Red Sea 2016






Trip dates:

14 – 22 May 2016

Boat / resort:

MY Emperor Elite

Dive centre:

See Above


Yes, camera table inside the main lounge with plenty power outlets for chargers.

Number of dives:

13 over 6 days of diving in total (could have been 18 but I missed a few out of – no! – laziness and somewhat choppy sea conditions or not good enough viz for photography

Diving conditions:

Clear skies throughout, very calm seas in Brothers and then the wind picked up on our way south to Daedalus, where we had 3m waves on our two diving days there. No current in any of the two places. The choppy seas made it unsafe for the boat to station at Elphinstone, and we heard that currents there at the end of our dive week would have been ripping. Therefore we ended the week diving Abu Dabbab Reef and Shouna, where the current was also noticeable. Visibility was a bit less good than I expected at Brothers and Daedalus and definitely average at Abu Dabbab and Shouna. Water temperatures were 25°C in Brothers and a surprising 27-28°C in Daedalus.


Our previous liveaboard trip to Brothers (just the Brothers then) was in 2003 and although I remember crystal clear waters and amazing colours in the Reef, we were not entirely happy that trip, because we felt the diving organisation and safety was not quite right. See my report form that trip in the gallery list page. I was after a better experience for some time, so this was the chance to do it with a very good price offering from Emperor Divers, which we booked through the Ultima Frontera Travel Agent. This allowed us to leave to them all the details of transfers and an extra night in Hurghada before flying back.


In terms of the trip itself, we flew Egypt Air from Madrid to Hurghada and connected a domestic flight from Hurghada to Port Ghalib, where the Elite moored. The travel agent advised to book a hotel night at the end of the trip rather than at the beginning, in order to have a full day of diving on the last cruise day, and to be close to the airport before flying off, as flights leave early. I would say that ideally one should book two extra nights, one before and one after, because we landed in Hurghada close to midnight and had then to cope with a 4-hour drive to Port Ghalib in the middle of the night. That was tiring. Consider then that we were told on arrival to the boat that we had to be up at 7 for the boat briefing, and we started our dive week very, very tired. Also, we had no choice of cabins, having to take what was left.


We were given cabin nr 2, which is at the back of the corridor, closest to the boat engines. I can luckily say the engine noise did not disturb us, but my friends Carmen and Felix across the corridor could not sleep during the nights we were steaming, at least 4 of them. And they did have a real problem with the cabin. On the other hand, if only the boat crew would have asked around, there were two guys from Holland that would have happily taken that cabin. Take a note that you should always check this on arrival and insist, politely, that the crew ask around for a possible exchange if you really don’t like the cabin you are given. In any case, booking an extra night at a hotel will give you the chance of boarding the boat early and possibly take your pick.


Other than this, the cabins were spacious and very clean, everything worked fine, we had a TV screen with a hard drive full of videos, but we did not use it. As in any boat, there was quite a bit of diesel smell in the cabin and not a lot of ventilation, but here the smell was tolerable – not like in other boats I have been in.


The lounge and other common spaces were comfy nice, plenty of shade to escape the brutal Egyptian sun. Nobody used the upstairs lounge. They had TVs everywhere, even in the outdoors lounging space and people did watch movies and videos there.


The food was great. You get free wine with your dinner in Elite, and this was a nice touch – the wine was drinkable but I am no expert. Beers were extra, based on an honesty list. They were quite pricey. The boat policy allows you to bring along your own drinks. Soft drinks are free.


We dove from two ribs, as is the rule in Red Sea boats. The dive deck on the Elite is OK but a bit tight, with tanks placed very close, so it is difficult to get your kit on with your neighbour there. The boat was pretty full, so we needed to take two zodiac trips each dive to carry everybody to the drop site. This was quite OK, and in fact we jumped from the boat on quite a number of dives – notably Daedalus South. Safety on dives was much, much better than our previous trip to these sites. Good briefings that covered these points quite well! We did have 2 to 3m waves in Daedalus, and this made it a bit difficult to get back onto the zodiacs after the dive, but the crew did a very good job of hoisting us up onto the ribs, they are very strong! The ribs do not have ladders, so you need to pass up your weights, get out of the BCD and use your fins and the crewman’s help to lift up over the sausage. In the kind of waves we had, this can take some time and I noted that the rope lines in the ribs were mostly broken. This should be repaired. But once you did it once, it was easy and we could get back onto the zodiacs quickly and efficiently despite the choppy seas.


Is it me, or the visibility being a bit less than I remember from 2003, that the colours on the Brothers Island walls look faded?? There were 5 or 6 boats along ours in both Brothers and Daedalus. We weren’t exactly alone, but we did not see crowding underwater either. The boats seemingly found a way to drop their divers at different times to avoid crowding and it worked OK. On our first dive in Big Brother, we saw threshers, Gray Reef sharks, hammerheads and a manta, it was very good. This was a cruise focused on shark encounters. It was not the season for oceanic white tip sharks, but we did have one around the boat in Big Brother that a couple of people on board managed to find at the end of their dive. I saw him from the boat, but not underwater – Duh. Still, it was a nice surprise. In Daedalus, we saw a couple of silkies roaming under the boat, and I had not seen any of these before. Nice! On the other hand, we were a bit unlucky with the hammerheads. We did see them, but I think we caught only a few scouts and if we had had the chance to stay in the dive longer, we might have come across a school, but that did not happen. I chatted a couple of girls from another boat in Daedalus when we went to visit the lighthouse and they had seen the school, So they are there, and May seems to be right season to see them, but you always need a bit of luck and persistence. Still, we cannot complain, we saw plenty of sharks and mantas, very nice.


It was the Captain that decided not to take the boat to Elphinstone Reef. The seas were very choppy at that point. On our way back north from Daedalus the boat rocked wildly and I am amazed I did not get sick, but slept OK all night. But in Elphinstone there is no protected mooring and we were also told that currents were very strong, so safety first of all, we skipped it. I did not regret it too much since I have dived Elphinstone many times already and the fact is, when the conditions are good for diving, too many boats go there and it is completely crowded. The alternative sites on the Coast – Abu Dabbab and Shouna – were OK, but visibility was not that good, and the corals are in worse conditions there, but there is much to see nonetheless. There are no night dives in this itinerary, as they are not allowed either in Brothers or  Daedalus. There was one on the first day, which we did not do because we had had almost no sleep the previous night…


The dive guides, Sergio and Ana, were very nice and competent. The deckhands were adorable, specially Said, the big guy that came promptly to help us girls pulling ourselves into our thick wetsuits when we were suiting up. He was a Godsend. But all of them were really nice and helpful at all times.


Weirdly, two computers disappeared during the week, one of them my friend Carmen’s Vyper. Later, another one belonging to the boat that was on loan to another diver. The crew was appalled, and so were we, This is extremely rare. Earlier on the week, the crew found gold jewellery that belonged to one diver and brought it back, so I don’t think they would have taken a used dive computer for themselves. Was it one of the guests? Did these computers fall overboard, somehow? We will never know. Too bad this brought a bit of rain on an otherwise happy group of divers from at least 6 countries.


All in all, we enjoyed the trip very much and would recommend it. We have a short video of it that you can check out here.



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