Things to Note
A common Maldives sight - a motherboat with a dive dhoni alongside, and a speedboat towed by the motherboat
A Typical Dive Day
All you have to do is periodically check the whiteboard at the dive briefing area. In the evening, it tells you what time is wakeup call the next day. In the daytime, it tells you what time is the next dive briefing. (No need for a heavy leather bound folder with fancy dividers by the phone in your room!)
0600 Wakeup call from crew
0630 Board dhoni (dive briefing is often conducted after dinner the night before to allow you another half an hour's sleep)
0645 Dive 1
0830 Back to boat. Breakfast
1030 Dive briefing
1100 Board dhoni / Dive 2
1230 Back to boat. Lunch.
1600 Dive briefing*
1630 Board dhoni / Dive 3
1815 Back to boat. Shower.
2000 Dive briefing
*on the day when you have a night dive, your 3rd dive will start later, say close to 6pm, and you will have dinner later too.
A dive briefing is held here before every dive. A bell will be rung when it's about to start so that you will know, wherever you are on the boat.
Speedboat to bring you snorkelling, to a sand bank or an uninhabited island ... or straight to the whalesharks!
Your own spot on the dhoni
Dhoni rooftop - a great place to go after a dive...
.. especially the last dive of the day
Fresh and salt water showers at the back of the Baani for rinsing off after your dive... or your morning swim in the sea
Diving from a liveaboard, and a mothership liveaboard at that, is quite different from diving from a resort.
When you board the boat on Sunday morning, you go to the saloon where you fill up the usual forms and show the guides your c-cards. Then, you're shown to your room where you separate your diving gear from your non-diving gear.
Bring out your diving gear and put it into one of the dive crates. The crew will check which crate belongs to you, and they'll put your crate and your buddy's crate side by side on the dive dhoni. This will be your own 'seat' on the dhoni, ie everyone has a fixed spot in the dhoni so there's no confusion.
When you can, hop onto the dhoni to set up your equipment. The first dive is on air, so you don't have to analyse the tank for Nitrox.
Then you just wait for your first dive.
The checkout dive is relatively simple - I suspect it depends on the average level of experience of the divers on board. For the Baani, our checkout dive only required each buddy pair to release an SMB at the safety stop. No mask-clearing or sharing-air exercises. Our checkout dive was to Lankan Manta Point, a cleaning station for mantas.
Surface intervals can be spent napping on the boat, reading, a swim in your private swimming pool (the Indian ocean), snorkelling above a reef, or frolicking on a sand bar or island. In the evening, you can fish.
The Baani Explorer will do their best to accommodate your non-diving hankerings. I didn't deliberately test them I swear, but when I was there, I asked them if we could snorkel, and they not only said yes, but they also came up with a plan of where and what time, and brought us to a variety of snorkelling sites. They would drop us off from the speedboat and were willing to wait under the sun, until they saw that we were ok, and then they said they'd come back after half an hour. They'll come back on the dot and when we sheepishly asked if we could have a little longer, they cheerfully said ok, and did as we asked.
One evening we were fishing on the rear platform, and although it was close to midnight, the crew gamely kept us company, and maximised our fishing enjoyment by making sure the full bucket of jumping, dying fish was covered, or catching the ones that jumped out and flapped around on the floor.
Have I mentioned that the Chivalry Meter is Excellent?
After a while, you will come across different types of divers, whose characteristics tend to become more prominent on a liveaboard. You will also hear complaints from fellow divers eg "Look at that boat full of _____ divers - I would hate to be there!"
One group of divers were very disciplined, geared up with military precision and near-synchronisation, and were very conscientious when it came to respecting marine life. They wanted only the best - drift dives had to be done in the strongest rather than moderate currents, and they weren't too keen on diving the same sites as other groups at the same time. Even then, their response to seeing whalesharks was along the same level-headed 'that was nice' lines as seeing a turtle.
Another group of divers is known to be party-central, with focus on alcohol and dancing every night but still going beyond 35m on the hammerhead dive. This group were also very expressive, showing excitement over everything they saw.
Yet another group of divers insisted on doing anything they pleased, even if it meant breaking the diving rules and disregarding the advice of guides.