Liveaboard Diving

Egypt FAQs

Travel

Coronavirus: Travel Restrictions

There are currently no Covid-19 related restrictions for entering Egypt.

Travellers are not required to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test.

Pre-Travel Health & vaccinations

General

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have had the required vaccines for all of the countries you will be visiting. If you are unsure which vaccinations you require, please contact your nearest travel clinic or pharmacy for advice at least 8 weeks before travelling. 

We strongly recommend that you ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date (tetanus, polio, MMR, etc.) and check with your nearest travel clinic for the latest information and recommendations.

Please make sure you use insect repellent and cover exposed skin to reduce the risk of insect-borne diseases. 

Yellow Fever Vaccination

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission and for those having transited for more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Travelling to Egypt with medicines

If you need to bring medication with you, please be aware that some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines may be controlled substances in Egypt and require permission from Egypt’s Ministry of Health before you arrive. Please check with your pharmacist or the Egyptian Embassy for clarification.

If you need to bring prescription medication with you, it must be in its original packaging, with the dispensary label intact. You must also have a letter from your GP stating that it is for your personal use as well as the condition it is prescribed for and the quantity you are bringing.

Advice on international flights

Book your international flight into Hurghada (HRG) or Marsa Alam (RMF) (more convenient for Port Ghalib departures) depending on your itinerary. 

Hurghada offers the advantage of many scheduled and charter flights, most of them originating from the UK and European countries, as well as several flights every day from and to Cairo. For guests flying into Hurghada to join an itinerary which starts from Port Ghalib, we provide complimentary transfer from Hurghada on embarkation day only.

Marsa Alam is served by direct flights from London Gatwick, some areas of Europe, and Cairo although they are not as frequent as Hurghada flights, and may not fit with embarkation or disembarkation days.

Passports & Visas

Restrictions

Evidence of a previous visit to Israel such as an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally cause any difficulties when entering Egypt. However, it is for the Egyptian authorities to determine the right of entry into the country. If you have any concerns, you should contact the Egyptian consulate.

Passport Validity

Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Egypt. 

Dual Nationals

If you are a dual national, please make sure you bring the passport that you provided details of in your Advanced Passenger Information (API) form.

Israeli Nationals

Please contact us BEFORE booking as there are restrictions related to entry visas as well as cruise permissions with all liveaboards. Israeli Nationals are not permitted to go to the Marine Parks on a liveaboard; they are only permitted to join a north safari and special permission from the authorities is also required for the boat. A copy of the passport and flight information is required at least one month in advance to apply for the special boat permission and the Egyptian authorities reserve the right to refuse.


Visa Information

The majority of travellers need to obtain a visa to visit Egypt which can be achieved in several ways, depending on nationality. 

Citizens of Hong Kong, Macao and some Arab states do not require a visa.

Visa on Arrival

Citizens from most Western countries can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival which allows them to stay in Egypt for up to one month (30 days).

The cost is 25 USD, often involves lengthy queues, and requires payment to be made in cash only (USD is preferred but GBP and EUR may also be accepted although the price may be higher).

PLEASE NOTE: Visa on Arrival is usually available in Cairo (CAI), Luxor (LXR), Sharm El Sheik (SSH), Hurghada (HRG) and Marsa Alam (RMF). We offer a Visa Meet & Greet Service (charges apply) which facilitates Visa on Arrival for guests arriving in Hurghada or Marsa Alam. Please refer to the Visa Meet & Greet section for further details.

e-Visa

The Egypt e-Visa is the most convenient and reliable option; it eliminates the need to queue at the airport and allows for visa approval before travelling. To apply for an e-Visa simply go to the official Arab Republic of Egypt Electronic Visa Portal and follow the steps outlined under ‘How to Apply‘. A list of nationalities that are eligible to apply for an e-Visa can be found under the FAQs section

E-visas cost 25 USD and are valid for a maximum of 3 months from the date of issue.

Embassy issued

Travellers who are not from a visa-exempt county, or not eligible for an e-Visa or Visa on Arrival must apply in person at their nearest Egyptian embassy or consulate.

It is the individual traveller’s responsibility to ensure they meet all visa requirements for the holiday they have booked. If you are in any doubt about which type of visa you should apply for, we recommend checking your home country’s government advisories or with the Egyptian embassy/consulate. 

Visa Meet & Greet

We can pre-arrange Visa on Arrival for most nationalities including the UK, EU and USA and offer a Visa Meet & Greet service at Hurghada (HRG) and Marsa Alam (RMF) airports for guests arriving on their liveaboard embarkation day.  For a fixed fee (dependent on exchange rates), a Master Liveaboards representative will be waiting to greet you at the airport with the necessary documents before you reach the immigration counters.

We advise guests arriving into Hurghada on the same day as embarkation to use our pre-arranged visa service to avoid lengthy delays which may affect your transfer and other passengers. If you have booked our pre-arranged Visa Meet & Greet service please do not purchase another visa either in advance or on arrival. If you are harassed by a local agent, report the incident to the tourist police inside the airport terminal.

We can also offer the Visa Meet & Greet service on days other than embarkation day if combined with a transfer;  Transfer prices vary depending on the number of passengers and location they are arriving at / going to.

Transfers from Hurghada

You will be transferred from the airport (or your hotel) to the marina on the day of embarkation and from the disembarkation port back to the airport or hotel on the day that your liveaboard itinerary ends.

  • Transfer from Hurghada Airport to Hurghada Marina takes about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer between Hurghada Airport and Port Ghalib is approximately 3.5 hours.

On longer transfers, snacks and water will be provided. The transfer durations noted above are direct travelling times and do not take into account stops en route to allow guests to stretch their legs. 

NOTE: Due to the nature of the roads around the holiday resorts, it is not always possible for our coaches to drive all the way to the vessel’s docking location within the marina. Where the marina is set back from the main road, the coaches will park at the nearest point possible for passengers to disembark and walk the remainder of the way to the vessel. Our crews will take care of guests’ luggage from there and ensure it is safely delivered to the vessel.

Insurance

Diving and travel insurance is a mandatory requirement, as outlined in section 3 of our terms and conditions

Your insurance must cover all of your scuba diving and snorkelling activities and the maximum depths that you will be diving to (within the limits dictated by your diving certification). It must also provide full cover for emergency evacuation costs and recompression treatment. While some basic travel insurance policies cover scuba diving, they often specify maximum depths which may be less than your certification limits and/or the dive sites on your itineraryAdditionallythey may not cover all costs incurred as a result of a diving-related accident. 

We strongly advise purchasing comprehensive travel insurance to cover unforeseeable disruptions, delays and potential missed flight connections. Please read our blog ‘Do You Really Need Travel Insurance?‘ for further information of why the right type of travel insurance is so important.

It is your responsibility to check that your insurance provides adequate cover for your chosen itinerary.

Batteries

Introduced as a new security measure, Hurghada Airport requires batteries to be removed from items such as torches, dive computers, etc. if they are being carried in hand luggage. If you travel with such items in your carry-on bags and the batteries are not removed there is a possibility that equipment will be removed by airport security and disposed of. We therefore recommend that you pack battery-powered items, or their batteries, in your hold luggage.

Country Information

Language & religion

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with 90% of the population following Islam.

The Egyptian language is Arabic, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas and resorts.

Time zone

Local time is GMT/ UTC +2 hrs

Money matters

The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). USD, GBP and EUR are also widely accepted. Most hotels and bigger shops will accept credit cards and there are many ATMs for cash withdrawal. 

Health

Medical facilities in Egypt vary greatly depending on the area; in general, they are well below the standards of many other developed countries and are not free.

Please check that your travel insurance will cover all medical costs, including air evacuation should it be needed in the event of a medical emergency. 

Communications

There are four mobile network providers in Egypt: Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat and WE. Guests with international roaming will be able to use their phones in Egypt although call and data costs depend on their home network provider.

Local SIM cards with data packages are available for tourists and can be purchased on arrival at Hurghada Airport and Marsa Alam Airport.

Alternatively, if your smartphone is e-SIM compatible, there are various options available that will work in the Egypt. 

Climate & weather

Egypt is a Northern Hemisphere country with moderately cool winter months and a hot, dry summer season. Between June and August, air temperatures can easily reach 40+°C (104°F); November to January are generally a more comfortable 18-23°C (64-73°F) with occasional rain and cool nights. In the desert area, temperatures are even more extreme, both hot and cold.

Care and protection against sun exposure should be used throughout the year as the UV rays can be intense, even in the winter. 

Water temperatures

Water temperatures in the Red Sea vary throughout the year with the coolest temperatures in January and the warmest in August.

The following is a month-by-month guide to the average water temperatures:

JAN: 21–22°C (70-71°F)

FEB: 21-22°C (70-71°F)

MAR: 23°C (73°)

APR: 24°C (75°F)

MAY: 25°C (77°F)

JUN: 26°C (79°F)

JUL: 27°C (80°F)

AUG: 28°C (82°F)

SEPT: 27°C (80°F)

OCT: 25-26°C (77-79°F)

NOV: 24°C (75°F)

DEC: 22-23°C (71-73°F)

Recompression chambers

Hyperbaric facilities are located in:

  • Dahab x 1
  • El Gouna x 1
  • Hamata x 1
  • Hurghada x 2
  • Marsa Alam x 2
  • Safaga x 1
  • Sharm el Sheikh x 2

Please note that this list is subject to unannounced changes.

Up-to-date information and contact details can be found on the CDWS website: https://www.cdws.travel/diving/medical-facilities

Chamber of Diving and Water Sports Regulations

Medical Statement

Under CDWS regulations, it is a mandatory requirement for every scuba diver, snorkeller and free diver to fill in a medical statement and, where applicable, undergo a medical examination or provide a valid (no more than 1 year old) diving medical certificate.

A medical examination on site is necessary in the following cases:

  •  For questions that are answered with YES in the medical statement and the guest does not have a valid medical certificate clearing them to dive.
  • Where the diver has a valid diving medical examination but has had surgery since it was issued.
  • If prescription medication is being taken that is not listed on the medical statement.

The medical statement is included in the Red Sea liability release form which all guests are required to sign and can be downloaded here

Depth Limits

Depth limits for recreational and technical diving in the Red Sea are set by the  Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) as follows:

  • Recreational: The maximum depth for recreational divers is as defined by the diver’s certification, not exceeding 40 metres.
  • Technical: Depths for technical divers are based on the limits outlined by their training, and not exceeding 100 metres.


Full details can be reviewed in the CDWS Depth Limitations Policy.

Technical Diving

The CDWS considers technical diving to include any decompression dive, or any dive deeper than 40 metres, regardless of the gasses used or the diver’s certification agency.

CDWS regulations state that a suitably qualified technical dive guide must be on board for the duration of the trip when any guests are planning on technical diving. The dive guide must have the same level, or higher technical diving qualification relating to maximum depths and gas mixes. 

If you are planning on doing any decompression dives or dives deeper than 40 metres, you must notify us before confirming your liveaboard booking to ensure we are able to accommodate your request. If you do not have a dive buddy booking on the same trip who has the same technical qualifications, you will need to pay for a private technical dive guide.

Master Liveaboards requires technical divers to inform us of their gas, cylinders and equipment requirements as early as possible by completing the Red Sea Technical Diving Form. If you fail to notify us in advance and/or fail to provide the completed technical diving form as requested, you may not be able to engage in any technical diving.

BSAC Decompression Diving

BSAC recreational decompression divers are NOT permitted to conduct decompression diving under CDWS regulations. In order to conduct decompression dives, BSAC divers must hold the ‘Accelerated Decompression Procedure’ qualification or higher and this will be classified as technical diving.

Gloves & Knives

The official CDWS statement does not prohibit the use of gloves or knives but restricts their use as follows:

Gloves

  • Wearing gloves as thermal protection is not restricted.
  • Touching corals and marine life is strictly prohibited.
  • It is therefore highly recommended not to wear gloves if they are not needed for thermal protection.

Dive knives

  • Carrying dive knives as a tool is not restricted.
  • The use of dive knives as a signalling device, to cut lines and to free entanglements is allowed.
  • It is strictly prohibited to use dive knives as a weapon or to touch, cut, damage, kill or harass marine life.
Nudi Pointers / Muck Sticks

The Pointer Stick or Muck Stick is usually between 30 to 45 centimetres long (12-18 inches) and made of solid stainless steel or aluminium. The use of such rods to touch corals and marine organisms by scuba divers and underwater photographers negatively impacts the delicate reef ecosystems, especially when widely used. Therefore, in an attempt to promote an eco-friendly marine environment in the Red Sea, the CDWS forbids the use of these sticks for any reason.

Penalties apply to anyone violating these regulations.

Diving on SS Thistlegorm

In a bid to preserve the majestic SS Thistlegorm the CDWS has set guidelines for diving on the wreck.

To comply with these guidelines, divers with less than 20 logged dives are NOT permitted to dive the wreck. Any diver joining an itinerary which visits the SS Thistlegorm who has less than 20 logged dives will not be able to take part in any dives on the wreck. 

Additionally, touching the wreck is strictly forbidden: Divers must not sit, stand, touch, or kick the wreck with their fins.

Brother Islands & Daedalus Reef

Liveaboard vessels are forbidden from staying at Daedalus Reef and the Brothers Islands overnight and the number of vessels allowed into these areas during the day is restricted to protect the reefs. Additionally, snorkelling, swimming and night dives are not allowed at Daedalus Reef or the Brothers Islands.

During Your Trip

What thickness wetsuit is suitable?

Following are our suggestions based on the average month-by-month water temperatures. However, some guests may prefer to bring a dry-suit, particularly if they will be joining a trip between December and March.

JAN: 5mm or 7mm full-length
FEB: 5mm or 7mm full-length
MAR: 5mm or 7mm full-length
APR: 5mm full-length
MAY: 5mm full-length
JUN: 3mm or 5mm full-length
JUL: 3mm full-length or shorty
AUG: 3mm full-length or shorty
SEPT: 3mm or 5mm full-length
OCT: 5mm shorty or full-length
NOV: 5mm full-length
DEC: 5mm or 7mm full-length

Equipment Rental

We offer a full range of equipment for guests to rent, which needs to be pre-booked.

Although we keep a selection of spare equipment on board, our main storage for the majority of equipment is at the port in Hurghada.

It is therefore important for guests to pre-book all of the equipment they will need before travelling to ensure we can meet their requirements.

If you need rental equipment but have not pre-booked, please inform our local team immediately upon your arrival at the vessel and they will do their best to accommodate your requests.

NOTE: All divers are required to use a computer and DSMB & reel for all diving conducted throughout our safaris.

A full range and price list of our equipment can be found under the Egypt – Useful Trip Information section of the downloads page, or on the Red Sea vessel pages.

Night Dives

Depending on the itinerary, and where permitted, either a sunset or night dive may be offered on some days.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Night dives are NOT permitted in the four (4) offshore marine parks, i.e. Brothers Islands, Daedalus, Rocky Island and Zabargad Island. 
  • Night dives are also not allowed at Elphinstone or other areas where sharks are present.
Electricity

The standard sockets on board are 220V/50Hz, 2-pin European style (Type C). We provide multi-socket extensions with 2-pin and UK 3-pin options. There are also USB socket chargers available in guest cabins and communal areas on Blue Horizon and Blue Melody.

For fire safety reasons, we ask that you do not leave any devices charging in your cabin whilst you are not present.

Fire Safety

Each of our Red Sea vessels has a central fire detection system, with smoke detectors located in every room, and all public areas. These are connected to a central panel in the captain’s cabin, which shows where a fire may be in the event of smoke being detected.  Each cabin is also equipped with a 1kg powder fire extinguisher and all public areas around the boat have a mixture of extinguisher types and sizes depending on the location and potential cause of a fire.

On the first morning, the Cruise Director / Guides will conduct a full Muster Drill to give guests a chance to locate their life jackets and gather at the designated meeting point on the boat.

Smoking

Smoking and vaping is permitted in the outdoor areas on the vessel with the exception of the dive deck. Windproof ashtrays will be provided for your use.

There is a No Smoking/vaping policy on board our vessels during the dive site briefings, for the comfort of all our guests. Smoking and vaping is NOT permitted anywhere inside on the vessel.

Cabin amenities
  • Complimentary liquid soap, which can be used as shower gel, is provided in every guest cabin.
  • Fresh bath and deck towels will be provided for your use on board as well as a poncho to use in place of a dressing gown.
  • We do not provide shampoo, hair conditioner or facecloths so guests who like to use then need to bring their own. 
  • Hairdryers are not available onboard. Please bring your own if you think you will need one.
Food & Drinks
  • Breakfast is usually eggs cooked to your choice (omelette, fried, poached, boiled or scrambled), pancakes, toast, fresh fruit and cereal.
  • Lunch and evening meals usually consist of lots of fresh vegetables, rice, chicken, beef and fish.
  • Snacks are available between dives.
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and drinking water are available at all times.


If you have any specific dietary requirements, please let us know at the time of booking your liveaboard holiday.

Please note: specific brands of foods and soft drinks are often unavailable in the Red Sea.

It can be very difficult to find gluten-free, low-fat and soya products that are common elsewhere. While we always do our best to accommodate your requests, please be realistic and consider bringing some of your own food items if the lack thereof may constitute a health risk or seriously compromise your enjoyment of your holiday.

Alcohol

There is a selection of beer, wine and ‘alcopops’ available to purchase on board for when you have finished your day’s diving.  While most people like to indulge during their holidays, there are times when alcohol is best avoided. We will not allow guests to dive after consuming alcohol. Therefore, if you are planning to enjoy an afternoon or night dive, we recommend that you avoid alcohol with lunch. 

Communications on board

Blue Horizon and Blue Melody are equipped with wireless internet access. The Wi-Fi can be used on board free of charge and will be available where there is a signal for email and web browsing. Please note that Egyptian internet is not of European standard and access will be limited (mainly available when closer to land).

For guests who require more data during their trip, data SIM cards can be purchased at the airport just before you exit the airport building.

Mobile phones can be used on board the vessels although there may not be mobile phone reception at certain locations on some itineraries. Reception is generally better in the North and non-existent in the Marine Parks.

Marine park and port fees

Marine Park Fees and taxes in the Red Sea are covered by the Governmental Reef Tax which all visitors are required to pay. 

The tax needs to be paid in advance and will be added to your invoice at the time of booking your liveaboard.

On board payments

All onboard prices are in US Dollars. We can accept cash payments in USD, EGP (Egyptian Pounds), EUR and GBP (Bank of England notes only: no Scottish/Jersey/Guernsey/Northern Ireland/Isle of Man, etc.). The exchange rate used for any conversions will be based on the rate at the time of settling your onboard bill.

Please be aware that any notes that you pay with must be in perfect condition, free from any marks or splits as they are not accepted in the banks in Egypt.

You can use UK debit cards (no surcharge) or credit cards (3% surcharge) to pay for amounts over 20 USD. 

Goods & Services Tax

All items paid for on board are subject to Goods & Services Tax which is currently 14%

Tipping Guidelines

We believe that tipping is a matter of personal choice; Should you feel that our crew has made your holiday extra special, they will certainly appreciate a tip as a sign of your appreciation. An envelope will be provided by your cruise director at the end of your itinerary and all gratuities will be divided equally amongst all crew, including the captain and dive guides.

If you are unsure how much to tip, we suggest 25 USD per guest, per day. Tips can only be accepted in cash.