The Smiling Seahorse is a 25 m steel-hulled motor vessel operating trips from the port of Ranong. A maximum of 16 divers can be accommodated on board, meaning small dive groups of up to 4 divers as you explore the remote and pristine waters of Burma and some of the best dives sites in Thailand's Andaman Sea. The liveaboard offers unique blackwater diving cruises and onboard underwater photography classes.
The Smiling Seahorse aims to provide personalised service and, with 8 attentive crew members, there is always a friendly atmosphere and someone on hand to assist you. The liveaboard operator takes its commitment to conservation of the marine environment seriously. You can expect reusable aluminum drink bottles, reef-friendly soap, shampoo and hair conditioner, and support pf various local marine conservation projects.
The upper deck open-air saloon is the social centre of the boat. Here there are a number of comfortable couches, tables and chairs where you can enjoy mealtimes, read up on the local marine life and chat to your fellow guests over a sundowner from the bar. There is a huge half-shaded sundeck with sun loungers where you can work on your tan or relax in the shade. There are also a couple of hammocks for maximum chill factor. Other facilities include TV, DVD music system and computer. So you can watch movies, or enjoy some of the marine and general interest books and magazines. Photographers will appreciate the dedicated camera room, and the nitrox and 15 litre scuba tanks for extended bottom time.
Accommodation consists of twin or double share air-conditioned cabins, all on the middle or upper decks. Master and Deluxe cabins have ensuite bathrooms, while Standard cabins share bathrooms. The Smiling Seahorse is the ideal choice for those on a budget who are not seeking a luxurious experience, but rather a pioneering sense of discovery in the remote Burmese waters of the Andaman Sea. Normally this means you can expect your fellow guests to be young, enthusiastic divers with a sense of adventure!
Notes: Please note that for Myanmar trips the bookings will be closed 3 weeks before the trip departure date to allow time for immigration procedures.
Dive experience: The Smiling Seahorse itineraries include dives deeper than 18m. If you want to do these dives and are not yet certified for it, you must take a diving course onboard. We recommend taking the Advanced Open Water course but you must, at a minimum, take the Adventure Deep Dive training and Adventure Night Dive.
Cruise price per person includes: Cabin accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinking water, soft drinks, hot drinks, dives (as detailed in the trips above), experienced English-speaking divemaster (1 guide for every 4 divers), tanks, weights and weightbelts, all taxes.
Cruise price per person excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own): Scuba equipment (US$ 17 per day), dive computer US$ 9 per day, dive insurance, Surin park fees at approximately US$ 6 per day, with an entry fee of US$ 14 per park. Burma entry and diving fees in crisp US dollar notes (5 Nights - US$ 200, 7 Nights Burma South - US$ 250. 7 nights Burma Mergui Archipelago - US$ 280). Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival (cash or credit card).
Optional extras: Transfers to and from the boat, alcoholic drinks, nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers (approx. US$ 7 per tank), camera rental (US$ 9 per day), 15 litre scuba tank. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival (cash or credit card).
How to get there: Thailand trips: The Smiling Seahorse departs early evening on its cruises. It uses various ports in Khao Lak (Thap Lamu), Ranong and Phuket (Chalong). Transfers to and from any of these locations can be arranged if required. Disembarkation time depends on the trip itinerary. Exact details (for ports and times) are included in the detailed itinerary of each trip. For more information see our Thailand travel information section. Please wait at least 18 hours before flying after diving. Burma trips: Smiling Seahorse departs from Ranong after Thai immigration formalities at 3 pm. Check-in takes place at the Smiling Seahorse office between 9 am - noon, and boarding takes place at 2:30 pm. Many guests fly in and out of Ranong on short direct flights to Bangkok. There is a scheduled pick up from Ranong city centre at 2 pm. Taxis can be arranged from Phuket to Ranong and they take around 4 hours. Alternatively you can fly to Surat Thani from where you can take a bus or taxi (3 hours).
The last dive of the trips is usually in the morning or early afternoon of the last day. Please wait at least 18 hours before flying after diving.
For the Myanmar immigration crossing, you need to come prepared with:
USD 200-280 in crisp, new US dollar notes for the Myanmar entry fee and national park fee
3 passport size photographs each
The authorities may refuse to accept the equivalent amount in Thai Baht and any US dollar notes they deem to be too old and/or thin! It is advisable to bring only large denomination notes like 50s or 100s. For more information see our travel information section. We will help you apply for an entry permit beforehand. Read more details on Burma entry requirements.
If you are already in Myanmar, you can be picked up and dropped off in the Kawthuang area, the gateway to Mergui and where the liveaboards make immigration checks at the beginning and end of each trip.
Non-diver rate: None.
Single supplement (if you do not want to share accommodation): This is optional - single travellers may choose to share a cabin or pay a supplement of 80% of the published price for a single-occupancy cabin.
Dive clubs and group discounts: Pay for 14 guests and 2 additional persons can join the cruise in a Standard cabin free of charge (total 16 guests).
Whole boat charter rate (per night): US$ 3,261 (charter duration - 3 to 8 days).
There are 8 guest cabins - 6 on the main deck and 2 on the upper deck. The main deck has 2 Master cabins with double beds, plus 4 Deluxe cabins which can be twin bunk or double bed configuration. All main deck cabins have ensuite bathrooms. The Master cabins have a giant panoramic window. On the upper deck are 2 Standard cabins which can be twin bunk or double bed configuration. Guests in Standard cabins use the 2 extra bathrooms on the main deck. All cabins have windows and doors that open to the outside that allow sea view, plenty of natural lighting and a lovely breeze.
Nitrox - Motorised dive dinghy - Dive deck and platform with rinse tank, camera table, camera room, fresh hot water showers & toilets - Shaded area for relaxation & dining with bar, TV, DVD player, music system, movies, fish ID books, diving magazines & general reading library - Computer for image editing - Large sundeck with mattresses - Sea canoe - Water dispenser
PADI scuba certification courses available including Nitrox, Advanced Open Water and Divemaster.
The diving experience on The Smiling Seahorse starts with dinner on the day of check in. As with all meals, it is served buffet-style in the open-air dining area on the upper deck. Prior notice should be given of dietary requirements but generally you can expect a mixture of international and Thai cuisine with each trip normally including a barbecue.
Thai and international main meal dishes.
Buffet-style service on the upper deck open-air area - choose from 4 different main dishes per sitting.