In a sign that times may be a changing for Sharm El Sheikh, one of the UK’s best-loved dive centres is re-opening its doors for the first time in nearly two years.
Emperor Divers, who catered to a large percentage of British scuba diving tourism to Sharm, was forced to close in 2016 in the aftermath of the Russian airline disaster. Emperor fought hard to remain open, initially ‘mothballing’ its Na’ama Bay dive centre but promising to honour any pre-existing bookings for travellers who could find their way to the resort.
The new centre will be shared with the existing partnership of Werner Lau and Sinai Divers at the Helnan Marina Hotel, just across the road from Emperor’s former centre, and only a stone’s throw from Na’ama Bay’s famous jetty, where dive boats Empress Shorouk and Emperor Marcus will be waiting.
‘Sharm diving is at its absolute best for decades, as dive sites have had a few years to recover from the crowds. Stunning hard and soft corals and amazing marine life encounters abound in some of the clearest waters the Red Sea has to offer,’ says general manager Luke Atkinson, in a blog post on the Emperor Divers website. ‘The fish schooling event of Ras Mohammed in summer is truly world-class and the chance to experience it with diver numbers similar to the 1990s should not be missed.’
As DIVE’s readers will know, we’ve been running a series of articles about Sharm, in the hope that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office will finally take notice and lift the travel restrictions imposed on Sharm airport. The re-opening of Emperor Divers, the latest big name to follow in the footsteps of Werner Lau and Sinai Divers, is surely a sign that British divers, travel advisory or no, will find their way back to Sharm no matter what the government might say – the resort itself, after all, is not part of that travel advisory, only flights to and from the airport.
For those who wish to make their way to Sharm this year for – as Luke points out –some of the best diving Sharm has seen in decades, resident Ocean College instructor Daniel Stokes kindly provided the most comprehensive list of routes to Sharm that is currently available.