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Trip report Sep 2014: Palau Aggressor - VERY BAD EXPERIENCE

Discussion in 'The Pacific Islands' started by Monishi, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Monishi

    Monishi Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Hong Kong
    This is a trip report regarding my diving trip I have done recently in September 2014 with Palau Aggressor II. The boat is relatively small and a bit old but that is compensated by the cleanness and the good food. I have done really cheap liveaboard in Thailand so I can live with the Palau Aggressor boat standards. Especially that week I was on board was a discount week so I have nothing to complain about it. The diving in Palau itself is excellent with beautiful corals (some of which, such as cabbage corrals I've never seen before) and fair number of pelagics. The food was really good with a great American chief who constantly feeding us with mainly American/international food. HOWEVER, there were so many incidents that made a lot of guests unhappy, mainly the service from the crews and the attitude from Captain Scott and our divemaster/photographer Randy towards guests. I will list the things I still remember but there are so many other small incidents that other guests did not feel good about as well. Please understand that we came all the way from all parts of the world and this is not something a lot of us can afford to do every so often.

    Incident 1:

    When we got picked up from the hotel, Rndy (our divemaster/photographer) was talking to one of the guests in a bus on the way to the boat, saying that there is a mother and a daughter in the group and they are both available with a dirty smile (you know what I mean kind of smile). Other guests were able to hear it and did not feel good about it, and it was even before we start the one week vacation on the boat.

    Incident 2:

    When we went on board, the captain Scott, told us that there are a total of 17 divers, who were obviously registered guests on the sheet of paper that Scott had, however, there was a mysterious girl who was always diving as a guest, eating as a guest and hanging around the guest area, however, sleeping in the clew's cabin. She turned out to be Randy's girlfriend and she made us guess that she was on board for free and it was kind of awkward (given that everyone else is a paying guest). She was just sleeping in the crew's cabin but doing everything else as a gust and not working as a crew. If she was a registered guest on the computer, it is fine, but she is not shown on the computer generated guest list. Buddy diving was required for all the guests and max 60 mins diving was enforced for all of us but this mysterious girl was always diving alone, far away from us, and well over 60 mins. Randy (divemaster/photographer) was supposed to be taking photos of us but when Randy was diving at the back of the group as always, he and his girlfriend were posing and taking pictures of each other, again, far away from us, instead of him watching over our group or taking pictures of us. One time, there were two giant clams during the dive and as soon as Randy (our divemaster!) found the giant clams, he swam over there (as quickly as possible) and asked his girlfriend to pose in front of it, and he started taking pictures of her for a looong time, in front of the guests, and making other guests waiting for them to finish so that we could start taking pictures.

    Incident 3:

    There was one guy who was always taking picture of the dive map on boat during the dive briefing together with the clock above it so that he could log his dives later. One time, before Randy started the briefing, this guy kindly asked Randy to step aside a bit as he wanted to take a picture of the dive map. And Randy's reply was "no" with a really bad attitude. That was really rude and some guests including myself heard it and did not feel good about it.

    Incident 4:

    On the first day of the liveaboard, when a guest touched a coral a bit with his fins while he was taking a picture underwater, Randy went over to him and started shouting at him with his regulator in his mouth. Surprisingly, many guests heard it underwater, as he was so furious and confrontational towards him. This was the first dive of the whole week.

    Incident 5:

    I rented GoPro from Captain Scott, and I lost the red filter, which I am fine paying back the cost, but he charged me US$125 and I nicely paid the cash back to him. However, he did not charge it on my invoice and seems like he just took the cash and replaced the red filter with the cheap one on the web. (However, I did not say anything as I did not want to ruin my precious vacation). It doesn't really matter whether it really costs US$125 or not, but not putting this through on my invoice seems really fishy. Also, other guests who had GoPro had string attach to the red filter in order not to lose the red filter. However, the rented GoPro did not have this string attached to it. Also, Scott promised me that he will charge the GoPro every dive but he often forgot to charge, making me not being able to capture the moment underwater all the sudden. I spoke about it to Scott but no apologies from him.

    Incident 6:

    At the end of the trip, Randy, our divemaster and the photographers for us, had a photo show during the cocktail party, and he set up his computer and tried to start showing the slides to us on TV. He had some problems and stepped away from the computer. There was one Asian guy who started touching the computer screen and all the sudden, Randy started shouting at this Asian guy IN FRONT OF ALL THE GUESTS saying "who's computer is it!!! who's computer is it!!! get the fxck away from my computer!!!!!" That was very embarrassing in front of all the gusts and he was being way too over reacting about it.

    I needed to leave the boat half day before, and everyone including the chef said goodbye to me, except Andy and Scott. They were really rude to the guests throughout the whole trip.

    A whole week of diving was great but a lot of the guests including myself did not have a good time with Andy, the divemaster, and Scott, the captain.

    We did not come to this trip for free. Some guests came all the way from US, Europe, and some parts of Asia and considering the cost of whole week of diving, accommodation and the airfare are not something that a lot of us can afford to do every so often. It is their job to make the guests feel more comfortable and make the guests feel that they had memorable holidays.

    ---------- Post added September 30th, 2014 at 04:55 PM ----------

    And at last but not least, the boat crew was logging our dive time, depth, after every dive on the dive log sheet, so that on the last day, we could be logging our dives based on this. However, our dive log for the whole week for all of our guests which were logged by the boat crew, mysteriously disappeared from the the boat, no one was able to locate it, divemasters and the captain was indifferent about it and did nothing about it. EVERY GUESTS were so furious that we were not able to log our dives for a whole week! When I went to other liveaboards with the similar price range, our dive logs were transferred to the computer system after the whole week and we received the computer generated dive logs. It is hard to change the attitude/personalities of the divemasters or captains but this is something that Aggressor/Dance Fleet can improve to better service the guests.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
    diverjen and lamarpaulski like this.
  2. jfcl01

    jfcl01 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Thank you for your very detailed report. That sounds wretched! i have been on that boat twice in the past couple years, and while there were some VERY minor issues, there was nothing like these incidents. I wonder if it had anything to do with new leadership on the boat? The previous captain-Marc-apparently is not on that boat anymore. Too bad-he was the consummate professional and gentleman.
    Has anyone from your trip contacted the head office about this conduct? Please let us know what their response was/is.
  3. Peter69_56

    Peter69_56 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Australia
    Thank you for the report. You have just made my mind up, I have just decided not to book with them. I hope they read this as we have a number of people who dive as a group and I will be speaking with all of them to not dive this liveaboard.

    In contrast I have just recently completed a dive with Tech Thailand. They are a great company to dive with. Clean and efficient boat, good quality staff. great sites and great crew. I am going back agai as soon as I can for the max trip they have from Singapore to Thailand. Simon and Jez are the 2 guides and are a great help.

    The contrast between the post and Tech Thailand are so extreme. Tech Thailand is what a dive company should aspire to.
    nudisusie likes this.
  4. Damselfish

    Damselfish ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    That's too bad, sucks when one or 2 crew members mess up what would otherwise be a perfectly good trip. We've been fortunate not to run into much of that on all our liveaboard trips. (When we did the PA years ago we had an awesome captain & crew.) Hopefully someone will catch on and fix the problems but it rarely happens fast enough. We're returning to Palau next year but luckily are booked on the Ocean Hunter III.

    As far as the girlfriend on board, I would have said "so what" - as long as she had not been a distraction on the dives or elsewhere from him doing his job, and knew when it was appropriate to make herself scarce.
  5. lamarpaulski

    lamarpaulski Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Calif.
    Great review. Thanks for taking the time to alert fellow divers. You are correct that a trip to Palau is a huge investment in time and money for most of us...how dare an operator treat people so terribly.

    I have been blessed to be on great Liveaboards and great crews - the crew of Cayman Diver and Sta Reta became friends by the end of the trips and made the great diving even better.

    Thanks for the warning. The internet can really make the bad operators feel their guests' pain. What goes around...

    Palau is on my bucket list but clearly not this outfit.
    drbill likes this.
  6. farsidefan1

    farsidefan1 Loggerhead Turtle Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah USA
    I am very disappointed to hear this review. 3 years ago I was on that boat and had a terrific experience. Crew was outstanding. Marc was on the crew and took over as captain the next year. This sounds like a review of a totally different boat and crew. Usually that reflects upon the ownership. Whether they lost interest or whatever. Sad to hear.
  7. Monishi

    Monishi Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Hong Kong
    My original post made a mistake of names. My friend on the boat just corrected me the dive master I was talking about was "Randy" NOT "Andy". Andy is a dive master/photographer on tropical dancer supposed to be a really nice guy. I corrected above as well.

    ---------- Post added October 1st, 2014 at 01:43 AM ----------

    Thank you all for your comments. My intention is definitely not to mention that the whole aggressor/tropical dancer fleet is no good. Aggressor/tropical dancer fleet operates around the globe in the exotic locations and I do want to return to them in other locations in near future. My intention is, through my comment, I hope the management can change the situation a bit better for the future guests on board.

    Yes I do think the cause is the new leadership and the new crew on the boat. Scott's been on the boat for a bit over a year (but been on other aggressor/tropical dancer boats) and dive master Randy about 6 months. I also think the cause is that these guys are just working way too much (not enough crew on the boat, captains and dive masters serving dinner and drinks at night, cleaning dishes). I figure they are too temperamental under long working hours and stress. But there is no way these crews on the boat can react to the guests like the ones I mentioned above. Also, if we didn't receive some of these unacceptable attitudes from the crew, I don't mind if the dive master is bringing his girlfriend for free, but adding everything else, I, including other guests just found these small things started to annoy us during the trip.

    I sent the same comments to aggressor today and the reply was follows (I will see what they say next week):

    Dear Xxx,

    I’d like to start by thanking you for taking the time to share your recent experiences on board the Palau Aggressor.

    As per your letter copied below, your comments were sent to the owners and management of the Palau Aggressor. Please be advised that Dancer Fleet and Aggressor Fleet do not own or operate any vessel that we currently advertise, market and sell. All dive yachts have individual owners and operate similar to a franchise. Please allow time for the yacht and its management team to respond. Investigations take time as we have to wait for the vessel to be in port so they can respond to our inquiry.

    We will carefully review and investigate your concerns therefore rest assured that we will get back to you as soon as possible.

    Kind regards.

    Larry Speaker
    Vice President - Operations
    Aggressor and Dancer Fleet
    Direct Line: 305-677-0660

    ---------- Post added October 1st, 2014 at 01:59 AM ----------

    My german tech diver friend did the same liveaboard two years ago, with tech Thailand! Exactly the same route from Singapore to Thailand and he had a fantastic time! (BTW-I'm not a tech diver...)
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  8. Tippytoes12

    Tippytoes12 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    Hi there

    Thanks for posting this and sorry you had this experience. We had one terrible experience on a Red Sea LOB , where a fellow passenger nearly died. However since then then we have had superb experiences with Blue O 2 in the Red Sea , Black Manta twice in Indonesia and Mermaid 2. When a LOB is good it's great , but when it's bad it is just dire.

    I hope you get at least an apology.

    Best fishes xx
  9. jfcl01

    jfcl01 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    So...have you received any further information from the corporate office about your concerns?
  10. Craig66

    Craig66 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Jersey
    It is interesting as I have heard that response as well from Aggressor that each boat is individually owned and therefore the issue lies with the individual owners. I wonder if it might in fact be a way of shaking off responsibility. In any real franchise the buck stops at head office.

    Pity, there is nothing that can make or break a LOB more than a great or lousy crew member.
    koozemani, Dr. Lecter and kelemvor like this.

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