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Malaysia Boats

MV Celebes Explorer

96 ft
Max 13
At a glance...
  • The only liveaboard to cruise Sipadan and Mabul
  • The only option to dive at Sipadan every day of the week
  • All cabins with private bathrooms
  • No frills boat

Click on an image to enlarge

NEW BOAT: This boat has been replaced by the new and improved Celebes Explorer 9.

MV Celebes Explorer is the only Malaysian liveaboard operating in the Sipadan area. Although we have received several complaints concerning lack of maintenance on this boat, it represents the best option for maximizing the time you spend at Sipadan. Thanks to the high number of park diving permits that this boat has secured, you don't have to worry about whether or not you will make it to the most glamorous dive sites; you will be doing plenty of dives around the island. Choosing this liveaboard means you can dive at Sipadan every day of the week.

However, you will have to compromise on comfort since the Celebes Explorer is not a luxury option. Built in 2001, it is a wooden monohull motor yacht that can accommodate up to 13 divers. The downside of doing so many guaranteed dives at Sipadan means staying on a very simple and less-than-stylish liveaboard.

Facilities include air-conditioned (sometimes) cabins and an air conditioned saloon/restaurant with TV, DVD and music system. There is also a sundeck for soaking up the rays and a shaded area for keeping cool or enjoying a massage after a fun filled day diving around the Pulau Sipadan area.

You can choose to unwind in the cool of the saloon, perusing the marine library in a number of languages or in the shaded seating area of the sun deck where the views over the islands can be spectacular, particularly at sunset. For liveaboard lovers or keen divers who just want to dive Sipadan as much as possible, if you are not concerned about the little luxuries in life, the Celebes Explorer is your best option.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Scheduled departures, prices, destinations, durations...

Click 'Request' to send an enquiry for your preferred itinerary:

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

More Trip Details...

Notes: NEW BOAT: This boat has been replaced by the new and improved Celebes Explorer 9.

Cruise price per person includes: Cabin accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinking water, hot drinks, Tawau Airport -Tawau hotel or Semporna hotel - boat return transfers, dives (as detailed in the trips above), marine park fees of MYR 43 (MYR 106 from 14 August 2018) per person per day, Semporna jetty fees of MYR 11 per tour booking, experienced English-speaking divemaster(s), tanks, weights and weightbelts. Goods & Services Tax (GST 6%) is included in our prices (unlike some other agency websites that you might visit).

Cruise price per person excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own): Equipment rental (it needs to be pre-booked: please inform us while you are making your reservation. Booties, snorkel, dive computer and torches not available for rent), dive insurance. There is a transfer charge of US$ 150 per car (max. 5 people) for transfers outside the recommended flights, to be paid in advance. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival (cash only).

Optional extras: Soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers (MYR 53 per fill) to be paid in advance. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.

How to get there: MV Celebes Explorer is moored in Semporna every Sunday morning when guests can join for trips of 3 or 7 night duration. Celebes Explorer stays at Semporna on Sunday and departs for Sipadan / Mabul on Monday early morning. Guests are advised to overnight in Semporna the previous night, to maximize your dives as 2-3 dives can be done at Sipadan, Mabul or Kapalai, with packed lunch via diving boat (day trip style), during the first day on board. Guests may also join a 4 night trip that departs on Wednesdays, when the boat is moored at Mabul Island. You can only join these 4 night trips if you overnight in Semporna or Tawau the night before. Tawau arrival flights:
From Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH2121 (07:30-08:15), MH2137 (14:15-15:00) From Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5744 (07:15-10:05); Malaysia Airlines: MH 2660 (07:30 - 10:20)
Guests arriving on flights other than recommended may have to wait for guests arriving on recommended flights. Sunday Transfers times: 1. Hotel in Tawau 05:30 or from Tawau Airport with arrival before 08:15 / 2. Hotel in Semporna 09:45 - 10:00 or from Tawau Airport with arrival before 10:15 / 3. Hotel in Semporna around 12:00. Car transfer for guests who arrive at Tawau Airport later than 15:30 can be arranged, at a late surcharge of MYR 53 per person per way ( minimum 2 pax ). Wednesday Transfers (only from hotels, not from airport): 1. Hotel in Tawau 05:30 or from Hotel in Semporna 07:00 - 07:30. Please be ready at Seafest hotel lobby at least 30 minutes before the scheduled boat departure if you transfer to Semporna overland from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan or Lahad Datu.

Tawau departure flights:
To Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH2134 (15:40-16:30)
To Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines: MH2665 (15:15-17:55)
To Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5747 (10:10-12:55)
To Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5747 (13:15-16:00)

Disembark from Celebes Explorer and boat transfer to Semporna is at 06:30 hrs.Transfer arrives at Tawau Airport around 08:00 hrs.

Guests departing on flights other than proposed may have to wait for guests departing on proposed flights. Private transfers can also be arranged at an extra cost. The last dive of the trip will be at around 15:00 hrs. Please wait at least 24 hours before flying (for recommended flights please see above) after diving.

Non-diver rate: 9% off the published rate.

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. Please check with us.

Dive clubs and group discounts: Pay for 4 guests and 2 extra persons can join the cruise (total 6 guests), but only if you are the first booking of the trip. Please ask us for more details.

Whole boat charter rate (per night): 7 nights - US$ 3,890. For alternative trip prices, please check with us.

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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Cabins, Berths, Showers, Bathrooms...
There are 8 Standard cabins on this Malaysia liveaboard. 2 Queen-size double bed cabins that feature windows are located on the main deck, and 6 double/twin bed cabins that feature portholes are located on the lower deck.

All the cabins have:
  • Air-conditioning
  • Private en-suite bathrooms with hot water shower
  • Towels, hairdryer and soap
  • Cabinet, shelves & mirror
  • Reading lights
  • Safety box
  • Bedding
  • 24-hour, 240V electricity supply with UK-style sockets
  • Fire detectors
  • Life jackets
No. of bathrooms / showers - 8 / 9 - hot water

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Crew, Facilities, Dive Courses...
The liveaboard crew comprises:
  • Cruise Leader
  • Dive Instructor
  • 2 Dive Masters
  • Captain
  • 2 Cooks
  • 2 Engineers
  • 2 Stewardesses
  • 2 Maids
  • 1 Masseuse
  • 1 Deck Hand
2 Eight-man purpose-built motorised dive tenders - Camera table and separate rinse tank for cameras - 50m² air-conditioned saloon with TV, DVD, sound system and PC computer that serves as a restaurant area too - Internet - Movie and book libraries - Fish ID and diving books - Water dispenser - Well-stocked bar - 30m² shaded area - 20m² sun deck with sun chairs and mattresses

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Menu, Cuisine Type...
Weekly re-provisioning means that only the freshest ingredients are used by the chef of the MV Celebes Explorer Sipadan liveaboard. Meals are served buffet-style with waited table clearing and assistance. Dishes tend to feature Asian cuisine with elements of international food.
  • The menus are not fixed and meals are served in the air-conditioned restaurant.
  • Main meals comprise breakfast, lunch & dinner.
  • Biscuits, bread/toast, fruit, tea & coffee, drinking water are available free of charge.
  • Soft drinks, mineral water, beer, wine and spirits are available at extra cost.
  • Vegetarians and most other special diets are catered for with prior notice.
  • Catering begins with lunch on check-in day.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Technical Specifications...
  • Built in 2001, refurbished annually
  • Size - 29m x 7m
  • Top speed - 10 knots
  • Cruising speed - 8 knots
  • 2 x 500 HP Cummins engines
  • 2 x 60 KVa Caterpillar generators
  • 2 x Bauer Mariner dive tank compressors
  • Nitrox is available
  • 12 & 15 litre aluminium tanks with international fittings and DIN adaptors
  • Electricity 240v - 24-hours per day
  • Water capacity - 20,000 litres
  • Fuel capacity - 6,000 litres
  • Environmental storage tank

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Navigation, Safety Features...
  • 2 x 40 HP diving tenders
  • Radio
  • Sonar
  • GPS
  • Hummingbird fishfinder and sounder
  • Mobile telephone
  • Bilge pump alarm
  • Searchlight and loudhailer
  • Fire alarms / detectors
  • Emergency lights / signal devices
  • Life jackets in cabins
  • Fire extinguishers throughout
  • MFA box and trained staff
  • This operator has not confirmed the presence, or quantity of, oxygen on their dive boat

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters

Customer reviews:

Customer rating - Very good
"I am so happy I went on the Celebes. I would have hated to have dives Mabul all the time with only one day at Sipadan. It's well worth putting up with the boat to get the dives. The service onboard is excellent. Food very good. The boat itself is not very good - room was smelly which was the worst thing. Public areas good." - , UK, 30 November 2017 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The condition of the boat is just so so. You can not expect too much. But the diving guides and boat crew are fun and try to service you. Sipadan is most beautiful. My trip is a great one." - , China, 13 October 2017 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Excellent service from the crew who made the liveaboard experience very memorable. The chef was great, our divemasters were brilliant and the remainder of the crew were friendly without being imposing." - , Hong Kong, 15 August 2017 ...

Customer rating - Good
"Great dive guides. Poor service by support staff. Terrible boat. Exceptional diving!" - , Australia, 15 May 2017 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"The Celebes explorer was great fun for me. I'll try again! Thank you so much for your help. They gave me everyday Sipadan dives. There was one day when we dive in Kapalai due to bad weather but after that they moved to Sipadan! Very great!" - , South Korea, 3 January 2017 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Meal: pretty delicious, It's not fixed serving time. All staff is kind. when I need to something, they tried to solve asap. When I lost my fin, my divemaster contacted another diveshop, and finally I recovered my fin!!! Divemaster tried to find and share all our group. leading speed is good.(not fast, not slow). Every maximum dive time is up to 45 min. and we did always safety stop 5m/3min." - , South Korea, 14 November 2016 ...

Customer rating - Good
"Information was clear enough, and there were reviews of all kind bad and good about the boat so it seemed reliable. And it was. Procedures was quick and clear." - , Italy, 16 April 2016 ...

Customer rating - Good
"The cabin was not in a good condition: very often the toilet failed to flush; the room sometimes smelled; there was not enough towels for divers. Also divers had to stay on Sipadan Island between dives, not able to rest back on the big boat, as the speedboat was always used to transfer divers to Sipadan. The staff were not helping enough: in the morning I could see dirty cups and trash of last night still remaining there; one of the dive master was very condescending." - , China, 13 August 2015 ...

Customer rating - Good
"The only advantage of being aboard was permits for Sipadan every day - in every other way it was worse than being based on Mabul...Most guests said they would never dive with Celebes Explorer again, even after they replace the boat, although on the other hand one Japanese guy there was going for his 17th trip aboard in December so I suppose some people quite like it." - , UK, 10 August 2015 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Equipment was fine - not a huge selection though. Food was very good. Service was good and friendly. Dive Masters were knowledgeable but one did not have a dive computer during the length of the trip as his battery died. I think they also need to be more harsh with some of the customers who could not dive properly or were touching sea life/kicking coral. Overall very nice service and staff was very accommodating. I would book another trip with them." - , USA, 1 September 2014 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Excellent customer service- all staff were very helpful and accommodating not only with food and diving but extra things like taking us to Semporna on the last night." - , Australia, 13 March 2014 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Rental equipment was a decent standard, though I consider it to be quite expensive per day. The Celebes Explorer was great, comfortable rooms. The dive boat however was pretty dilapidated. Would have been nice to get more choice in the juice and snacks. The food was generally very nice, but was a bit samey after a week! Staff were generally very friendly and professional." - , UK, 3 September 2013 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Staff were all very friendly but there didn't seem to be a 'go to' person to ask questions, and there was minimal direction. The diving was fantastic. I wasn't allocated a buddy, and there were no safety checks done with a partner to ensure all gear was working. As a relatively new diver I found this challenging. It was a shame dive computers are not available for hire. The cabins are quite damp. It would have been great if towels were changed - I had the one towel for the entire trip and it was saturated." - , Australia, 15 August 2013 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The Celebes Explorer live aboard trip was great, nice boat with excellent staff. There was a wide variety of delicious food. The dive sites were amazing with loads of sea life to sea." - , Canada, 19 April 2013 ...

Customer rating - Good
"Facilities were good. Food was only fair (we had made a request for non-fried, low fat type dishes, grilled, etc.). Even though there was only 1 other couple on board besides us, it did not appear that our food requests were granted any consideration.
... Staff was fair (only moderately friendly. Could have put more effort into it). Dive guide: Good ... although not all that warm, fuzzy and engaging. Our dive guide Jerry really knew his stuff and pointed out many things of interest during the dives.
... Dives, however, were limited to only 45 minutes. We would have liked to have had up to an hour. We surfaced many time at 45 minutes with plenty of air to spare and could have easily stayed down another 15 minutes without any deco or air issues. Mabul day dives were not that great. The visibility was poor due to the sandy bottom. The night dives at Mabul are much more interesting then the day dives ... lots to see at night! Sipadan diving was awesome!! ... Some of the best 2 days of diving I have ever experienced!
... Based on the permit issues with diving Sipadan, I would highly recommend the Explorer as long as the reservation covers at least 2 of the scheduled Sipadan dive days. Having guaranteed diving at Sipadan is important if one is making the trip all the way to Borneo. Also, being able to re-board the liveaboard after every dive at Sipadan sure beats the multiple interval and lunch stays on all the smaller day boats.
" - , USA, 8 November 2010 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"The gear was reasonable and any issues were sorted out promptly. The staff were a bit abrupt at the beginning but warmed up once they got to know you and realised that you could dive. The facilities were basic but clean (like any dive boat we've ever been on), and the aircon was a definite bonus. The diving at Sipadan itself was incredible. Probably the best diving we've ever done!" - , New Zealand, 11 May 2010 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Staff were very friendly and very helpful. Tom and Gerry were very good DM's and communicated well with everyone. The boat was always very clean." - , Hong Kong, 12 April 2010 ...


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