Built and launched in October 2019, MV Celebes Explorer 9 is the only Sipadan liveaboard diving option and clearly the best way to dive Sipadan dive sites every day. You can join different lengths of cruises every Tuesday and Friday. It is also a great option for full charter for groups of 10 to 16 people.
This 35m motor yacht is uniquely placed to allow 16 lucky guests to maximise their time underwater at the dive sites around the legendary Sipadan island. When not diving, you can hang out in the main deck's air-conditioned saloon reading a book from the library or playing cards. This doubles as the dining area where buffet-style meals are served. There is also a separate audio-visual room with TV and music system, where you can listen to music and watch films or underwater clips. There is also a 3rd indoor relaxation room on the upper deck where you can lounge on the sofa and have a drink.
Open air chill-out spaces include the sun deck, and the shaded and furnished open-air zone at the stern of the main deck. Here you can stretch out on sun loungers and soak up the sun or enjoy a cool refreshing drink as the sun sets over the Celebes Sea.
All 8 spacious and comfortable cabins have air-conditioning, plenty of storage and ensuite bathrooms. 2 double bed cabins are on the middle deck (with large seaview windows and with doors that open to the outside deck), 6 twin bed cabins are on the lower deck (with portholes and with doors that open to a central corridor).
Divers suit up and step down to the dive tender where the can put on their BCD, mask and fins before diving the delights of Sipadan. Note that diving is at Sipadan every day. There are 2 dives at Sipadan, plus an additional dive at Mabul every diving day. So if you want to experience more time underwater at Sipadan than any other option can provide, it is time to act now and take your place on the MV Celebes Explorer 9.
Dive experience: All divers must have at least an Advanced Open Water certification and can dive with good self-control of buoyancy. Visitors must bring their passport and diving license with them, or a printed copy of it, for presentation at the Sipadan Island marine park office. The Sipadan authorities do not accept digital copies of diving licenses and divers that are unable to verify their qualification status will not be permitted to dive.
Note: all trips are confirmed departures with a minimum of 2 guests (with each guest booking the Single Occupancy package).
Cruise price per person includes: Cabin accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinking water, hot drinks, marine park fees and permits, Semporna jetty fees, scuba diving equipment, dives (as detailed in the trips above), experienced English-speaking divemaster(s) (4-5 divers per DM), tanks, weights and weightbelts, Goods & Services Tax (GST 6%).
Cruise price per person excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own): Tawau airport or hotel to Semporna transfers (except for whole boat charters) . Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival (cash only, MYR, USD, EUR). Dive computer, torch and surface maker buoy (SMB): These are not available for rent. Guests should bring their own. If you dive without a computer your depth will be limited to that of the dive guide.
Optional extras: Soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, extra dives at Sipadan/Mabul on Day 1 (US$ 319, minimum of 2 guests, paid in advance), dive insurance, . Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.
How to get there: You will board the MV Celebes Explorer 9 in the afternoon every Tuesday (3 and 7 night cruises) and Friday (4 night cruises). You need to be in Semporna at the operator's office (opposite Starbucks) by around 15:00 hrs in readiness to depart around 15:30 hrs. You will be transferred by speedboat to the liveaboard to overnight onboard in Mabul, so you must make the 15:00 hrs check-in.
Note: land transfers are not provided. Guests are responsible for their own arrival at Semporna jetty. The road journey from Tawau Airport takes around 75 minutes. There are taxis and buses available at the airport (expect to pay approx. MYR 100-150).
At the end of the cruise, the liveaboard will be back in Semporna in the evening of 2nd last day of the trip to overnight there. On the disembarkation day, you can check out anytime before 8:30 hrs (the latest check out time). If the liveaboard is staying in Mabul, you will be transferred by speedboat at 06:00 hrs back to Semporna, arrive 06:45 hrs. Alternatively, you will awaken on board in Semporna and disembark after breakfast at around 08:30 hrs.
The last dive of the trip will be before 14:00 hrs on the penultimate day. This operator has a stricter than usual policy on no flying after diving and they recommend flights after 14:00 hrs to ensure a full 24 hrs from the end of the last dive. The operator may refuse diving that is within 24 hrs of your scheduled flight time.
Add-on: If you arrive by 7:45 am on the start date, you can opt for an extra day of diving at Sipadan: You will make 2 dives at Sipadan and 1 dive at Mabul, then be transferred direct to the boat afterwards to join the cruise.
Non-diver rate: There is no non-diver discount.
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 approximately 45% of the published price depending on length of cruise.
Dive clubs and group discounts: Pay for 9 guests and 1 extra person may join the cruise free of charge (10+ guests).
Whole boat charter rate (per night): Discount varies slightly depending on length of cruise. Please ask us for details. Full charters also include a pick up at Tawau Airport and return transfers to the port in Semporna on scheduled embarkation and disembarkation days.
Add-on package: If this is your only planned visit to Borneo Malaysia then we strongly recommend that you consider a 2 night add-on stay at the Sepilok Nature Resort, Sandakan in Sabah, to allow you to witness the not-to-be-missed jungle adventures with Orangutans.
"The experience on board the ship was good, the cabin was comfortable, the staff onboard were friendly and helpful, The food was ok but very basic.
We felt we were let down by the diving - out of the 6 scheduled dives around Sipadan Island we went to the same spot Barracuda Point 5 times and 1 different spot, the Drop Off, which ended at Barracuda Point. We booked to dive the many dive sites around Sipadan, but only saw 2 locations. Our dive guide did point out interesting things to see, but didn't really give us much time on the subjects.
Also apart from the diving activity, the ship was boring during the down times with very little to do. Most of our downtime was spent in the cabin. Our dive guide was never around. Plan more activities at the end of the day's diving to make guests feel welcomed and appreciated." - Duncan Wise, England, 5 September 2023 ...
"Good, cheerful, skilled staff. Everyone was very helpful. Worst food I have had from any liveaboard.. All meats and fish were not edible. If one could imagine what eating cardboard tasted like; that would be how I equate the food taste. The vegetable dish only were good most evenings. The rice was made with too much water, resulting in mushy rice. Pastas never had any flavor. The melons and fruits were good." - Debbie You, United States, 25 July 2023 ...
"The food was the worst I have ever had on a liveaboard dive boat. My room leaked from the ceiling and port windows during rain storms.I told the operator and they said yes, they know. The dive masters were great." - Michael Hines, ISA, 20 July 2023 ...
Great guide Mahathir (Maadil), knowing the right time to go to the right spot. Crew there are also very friendly and accommodating. Food should be placed at the 3rd level while joining the wooden tables together to force interactions by sitting together and eating, allowing less isolation like how it currently is.
Vic (Dive The World) is going above and beyond what great customer service. I have pushed this trip back 2 to 3 time spanning almost year due to having too many issues cropping up but Vic always accommodated me. Great guy," - Chan Teng Fong Wesley, Singapore, 30 May 2023 ...
"The staff are very kind and knowledgeable, but the owner of the boat is obviously cutting costs on things like food and safety. Not all of the lifeboats have been serviced within their dates. The tanks have not been hydrostatically tested in the last 5 years. In terms of safety there is only one escape route from the cabin deck and no fire extinguishers in the cabins. Also there was no safety briefing. There was no vegetarian option offered ever (other than the side dishes). Most of the divers were living off white toast bread because insufficient food was provided and what was provided was made with cheap ingredients - almost entirely rice and noodles. That said, the cabins were nice and the new boat is much nicer than what I understand the old one was." - Heather Kertyzia, Canada, 24 May 2023 ...
"The vessel is fine and comfortable. Equipment I rent was in good condition. Staff very good, particularly dive guides: very careful and expert. Very clean. Very comfortable cabin. Food was under expectation (not much variety). Beer expensive! They could use the upper decks of the boat in a wiser way:
Dive The World give a very good service: they were present at every step." - Luigi Carta, Italy, 28 April 2023 ...
"The ship could be more comfortable. There is little space to relax on the deck after the dives. Food was monotonous and not too good quality. Staff excellent.
Dive The World are always offering good products. Good information and promptly answering questions." - Francisco Asencio, Spain, 27 April 2023 ...
"Diving staff faultless, very helpful and knowledgeable. Diving amazing. Food - very average and could be improved, not of the best quality. Dessert only melon every night. Very poor quality chicken nuggets.
No social activities arranged for the evening like other liveaboards e.g. videos of the area, diving etc....Helped rearrange the holiday 3 times due to Covid" - Lisa Heaps, United Kingdom, 12 April 2023 ...
"Diving is good and staff are friendly. 1 dive guide per 5 divers instead of 4. Food variety is low. Room service is so-so (no cleaning/changing towels or refilling things)." - Cheng Han Yun, Taiwan, 11 April 2023 ...
"The diving is undoubtedly stunning; however, regrettably the quality of food served on the boat failed to meet our expectations. Furthermore, our dive manager, Tom, was unresponsive and unsympathetic to our concerns. We had 5 divers (per guide), which felt like false advertising. We also received insufficient answers to other issues, such as why the maximum diving time was limited to only 50 minutes or why specific dive were chosen." - Fu Chun Hsu, Taiwan, 11 April 2023 ...
"Comfortable liveboard with not much people. Professional dives and divemasters offering additional 1 dive in Mabul everyday after Sipadan. Nice service during the whole trip.
Food and kitchen was the only disappointment. Food served often cold and very repetitive, in order to get fish on the menu we had to buy it ourselves from local fisherman's.
" - Anna Kaczmarek, Belgium, 30 August 2022 ...
Everything was amazing, Our full charter of CE9 was the highlight of our holiday and the boat surpassed expectations.They went over and beyond and changed the services based on our request (an extra night away from the port so we could do a snorkeling stop in Mabul on our last morning). Staff were amazing, boat was amazing, dives were great." - Skye Cornell, Cambodia, 18 February 2020 ...
The older boat has its fair share of bad reviews on the internet and maybe rightfully so. But the Celebes Explorer 9 is positively luxurious. Huge lounge/dining area, sunning deck and the common rooms are almost worthy of a 5-star resort. It probably helped that we were 4 guests on a boat meant for 14 and so really had lots of space. The housekeeping crew are warm attentive and helpful. The chef cooked up a variety of simple but delicious dishes during the 4 nights I spent here. Cookies, bananas, milk, tea and coffee are almost on tap. Fresh fruits are served with every meal and during the surface intervals.
Diving in Sipadan is truly world class. The currents are gentle here allowing for relaxed dives, The marine life is diverse and bountiful. Healthy corals (for now) and beautiful vistas made for good diving. The visibility was not always crystal clear, but we always had 10-15m visibility. Sharks and turtles are a given on almost every dive. Barracudas, schools of jack, humphead parrotfish, batfish etc are abundant and make this a wonderful place to dive at." - Ramnarayan Rajagopal, India, 03 March 2020 ...
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