It was GREAT to be back in the Red Sea and to see Guido again. I first met him four years ago when we joined a BBC crew filming for the ‘Blue Planet’. That was on the Coral Queen and in the Sinai waters, this time we’re going to be on the Coral Princess visiting the Southern Red Sea, also called “the Deep South”, which refers to the reefs close to the Sudanese waters.
It promises to be another great adventure never to be forgotten. After two long flights and a bus ride, we finally get to Wadi Lahami. There she is was, laying in the azure blue waters surrounded by the beautiful Red Mountains. I know life is going to be paradise again for the next seven days. After a warm ‘hello again’ we settle into our cabins, have dinner to meet the other guests who are all British and listen to Guido’s welcoming words. This is the first British charter he’s had on the Coral Princess and you can tell he’s excited.
This trip is going to take us from the Fury Shoals to St. John’s Reef, a site where the legendary Jacques Cousteau made some of his early explorations of the Red Sea.
And exploration is exactly what it felt like. You could almost imagine being there with Cousteau back then; stunning shipwrecks, incredible drop offs smothered in pristine soft and hard corals, plenty of sea life, patrolling sharks and dancing dolphins and best of all: back with Guido on the boat and hardly another boat in sight.
We can do nothing but RAVE about the Coral Princess. This is the new sister ship of the legendary Coral Queen, owned and run by the deeply passionate Guido Abdel Meguid Cherif.
We couldn’t find anything wrong with the the ship, the crew, the diving, everything was just exquisite!
An attractive 27m twin screw vessel, with steel hull and super structure and has a really “roomy” feeling to her. Her cruising speed is 11 knots and she has been constructed specifically to undertake long range cruises in the open Red Sea. During our entire trip the sea was very calm but it can get rough at times so it is nice to know you’re on such a sturdy boat.
The 8, twin-bedded cabins (not bunks) are all air-conditioned, have in-suite facilities and comfortably wide berths. The cabins are cleaned daily and sheets, pillows and quilts are provided as well as bath and deck towels. Re-charging sockets are available (220/110v) in each cabin. You really have all that you need and plenty of room to unpack and clutter your cabin with photo and video gear like we did.
The liveaboard is well equipped for long distance dive exploration and includes navigation and safety equipment and water desalination. Dives are done from a zodiac which is an ideal way to explore these isolated reefs. We were always split up in two groups so there was never any crowding at the dive sites. The crew is friendly and extremely helpful and the service is nothing but impeccable.
Guido was the first one to operate week-long cruises to this fairly remote area and although he is not the only one anymore, there are still not many other boats on the reefs. We encountered another group of divers only once. All the other times we felt like we were in in unchartered territory, it was just wonderful.
The liveaboard follows the standart schedule of most luxury liveaboards. A detailed briefing of the site to be dived preceded all dives and was often enhanced by Guido’s lovely additions about these sites he knows so well. The day started off with coffee or tea and cookies or cake followed by the first dive and then breakfast. A delicious lunch is then served after the second dive. In the early afternoon the third dive takes place followed by afternoon tea or coffee accompanied by cake or cookies again. Dinner is served at around 7:30 p.m. If a dusk or night dive was planned, dinnertime was adjusted accordingly. The chef deserves a big compliment as the food was delicious and plentiful. Evenings were spent watching the latest video and comparing digital pictures with the other guests in the main lounge. And the next day we did it all over again! Next to seeing a Manta Ray, the highlight of this trip was definitely Lester, an ex-dive instructor, who never stopped enhancing our underwater world with his multicoloured DIVE GODDESS skins and many jokes topside. Needless to say, we never stopped laughing.
We dove four times a day (including a dusk or night dive) and every single dive was an exhilirating experience.
We were guided into this new territory by dive guides Monica and Yassir who were both lots of fun and knew the dive sites well. Monica originates from Germany but has adopted the Red Sea as her real home and her true love years ago. Her knowledge of the dive sites and the Egyptian culture and language made the trip even more interesting. Guido, as always, spent most of his time on the top deck, overseeing his operation and waiting for our return so he could share with us some more interesting stories about his beloved Red Sea. He kept asking us if we had already spotted the famous large humped-head parrotfish!
The distances between the sites were sometimes long but we never noticed it as they are conveniently covered during surface intervals or at night so that the dives were never compromised. We saw both Spinner and Common Dolphins jumping and jolting along the bow of the boat.