Dive liveaboards offer the ultimate diving experience. You can dive up to five (or more) times per day, and you’ve got the mobility to explore the maximum number of dive sites in a single trip. Your hotel room, camera room, restaurant and dive shop are all onboard as well. Liveaboards are also great for meeting other divers, as dedicated to the sport as you are. With many liveaboard options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to go. Here we’ll take a peek at a few of the top new dive liveaboards and itineraries.
The well-known Aggressor Fleet has been busy for the last few years, launching both multiple new boats and itineraries with existing vessels. New itineraries include Cuba, which began in March of 2016. There are two itineraries in this blossoming travel destination, Cuba Travel Program I and Cuba Travel Program II. The Raja Ampat Aggressor will begin visiting the Derawan Islands in Indonesia in July 2017; and the Okeanos Aggressor I and Okeanos Aggressor II will begin visiting the Bat Islands in Costa Rica in May 2017. As for new boats, Aggressor’s got three exciting new dive liveaboards.
Beginning in September 2017, the Maldives Aggressor II will begin plying the waters of this legendary island chain. There will be two itineraries to choose from. The “Best of the Maldives” will explore North Male and South Male Atolls, North and South Ari Atolls, Vaavu and Rasdhoo. Dives run the gamut from channel drifts to wrecks, pinnacles and night dives, with up to 18 dives during the week-long trip.
The second itinerary won’t begin until 2018, but will offer a chance to explore the “Far South Atolls.” These 10-night charters will feature up to 24 dives, and include South Male, Vaavu, Meemu, Laamu, Thaa, Huvadhoo, Foamulah and Addu. Dives will be mostly channel dives, with a chance to see lots of pelagics, whale sharks, mantas and the occasional hammerhead or tiger shark. The 135-foot (41 m) Maldives Aggressor II accommodates up to 22 passengers with a choice of suites and staterooms.
In July 2017, the Oman Aggressor will launch four itineraries dedicated to exploring the underwater riches of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Each one offers a unique glimpse of an area known for its pristine reefs and abundant marine life. The Daymaniyat Islands itinerary focuses on a nature reserve and turtle-nesting site known for its impressive coral cover. The Musandam Peninsula itinerary is dominated by coral walls and gardens that together provide a home for more than 900 marine species.
The Hallaniyat Islands itinerary takes visitors to one of Oman’s most remote areas, where new wrecks and dive sites are discovered all the time. This is also the best choice for seasonal sightings of manta rays and humpback whales. The fourth itinerary lasts for ten nights and visits the Daymaniyat and Hallaniyat Islands. The 148-foot (45 m) Oman Aggressor has space for up to 22 passengers with a choice of suites and staterooms. Each one is equipped with air-conditioning, an ensuite bathroom and a port hole view.
In September 2016, Aggressor announced three new itineraries aboard the new 145-foot (44 m) yacht Sri Lanka Aggressor. Each lasts seven nights, but otherwise they are quite different. The Whale and Dolphin snorkeling weeks offers guests the chance to spot up to 28 species of cetacean. You may see blue whales, sperm whales and several species of rare beaked whale. As the name implies, this itinerary is snorkeling only. The West Colombo & North Negombo itinerary explores the region’s recreational wrecks, including that of bulk carrier Thermopylae Sierra.
Finally, the Tech Wreck itinerary visits Sri Lanka’s deeper wrecks, including the world’s first aircraft carrier, WWII casualty HMS Hermes. Guests can combine any itinerary with a stay at the Aggressor Tented Safari Lodge, where game drives offer the chance to look for leopards, elephants and sloth bears. The Sri Lanka Aggressor has a maximum capacity of 26 passengers, and features ensuite air-conditioned staterooms, a communal dining room and a sun deck for relaxing in between dives.
Master Liveaboards have been busy as well, creating both new itineraries with existing boats and building boats from the ground up to host eager divers. Part of Worldwide Dive and Sail, the Master fleet focuses on steel vessels. Destinations include the Galapagos, Bahamas, Red Sea, Maldives, Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon, and French Polynesia, Here we’ll take a peek at the last two new dive liveaboards on the list.
In 2016, Master Liveaboards bought and completely re-fitted a cruiser named The Astral Star. Rechristened the M/V Truk Master, the yacht offers seven- and 10-night itineraries to world-famous wreck-diving spot Chuuk Lagoon. The lagoon is home to more than 60 Japanese WWII wrecks, including supply ships, planes and even a submarine. All sank as a result of Operation Hailstone in 1944, conducted by the U.S. Navy. With up to four dives a day, Truk Master’s itineraries allow for an in-depth exploration of the lagoon’s history.
Highlights include the armed cargo ship Fujikawa Maru and the San Francisco Maru, whose coral-encrusted deck harbors three armored tanks. The itineraries also include several reef sites, where schools of reef sharks and pelagic fish are common. The Truk Master is built to accommodate 16 guests and boasts ensuite cabins, a communal diving area, a sundeck, a lounge bar and a dedicated camera station. Although many of the wrecks are within recreational limits, tec diving facilities are provided onboard.
Launching at the end of 2016, purpose-built yacht French Polynesia Master is now offering three itineraries to the Tuamotu Islands in French Polynesia. The first two itineraries explore the archipelago from Rangiroa to Fakarava, taking seven and 10 nights respectively. The third itinerary focuses solely on the Fakarava area. Whichever option you choose, strong currents and rich nutrient upwellings dominate diving in the Tuamotu Islands, resulting in incredible pelagic action. Expect manta rays, Napoleon wrasse and sharks by the hundreds.
Highlights include Fakarava’s Garaue Pass, where you’ll encounter walls of gray reef sharks and spawning marbled groupers in season. Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass offers the chance to spot hammerheads, tiger sharks and schooling gray reefs. Although the focus is on big animals, outer reefs provide rewarding macro diving as well. Shore excursions allow you to explore the area’s idyllic beaches. The yacht is built for 25 guests and boasts ensuite bathrooms, individual air-conditioning and a sundeck complete with a hot tub.