Ship Shape

Expand your horizons on a luxury liveaboard.

Sundrenched days fading into star-filled nights. Azure waters so clear you can see rays of light piercing through the colorful corals and schooling fish that reside beneath the sea. For two weeks, seasoned traveler Rici Guild was fortunate enough to call the waters off Raja Ampat home while aboard the Shakti (, a 106-foot phinisi—a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship—replete with hotel-esque amenities.

Seeing some of the world’s most exotic dive sites via liveaboard has long been on the bucket lists of scuba divers and underwater adventurers. But these days, luxury liveaboards provide much more than dive gear and place to rest your head—fine dining cabins equipped with sumptuous linens, and marine biologists and/ or naturalists ready to show you the lay of the land (or sea) have made the liveaboard experience something to be enjoyed by ocean lovers and landlubbers alike.

Similar to Guild’s experience on the Shakti, The Samata ( also sails around Indonesian waters. The 138-foot luxury phinisi is available for private charters to locations including Bali, Komodo and Satonda Island. Four deluxe suites on the lower deck and one master suite on the main deck mean ample room for guests to roam while en route to their next secluded dive spot or remote island to see Komodo dragons in the wild. Those new to scuba diving can even take courses while on board with a qualified dive master—just one of the many amenities that come with the all-inclusive sea trek. In fact, the all-inclusive rate covers all beverages (including alcohol), gourmet meals and snacks, diving trips, massage services throughout the cruise, other water activities such as wakeboarding and kayaking, as well as land excursions. In short, every to-do you can think of. Prices start at $3,800 a night for a two-guest charter, and $250 for each additional guest.

For a truly extraordinary experience, start packing for the Maldives. This island nation in the Indian Ocean—the smallest country in Asia—consists of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls, and is home to some of the best diving areas on the planet, with warm water and high visibility year round to see and experience incredible underwater worlds.

The Four Seasons Explorer ( is an 11-cabin, three-deck, 128-foot catamaran that sails between the two Four Seasons Maldives island-resorts—Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru. It is available for three-, four- or seven-night itineraries as well as private charters (maximum of 22 guests) for an island-hopping adventure in true Four Seasons style and service. Divers and water adventurers will have an unparalleled experience on this floating resort exploring remote areas and untouched sites around the shores of these coral reef islands that sit atop a massive underwater ridge.

On board, find a PADI five-star dive center (with air and nitrox) that offers a minimum of three dives a day and a marine biologist. Other amenities include a spa therapist, two sun decks, an air-conditioned restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining, two bars, a large lounge and a library.

In addition to diving, guests can snorkel, water ski, fish, kayak and sail in these waters on castaway experiences to secluded islands. Cultural visits to remote villages and talks about ocean life with the on-board marine biologist are also available activities for guests. Prices start at $2,400 for three nights depending on season. Private charters start at $16,000 per day depending on season.

Those who want their first taste of the liveaboard experience can start right here in Hawai’i. Dive enthusiasts need not traverse from Hawai’i’s waters for exciting diving. More than 20 percent of Hawai’i’s reef fishes are unique to our waters, and the Kona Aggressor II ( can help divers find them. Although still in the Aloha State, there are many underwater adventures to be had off Hawai’i Island’s shores—traverse through the Black Coral Forest, find the “Yellow Brick Road” of Oz, mingle with nudibranchs, frogfish and white-tip sharks at Meadows or head to the fairly new mooring (2001) at Keahole Point, for some choice manta sightings.

Operating out of downtown Kona, other dive sites that guests can explore include 3-Room Cave, Au Au Crater, Rainbow Reef, Turtle Pinnacle, Kalokos Arches and more.

The Kona Aggressor II is an 80-foot catamaran. With its five double staterooms and one quad stateroom—all equipped with air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. Other amenities include a salon, a 50-foot sundeck complete with shade, chaises, bar and grill, freshwater rinse showers, camera tables and nitrox. Filled tanks, weights and weight belts are also included.

Crewing the yacht is the 1st Captain, who is also a dive master. The 2nd Captain is also an instructor, as are two other crewmembers (one of which also records the experience with photos and videos). Rounding out the crew is the chef, who’s responsible for keeping everyone fed in style, breakfast, lunch and dinner—as well as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks—with such menu items as: Roasted Pork Loin with Maple Pan Au Jus, Hawaiian Sweet Bread French Toast or Pan Fried Ono Fra Diavolo. Kona Aggressor II live-aboard costs $2,735 per person for a deluxe stateroom, and $2,535 for a Quad Stateroom.

Guild has another liveaboard journey ahead. Come summer 2014, she’s off to explore the barrier reefs and atolls of Palau. Why the liveaboard addiction? A complete break from the flurry of activity that comes with the typical day-to-day. “The best part is leaving everything behind and be able to just focus on the beauty around you—to have that kind of isolation and serenity.”

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