Top 25 Dive Travel Questions, What is a Live Aboard?

Top 25 Dive Travel Questions, #12 I’ve heard the term “live aboard”, can you explain?

If you are new to the diving scene, it would be good to have a definition of what a live aboard dive boat is and if you are a dive veteran you may find that the term has now expanded. Read on!

The old definition of a live aboard dive boat is a boat with the PRIMARY purpose of scuba diving 3-5 times a day often in a remote location. There is generally no form of other entertainment on board and you pretty much eat, sleep and dive. The boat’s schedule is based on the ability to offer as many dives as possible during the course of a day and often with dives most nights. All activities revolve around the dive schedule.

Boats range from bunk style accommodations with shared bathroom facilities to boats with private cabins and en suites with queen or king beds and plated meal service. Generally live aboard dive boats range in capacity from 10-22 divers. They are set up with diving in mind, leaving a large deck for dive equipment and camera workspace. They have a salon for relaxing and a sun deck to warm in between dives. They usually sail on a 7 or 10 day itinerary.

Prices vary with live aboards, ranging from about $1500-$6000. The price varies due to the degree of luxury and also with location. For some remote locations like Cocos Island there are few options so prices are higher. As well, it is a 36 hour trip out to the island (and well worth it!) so fuel prices may add to a higher price. Generally prices do not include marine park fees which can be as high as $300. Be sure to check what is included with your trip. Things like Nitrox, on board training, transfers to and from the boat and alcoholic drinks may or may not be included. Also, you will be expected to tip the crew at the end of your dive vacation. (More on tipping in another post).

Now, the old live aboard is not necessarily the new live aboard. Most live aboards I would not recommend for non divers as diving is the end all be all for the journey. However, in the past few years, we have seen the advent of the boutique live aboard, something more akin to a private yacht with fine furniture and ecoutrements more geared to an upscale client base. We are seeing boats with as little as 8 divers that include full spa, huge cabins with balconies, flexible travel schedules and extra staff to accommodate activities for non divers. There are now “live aboard” dive boats that I would feel comfortable taking non divers and know that they will have just as great a time as the divers! For example, check out www.divedamai.com and join us on an unforgettable journey through Indonesia in January 2012. Here is the ultimate in live aboard luxury yacht diving. With our full boat charter, WE decide where and when we want to dive…..or beach….or go ashore. The options are limitless!

However, do not confuse “live aboards” with cruise ship diving. For more on cruise ship diving, check out last week’s post on the subject!

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