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My week on Scuba Scene: simply the best Red Sea liveaboard experience

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red sea liveaboard

Saeed Rashid  is blown away by the first-class luxury Red Sea liveaboard, Scuba Scene.

I first dived the Egyptian Red Sea in 1997 on a land-based holiday, diving with Divers Lodge out of the Intercontinental Hotel. Our accommodation wasn’t as fancy as the Intercontinental; it was just a small, cheap affair a few miles down the road, with very questionable food! Each morning we were picked up by a minibus and driven to the Intercontinental where we had to collect our dive gear from the small dive centre and carry it down the jetty to our day boat. We would then slowly steam out to our dive site where we would do a couple of dives before heading back and carrying, rinsing and returning all our gear to the dive centre ready to do it all again the next day. It was a right faff. I remember seeing larger boats and being told that they were floating hotels and dive centres rolled into one. People would board them, not get off for a week, and all you needed to do was step into your gear that was permanently set up and fall into the sea. As far as I was concerned, this sounded like pure luxury, and I told myself that this was the diving I wanted to do from then on. A couple of years later, after managing to save up the £500 it cost to stay on one of these amazing liveaboards, I made it – and have never looked back.

red sea liveaboard

Since my first outing, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have stayed on many liveaboards all over the world, but the Red Sea is still one of the most important destinations. With literally hundreds of liveaboards operating throughout its varied waters, most divers I talk to book onto them regularly. As you can imagine, competition between boats is strong, and I had believed that the pinnacle of luxury already existed in the liveaboard world. Every year the food would get better, with some boats even having a dedicated pastry chef to give you your daily sweet treats. The crew would always be amazing, on hand to help at every moment and larger and larger inside spaces and cabins became more and more comfortable. In recent years, some boats even boasted Jacuzzi hot tubs for you to relax in at the end of a hard day’s diving. But on a recent trip, all my expectations were blown out of the water – there is a new boss in town, and her name is Scuba Scene.

red sea liveaboard

Scuba Scene is managed by the incredible duo, Ahmed Fadel and Elke Bojanowski, who many of you will know from their days working for Blue O Two. Ahmed is a tech diving guru and his boats have always played host to some of the most intrepid deep divers in the world. Elke is the founder of Red Sea Sharks and the only scientist operating in the Red Sea studying oceanic white tips. Her knowledge of these amazing creatures is surpassed by none and her world-famous shark diving trips are a must for any shark lover. So, with these two in charge, you know that the boat is going to be good but Scuba Scene is even better!

I was lucky enough to be on probably the best northern Red Sea itinerary. North wrecks and Tiran, which takes in all the must-see spots, such as the Ras Mohammed marine park, Abu Nuhas and of course the old lady herself, the world famous SS Thislegorm. But I was most looking forward to diving the reefs of Tiran Island as I haven’t been there for many years. Laying just to the east of Sharm El Sheik, Tiran Island sits at the gateway to the Gulf of Aqaba, a deep water sea 180km long and 20km wide that’s in fact the northern tip of the Great Rift Valley that stretches 7000km all the way down to Mozambique. Although this area is easily reached by dayboat from the mainland, this incredibly rich and diverse stretch of water really needs to be visited by a liveaboard that gives you time to explore the four main reefs, Jackson, Gordon, Thomas and Woodhouse.

red sea liveaboard

But before we got on the way, there were the all-important safety briefings. It’s impossible to ignore the fact that in recent years, there have been several boat incidents, and where in the past, I would often not pay full attention to the briefings, they have now become forefront in my mind. You would never know that Elke gives this briefing every week; it was informative, insightful, and even fun when we all had to try on our life jackets. That really is the best way to get someone to remember very important information.  I know this is becoming a lot more standard these days, but it’s nice to see people using equipment instead of just being told about it. It was also clear why these demonstrations were really important, as several people had never put on a life jacket before.

red sea liveaboard

A couple of guests requested a walk around to see some of the other safety equipment, and I tagged along. As well as the lifejackets, there are three 25-person lifeboats, and of course the two large speedboats we would be using for diving in the week, and with numerous flotation rings all over the boat, we were definitely covered in the unlikely case of an evacuation. Scuba Scene also has one of the most comprehensive firefighting systems I’ve ever seen. Smoke and heat alarms all over the boat feedback to a panel on the bridge, so if one is triggered, the captain can quickly see its location and inform the crew, who if needed can man one of the six fire hoses that cover every part of the vessel. It’s clear to see that a lot of thought has gone into the safety features onboard Scuba Scene, and I felt my trip’s safety was in great hands.

Our first days diving was, of course, a check dive to make sure we could all still go underwater safely. Often people dismiss these as uninteresting sites, but in my experience, these areas are dived much more often than other reefs and the marine life has gotten very used to us alien divers, meaning it’s possible to get much closer to the reef inhabitants than you would be able to at other locations. So next time don’t turn your nose up to the check dive – think of it as a great opportunity to meet your new fishy pals.

red sea liveaboard

We were soon off to Tiran and the incredible diving there. As soon as I dropped in, I was reminded why I have always loved diving here. As I mentioned previously, the coral reefs of Tiran sit on the southern edge of the Gulf of Aqaba and are fed by the rich deep waters that surround it, meaning they always have abundant fish life and beautiful corals. Thick clouds of Anthias sweep back and forth over the reefs trying to hypnotise unsuspecting divers with their rhythmic movements. This beautiful and often overlooked orange fish is sometimes referred to as the Queen of the Red Sea and is one of my favourites; some say it used to be present in such large numbers the water would look red, hence the name, Red Sea.

red sea liveaboard

While exploring the shallows with my buddy Elke, we came across one of the largest schools of masked butterfly fish we have ever seen. Often, these fish swim in pairs or sometimes in small groups, but this school of several hundred was a rare and beautiful sight that we enjoyed spending much of our dive with.  Turning around and heading back towards the boat, it was lovely to see the large bright green lettuce corals which are abundant in the shallows, with gorgonian sea fans and soft corals liking the deeper walls and drop-offs. It’s always worth keeping an eye out in the blue here, as large pelagic fish will often be swimming by. I remember spotting a large school of massive yellowfin tuna here. Each fish must have been two and a half meters long; I have never seen tuna so big since. If you are lucky, hammerhead sharks can also be spotted in the area, especially around Jackson Reef. But as always, time underwater is never long enough and it’s time to surface. We are the only boat here, but even if we weren’t, it would be easy to spot our boat – underwater, her huge size makes her very recognisable.

Scuba Scene is no normal boat. We divers have some very specialised requirements and as you would expect, every part of this vessel has been designed with us in mind. When you step on board, you are presented with a vast teak dive platform with two full-size showers on either side, and not just shower hoses that drip water like you see on many other boats. Two rinse tanks right next to them allowing you to fully rinse your gear after each dive. . The kitting-up area is just above this, easily big enough to fit a maximum of 28 guests. Not that you would ever need to, as dives are always split into two groups, meaning there are never more than 14 guests getting ready at any one time, making this area feel absolutely vast. Just behind the dive deck is a camera room – yep, an actual camera room – with sloped cubbyholes so your gadgets don’t fall out if the boat rocks and charging points so everything is all in one place. As a photographer, this one feature on its own would guarantee my booking on this boat. For years I’ve had to take up valuable space in the saloon, getting funny looks from other guests for spreading all my camera gear around the seats and tables, but no longer; I now have my own space, and I am so happy.

red sea liveaboard

Very often, sleeping accommodation on a liveaboard is below decks with the saloon above, but Scuba Scene has flipped the deck plan. This means there are no cabins below the waterline. Talking to some of the guests on the trip, this was one of the reasons they had booked, and had enabled some to experience the joy of a liveaboard for the first time because they never liked the idea of being ‘stuck down below’. This also means everyone is well away from the engine room and any noise, giving you a nice, peaceful sleep even when the boat is moving. Another unusual feature is that virtually all the cabins are the same, with twin beds that can easily be moved together to give a king-size double. A double bed, if available, was often something you had to pay a premium for, but not here. There are two cabins in the bow which have been designed as singles and where I stayed. Even as a single cabin it was still bigger than most other boats I have ever stayed on, with the same large ensuite bathroom with a lovely rainfall shower just as the rest of the rooms have. Gone are the small portholes, replaced with full-length panoramic tinted windows which are also used in the shower rooms, and it’s quite an experience showering while looking out at the fish on the coral reef you just dived. Don’t worry, there is a curtain for you to draw if there’s another boat alongside! 

red sea liveaboard

I know what you’re thinking – what if you wanted to get away from all the talk of diving (madness, I know)? Maybe watch a movie, or even have a quick game of Call of Duty? I’m pleased to say that Scuba Scene has you covered here as well. Tucked up at the bow is the boat’s very own cinema/games room, and not a pokey little cupboard either, but big enough to get everybody in. Although an amazing asset, this room was the one that was the least used on my trip and I had forgotten it even existed until the last night when I was challenged to a game of Mario Kart. Where this room could be very useful is if you had younger guests or a smaller group who wanted to do some bespoke training away from the main saloon so as not to disturb others.

red sea liveaboard

What about the food you ask? I’m not sure I’ve ever been on a diving holiday and gone hungry. In fact, there is often so much food that I go home several kilos heavier than when I arrived, and nothing changes here. You literally want for nothing. Catering for a range of diets, steaks are cooked to your liking (and it really is some of the best steak I’ve eaten), but if you prefer a plant-based diet then you are absolutely taken care of just as well.

red sea liveaboard

But I’ve left the icing on the cake until last. Scuba Scene has a swimming pool! Yeah, that’s right, it has an actual, real swimming pool. Okay, if I’m being honest, it’s a bit more of a splash pool, but it’s big enough to get a dozen of you in at the end of a hot day to cool off with an ice-cold Sakara Gold. This was a first for me, having been on dozens of boats with Jacuzzis which are great, but are not used as often as you would think, taking a long time to fill and only a few of you can fit in at a time (oh btw, Scuba Scene has one of these as well). This pool is filled with filtered seawater in a matter of minutes, meaning that whenever the boat is moored for a while the pool can be filled. Because of the nature of liveaboards, you don’t often get non-divers or divers who want a more relaxed holiday where they would maybe dive once and then sit around the pool. Well, we had exactly that on this trip, a non-diving partner who took the opportunity to occasionally snorkel and then indulge in the swimming pool. Talking to her at the end of the week, she said that the swimming pool made the trip very special and she didn’t feel left out from all the diving going on around her.

red sea liveaboard

At 48.5m in length, Scuba Scene is one and a half metres under the legal length of a cruise ship, meaning she is probably the biggest liveaboard that anyone will ever build. As a cruise ship, vessels must conform to even stronger regulations, from permanent lifeboats hanging from davits to a much higher crew-to-guest ratio. All of these things would increase overheads and make the operation of these boats much less viable meaning we will probably never see super liveaboards cruising up and down the Red Sea.

red sea liveaboard

The Scuba Scene website says, “M/Y Scuba Scene is spacious, functional and comfortable, with regards to the cabins as well as the public areas and the dive deck.” In my opinion, this is the most understated quote I have ever read. Scuba Scene is by far the most luxurious and well-equipped liveaboard I’ve ever been on. I love the boat so much I’m heading back next summer to run an underwater photography workshop on her – who’s with me?!?

To book a trip on Scuba Scene or a place on Saeed’s 2024 underwater photography workshop, visit https://oysterdiving.com/trip/scuba-scene-red-sea-egypt/.

Saeed has been diving for over 25 years. Living on England’s south coast, he has always had a passion for the ocean and photography, so underwater photography was a perfect match for him. A lecturer at Bournemouth University where he teaches design and photojournalism; a popular speaker at dive shows worldwide; an international travel journalist. Saeed also runs successful underwater photography workshops to help others capture some of the amazing sights he sees and shares his passion and love for nature and the sea with as many people as he can. You can find some of his work at www.focusvisuals.com.

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The Ocean Cleanup & Coldplay announce limited edition LP made using river plastic

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coldplay

  • Limited ‘Notebook Edition’ LP release of new Coldplay album ‘Moon Music’ made using river plastic removed from the Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala by The Ocean Cleanup

  • First collaborative product the latest step in Coldplay’s support for global non-profit

  • Innovative product partnerships essential for long-term success of The Ocean Cleanup’s mission to rid the oceans of plastic

The Ocean Cleanup and Coldplay have confirmed that a limited ‘Notebook Edition’ LP release of the band’s album ‘Moon Music’ will be manufactured using plastic intercepted by The Ocean Cleanup from the Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala.

The mission of The Ocean Cleanup is to rid the oceans of plastic. To achieve this, the non-profit operates a dual strategy: cleaning up legacy plastic in the oceans and deploying Interceptors to capture trash in rivers and stop it entering the oceans.

Today’s announcement with Coldplay of this Notebook Edition LP is an example of the innovative product partnerships The Ocean Cleanup creates to give this plastic a new life in sustainable and durable products, ensuring the plastic never re-enters the marine environment.

coldplay

The Ocean Cleanup project deployed Interceptor 006 in the Rio Las Vacas in 2023 to prevent plastic emissions into the Gulf of Honduras. Interceptor 006 made significant impact and captured large quantities of plastic – which has now been sorted, blended, tested and used to manufacture Coldplay’s limited edition physical release. The final product consists of 70% river plastic intercepted by The Ocean Cleanup and 30% recycled waste plastic bottles from other sources.The successful production of the Notebook Edition LP using intercepted river plastic marks an exciting new phase in Coldplay’s broad and long-standing support for The Ocean Cleanup. Coldplay provide financial support for the non-profit’s cleaning operations, sponsor Interceptor 005 in the Klang River, Malaysia (which the band named ‘Neon Moon I’) and share The Ocean Cleanup’s mission with millions of their fans during their record-breaking Music of the Spheres tour.Coldplay and The Ocean Cleanup collaborated closely during the intensive testing and quality control process, alongside processing and manufacturing partners Biosfera GT, Compuestos y Derivados S.A., Morssinkhof and Sonopress.Having proven the potential of their partnership, The Ocean Cleanup and Coldplay will continue to explore new and innovative ways to combine their impact and accelerate progress in the largest cleanup in history.

coldplay

“Coldplay is an incredible partner for us and I’m thrilled that our plastic catch has helped bring Moon Music to life.” said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “Ensuring the plastic we catch never re-enters the marine environment is essential to our mission, and I’m excited to see how we’ll continue innovating with Coldplay and our other partners to rid the oceans of plastic – together.”

coldplay

About the Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is an international non-profit that develops and scales technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. They aim to achieve this goal through a dual strategy: intercepting in rivers to stop the flow and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean. For the latter, The Ocean Cleanup develops and deploys large-scale systems to efficiently concentrate the plastic for periodic removal. This plastic is tracked and traced to certify claims of origin when recycling it into new products. To curb the tide via rivers, The Ocean Cleanup has developed Interceptor™ Solutions to halt and extract riverine plastic before it reaches the ocean. As of June 2024, the non-profit has collected over 12 million kilograms (26.4 million pounds) of plastic from aquatic ecosystems around the world. Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs a broadly multi-disciplined team of approximately 140. 

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Diving Redefined: Introducing NovoScuba

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novoscubaAttention all underwater enthusiasts, mermaids, and those who just really enjoy wearing fins! Brace yourselves for the splashiest news in the industry: NovoScuba has burst onto the scuba diving scene like a seal on a beach ball!

Move over, PADI, SSI, SDI, NAUI, RAID, and whoever else is lurking in the depths, because there’s a new fish in town!

But seriously, what gives? Why does NovoScuba think they can swim with the big fish? Are they secretly training dolphins? Are their wetsuits made of magic? Stay tuned as we uncover the mysteries of this underwater revolution!

The team at NovoScuba isn’t just your average squad – we’re a crew of dive store owners, managers, trainers, and pros. We’ve danced with the sharks and wrestled with the currents, so when it comes to the diving industry’s pain points, we’re definitely no strangers. But let’s be real: while existing agencies are stuck in the stone age, we’re here to embrace the 21st century. In a world where even fish have Instagram accounts, the diving industry needs to catch up or sink like a lead weight!

It’s time to challenge a change. Leveraging technology and introducing a breakthrough business model, and digitally native platform, NovoScuba aims to become the most innovative training agency to date.

novoscuba

Here’s a snapshot of what NovoScuba has up their sleeve for dive pros, managers/owners and students alike.

Owners 

  • Pay as you certify system
  • Fully developed digital course materials in multiple languages
  • No stock required
  • Monthly or annual membership fees
  • Business support and advice FOC
  • 24/7 support. Feedback orientated. Fast response and fast adapting
  • ISO Certified
  • Pain free and low cost transition to NovoScuba
  • Your business, your choice. No exclusivity expected or required
  • Pay in your local currency
  • Our automated system keeps your admin to a minimum. Less time on paperwork cuts costs and gives you more time to focus on your business
  • Co-marketing, advertising and support

novoscuba

Pros

  • Monthly membership fees
  • Intelligent online log book that automatically updates student records
  • One click certifications
  • Flexible training – student-centric/instructor trusted
  • Easy and inexpensive crossover
  • Pause your membership when you’re not teaching
  • Pro insurance / legal support
  • Job vacancy board

novoscuba

Students

  • Modern, relevant course materials
  • Fully developed and interactive digital learning
  • Accessible across any digital platform
  • Instant community and support
  • Monthly subscription granting access to all course materials
  • Digital log book for life
  • Streamlined subscription process – minimum admin

novoscuba

What else symbolises the NovoScuba dedication to excellence?

In an era where every other company boasts about being as green as a broccoli smoothie, it’s easy to tune out the noise of eco-friendly claims. But hold your seahorses! NovoScuba isn’t just another fish in the sea of greenwashing. We’re not just dipping our toes in the sustainability pool – we’ve cannonballed straight into it! B-Corp pending, we’re not just talking the talk; we’re doing the fins-on-the-ground work. With a net zero impact that even Captain Planet would applaud, our conservation efforts aren’t some distant pipe dream. Nope, we’re getting our hands wet right in our own diving communities, because let’s face it, saving the planet is a whole lot easier when you can do it in your own backyard – or in this case, your own coral reef!

It’s time to dive into the 21st century and embrace a new, innovative and intelligent training agency. One that fully understands that your success is needed in order for us to succeed. One that is 100% committed to your needs and will grow and adapt in order to keep meeting the challenges of the industry. Welcome to the new age of training. Welcome to NovoScuba – Diving Redefined.

For more information, email info@novoscuba.com or visit www.novoscuba.com.

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