Diving the Red Sea for New Years

This post is installment number 2 on our winter adventure. It is continued from the post about Istanbul and continues in the post about Cairo, Egypt (posting soon!).

Istanbul to Munich
Munich to Cairo
Cairo hotel airport (awesome!)
Cairo to Marsa Alam

The long travel stretch is already worth it! 

Day 4 - Saturday, December 27: On our short stint in Cairo we opted to stay at the hotel attached to the airport. Great choice! Not having to worry about transportation or dealing with a vendor is not exactly priceless... But worth quite a bit after a day of traveling. Sidenote: I In Egypt, you have to go to a currency exchange counter and buy a visa stamp for exactly a $20 bill and a $5 bill per passport, no exceptions. We were lucky that it was not a just arrival time so we didn't have any trouble with dealing with this on our own, but some people prefer to have a "meet and greet" scheduled in advance where they take care of this for you for a small fee.

After Tex-Mex dinner and a couple glasses of local red wine, bed time! P.S. Wine was AMAZING.

Day 5 - Sunday, December 28: Early Sunday morning flight and we arrived at Marsa Alam airport to a driver holding up our name ready to take us to port. Upon arrival at Port Ghalib, we met Erin, one of the dive masters. She greeted us with some OJ and the crew unloaded our bags onto the Red Sea Aggressor - our home for the next week.

Next we explored Port Ghalib and waited for the rest of the diving group to arrive. Then we loaded up and Toby and I hit the hay early. Toby and I may have been the youngest couple on board, but the rest of the group stayed up for 3+ more hours! 😴😴

Day 6 - Monday, December 29: Finally time to dive! Well sort of... We have to wait until all of our documents clear: Passports, Egyptian visas, SSI scuba certifications, etc. Then we are on our way! 

We have a set schedule for meals and dives each day so everyone knows what to expect. Typical schedule looks like this:
The motto on a live aboard dive boat is "Eat, Sleep, Dive" and that is exactly right... Literally that's all we did all week!
Good thing there was a gourmet cook on board to keep our energy sustained through each dive... Typical meal plan looks like this:

This meal plan is missing a few things.... We also have cookies, chips, pizza, fried chicken, etc. for snacks as needed.

It was such a good feeling to be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the trip. No distractions! 

Here is a picture of the sunset we enjoyed this evening...

Monday Dive Count:
Danielle - 3
Toby - 3
Total Dive Count:
Danielle - 3
Toby - 3

Day 7 - Tuesday, December 30: here is a sneak peak at some of the pictures we got.

More pics at the bottom of this post and more once we upload the GoPro!!

We continue with the eat, sleep, dive routine. Everyone on the boat is way more experience than Toby and myself. They each have between 100 and 19,000 dives. In fact, the man with 19,000 dives was the person who certified Toby and myself and the one that set this whole trip up: Frank Campbell. We definitely knew we were in safe hands when he was in the water with us.

And of course, the dive masters on the boat that were leading the way were top notch as well. Erin, a British girl about my age, was the lead. She had been diving the Red Sea for 7 years so she definitely had a good handle of what to expect at each stop along the way. One of the other dive masters was a free diver that trainer for the Olympics. He is able to swim down 125+ ft and back to the surface on a single breath of air. Incredibly impressive guy. Other than those 2, there is one other dive master, the captain, a gourmet chef, sous chef, and 5 assistants who do anything and everything from getting your dive gear ready, helping get your wet suit on/off, cleaning our rooms, getting you a fresh hot towel, etc. having them aboard made the trip exceptionally luxurious.

Before each dive we would have a dive briefing where Erin would put a picture of the reef up on the TV screen and explain what the dive plan was and what sea life we should expect to see. 

Tuesday Dive Count:
Danielle - 3
Toby - 3
Total Dive Count:
Danielle - 6
Toby - 6

Day 8 - Wednesday, December 31: Its New Years Eve! What better way to celebrate than to eat, sleep, dive, DRINK? So that's what we did. 

This day was a little special because we had the opportunity to swim with dolphins! So instead of our 5 day maximum, we were alotted 2 dives, swim with dolphins, than 2 more dives. Again, what better way to end the year?

Wednesday Dive Count:
Danielle - 4
Toby - 3
Total Dive Count:
Danielle - 10
Toby - 9

Day 9 - Thursday, January 1:

It's been a great day full of fun dives. Way to start off the year!

Thursday Dive Count:
Danielle - 3
Toby - 3
Total Dive Count:
Danielle - 13
Toby - 12

Day 10 - Friday, January 2:
Things got WINDY last night. We were traveling a supposed 9 hr trek north towards our next stop and the winds made some guests fall out of bed and others wake up to their room being flooded with sea water. 
Fortunately, I slept like a baby being rocked to sleep... ZZZZZZZZ!
Unfortunately, it messed up our dive schedule and put us behind so we only got 3 dives this day.

Friday Dive Count:
Danielle - 3
Toby - 3
Total Dive Count:
Danielle - 16
Toby - 15
We officially DOUBLED the number of dives we came here with! 

Day 11 - Saturday, January 3: good morning!!! Sunrise photo:

We have the opportunity to get 2 more dives today.... But we are exhausted.... May make this a vacation in the sun type of day.

Of course that will be mixed with packing and the ever dreaded "cleaning of the gear." I love scuba diving very very much, but I surely hate cleaning. It's kind of like cooking and then having to do the dishes. Definitely worth it.... But maybe I can convince the crew to help me out?

After the final dives and the gear was drying and ready to be packed up, we partied! Celebrating a wonderful week and a successful year. I'm so mad at myself! Those 2 dives I had missed (1on Monday, 1 on Tuesday) took me out of the running to be an iron diver! So close.... But man did that sleep feel good.
Saturday Dive Count:
Danielle - 2
Toby - 1
Total Dive Count:
Danielle - 18
Toby - 16

Day 12 - Sunday, January 4

Here is the whole group as we said our goodbyes this morning.

Hard to believe it's been a week, but today we deboard the Red Sea Aggressor and fly back to Cairo. The journey continues in my next blog post!! 

Pics below are screenshots from shots we and some of the other divers got this past week. Once we get to a computer, we will post some better pics!


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