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Florida Dive Operators with user unfriendly policies

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Leighen, Feb 20, 2020.

  1. Leighen

    Leighen Banned

    Hello I am in the process of booking a dive trip to the Florida Keys. Been there before but it's been a while so I am checking websites of the various operators and have researched many and called a few.

    I have found some surprising and weird policies with 3 companies in particular and I'm wondering if anyone knows of others that I should avoid and which are recommended because they don't have such policies in place.

    Quiescence dive charters seems to be highly recommended but I won't dive with them. Why not? Because I enjoy diving wrecks, and even the same wreck more than once. I'm not a big reef guy especially given the poor quality in recent years. This particular company will do only ONE deep dive per day- as in if you do two morning and 2 afternoon you'll only see one wreck the rest will be shallow. Why do they do this? They are "conservative". The helpful fellow on the phone said he'd speak to the owner and get back to me- which he did- and apologized he could not accommodate my request to charter their boat for 4 full days at $750 per day for as many as 6 divers. They recommended Sun Sport Charter and Scuba in Islamorada so I called them next.

    Sure thing, the friendly couple who owns Sun Sport would be happy to allow me and my 4 dive buddies to charter their boat for 4 days and they'll put me on as many wrecks as we like- for- get this- $1500 per day. That's DOUBLE what Quiescence charges, and considerably more than it would be if we simply booked 2 tank dives and not chartered an entire boat. I get it, as they said they cater to a specialty niche of divers who don't mind spending double, and that price includes lunch and even gear rental if you need it. No thanks.

    Blue Water Divers says on their website that they require a 28 day cancelation notice or the diver will be charged full price for their reservation if it cannot be filled. Um.. plans change, most dive operators are 24-48 hours cancelation notice for full refund.

    I'm currently booked with Horizon Divers and Conch Republic Divers who have none of those crazy rules, fair prices and could not possibly be more accommodating as to my requests to dive as many as 4 wrecks per day.

    This is mostly a vent thread but I'm wondering if anyone has similar experiences, or knows other companies with screwy policies or have operators they recommend.

  2. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board Staff Member marketing

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    Wow, when you have "unfriendly" in the title, I was expecting to hear about a brawl of some sort. Glad that wasn't the case.

    First, the Keys has a lot of shallow screamers. A screamer is a true wreck and not an artificial reef. Those deep wrecks are fakes in my opinion. The real wrecks are almost all shallow. Hey, a lot of people are in love with those artificial reefs like the Speigle Grove and the Duayne. Go for it. FWIW, my favorite wreck is the Benwood, which sits fairly shallow. It's a "tweener". It wrecked in WWII and they tried to move it from the original place. Then is sank again and then the Navy used it as target and demolition practice. No penetration, but the history is cool.

    Horizon and Conch are both good choices. I've many a dive off of all their boats.
  3. PoolsOpen

    PoolsOpen Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: SE Florida
    Those 2 are good ops.

    FYI Rainbow Reef Dive center also charters full boats.
    While I have never chartered entire boat, they advertise charters starting at $600. I believe thats for their small boat equivalent to a 6 pack ( but can hold a few more)

    Enjoy your trip!!
    Leighen likes this.
  4. Leighen

    Leighen Banned

    Thank you for your reply Mr. Chairman.

    I have dived most of the Keys wrecks over the years and am quite familiar with the ones you mention. On our schedule for the upcoming trip are the Eagle x2 the SG x4 the Duane and Bibb x1, and the Benwood, possibly x2 with the second being a night dive. The wrecks don't change much (other than they fall apart over time) but Dive operations and their rules come and go, that's for sure. My thread was really about the companies that put divers on the wrecks.

    But as long as you mentioned it, I am curious about some of the other real wrecks that aren't usually on the schedules of most dive operators such as the City of Washington, Trainwheel wreck and Pedro something, as well as any others that might not be much more than scattered pieces of metal but still better than whatever might be on my desk during a great day at work. I'd rather check out some of those as compared to a lackluster reef.
  5. sportxlh

    sportxlh Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: formerly Palm Beach Gardens, FL: now Atlanta
    I like Conch Republic for many reasons. Its been a while, but I've also had good experiences with Horizon. Double dips on the deep wrecks aren't super common in KL in my experience, though the two you chose do them fairly regularly.

    With that said Quiescence is an awesome shop. If their rules don't fit your needs, I wouldn't call them crazy. Just go with someone else that dives your profiles, like you're doing. The staff at Quiescence is great and worked to fix some of my gear that got messed up on a flight two years ago, staying after closing time to help out a stranded diver. Incredible service! I will always be grateful
    shoredivr and muzikbiz22 like this.
  6. Wookie

    Wookie Curmudgeon Apprentice ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    Thankfully it’s a free country pretty much. You are free to shop around for a shop that meets your needs, and the shop is free to set rules that allow them to work in a comfortable place.
  7. Leighen

    Leighen Banned

    Not sure what point you're trying to make. Yes divers are free to choose who to dive with and companies are free to set whatever rules they desire, hopefully they understand that with each additional restriction or price increase they may lose potential customers in an already competitive, difficult business environment. So what?

    In addition to service, a company's policy will to a large extent attract, mold, and shape their customer base. Quiescence was on my radar because of their numerous positive reviews. I was more than willing to give them $3000 for the 4 days but they have a very conservative policy that I've seen nowhere else. I actually booked the 4 days with Sun Sport but called them back and canceled and explained they were too expensive, at $6000 for 4 days of diving. Ok, so maybe they don't care, they'd rather cater to smaller and higher paying crowds, and either they'll fill the boat that week with divers who don't mind shelling out the additional funds, or they'll sit on the dock and enjoy the days off because they're not doing it for the money.

    The sun is still going to rise tomorrow, I just wanted to put this out there and see if there were any other experiences similar to what I found when I started shopping Florida Keys dive operations for my upcoming trip, and make notes for future excursions, that's all.
  8. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board Staff Member marketing

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    If you're looking to charter an entire boat, check out Key Largo Dive Center. Larry and the gang have a converted lobster boat that is an awesome platform for diving. They will cater to your needs.
  9. Wookie

    Wookie Curmudgeon Apprentice ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    As you say, so what? Are you concerned for their continued business health? If you are, why start this thread?

    I ran a dive operation in Florida. I had what some considered onerous rules. I had these policies because most divers don’t know what is in their best interest. They want to do what they want to do, and as a libertarian, I believe you should be able to do exactly what you like without any pesky rules from some dive operator.

    Your heirs may not feel the same way you do. They may want you to continue to provide them whatever you provide for them now, and while you may be willing and able to make your own levels of risk, that may be more than you can convince some operators. Maybe I might have been one of them.

    I suggest your own boat so you don’t have to put up with dive operators.
    CajunDiva, markmud, Kharon and 6 others like this.
  10. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    Hi @Leighen

    Perhaps there is the operator for everyone, I hope you find yours. Are you coming from Wyoming for your trip, that is quite a way to travel?
    falcon125, sportxlh and mselenaous like this.

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