Posted 09 January 2010 - 02:00 AM
Truk Aggressor in 2000
Palau Peter Hughes boat in 2000
Nekton Pilot in Belize in 2007
Fiji Aggressor III in 2008
All were tremendous experiences. Good, clean, well maintained boats with many comforts. Every boat had excellent captains and friendly, helpful crew. The food was good (although I'm not much of a food critic). The diving was also excellent since the boat can go where ever the conditions are best. It's concierge diving, walk to the back of the boat, suit up, dive, get back aboard, drop gear in station, go take a shower, eat, sleep, then do it all again. It's pretty cool to walk a total of 200 feet in the course of a day and do 5 tanks on 3 different dive sites, lol. Also, the liveaboards tend to be out in the boonies during the week, so the only group on the dive site is usually your boat group. Empty ocean is yay! Buddies are easy to come by if your buddy is taking a nap. You don't have to worry much about money over the course of the week because basically everything's included. You don't have to figure out where to go for meals.
Downsides: Even a high-end boat cabin is still a boat cabin and is much smaller than most hotel rooms. You'd better like the captain/crew/passengers, because you're going to be stuck with them for a week no matter what. With perhaps a few exceptions, the week is VERY dive focused. I've hardly seen anything of any of the above locations. Spent an afternoon/evening ashore in Fiji, did an afternoon ashore in Truk, but hardly saw anything of Belize or Palau. That's easily fixed by adding a few shore days before or after the week on the liveaboard. I think the Galapagos boats have more dry itinerary built into their schedules. If you're subject to seasickness, your first day or two might be miserable and there won't be a damn thing you can do about it.
There's also a debate about safety because the liveaboards can put you farther from emergency resources than you'd be on a day boat that by definition is close to shore and civilization. But by the same token, a liveaboard can be pretty well stocked with first aid and equipment, and can probably take better care of you immediately following a dive than a panga with an outboard.
I've had such great liveaboard experiences that I'll always consider one, especially a Peter Hughes or Aggressor boat. However, there are some destinations that just lend themselves more to shore based diving. The dive-vacation vs vacation-that-involves-diving debate is entirely up to you, your other interests and your time/$ contraints.
Hope this helps. $0.02
As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin' man,
I have chalked up many a mile.
Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks,
and I've learned much from both of their styles.