Out of all of our Similan Islands liveaboard diving boats, only two are ‘platform liveaboards,’ which means boats that stay out at sea and divers can join on any day, and stay for as long as they choose. Our platform boats (‘flexible liveaboards’) are MV Camic and MV Nemo 1. These are among our most-popular boats because they’re excellent value, run by great teams, and divers can choose the starting dates of their trips and for how long they stay aboard. Overnight Similan liveaboard diving trips are 2 days and 1 night or longer, allowing guests to join when they like. They're perfect for most people's schedules and needs. The boats don’t stay in one location either. They sail around the best dive sites on a weekly schedule, so even if you are on board for several days you won’t dive at the same dive site twice unless it’s very special. Each morning at 8.00am, new guests leave on speedboats from Tab Lamu Pier in Khao Lak and less than 2 hours later they’re on the liveaboard and ready to dive. Some people book for just two days & one night, which gives them 6 dives (3 per day). Others stay for three diving days & two nights (10 dives), or four days & three nights (14 dives). Guest cabins are fully air conditioned, and meals are served throughout the day. For the new diving season that begins in October 2017, we have some exciting news for our Camic and Nemo guests. One boat has had a total refit, and the other is a brand-new boat!
What’s new with Camic?
Camic used to have two master cabins with a double bed and private bathroom on its upper deck, and a mixture of twin and four-bunk cabins on its lower deck that shared bathrooms. In the summer of 2017 the whole boat was redesigned and new cabins were made. There are still the two master cabins on the upper deck, but there is also another one at the front of the lower deck. In addition, there are 4 twin cabins which each have private bathrooms, and 2 more twin cabins which share bathrooms. The maximum capacity of guests overnight is still 18. As well as changing the cabin layout, the dive centre which owns and runs Camic has moved. Last season the office was on the outskirts of central Khao Lak, but the brand-new office is now in Bang Niang, which is a very popular location just 2km. north of central Khao Lak. The great team stays the same, and they’re on hand from 10.00am until 8.30pm every day throughout the long season. They will have a large team of diving staff from countries around the world, including China. We are very much looking forward to sending our divers onto Camic this season.
What’s new with Nemo?
Nemo 1 is a brand-new boat! The name has carried over from the old boat, and so have the excellent service & food. There was nothing wrong with the older boat, but the new one is even better. Now it has a steel hull for added stability, meaning that cruising is even more comfortable than before. There are now four double-bed cabins, and three 4-bunk cabins, making a maximum capacity of 20 overnight guests. However, apart from at the busiest times of year Nemo is rarely full. This is because the Nemo team is small and professional. They will only accept as many divers as they can take care of properly. There are also more bathrooms for guests, and they have hot & cold showers. The new boat also has a small air-conditioned lounge/saloon. Not many boats at this price range have a lounge, but the all-new Nemo 1 does. It is ideal for diving students to focus on the theory part of a course, and the TV & DVD can be used for teaching. When courses are not being taught, guests are welcome to relax in the lounge. However, most people prefer to socialise outside in the covered dining area. Here they can enjoy the view and sea breeze. This dining area, as well as the boat’s diving platform, is bigger and better designed than on the old boat. Nemo 1 is now bigger, better, & brand new, but the same (safe, fun & professional) service carries over from the original boat. The family-run Swiss team work well with local crew and western dive staff to offer a wonderful diving experience throughout the Similan season. We can’t wait to hear what our Nemo guests have to say about trips on this wonderful new boat!
How do these two boats compare?
Similarities: Camic and Nemo are almost the same in many ways. The size of the boats, prices of trips and itineraries are very similar. Both teams transfer guests from Khao Lak to the speedboats which depart 8.00am from Tab Lamu Pier, and return on the final day around 5.00pm. Divers get 3 dives on their first and final days, plus 4 dives on each full day. Great food is served throughout the day, and soft drinks and alcohol are available for reasonable prices. Guests need to ‘check in’ at the dive centre the day before departure to fit equipment and sign a little bit of paperwork. No more than 4 divers are led by each Divemaster guide, and the groups are made up of divers of similar level & experience. Friends, partners and families who want to dive together can do so, at the maximum depth limit of the lowest-certified diver.
- Nemo is brand new and has a steel hull, whereas Camic is an older boat with a wooden hull.
- Nemo has an air-conditioned lounge, but Camic doesn’t.
- Camic guests can choose twin or double-bed cabins with private bathrooms, but Nemo has double-bed & 4-bunk cabins, all of which share bathrooms.
- Nemo’s team are very punctual and everything is done ‘by the book,’ whereas Camic’s team is ‘more flexible.’
- Camic’s dive staff come from around the world, including China, whereas Nemo’s team are nearly all westerners, with several German native-speakers.
- Booking a Camic trip requires 30% deposit with no surcharge or banking fee. The balance is due when you arrive in Khao Lak, and for credit card balance payments a 3% surcharge applies. Nemo guests pay in full at the time of booking, with no added fees or surcharges.
- Camic’s diving equipment is 500B/day, compared to Nemo’s 600B/day. Nemo guests are also required to dive with a computer. Snorkelling equipment is free on Camic, but there’s a small rental fee on Nemo.
- Camic visits Richelieu Rock (Fridays), but Nemo doesn’t. Both boats visit The Similans, Koh Bon & Koh Tachai.
- Nemo offers Nitrox, but Camic doesn’t.
- Nemo’s prices for non-diving guests are considerably lower than Camic’s.
Are There Any Disadvantages Of Joining A Flexible Liveaboard?
We don’t like to call them ‘disadvantages’ but there are a few things that are good to know about joining this type of trip. This way, a decision can be made and there shouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises. For most people the compromise is no problem, especially when balanced with the many benefits that flexible liveaboards offer.
Constant changes of customers, and sometimes staff : Each guest can join on any day of the diving season, and stay for as long as they choose. This means that people are coming and going every day. New divers join every morning, and divers finishing their trips leave in the afternoon. Some staff stay on the boat, while others return to land at night. If you’re a solo traveller or two people, your dive buddies may be different one day to the next. This may also be the case for your Divemaster guide. Also, some day-trip guests join in the morning and leave in the afternoon. Both boats limit the number of daytrippers to ensure that there is enough space and food for everyone on board.
Late Cabin Check-In : On your first day on a flexible liveaboard you may want to check in to your cabin as soon as you board the boat. This is not possible, because not only do the guests who stayed in the cabin the previous night want to check out as late as possible, the cabin needs to be cleaned for you. Also, there isn’t time for people to unpack and make themselves beautiful, because the first dive of the day is at 10.30am, and boat, safety & dive briefings need to be done. However, on your final day on board you will benefit from being able to check out after lunch.
Late Breakfast : Due to guests being picked up from Khao Lak hotels between 6.45-7.45am and taken directly to the waiting speedboat, it’s not possible to supply breakfast. When you arrive on the liveaboard boat at 9.15-9.45am there will be some light breakfast available, but some people may need more. Again, there isn’t much time to get everybody ready to dive at 10.30am, and most people don’t like to rush their food and/or dive soon after eating. Unless you’re prone to seasickness, we recommend having an early breakfast at your hotel, which will keep you full until your next meal is served. It’s of course important to know that some hotels don’t start serving breakfast until 7.30am or later, so please be prepared.