Having never made much of the fact that Emperor Divers Marsa Alam at Marina Lodge is well prepared to welcome divers with disabilities, it was through comments from two guests that the team were encouraged to highlight the fact and to encourage disabled divers to visit.
Disabled divers can enjoy boat diving from the Marina Lodge as access to the boats is made easy with the assistance of the dive guides and crew. Although the boats are not specifically designed for wheelchair access, the following feedback explains well how the system works:
Feedback from paraplegic diver, Frank Jennings;
“The Emperor dive boats that leave from Marsa Alam (day trips) are not ‘wheelchair friendly’ in so much as there is no specific wheelchair access, but this has never been a problem.
The physical lifting of me and my chair has never been an issue because both the boat crews and dive teams go to every extreme to ensure that getting on and off the boat is not a problem. Whilst on the boat I have every bit of help that I need and every effort is made by everyone to make the experience a good one. I wish I could do two weeks diving five times a year!”
Feedback from diver, David Gosnell;
The last time I dived with Emperor Divers in Marsa Alarm (March 2013) I had the privilege to dive with another qualified diver and her husband who was wheelchair bound. Even though I was not part of their buddy team, I was impressed and very happy to see the boat crew bend over backwards to help both the wife and her husband. From meeting them on the jetty, moving him onto the lower diving deck in his chair making sure he was secure before we left harbour, to all the help you normally get with kitting up.
They helped with buddy checks and the forward roll he had mastered to start the dive. The after dive exit it was even more impressive. The dive leader helped with in-water kit removal and then the boat crew raised the diver from the water using the method agreed by all prior to the dive. A hive of activity then was then apparent, one stowed away the kit and two and sometimes three helped with the reverse of getting him back into his chair and moving him back up onto the higher diving deck away for the exit platform.
At all time the crew showed extreme consideration to the diver and never treated him any different to the rest of us and, while all this was going on, still helping other divers including his wife.
As a PADI and BSAC open water instructor it was great to see that Emperor Divers has been able, with the limited resources you find on Egyptian day boats, to allow the sport to be shared by some of us who are less fortunate. Well done Emperor and keep up the good work.