Lots of liveaboard operations around the world operate independently, rather than as part of a larger company. In fact, most do—there aren’t a ton of international dive tour companies out there, and even the ones that there are don’t operate in every country. As such, divers really have to pay attention—many of these outfits don’t follow strict service and safety standards, resulting in a host of issues for customers.
Luckily, the Maldives plays host to one of the world’s foremost larger diver operators: the Aggressor Fleet, represented here by the Maldives Aggressor III. The Aggressor Fleet’s simple mission has been the same since its founding way back in 1984: to give divers the best liveaboard experience possible. Even though each Aggressor vessel is independently owned and operated, each one is basically a franchise for the company, meaning that they must adhere to the company’s high standards of service, safety, and comfort.
The Maldives Aggressor III leaves port every Sunday like clockwork, with dives beginning on Monday and continuing through Saturday, when you pull back into port. Dives take place from a dhoni rather than the Aggressor herself, since diving in the Maldives is much easier when your pickup platform moves with the currents just like you.
These currents make the diving in many spots a real challenge; in fact, though beginners can have a great time diving in the Maldives, the waters are really made for more skilled divers with a bit of experience and the ability to deal with some of the more difficult conditions there. These currents, or kandus, are where most of the local wildlife congregates, and as such represent your most desirable destinations.
The other advantage of diving from a dhoni? The Aggressor herself has more room to accommodate divers in true style. After all, when you don’t have to store dive equipment on the big boat, you’ve got lots more room there for enjoying your down time. You don’t have to store equipment in your room or on deck as everything stays on the dhoni, resulting in far less clutter and a more stress-free environment.
All of the Maldives Aggressor III’s staterooms feature air conditioning and private bathrooms, as you might expect. Further, the Aggressor’s menu features great options during every meal period, with breakfast featuring fresh fruit as well as hot entrees, and lunches that offer a choice of various soups, main dishes, and salads. On-board dinners are chef-prepared three course affairs, served with local wine and beer to wash all that delicious fare down. That beer and wine, incidentally, is complimentary, as are all soft drinks, tea, and coffee. Anyone wishing to enjoy their favorite spirits is welcome to do so for a fee, provided that you put your order in at least seven days prior to your departure for customs purposes.
The Aggressor offers four dives every day, along with frequent night dives, and even a half day of diving on your final day on board. Dives take place mostly around Male, as well as in the Felidoo or Ari Atolls. Even though the Maldives Aggressor III stays relatively close to what passes for “civilization” here, there are still tons of unique, amazing dive sites to choose from. You can watch the fascinating ritual of wrasse fish cleaning and grooming manta rays like great, winged sports cars pulling into a car wash, or perhaps dive the Maldives Victory, a 330’ cargo ship that went down in 1981 north of Male.
The South Male Atoll holds one of the top dive destinations in the Maldives: Guraidhoo Kandu, where the marine life is so thick and varied that you’re liable to see grouper, turtles, tuna, and grey sharks—all on the same dive. You might not be out in the more remote areas that some other liveaboards visit, but if you’re getting this kind of amazing experience, ask yourself: does it really matter?