When you gotta go
The consequences of peeing in your wetsuit are greater on a liveaboard than on a day-boat. On a day-boat, your fellow divers are exposed only briefly to your odoriferous overwear. On a liveaboard, they have to live with it day after day.
This is why many liveaboards reduce the impact of smelly suits by having a rinse-tank dedicated to wetsuit washing, which contains fresh water diluted with antiseptic, detergent or some other strongly fragranced additive.
They also have a dedicated, well-ventilated space on deck for hanging suits between dives.
Dive-deck with wetsuits.
Most people pee in their suits. It’s fine. If you have to do it, do it. Don’t avoid pre-dive hydration just so that you don’t have to pee. Then, after the dive, dunk your suit in the rinse-tank to rinse the pee out and make it smell better, then hang it up with the others.
If you are one of those favoured few who never pees in their suit, however, avoid the wetsuit rinse-tank completely. After all, after the first suit has been dunked in it, the water therein contains a certain (albeit small) quantity of other people’s urine.
There is no etiquette that requires you to rinse your suit out after every dive.
Yes, salt damages neoprene but you will be diving three, four or five times a day, and salty spray blows over the dive-deck all the time. It will never really get dry.
Rinse it under the deck shower at the end of the trip and then give it a good soak in warm water when you get home.
I mentioned earlier that liveaboard etiquette involves being considerate to others. This obviously means that you should be on time for dives, meals and briefings and wary of offending other people’s political and religious views, but it also concerns the way you dive.
Prepare for a trip by getting dive-fit. Practise your skills in a pool, or dive locally before the trip if you can.
Ensure that your equipment is in good shape and functioning properly. This reduces the likelihood that you will hold up the group by forgetting how to do something, or having an equipment failure.
Then, during your trip, it’s important to dive conservatively – not only out of concern for yourself because you’re on a liveaboard, concern for others too.
If you have a dive injury on a liveaboard, anything but very basic medical assistance can be a long distance and time away.
Even with the best insurance in the world, in 99% of the places in which you’ll be diving, the concept that, if you get bent, a helicopter will be scrambled to whisk you off your dive-boat and carry you away to a top-class medical facility, while the other people on board carry on with their trip, is a complete fantasy.
If you have a problem, usually the only thing the boat can do is head for the nearest port that has a hospital and, even then, you might be nowhere near anyone who has the requisite expertise or equipment to deal with decompression sickness.
So, such an event not only has a significant effect on your well-being, but also has an enormous impact on your fellow-divers, whose holiday is being ruined along with yours.
So, good liveaboard diving etiquette is to dive well within the limits, hydrate frequently, get plenty of rest and stay in good mental and physical shape.
Don’t take risks just because you’re on holiday. Operators all over the world never cease to be astonished by how divers who are the model of conservatism at home throw caution to the winds when they go on holiday.
“It’s as if they left their brain on the plane” is a common observation. (This applies to land-based resort diving too, of course.)
Tipping is an issue around which there is much debate and anxiety. Because of different cultural norms, there is no fixed etiquette regarding how much you should tip at the end of a liveaboard trip, or even if you should tip at all.
The only tipping-related convention that is applied all over the world is that there is a tip-box and any tips received are shared among the whole crew, guides, waiters, cooks, engineers, tender drivers, everybody. All contribute to the success of your trip, not just the front-of-house staff.
So etiquette suggests that your tip should go not just to those members of the crew with whom you have established a friendship during the cruise.
This should be mentioned in your end-of-cruise briefing, after the last dive. If it is not, then ask to make sure.
Some boats seek unilaterally to establish a rule of etiquette regarding the size of your tip. They might specify that a certain figure or percentage of the price of your trip is “recommended”, “suggested”, or even “expected”.
Ignore this. If there is any etiquette at all in this area, it is that the amount you tip is an entirely personal decision. A good guideline to follow is to tip, in percentage terms, as you would in an upmarket restaurant in your home country in which you had received good service. (This assumes that you had a great trip, of course.)
A dive liveaboard is not the place to shout and scream in response to a perceived slight or failure on the part of the crew. If something happens, or doesn’t happen, as you would wish, etiquette dictates that, rather than erupt in indignation, you wait until you can have a quiet private word with someone in authority on board who can do something about the situation, and leave it with them to deal with.
Neither should you stay silent about something that has gone wrong. Like hotels, liveaboard operators hate it when a diver waits until after leaving the boat to complain in a review or email that the reading-light by their bed didn’t work, or that they kept getting low fills.
Shelve your trepidation, trust in the etiquette and give liveaboard-diving a try. You won’t regret it.