Italy Liveaboard Diving
The coastline and off shore islands of Italy have a lot different experiences for the adventurous scuba divers. The Mediterranean Sea provides temperate diving year round.
The cold water diving in Italy is about the same as summer diving in the United Kingdom. Along the coast line of mainland Italy and around the country’s off shore islands is a small but strong diving industry. However, Italy does not have a strong liveaboard industry, as so far there’s only the Norseman, which sails the Tuscan Archipelago.
Norseman A Classic Wooden Motor/ Sail Vessel
There are hundreds of liveaboards around the world. While each of them are memorable in their own ways, only a few stand out as being unique. In Thailand you have “The Junk”, a traditional Chinese cargo junk, transformed into a liveaboard. In Italy, you will find the Norseman.
THE NORSEMAN ITALIAN LIVEABOARD
The Norseman is an 18.3 meter long sailing vessel originally built in 1922 to work in the North Sea. The boat is made primarily from oak and has been renovated in 1978. She is owned and operated by the association Norseman Events. The Association aims to promotes traditional sailing and diving and takes care of the maintenance and operation of the Norseman, a traditional motor ship. Booking a trip on the Norseman will give you a one year non-voting membership in the association.
Norseman is a boat from one of those past eras. The motor sailing boat has the latest safety equipment, still, most of the features of the Italian liveaboard reflect its Danish and North Sea heritage. A classic design that takes the traveler back nearly a 100 years.
There are three cabins on board each with bunks. The Italian liveaboard can welcome a maximum of 8 divers, but will usually sail with only 6 on-board. Also, there is one shared bathroom.
There is a small but functional galley where meals are prepared and a small saloon where they can be enjoyed. Between dive, guest can enjoy the sea from the deck, some even sleep on deck at night.
Preparing to Dive From The Norseman Liveaboard in Italy.
Dives can be either from the Norseman or from its tender. Tanks are refilled on deck.
Also, the number of dives included is just one per day. You can expand that on-board. When requested there are generally three dives a day. With prior arrangements a number of dive courses can also be completed on your trip. You will need your own dive equipment or rent what you need prior to boarding. A sleeping bag or sleep sheet is also recommended.
It does seem that the Norseman has a very high satisfaction level and repeat rate. So if you really loved your first trip, the Norseman event has something special for you. They have sponsorship programs that all you to take one free trip a year for as long as the association last.
ITALY LIVEABOARDS ITINERARIES
The Norseman sails from Elba off the west coast of Italy which is in the Archipelago Toscano. They dive from March to December. Sailing enthusiasts should note that from July to September, trips under sail are not offered because of the calm conditions.
The Tuscan Archipelago’s National Park is the largest marine park in Europe, covering 56,766 hectares of sea and 17,887 hectares of land. It includes the seven main islands of the archipelago like Elba, as well as some minor islands and rocks. Many activities within the park are prohibited or heavily restricted. There are some areas around Elba that diving is generally allowed but most areas require special permission.
The Island of Pianosa is considered the most pristine location within the park and possibly within the Mediterranean Sea. The island had been restricted for centuries. A penal settlement was established in 1856 on Pianosa, and made into a maximum security prison in 1968, the prison was closed on 2011. Until the prison was closed the island and the waters around it were restricted. When the prison was closed many of the restrictions were left in place. However, controlled tourism is now allowed on the island.
The Elba Diving Authority and the Tuscan Archipelago National Park have made an agreement to allow diving in the water around the island. Permits are required to dive Pianosa and they are only issued to members of the Elba Diving Authority. In addition, divers must be accompanied by a Region of Tuscany environmental underwater guide. Diving here has only been open for about four years.
Trips are in the Tuscan archipelago, including Corsica and northern Sardinia. Being a sailing vessel and belonging to an association that loves sailing, there is no fixed itinerary. Prior to a Sunday departure, the Captain will select a route based on the weather and desires of the group. The minimum requirement for divers is an OWD – one star brevet with at least 25 logged dives. The Captain who is also a dive professional has vast experience in the area and many, if not most, of the dive sites he will select are unknown to other dive operators.
Best time to dive in Italy
The Mediterranean Sea around Italy is normally calm year round. You do not have the seasonal storms that threaten other areas known for diving. The weather in this portion of Italy is mild by European standards.
July is the hottest month in Elba with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F) and the coldest is January at 10°C (50°F).
Water temperatures range from 15-25°C/60-77°F depending on time of year, location and depth. August is the best month when the average sea temperature is 25°C (77°F).
Visibility varies but at some sites 50 meters/165 feet is common. Some operators close in the winter months.
Italy Liveaboard last minute
If you are considering a liveaboard trip in the near future take a look at the last minute pages.