When it comes to Maldives scuba diving, the experience of a dive cruise cannot be beat. Not only that, but the dive quality in the Maldives has made this destination into one of the most noteworthy in the world for diving holidays. Dive cruisers like Blue Force One – aka MV Leo – are leading the way in unique diving tours of the atolls that really show off the best of the region.
About to embark on their 18th consecutive season in the Maldives, the long-running status and continued customer satisfaction are what make Blueforce a top operator in the region. For their 2014-2015 season, they have a varied program of weekly diving cruises ready to go, led by their trusted team of guides. Their team’s extensive experience has helped them select the most appropriate route for each week of the season, which will help ensure that every cruise is an unforgettable trip.
Just a few of the attractions they have planned for are mantas, whale sharks, and many types of sharks such as gray, tiger, reef and hammerhead. Not to mention the thilas with their multicolored marine life and wrecks that divers can enjoy during the trip.
Blueforce’s MV Leo is a 42-meter ship with all the amenities a dive traveler could ask for, and more. It is accompanied by a dive dhoni where the diving equipment and compressors of nitrox are kept.
Each of its 10 cabins has full ensuite bathroom, hairdryer, convenient remote control lighting and a/c, 32’ satellite TV, WiFi, safe, bathrobes and towels. There are hot water showers, room service and towel service. Of these 10 cabins there are 3 extra-special rooms with extra features such as seaviews, bathtub or Jacuzzi tub.
On the Lower deck are 6 standard cabins and 1 master cabin. On the main deck are the common areas such as the comfy living area with 65’ TV, satellite and theatre sound and equipment, massage arm chairs, kitchen, dining area, as well as one of the suites. On the upper, 2nd deck there is the 3rd suite and 1 additional standard cabin with twin beds. There is also the spa massage room, sauna and shower, 2 outdoor Jacuzzis accompanied with lounge chairs and a solarium with mattresses. On the 3rd upper deck is a large solarium with sun beds.
Blue force has tailored routes depending on the season. The main ones are:
• 5 Atolls Classical and South
• South Hemisphere
• 6 Atolls Classical and North
• Big south Up or Down
5 Atolls Classical and South
This is the most famous route in Maldives. Leo has been taking this route for last 16 seasons and the team is experienced in the best dive spots. They know the details of the reef and atolls and the best time for diving each spot. The Classical and South route goes through South Male atoll and Felidhoo where divers experience channels and pelagic fish at spots such as Devana Kandhu Miyaru. There’s also the spectacular night diving for nurse sharks. The cruise wraps up in Ari Atoll where divers swim around thilas, manta cleaning stations and are on the lookout for the whale shark.
Duration: 7 nights and 7 days diving. Departure and arrival in Male.
Itinerary: North Male, South Male, Felidhoo, Ari and Rasdhoo
Marine life: Whale sharks in the south; Mantas, thila reefs, whale sharks & wrecks in Ari.
6 Atolls Classical and North
The route 5 Atolls Classical & South is extended with the addition of Baa Atoll at the beginning or end of the cruise. First South Male Atolls and Felidhoo are visited for diving in the channels and great spots such as Miyaru or Kandhu Devana, then a night dive to look for the nurse sharks of Alimatha. Then off to see manta cleaning stations and looking for whale sharks in Ari Atoll. Top off an already jam-packed-with-excitement cruise by visiting Baa Atoll and Hanifaru Bay for snorkelling around concentrations of mantas in the world-famous lagoon, when the conditions are right (moon, current, tide, plankton). Besides snorkeling at Hanifaru dive the thilas at Dharavandhoo and others where a myriad of colorful fish delight the eyes and camera lens.
Duration: 7 nights and 7 days diving. Departure and arrival Male then Dharavandhoo or vice versa.
Itinerary: North Male, South Male, Felidhoo, Ari, Rasdhoo & Baa Atoll takes one week, then the boat returns to do the reverse Baa to North Male during the following week.
Marine life: Whale sharks in the south; Mantas, thila reefs, whale sharks & wrecks in Ari. Plus mantas in Baa Atoll’s famous Hanifaru Bay
South Hemisphere Tour
With the success and experience gained from 10 expeditions into the Maldives’ south atolls, Blue force developed one of the largest southern hemisphere tours in the Maldives. Planned for the months with optimal conditions, these tours take place during a 12-week period from February to April, 2015.
The Blue Force Leo bases its operations in the equatorial region in the south of the Maldives archipelago for 8 weeks, providing divers with a unique southern circuit. The quality of marine live and reefs in this region is spectacular and undoubtedly an experience not to be missed by an avid diver.
The route to and from the southern region is great for a dive tour too. In fact, divers can combine a week in the south with a week dive trip down or back up to the south from Male. To make the most of the southern sights it is highly recommended to book 2 weeks by combining the Big south down followed by a week in the Southern hemisphere or (the other way around) a week in the southern hemisphere followed by the Big South up.
Duration: 7 night cruise on the southern atolls
Itinerary: Gaaf Alif, Foamulah, Addu Atolls (either direction). Cruise starts or ends in Gan or Kooddoo.
Marine life: See thilas and corals like the Maldives of 25 years ago. Discover channels, whale sharks, mantas and the largest wreck in Maldives, the British Royalty.
Big South up/down
During the months of February and March in the Maldives islands, it’s likely to find the ideal conditions for a cruise on the central atolls. Mantas and whale sharks in Ari, as well as night dives with dancing mantas. Channels of the more southern atolls will excite as will the pelagic life of Vaavu and Meemu atolls. It’s a tour that goes deeper into the south than most traditional tours. You can also connect with the unique southern hemisphere tour before or after the Big South up or down tour.
Duration: 7 night cruise on the atolls heading north or south through the southern atolls
Itinerary: North Male, South Male, Ari, Vaavu, Meemu, Thaa and Laamu (either direction). Starts/ends in Male or Laamu.
Marine life: Nurse sharks, mantas, whale sharks, hammerheads
Tailored to divers
MV Leo is Rebreather Friendly. If you want to take your CCR, the Leo is prepared with oxygen and booster pump, which is available on board for a surcharge.
Not only that but Nitrox is free. The advantages of nitrox are many and we have found the incorporating it into our dive packages makes for a more enjoyable trip overall. Divers get the possibility to extend up to 20% dive time without decompression. It’s ideal for dives like Donkalo Thila, where manta rays dance around. The reduced worry about multiple safety stops has radically changed the way our diving cruises can operate. Our Nitrox Membrane system NRC along with our compressors and L&W, allow us to load the required bottles for the multiple daily dives.
In addition to the increased safety factor of nitrox, the fatigue that is often experienced after 3 dives is reduced and passengers can therefore enjoy after-dive activities, such as island visits. This allows the trip to have an extra element, beyond diving, eating and sleeping, to include the discovery of a country by meeting its people and its culture.
The boat facilities, combined with the tailored itineraries and supercharged extras, like nitrox, make Leo Blue Force a real force to be reckoned with when it comes to dive cruises. See more photos and specific itinerary dates on the liveaboard page here.
If your travel dates are within the next month, check out the last minute deals on some great liveaboard packages here.