The World’s Most Luxurious Liveaboard Dive Boats2nd September 2016 | Sandro Lonardi
If eat, sleep, and dive are the only three things you want to do on your vacation, a dive charter is for you. But perhaps you’re worried that a week on a boat will leave you longing for a 5-star resort. Don’t be! These luxury dive safaris offer the best liveaboard diving in the world. And you won’t have to lift a finger in the process!
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What to Expect on a Luxury Liveaboard
Whether you call these boats opulent or boutique, there are a few common denominators in terms of service and amenities. To be considered one of the best scuba liveaboards in the “luxury” category, a dive boat most likely provides:
- Tailor-Made Service: Many dive charters take into account the needs of their guests in terms of dive sites, desired marine creatures and food menus. This flexibility is a cornerstone of the boutique liveaboard experience.
- Attention to Detail: From post-dive snacks to towels that are refreshed daily, no detail goes unnoticed, leaving divers with nothing to worry about.
- A Low Ratio of Dive Guides to Divers: On these dive safaris, most dive guides are only responsible for 4 to 5 people, ensuring safe and quality scuba diving.
- A Full-Service Dive Routine: Divers only have to set up their equipment on the first day and disassemble their equipment on the last day. In between, the crew takes all responsibility for washing and changing tanks. There’s no need to do even the slightest bit of work!
- A Crew That Outnumbers the Guests: Most of these dive boats have more crew members than the maximum number of guests. This is to ensure that each and every guest feels pampered and cared for throughout the journey.
- Deluxe Cabins: Unlike some charters, luxury liveaboards tend to have spacious staterooms with ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning. A few less common amenities include in-room TVs, full bathtubs or 180-degree views of the ocean.
- Quality Cuisine: Most boats displaying a note of grandeur boast trained chefs who prepare the finest cuisine on the high seas. You won’t go hungry on these yachts!
- Plentiful Frills: From full spas to full bars, there’s really nothing you can’t find on the world’s top liveaboard diving yachts. Submarines, kayaks, hot tubs and yoga studios make an appearance in at least one of the top 15 boutique dive charters listed below.
The Top 15 Luxury Liveaboards
If you want to add a touch of splendor to your next diving vacation, consider the 15 yachts listed below. From Raja Ampat to the Maldives, these are the best trips for scuba divers who love to feel pampered.
1. Four Seasons Explorer
Associated with the Four Season Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, the luxurious Four Season Explorer is a well-appointed, three-deck catamaran complete with everything necessary for the perfect diving holiday in the Maldives. She’s a 127-foot (39-meter) purpose-built, boutique liveaboard. The 11 deluxe cabins host only 22 passengers and are supplemented by complimentary WiFi and MP3 player connections. The multilingual dive staff and experienced crew (which includes a marine biologist) serve up delectable cuisine, provide spa treatments and, of course, offer 5-star guided dives in hard-to-reach Maldivian destinations.
2. Damai I & II
With 25 years of experience diving in Indonesia, the Damai I & II are 130-foot (40-meter) traditional yachts designed for small group dive safaris. With 7 staterooms, the maximum number of divers is 14 yet the crew of each vessel is 20 members strong. You’re sure to get personalized service, but what’s even better are the small perks found on board. Each room is equipped with reef-safe amenities such as suntan lotion and shampoo as well as a 3G hotspot so that you can always be in contact with the outside world. Sailing in the Coral Triangle has never been so simple!
Cloud-like white sails announce the arrival of the Amira at ports throughout Indonesia. But just because it reaches remote corners of the Coral Triangle doesn’t mean the Amira sacrifices grandeur. The 170-foot (52-meter) yacht boasts both a sun deck and a spacious lounge as well as two shared computers, massage services and onboard kayaks. The spacious dive deck and four dives a day mean scuba divers are well-catered for aboard this magnificent dive charter.
4. Majestic Explorer
The Majestic Explorer is a newly completed boat that will set sail in 2018. In her design, nothing has gone unnoticed. From the lunch menu to the cabin decor, you will see the attention to detail from the minute you come aboard. This luxurious 115-foot (35-meter) motor yacht was built specifically to cruise the Galapagos Islands and can accommodate 16 people in 8 spacious staterooms, all with ensuite private bath and showers. These cabins are located on the main and lower decks, positioned to maximize the ocean views. In addition, the handpicked guides will ensure you see everything the Galapagos has to offer. All you have to do is sit back, relax and watch the world float by.
Newly built in 2015, the Samambaia is one of the newest liveaboards sailing Indonesian waters. To ensure your dive safari holiday becomes a memorable experience, every aspect of the Samambaia exudes extravagance. The design, itinerary and menu have all received detailed attention, but the personalized service makes the Samambaia stand out in the field of Indonesian dive boats. There’s a crew of 16 for a maximum of 14 guests! In addition, the Samambaia carries children’s diving equipment, making this a great option for the whole family.
The range of amenities available on this sumptuous dive safari is sure to wow you. The luxury liveaboard offers comfortable cabins ranging from double suites to twin accommodations. The onboard massage services, kayaks, free wifi and dive courses will keep you busy when you aren’t under the water. But the frills don’t stop there. Divers enjoy a spacious dive deck, and 3 dive tenders are used to reach the dive sites in small groups. With an attentive crew for 16 guests, you’ll feel pampered throughout your diving holiday.
7. Scubaspa Ying & Yang
Possibly the best scuba diving liveaboards for traveling with a non-diving partner, Scubaspa Ying & Yang boast the innovative concept of combining a diving charter with a wellness retreat. Sailing among the idyllic islands of the Maldives, you’ll be in total peace during your stay aboard these two diving yachts. A jacuzzi on top, a 5-star spa and three decks allow plenty of room for guests to relax. For diving, there’s a well-equipped dhoni to store equipment and ferry divers to dive sites. Packages can be booked for diving only holidays, spa only holidays or a combination of the two.
8. Maldives Blue Force One
Awarded the title of Best Built Liveaboard for 2014 by the Liveaboard Association of the Maldives, the Maldives Blue Force One allows divers to explore the magic of manta rays and whale sharks under the water while enjoying VIP treatment between dives. Nitrox is included and diving takes place from the yacht’s dhoni where your equipment will stay for the entirety of the journey. Two jacuzzis and a full spa as well as three sundecks ensure non-divers are well taken care of too. Discover these uniquely beautiful islands aboard the Maldives Blue Force One.
9. MV Orion
The MV Orion provides the perfect marriage between first class accommodation and world-class diving. Of course, diving in the Maldives is out of this world, but the MV Orion makes the diving even better with use of a 65-foot (20-meter) dhoni where tanks are stored and filled. This means there’s no noisy compressor on the main vessel. Free Nitrox and personal tracking devices are provided for all guests. When guests are onboard, they can enjoy the sundeck, whirlpool or massage room. Several European languages are spoken by several crew members to ease communication. As an additional and unusual perk, most of the staterooms boast full bathtubs, a rarity on dive safari vessels.
10. MY Duke of York
Serious divers who enjoy the finer things in life will want to consider the MY Duke of York for their next journey to the Maldives. This was one of the first vessels in the region to offer facilities for rebreather diving. Topside, the ship’s four decks and 10 spacious cabins give guests plenty of room to spread out. The beautifully appointed staterooms are equipped with A/C, ensuite bathrooms and WiFi (for an additional fee). Furthermore, as an Italian-run vessel, you’re sure to be delighted with every meal served to your table.
11. MY Conte Max
The sister vessel of the MY Duke of York, the MY Conte Max holds itself to the same standard of service. In addition to world-class Maldivian diving, this dive boat prides itself as a wellness retreat. Enjoy an ayurvedic treatment while gazing onto the sapphire-blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Two restaurants, one inside and one outside, allow guests to enjoy chef-inspired cuisine in total comfort. Furthermore, the well-appointed staterooms have both a double and single bed, making the Conte Max a great option for larger groups.
A boutique yacht through-and-through, the Nai’a helps divers to discover the brilliant coral environments of Fiji. With Nitrox and rental equipment available and a designated area for camera room, it’s easy to see why this is the pro's choice for underwater photography and videography trips. Topside amenities include a video room, gorgeously decorated interiors, a spacious lounge and a bar area serving up complimentary wine. The Fijian crew ensures each and every guest leaves their diving holiday feeling pampered and relaxed.
13. SY Philippine Siren
Built by divers for divers, the SY Philippine Siren has all the amenities you need for a fulfilling holiday. The dive deck is one of the most spacious worldwide, and equipment rental as well as Nitrox are provided free of charge. Relax in the convenience of a highly experienced crew who work tirelessly to ensure your diving vacation is second to none. This beautiful wooden sailing vessel is the perfect dive vacation for beginners and experienced divers.
14. SY Palau Siren
Adventurers aboard the Palau Siren will experience Palau diving at its finest and get pampered in bliss and comfort. While participating in underwater activities, divers can enjoy an expansive, shady dive deck, free Nitrox, free equipment rental and two high-powered tenders. The 3 dive professionals on board the Palau Siren ensure guests have a memorable, small group diving experience. The covered, outdoor dining area, the rejuvenating sundeck and air conditioned lounge with a cocktail bar are all perfect for soaking in the post-dive glow.
One of the few dive charters equipped to make the harrowing journey to Cocos Island, the Argo does so in style. As the newest of the Undersea Hunter fleet, the Argo provides the best in both diving and accommodation. On top of personalized service, guests can opt for a special excursion in Argo’s onboard submersible, the DeepSee, which dives to depths of 1,500 feet (450 meters). 360-degree views from the DeepSee allow passengers to experience the sea like never before.
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