Four years on from my first visit to the Maldives, I find myself back on M/Y Sachika with Top Class Cruising to spend a week cruising and diving the Central Atolls.
Sachika is every bit as comfortable, spacious and clean as I remember. Even the basic rooms have more than enough space for two people to share, with all their equipment that comes with going on a dive trip. There is no dive deck due to the fact that all the diving is done from a separate Dhoni. This allows for spacious rooms with huge ensuites for all guests.
For those willing to upgrade to the upstairs suites you will find a bit of luxury with four poster beds. The main draw being when you open your curtains in the morning you are rewarded with a stunning view over the silky smooth waters of the Lagoons. How about an early rise to enjoy the stunning colours of sunrise glistening off the water?
The staff onboard worked tirelessly to keep Sachika clean and tidy for us to enjoy our week. Cleaning up after 21 guests must surely take some work. The kitchen staff produced wonders daily with flavoursome food on offer at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The curry dish that I was particularly fond of proved popular as it would need refilling every time it was served. Just the right amount of spice for me with a nice kick to it.
The creme de la creme came on beach BBQ night though, as we enjoyed the sunset on a desert island followed by an amazing BBQ meal laid on by the staff. It was truly delicious. One thing I would like to add as an advisory is that one of our guests was vegetarian and felt her needs weren’t really catered for. She felt she just had the basic rice and noodles to choose from. Maybe the chefs could do a few vegetable curry dishes instead of meat? After all, it was the sauce that was truly delicious and it would be every bit as tasty with vegetables instead of meat.
The Dhoni Dive Boat has enough space for 25 divers to comfortably kit up without causing too much aggravation for each other. It is equipped with a compressor onboard meaning that once you have a tank and your kit is secured it will stay there all week to be filled for each dive. No need to keep changing tanks. There’s also comfortable bench seating at the back of the boat for chilling out before and after diving, and a sundeck on the 2nd floor.
The Dhoni staff are very accommodating and always there to lend a hand. Making sure to provide water to all divers after a dive to prevent dehydration. Remember to bring your own reusable flask though to save using too many plastic cups. Little things go a long way.
Being an Italian owned and run boat, the dive manager and guides are made up of a mixture of Italians and local Maldivian guides. I found myself with Big Ali who was my guide four years ago. Still as professional, he would make recommendations for the dive and depth but was happy to go with the majority of our group and how they felt. He was also very easy to spot underwater wearing white fins, shorts and rash vest so he stands out amongst other dive groups.
I helped to organise this trip with my local Scuba School in Studley and all the guests spoke highly of the other guides onboard – Little Ali, Chiara and Matteo. Dive sites were well briefed before each site and we knew exactly what to expect. Big Ali’s knowledge of what current to expect to jump into was amazing and always right.
The trip all ran smoothly with Chiara as Dive Manager and three dives a day was comfortable with ample time to relax on the spacious sundeck in-between dives. The boat has plenty of shade to take a break from the sun and plenty of sun loungers to go around. If you want to really chill out and drift away, you can hop into the jacuzzi and look out over the varying shades of blue water. You want to make sure you are on the sundeck for sunset and then stay for the night when it is clear. Turn the lights off on the top deck and marvel at the stars. A bar sits at the back of the third floor with comfortable rattan furniture allowing for more chill out space with drinks readily available.
All in all an amazing week onboard Sachika with some incredible diving and interactions. Check back next week for part two when I tell you all about the diving!