lives, and we want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips as our way of saying ‘thank you’. For example healthworkers, carers, people who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community – we want to hear from you if you know of a heroic diver like that who would love to have a liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. We know there are hundreds if not thousands of stories of amazing people who have stepped up and we hope you will tell us about them.
 
It’s simple, you need to nominate them and tell us why they deserve a free trip in 100 to 200 words along with a recent photo of them, and whether they would prefer a Red Sea trip or a Maldives trip. A multinational panel of some of our most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 4 months. There are 4 Red Sea and 4 Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!
 
#coviddiverheroes

 

Terms and Conditions

  • Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month starting 28/2/21 and ending 14/6/21
  • Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May and Maldives 5th June
  • Prize includes a 7 night liveaboard trip and regular airport transfers. Trips redeemable subject to availability until end of 2023. Flights are not included. For a full list of inclusions and exclusions please email heroes@emperordivers.com
  • You can nominate anyone you know personally except yourself; neither you nor the nominee need to have dived with Emperor Divers before.
  • Divers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult on any complimentary trip.
  • We will share the hero’s story and photograph in selected media and social media channels. Should you prefer us to use a pseudonym for that and/or not use the photograph please advise us on your entry.
  • Entries should include your name, hero’s name and age, a photograph, a preference for Maldives or Red Sea and a nomination of minimum 100 and maximum 200 words either as the email text or an attached Word document. The subject line of the email should be the nominated hero’s name.
 
Entries are preferred in English.
 
Entries should be sent to heroes@emperordivers.com
 
Comments and questions may also be directed to heroes@emperordivers.com.
 

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The Dive Travel Awards 2020 have just been announced and there is great news for Emperor Divers. Emperor Elite, our Red Sea flagship, won 1st Place for Best Liveaboard worldwide, which is even more impressive considering no Red Sea liveaboard has ever won before. On top of that Emperor Serenity in The Maldives came 6th Place overall, meaning Emperor Divers were the only diving operator to have boats from 2 different destinations in the Top 10.

Our other destination, Indonesia, won an award as the Best Diving Destination – understandable considering the quality and variety on offer in that underwater paradise - and the ever popular Egyptian Red Sea placed second.
 
Thank you to everyone who voted for us, it has made 2020 just a little sweeter. 

Diving again - your COVID questions answered

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Those of you following us on Facebook and Instagram will have seen that we have restarted limited operations in both the Red Sea and Maldives. Diving during this pandemic is a bit more challenging, and even impossible for many still, we know that. The payoff for those who can make it to the resorts is the chance to dive while very few others are. Think about having the Thistlegorm, the Brothers, Moofushi or Alimatha Jetty to yourselves - a unique opportunity! We have been getting quite a few questions from you, our divers, and so we thought we would ask the experts to clear them up.

General

I want to book but am worried that things will not open up in time, how can I be sure?
We offer peace of mind with our No Deposit Scheme. You can secure your places and we will only ask for payment once travel restrictions are lifted and you are able to travel.

What if I am booked and then things change?
These are uncertain times and what may be true today may not be tomorrow; therefore we are offering all guests flexible rebooking terms. This means should anything change and you are unable to join us as planned, we will reschedule your trip, with no penalty, to a future date to suit you.

What about insurance?
Navigating insurance can be difficult at times like these; however, there are companies offering Covid cover even for destinations which are not yet on the governmental 'green lists'. It's worth contacting Divemaster Insurance, Battleface, or Rock Insurance to find a policy to suit your needs.

Red Sea

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Based in Egypt for the past 11 years and all the way through the pandemic, Luke our General Manager was on hand to answer the following regular questions:

What is Emperor actually operating currently?
We managed to get our first trip out on the 2nd of July, only a day after the borders reopened and diving was allowed again. We were the first on the mainland to get our safari boats COVID safe, certified by the authorities, and we were desperate to get out. Mostly we have been running trips with Emperor Superior in the North, going across the gulf to Sinai and down to The Brothers, but we just brought Elite down to Port Ghalib and are now operating the Southern routes again. So now divers have a choice of Northern or Southern safari routes for the next few weeks, still with a few places left, which are confirmed sailings. It's a bit too early to think about when we might open the daily diving centres, as many hotels are still closed, but we can't think of anything better than a liveaboard right now. It's the high season, yet we're often the only boat onsite!

Who is flying to Egypt?
Right now the flights arriving to Hurghada directly are Edelweiss from Zurich and Easyjet from Gatwick and Manchester, UK. Pegasus are also flying into Hurghada via Istanbul and have proved to be really popular as they connect to loads of local UK & European airports. There is also Egyptair through Cairo, but they are coming up quite expensive at the moment, as well as direct flights from Ukraine, Belarus & Serbia.

What are the rules for flying into Egypt?
Egypt is insisting on a health declaration to be completed before boarding and for passengers to have valid travel insurance. Since September 1st travellers also need a negative PCR test printed out, with a test date of no earlier than 72 hours before departure. There is an option available to do a PCR test on arrival, but we must ask our liveaboard divers to only take that option if they have a hotel stay booked for a night or two before their trip. It is not allowed to board the boat while waiting on the result of that test, which may not arrive on the same day.

What's it like on the boat?
Very quiet right now! We still have an occupancy cap of 50% on our Red Sea boats, although with the new PCR ruling there is a chance that may increase soon. Of course we have put a lot of new procedures in place, whilst trying not to undo all the work we have done in recent years regarding plastic waste. It's still a holiday though; common sense is applied for mask use, for example only enforced when moving around because of narrow corridors and passages, or during indoor briefings, so there is no danger of a mask tan. There's loads of room to maintain social distance, and there is sanitiser absolutely everywhere. There have been some incredible sightings though, such as diving with a whaleshark for 10 minutes at Ras Mohamed!

Maldives

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Bernie our General Manager in Maldives headed back there on one of the first flights at the end of July to set up the boats for our first trips. We caught up with him to ask the following:

What is Emperor actually operating currently?
We ran our first trip on Voyager starting August 16th for what was an amazing experience, 10 days of diving without another dive boat in sight! Voyager has since been on back to back surf tours taking in the world class surf breaks in the Maldives. Leo was next out on Sept 6th for her first trip, another week of diving to ourselves and some incredible sightings including 2 Whalesharks, Mantas and so much more.

Who is flying to Maldives?
Currently the best options are Qatar, Emirates, Etihad and Sri Lankan airlines who have been flying in with British Airways & Turkish Airlines soon to start.

What's the rules with flying in?
As of September 10th, all arrivals need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departing their original destination, this can be a digital or paper document.

The airline I'm flying with want a valid PCR for my return, how do I get that sorted?
The National Boating Association Maldives have set up a testing facility on Hulhumale in North Male atoll and we also have an option for on board testing by Mahibadhoo clinic in Ari atoll. The tests currently cost circa 200 USD.

What's it like on the boat?
We are living with the 'new normal' so things are a little different, we have many disinfecting and sanitising procedures in place and encourage social distancing and masks where sensible. We have lots of space on board and try to minimise the chance of any of the new procedures impacting your holiday. The diving has been incredible and to have these dive sites to your self is unheard of in recent years.

 

Starting to dive again

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We've been working hard to prepare for the arrival of guests on the liveaboards and dive centres.
 
Following the strict regulations laid down by the local authorities and WHO, we're pleased to say our boats and centres have now been certified to begin operations again.
 
We're pleased to have met all the requirements needed to operate and have passed the Egyptian Health Authorities' thorough inspections. But to make sure we've got it right, we went one step further and this week have run a trial trip for a few lucky guests who managed to fly in from Switzerland. It gave our crews the opportunity to train and learn best practice with a limited number of guests which we feel has been very useful.
 
With flights returning to the Maldives on 15 July and foreign offices easing restrictions, we're able to start running trips on 09 August and ramp up after that. Our guests can be confident our teams have been working hard to ensure best practice is being adhered to when you dive with us.
 
Emperor are keen to work with our guests to provide the best diving experience possible but admit that, in the near to mid future, some compromise may be required. Trips might need to be combined to ensure as many people as possible can be catered for. Clare, Cat and the reservations team will keep you updated. Some flight arrival days may have changed so we may have to re-route some trips to pop back into port to pick up guests but our guides will make sure no dives are missed.
 
The 4 month pause has given the reefs a good break and means divers can expect to experience some wonderful diving in the coming months. Our 'Fish out of Water' social media posts have been popular but now our guides can't wait to welcome you back into the water again for the real thing.
 
We're still supporting you with zero deposit bookings, so you can plan your future trips without any financial commitment providing peace of mind - ask our team how.

 

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There’s no need to repeat how unprecedented the Covid 19 pandemic is. The effects are everywhere. We’d like to thank those guests who have been affected by the travel chaos for their understanding and patience and to our many friends who have sent their best wishes.
 
We will get through this. The Emperor family have all stepped up to ensure we’ll be there to provide you with some great diving in the future. We’re all uncertain about when “normal” will return but we all know it will. So, we understand there is no way anyone wants to pay a deposit for a holiday when they can’t be sure it’ll happen as planned.
 
Our solution is to let you hold spaces on our boats for FREE – no deposit, just an agreement to be fair with each other.
 
Contact us either at reservations@emperordivers.com or via your favourite dive travel operator and we’ll hold any date from 01 July 2020 onwards – no deposit required. Once the travel bans are lifted and “normal“ service returns, we’ll ask you to pay our low deposit of EUR 200 / GBP 180 / USD 250 per person and then the final balance at the normal time. Should you decide you can’t travel as planned, then no harm done, we’ll just cancel your place and hope to be of service to you at some other time.
 
Because our lives have been “paused” by Covid 19, many 2020 bookings have re-booked for late 2020 and into 2021: we hope this offer helps you plan ahead and hold your place with no risk.
We're aware that travel restrictions imposed by governments to contain COVID 19 are making it difficult for our guests to plan their trips. We have therefore decided to temporarily amend our cancellation conditions. For all new bookings, the following applies with immediate effect:
 
If travel restrictions are implemented by your local, Egyptian, Maldivian or Indonesian governments due to COVID 19 (Corona virus) causing you to be unable to travel then the following will apply:
 
  1. Any new booking that is made for travel between 10 March and 30 April is affected you will be allowed to cancel and get a full refund.
     
  2. Any new booking that is made for travel between 01 May and 30 June is affected you will be allowed to cancel or be rebooked free of charge up to 14 days before arrival.

Komodo - So much more than great diving

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By Florent Delente

Around Komodo, Sangeang Volcano with its Hot Rocks dive site is a must see. As Emperor Raja Laut sails nearby you can admire this almost 2,000 metre-high smoking volcano. The village of Bonto is located in a stunning bay with the black sand area being one of the best spots for a world-class night dive. Many critters inhabit these rich waters; cuttlefish, octopus, bobtail squid, tiny frogfish as well as many different types of nudibranch and other invertebrates.

Sangeang Volcano

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