General Advice for Liveaboard Trips
As our team are all professional divers and we've all dived with different liveaboards in different destinations around the world. Since we started "Dive and Cruise" in 2009, we always try our best to give our divers honest advices from our own experience.
Here we will share some general advices for divers who wants to go for a diving liveaboard trip.
Lots of dive destinations out there in the open seas are waiting for you to discover. But there are some things you need to consider while you choosing your destination(s).
How much time you have for your diving holiday ?
Some of the best diving destinations are half a world away. Which means you will have to spend hours on the plane to get to places like Socorro, Galapagos, Cocos, Raja Ampat, Palau. Or could you just be happy in some places closer to home?
What's your diving preference ?
Are you ok to dive in cold water, or tropical destinations the only options for you?
Do you prefer challenging drift dive with strong currents, or destinations with mild currents?
Wreck dive, Shark dive, Muck dive, Cave dive, Wall dive, Technical dive... Which one is your favorite?
What kind of sea life you are expect to encounter ?
Are you more interested in big fish games, or muck diving with macro sea life?
Whale sharks, Whales, Manta rays, Great white sharks, turtles, dolphins ... Is there anything specific you want to encounter ?
What's your over-all budget ?
The budget is a factor in choosing a dive destination, because some destinations are more expensive than the others even with the same liveaboard, like Raja Ampat and Komodo in Indonesia.
The local costs of each destinations can be different, depends where you choose to go.
Some destinations are more far from home than others, which means you will have to spend more money on transportation.
Choose The Liveaboard
Liveaboards operate all over the planet, there are variations from boat to boat. Deciding which one will suits you the most is like choosing where to go for a gourmet dinner in a place full of options.
The most important decision to make (after you choose your destination) is to set a budget for your liveaboard trip. The price vary because lots of factors, mainly based on what it costs to run and are set by the boat operations.
Normally the difference among each boats are : the boat conditions & facilities, the accommodations, the living space, the diving space, the itinerary, the total number of dives, other extras facilities (Nitrox, Tec, Internet, laundry, massage etc.), additional costs (marine park fees, taxes, fuel surcharge etc.), meals & snacks & drinks, transfer arrangements, other activities besides diving, the management & crew, spoken languages onboard.
While you choosing a boat, don't forget to ask yourself :
To save costs, would you willing to share a cabin with a stranger (if you’re solo), use public bathroom instead of having a private bathroom, and relax with a book on the sundeck instead of set in the A/C saloon watch movies? Or are boutique liveaboards with bespoke furniture, huge cabins, extra facilities are worth the splurge?
Do you want to just eat, sleep and dive, or do you prefer boats with some other activities on the itinerary? If you travel with non-diver friends or young kids then it can significantly influence your choice.
However, when it comes to choose the right liveaboard to meet your requirements, feel free to ask our experts to help you find out the answer.
When to book ?
Liveaboards have a limited number of cabins for passengers and they are usually booked solid. Usually, we advice our divers to book their liveaboards long time ahead, especially if you are a bit picky.
Depending on the boat, the destination, and the dive season, you even need to book a year or more in advance to ensure there is space for you. For destinations that only have limited boats to offer with many divers in the world who wish to go there during the best diving season, book long time in advance is a smart decision.
For other destinations where operate a large amount of liveaboards, then you can book whenever you want, few weeks in advance or few days in advance.
For last minute booking, we advice divers better book at least 10 to 15 days ahead before the departure to make sure there is enough time for payment process and confirmation.
What to expect for besides diving ?
There is a saying about diving liveaboard vacation : Dive, Eat, Sleep (and repeat).
Nowadays, liveaboards range from budget-minded to luxury. So depending on which liveaboard is your final choice, where is your destination, what is provided on board, if you travel alone or with friends, your expectation may vary.
Read our "BOAT INFORMATION PAGE", then you will get a general idea about how the boat looks like, what kind of facilities and services can be offered on board. Read our "DESTINATION INFORMATION PAGE" then you will have a basic idea about how the destination like.
Flights & Hotel / Resort
We can add the international & domestic flights into your dive package wherever you go. Normally, we use our partner IATA Travel Agency to prepare the flights, so we can negotiate group prices but this not usually a good deal when it is for individual traveller (less than 10 pax). Please check our Flight Assistance Page for more information and advices about flights.
For hotels and resorts, as we have a wide connection with more than 1,000 dive or non-dive resorts/hotels all over the world with different budgets. We can always easily arrange a hotel/resort package before or after your liveaboard trip with a reasonable price. So you can relax and enjoy the beach time, get some tan before heading back home. Have a look at our Resorts Information Page to get an idea, or ask us for more informations.
We strongly recommend that our divers buy both dive insurance and travel insurance before departure. Accidents do happen, we never know what will happen in the next coming minutes.
Travel insurance will reimburse you all the covered losses regardless of the reason. There might be a possibility that you miss boarding your boat then you will not get the refund as most liveaboard companies have strict policies regarding cancellations.
A professional diving insurance will cover the evacuation and treatments in the recompression chamber in case of emergency. Which may not only save your life but also cover the high cost of your treatment.
What to Bring
Even with the largest liveaboard, space always tends to be limited. So it's really helps if you just carry least amount of clothes for the length of the cruise you going. Below are the list we normally carry for liveaboard trips ourselves:
- 4 or 5 T-shirts, 2 shorts, 2 or 3 swimwear, plus a sweatshirt/jumper for the cooler evening are usually advisable for a week long cruise trip (8D/7N).
- Light shoes if the cruise including some land visits.
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses
- Biodegradable toiletries (Some boats also provide free toiletries)
- Diving equipment (If you don't plan to rent)
- Battery chargers (for camera, computer, lights etc), extra memory cards if needed.
- Power voltage adapter if needed (You can check if it's necessary on each of our boat page under the "useful information" section).
- Spare parts/repair kit (O-rings, lubes etc)
- Medication (Seasick pills, after-sun cream, or any pharmacy you needed)
- 1 or 2 books if you like to read
- Cash for tipping the crew (Even some liveaboards accept credit card, the tips will always be paid in cash).
We also encourage you to bring the diver certification card & log book. It's the easiest way for the dive crew to have an idea aobut your dive experience level and number of dives.
By experience, it's better to carry all these items above in a soft side luggage, as the hard side luggage can't always be store well in some smaller cabins.
Alcohol and Diving
Liveaboards around the world have one strict rule: NO DRINKING AND DIVING.
If you have any alcoholic drinks before the last dive of the day, you are done diving for the day. After the last dive of the day, of course you can get alcoholic drinks if you wish to.
Tipping is good manners and expected on every liveaboard. It's known as part of the crew's income. Tipping can vary significantly depending on the destination you visit, the liveabord you choose, the length of the cruise, and the total numbers of the crew.
If the crew provide good service, we consider that leave a gratuity between 5% to 10% of the total cruise price will be reasonable. However, we think gratuity should be given as a gesture of thanks for the good services provided by the crew.
By the end of the cruise, the gratuity amount will be your discretion. A gratuity is a nice thank you at the end of a trip for making the trip more enjoyable, and you should never feel uncomfortable for it.
"Make sure that your pre-trip planning includes having your dive gear serviced, and be sure to stock up on items like spare batteries, O-ring lube, spare mask straps and other accessories."
- Dive and Cruise Team
"If your travel plans include a connecting flight on board a small aircraft, you may consider to leave your overweight luggage behind."
- Dive and Cruise Team
“If you’re traveling without a buddy, be honest about your air consumption and the type of profile you prefer so the trip director can pair you with a diver of similar diving desires.”
— Charli Moore, former divemaster on Mike Ball’s Spoilsport
"Amidships near the centerline of the boat is the best cabin location, minimizing pitching due to heavy seas. Avoid extremes of bow and stern unless your desire for privacy far outstrips your susceptibility to seasickness." - J.D. Barnett, an experienced live-aboard diver
"You might be sitting there yelling at a guy for not giving you a clean coffee cup, and that's the guy who's going to be finding your life jacket if the boat's sinking. So be nice to the crew, don't think you're a king." - McCardel