A review by STV Liveaboard Specialist Randy Osgerby
I just returned from a trip on Explorer Venture's new luxury liveaboard, Carpe Vita. Based in the Maldives, she is a beautiful and comfortable boat with all the modern conveniences. The boat accommodates up to 20 guests in 10 cabins. The cabins are huge, big enough for a double and twin bed side by side. They are fully air-conditioned, with a flat panel HDTV, desk & chair (nice for photo editing), AC outlets with adapters, and a spacious ensuite bathroom. Each has a spacious closet, plenty of drawer space, even a room safe.
The 127' boat is is very wide for her length, which makes for a stable ride even in rough seas. Her public areas are as spacious as her cabins, and very comfortable. We ate nearly all our meals on the aft section of the upper deck. Fresh air, great views, very good food! The meals are usually served buffet-style, with several entree choices and decent variety.
The boat is of wood construction, which makes for a strong hull and is much quieter than the normal steel or aluminum boat. The noise factor is further enhanced by the fact that the compressors for filling scuba tanks are not even on board. That's right - they are located on the 65' dive tender, called a dhoni. Hardly a tender, the dhoni is a self-contained dive boat, loaded with everything needed for comfortable, easy diving. Each diver has his own station, where his gear will reside for the duration of the trip. The dive deck at the stern is at water level, making for an easy giant-stride entry. There are fresh water tanks for cameras, and the two fresh water showers have tons of hot water for a post-dive rinse. Nitrox and large capacity tanks are available if requested.
The diving is very good. The CV is one of the very few boats in the Maldives that offers 4 dives a day, most offer only three. We visited north and south Male and north and south Ari Atoll dive sites. On the outside of the atolls, visibility was very good with decent current on occasion. Inside the atolls, lower visibility was the norm, but it was flat calm and made for good whale shark and manta conditions. We had everything from mantas to nudibranches, and a few nice wrecks thrown in for good measure. There were tons of clown fish and eels. We had reef sharks, whitetips, and a hammerhead every now and then. Hard corals predominate and the reefs are generally healthy. Water temp averaged 81-82F.
For a brand new boat, the Carpe Vita runs very smoothly. The crew is well-trained and very organized. The food was consistently good and hot and the cabins were always clean. The dive crew is very experienced, and it is obvious they know the dive sites well. The briefings were thorough and the dive masters were happy to show you around or let you putter along at your own pace.
All in all, the Carpe Vita is a great boat located in a great destination. The travel time to get there is not short, but it is well worth it once you arrive. It is a very good value as well, with pricing cheaper than many Caribbean boats. You would not go wrong by choosing this boat for your next dream vacation. Highly recommended!