Finally we were on our way. The first leg to Cairo was an easy one and we were easily guided through Cairo Airport by the nice Atlantis employee. Of course he was not to blame for the delay, but we were not the most happy campers when we learned that our plane to Hurghada was almost 2 hours delayed. Further were we surprised and depressed by hearing the rumor that said we had to drive 3 hours from Hurghada to get to the ship. But the rumors were true and upon arrival at Hurghada at almost 4 a.m. we had all our luggage stowed on the roof of the minibus in which we, ten all together, were stuffed. By then we had been on our way for 12 hours. Needless to say - there was not much patience left.
We drove for 3 hours. On the way we saw the Egyptian light show that takes place every time two cars meet on the road in the night. Each driver turn off the light when meeting the cars going the opposite way. We also saw the sunrise over the water. It was very pretty, but we were too tired to really enjoy it. Finally - after a few wrong turns we saw her - MS Amorina - big and beautiful - anchored just outside the harbor.
We had coffee and breakfast when we arrived and a little later we had a briefing by the captain, Patrick, who is Swedish. He told us about the ship and the rules on board and about the schedules. Read more about the ship at MS Amorina's own home page
Being only 24 passengers you get quite close to each other, but the ship is big enough to allow room to keep a distance if that is what one prefer. The whole atmosphere is inviting though, so most of us soon get to know each other. There are the austrian couple who is always good for a laugh. There are the german father and his daughter, who has lost all their luggage on the way and have to borrow clothes and rent equipment. There is a german group, where you always find the stoutly build elderly couple in front of the line for dinner. We are a multinational group, british, norwegian, swedish, danish and german. An excellent chance to brush up your language skills and make friends across borders.
The crew was big - 18 in all the week we were there, which meant almost one per passenger, which made the service on board excellent. We soon get to know most of the crew members, who were all swedish.
Already the second day we set sails and everyone who wanted to can help. We all had a safety belt to clip on to the ropes while climbing the mast. I have only been on real sailing ships a few times and the only time I helped set the sails I almost fell over board. But this was great fun and the belt to clip on made you feel safe. Some climbed all the way to the top, some like me, was satisfied with the first level. On the last day of the trip though I climbed all the way to the top with Anders, who was usually running one of the dinghys. It was right when the sun was setting and it was a very pretty view from the top and a special moment. Today I regret I did not bring my camera up there.
The meals were served three times a day. Since we were too many to be sitting in the dining room at the same time we dined in two groups. Being second meant that you did not have to hurry after the morning dive, but on the other hand you had to wait at dinner time. With three dives a day, you get hungry. Sometimes we almost fought for our place in line.
While we were on Amorina Anna was serving in the bar in the rear of the ship. I think Coca Cola was the most common drink beside water, but after dinner you could also enjoy a beer or a Bloody Mary in the bar or on the top deck. The top deck was the place where people would hang around during the day logging the dives and relaxing. At night time it was great to feel the cool but not yet cold breeze on your face, and there were plenty of possibilities to make a wish under a falling star.
It felt great to be back in warm water. The temperature was about 26-27 degrees Celsius (78-82 F). I started out in just a 3 mm shorty, but although it obviously was warm enough for most of the group I felt cold and rented a nice new 5 mm Farmer John. It is possible to rent equipment on the boat and everything I saw was new and good quality equipment. We were divided in four groups to fit in the dinghies, which took us straight to the dive sites. They also picked us up where ever we surfaced. It was very easy diving.
The first dives was check out dives at Abu Dhabab. We had lots of big brightly colored fish like Queen Angelfish and the Austrian Butterfly fish, Surgeon fish and Picasso fish. The parrot fish attacked the rock like a miner looking for gold. We also had the pretty white sandy bottom and nice rock formations to swim through and a wonderful visibility.
After the first check out dives at Abu Dhabab we went further south to Abu Galawa, where we dove on a small wreck that sunk when it met with the atoll. The ship lies almost vertically on the reef wall. Most reefs can not be seen at night, and it is easy to imagine that you can have severe accidents without a good map. The dive is one of the best on the trip. It is nice to be on the wreck and it is fairly open. A big grouper lives inside. My friends have cameras and takes pictures or video. Right when we enter the water we see a turtle. Later we see two Blue spotted Stingrays that plays hide and seek under a small rock formation. We also see a reddish octopus swimming along under a rock.. We all agree this is a great divesite.
Another great dive is Cave Reef, with all the great formations, where only the imagination sets the limits for what you can make them seem like. There are also lots of swim throughs and on the night dive there we see a big turtle which we follow for a little while. Another great dive site.
At Shaab a Manzur we are dropped at a plateau at 50 meters, then there is another plateau at 35 m. We hope to see sharks here, but we do not have the necessary luck. We start off going against the current, but soon decide to drift along with it instead. We see a really nice scenery with a big grouper and a surgeon fish and a trigger fish in a hole in the reef, lightened by the sun, bus aside from that nothing special happens on the dive. The next dive is different though. This time we swim on the other side of the reef. Still no sharks, even if we decide to use only compass and depth gauge and head "out in the blue" with no visible reference but our gauges. That is a great feeling, just to be "hanging" in the blue. We end this dive as many before swimming at 5-8 meters along the top of the reef. Suddenly we see a big Napoleon fish, the king of the Red Sea. Then we turn and swim in a 90 degree angel to the reef out in deeper sea to get picked up. While we are waiting at the surface for the dinghy my buddy suddenly shouts "Dolphins" and disappear. I look around, but first I can't see anything. Then I look down. There right below me are two Dolphins playing around. I look more and see another couple, then a group of maybe 20 and further down another group. This is GREAT!!!! All I ever wished for. Diving with dolphins. A great finale to the dive. Later we see the Dolphins swimming along the ship following us for a while. It feels great to have dived with them.
Other sites are Guiz Siyal and Shab Sharm. At Shab Sharm we went down to a big plateau at 25-30 meter. Below the plateau some said they saw sharks. Personally I did not have that luck.. Right as we descended we get surrounded first by a big school of Jacks and the we pass another big school of barracudas. Then we swam around the plateau by the edge. I always liked wall diving because I really like to hang on the edge and just look down.
On the last day we head for Elphinstone Reef. This is Shark day!!! We are warned that the first dive will be at 6.30 am in order to be first in the water. As I get to the top deck Patrick is already there, just about ready to anchor up. But so is another boat, one of the smaller, but faster Egyptian Live-a-Boards. We are in the first group and struggle to be first in water and we almost make it. But our "competitor" drops 10 divers 30 seconds before we touch the water. What a pity. Now they will scare away the sharks. We did not see any sharks, but we see Yellow-fin divers, Blue-fin divers and Red-mask divers. The place is crowded like Central Station in Shanghai at rush hour. This is crazy.
We end the trip with a resting day i Hurghada, just dazzling around town. The next day we fly home. Another great dive trip is over.
and wanting to fight for food.