If you're planning a liveaboard dive holiday, the fleet you choose can be just as important as the destination! Each individual company has its own focus and philosophy, and a different set of priorities during each voyage. And, once you've found a fleet that fits your vacation goals and personal travel style, selecting the best boat is a snap.
Not sure which fleet to choose? In this article, we're breaking down the planet's very best dive operators to help you find that perfect fit.
Blue O Two
Blue O Two diving is all about flexibility and customer satisfaction. This expansive fleet offers liveaboard trips in 14 different destinations around the world - including the Maldives and Red Sea - and resort diving in five, so it’s easy to combine a multi-day safari at sea with local resort-based exploration.
Their wide variety of itineraries makes finding your ideal trip as simple as possible. And, most of their itineraries include three to four dives a day in addition to snorkelling, watersports, and land-based excursions - ideal for divers who want a choice of activities during their time at sea. If you're looking for a speciality trip, then look no further - the Blue O Two fleet offers everything from technical wreck exploration to citizen science expeditions with Project Shark!
- Best For - divers with flexible travel plans.
- Know Before You Go - Blue O Two's fleet repeater discount offers deals for divers who take multiple trips.
- Why We Love This Fleet - this fleet offers outstanding "best of" itineraries in most of its destinations, ideal for diving in a new region for the first time.
Even if you're brand new to the world of liveaboard diving, there's a good chance that you've heard of the Aggressor Fleet. Synonymous with luxury and the highest of standards, Aggressor dive boats are among the planet's very best - no matter which of their incredible destinations you decide to visit.
This fleet has spent over three decades assembling the finest yachts and staff, and fine-tuning their superb customer service. Guests aboard these boats are guaranteed a quality diving experience and lush accommodations - for the ultimate eat, sleep and dive experience. Plus, the fabulous onboard extras and sumptuous details are sure to satisfy even the most discerning of divers!
- Best For - reliably high-quality dive experiences.
- Know Before You Go - this fleet is famous for outstanding rental gear - with all the latest and greatest from Aqua Lung.
- Why We Love This Fleet - Aggressor Adventures offers a variety of unique experiences including family weeks, photography seminars, and island-hopping voyages that combine multiple destinations.
Some liveaboard fleets offer it all, but not Emperor Divers. Rather than presenting guests with tons of options and extras all over the world, Emperor Divers keep it simple - delivering highly specialised experiences in Egypt, the Maldives and now Indonesia aboard modern motor yachts and phinisis. All twelve of their vessels boast contemporary and spacious interiors, recently updated facilities, and excellent amenities for divers.
The Emperor fleet includes a lot of freebies as well, with complimentary extras such as nitrox for certified divers, snorkelling equipment and watersports gear, WiFi, wine with dinner, and fun themed nights like beach barbeques under the stars. Still not sure Emperor Divers is your best bet? This fleet’s Egyptian flagship vessel, Emperor Elite, claimed the Dive Travel Awards 2020 title of best liveaboard worldwide!
- Best For - solo travellers.
- Know Before You Go - Emperor Divers offer a same-sex cabin share programme with no hidden fees or singles supplements.
- Why We Love This Fleet - Emperor Divers allows experienced buddy teams to choose their own adventure, exploring with or without a guide.
Carpe Diem Maldives
Born in 2008 from a passion for the Maldives’ exceptional diving, the Carpe Diem fleet delivers the ultimate blend of comfort and convenience. In the years since, this fleet has built a strong reputation, winning awards year after year - including the “leading liveaboard brand of the year”. Operating just three vessels, the Carpe Diem fleet promises exceptional attention to detail, catering to laid-back divers looking for a taste of the luxury life.
Expect modern, skillfully-designed vessels, a friendly and professional crew, and exciting itineraries that highlight the best of the Maldives throughout the year. Not to mention nitrox 32% and options for private charter. But, while Carpe Diem’s meticulous presentation and high standards of service can be found throughout the fleet, each vessel also offers its own unique charm, from Carpe Vita’s roof-top Jacuzzi to Carpe Novo’s dedicated camera room.
- Best For - environmentally-conscious divers.
- Know Before You Go - a minimum of 100 dives is advised for open water divers hoping to join a trip.
- Why We Love This Fleet - Carpe Diem take responsibility in protecting the local marine environment and have received a certificate of excellence from the Shark Research Institute in recognition of their quality shark diving operations.
White Manta Diving
For a fuss-free expedition to some of the world’s most far-flung diving destinations, look no further than White Manta Diving. Established in 1989, the White Manta Diving fleet boasts a wealth of experience providing effortless cruises around Indonesia. Crewed by a passionate team, White Manta’s exciting expeditions aim to transform your typical dive vacation into an adventure that will educate, inspire, and energise, while being as environmentally-sensitive as possible.
Both vessels boast an amazing mix of facilities, with high crew to guest ratios, camera facilities, and spacious sun decks furnished with massage beds. And if you’re new to the world of liveaboard diving, or just generally don’t like the motion of being at sea, the White Manta fleet offers some of the largest and most stable vessels in the region.
- Best For - photographers.
- Know Before You Go - the White Manta fleet proudly offers shared cabins on select itineraries - offering an affordable alternative to singles supplements.
- Why We Love This Fleet - both vessels in the White Manta fleet boast first-class camera facilities and an unrelenting enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and experiences.
Tornado Marine Fleet
Starting with one small boat in 1989, the Tornado Marine Fleet has become a top choice for luxury-seeking divers in the Red Sea, vowing to “relentlessly ignore mediocrity and focus on achieving excellence”. With more than 30 years of experience, this highly-rated fleet delivers some of the best possible standards of service, alongside strict maintenance and safety procedures.
Each of the six well-equipped, modern and luxurious dive vessels is operated by a team of carefully-selected well-seasoned professionals. Escorted trips and special week-long voyages focussing on photography, wreck, tec, or freediving are also available, in addition to private charters and mini safaris. No matter what kind of trip you’re after, the Tornado Marine Fleet has the boat for you, from Hurricane’s incredible tec facilities and Mistral’s superb camera room, to Tempest’s intimate 12-person trips and Typhoon’s spectacular honeymoon suite.
- Best For - budget-savvy travellers wanting maximum bang for their buck.
- Know Before You Go - the Tornado fleet also offers kite surfing experiences around the islands of Tawilla and Ghasoum.
- Why We Love This Fleet - an impressive variety of vessels and facilities, providing unique and memorable experiences, no matter your preferences.
The Sea Serpent fleet is one of the largest and most experienced in the Red Sea, accommodating all levels of diving from recreational to technical. Each of the six vessels comes well-equipped with plenty of space, industry-leading facilities and superb five-star service - and that’s just the start.
The Sea Serpent fleet provides complimentary nitrox to certified divers on every trip and proudly accommodates any course, allowing guests to further their own diving certification with ease. Experienced divers who want nothing more than to explore the depths, can find comprehensive facilities onboard selected vessels, including rebreather, stage and sidemount tanks, Suex scooters, twinsets, and oxygen and helium fills - what more could you possibly need?
- Best For - adventurous divers who like a little extra luxury.
- Know Before You Go - Sea Serpent are adding a new vessel, Sea Serpent Glory, to their fleet in 2021, which promises even more style and luxury.
- Why We Love This Fleet - this fleet never misses the mark, delivering luxury, adventure, and gadgets galore, all at an affordable price.
Taking indulgence to a whole new level, the Scubaspa fleet began as a unique concept aimed at redesigning the world of luxury liveaboards. Their vessels seamlessly combine the adventure of liveaboard diving with the comfort and sophistication of a five-star resort. In fact, they are the only vessels in the Maldives to be awarded PADI 5 Star Dive Resort status.
Luxurious suites, fine dining, serene lounges, gyms, Jacuzzis, and world-class onboard dive centres are just a few of the facilities to expect on board a Scubaspa liveaboard. Plus, you can grab an award-winning spa treatment from expert therapists in your lush cabin or a tranquil treatment room overlooking the ocean - now that’s diving in style.
- Best For - five-star luxury at sea.
- Know Before You Go - travelling alone? Scubaspa offer unique singles-only cruises venturing north to little-known, uninhabited islands and picturesque sandbanks.
- Why We Love This Fleet - Scubaspa sublime luxury tops many resorts, let alone boats, promising the trip of a lifetime for divers and non-divers alike.
Looking for your next big adventure? Master Liveaboards was founded in 2015 to connect intrepid travellers to the world’s most unsurpassed diving destinations in maximum comfort. Their menu of far-flung, bucket-list-worthy destinations includes the Galapagos Islands, the Solomon Islands, the Bahamas, Truk Lagoon, and even Bikini Atoll!
Dive cruises are delivered by a highly experienced team, committed to caring for all your needs both above and below the water, aboard a series of vessels fitted with the latest equipment - not to mention generous dive decks and lounge spaces. Allowing you to fully appreciate every moment of your exciting dive adventure.
- Best For - crossing dream dive destinations off your bucket-list.
- Know Before You Go - the average depth of the Bikini Atoll wrecks is 50 metres, Master Liveaboards recommends a minimum certification of PADI Tec 50 or equivalent.
- Why We Love This Fleet - Master Liveaboards put your mind at ease with reliably high standards of service throughout some of the most remote and untamed regions on earth.
Offering a selection of capable vessels built to the same high-standards as some of the ocean’s largest cruise ships, the Nautilus Fleet encourages guests to turn a cold shoulder to all things mediocre. Through hard working and highly-trained staff, superior comfort and unfaltering attention to detail, Nautilus commits to delivering excellence on board its voyages to bucket-list destinations such as Guadalupe, Socorro, Sea of Cortez, and more.
Whether they have all the gear, no idea, or maybe a little of both, the Nautilus Fleet is dedicated to helping underwater photographers reach their goals. Complimentary photography workshops are offered before the trip even departs, to ensure guests know their cameras inside and out. And, to push your skills even further, why not jump on a one-day Backscatter workshop led by industry pros?
- Best For - enthusiastic photographers looking to develop their skills.
- Know Before You Go - this fleet offers some of the only ADA compatible facilities, suitable for guests with limited mobility.
- Why We Love This Fleet - this fleet doesn’t aim to meet the needs of discerning divers, it aims to exceed them in every way.
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