Did you know that liveaboards can be the most affordable way to enjoy a scuba diving vacation? Often, liveaboards offer more diving at a wider variety of sites – and wrap almost everything up into a single price – scuba diving safaris can deliver exceptional value for money. And, many throw in a few freebies too, from alcoholic beverages to nitrox, excursions and presentations.
So to help you keep your costs down, we’ve selected and reviewed the world’s best budget-friendly liveaboards. Read on to find the best boat for you.
World’s best budget-friendly liveaboards reviewed
We all know diving can be expensive, so to help you keep costs low, here’s our favourite affordable dive liveaboards from around the world.
JP Marine – Egypt
Not only is JP Marine one of the most affordable Egyptian liveaboards, it’s also one of the best. This modern safari yacht has been sailing the region in style for over a decade, specialising in adventurous eight-day voyages. Well maintained rental equipment and expert local knowledge are guaranteed on board this vessel, which also offers nitrox as well as personal gear amenities. And, while this vessel may lack a few of the more luxurious details, you’re sure to find it thronging with energy and enthusiasm, creating unique and long-lasting memories.
Nemo - Egypt, Sudan and Djibouti
For a budget-friendly liveaboard, Nemo punches well above its weight. At 31-metres long, Nemo is plenty big enough to carry up to 22 guests in total comfort, with sweeping open-plan communal spaces providing enough room to spread out during surface intervals. This sleek and stylish vessel explores the entire Red Sea, offering trips in Egypt, Sudan and as far south as Djibouti. But, these itineraries aren't just diverse when it comes to the destinations, as Nemo also operates a selection of themed trips and citizen science expeditions throughout the year – providing maximum variety for guests to choose from.
All Star Morning Star – Bahamas
All Star Morning Star is a highly social liveaboard offering iconic dive cruises in the Bahamas. Part of the renowned Blackbeard’s Cruises fleet, within the All Star Liveaboards family, this vessel combines lively entertainment with high operating standards, delivering unique dive safaris at remarkably reasonable prices. Ideal for energetic, fun-loving guests, All Star Morning Star sells itself as ‘camping above the water’, and that’s exactly what it delivers – complete with bunk-style accommodation, care-free activities, and casual communal gatherings beneath the stars.
Snefro Love – Egypt
The King Snefro Fleet is one of Egypt's most reputed liveaboard operators, promising exemplary standards of service and fantastic guest facilities. While the entire fleet offers value for money, the 37-metre Snefro Love is one of its most affordable options. This recently refurbished motor yacht has been given a substantial uplift throughout, featuring a sophisticated style and brand new facilities. Snefro Love’s week-long itineraries focus on Egypt’s northern Red Sea, including Tiran, Ras Mohammed, and more. To help guests make the most of these sites, Snefro Love provides quality rental equipment, free nitrox, and WiFi for uploading the day's best images. Manifolds and sidemount equipment can also be organised, as can penetration dives on certain wrecks.
Smiling Seahorse – Thailand
One of the most modern liveaboards in the Andaman Sea, the purpose-built Smiling Seahorse is laden with dive-orientated details – from fin-friendly ladders and nitrox fills to support for sidemount and rebreather divers. Guests will also have access to a dedicated camera room with individual work stations, and blackwater night diving can even be experienced on certain itineraries. At 25-metres long, Smiling Seahorse caters to just 16 guests, guaranteeing plenty of room for relaxation. In a laid-back style typical of Thailand, this boat’s communal areas consist of large, open-plan spaces furnished with homely cushioned seating and hammocks, setting the scene for a fun and social trip.
Sunshine – Indonesia
Crafted from hardwood by the master boat-builders of Sulawesi, KLM Sunshine is a classic phinisi liveaboard with a cosy atmosphere. But, in contrast to its homely feel, this vessel offers some of Indonesia’s most adventurous itineraries. Lasting up to two-weeks, KLM Sunshine’s voyages cruise the remote waters of Halmahera and Sulawesi, as well as places few divers have ever heard of such as Dongala, Toli Toli, and Kwandang. And, with just eight guests on board, these unique, far-flung trips feel seriously special. Despite the isolated destinations, this liveaboard’s operations have been designed with safe and comfortable diving in mind, including providing nitrox fill as standard.
Amelie – Egypt
Amelie is a popular budget-friendly Red Sea liveaboard operated under the Amelie Safari fleet. Renovated as recently as 2022, this vessel is both clean and inviting, featuring a sleek, minimalist design furnished with the odd splash of quirky colourful charm. Amelie’s family-style atmosphere make it a firm favourite for sociable travellers, while its diverse itineraries which range from three to seven-nights make it suitable for all experience levels. From beginners to pros, Amelie’s dedicated crew will ensure each and every guest has a trip to remember, welcoming snorkelers and non-divers aboard as well as offering advanced facilities including nitrox fills and sidemount support.
Nusantara Mikumba - Indonesia
Nusantara Mikumba is a beautiful back-packer style liveaboard setting new standards for budget-friendly dive safaris in Komodo National Park. Featuring a shared eight-person dorm and four additional on-deck sleeping spaces, this vessel feels like a boutique hostel above the waves. Exploring Komodo year-round, Nusantara Mikumba’s itineraries last between three and five-days and incorporate the region’s most iconic attractions, both above and below the water. And, to help guests maximise their time during such concise trips, this vessel typically offers up to four dives a day at multiple different sites.
Ratu Laut – Indonesia
Combining simplicity and style, Ratu Laut is a classic phinisi liveaboard exploring the biodiverse waters of Raja Ampat. For budget-savvy divers, this vessel’s shared quad cabin is amongst the cheapest in the region, with additional twin options for those who like a little more privacy. And, not only is Ratu Laut one of Raja Ampat’s best affordable liveaboards, it also channels its profits into local conservation and community projects run by Barefoot Conservation, making it one of the most sustainable options, too. Throughout each voyage, guests can expect up to four dives a day on some of Raja Ampat’s best sites, along with talks and presentations from accompanying marine biologists.
Sunseeker – Maldives
The Maldives may not be known for its affordability, but Sunseeker is certainly trying to change that. Featuring an abundance of space and style, this recently renovated 41-metre motor yacht is as luxurious as you’d expect from this destination, but comes at a very reasonable price. Sunseeker’s week-long itineraries include up to three dives a day which are done from an accompanying 18-metre floating dive centre, ensuring the main vessel is left clutter-free. Aside from diving, other ways to pass the time aboard Sunseeker include a hot tub on the top deck and multiple guided snorkelling trips each day for non-divers.
Ready to book your affordable liveaboard adventure?
Contact the ZuBlu Travel Team today