Diving again - your COVID questions answered

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Those of you following us on Facebook and Instagram will have seen that we have restarted limited operations in both the Red Sea and Maldives. Diving during this pandemic is a bit more challenging, and even impossible for many still, we know that. The payoff for those who can make it to the resorts is the chance to dive while very few others are. Think about having the Thistlegorm, the Brothers, Moofushi or Alimatha Jetty to yourselves - a unique opportunity! We have been getting quite a few questions from you, our divers, and so we thought we would ask the experts to clear them up.

General

I want to book but am worried that things will not open up in time, how can I be sure?
We offer peace of mind with our No Deposit Scheme. You can secure your places and we will only ask for payment once travel restrictions are lifted and you are able to travel.

What if I am booked and then things change?
These are uncertain times and what may be true today may not be tomorrow; therefore we are offering all guests flexible rebooking terms. This means should anything change and you are unable to join us as planned, we will reschedule your trip, with no penalty, to a future date to suit you.

What about insurance?
Navigating insurance can be difficult at times like these; however, there are companies offering Covid cover even for destinations which are not yet on the governmental 'green lists'. It's worth contacting Divemaster Insurance, Battleface, or Rock Insurance to find a policy to suit your needs.

Red Sea

Luke Atkinson.jpg

Based in Egypt for the past 11 years and all the way through the pandemic, Luke our General Manager was on hand to answer the following regular questions:

What is Emperor actually operating currently?
We managed to get our first trip out on the 2nd of July, only a day after the borders reopened and diving was allowed again. We were the first on the mainland to get our safari boats COVID safe, certified by the authorities, and we were desperate to get out. Mostly we have been running trips with Emperor Superior in the North, going across the gulf to Sinai and down to The Brothers, but we just brought Elite down to Port Ghalib and are now operating the Southern routes again. So now divers have a choice of Northern or Southern safari routes for the next few weeks, still with a few places left, which are confirmed sailings. It's a bit too early to think about when we might open the daily diving centres, as many hotels are still closed, but we can't think of anything better than a liveaboard right now. It's the high season, yet we're often the only boat onsite!

Who is flying to Egypt?
Right now the flights arriving to Hurghada directly are Edelweiss from Zurich and Easyjet from Gatwick and Manchester, UK. Pegasus are also flying into Hurghada via Istanbul and have proved to be really popular as they connect to loads of local UK & European airports. There is also Egyptair through Cairo, but they are coming up quite expensive at the moment, as well as direct flights from Ukraine, Belarus & Serbia.

What are the rules for flying into Egypt?
Egypt is insisting on a health declaration to be completed before boarding and for passengers to have valid travel insurance. Since September 1st travellers also need a negative PCR test printed out, with a test date of no earlier than 72 hours before departure. There is an option available to do a PCR test on arrival, but we must ask our liveaboard divers to only take that option if they have a hotel stay booked for a night or two before their trip. It is not allowed to board the boat while waiting on the result of that test, which may not arrive on the same day.

What's it like on the boat?
Very quiet right now! We still have an occupancy cap of 50% on our Red Sea boats, although with the new PCR ruling there is a chance that may increase soon. Of course we have put a lot of new procedures in place, whilst trying not to undo all the work we have done in recent years regarding plastic waste. It's still a holiday though; common sense is applied for mask use, for example only enforced when moving around because of narrow corridors and passages, or during indoor briefings, so there is no danger of a mask tan. There's loads of room to maintain social distance, and there is sanitiser absolutely everywhere. There have been some incredible sightings though, such as diving with a whaleshark for 10 minutes at Ras Mohamed!

Maldives

Bernie McAteer.jpg

Bernie our General Manager in Maldives headed back there on one of the first flights at the end of July to set up the boats for our first trips. We caught up with him to ask the following:

What is Emperor actually operating currently?
We ran our first trip on Voyager starting August 16th for what was an amazing experience, 10 days of diving without another dive boat in sight! Voyager has since been on back to back surf tours taking in the world class surf breaks in the Maldives. Leo was next out on Sept 6th for her first trip, another week of diving to ourselves and some incredible sightings including 2 Whalesharks, Mantas and so much more.

Who is flying to Maldives?
Currently the best options are Qatar, Emirates, Etihad and Sri Lankan airlines who have been flying in with British Airways & Turkish Airlines soon to start.

What's the rules with flying in?
As of September 10th, all arrivals need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departing their original destination, this can be a digital or paper document.

The airline I'm flying with want a valid PCR for my return, how do I get that sorted?
The National Boating Association Maldives have set up a testing facility on Hulhumale in North Male atoll and we also have an option for on board testing by Mahibadhoo clinic in Ari atoll. The tests currently cost circa 200 USD.

What's it like on the boat?
We are living with the 'new normal' so things are a little different, we have many disinfecting and sanitising procedures in place and encourage social distancing and masks where sensible. We have lots of space on board and try to minimise the chance of any of the new procedures impacting your holiday. The diving has been incredible and to have these dive sites to your self is unheard of in recent years.

 

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Peter published on September 24, 2020 12:55 PM.

Starting to dive again was the previous entry in this blog.

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