One of the cool things about the DEMA show is that they have an app that allows you to highlight, on a map, booths that you would like to visit. A number of liveaboard operators were among the booths that I selected as must sees for me. World Wide Dive & Sail and Blue O Two were among that list. World Wide Dive & Sail (WWDS) is the owner/ operator of the Siren Fleet and the liveaboard the Junk which sails out of Thailand. Blue O Two is a leading U.K. based company offering a worldwide diving holiday in land base resorts and luxury liveaboards. They also own the Blue O Two fleet of liveaboards located in the Red Sea. Together these two companies have had a joint venture they formed in 2014, the Master Liveaboard fleet.
The booth of the Siren Fleet was among my first stops on day one of DEMA. I had some questions prepared but got off track when the marketing manager mention something. I was told that they were announcing, that based on the initial success of the Master Fleet joint venture World Wide Dive & Sail and Blue O Two would be merging. Below is the announcement:
Worldwide Dive and Sail and blue o two have announced they are in the final stages of finalising a merger.
The companies will combine their liveaboard fleets, with blue o two separately continuing its international growth as a provider of worldwide adventure travel products.
The deal is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, with the rebranding and combining of fleets expected to follow 18-24 months after the completion of the merger, subject to regulatory and board approval.
The merger will mark the culmination of four years of talks and an extension of the existing partnership that the companies began with the formation of Master Liveaboards in 2014.
In a joint statement, the owners of both companies said: “We are extremely excited about the future. We are looking forward to using the combined innovation and passion that both companies are already known for to continue to expand our product range globally by investing in an ever growing portfolio of international destinations.”
I asked a few more questions and was told that this was a merger of equals. However, the final corporate structure and name had not been formalized. The combined 2017 brochure did show movement from Blue O Two fleet to the Master Liveaboard fleet. On December 5th, the Master liveaboards blog add some additional details concerning their operations. Here is how the new line ups look like now:
The Master liveaboards will be operating six liveaboards in six diving destinations:
- M/V Galapagos Master: The Galapagos Master will be remaining on station providing sailing to the outstanding dive sites of the Galapagos Islands including the famous Darwin and Wolfe Islands with the highest biomass in the world. She previously operated as the Deep Blue before being bought and renovated for the Master Liveaboard fleet in 2014.
- M/V Truk Master: Truk Lagoon is renown for its high concentration of WWII wrecks in pristine waters. The M/V Truk Master was formerly a private yacht by the name of Asta Star. In her second year she will continue to bring divers to this isolated diving haven.
- M/V French Polynesia Master: The French Polynesia Master was build for the Master Liveaboards brand by the experienced yacht building team of Worldwide Dive and Sail, Jan & Frank Van Der Linde. Launched in 2016, she will remain in French Polynesia
- Red Sea Master: The M/Y blue Horizon will become the Red Sea Master in 2017. She has been sailing the Red Sea since 2006 and has won liveaboard of the year awards a number of times. The Red Sea is a new destination for the Master fleet, building on the reputation of the Blue O Two fleet
- Maldives Master: The M/Y blue Voyager. Will also transfer to the Master fleet in 2017 and add the Maldives to the list of destinations.
- Bahamas Master: While listed in the 2017 brochures it will not be until March 2018, that the Bahamas Master will begin sailing. The liveaboard yacht MV Yemaya has been purchased and will have a short renovation before joining the fleet.
Blue O Two Fleet
As mentioned above some of the Blue O Two fleet will be moving to the master fleet. The fleet will retain four vessels, keeping three in the Red Sea and moving one to a new destination in the Maldives. The Red Sea ships will be offering five different Itineraries plus a few special cruises. The Maldives will have three itineraries and a couple special cruises.
The Red Sea Fleet:
- M/V Blue Fin
- M/V Blue Melody
- M/V Red Sea Adventurer
- M/V Sea Spirit
The Siren Fleet has remained unchanged for the 2017 season. The fleet has four sailing yachts each sailing year round in a single destination. They are:
- S/Y Fiji Siren: Sailing year round from Viti Levu
- S/Y Indo Siren: She has two itineraries. The S/Y Indo Siren sails a portion of the year from Bima Bay for Komodo National Park. She relocates to Sorong Harbor to sail Raja Ampat
- S/Y Palau Siren: She sails year round in the waters of Palau departing from Koror Palau.
- S/Y Philippine Siren: This sailing yacht spends the year in the waters of the Philippines. From mid-February to mid-June she sails to the Tubbataha Reef. The Tubbataha reef is one of the best dive destinations in the world. More than 60 miles from the nearest shore in the Sulu Sea she can only be visited by liveaboards. Weather conditions are too dangerous most of the year so liveaboards have only a few weeks each year to visit. The rest of the year she sails different itineraries around the Philippines.
Officially she is the S/Y June Hong Chian Lee, but to her adoring fans she is simply known as The Junk. Built in 1962 as a transport for charcoal, the 33 meter sailing junk is a traditional Chinese merchant vessel made from teak wood. After retiring from merchant work, she was later redesigned to be a private yacht and later in 1997 rebuilt for diving. She sails year round from either Phuket or Khao Lak Thailand for the Similar and Surin Islands. If her lines look familiar it is because she has been in numerous movies including a James Bond movie.
This ongoing merger will result in what may be the largest owner/ operated International fleet in the world.