Luxury yacht SAFIRA is a sensational modern vessel for exploring the Maldives charter grounds and is especially coveted by Scuba divers and fishing enthusiasts (but not only!) for her specialist equipment and expertise in these areas. With the times being what they are, an interview with SAFIRA’s cruise director, Mohamed Shuailam Nasheed gives insight into having a safe and fulfilling charter in this vibrant Indian Ocean destination even during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Tell us a little about luxury yacht SAFIRA.
She was built in 2017 and is designed specifically for Scuba diving and fishing expeditions, however, she has a marvellous selection of water toys and activities onboard to entertain a range of interests. M/Y SAFIRA can accommodate up to 18 guests in nine en-suite cabins, which is six more guests than most charter yachts provide for. Her shallow draft is ideal for accessing the best sites and anchorages, and her technology ensures excellent stability, efficient fuel usage and top-quality entertainment systems in the lounge as well as the cabins. The outdoor areas are partly shaded so that the group can choose between lounging, dining, a dip into the Jacuzzi or sunbathing out in the open.
How easy is it to reach the Maldives charter grounds and luxury yacht SAFIRA?
Velana International Airport, the main airport in the Maldives, is the best place to fly into if you are arriving by a commercial airline. This is also where your embarkation would take place.
However, if you are arriving by a private Jet, there is also a possibility to land at the Maafaru Airport which can accommodate six jets at any one time and there are a passenger terminal and VIP lounge. From here, you and your guests can take private transport to the marina, where the crew of M/Y SAFIRA will be waiting to welcome everyone on board.
The Owner’s private island is just a 2-hour cruise to the West, so guests will have plenty of time to get settled in and have light refreshments before sunbathing and playing on the white sand beaches as well as the water toys.
What safety measures and restrictions are in place for chartering during Covid-19?
The crew can take a PCR test 72 hours prior to the commencement of the charter to verify that they are all Coronavirus free. Furthermore, no crew member substitutions will be made without the prior consent of the charter group, and the provision of a negative PCR result.
Guests who want to avoid all inhabited islands will find plenty of white sand beaches, beautiful anchorages and incredible natural wonders to occupy the group’s time.
What sights would you recommend to first-time yacht charterers to the Maldives?
Regardless of whether it’s your first time in the Maldives or you return year after year, everyone should definitely cross off the Baa Atoll Biosphere from their list. Situated in Hanifaru Bay, the area is most abundant with manta rays and gentle whale sharks from June to November, and normal numbers throughout the rest of the year. The shallow water makes this an excellent place for young snorkelers and beginner Scuba divers to practise and play in a richly rewarding setting.
The Baa Atoll is a popular yachting destination because it has many wonders: Naturally formed straight islands appear like a string of pearls out of the sapphire sea, and near Amilla Fushi there is a Blue Hole surrounded by the coral reef and large fish populations like the butterflyfish.
To the East, the Lhaviyani Atoll is a treat for wreck divers, and there is a spot known as ‘The Shipyard’ where corals completely cover some structures, attracting fish in the thousands.
What type of interesting experiences are available for non-divers?
Swimming and Snorkeling with Whale Sharks, Manta-Ray Discovery and Nurse Shark Exploration. We also have a large range of water toys on board including a Jetski, Paddleboards, a Wakeboard, SLALOM Water Ski, KneeBoard, inflatable towables, fishing rods, lures and equipment and beach toys including a football, volleyballs and badminton.
What type of service can guests expect onboard?
Our interior crew provide dedicated service with cabins cleaned every morning, sheets changed and new towels daily; an evening turndown service & periodic cabin checks throughout the day.
Our stewards cater for guests preferred dining styles and we offer unlimited food and beverage service based upon specific preferences. If guests would like 3-course meals for lunch and dinner, this can certainly be provided. If they prefer lighter options with hors d’oeuvres at sundown, we can provide it. We also have the full set-up for a Beach BBQ including Gazebos, folding table and chairs, lanterns, BBQ Grill & Outdoor Speakers. A laundry services is also available upon request
Tell us more about the crew.
The captain has been on board since the launch of M/Y SAFIRA in 2017 and has been in the industry for 30 years. He has cruised exclusively in the Maldives and therefore has in-depth knowledge of the best that the charter grounds have to offer.
The first mate will be in charge of water sports instructions and safety briefings in addition to navigation and engine room duties.
The charter director is in charge of overall operations of the vessel and reporting/attending to requests by owners and clients.
The chef is from Sri Lanka and has previously worked in a variety of restaurants and other luxury yachts, creating top-quality meals for the whole group. He did his culinary training in the Swiss International Culinary School in Colombo and over the past decade has primarily had American clientele. He specializes in Italian, European, South Asian and Japanese cuisine, and likes to incorporate plenty of spices into his Fusion cooking.
The sous chef will assist the Chef in meal preparation as well as serving guests while onboard or during a beach barbeque.
The dive instructor also works as a deckhand and will maintain of all diving and water sports equipment as well as ensuring that safety protocols are carried for the aforementioned activities while providing divers with expert knowledge on the location.
The experienced stewards and stewardesses have been trained to provide the first-class service, and for charter groups with young children, there can be someone on-hand at all times. Board games, video games and films are available to keep them entertained while the parents enjoy some time to themselves. Snacks can be made available for children and infants at all times, and children can have their favourite meals throughout the charter if the information is sent through beforehand.
What water toys are available onboard?
- For 2020 our current selection consists of:
- 1 x Jetski
- 2 x Paddleboards
- 1 x wakeboard
- 1 x kneeboard
- water skis
- snorkelling equipment (20 sets)
- Scuba diving equipment (3 sets), and
- inflatable and towable toys
If the group wants any additional water toys included they can be acquired beforehand at an additional fee. For example, a floating pool can be added to the ensemble or jetski can be rented at an additional cost.
Any additional information guests should know about when it comes to MY SAFIRA and preferences?
Guests with dietary restrictions or allergies are advised to put these down on the preference sheet so that the chef can prepare ahead of time. Special dietary requirements will be cooked apart from the rest of the group meal using different utensils and served separately to the rest of the clients.
Previous clients have chosen not to spend overnight in any marinas but always at anchor, whereas others have wanted to avoid other yachts and people entirely. The captain can ensure guest privacy and select anchorages ahead of time if given advance notice to ensure ample provisioning.
Lunch and dinner on deserted beaches are possible depending on whether the island is public or private. The owner of M/Y SAFIRA has a private island in the Noonu Atoll that charter guests can use for this purpose, and other private islands along the route might be rentable with prior notice.
For spa massage treatments, a female masseuse can join the crew. However, this will be subject to Covid-19 regulations at the time of charter.