Mike Ball Dive Expeditions
The Mike Ball fleet boasts over 40 years of service in the dive industry, and its Spoilsport Liveaboard is the most awarded liveaboard in Australia. Voyaging into the remote waters of the northern Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea on Mike Ball’s twin-hull, custom-built dive vessel offers a perfect mix of underwater exploration and onboard comfort. With a unique “open dive deck” policy and plenty of special itineraries, you’ll get to experience Australia’s greatest wonder the way you want to. Mike Ball also contributes to the good of environment and society; as a founding member of Global Shark Diving and an accredited ecotourism provider, the Mike Ball liveaboard helps ensure the conservation of the reef for years to come.
History of Mike Ball Dive Expeditions
Since its inception, the Mike Ball fleet has been innovating and establishing standards for hundreds of companies in the dive industry. The Australian dive school Mike Ball founded in 1969 was the first in the country to use BCDs and cylinder pressure gauges! It also invented skin suits (stinger suits), another gear item indispensable to modern diving. The Mike Ball fleet’s first twin-hull, custom-built liveaboard was the only one of its kind when it was acquired in 1981. After a decade of service in Papua New Guinea, the fleet returned full focus to exploring remote North Australian waters. The fleet established a solo diving program in 1997 and continues to revise and improve its standards, protocols and procedures to ensure the utmost in safety and rewarding dive experiences. This illustrious history earned the fleet induction into the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2004.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions Vessel
The Mike Ball Spoilsport Liveaboard is specially designed to help guests avoid seasickness, with its twin hulls contributing immensely to the stability of the ride. The Mike Ball fleet pioneered many safety procedures in the dive industry, and continually runs drills to make sure the crew is ready to respond to any emergency.
Life on a Mike Ball vessel
The Mike Ball liveaboard 'Spoilsport' offers an especially spacious interior and exterior layout, with a huge sun deck (with optional shade cover), an al fresco deck, and a large lounge, complete with two large-screen TVs and music/DVD capacity. Their buffet menu is one of the most extensive of any liveaboard fleet, and can be perused on the website. Full catering is provided for vegetarians and vegans, with just as many choices as the meat- and fish-inclusive menu. Every afternoon holds a fresh-baked afternoon tea, and biscuits, fruit, tea, and coffee are available at all times. The trip crew includes a photo and video professional and three divemasters to help you capture footage of your trip or find that special critter. There’s daily service of all cabins, which can be booked in a variety of specifications. Queen, double, single, and bunk beds are all available, most with ensuite bathrooms.
Diving with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions
Diving with the Mike Ball fleet is unique in the freedom it allows divers to choose their schedule. With a policy called an “open dive deck”, when the vessel is moored at one site for a whole morning or afternoon, divers can choose how often to dive and how long to make each dive (within safe recreational diving standards). Keen divers can dive up to 5 times a day, while more relaxed passengers can opt for more onboard relaxation. A guided group dive is offered every morning and afternoon, and divemasters are available to accompany you on an ad hoc basis throughout the week. (If you want a dedicated private dive guide, see the website for booking options.) Every dive is preceded by a detailed safety and environment briefing. Rebreather service, nitrox, and solo diving are all offered with the proper certifications. The Mike Ball liveaboard is set up for serious underwater photographers, with dedicated camera stations and rinse tanks, air guns, and outlets to charge batteries in cabins. Every voyage holds a fun competition on the last night for “Best Photograph”, and the winner of the year receives a free Mike Ball liveaboard trip!
Courses can be pre-booked on various itineraries; the Mike Ball website offers advice on which trips are most suitable for which course. There are also special expeditions dedicated to minke whales, nautilus, sharks, turtles, technical diving, and more. Some itineraries even offer a fly-over above your dive sites, allowing you a breathtaking aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef. The Mike Ball fleet also goes out of its way to support conservation. They help marine researchers with accommodation and data collection on their vessels, contributing to the health of many marine creatures and environments. Guests may be able to participate in this research as appropriate. In addition, Mike Ball’s “Peace on the Reef” program creates signals and briefings to educate and encourage divers in conservation-friendly diving practices like keeping fins and hands off the reef, and interacting positively with marine life.
Mike Ball Diving Destinations
The Mike Ball liveaboard fleet specializes in premier offshore diving in Northern Australia, from the Ribbon Reefs system of the northern Great Barrier Reef, to the Coral Sea. A visit to Ribbon Reefs always includes Cod Hole, where huge potato grouper sidle up to divers for amazing close-up shots. Other inquisitive animals in the area include olive sea snakes and minke whales (in season). The Coral Sea lies beyond the GBR, and you’ll be grateful for the vessel’s twin hulls when making the crossing. It’s here that you’ll enjoy Osprey Reef, with its manta rays, droves of sharks and barracudas, and even the ancient nautilus shell.