MV Marco Polo Overview
While most Similan Islands liveaboard diving trips include transfers from Phuket by land to the neighbouring province of Phang Nga, MV Marco Polo guests board directly from Phuket. Setting sail early in the evening everyone gets to know one another over dinner. This is an excellent way to start any trip. The boat's guest capacity is limited to 14 lucky divers, ensuring more space all around the boat, especially on the dive platform. EANx certified divers can get Nitrox fills for free throughout the trip.
Something else that is special about Marco Polo diving safaris is the number of dives included. Twenty two dives, which include four night dives and several at the world-famous Richelieu Rock, are more than enough for even the most enthusiastic scuba divers. Also, because it sails from & returns to Phuket, you can visit the excellent but rarely-dived dive sites at the south of The Similans. These include Shark Fin Reef and Boulder City.
The boat has twin cabins with bunk beds, double cabins for couples, and a honeymoon suite, which gets prime position at the front of the boat. There are several options and levels of comfort and price, but everyone gets a good night’s sleep. The Bauer tank-filling compressor is almost inaudible and cabins with air conditioning come with independent controls. This may sound normal, but some Similan liveaboards offer air conditioning which passengers can’t control themselves. There is plenty of space for just 14 guests to relax, socialize, or find somewhere to be alone. And there’s a large, covered diving deck for everyone to enter or exit the water safely.
Like most Similan diving boats, MV Marco Polo and her crew make sure that each diving group is small and the levels of divers in each group are similar. This is the best way to ensure that everyone enjoys the best underwater experience possible and can spend up to an hour on each dive. Before, between and after each day’s diving there is delicious food served, which includes both Thai and European cuisine. Comforts, such as audio and visual entertainment systems are available for relaxing or showing the day’s diving videos.
The trips’ length means that there is no need to rush around. Six days and nights is plenty of time to make sure that the best Similan diving sites are visited without having to miss any out. Then the trip north includes stop-offs at Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, and Richelieu Rock. Although sightings of Manta Rays and Whale sharks are often reported around the Similan Islands, these northern sites offer the best possibilities in Thailand. Then on the way back, the boat stops off at The Similans once more for more wonderful diving. The published itinerary is what the captain and tour leader plan to keep to, but they sometimes change dive sites depending on the sea conditions on each day. This doesn’t just mean ‘We won’t dive there because of the current or visibility.’ It can also mean ‘Let’s get back in at the same dive site while that whale shark or those mantas are still there.’
It is also worth noting that unlike most Similan diving liveaboard trips that return to Khao Lak, Marco Polo sails back to Phuket. This means that instead of doing the final dives of a trip at Boonsung Wreck (which is not very exciting) Marco Polo does the final dives at The Similan Islands, normally at the southern tip where very few other dive boats visit. This area is excellent for diving, but not as popular due to the location. However, it's perfect for boats coming from or returning to Phuket.
Marco Polo may not be the newset or most-luxurious Similan liveaboard, but it is very popular for good reason. The team work very well, and many divers on Marco Polo are repeat/returning guests.