We are so excited about the addition of Ocean Divine to our collection that we are following last week’s introduction with a real trip report from a diver who experienced all that the cruiser has to offer:
On a breezy February afternoon, at Male International Airport: 12 guests from all over the world (France, Switzerland, USA, Germany, UK and Austria) get ready to embark on a one-week scuba diving safari on the liveaboard Ocean Divine. Some of the ship’s 13-strong crew and the dive guides Alike and Gabriel (who speak English, German, French and Spanish) welcome us with big smiles. After the introductions, we try (and fail) to remember everyone’s names… It’s useless; we are too tired after the long flight.
A first glimpse at Ocean Divine mooring in the blue green Maldives waters.
Luckily, the boat ride from the airport to the Ocean Divine takes just twenty minutes. We approach the Ocean Divine just before sunset and are excited to see reality matching up with the promotional pictures: she is a beauty! Our hosts David and Gaelle, including daughter Dune, welcome us. Chilled towels and fruity drinks are offered and soon enough, we are checked-in and ready to move into our room.
The cabins are not what Ocean Divine is famous for. Each one comes with a big double bed plus an extra bed, en-suite shower, toilet and an air-conditioning unit that is a bit noisy for our taste. But it is very clean, there are endless fluffy towels and a power shower – all good, but nothing special. Luxury here comes in other ways: like the wake up call, where the crew bring fresh coffee or tea, whatever you like, to your room to help wake you up in time for your early morning dive.
The first evening on board starts with a wonderful dinner and we feel transported into a French restaurant. Chef Razou from Sri Lanka (trained by a French chef) talks us through the menu personally. He appears in a chef’s uniform, complete with a white hat and a very charming smile on his face. Starter: sashimi with a tasty coconut milk sauce; freshly baked bread and toasts; with excellent hot spices like Mas Miru (a Maldivian speciality you must try!) and chilly paste available on request. Main course: a brilliant seared tuna steak, perfectly pink inside and well roasted at the outside; Capris sauce; vegetable-saffron rice and steamed carrots and broccoli. Salads are available from the buffet, you can make your own dressing or try one of Razou’ s creations. Dessert: apple crumble with a bit of ice cream, yum! Hard to believe I’m on a liveaboard in middle of the Indian Ocean…
Lunch is served, at sea.
David explains that all food is brought in from Dubai by plane, a guarantee for the excellent quality of supply. The meals were of a very high standard throughout the week: we had buffets in the mornings and for lunch and served dinners in the evenings; the table was nicely decorated with flowers and candles, very romantic and stylish.
After a short briefing for the next day, some people linger at the bar to enjoy a drink, but the majority needs just one thing: some rest after the long journey!
Diving starts early in the morning. On the ‘dhoni’ – that is what they call the dive boats in the Maldives – everyone has his or her place with a box for dive gear and there are even special diving towels, marked for each guest. Tea and coffee is available, water as well. There are rinsing boxes, separate ones for cameras, masks and wet suits, as well as oxygen for emergencies, a sofa for relaxing and stairs to the upper deck for a sun bath after the dive. The diving leather is the best ever experienced, it`s so easy to get back on the Dhoni after the dive with all the heavy gear. All is very well organized and extremely comfortable for divers.
BBQ dinner on the beach.
One clever trick, for example, is the ‘time difference’ on board the Ocean Divine, which is one hour ahead of regular Maldivian time. This is definitely an advantage when it comes to diving: during the whole week, we have almost all spots exclusively for us, since the other safari boats only come later. Again – an unexpected luxury.
David – who built the Ocean Divine in 2006 here in the Maldives and lives on board with his family all year round – is always good for a surprise. One day, he visits us with his free-diving fins, without dive gear, on Kudarah Thila. He joins us for some moments and then disappears again towards the surface. Another day, he appears suddenly at a dive site, kilometres away from the mother ship, gliding along on a stand-up paddleboard. The next day, he decided to swim home from a dive site: I guess it was almost two kilometres distance to the anchorage. Later on, he told me: ‘I was a bit slow this time, the currents were against me.’ David is a surfing instructor, too, and between May and October, the Ocean Divine is usually booked for surfing safaris.
Surfing and other activities are also available from the liveboard.
I won’t talk a lot about the dive sites, as all were all wonderful, interesting and worth to dive. I didn’t miss a single one of the 18 dives of this week. We travelled to Felidhoo Atoll via South Male, went over to Southern Ari Atoll and travelled up to the Northern part of Ari Atoll, with a place called Fish Head as the last dive. Many beautiful islands were on the way and we visited some of them in between the dives.
We saw all kinds of sharks, manta rays, stingrays, Napoleons, lobsters, whale shark and all the interesting small stuff like flat worms, gobis and small crabs. Incredible clouds of fish everywhere. All dive briefings were detailed and safety measures and buddy teams were reconfirmed before every dive. Currents were checked and explained to the group before the jump, the instructors on the Ocean Divine dive by the book. Also, wherever you are on this boat, you get a reminder to drink a lot of water or juices, all free of charge – a very important safety issue for divers.
The spa on board is also really worth a try. The Philippine therapist on board does all kinds of treatments, from Shiatsu and Swedish Massage to meridian energy treatments with special oils, all pretty affordable.
One evening, they organised a barbecue on a desert island, with a big bonfire on the beach, a whale-shark-shaped dinner table made out of sand, candles everywhere. The white sand, the stars, the tiny little desert island, the good company of divers and the boat family with us – I will never forget it.
What I liked about the Ocean Divine is that it is a family-owned and -operated scuba diving/ surfing safari boat, unusual in the Maldives. The big advantage compared to others is its beauty, comfort and exclusivity (14 guests maximum), great service, safe diving and top-notch cuisine. David has packed many years of experience in luxury diving in the Maldives into the way he runs the Ocean Divine, so you can expect to get spoiled in style here.
Astrid, Sweden, AOWD, 234 dives
Sounds like a great time doesn’t it? Now you can hop aboard Ocean Divine with a major last minute offer, for more information click here.
One Week Aboard Ocean Divine – Get Spoiled in Style is a post from: Maldives Blog
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