Monday, January 31, 2011


Last year a European friend of ours said she thought of my girlfriend and I when she was snorkeling in the Maldives especially when she saw the turtle. Snorkeling with turtles is one of my girlfriends  passions. That comment was all my girlfriend had to hear and so she began to plan a trip for us to the Maldives.  The Maldives is a country  made up of 26 atolls which contain some 1200 islands located south of India and west of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

There's lots of water and very little land most of it uninhabited. A Capt. Mike kind of place. The reality is I'd probably never get around to take BIANKA there in this lifetime. So it seems like a water vacation on a chartered boat might be the best way to see this area of the earth. When my girlfriend first started planning this trip it seemed our choices of where to stay were limited. We could stay at one of the myriad resorts that have sprung up on some of the islands.

 Another alternative is to book a cabin on one of the "Safari" boats that come in various sizes and itineraries some cater to divers others are more like small private yachts.  

Each of these choices did not appeal to us either because of the expense or the idea of being stuck on a boat full of people who may be more interested in partying all night long than waking up to watch the sun rise. That was a risk we'd rather not take. Those seemed to be the only two choices available. Until I found a 44 foot catamaran that could be chartered per person rather than by the boat which made it more affordable.  That sounded perfect for us. So with some trepidation we booked the boat from the owner. After getting some references we wire transferred a 50% deposit. Not being able to use a credit card made it a little bit of a leap of faith. But, it all went well. 
     With the boat booked the problem of getting to the Maldives became our focus. We could fly to Europe and transfer to a flight to Male (pronounced "mal lee") the capital of the Maldives. The other alternative was to fly to Male through the mid east.  The idea of taking a chance of flying through Europe in January sounded risky because it would not take much bad winter weather to shut things down as happened there recently. So we decided to try Qatar Airlines. They flew to Male via Doha, Qatar. This sounded like a better option than taking a chance transferring through Europe. I must say that our flight on Qatar was one of the most enjoyable airline experiences I've ever had. We flew business class as Capt. Mike's 6' 2" frame does not seem as comfortable in coach as it did in his younger days.    Especially since the flight from Washington D.C. to Doha is a 14 plus hour trip and the airplanes seem to have shrunk in size since my younger days. Though I suspect I have probably have gotten bigger. The service on board the flight was great but, what made the trip a real pleasure was the seat on this Boeing 777 converted to a flat bed with enough room for even Captain Mike to stretch out and sleep comfortably.  After boarding the plane at Dulles Airport outside Washington D.C. it was time for a cocktail, some wine with dinner and a melatonin before converting to seat to a flat bed for some sleep. I put on the noise cancelling headphones and put the soothing Albinoni: Oboe Concerti on a loop in the planes entertainment system and did not wake up until the plane was flying over Paris. We landed in Doha around sundown and were escorted through customs and immigration by Qatar Airlines representatives. What a pleasure that was too. If you are traveling through Doha on Qatar Airlines I recommend using their Al Maha service even if it is not included in your ticket price. After a 14 hour flight you'll thank Capt. Mike that you did. They escorted us all through immigration and customs to a car that took us to the Oryx Rotana hotel nearby the airport. We grabbed a quick dinner went to bed and awoke early the next morning to catch a flight to the Maldives. So come along as Capt. Mike takes you on a boating  journey through the Maldives starting with the next post.

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