Our thanks to Tony McFarlane who sent this insightful trip report following an Army diving trip on Emperor Atoll...
"It has long since been acknowledged that the Army ‘Marches on its stomach’, well it also ‘Dives’ on its stomach, or at least it did during our recent trip to the Maldives.
Maldives Medics on Emperor Atoll's dhoni
Early in February 2016 my group of 12 military medics flew to the Maldives to spend a week aboard the MV Emperor Atoll on the ‘Sharktastic’ tour of the Northern Atolls. Whilst we were expecting to experience the marvels that the Indian Ocean had in store for us, we certainly didn’t expect them to come from the galley on the dive boat.
The standard of food served up was outstanding and as much talked about by the group as the pelagics we were experiencing under the water; adding to the overall Atoll experience.
This compact liveaboard was just right for our group and accommodating a maximum of 12 divers it gave us exclusive use of the boat. The crew was excellent and nothing was too much trouble. A malfunctioning air-conditioning unit in my cabin, sure to impact on the trip in the Maldivian heat, was removed and replaced while we were on the morning dive, meaning that we returned to a chilled cabin. The itinerary was discussed with us at the start of the day’s diving, ensuring that we had a say in what we were doing and not merely being ‘put on us’ by the crew. This attitude was typical of my experience of Emperor Divers throughout the months leading up to our trip; nothing was too much trouble or too difficult and I was made to feel as if I was their only customer throughout, such was the level of customer service I received.
SADS briefing aboard Emperor Atoll's dhoni
Due to the constraints that we must observe in the way that we dive, military groups are not ideal for liveaboard conditions unless, like us, they have exclusive use of the dive deck. Again, the crew could not have been more accommodating or understanding and worked with us throughout the week to ensure that we had a fantastic time, whilst still observing our strict diving practices.
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe our Maldives’ experience but undoubtedly the experience was enhanced by being accommodated onboard MV Emperor Atoll, our own pearl in the Indian Ocean; well for a week at least!
Thank you Emperor."
Officer Commanding the Expedition (OiC Exped)