"Recently I was fortunate enough to join our customers on the 8 day Maldive Dhoni Cruise. While I was certainly excited about the trip, it’s fair to say that I had a number of concerns – not least about sharing a bedroom and what the bathroom arrangements would be like! I can honestly say that, in reality, I needn’t have worried and I would urge anyone else with the same hesitations to take the plunge.
The trip itself is, quite simply, fantastic. It’s very different to the normal holidays we offer here at Explore and one where you really do get to relax. True, there’s daily snorkelling – up to three times a day – but you do at least come home feeling that you’ve achieved something more than the other tourists in their stilted villas which you sail past occasionally. 1190 coral islands make up The Maldives, over an area of 90,000 square kilometres and the islands are grouped into 26 atolls. With this in mind it’s not surprising that we saw very few other tourists during the trip. The distances we sailed were vast and often with a cruising time of around 2 hours.
There were a couple of surprises during the cruise which I won’t spoil, but they were testament to the hard working, cohesive crew we had onboard. The five crew members, including Captain, Explore Rep and chef, took care of our needs – not that we had many. Our rep, Teddy, guided us on each snorkel and another of the crew was the backmarker. Teddy’s knowledge of marine life and his ability to lead a group of novices around a new reef everyday was amazing. On board, the food choice and quality was fantastic and the guys washed and prepared all our equipment before each snorkel. At the end of hard a day’s relaxing (for us) we all spent most evenings playing card games together after dinner.
Photo courtesy of Chris Williams
I’ve been on many cruises in the past, so I struggled to imagine how a traditional dhoni boat would compare with the likes of the modern cruise liners I’m used to. It honestly didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things and I found myself relaxing with a book just an hour after leaving Malé! Our boat, Sea Coral, accommodated just six guests which was the size of our group. We take up to 16 on this trip, and use two different boats when there’s that many. The accommodation consisted of three cabins, each with a top and bottom bunk, and there were two bathrooms between us.
Take heed of the packing instructions in the trip notes and you’ll find that there’s plenty of space in the cabins for your belongings and luggage. I like to pack everything – just in case – but I seriously reduced the amount and still had three shirts left over. With the luggage packed away in the drawers under the bottom bunk, there’s room for smaller belongings on the shelves at the end. Sleeping on the top bunk was fine, though it might be a struggle to reach for some. Once you open the hatch, you get a constant breeze blowing in, plus there’s a large fan on the wall. The pillows were lovely and plump – better than some hotels I’ve been to. The bedding and towels were good too – both are changed mid-week, and the crew make up the cabins daily.
The bathrooms were more like wet-rooms, with the shower attachment sitting just above the sink. Although there isn’t any hot water, it was ambient temperature which was actually preferable given the heat of the Maldives. I thought there might have been occasions when we queued but, as we were an equal split, we had a girls’ and boys’ bathroom and managed to take care of our own ablutions without affecting each other.
Photo courtesy of Chris Williams
This really is a wonderful trip that I’d highly recommend. If you have any concerns like I did, then just let them go. Kick off your shoes, relax into the laid-back atmosphere onboard and you’re sure to have an incredible time".