Maldives: Liveaboard – Ari Queen

Booking Maldives right after I came back from New Zealand was a bad idea. I’m only a student for crying freaking out loud! But, hard work pays off. So after 9 months of non-stop working, I finally gathered my finances and off I went !

Generally, my travel posts will be details of my favourite diving spots in the Maldives, what being on a liveaboard was like and overall tips for the amateur traveller and scuba diver.

Let’s begin!

Flights: SINGAPORE AIRLINE
Sydney  –> Singapore : about 7 hours, great service, with dinner and ‘light refreshments’
Singapore –> Male :  4.5 hours, plane was only half-filled so much more quieter (yes!) and the stunning sights of the Maldives from above was simply a bonus.

Also, Changi Airport is wondrous. Also horrible for my wallet. Where’s that meme….

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from knowyourmeme.com

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Arriving at Male (it was humid. Very.) We were met by one of the divemasters and was taken aboard the dhonni (the diving boat) and off we set for 15 minutes.

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ARI QUEEN:
This liveaboard is one of the cheapest in the Maldives, and well, for its price, it’s pretty much what I expected and more!
The divemasters were incredibly friendly (Mohamed Aslam & and Mumbaye(?), could never figure it out.) and definitely knew what they were doing.

Food wise: Lots & lots of carbs.
Here’s a break down

Itinerary:
6:30 am wake up
7 am briefing
DIVE
Breakfast
10:30/11 briefing
DIVE
Lunch
2/3pm briefing
DIVE
Dinner 7:30

Breakfast:
Eggs – Hard-boiled/scrambled
Roti
Fish/onion mix
Baked Beans
Toast
Fruit
Cereal
Sausages

Lunch:
Fish curry
White Rice
Salads
Chicken – fried, braised
Pasta
Fried Noodles

Dinner:

Noodles
Soup
Pasta
Salad
Fruit
Chicken

IN GENERAL: Food was alright, nothing special. Repeated most days with the occasional dessert and maybe a change of dish depending on what the chef wants. The chef has a knack for sweet things! He made these donuts that splurged out custard and was drizzled in chocolate sauce. Hello.

There were three nights that involved dessert. 1. Creme caramel (tasted like egg tarts-without the pastry), 2. tiramisu – I didn’t believe I could have one of the best non-alcoholic tiramisu’s on a boat and 3. ice cream
Fruit is present at every meal – papaya, watermelon, pineapple, apples & oranges.

Service: Being one of the cheapest (if not, THE cheapest), I wasn’t expecting the service given. The staff came in twice to fold our towels, sheets and also to empty the rubbish bin. It was very unexpected! You can use their towels – coloured for beach and the white as a general towel and they were changed twice in the whole trip. However, my sister and I did develop some rashes near the end of the trip- maybe it was the harsh detergent from when they were washing the towels but that was all speculation.

It’s a 3 level boat – the bottom level is just rooms, 1st level- dining, 2nd- shaded outdoor area and rooms and 3rd, full outdoor for sun-baking. Or roasting as I call it.

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You can also purchase alcohol from the bar. But be warned, they are very expensive and limited. A glass of white/red is $10 and beer is $3.50. There is Wi-Fi on the boat for an extra $10 USD PER DEVICE.

You will also have the opportunity to wander around Male, the Capitol of Maldives. – I’ll put my adventures up on a different post – there’s quite a bit of photos!

Now onto the real highlight. The Diving. Oh my goodness. Words and pictures cannot express how exquisite and overwhelming some of the dive sites were. As an amateur diver, I found the currents could be tough to handle. You just need to remember to breathe and relax. You will eventually get out of it. Or as Dory says “Keep on swimming, keep on swimming.” You have no idea how many times I said those words in my head everytime I was swimming in a current.
Being in the Maldives, you are guaranteed a current. Slow, Medium or Strong, you name it!

What I found extraordinary about the diving was the incredible overhangs and swim-throughs. The amount of sea life surrounding the coral formations was simply amazing. Visibility was not fantastic for half the dives- but that was because the seasons were still changing. So go during Feb / April. Half the dives were about 15-20m visibility and the rest around 5-10 max- or muck diving as I experience so much in Sydney.

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It was also my first time seeing the beautiful manta-rays. Their elegance was simply mind-blowing. As a result, I was thrown back into the ocean by the dive master without my gear. You know, to celebrate.my first manta-ray dive.

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I’ll let the photos do the talking

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Welcome to the underwater world.

TIPS FOR LIVEABOARD IN MALDIVES:

  • Bring plenty of entertainment – kindle/ipad
  • Don’t panic if you’re caught in a current; it’ll only make it worse
  • Food is mostly carbs – portion control!
  • Tip the crew: around $8 USD per day
  • Bring USD- you can grab local money in Male at the ATM (Bank of Maldives) with extra 100 Maldivian surcharge
  • Don’t get sucked in by the souvenir shops – bargain like no tomorrow!
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