MALDIVES -- I have spent 2 weeks diving in the Maldives - first on the live-on- board "Dreamcatcher II", and then with "Sub-Aqua dive" based on resort in Rangali in Janruary 2009.
My objective was to dive some of the best sites in the Maldive and therefore have first chosen a live-on-board option.
"Dreamcatcher II" live-on-board:
I would recommend this if you are there to relax on a spacious comfortable boat, for fishing or other water activities, but not if you wanted to do some serious diving.
There was only one diveguide on board with a group of 8 people with a range of different experiences - some learnng open water, to advance and dive master. Problem with that is that the dive sites visited was restricted due to the different level of experiences. From my previous experiences with other live-on-boards, they only allow divers with a minimum of open water qualification, which I thought was an international practice.
Another issue was the diveguide, who spent most of the dives taking underwater videos - apparently for the company's promotional purposes and not for the group. Their feedback to this was that they don't believe this was a problem as long as it was safe. But to me, this is not what I would expect from a professional dive guide.
Due to the above disappointment, I extended another week of diving in the same region with Sub-Aqua dives - a resort based operation. My experience there is far better. The quality of dive sites were much better, as well as the professionalism of the diveguides. They have no more than 4 divers assigned per diveguide, separating groups with different experiences and even air consumptions. Most of all, what made Sub Aqua Dives stood out was that it was obvious all of the diveguides have a passion of what they do, and wanted to show you the best of what the Maldives has to offer. I ended up having some of the best dives ever.
Having dived with a lot of different operators in different regions of the world, I am very impressed with Sub Aqua and would highly recommend them to any serious divers who have a high level of expectation.