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Recomendation for liveaboard to Similan Islands

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My dive buddy and me are going til Thailand / Phuket in feb. 2008 and we are looking for a liveaboard going to the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock. Anyone know of a good company and / or boat. We are looking at mid price boats.

 

Will it be a good idea to wait with the booking until we get there and that way get good discounts when they want to sell the remanining places on the boats ?

 

Kenneth

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Can only comment on the guys we used a couple of years ago http://www.similan-diving-safaris.com/ who were on the cheaper side but excellent! Obviously you can't expect luxury but we had no complaints whatsoever.

 

They go from Khao Lak - just north of Phuket. You may get good deals if you leave it but you may well end up on an overcrowded boat out of Phuket.

 

Graham

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My favorite boat is no longer in operation but the dive shop we used to book the trip was excellent. They are located in Patong Beach. I dove with them two years in a row in 2004 and 2005 in March/April. I would recommend booking beforehand as I don't recall if February is still high season or not. If it's not high season then I would wait - they'll probably have good discounts however, diving in Thailand is pretty cheap (or it was.)

 

Here's a link to their website:

 

http://www.scandinavian-divers.com/liveaboard_list.php

 

I have fallen in love with Thailand and hope to return to dive soon!

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Absolutely the best (IMHO) liveaboard in Phuket is the Ocean Rover.

She is changing hands so I don't know the schedule in your timeframe but you can chack at: www.ocean-rover.com

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For mid price, check the West Coast Explorer, Black Manta, Colonna VI and Genesis. These boats I've been on and they are good and safe.

The Explorer and Genesis are lower mid price with shared bathrooms (which can be a drag after you've been on really nice boats). Not luxurious by any means but if you want a bunk to sleep at night with a nice big lounge area, these boats are good for that.

The Black Manta is upper mid range and the nicest of this lot if you get the master cabin. Nicely appointed and pretty luxurious, even for the shared head standard rooms. Big boat and very spacious even for its huge capacity. Colonna VI is an old favorite of mine. Both have EAN.

The idea of waiting to book is always good if you feel lucky. The more popular boats usually fill up quicker, that leaves you with less popular boats. You have a much better chance of getting a deal if you go directly to the boat owners via a booking agent, but then you won't know what the alternatives are. You'll probably save at most 10% and really, unless you are there and sitting around until you can hop on a boat, which is usually what I do because I know many of the operations then really it's not worth the hassle of running around looking for boats.

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ocean rover or one of the mermaid boats for me...book before you go or you could end up on something you might not like.

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Hi! You're going to love Thailand. I did. :excl: Bring a fish lense and a wide angle, for sure.

 

I was just on Black Manta (1 week) and Pawara (2 weeks).

Both are quite nice. Pawara is aiming at the Ocean Rover/ Philkade market, but prices still midrange this year.

 

Both boats share the distinct disadvantage of no photo facilities. At all. No camera bucket, no camera table, no cubbies, nuthin. They have desks in the lounge for using your laptop though. Luckily I knew before I went and arranged a big rubbermaid tub to be my camera's "house" and "designated" one of teh two rinse buckets as a "no mask" zone (and people mostly respected that). On both boats I was the only person with a camera bigger than a P&S.

 

Pawara was great about letting me go do my own thing - once they were satisfied I was a good diver, they let me stray a bit from the dive group. Talk to Duke in advance if you plan on being like that cause they mostly get follow-me divers.

 

Oh, and a side note, Black Manta has British (!) electrical plugs. Adapters were in short supply.

Americans seem to really like the Philikade, surprised nobody has mentioned it, although it is pricey I hear.

 

I usually book through John Williams at Siam Dive & Sail. He knows the various boats pretty well and can advise you.

 

P.S. I heard Jazz has cockroaches but is otherwise quite nice.

:-)

 

ocean rover or one of the mermaid boats for me...book before you go or you could end up on something you might not like.

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Pardon my ignorance Taxgeek (I have too much to ignore) but what is the difference between a camera bucket and the two big red tubs on the dive deck of the Black Manta? Those are both designated for only cameras, strobes and torches when it sails out of Singapore. Also, the two shelves next to the cabin entrance were also reserved for dry cameras before though I know most people use the lounge / eating tables to set up - at least I do.

 

Finally, I know Jimmy & Chris left Singapore with a few dozen adapters for those travelling from America / Philippines, etc. without their own but I assume they have slowly been disappearing the past two months if they are not around now. I'll suggest to the owner that some adapters could be "leashed" near the outlets.

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Hi Zippsy.

Big red buckets? The only buckets there were were the big built-in ones on either side of the stairs? One was filled up with life jackets or something, and the other was the general "dump anything in" bucket. Cameras went in there, but so did masks.

 

On my trip, the two shelves were used for towels (clean and dirty), and were also used for cameras, people's misc gear,clothes, food, etc. A couple of times random junk ended up thrown on top of my camera, or it was knocked or moved, on those shelves, so I quit using them except for short term stowage while getting geared up.

 

I guess it's not accurate to say Black Manta (great boat, not intending to knock it) doesn't have ANY photo facilities, but the ones it has weren't in use/respected when I was on it. Maybe since there was only one big camera rig on the boat they didn't bother too much with reserving certain areas only for photo gear.

 

I was also previously on two boats (Ondina and Sea Hunter) with superior camera facilities, so it was a bit of an adjustment. But I'd go back in a second if I could afford to!

 

As for the adapters, haha, they said they used to have a supply but it gradually grew legs and wandered off as they loaned them out, it's easy to forget to return things like that. They said they had 1 left and they weren't willing to lend it as they needed it for something - I ended up putting a bunch of extenders on an adapter that another guy had brought. Leashing the adapters would be a good idea, or just replacing the outlets with universal ones (which the Pawara had).

 

Pardon my ignorance Taxgeek (I have too much to ignore) but what is the difference between a camera bucket and the two big red tubs on the dive deck of the Black Manta? Those are both designated for only cameras, strobes and torches when it sails out of Singapore. Also, the two shelves next to the cabin entrance were also reserved for dry cameras before though I know most people use the lounge / eating tables to set up - at least I do.

 

Finally, I know Jimmy & Chris left Singapore with a few dozen adapters for those travelling from America / Philippines, etc. without their own but I assume they have slowly been disappearing the past two months if they are not around now. I'll suggest to the owner that some adapters could be "leashed" near the outlets.

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Americans seem to really like the Philikade, surprised nobody has mentioned it, although it is pricey I hear.

Well that's cos the OP asked for mid price boats. :excl:

 

As for adapters,it's easy enough to run over to the big stores to buy a few more. I'm sure Steffen can arrange it for Chris.

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I'll let the owner know about those buckets and the shelves - that's not how they are supposed to be used. When it sails from Singapore they do stack the dry towels on the corner of one shelf but the rest of the shelves and both tubs are for cameras. The cubby holes above the tanks were for shirts, towels, glasses, suntan lotion, etc.

 

Regarding the outlets, I'll keep an eye out for the universal ones too. I've never seen them before.

 

I was also previously on two boats (Ondina and Sea Hunter) with superior camera facilities, so it was a bit of an adjustment. But I'd go back in a second if I could afford to!

I see what you mean on both counts. The camera table looks awesome on the Ondina (http://www.cityseahorse.com/Raja_Ampat-Liveaboard-Pictures/image011.php) although that boat looks out of my budget (unless I was working on it. :excl:). Also, was this the Sea Hunter (http://www.underseahunter.com/uh.htm) you were on???? Let me know if you ever need to hire someone to carry your bags for you. I'm tremendously cheap - I work for food and dives. :)

Edited by zippsy

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