© Copyright U.S. Dive Travel Network.
DIVE VACATION PRIMER
for the RED SEA of
Diver's Coral Mecca.
Click here to review a thorough list of all terrorist activity
by Islamic radicals against tourists in Egypt since 1992.
Call USDT for updates on the Red Sea diving situation
for possible future schedules, or alternative vacation plans: 952-953-4124.
This business of Red Sea diving yachts is a highly volatile market;
always moving & changing. Staffs, management, government
rules, all such factors are constantly evolving & we have to keep tabs
with these changes to better serve our dive travel clients with accurate planning
information. Many American & Canadian clients are a bit put off by the
low-rent amenities of many red Sea diving vessels, that is, on-board living conditions & meals that are
2-star at best. Many younger Europeans seem not to mind, & embrace these econo-scows cheerfully
in many cases, while most North Americans who are shelling out more than $1,400 for an air ticket
to Cairo get pretty steamed when the vessel is not ship-shape. But it's what you see when underwater
that makes this trip worth the less-than-perfect creature comforts.
What makes this Egypt diving trip memorable is not the on-board amenities
but the brilliant & compelling underwater visuals, the coral "eye candy" & the sensory "brain candy"
of Red Sea diving -- on corals so lush they beggar description in any language but
photos by a Nachoum or a Doubilet. The Red Sea still is, by all professional diver accounts,
the sine qua non of the world's best coral reef environments.
WHERE these LIVE-ABOARDS CRUISE in the RED SEA:
diving itinerary for Red Sea live-aboards varies each sailing, depending on weather, currents &
other vessel traffic. Normally the MV Oyster will choose very pristine
reefs & remote islets off the Hurghada & Sharm el Sheik coasts
in the Sinai Region, then southward to the Al Ikhwan area & sometimes
beyond. The MV Oyster runs three different Red Sea diving routes in steady rotation
throughout the year. The Excel runs nearly the same routes at roughly the same times:
1. NORTHERN RED SEA DIVING ROUTE --
This itinerary plies the exciting wrecks in the northern sector of the Red Sea
between the Egyptian port city of Hurghada & the beautiful coastal
city of Sharm el Sheik.
2. NORMAL SOUTHERN RED SEA DIVING ROUTE
-- This live-aboard route moves about 60 miles out from Hurghada down southward
to Al Ikhwan. What divers see here is mostly the lush & voluminous
corals that have made the Red Sea so famous throughout the scuba diving world.
3. DEEP SOUTHERN RED SEA DIVING ROUTE
-- This is the wildest & most adventuresome of the itineraries
& reaches down as far as Fury Island & Sarnaca, about 150 miles
south of Hurghada. This awesome coral & reef route is limited to summer
months normally. The Northern & Southern routes are usually staggered,
so that each month, the MV Oyster will visit one route the first week,
the second route the next week, then keep alternating routes.
For all Red Sea diving routes during the spring , fall & winter,
our partner-agents recommend that clients wear
a 5 mm wetsuit with a hood & gloves, since the ambient water
temperature -- except in May through September - can dip down to
the high 60s or low 70s Fahrenheit, while the air temps
hover in the low to mid 70s many days during
this time. It is sunny most weeks of the year, but
topside can be sweater weather during the Northern Hemisphere's winter
months. People are drawn to Red Sea diving for its abundant & mind-
enhancing beauty underwater, not for balmy tropical
temperatures in fall & winter.
in the RED
ARE NOW TEMPORARILY
for REEF PRESERVATION
Right now the Egyptian government is restricting
access for most dive vessels to the renowned Red Sea diving reefs of the Daedelus & Brothers islands. Alarmed
by environmentalist reports that their precious reef resources were being
visited too frequently with too few safeguards, the government has taken
a commendable & honorable step to place reef preservation ahead of
crass profit-seeking. The Aggressor has permits to visit these coveted southern reefs, giving it very elite access to
what's been called the best reef environment on Earth. Work crews for more than 3 years have been installing special buoys around these
eco-sensitive islands so that dive vessels in the future will always be able
to anchor on these pre-established lines, rather than damage living coral
with repeated fresh anchorages. In the beautiful Red Sea, every live-aboard trip is
a grab bag of options; every trip is different, blessed by great surprises. Since there is
no such thing as spoiled reef or
ordinary corals anywhere in the Red Sea (south of the resort towns),
it's nearly impossible for this live-aboard
cruise to be a flat-out dud, unless a huge storm comes in -- which is only likely in
mid-winter, after Christmas.
Stay tuned on developments in this ever-shifting government situation in Cairo.
We will keep our loyal readers posted, as always.
WHAT YOU GET
TO SEE in the RED SEA:
You need to get away fron the more pedestrian, the scruffier shore
diving operations. In the Egypt diving realm, Red Sea live-aboards are the way to go, this region's experts agree.
Here's what a Red Sea live-aboard can offer, as compared to a simple sixpack daytrip from some garden variety
Sharm-based dive shop. On any day you're likely to see a broad spectrum
of the more than 400 coral species & more than 700 species of reef
& pelagic fish, that wrap around the Red Sea reefs the way electromagnetic
fields wrap around livewires. These countless teeming little modules of
multi-colored life are flitting & bipping & bopping every which
way with their riotous tints flashing in the sunlight. And where they live
is amazing, too. There are deep, plunging walls everywhere to explore,
most of them carpeted in sweeping fields of visually delicious corals,
hard & soft, in scores of colors. But there's even more to Egypt diving, to the renowned Red Sea diving realm.
Ever wonder what it feels like to be floating calmly,
sipping air in maybe 25 feet of water, right
on the clean edge of a cliff that plows down
vertically hundreds of feet -- just like that! -- & you're perfectly
buoyant above it all looking down into the floorless Void, while
thousands of living creatures drift past you, this way & that,
up & down, swimming circles around you, all of them
serene, oblivious, electrically alive? Try Egypt diving. Try the
Red Sea with the magical Aggressor.
Way out on the outer reefs, the dramatic Red Sea walls are alive
with large pelagics. There are mushroom-like rock islands jutting out of
turquoise seas, with a universe of life seething just below the surface
under their rocky bulbous bulks. In some places you'll find awesome schools,
legions of wiry wary gleaming barracudas or tuna or jacks.
Egypt's Red Sea, aptly called one of the seven wonders
of the underwater world, offers some unparalleled
diving and photo opportunities. A truly magnificent
array of coral formation, a prolific marine life
of which approximately 25% is endemic to the Red Sea,
including sharks and other pelagic species, a whole range of scattered
shipwrecks in the Northern part as well as in the deep South.,
the Egyptian Red Sea is also home to the world famous Ras Mohammed
described as the Mother of all Wall Dives. Most of the Egyptian
Red Sea has been designated as a national park for conservation
purposes, therefore local regulations should be observed.
The Red Sea of Egypt enjoys a 12 month season rarely a day
without sunshine and, of course, diving with excellent visibility.
Hey, enough's enough. We got carried away. This is Mother Earth's finest
dive package offering, on a par with NE Fiji, or Papua New Guinea, or Palau. There
is nothing else to compare. Just try the Red Sea if you care. Just because it's
there. And you are not. Yet.
KEY FACTS ABOUT VISITING EGYPT --
The U.S. STATE
A passport and visa are required. For travelers arriving
by air, a renewable 30-day tourist visa can be obtained at airport points
of entry. Visitors arriving overland and by sea, or those previously experiencing
difficulty with their visa status in Egypt, must obtain a visa prior to
arrival. Military personnel arriving on commercial flights are not exempt
from passport and visa requirements. Proof of yellow fever and cholera
immunization is required, if arriving from an infected area. Evidence of
an AIDS test is required for everyone staying over 30 days. For additional
entry information, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy of the Arab Republic
of Egypt, 3521 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel.
202-895-5400, or the Egyptian consulates in San Francisco, Chicago, New
York, or Houston.
AREAS of POTENTIAL
For the past several years, Egyptian extremist groups
seeking to destabilize the government have attacked
targets in Egypt, including Egyptian police, security officials, and tourists.
Most of these attacks have occurred in the Nile Valley provinces of Minya,
Assiut, Sohag and Qena. The overall number of terrorist
incidents throughout the country, however, declined in 1995 as a
result of efforts by the government of Egypt to police
extremist groups. As a result, travel in Egypt is safer now than in the
past few years. Nonetheless, all travelers to or through the Nile Valley
provinces of Minya, Assiut, Sohag and Qena should exercise caution. Prior
to travel to these areas, they should seek advice from the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy, licensed tour operators, and/or the tourist police
authorities responsible for those areas.
Those wishing to visit areas near Egypt's frontiers,
including oases near the border with Libya and
off-road areas in the Sinai, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits
Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh
Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo. Travelers should also be aware
of the possible dangers of off-road travel. Leftover mines from previous
conflicts remain buried in several regions of the country and have
caused several deaths, including deaths of Americans.
As a rule, all travelers should check with local authorities before embarking
on off-road travel. Because known mine fields are not marked by signs but
are usually enclosed by barbed wire, travelers should particularly avoid
areas enclosed by barbed wire. After heavy rains, which can cause flooding
in desert areas, and the consequent shifting of land mines, travelers should
avoid driving through build-ups of sand on roadways.
/ HEALTH ALERTS:
There are many western-trained medical professionals
in Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo can provide
a list of local hospitals and English-speaking physicians. Medical facilities
are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in the areas where
most tourists visit. Emergency and intensive care facilities are, however,
limited. Facilities outside of Cairo fall short of U.S. standards. Most
Nile cruise boats do not have a ship's doctor, but some employ a medical
practitioner with the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor's degree. Hospital
facilities are available in Luxor and Aswan, but are extremely limited
at most other ports of call. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid
outside the United States. The U.S. Embassy highly recommends travelers
evaluate their local policies and consider purchasing traveler's insurance
if their policies do not cover overseas treatment or medevacs. Doctors
and hospitals expect immediate payment in cash for treatment.
Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are
generally unpolluted; however, there is a strong risk of exposure to the
bilharzia parasite when swimming in the Nile or canals, walking barefoot
along the river or drinking untreated river water. Bilharzia can cause
extensive tissue damage, kidney failure and blindness. The risk of exposure
to rift valley fever (RVF) exists throughout
Egypt. RVF is a disease of domestic animals that can infect humans and
which flares up in parts of the country from time to time. Preventive measures
include avoiding freshly slaughtered meat and known areas of infestation.
Properly prepared, thoroughly cooked meat in tourist hotels, Nile cruise
boats, and tourist restaurants is considered safe. Additional information
on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404)
332-4559 or via the CDC home page on the Internet at --
CRIME RATES ARE LOW:
The everyday crime rate in Egypt is low. While incidents of
violence are rare, purse snatching, pickpocketing
and petty theft are not uncommon. Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual
harassment and verbal abuse. Travelers and foreign residents are subject
to Egyptian laws. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be
reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal
security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department
of State pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers
to the Middle East and North Africa." They are available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
DRUG USE PENALTIES
(Do not take this notice lightly !):
Travelers are subject to the laws and legal practices
of the country in which they travel. Drug enforcement
policies in Egypt are very strict. The death penalty may be imposed on
anyone convicted of smuggling or selling marijuana, hashish, opium, LSD,
or other narcotics. Law enforcement authorities prosecute and seek fines
and imprisonment in cases of possession of even small quantities of drugs.
You would exceedingly unwise to even attempt to use any illegal drugs at
any time during your stay. You risk losing everything for a moment of escape.
Use your head, & NOT in the way your '60s retro-binging uncle might advise you.
Everyone entering Egypt must declare items such as
jewelry, electronic equipment, and other valuables. This requirement is
strictly enforced. Any valuables not accounted for may be confiscated.
There are no currency exchange requirements. A maximum of 1,000 Egyptian
pounds may be carried into or out of Egypt.
There are strict duties on the importation of expensive
photographic and video equipment. This includes most types of equipment
typically carried by tourists to Egypt, including all video cameras, all
autofocus cameras, etc. Travelers who wish to take such equipment with
them on a temporary visit have three options with customs authorities:
(a) the customs inspector may inventory the equipment and list it by model
and serial number in their passports, so that the equipment can be crosschecked
when they leave Egypt, in which case no duty will be collected. (b) the
traveler may have the equipment placed in storage for the duration of their
stay, in which case a storage fee may be collected. (c) long-term visitors
or residents will pay the standard duty fee for importing these items and
be issued a receipt; at the time of departure the fee will be refunded
upon presentation of the receipt. There are restrictions on photographing
military personnel and sites, bridges and canals.
The government of Egypt considers all children born
to Egyptian fathers to be Egyptian citizens.
Even if the children bear American passports, immigration officials may
require proof that the father approves their departure before the children
will be allowed to leave Egypt. Americans married to Egyptians do not need
their spouse's permission to depart Egypt as long as they have a valid
Egyptian visa. To renew a visa, or to leave the country after a visa has
expired, an American woman married to an Egyptian
must present proof of the husband's consent. Dual Egyptian & American
nationals may enter and leave Egypt on their U.S. passports. If a dual
national resides in Egypt for extended periods, proof of Egyptian citizenship,
such as a family identification card, is required. Male dual nationals
of military age, who have not completed military service, are not generally
required to enlist in the armed forces; however, before they can leave
Egypt, they must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of
Defense draft office. Individuals who may be affected can inquire at an
Egyptian consular office abroad before traveling to Egypt. Persons with
dual nationality who travel to Egypt on their Egyptian passports are normally
treated as Egyptian citizens. U.S. consular assistance to such persons
is extremely limited.
& ROAD CONDITIONS:
The roads in Egypt can be hazardous, particularly
at night outside of major cities, as vehicles sometimes travel with few
or no lights. Fatal accidents have occurred.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S.
Embassy in Cairo and obtain updated information on travel and security
within Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is located on Lazoughli Street,
Garden City, near downtown Cairo. The mailing address from the U.S. is
American Embassy Cairo, APO AE 09839-4900; in Egypt, it is 8 Kamal el-Din
Salah Street, Cairo. The telephone number is (20-2) 355-7371. The Consular
Section telephone is (20-2) 357-2201; the consular
fax is (20-2) 357-2472.
to KNOW: The workweek in Egypt is Sunday through Thursday.
It is true that the vast majority
of tourists who visit Egypt for any reason,
at any time of year, & to any locale, especially the Red Sea, find their
experience to be magical, exotic & a great adventure.
We include this file not to meddle in your private dive vacation
plans, nor to be a Henny-Penny, but because U.S.
Dive Travel strongly feels you need to
study the issue of personal safety in
Egypt before making an informed decision about whether to
travel to this beautiful but troubled region.
Your safety & personal
security are far more important to this company
than any other aspect of your booking. Please read this
important text completely & feel free to call your agent at
U.S. Dive Travel if you have any questions. Thank
you for taking the time. God bless you!
FOR MORE INFORMATION or RESERVATIONS:
Please feel free to contact:
John Hessburg, General Manager
Susan Hessburg, Operations Manager
U.S. DIVE TRAVEL Network
PMB 307 -- Suite # 116
15050 Cedar Avenue S.
St. Paul, MN, USA 55124-7047
Voice Mail: 952-953-4124
IMPORTANT REMINDER about PRICES & TARIFFS:
All dive package prices listed here are subject to possible change in this steadily evolving travel market. Lodging, side tour & diving prices are traditionally stable, as are live-aboard package prices; however air prices can fluctuate daily. Until air tickets are issued, all airlines reserve the right to change airfares without notice -- an industry standard per FAA rules. We at U.S. Dive Travel will price-protect you to the utmost of our professional ability; & that has been our pledge for one decade now. Our tropical vacation experts normally secure excellent wholesale discount air tickets for our clients who book early enough to secure limited seats in the best price categories. Remember please, the federal government has deregulated all U.S.-based airlines, so only they control their pricing -- not any travel professionals. Early is good when seeking the best air ticket rates.
Unless specifically noted, these above Red Sea scuba diving packages are prices for only the live-aboard portion of your dive trip, in most cases reflecting double-occupancy rooms. On most live-aboards, there will be no triple-occupancy staterooms offered. International air tickets & commuter "island-hopper" seats are always extra above these land costs. Nominal service fees are also extra for air tickets & the dive vessel + side tour components. The baseline tariffs for all clients start at $35 per person for the land portion + $30 pp for the air tickets. Late-booking clients may receive slightly higher tariffs on the lodging + diving at many of our dive resorts. Solo clients will always pay a single supplement to secure a private stateroom -- normally 50% - 100% more than the standard double-occupancy rate for the live-aboard of your choice.
The preferred payment mode for our Red Sea live-aboards, dive resorts, side tours & air ticket specials is by cashier's check or wire transfer in U.S. dollars. All clients living outside the USA or Canada will need to pay for their dive vacations via direct wire transfer only. No personal checks or credit cards will be accepted for the live-aboard or land portion of any reservation. Thank you for your gracious understanding. Our service level is the highest & our prices the lowest in this industry, & thus we need to preserve a reasonable margin. For published-fare air ticket bookings, USDT always accepts Visa & Mastercard. For ultra-discount wholesale air tickets, USDT accepts only cashier's checks or wire transfers, please.
Remember, all tropical vacation clients to all foreign destinations will be asked by local officials overseas, upon departing the airport on your final day, to pay a nominal government departure tax, usually between USD $25 - $40 per client. USDT cannot collect this tax beforehand, so you simply pay it down there, in your host country. Be sure to stash away a little cash for this final moment at the airport, so you'll get your exit visa stamped quickly with no fuss; & away you go. Best of luck with your dive travel plans. We hope your scuba diving vacation is a safe & satisfying adventure. Blessings & best wishes with ALL your dive vacations.
Best fishes too!
John Hessburg & Susan Hessburg, Mgrs.
U.S. Dive Travel Network.
© Copyright U.S. Dive Travel Network.