Rated as one of the top ten wreck dives in the world, it is in Mediterranean Sea, few
miles away from the port of Larnaca, Cyprus. Zenobia sank on June 7, 1980 after an error
in it's computerized ballasting system causing it to list heavily to port or at
least this is one the theories. Whatever the theories are the truth is that it
could not be sunk in any better spot to make it just ideal for diving.
The boat ride from Larnaca Marina is
short and pleasant and the depth is perfect for both recreational and technical divers.
Because of the sheer size of the wreck, it would is possible to have an awesome dive with
a single tank at average depth of 80-90 ft, or you could have a full-blown
deco/penetration dive at average depth of 130-150 ft. I have not been back to dive it with
the full technical rig, so the report below covers mostly recreational diving
Zenobia lies on it's port side and is
totally intact. This Swedish built Roll On Roll Off ferry was 600ft long and
weighted 10,000 tonnes. It was on its maident voyage sailing between Syria and Cyprus when
it started listing to port. Once the list became very pronounced and sinking was feared,
it was towed away from Larnaca port for the concerns that it will block the entrance. And so it sunk, whilst as anchor, a short boat ride
from Larnaca marina. At the time of thinking, it had no people on it, but had carried a
full cargo of 108 articulated lorries. No lives were lost, but there were a lot of Volvo,
DAF, Scania and Merc lorries and their cargoes were scattered all around the bottom and
Dives usually take place in the first half of the day, before the waves kick in. Water
temps range from high 60s in the winter to mid 80s in the summer and the visibility is
usually between 50+ to 100+ ft. Last time I dove it in the middle of the summer and the
viz ranged from 50 ft in spots to 90 ft
Wreck is accessible all year around, although there are significantly less people on it in
the winter (I dove on Xmas day few years ago and there were only 2 of us there). It is so
huge, that unless 2 and more group are trying to penetrate the same space at the same
time, you never feel crowded
The wreck divers paradise
You can catch the first glimpse of Zenobia from the plane, just moments before landing in
Larnaca airport. Look out of the window as you are approaching the landing strip - on a
bright sunny day the ship is clearly visible from the plane. Being 600 ft long, the wreck
is huge, even looking from high above. You second glimpse of it comes as you approach,
after a short 20 min boat ride from Larnaca. With the visibility ranging from 50 ft to,
reportedly, 150+ feet, you can see most of the port side of the wreck from the boat.
Non-divers can (and do) snorkel
For a wreck diver, this is as close to diving paradise as it gets! The water is warm, the
color is crystal-blue and are you about to dive the wreck that is rated as one of the top
10 wreck dives in the world. Due to its size and variations of depths (150ft to 50ft side
to side), you need many dives to see everything that Zen has to offer. On a two tank trip,
we typically did the first dive of the day covering the stern and other deeper areas and
did the bow and superstructure on the second dive.
Descending to the wreck on the stern
line, you then swim over the cargo deck with some lorries scattered at the bottom where
they came to rest after the ferry sunk. One lorry was still chained to the upper side. The
chain had been there since the sinking and it is not recommended that you position
yourself under it since the truck can go down any minute.
At the very bottom came to rest couple of
lorries that carried the cargo of eggs, which spilled all over. Some eggs are still
intact, but it is of course not recommended to take them back since the smell would not
make you the most popular person on the boat
From where the lorries are at the bottom,
you could then go up and swim around the back and see the immense propellers.
Then back to the line and, or, if time
permits, one could go to the cargo hold, which was a treat. First level closed cargo hold
stretches through the whole cross section of a ship, and, because of the side position,
the entrance start at almost the bottom and ends at around 60 ft. This of course means you
could go in at the end of the dive, but only if you stay close to the ceiling.
There are lorries at the bottom of the hold, but it is so deep, that you pretty much have
to stay close to the ceiling unless you decide to do the whole dive in the
cargo hold (which would be possible since there was enough to looks at). Meanwhile, the
ceiling is full of interesting things as well.
On my first dive there I noticed a few
blue bottles stuck to the ceiling (side actually since Zen is on the side). They were
obviously a cargo in one of the lorries in their past life and, due to being filled with
something lighter than water (rumoured alcohol), they went up as the ship went down.
I was wondering why there were so few, so on a next dive I looked a little bit further and
and finally discovered the rest of the cargo ;-))
On a second dive of the day, we typically
covered the superstructure that was all intact and looked absolutely beautiful with fish
swirling around it.
Along the way, we passed over the life boats that were still there.
On a good viz day, one could can swim 50 ft in front of the bow and see the immense size
of it. Unfortunately, when I was there on several good viz days, I either did not have the
camera or it did not work ;-(.
The anchor on the side was more that a persons height
Did I mention the penetration opportunities? There is a lot to see with the fully
redundant technical rig. Deco training and doubles would allow you to dive areas not dived
all that often, such as lower cargo compartment and the engine room. However, there were
abundant penetration spots even within recreational limits.
Captains bridge has been quite cleaned out of all interesting stuff and is not as
attractive. I could have, however, spent the whole dive in the canteen. There were the
remains of the carpet, drinks machine that still retained its green marbled color and the
names of the drinks,
sinks that had a funny placements due to ships position and of course the highlight
of any wreck (I dont know why, but divers, me included, just love to see those). The
And there is so much more
on that wreck to expore - i can't wait to get back!
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