A little story behind The Phinisi

We love our vessels and we value their history. The Phinisi has a particular place in our heart and this is her extraordinary story.

Plying the waters of Thailand and Myanmar, The Phinisi has been part of the Master Liveaboards fleet for quite some time. In fact much longer than most people know.

The birth

In 2007, The Phinisi started her life in Indonesia. She was custom-built in Makassar as a liveaboard yacht in the classic Indonesian ‘Phinisi’ style. We launched her under the name of “Sampai Jumpa Lagi“. This translates from Bahasa to “see you again”, or in some contexts “will meet again”. This makes more sense when you you realise that our first boat back in 2003 was called simply, “Sampai Jumpa”.

Sampai Lumpa Lagi during her construction in Indonesia
Sampai Lumpa Lagi during her construction in Indonesia

She directly joined the ranks of Worldwide Dive & Sail, officially marking the moment that we were operating a fleet. Initially she was operating in Thailand, Myanmar, and the Andaman Islands. Added to that a little later were several months of the year where she operated in Indonesia, prior to the arrival of Indo Siren.

Sampa Lumpai Lagi in the Andaman
Sampai Jumpa Lagi at Narcondom Island, Andaman – Photo: Mark Strickland

In 2009, the boat was renamed ‘Siren’, the first vessel to bear the name of what later became the well-known Siren Fleet.

In 2011, Siren Fleet took a bold step and as the Andaman season was drawing to an end, we sailed her across the Indian Ocean to the Maldives. From July 2011, she took her her new name of ‘Maldives Siren‘, operating successfully there covering itineraries in the Northern, Central and Southern atolls.

Promotional video for Maldives Siren – Video: Inge Onderwater

In 2014, with the competition getting fierce in the Maldives as higher occupancy vessels moved in from the Red Sea, we decided to close our Maldives operations and Maldives Siren sailed back to her adopted home, Thailand.

Back to her roots

Moving on, The Phinisi had a break from hosting scuba diving liveaboards. Instead, she was introducing guests to the islands in and around Phuket province on ‘pirate’ day cruises. Her official name was changed to: ‘Cheng I Sao’, the name she still carries today. Cheng I Sao was a legendary, fearless Chinese female pirate who became very powerful in the 19th century…an interesting story in itself!

Extract from "Pirates: An Illustrated History of Privateers, Buccaneers & Pirates from the Sixteenth Century to the Present" (Londond, 1996)
A fanciful depiction from “History of Pirates of all Nations” published in 1836 showing Cheng I Sao
Day boat Cheng I Sao
The Phinisi during her time as Cheng I Sao operating pirates day cruises

After a refit in August 2018, The Phinisi rejoined the Master Liveaboards’ fleet to run scuba dive liveaboard trips. With a branding tweak, she was given the marketing name ‘The Phinisi’ to matcvh with her new sister vessel, The Junk. Together, they roam the waters around the Similan & Surin islands and south of Phuket.

With The Phinisi, we were able to bring back a popular itinerary from the past, Best of Thailand. This trip takes you to all the best dive sites of Thailand over 10 nights. You will visit the likes of Richelieu Rock in the Similans and go all the way down to Koh Phi Phi and the famous sites of Hin Daeng & Hin Muang. There are very few vessels offering longer itineraries and covering so many dive sites.

Into the present, a full dry dock session in July 2021 saw her emerging as good as new. With her fresh, shiny paint, The Phinisi shows off her characteristic elegance, while maintaining outstanding service to our guests.

The Phinisi in Dry dock in July 2021
The Phinisi during dry dock in July 2021

Join us on The Phinisi for an amazing scuba diving liveaboard in Thailand. Book online or contact us.



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