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Enter The Scuba Scene Liveaboard

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Enter The Scuba Scene
Enter The Scuba Scene
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Photographs by Mark Evans and Austin Vass

The large male Napoleon wrasse cruised down the reef wall at Daedalous towards my dome port, and I readied myself to snap a shot of the colourful fish against the seemingly endless blue-water background. To my side, I could see buddies Austin and Megan getting sorted with their cameras too.

I have several Napoleon images in my library, but I never miss the chance of shooting them as they are such charismatic fish, and they will often come extremely close if you stay calm and relaxed.

As it got within a metre or so of us, it suddenly stopped, and sank down on to the reef below us, settling on its side amid the soft corals. I looked at Austin, Megan and the fourth member of our little posse, Hannah, in puzzlement.

Was there something wrong with the fish? Was it ill? Dying? It looked very unnatural lying on its side in the coral. Then with a violent movement, it thrashed its tail and literally embedded its huge head into the hard coral, sending sediment and broken coral fragments into the water column.

It seemed to stun itself, as it floated motionless for a second or two, then with a mighty flick of its huge tail, it smashed its head even deeper into the coral in the same location. This time it remained lodged into the reef, and started twisting its body like a corkscrew.

Next minute, it wrenched back from the reef with something in its mouth – it was a large octopus, the biggest I have ever seen on a reef in the Red Sea.

Alas, this poor octopus had been well and truly targeted as lunch for this wrasse, which proceeded to savagely shake its head and then throw the octopus into the blue, before circling round and repeating the violent process.

The octopus was systematically being shredded right in front of us, and Austin, Megan and myself were snapping furiously away. We knew none of the images were going to be perfect shots, but we were just keen to document such behaviour.

The third time the Napoleon thrashed the octopus – now exceedingly worse for wear – it tossed it into the blue and then, instead of circling back round to grab it again as it had done before, it swam off out in the blue at a rapid rate.

The reason soon became apparent – an even-larger Napoleon wrasse came flying along the reef and gobbled up the unfortunate octopus! We felt sorry for the original wrasse, who went through all of that time and effort – plus gave itself a massive headache – only to miss out on a tasty meal.

I could hear Megan screaming excitedly through her regulator, and we were all looking at one another in complete astonishment. What had we just watched? It was like being in the midst of a scene from Blue Planet or some National Geographic documentary.

I have been to the Red Sea more than 80 times over the years, and I had never witnessed anything remotely like that – Egypt’s rich and diverse waters truly are the gift that keeps giving. We felt privileged to have watched it unfold first-hand.

Liveaboard Luxury

Our Napoleon encounter at Daedalous came towards the end of an already-epic trip that had taken in sites at Zabargad, Rocky Island, Abu Dabab, and Sataya.

We’d had close encounters with giant morays, wrangled anemonefish for the perfect shot, got up close and personal with several turtles, and even spent an amazing 20 minutes with 16 scalloped hammerhead sharks off the north wall of Daedalous at 25-30m.

What made a fantastic trip even better was our base of operations for the week – the newly launched Scuba Scene liveaboard.

This mighty vessel, measuring 48.5 metres long and 10.5 metres wide, is one of the largest liveaboards in the Red Sea right now, and it truly sets the bar very high not only for liveaboards in Egypt, but across our watery planet. Yes, it really is that good.

At anchor at Daedalous
At anchor at Daedalous

There are no less than five levels to roam around. The spacious dining room is found down in the lower deck, which makes perfect sense – you are only in there a few times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so why not put that down in the hull and leave the upper levels for the guest cabins, salon and sundecks?

It is still light and airy, with large rectangular windows at water-level letting natural light flood in, so it doesn’t feel like you are closed in.

The dining room is very welcoming, with plenty of room even for a full complement of 28 guests, with a large multi-tiered serving platform in the middle which you can circle completely during buffet service at breakfast and lunch. Dinners are table-service, with additional sides on this platform to help yourself.

All of the food the entire trip was fantastic, with the steaks and salmon being real stand-outs. There are no less than four chefs on board, two of them specialising in pastries – let me tell you right now, I defy anyone to resist the siren lure of the fresh donuts after the third dive…

The main deck houses the enormous dive platform, which has an open-air freshwater shower on either side, and stores the two large zodiacs (which have tank racks in the centre and ladders for easy boarding) during longer trips, and the huge dive deck, which has plenty of room for all of the divers to spread out.

Boxes under the seat store your smaller items, while hangers behind the tank rack hold your wetsuits. There is also a large camera table with air-gun for drying your set-up on return from a dive.

scuba scene
Scuba scene in the post Ghalib Marina

Forward from the dive deck you enter the vessel next to the camera room and charging station. There are multiple decent-sized cubby holes with electric points (European plugs, so bring adaptors), more than enough for all guests to have one each, and there is plenty of space on the camera table and in larger cubbies below for actual camera systems, housings and lighting.

Soft coral
Soft coral on the wall at Rocky Island

The steps leading down to the dining room face the camera room, and between is the corridor leading to cabins one through to eight.

All the cabins have large windows so you can enjoy the view when moored up or travelling – no pokey little portholes here – and they are very well appointed, with individual air-con, refrigerator, plenty of storage space, and spacious bathrooms with full-size showers more akin to something you’d expect in a land-based hotel.

Austin
Austin poses with a giant moray

Moving on up to the third deck, you find a host of sun loungers and the ‘pool’. Now, this is one of Scuba Scene’s USPs, and I for one have never been on a liveaboard with anything like this before! While the ‘pool’ description might be slightly misleading – don’t go expecting a cruise-ship-size swimming pool – it is still far larger and deeper than a jacuzzi, and with it having multiple submerged seats inside, it is THE place to be after dives, especially once the diving day is done and you are chilling with a beer or glass of wine. The pool is saltwater, and can be filled in less than 20 minutes.

 Napoleo Wrasse
The Napoleo Wrasse before it went octo-hunting

In front of the ‘pool’ is the pool bar and open-air lounge – perfect for sitting to fill out dive logs, grab a snack, and so on. Beyond this are cabins nine through to 14, similarly spacious and with all of the same amenities.

In front of these you can find the TV room, equipped with a large TV, XBox and an array of comfortable seats, ideal for relaxing on an evening with a movie or documentary.

turtle
Turtle chomping on soft coral

Go up once more to the salon deck – which as the name suggests, is home to the large, air-conditioned salon full of comfy sofas – and you’ll also find a partially shaded sun deck, and a bar where you can find a full barista-style coffee machine as well as plenty of fridges holding soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

You simply can’t beat a proper latte on a morning before the first dive. The dive briefings are held in the salon, which has a giant TV to showcase the dive maps, and a map on the wall where dive sites and the itinerary route are drawn on day by day. This deck is also home to the bridge, which is well worth checking out.

Mark
Mark with hammerheads of Daedalous

The fifth and final deck on the top of the Scuba Scene features a gigantic sundeck, which is partially shaded, a jacuzzi, and a flybridge.

On my trip, there were 24 guests on board, and most evenings we congregated on the sundeck on the salon deck, and it was not crowded in the slightest, so even with a full 28 guests on, you would never struggle to find somewhere to relax on your own with a book, or to catch a quick 40-winks, as there are so many areas to chill out in when you aren’t diving – and that doesn’t even include in the actual cabins.

Giant Moray
Giant Moray

So the vessel itself is outstanding, but it is the service from the crew that makes the Scuba Scene a true fivestar experience. Returning from a dive, you can expect a refreshing glass of fruit juice pressed into your hand, and a warm towel around your shoulders the moment your wetsuit is peeled off.

massive hard coral
Massive hard coral at Daedalous

In fact, you’ll find it hard to get in, or out, of your wetsuit and dive kit without one or more members of the crew stepping in to help. Once you get out of your wetsuit, it will be whisked off for a dunk in the disinfectant rinse tank no nasty-smelling wetsuits on the dive deck here!

Megan
Megan with a giant pufferfish

The dive team, led by Ahmed Fadel and Elke Bojanowski, are top-notch and give excellent briefings, as well as being seriously on-point underwater spotting critters on the reef, or scouring the blue for sharks, mantas and other pelagics.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray at Rocky Island

Scuba Scene operates out of Port Ghalib marina for offshore marine park and Deep South trips, and from Hurghada for northern safaris.

Scuba Scene Liveaboard 1
Celebrating our wrasse encounter

This article was originally published in Scuba Diver UK #77

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