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Frequently Asked Questions

• Climate

The Maldives lie in the monsoon belt of the Indian Ocean and has quite a varied weather pattern although the temperature remains fairly constant.
There are two seasons: a dry northeast monsoon (Iruvai) and a wet southwest monsoon (Hulhagu). Between May and November, the prevailing winds southwesterly. The average rainfall is 215mm with 208 hours of sunshine a month. Around mid-December the winds turn to the northeast and bring a much drier climate. Rainfall averages 75mm a month with average monthly sunshine at 256 hours.
The days are hot and humid throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 25-30 degrees C and humidity at 60-80%. Sunshine doesn't differ much between the seasons but there is a big difference in rainfall.
The weather pattern has a strong influence on the currents. During the northeast monsoon, ocean currents are driven through the atoll channels from the northeast; conversely, during the southwest monsoon, they flow into the atolls from the southwest. These patterns have enormous significance for the diving and we will advise you.

• What are the water temperatures?

Water temperatures usually stay between 27 - 30° C although thermo clines can sometimes be found at depths below 20 metres.

• Vaccinations

Requirements vary from country to country so do check with your GP regarding relevant requirements. Do tell your GP that you will be diving as some medication is not recommended for scuba divers.

• Visas

You must have a passport valid for at least six more months after arrival. 30 day tourist visas are issued on arrival at the immigration desk at Maldives International airport for all nationalities and are free of charge. All visitors must be in possession of a return/onward flight ticket. We recommend that you have your Emperor Voucher or Tour Company voucher to hand just in case you are asked to present it to airport security upon arrival as proof of where you are staying.

• Taxes

All environmental, bed taxes and port fees are included in the price of your liveaboard package. Any equipment rental, special tank requests and on board purchases paid locally will be subject to 12% sales tax.

• Diving equipment

The dhoni has ample storage space for your equipment and there is a spares box on board. Diving towels are also available aboard the diving dhoni. We suggest that you bring the following:
Mask, snorkel, fins, boots, wetsuit, regulator, BCD, SMB (with a minimum of 5 metres of line to deploy during the safety stop) and a dive computer with spare batteries and a torch for any night dives.
The average water temperature is 29°C and we recommend a 3mm shortie or wetsuit.
Equipment is available for rent from Emperor Maldives and we ask that you pre-book your equipment before you arrive in resort to avoid disappointment. We need to know normal sizes, height, weight and shoe sizes to prepare the correctly sized equipment for you.
All divers are each required to use a dive computer and SMB for every dive and a torch for night dives throughout their diving experience for safety reasons. Some guests like to use reef hooks on drift dives; please bring your own or they can be purchased on board for 20 USD.

• Self-declaration medical

All diving guests joining an Emperor Divers' liveaboard are required to sign a self-declaration medical.
If you are taking part in a PADI or SSI course on board, you are required to a sign a medical form prior to starting the course.
In both cases, if you have, or think you have, any of the medical conditions listed you will need signed clearance from a doctor valid within 12 months of your planned liveaboard. Where doctor's clearance is needed, we ask you to arrange this before arrival where possible and to bring it with you to avoid any delays, additional costs or even missing the trip.

• Time

5 hours ahead of GMT. Daylight savings time is not observed in the Maldives.

• Currency

The Maldivian currency is the Rufiyaa (Rf) and is closely linked to the US Dollar. 1 US dollar = approximately 15 Rufiyaa.
Most of the resort islands and local tourist shops accept US dollars; it's not necessary to exchange any money into Rufiyaa.
All the resorts, hotels, liveaboards and most of the souvenir shops accept major credit cards, which includes American Express, Visa card, Master card and JCB card. Almost all items are priced in US dollar. There is a local bank branch at the International airport's arrival terminal. They can exchange your currency to US dollars.
Note: Travellers' Cheques are NOT accepted at any bank or at any resort island in the Maldives.

• What currency should I bring?

We accept payment in cash; Euros and USD, Visa and MasterCard only. Credit cards are charged in USD plus a 4% surcharge. Do make sure you inform your credit card provider that you are coming to the Maldives as we have had credit card companies block transactions and then phone calls need to be made to unblock the cards.

• Electricity

European round 2-pin electrical sockets using 220 volts AC 50Hz. On our liveaboards UK 3 pin are available.

• Internet

All our liveaboards are equipped with Wi-Fi and internet is available when a mobile signal is present, usually only nearby or in port. This service is for limited internet browsing and to connect with communication applications. Upload/download is very limited, therefore we ask guests to refrain from transferring large files. Signal strength can vary, which can result in intermittent and/or slow connections, depending on the local mobile provider. If you are a high level internet user, we advise that you purchase a local data SIM at Male airport upon arrival; your Emperor Maldives representative can help you.

• Alcohol

Importing of alcoholic beverages is prohibited under Maldivian law and will be confiscated at Customs on arrival and returned to you at departure; this can be quite a time consuming process. Alcohol is available to purchase on board; a beer is around 5 USD, spirits between 6-10 USD and a bottle of wine between 30-50 USD.

• What wetsuit should I bring?

A Lycra 3mm wetsuit is fine in tropical waters but some divers prefer a 5mm suit if doing more than one dive a day. It's really how you prefer to dive but we're happy to advise.

• How many divers are there per boat?

See the relevant information for each boat and that will tell you the maximum number.

• How many dive guides on each boat?

Emperor Atoll = 2, Emperor Voyager = 3 and Emperor Serenity = 4

• Do you use DIN or International tanks?

All tanks are fitted with 5/8's DIN valves. We strongly advise divers with M26 regulators to note that when travelling outside of Europe tanks with M26 valves or adapters to fit M26 regulators to 5/8's DIN tanks may not be available. These adapters cannot be purchased in countries such as Africa, Asia, etc and we have limited stocks available for rent. Please remember to either bring your own adapter with you or check with us regarding availability at the time of booking.

• What languages do your Instructors/Guides speak?

Mostly English & German however other languages are subject to availability and on request.

• Can I take a diving course?

We offer a range of courses, from beginner Discover Scuba Diver, Open Water Referral, Advanced Adventurer on Emperor Voyager and Emperor Serenity plus a range of speciality courses. Emperor Atoll offers a range of Adventure Dives to build on your diving experience, please ask for more details.

Courses are subject to availability and itinerary and do not include course materials (where required) and certification fee. If arranged on board a 12% sales tax will be added. Prices can be found here.

For the SSI/PADI Open Water Referral Course aboard Emperor Voyager or Emperor Serenity you will need to bring your referral form (signed and completed by your instructor dated within 12 months) as evidence that you have completed the theory and confined dives.

For students under the age of 18, course paperwork needs to be signed by a parent or guardian.

• I'm not sure if I want to take a course or not, can I try it first?

We offer a range of SSI courses on board Emperor Voyager and Emperor Serenity including the beginner Discover Scuba Diver. Courses are subject to availability and itinerary and do not include course materials (where required) and certification fee. If arranged on board a 12% sales tax will be added. Prices can be found here.

For students under the age of 18, course paperwork needs to be signed by a parent or guardian.

• What dive sites are suitable for novice divers?

You don't need a minimum number of dives but you should be comfortable with drift dives. We offer Adventure Dives on board to help build on your experience. Using the diving dhoni we are able to travel away from the main vessel and find locations suitable for snorkellers and beginner divers. These areas are subject to the itinerary and weather conditions. Currents can be strong and the guides will advise you to 'sit out' any dives that they feel are not suitable for your level of experience.

• How old do I have to be to become a certified diver?

10 years old to become a certified diver, but don't worry if you're not - our PADI Bubblemaker or SSI Scuba Ranger program will set you on your way from ages 8 upwards (not available on liveaboards).

• Do I have to be a great swimmer to become a diver?

No but you must be able to swim 200m using any stroke and be able to tread water for 10 minutes.

• Do you rent cameras and how much?

Each centre is able to rent camera equipment. Most include the cost of a CD of your photos. Please ask about costs. Cameras are not available to rent aboard of liveaboards.

• Do you offer a free transfer from my hotel?

All our transfers to/from our liveaboards are from the main meeting point at Male international airport.

• What is the best time of year to dive?

The Maldives lie in the monsoon belt of the Indian Ocean and has quite a varied weather pattern although the temperature remains fairly constant.
There are two seasons: a dry northeast monsoon (Iruvai) and a wet southwest monsoon (Hulhagu). Between May and November, the prevailing winds southwesterly. The average rainfall is 215mm with 208 hours of sunshine a month. Around mid-December the winds turn to the northeast and bring a much drier climate. Rainfall averages 75mm a month with average monthly sunshine at 256 hours.
The days are hot and humid throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 25-30 degrees C and humidity at 60-80%. Sunshine doesn't differ much between the seasons but there is a big difference in rainfall.
The weather pattern has a strong influence on the currents. During the northeast monsoon, ocean currents are driven through the atoll channels from the northeast; conversely, during the southwest monsoon, they flow into the atolls from the southwest. These patterns have enormous significance for the diving and we will advise you.

• Diving typology - definitions

The Maldives offers different types of diving areas, all characterised by medium to strong currents making them rich in marine life. Here's a quick overview of the definitions:

Thila

An underwater island that can be both so small that you can dive all around it or so large that you'll manage to see only one side during a dive. A Thila within a Kandu is usually the diving area where the strongest current is but also the ones that have the most interesting sea life.

Kandu

A channel or pass around the border of the atoll where when the tides change the water flow in and out of the atoll. Perfect places for drift dives and where you can see big pelagics like sharks, tuna and mantas.

Lagoon

Each island in the Maldives has its own lagoon, usually not very deep. It can reach around 20 metres and is mostly sandy. These places are protected from the current so the ideal spot for scuba diving courses and snorkelling but not as interesting from a marine life point of view.

• What marine life could I expect to see?

The rich marine life teems around the coral reefs where you will find schools of fish, sharks, mantas and rays with regular appearances by playful dolphins.
Thanks to its 26 atolls, the diving is diverse with channel dives attracting marine life from the deep to fast drift diving. Whale sharks and grey reef sharks are common sights or see the manta rays coming in to be cleaned!

• Can non-divers go on the liveaboard to snorkel?

Snorkelling can be taken from the dhoni when an Instructor/Guide is on board to observe or unless the snorkeller is accompanied in the water by a certified diver. We ask all snorkellers to wear a floatation aid at all times.
Whilst every effort will be made for non-diving guests wishing to snorkel or guests wanting to try scuba diving, some itineraries or dive locations may not be permitted for safety reasons. Both snorkellers and non-divers will be required to complete a liability form at the time of check in.

• Can children come on the boats?

Children aged 15 years or younger must be supervised by a parent or designated responsible adult at all times whilst on board an Emperor Maldives liveaboard. Emperor Maldives cannot provide a legal chaperon service.

Children pricing policy:

  • 0-2 years old - free of charge, share cabin, no separate bed provided
  • 3-9 years old - 50% discount, share cabin, no separate bed provided (share cabin, separate bed provided for 8 - 9 years old only for full charters)
  • 10+ years old - full rate

• Do I need insurance?

We require all divers to have valid insurance from a reputable company that covers diving accidents. You will need to bring proof of this with you to show the guides when you check in. Emperor Maldives uses Divemaster Insurance which is available to purchase on board. As a temporary member you will be able to gain insured member benefits. Prices can be found here.

• What if I have a medical condition?

You will find a copy of the standard Medical Form here. If you are doing a course, and can answer 'yes' to any of these questions, then you should see a doctor before arriving and bring with you a signed Medical Declaration that you are fit to dive from them.

• I need vision correction, is that a problem?

No. Many divers wear contact lenses and you can also buy masks with corrective lenses from available from several diving retailers.

• If I have been diving, how long should I wait before flying?

Most diver training agencies recommend 24 hours before flying, therefore for your safety Emperor Divers require you to have 24 hours clear before flying.

• I've lost my certification card; can I still dive with you?

If you are a PADI or SSI diver, don't worry, we can check their computer database online.

• I've lost my logbook; can I still dive with you?

Yes, providing you prove you're a diver. We may require you to do a check dive or scuba review before your arrival or on your first day depending on your level, how many dives you think you have and when your last dive was.

• I haven't dived for a while; do I need to take part in a course?

Depends what level you are, how many dives you've got and when you last dived. If you are a novice with only a few dives and not dived for a year we strongly recommend a scuba review at home before you join your liveaboard in the Maldives; it's a one day refresher (bit of pool, bit of theory and a dive from the beach). All our guests will participate in a check dive on their first dive and our guides will give advice and feedback to ensure you get the very best experience from your trip.

• How many dives per day will I be able to do?

There will be no diving on your first day and 17 dives offered per week (2-3 dives per day). You must ensure that you leave a minimum of 24 hours between their last dive and their flight departure (or going to altitude).

• What is the maximum depth I can dive to?

The maximum depth for diving in the Maldives is 30 metres with an equally qualified buddy; please email info.safaris@emperordivers.com for more details. Your maximum diving depth will be dependent on your level of training and experience. It is your responsibility to check what depths your insurance policy covers you for before your arrival.

• What is the maximum dive time?

Generally 60 mins and this is so we can account for all divers.

• Are there any specific rules I need to adhere to?

Emperor is very environmentally aware and asks that you refrain from taking knives or gloves diving. Do not touch, ride, feed, catch or harass anything you find underwater. Do not come back on the boat with less than 30bar in your tank, ascend or descend very close to the reef or ascend or descend down the mooring line. No solo diving, no decompression diving, use good buoyancy control when using cameras. And that means we all have a great dive!