I have just spent 4 days aboard the Hallelujah and loved every element of it. The first part of the... read more
I have just spent 4 days aboard the Hallelujah and loved every element of it. The first part of the... read more
I’ve now gone diving with this extraordinarily well-run outfit 4 times. 2 times each for day trips... read more
Did a basic beginners diving course and cannot complement the dive staff enough for their care, patience and help. A great bunch of people from start to finish.Boat crew were fantastic as well as was the food and facilities on board the Hallelujah.Amazing experience and now on to becoming a fully fledged diver.
I was determined to make sure I got the right dive centre for this trip as my 13 yr old was doing her Open Water, I was diving for the first time in 4 years and my husband and youngest daughter wanted to snorkel. I bombarded Paul and Rachel with endless questions which they answered with patience, humour and great efficiency over email. They won my custom based on the answers they provided and their willingness to dissipate my paranoia about getting the right experience for the family and the Big Blue did not disappoint. My dives were great and my divemaster Kim was lovely and very professional considering she had only recently qualified as a divemaster. The dive on the second day was cancelled due to lack of interest but they swiftly offered me an alternative which was also pretty good (they operate a tag system with another dive operation), although I preferred being on Big Blue's boat as the dive guides made you feel like part of the family (really liked Carole and Kim) and was small enough so it didn't take out large groups of tourist snorkellers. My daughter's instructor, Cedric Margotteau, was extremely experienced and safe (as I dived with them on the last day) and taught her really well (and great fun!). The snorkelling trip with the family also went down well. I liked the fact they provided free water and soft drinks, and the food was excellent (and they have the organisation of all the food etc down to a tee). Great dive sites although you do have to spend a lot of time on a boat - but such is the nature of Khao Lak. I was also impressed at their dealing with last minute requests - we were able to transfer to another dive operation speedboat to avoid a long slow boat on our last day. In fact, apart from a small mix up on masks on the last day (which resulted in me having to use a crappy, non-Big Blue one but was swiftly and generously made up for), I thought the organisation was superb. Lovely lovely people and made my first excursion into diving with the family about as good as it could have been. Thank you so much Big Blue!
Just an amazing 4 days trip , wonderful dives with very helpfull staff , from the instructors to the boat crew , everything is well organized
food for lunch and dinner is very consistant , cabins are cozy , the boat is just great
and all the stuff you get to see underwater is just crazy ( mantas , whaleshark, corals...)
Thank you big blue
I selected the MV Hallelujah rather than the company, having searched around for a while to see what was available from Phuket. I chose to avoid the low end of the market, and equally the very high end of the market and plumb for the middle. I always think that the key issue is to consider the cost difference, not the cost, and of course the cost difference to the low end of the market is neither here nor there (and being in my early 50's now I like to enjoy the luxuries I work for!). So I ended up on this trip via an agent (as is normally the case) - who I'd chosen from the many out there because of the rapid and open responses to the questions I'd posed about choices available.
This was to be my first 'liveaboard', and I'd consider myself a novice to inexperienced diver, having completed just 28 dives before the trip. I'd not dived for 16 months, but completed a full SCUBA review in the UK in advance of the trip.
So here's the short review: Strongly recommended!
Here's the longer review: The boat itself is sizeable, clean, and well organised. It was a full boat on my trip, and I shared a cabin with a Japanese Gent who I'd previously not met (I was travelling alone). The cabin was clean, bathroom of course somewhat bijou compared to a hotel, but clean and functional. The cabin had a bunk bed and slept just two. The whole boat has aircon.
Time on the boat is extraordinarily well organised, with a Whiteboard in the dining area always showing what time things are going to happen on the day. So having boarded, time of the initial briefing re the boat etc. was there, departure, dinner, and the start of the fireworks that were going to be set off on our departure from the harbour (which It thought was a rather nice touch!),
What impressed me in particular were the crew - both dive masters and the boat crew. I was in the Group that dived with Rachel, the other half of the non-Japanese half (if you see what I mean!) dived with Caro - but we were all together for pre-dive briefings in English. The Japanese Group obviously had their own Japanese dive masters. What I really appreciated about both Rachel and Caro were that they not only did what they were supposed to do really well, it was abundantly clear that they really cared about their jobs, and they really cared about providing their customers with a high quality experience. It's that 'caring' that makes a massive difference. All the dive crew clearly get along very very well too - and this makes a difference to the 'chemisty' on the boat.
Speaking of which, the same was true of all the divers - whether we were Brits (I was the only one!), Japanese, or Scandinavian or European. The general feeling and atmosphere on the boat was relaxed, holiday like, and... well really really good!
What I'll refer to as the 'dive crew' were very good too. These were the local guys who's job it is to refill tanks, support divers as they kit up and enter the water, help divers back on the boat etc. Very slick, well organised, and were invariably pleasant and friendly. Again, it was patently clear that they weren't just doing 'a job', but that they took pride in doing a quality job. And boy oh boy, did I appreciate not having to bend over with a tank on to clip on fins or what!
The galley crew were great too, and the food was tasty and varied throughout the days. For those reading who enjoy a beer or three (like me!), you simply help youself and mark off on a chart how many you've had, and settle the slate at the end of the trip. Coldy holders are provided on board! :-)
I won't describe the diving, as you can read about this elsewhere, and the point I think of these reviews is to provide an idea of the difference between providers, not the dive sites (which are astounding - I encountered, Manta rays, a Whale shark, Guitar shark, and a rather large Moray eel that swam right under me on a night dive, and lots and lots more!).
I'm trying to think if if there is anything I can moan about... and I really am struggling to think of anything!
My final comment is the million dollar question: Would I do it again? Without hesitation "Yes". Very welcoming, fabulous atmosphere, great diving... simply a no hassle, absolute joy experience. I recommend the M.V. Hallelujah with Big Blue Diving very strongly!
Hallelujah is a spacious boat which has lot of area to chill. This is just perfect when we needed to relax,close the eyes, listen the sound from the ocean while the boat would cruise at his speed. This is already one of the first escape you get from this trip.
The cabins have a great air con system that you can control easily. The Hot shower is very efficient.
I was surprised with the variety of food we had on board. There were no repeating dishes during our trip and a very genius combination western-thai.
We had 4 dives a day, my favourite one was the first one as it is just so refreshing to jump on the water in the morning. What a good jump to start the day !
About diving, it was just incredibly beautiful. Soft corals, variety of colourful fish, this was the absolute sensation to swim in the middle of the aquarium with the infinity around me.
Was also a fantastic experience to watch Manta, Whale sharks, turtle..
Open my eyes and the dream is behind already but i will be back for sure.
Staff were very helpful and professional. Thanks again for all Big Blue team and see you again !
Since diving in Thailand, and especially on Richelieu Rock which was on my bucket list, is quite expensive while my husband and I like to dive quite a lot while on holiday, we decided to try a live aboard in Khao Lak. However, I have to admit, we might be a little bit spoiled, thus a private shower and a private toilet was a must. During our extensive search, we experienced that the website of Big Blue Diving was very clear and that Paul answered our many questions very patiently and quickly. Moreover, the boat looked good on the website as did the explanation.
But… you know, pictures might seriously differ from the reality and taking into that it would be our first liveaboard, we were a bit nervous.
That seemed however not needed at all. We arrived in the port were the Hallelujah was anchored, on Wednesday 19 March and the boat really looks impressive, also in real. Rachel and Caro guided us smoothly through the paperwork (while checking certification cards, having a chat about health, allergies etc.) and the boat briefing. A firework in the port announced our departure and off we were.
The boat is big (which is good if you are sensitive to sea sickness since quite stable), conformable and clean. There are more than enough common spaces to relax, to be on your own or to enjoy the company of the co-divers. The cabins are well maintained, spacious enough (you are still on a boat and clean with an own shower and toilet. Luxury liveaboard. The food is delicious, varied, healthy and too much, believe me. The crew is very friendly and helpful, before you are aware of it, you have your jacket on and your fins on. The dive schedule is really ok, no stress while doing 4 dives a day. Dive crew is very helpful and professional and informs you very well about each dive site. The dive sites we visited, are really wonderful. I prefer Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock due to its abundance of marine life and colors but the Similan Islands are also very nice. We really saw a lot of fish such as clown fish in difference colors, octopuses, frog fish, pipe fish, sea horses, scorpion fish, Manta’s ‘oh yeah and not for 5 minutes but for a long time), whale shark, big schools of Trevally’s, barracuda’s and so much more. Prue’s video is really fantastic. The atmosphere on the boat was really good. My husband and I enjoyed it so much that we decided to book a second liveaboard a few days later. And also this one was really a success. Guided this time by Chris and Caro, we also enjoyed a lot this liveaboard. We again enjoyed the marine life, the corals, the manta’s, the boat, the crew etc.
Conclusion: do not hesitate anymore, Big Blue really earns to be n°1. Book and enjoy.
PS: if you take your own gear, take a full wetsuit since the green monster might visit you and then the temperature might drop a few degrees.