These are all reasonable excuses to leave the snorkeling equipment at home and opt instead for the comfort of the observation deck on a semi-submarine.
HOW TO PERSUADE YOUR HUSBAND
Just trick him with the submarine word. Say that it will be a little like the film "Das Boot" without depth charges but more exciting because this "submarine" has windows. You're not sure if you get to fire any torpedoes or watch bathing beach beauties through a periscope but that you will see a lot of colourful fish and possibly even sharks, sea cows and turtles.
SO WHAT IS A SEMI SUBMARINE ?
The semi-submarine, despite is name, is just a ship but with a submerged passenger viewing deck, equipped with comfortable swivel seats, located in its' deep hull some three metres below sea level from which you can look down at the seabed though large clear panoramic windows.
In real submarines large windows are not usually possible due to the problems of pressure at depth but because the viewing deck of the semi-submarine is close to sea level it is able to make extensive use of glass to create an experiene for the passenger similar to scuba diving - without the need for any lessons or the risks of diving !
AND WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ?
It's the perfect way to see the spectacular sea life of the coral reef without even getting wet. And it's a view no visitor to Marsa Alam can afford to miss.
The Red Sea is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. A beautiful ecosystem which is far older than the Pyramids and which is one of the world's most important marine habitats. Due to its' extensive coral reefs, low coastal population densities and year round high temperatures, the Red Sea supports a vast range of marine life.
It is host to more than a thousand species of fish, many of them not known anywhere else in the world as well as two hundred species of coral, 150 types of crustaceans (crabs, lobsters etc) and many other exotic creatures such as the dugong sea cow, the moray eel and the hammerhead shark.
An excursion on the Seascope can be an empowering experience offering a vital holistic view of nature - both a great learning opportunity and giving you invaluable memorable moments of the beauty of Marsa Alam's famous reefs.
If you want to see in detail about some of the fish you might see - look at our Red Sea fish page
HOW DO I GET A TICKET ?
The excursions operate from Port Ghalib marina, close to Marsa Alam airport. The price includes your transfer from your hotel (providing it is located within 50km which includes most Marsa Alam hotels.) if you book with local agent Steven (firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +20 1010 4545 98) he can get you a competitive price -
- Adults just 40 euro.
- Children (2-15 yrs) 22 euro (normally 25)
Steven can also arrange a private air conditioned taxi (you would normally be picked up by a minibus) to pick you up from your hotel for only a small extra charge. The boat trip takes around 90 minutes and departs twice daily at 8am and 10am.
WHAT'S IT LIKE ON BOARD ?
When you arrive you will be offered a welcome drink on the upper deck and after about 15 minutes sailing once the coral reefs are reached you can descend to the air conditioned underwater observation deck.
The Captain has years of experience in locating the best spots for watching marine life and you will be accompanied by a friendly guide narrator who will entertain you with interesting facts and true stories about all the local marine life you see.
The boat is well maintained and clean and there are toilets if you need them. If you wish to spend any time on the above water-level upper deck, it also has seats and while on most boats they are partly shaded, you can opt for a sunny spot if you wish to enhance your sun tan.
The Marsa Alam semi submarine is a large vessel designed to safely and comfortably carry between 50 and 70 passengers depending on type. And your semi-submarine is just one of 24 such vessels operated by Egypt Submarine.
Since 1996 over six million passengers have enjoyed excursions operating from Marsa Alam, Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Taba, Hurghada, Safaga, Makadi Bay, Soma Bay and El Gouna without any major accident or incident.
Each state of the art vessel is equipped with all the latest navigational and safety equipment and all employees are given safety induction training when they start work.
WHAT TO TAKE
A camera is a must to capture those once in a lifetime encounters - It's also great for children to be able to use for school projects once they return home. If you don't have one, you should be able to purchase a disposable camera in your hotel or a better quality camera in El Quseir. However it's much better to bring one with you.
If you forget your camera, the crew often take photos and video of the tour and offer them at the end for reasonable prices.
Another essential is either your passport or a photocopy of it in case it's needed to be briefly inspected by officials on your return to the marina.
Choice of clothing is also important. It's best to dress casually and comfortably and to avoid high heels which might cause you to slip once on board.
Unfortunately the observation deck is accessible only down some fairly steep steps. However please email email@example.com and ask for advice. If it's at all possible he will be only too happy to help with advice and if necessary liaise with the company on your behalf.
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS
The boat can sometimes rock slightly in very rough weather. This is normal and is not a safety issue but if you are susceptible to sea sickness it's best to check the forecast for a reasonably calm day. If in doubt sea sickness tablets and sick bags are kept on board and if you feel at all unwell it's usually best to leave the observation deck if you don't mind missing out on the sights and take a breather and a rest on the upper deck.
The company has won several awards including "The Golden Medal Award" for quality of service from Tui Travel (Europe's largest tour operator which owns Thomson and First Choice) in 2006 and 2007 as well as an award of excellence in 2012 from Egypt's Ministry of Tourism.
As of April 2013, the Seascope Submarine was ranked averagely at 6th out of 11 in the Marsa Alam area, but was still much appreciated by most tourists with 28 out of 35 (80 per cent) rating it either excellent or very good and only 2 out of 35 (6 per cent) rating it as either poor or terrible.
Here are few recent comments -
"Absolutely amazing.....If diving isn't for you or you have children this would be a perfect experienec. Even if you do enjoy diving this is still worth while as you get to see so many different places and the guides give you a commentary on all the beautiful things you see."
A.J. Horseman from North Yorkshire, 18 March 2013.
".....We saw a sea cow (dugong) on the first trip, lots of turtles on the second, plenty of fish and some beautiful coral."
Cabernetfranc37 8 March 2013.
"If they see turtles they will circle around so everyone gets to see."
Mandy from Thornaby on Tees, U.K., 9 February 2013.
"Good trip, nice reef, clean boat (nice toilet), nice staff, lots of sea beauties."
Coursegirl from Budapest 25 January 2013.
The staff are very knowledgeable on all different types of fish, which was a big help..... You are literally inches away from all the fish. It was amazing."
Hils900 from Bedfordshire, U.K., 1 September 2012.
"Wow ! If you want to see what happens under the water but are too afraid to dive this is perfect... I didn't realise just how many different types of coral there was until I saw them."
Steph3012 from Barnsley, U.K., 7 June 2012.