The Best Liveaboards in the Red Sea

30th March 2017   |   Sarah Morlock

Scuba divers choose to travel to the Red Sea for a number of reasons, but chief among them are intact shipwrecks, shoals of sharks and colorful coral reefs. Reef sharks, oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, tigers and thresher sharks can all be seen throughout the region. In addition, whale sharks, manatees and dolphins may surprise lucky divers. And there are more than 800 species of fish with at least 10% of those endemic to the Red Sea.

While diving in Egypt and Sudan, you’ll find a variety of underwater environments, including shear walls, vibrant reefs, pinnacles and open ocean drifts. Some of the most popular dive sites are the area’s shipwrecks. The Thistlegorm is even considered one of the best dive sites in the world.

The lack of scuba diving infrastructure in remote sections of Egypt and Sudan combined with the distance between the best dive sites means the Red Sea is best traveled by liveaboard.

Liveaboards in Egypt and Sudan can depart from any number of ports, but Port Sudan, Marsa Alam, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and Safaga Port are the most popular. The typical length of liveaboard journeys is 6 or 7 nights, but some liveaboards offer 8 to 10-night itineraries.

The best time to dive in the Red Sea is from March to May and September to November. From December to February, you’ll have the best chances of spotting oceanic whitetips and hammerheads plus the best visibility. March to May is whale shark season, while you’ll find the best liveaboard deals from June to August. Finally, September to November is the best time to spot thresher sharks as well as manta rays in Sudan.

While most liveaboard itineraries are suitable to all levels of divers, some may require advanced, tec or wreck diving certifications. Southern routes are particularly good for advanced divers.


Best Luxury Liveaboard: MV Emperor Elite

The MV Emperor Elite is the most luxurious vessel in the Emperor Fleet and one of the best-equipped boats sailing the Red Sea.

Aboard the Emperor Elite, your luxury experience will begin below the water where you’ll enjoy at least 21 dives during every itinerary. There are 2 dive professionals on each trip to answer all your questions, and a huge dive deck ensures everyone has space for gearing up. In addition, Nitrox is provided free of charge.

As the 2011 “Liveaboard of the Year,” you know the Emperor Elite’s luxury treatment continues above the surface. Onboard you’ll enjoy an air-conditioned saloon, a bar, three sundecks and 5-star cuisine including complimentary dinner wine. WiFi is also provided for free. And each of the cabins is elegantly decorated. In particular, the premium, upper deck Executive Suite is a must see. This cabin was added in 2017 and boasts panoramic sea views.

You’ll truly want for nothing on the MV Emperor Elite.

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Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: MY Amelia

The MY Amelia was designed by divers to provide the ultimate dive safari. With a great mix of amenities and a middle-of-the-road price point, this liveaboard graces our list as the best mid-range liveaboard.

First and foremost, you’ll enjoy everything the Red Sea has to offer divers from this ship. Up to 4 dives a day are offered with 21 to 24 total dives on a 7-night itinerary. For deep divers, Nitrox is offered free of charge, and experienced dive instructors are available in case you want to get certified for Nitrox on board. With 12 different Red Sea routes to choose from, you can visit the region again and again.

Back onboard, the MY Amelia doesn’t disappoint. 8 crew members attend the 20 guests, who are accommodated in 10 comfortable cabins. There’s a large sun deck for relaxing between dives, and the onboard bar will surely be a meeting point for you and your dive buddies after a long day’s diving. As additional perks, WiFi is available for free and airport transfers are included in the price.

Weighing in at under USD $1000 per week, the MY Amelia is the perfect choice for divers who want a good mix of amenities and price.

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Best Budget Liveaboard: MY JP Marine

The MY JP Marine is a budget liveaboard that looks and acts like a more expensive boat. This dive safari will impress you with the number of amenities you’ll have for the price.

The experienced and professional JP Marine crew will be on hand to make sure your safari is the best possible experience. In particular, the dive pros will ensure dives are timed with regard to season in order to see the best marine life. For your comfort, dives are carried out from easy to enter tenders so that divers can get quickly and safely to the best point of entry for each site.

Unlike most budget boats, the JP Marine boasts 10 private twin cabins. Each is equipped with individual climate controls and a private bathroom with a hot water shower and sink. When you aren’t in your room, you can take in the incredible ocean views form the 2 sundecks or grab a drink at the bar.

If you want to dive the Red Sea but are worried about the cost, the MY JP Marine is a great choice.

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The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are a few more boats available. To see the full list of liveaboards in the Red Sea, click the button below.

View all liveaboards in the Red Sea

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