Ultimate Maldives: A Snorkeling & Diving Adventure
Before You Go
Our Maldives expedition focuses on the underwater wonders of the region and is only recommended for intermediate and advanced divers and snorkelers. You will need to be able to climb into and out of the dive boat while wearing your dive equipment. There will be many opportunities for drift dives which offer exhilarating and challenging ways to experience the underwater realm; currents may be strong. Air and water temperatures are often the same, both averaging in the low 80s°F. While dive and snorkel gear will be available for rent on board, we recommend bringing your own gear for best comfort and fit.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
Our Maldives expedition focuses on the underwater wonders of the region and is only for certified Advanced Open Water (AOW) divers and snorkelers. You will need to be able to climb into and out of the dive boat (dhoni) and step up onto a ladder. You will have the opportunity beforehand to pass your equipment up to the boat before climbing up the ladder yourself. There will be many opportunities for drift dives which offer exhilarating and challenging ways to experience the underwater realm; currents may be strong. Decompression diving, solo diving, and technical diving are strictly prohibited.
The maximum depth for diving in the Maldives is 30 meters with an equally qualified buddy. On some dives, the recommended depth is less than 18 meters. Your maximum diving depth will be dependent on your level of training and experience. Unpredictable and strong currents are to be expected anytime, but especially in periods of new and full moons. We recommend that you are experienced to 30 meters and are comfortable with drift dives.
There will also be opportunities for shore excursions and water activities that require little exertion, including village visits and sunset drinks on the beach.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight three hours prior to departure. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain that the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to your final destination, if allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
All guests will be required to wear face masks while in transit, and adhere to all airline specific guidelines. Please look to your specific airline for details.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates. However, if you are arriving prior to the group arrival day and have booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, a transfer from the airport to the hotel will be provided.
Airlines change flight times frequently and our air department will send you any updates for flights booked through Zegrahm as they are received from the carrier. Nevertheless, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
If you are booking your flights or accommodations, please forward a copy of your flight itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions, as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
For your international flights to and from Malé, please check for luggage weight restrictions with your airline provider or our air department if you are booking your international air arrangements through Zegrahm.
On your international flight, your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend you carry on essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary in the unlikely event your baggage is delayed or is slow to be delivered.
The climate in the Maldives provides warm, tropical weather all year round. Over the course of the year, air temperature typically varies from 80ºF (26ºC) to 88ºF (31ºC) and rarely gets below 77ºF (25ºC). The average water temperature for March or April is around 84ºF (29ºC). Consider your own internal thermostat and personal comfort when packing as temperatures could vary.
The following are average high/low temperatures ºF (ºC) in March and April for selected locations on our itinerary:
|Malé, Maldives||88ºF (31ºC)||81ºF (27ºC)|
The U.S. Dollar is the standard currency on board the Emperor Serenity. At the end of your voyage, you may settle your onboard account with cash in USD, EUR, or UK Pounds. Additionally, you can use your Visa or MasterCard for an added 4% surcharge.
As of November 2020, the exchange rate is as follows:
|$1 U.S. dollar (USD)||15.40 Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR)|
Access to ATMs is extremely limited, and they are unavailable in the remote destinations we will be visiting. Please carry smaller cash denominations as most merchants will require local currency. Also, ensure you know your four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your debit or credit card if you wish to obtain currency at ATMs at the airport.
As a reminder, itinerary related expenses have been included in the price of your trip. Therefore, we recommend that you carry most of your money in smaller denominations.
Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will
be sent approximately one month prior to departure. If you would like to view Zegrahm Expeditions’ most recent travel advice relating to COVID-19 and our expeditions, as well as our booking promise, please visit our Current Travel Information page.
The electrical currents are as follows:
- Maldives: 230V/50Hz with electrical outlet types C, D, G & L
- Emperor Serenity: 220V/50Hz with electrical outlet type G
PLEASE NOTE: An adaptor will be required if your equipment uses 2 pronged North American connections. Recharging stations and rinse tanks are available on board. You are asked not to charge items in your cabin unattended for safety reasons. Most modern electronics (cell phones, computers, and tablets) are dual voltage. Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
International flights are not included in the cost of your expedition; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Male, Maldives (MLE) and Male, Maldives/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house air department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
No gratuities are accepted by the Zegrahm expedition team. All gratuities for group arrangements including hotel staff, local guides, and drivers associated with our itinerary are included in the cost of your expedition. However, gratuities for extra services outside of group arrangements are your own responsibility.
A yellow fever vaccination is required if arriving from or transiting in the last six (6) days through, countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. Yellow fever vaccinations, valid for life, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip.
However, please consult with your physician before receiving the yellow fever vaccination. You may refer to the following World Health Organization link for more information on yellow fever: https://www.who.int/csr/disease/yellowfev/en/
Please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, https://www.cdc.gov/, to learn more about any possible health risks and necessary vaccines that are recommended for the destinations we are visiting on this program. We strongly recommend you contact your physician or a Travel Health Clinic prior to departure to ensure that you have adequate information concerning relevant health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your own, personal physical condition and medical history. This will vary by guest and can only be advised by a medical professional. The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice.
We invite you to visit our website to learn more about our 5 Tier Health and Safety Charter guidelines.
If you are prone to motion sickness, please consult with your doctor to prescribe the proper medication. If you are prone to motion sickness, please consult with your doctor to prescribe the proper medication. Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as we will not have access to pharmacies while in the remote areas of this expedition.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty as this can help prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. During our program, all food and drinks served as part of our itinerary at our hotels or on board the vessel are perfectly safe. However, tap water is best avoided. Guests will not be permitted to dive under the influence of alcohol as this seriously impairs your judgment and increases your risk of decompression sickness. Please keep this in mind during meals on board.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of our expedition includes $100,000 of emergency evacuation and $25,000 for medical expenses. If you would like to request more information about this policy, please contact our office at 206.285.4000, or review the pamphlet included in your final documents package.
Internet & Phone
Wi-Fi is available for guests on board the Emperor Serenity. However, please keep in mind that due to the nature of this expedition, Wi-Fi and Internet access may be intermittent at best. Internet is available when a mobile signal is present, normally nearby or in port and the service is dependent on the local mobile provider. If you would like Internet access, we recommend purchasing a data SIM upon arrival to the Malé airport. Contact information for our group hotels and the Emperor Serenity will be included in your final documents.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00 a.m.||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|10:00 a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|7:00 p.m.||Malé, Maldives (MVT)|
The main lounge on board holds the full complement of guests at one seating and all meals are served buffet-style. When weather permits, meals can also be served on deck. Coffee and tea are available throughout the day/night.
Should you have any particular dietary needs, or life-threatening allergies, please let us know on your Personal Information Form, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly.
During your expedition, you should bring your own face-covering, gloves, and hand-sanitizer supplies for the duration of your trip. Our staff will carry some extra personal protective equipment for use in an emergency but should not be relied upon, for example face masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, thermometer; surface cleaning materials.
You will be asked to follow face-covering and handwashing guidelines, plus any local government requirements, which will be reconfirmed by your leader on arrival. Your Expedition Leader will advise you if face masks are recommended for a specific visit.
Clothing on Board
The ship is air-conditioned and cabins have individual controls. Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended. Please note, you will be asked not to wear shoes inside the main lounge and in your cabin. Sandals may be worn on the outer decks if you prefer. Please do not wear any wet swimwear while sitting on any of the furniture in the main lounge.
In Malé, if entering any religious venues, exposing your shoulders or legs below the knee is considered offensive and you may be asked to leave. On city streets, dress is much more casual and laid back. At our group hotel, Bandos Island Resort, there are no religious or cultural dress restrictions to adhere to.
Sporty, summer-weight clothing is a good base for your wardrobe. Loose, lightweight, wash-and-wear shorts, skirts, blouses, shirts, and T-shirts made of natural fibers and wick-a-way fabrics are recommended. The sun can be strong, so bring adequate sun-protective clothing and gear, wear hats, and use sunblock, as we will be out in the sun for extended periods of time. Also, keep in mind that we may encounter a tropical rain shower or two.
Sport sandals with a sturdy sole are the best type of footwear for frequent wet landings as they provide excellent protection and dry quickly. Other footwear you may wish to bring includes canvas sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. You will want to wear pants that are easy to roll up, shorts, or a sarong for wet landings. Make sure your shoes are well broken-in before your trip.
For protection against insect bites, bring long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and insect repellent with a high concentration of DEET. Also, consider permethrin spray, which can be applied directly to your clothing before departure and lasts up to three washings, or clothing with insect-repellent already bonded to the fabric, such as Buzz Off clothing.
Sun & Reef Protection
Please only bring mineral-only and biodegradable “Reef-safe” sunscreen that is environmentally friendly, and does not included ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. You can further reduce the use of sunscreen and better protect exposed skin and the reef by wearing full coverage, UPF rated swim shirts and swim tights. For this expedition, we recommend a 3mm shortie or full-length wetsuit.
Snorkel & Dive Gear
Snorkel Equipment: Masks, snorkels, and fins are available for free but must be pre-ordered. However, it is recommended that each snorkeler bring their own for best comfort and fit. Shorty wetsuits (3mm) are also available and must be pre-ordered in advance. Typically, water temperature is 80-86ºF.
If you plan on using any onboard gear for snorkeling, please email your request (noting European size for fins and U.S. sizing for wetsuits - M,L,XL, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Gear reservations cannot be made once you arrive.
Dive Equipment: Zegrahm Expeditions requires guests who are diving to bring their own gear not only for safety, but for best fit and comfort as well.
Each diver is required to bring their own:
- Dive certification
- Dive log
Tanks & Adapters: The Emperor Serenity has DIN tanks and INT adapters available on board free of charge. If you have an M26 regulator and an adapter that can fit to a DIN tank, we strongly advise that you bring your adapter with you.
Weights and weight belts are also provided free of charge but must be pre-ordered. If you require weights or a weight belt please inform email@example.com before departure. The diving tenders have ample storage space and boxes for your equipment.
- Pants** or long travel skirts
- Light rain jacket with a hood
- Face Mask*
- Loose, lightweight shorts**
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Light sweater or jacket
- Attire for captain’s welcome and farewell dinners
- Light scarf or bandanna
- Sturdy walking shoes and/or light hiking boots
- Rubber-soled, deck-type shoes
- Sports sandals/Tevas for wet landings
- Socks and undergarments
- Wide-brimmed sun hat for face and neck protection
- UPF rated swim shirt (long sleeve) & swim tights or pants (full length)
- Passport/airline E-ticket receipts/itinerary*
- Credit cards*
- Prescription medicines*
- Photocopies of important documents/ship
- tickets/airline E-ticket receipts/itinerary
- Reef-safe sunscreen
- Lip balm with SPF**
- Water bottle (optional)
- Backpack/daypack for excursions
- Personal first-aid kit
- Physician’s summary (if applicable)
- Spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Pocket tissues
- Polarized sunglasses
- Travel alarm clock
- Camera, batteries, memory cards & thumb drive
- Dry bag
- Electrical converter and adapter (adapter required)
- Notebook and pen
- Sewing kit (checked luggage only)
- Personal toiletries
- Baggage locks
- Collapsible trekking pole (optional)
*These items should be packed in your carry-on luggage, along with a change of clothing, in the event of unexpected checked luggage delays or other contingencies.
**These items can be combined if you bring convertible pants.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for six months after you return home, through November 5, 2021. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of 1 blank pages available for entry/exit stamps in your passport.
At present, travelers to the Maldives are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours before the date of travel, from an accredited laboratory. The negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 96 hours before departure should besubmitted through the IMUGA portal. Travelers are also required to complete an online health declaration form within 24 hours prior to their departure to the Maldives through the IMUGA portal. IMUGA Portal: https://imuga.immigration.gov.mv
It is highly advisable to print multiple copies of your COVID test certificate in color to keep on hand in your carry-on. All guests will be expected to comply with the Maldives Ministry of Heath, and wear face masks in all indoor spaces.
United States Entry Requirements
At present, United States travelers and those in transit are required to obtain a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before the date of travel. You must present your negative PCR test result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel). Upon arrival to the United States, you will be asked to provide a paper copy or electronic documentation of the lab result.
Zegrahm Expeditions will be facilitating your COVID-19 PCR testing with our local operators prior to the end of the expedition to prepare you for our group departure day. If you have independent travel arrangements beyond our group departure day, it will be up to you to facilitate your own COVID-19 PCR testing for return to the United States.
The CDC recommends that you get tested again 3-5 days after arrival, and to isolate for 7 days post-travel.
As a reminder, information is subject to change without notice. Final Documents will also include any further updates regarding entry guidelines if necessary.
A tourist visa is required of U.S. citizens and can be obtained free of charge on arrival for stays less than 30 days. Please have a copy of your itinerary and proof of your outbound flight to present upon request to immigration officials.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the U.S. should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Importing of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by law. Bottles containing alcoholic beverages will be confiscated at Customs upon arrival and returned to you at departure.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 1 through 119 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.