So you’ve booked your first liveaboard? You’re going to have the best time! And if you’re yet to book we suggest browsing through Divebookers or PADI Travel to find yourself a suitable one. So now what do you do?
How are you supposed to deal with living on a boat with a bunch of strangers for a week? We ask GTS contributor Debra Lilley the same thing, and she reassures us everything will be just fine, if you DON’T do these things…
Don’t be late
The crew will have an itinerary. It will be flexible to allow for weather conditions, but they don’t want to waste time herding the divers.
If a briefing is at 9, turn up at 5 to. If you aren’t going to dive, still turn up and say so, or tell someone else to pass on the message. Don’t make the guide waste time looking for you because you are late or simply don’t want to dive.
Also don’t be late back to the boat. Again, the crew have to start looking for you and there is simply no need – there will be another dive.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Relax, it’s your first time! Most liveaboards have a minimum level of expertise, but we are all still learning. If you don’t understand something, or want to learn more, then simply ask.
Either the guides or fellow divers will be more than willing to help. Being a better diver, or understanding more about the magical world we dive in, makes for an even more amazing time.
Don’t expect the crew to know your food allergies
A good liveaboard will capture food allergies and special needs before, but it’s worth checking with the crew when you arrive. I don’t eat fish – once, although I had told the organisers, they hadn’t told the crew. However, as I mentioned it before we set sail they were able to ensure they could feed me.
Most liveaboards have buffet type meals and there is more than enough for all tastes and needs but if you do have a special diet make sure they know.
Don’t think you know better than the guides
Many divers on liveaboards are Divemasters or even instructors, but those in the crew know the area, the conditions, the wrecks and the sea life. Treat them how you want your students to treat you, and if you do have something to share that might help them then make a suggestion, don’t adopt the ‘you know better’ superiority.
Don’t be the boat bore
We all have dive stories, and want to share them but remember everyone on board is a diver. They will quickly switch off if you go on and on, and will see through any inaccuracies in a second. You will probably be on board for several days, so listen to other people and pace your own stories.
Don’t be loud
Most people go to sleep early on a liveaboard but sometimes – especially after a night dive – there is more energy and there may be a few drinks involved. No problem, but when moving around the boat be aware of those who are sleeping. That way they will be better towards you the next day when you have to miss a dive or two with your hangover.
Don’t be forced into doing anything you don’t want to do
Everyone will encourage you, and sometimes all we need is encouragement, but if you really don’t want to do something (like a night dive) then just don’t do it. People won’t think badly of you.
Don’t pack negativity
On my first liveaboard most of the divers knew each other, but I only knew three of them. I had had a really bad few weeks and was probably depressed. When I was in the water I was fine – there is nothing like a dive to wash away your cares – but once I got back on the boat I retreated into myself.
I left the table the minute I had eaten, I sat on parts of the boat no one went, and then I got more and more sad when I didn’t get included in things.
I did make friends eventually, but I know now I bought negativity to the boat. Luckily we have kept in touch and next year I will dive with them again and intend to be the life and soul.
Don’t forget to stay in touch
Leave the boat with a list of emails. Share those photos and keep in touch. I have met up with people on subsequent trips, met up for drinks and enriched my entire life with the people I have met diving.
Still looking for your dream liveaboard with likeminded women? Check out Girls that Scuba Trips to keep up with our group trip schedule!
About the Author
Debra Lilley – Ballynure, a little village near Belfast, Northern Ireland. Often arriving on a liveaboard knowing no one and leaving with a whole list of new friends. She hates being on the surface before and after a dive, hate ribs, and is not a pretty sight in a wetsuit (so she says). But from her first dive at age 49 she has been hooked.