What to look for before you book a liveaboard?
Tips to help you decide what liveaboard diving vacation is best for you.
- A boat with a long narrow hull will be fast whereas a wider hull, such as a catamaran is more stable.
- A wooden hull sits high in the water and is more affected by the sea conditions
- A steel hull sits lower in the water and as it's heavier than wood will be slower.
- Two high-pressure compressors.
- Low-pressure compressors to supply Nitrox (many liveaboards offer Nitrox for free)
- High-pressure oxygen supplies for diving emergencies.
- If you want to use trimix, check that the vessel carries sufficient helium, and check the cost.
- 2 generators should be available, switching from one to the other.
- Check what voltage is available for re-charging etc.
- 2 engines give more manoeverabilty and provides a backup.
- GPS and Radar are a must.
- A powerful marine VHF radio to keep in touch especially when there is no mobile phone signal.
- Life rafts, life jackets and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons
Entry and Exit:
- It needs to be easy and safe.
- A purpose-built dive deck with sufficient space for all the divers.
- Personal storage space for gear.
- Your tank will need to be filled where it is stowed, and this job must be carried out securely, so that a rolling vessel doesn't tip everything onto the deck.
- Is there a freshwater shower and nearby toilet?
- How spacious are the cabins and do they have air con?
- Is there a watermaker?
- What entertainment is there on board? (DVDs, video screen, etc)
- Food - this can make or break the enjoyment of your trip, regardless of how good the diving is.
- Are there sufficient tenders for the number of guests?
- Is there a dedicated camera room with a dry table area kept just for camera equipment with power facilities?
- Is there a separate freshwater rinse tank for cameras?
- Many boats now boast Jacuzzis. However, remember that being in hot water immediately after diving could lead to skin bends. [Divers who have been chilled on decompression dives (or dives near the no-decompression limit) and take very hot baths or showers may stimulate bubble formation. Source: www.emedicine.com]
Lastly, the crew. A good crew can make all the difference to your trip. Check the guide:diver ratio. A knowledgeable dive guide will make all the difference to your diving.