It was only after nearly £6000 was spent that it dawned on me that we had managed to do all this without the protection of an ATOL-bonded operator. It could have all gone horribly wrong, we could have lost some or all of our money and we could have ended up without a holiday.
If you book a holiday with two or more elements through a British holiday operator, by European law, they must be ATOL-bonded and your money is safe. This has never been more important than now when so much of the world is in political turmoil.
When it comes to booking a diving holiday, there are three elements to consider; the flight, the accommodation and the diving. You want it all to be good.
Mike's Dive Store is running ATOL-bonded trips to both Egypt and the Maldives. Both are top quality diving destinations and if you haven't yet dived in these places, it's time you corrected the omission. The trips are run on top quality liveaboard dive boats. The advantage of this is that your accommodation is always close to where you'll be diving and with packages including flights, transfers, meals and your bed, there's little more to pay for once you are out there. What you pay is what it costs. In fact, in terms of time in the water and cost per minute of diving, you won't find a cheaper way of doing it. In one week you'll be able to exceed twenty dives, all of which will be memorable.
Egypt's Red Sea is famous for its easy diving conditions with colourful reefs and plenty of marine life. The Maldives can be slightly more challenging thanks to the ocean currents that squeeze through the atolls, but these currents attract the bigger more impressive marine life such as whalesharks, requiem sharks and manta rays. Diving with these large and graceful creatures is an unforgettable experience.
You may be lucky enough to get the same experience in the Red Sea too. You're more likely to get a close encounter with dolphin in the Red Sea because these animals have had the chance to get more used to divers over the years and often see them as an opportunity to play games. Here's a picture of me taken by photo-pro Saeed Rashid, accompanied by some dolphin whilst on a Blue o Two trip. They stayed with me for more than half-an-hour.
Whatever you choose, you'll be with like-minded people engaged in a common activity and sharing the experience. Some lifetime friendships have been forged in this way and it's nice to know when you book that the cost of your holiday is safe and secure.
Happy Diving - John Bantin