The Top Ten Liveaboards as Voted For by DIVE Readers
Amira • Arenui • Bella1 • Bilikiki • Blue Horizon • Coralia • Dewi Nusantara • Mermaid I • Palau Siren • Pelagian
The Coralia, a traditional Phinisi build, was launched this year and is based in Raja Ampat, offering liveaboard around the islands and also to Komodo, Alor and the Banda Sea. 48m in length, she caters to 16 guests in eight cabins. On the main and upper decks are four large master cabins, each with a double bed, wraparound picture windows and private balcony. On the lower deck are two double cabins and two twin cabins. All rooms are ensuite with air-conditioning and lots of storage.
On the main deck is a large indoor salon and dining area. There is an outdoor lounge, which also has tables set up for al-fresco dining, sun loungers and sofas for chilling out. On the top deck are several comfortable sun loungers and a massage area.
There is a spacious dive deck with personal storage space, free nitrox, two tenders for diving and an extremely large dedicated camera room with charging points. Itineraries vary from seven to 11 nights and explore the Dampier Strait, Wayag, Misool, Batanta and Kawe around Raja Ampat and other locations including Komodo National Park, Alor, the Forgotten Islands, Maumere and the Banda Islands. Up to four dives a day are available, as well as other activities such as bird-watching, hiking and snorkelling.
Dewi Nusantara Indonesia
Dewi Nusantara, named after the goddess of the Indonesian archipelago, is a 58m, three-masted schooner, handcrafted with attention to detail. There are eight double staterooms (20sqm each) plus one master suite (46sqm). A large diving deck with an extensive camera table caters to the needs of photographers.
She was the overall winner in the 2018 DIVE Travel awards for liveaboards.
Dewi Nusantara sails in the Indonesian heart of the Coral Triangle, including Raja Ampat, Ambon, Banda Sea, The Forgotten Islands, Halmahera, Ternate, Triton Bay, Cendrawasih Bay, North Sulawesi and beyond...
Mermaid I Indonesia
The 28m, steel-hulled Mermaid I has eight cabins with air-conditioning, TV & DVD players, single, twin or double beds, a large wardrobe, plenty of storage room and an ensuite bathroom with showers. With one single cabin, she takes 15 guests.
Itineraries include Komodo, Raja Ampat, the Banda Sea, Alor and Ambon.
The Arenui is a traditional Phinisi - a classic Indonesian wooden sailing vessel - launched in 2007. The vessel is made almost entirely from 12 different types of wood, with the brass and copper interior fittings handcrafted in Java. The Arenui takes some traditional elements of Javanese houses and recreates them on the boat, creating an Indonesian experience onboard an old-fashioned 'pirate ship' - but still with all the mod-cons. More than 70 per cent of the vessel is made from recycled and reclaimed materials. Two master suites, two deluxe twin cabins and four deluxe cabins accommodate a maximum of 16 divers, with a crew of 22. The Arenui offers a choice of itineraries throughout the year, based on the best conditions to dive in the various locations around Komodo and Raja Ampat.
Construction of the Amira began in Bira, South Sulawesi in August 2008. The builders, all from the same village, built the vessel entirely from wood according to ancient Phinisi traditions handed down through the generations. Construction of the hull was completed in September 2009 and she was transported to the port of Bira over a six- week process involving 'ancient techniques' to move her from the shore to the water. The interior and final design took place over the final year until the Amira entered service in 2010. The German and Swiss owners planned the liveaboard with emphases on safety, space, premium diving and comfort, offering safaris throughout the Indonesian Archipelago including Raja Ampat, Komodo, Banda Sea and Cendrawasih Bay. Bespoke trips can be booked and arranged if required. The Amira offers nine spacious deluxe double and twin bed cabins plus one single cabin. All the air-conditioned cabins contain en-suite bathrooms, hot water showers and a western-style toilet, plus a full range of amenities.
Blue Horizon Red Sea
Blue Horizon is blue o two's flagship fleet vessel and was the benchmark for a new generation of Red Sea liveaboards. She can accommodate 26 guests in nine cabins and four suites all ensuite with air conditioning, mini-bar and TV & DVD player.
Excellent diving facilities with a technical blending panel and is rebreather friendly. Most of her itineraries are to the Deep South starting from Marsa Ghalib for seven-night trips.
Bilikiki Solomon Islands
Bilikiki Cruises has been operating in the Solomon Islands for 28 years and has a well-deserved reputation for comfort, safety and service. Offering trips from seven to 14 nights around the Florida and Russell Islands, Marovo Lagoon and Mary Island, itineraries include five dives per day for up to 20 guests accommodated in ten air-conditioned ensuite cabins. All trips start and finish in Honiara, the capital of the Solomons and home of the international airport. Bilikiki operates in a way that benefits people in local communities by paying to dive on the ancestrally owned reefs and buying local produce from islanders.
The Solomon Islands are part of the Coral Triangle with a staggering diversity of marine species, coral and dive sites – yet they remain one of the least dived areas of the world. Consistently great visibility and year-round 28-30°C (80-86°F) water temperature plus a great variety of dive sites with huge drop-offs, coral gardens, caves, sandy critter dives, seamounts, points teeming with fish and numerous WWII wrecks.
Palau Siren Palau
The wooden, 40m Palau Siren was launched in July 2012 to offer year-round diving trips in Palau and is part of the Worldwide Liveaboards fleet built with the same specifications as her sister yachts, the Philippine Siren and the Indo Siren. She has eight cabins (a mix of doubles and twins) all on the lower deck and can cater for 16 guests. Lots of space for photographers and with three dive guides can run dives with small groups. There is an onboard masseuse.
She runs six, seven and 10-night itineraries covering the German Channel and Ulong Channel. The diving season runs from November to April. High points including the spawning of bumphead parrotfish and exciting night dives in open water.
The 36m Pelagian caters for just ten guests with a crew of 12. She is owned by the Wakatobi Resort in Sulawesi in Indonesia. There is a spacious salon and a separate dining area, media centre and dedicated camera workroom, while shaded decks offer additional space for privacy and relaxation. Cabins are designed for comfort with spacious floor plans, luxurious shower rooms and modern décor; the master suite offers all the comforts one would expect of an upscale hotel.
Pelagian cruises to sites in the Tukang Besi archipelago where no other dive operation ventures, with itineraries that are built around guests’ preferences. Each dive is a rewarding experience – from the mandarinfish at Magic Pier to the shrimp breeding grounds of Cheeky Beach at Pasar Wajo to the seamounts at Karang Kaledupa.
Bella 1 Egypt
Bella 1 is based in Sharm El Sheikh and departs from Sharm, Hurghada or Port Ghalib (Marsa Alam), depending on the itinerary. Three to ten-night itineraries are available, including northern routes around the Sinai Peninsula exploring the Straits of Tiran, Ras Mohammed, Abu Nuhas and of course the Thistlegorm. She also does four-night mini-safaris and southern destinations include the word famous Brothers Islands, Elphinstone, Daedalus and St Johns.
Bella 1 can accommodate up to 24 guests with ten twin cabins and two larger double suites. Free wi-fi is available onboard and all rooms are air-conditioned, with en-suite bathroom facilities. A large dive deck allows plenty of room for gearing up and nitrox is available for a small surcharge.
For more information on each of the destinations, dive centres/resorts and liveaboards, check out the previews below:
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