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Scuba Diving in Cyprus
Dive Site: Zenobia
Location: 10 minutes from Larnaca
Description: 10,000 ton ferry
Length: 178 metres (584 feet)
Depth: 16 metres (52 feet) to the top of the wreck, 43 metres (141 feet) to the seabed
Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)
The Zenobia is the dive people visit Cyprus for. It is a large, roll-on roll-off ferry that was built to operate in the eastern Mediterranean. It was during its maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria that it sank. The steering was not working correctly, so the Captain made the decision to pull into Larnaca Harbour. Here engineers noticed a major problem with the onboard computer system that resulted in water being pumped into the ships ballast tanks. The Zenobia was towed into deeper waters about half a mile from Larnaca so that the engineers could work on the problem, but it was listing to an angle of 45° so it was decided that there was nothing that could be done to save the ferry. The Captain requested that the Zenobia should be taken back to the harbour, but permission was never granted as a ship of that size would effectively prevent traffic from entering Larnaca Harbour. It took two days for the ferry to sink, taking the 104 articulated lorries that it had on board with it.
What a wreck!
I dived the Zenobia four times for about an hour each and only saw a fraction of this magnificent wreck. Thanks to a no removal rule, the wreck is greatly intact and filed with items. I descended the shot line to about 16 m and decided which way to go. The propellers are intact and lead to the seabed at 42 metres where you can find the egg lorry and its cargo. Please watch your buoyancy as divers have unfortunately crushed a number of these.
The aft truck passage is a great swim through, almost 100m long and clear with exits at the end. Check your air if you want to do the whole route as there are no exits apart from right at the end. Watch out for the oil at the larger entrance. The bridge is quite bare but there is a lift shaft to go through. The canteen and accommodation deck is quite good, but watch out for loose wires and keep your orientation or stay close to your guide.
There is plenty of sea life and the barracuda are good. Also, if you are lucky, keep an eye out for the tourist submarine that tours the wreck, as it will have divers feeding the fish so is a good show. The winch gear at the front is worth a look and so are the lifeboats. Be wary as there is a lot to see and you may drift deep. Plan this dive as to where you will want to go and it easily takes a few dives to view this wreck. Nitrox is pricey in local shop so plan ahead.
Plenty to see and enjoy on one of the best wrecks under the sea.
Ousmon Sadique, BSAC Dive Leader
Wow, what a dive site, the wreck is massive. Don't be put off by the depth at a max of 42m. The lorries, bridge, canteen, oil slicks are all great for any lover of the genuine ship wreck.
Nick Billington, PADI Divemaster
The Zenobia is an amazing dive, purely for the "ghost ship" atmosphere it has. Left to sink in the early 1980's after a computer fault flooded the ballast tanks, it lies on its port side complete with its full cargo of over 100 articulated lorries.
The seabed is littered with the remains of the cargo being carried (including perfectly preserved eggs) and the interior of the ship is still well preserved. Wildlife is not all it could be but there are large grouper and barracuda in evidence. It's a dive site I could never get bored of.
One of the best wreck dives in the world, plenty to see and (usually) excellent visibility. Make your first dive at the stern deck, descend down onto the first propellor through the swim-through by the starboard prop, max out at about 36-37m and go round the back of the rear door to the lorry deck. Then make your way along and slowly up (or you'll end up in deco if your not careful) toward the main superstructure, checking out the life boat and main mast along the way.
Second dive, drop down onto the bow taking in the bulb, the "spanker" (spare anchor!), canteen and the bridge.
Excellent dive, well worth the air fair to Cyprus!
Terry Nichols, PADI MSDT
The Zen is a great dive, loads of fish follow you throughout the dive. You can access the bridge and the anchor room but I enjoyed being outside sitting in the lifeboats. The best thing about this dive was the visibility - truly amazing. I could see the wreck clearly from the dive boat on the surface.
Chris Winfield, PADI Advanced Openwater
I have dived this wreck at least 30 times over the last 10 years and have always found something interesting to see or do. The diving here is for all levels and as has been said the visibility allows even the 20m divers to see how far down 40mtrs actually is. A great dive and I will be back !! As for the photos I reckon if I sift through mine I could find identical ones I have taken to those being claimed as copyrighted!!!
13/10/2008: The Zenobia is incredible, I was taken in to the middle car deck at the end of my week by Chris Martin. What an experience! I expected it to end at any time but it went on and on, then we passed though a cage that took us in to the upper car deck and then proceeded to go in to the lift shaft, the accommodation and exited through the side of the ship... actually the top as it's on its Port side. The best dive I have ever done. Value for money... you cannot beat it! Cheers Alpha, see you next year for sure :)
13/10/2008: My brother owns the dive shop right on the harbour lucky for me. I have dived the Zen 8 or 9 times now and this site still fascinates me every time I dive it, highly recommended for all levels of advanced divers and above.
You first drop on it at about 16 metres then bottoms at 42 metres. A nice interesting site if you like wreck diving.
Ross Ayrey, Advanced / Nitrox diver
As an instructor on the island I've dived this site most weeks during the season for the past seven years. As far as Cyprus goes it is the best site for marine life and if you are a wreck diver there are few sites to better it. Please take care though. Swimming around the back doors too many people lose control of their depth. Also too many very qualified divers get complacent because of general good visibility and forget that familiarity breeds contempt which is never a good thing in a wreck (or any other) diver. People have died on this wreck and in general it seems to have happened because they have forgotten the basics. Enjoy it but despite the viz keep your brain engaged!
I dived the Zenobia on the 29th Nov 2008. A really interesting dive. Small barracuda and groupers, other small shoaling fish that are quite tame. The sight of modern lorries underwater is quite surreal and most enjoyable.
The vis was good and swim throughs interesting. For me, the water was a touch on the cold side at 21°C (unashamedly a warm water diver) and there should be a lot more and bigger fish on a wreck of this size. The Hardeep in the Gulf of Thailand is a similar size wreck and there is no comparison in the amount of marine life, just goes to show how much the Med has been over fished.
Ron Wood, Padi Divemaster | 1/12/2008
I just dived the Zenobia for my sixth time on the 10/01/09 and as it was out of season it was just me, a guide and a photographer. We had the whole wreck to ourselves! It was a little bit cold, but worth it because last time I dived the wreck there were about two million divers on it. The one thing I would say about this dive is it is so easy to not keep a check on your computer whilst your deep because there is just to much to look at, so don't go into deco guys (unless you know what your doing!), but have fun!!
Richard Yeatman, PADI MSD | 12/01/2009
Dear all divers at the wreck of the ZENOBIA. The story of Zenobia is not consistent with reality. When I was 21 years old in 1980 I drove a Danish truck with goods from Copenhagen to Baghdad and back. The trip was from Koper in Yogoslavia to Tartus in Syria. We sailed from Koper 5th April 1980, and came ashore in Tartus 9th April (4 days) and back again from Tartus 25th April 1980, so it did not sink on its first voyage from Malmö (Sweden).
HPK, Danish driver | 16/03/2009
What a manic week: but well worth the time to get to Cyprus. Picked up at the airport by our hosts, Alpha Divers, dived the 'Zen-10 Challenge' with them and could not beleive how blessed we were.
Outstanding wreck dives with a firm who know what they are doing, we did the outside of course, the brigde, canteen, upper & middle car decks and 2 of us were good enough to be taken to the engine room on the last day. AWESOME!!! Not for the faint hearted, but very professional. Cheers guys, and girls :)
Nick Carter | 08/06/2009
Dived this wreck 3 times now with Cy Dive in 2007 and 2008. The barracuda and other fish life were awesome and the wreck is the best I have dived in over 30 yrs diving. The visibility gives you a false sense of the 40+m depth, keep an eye on your watch/computer. I am an old BSAC Advanced Diver.
Richard J Allin | 17/06/2009
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