"Thanks for all your help in making our trip to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu a wonderful experience. I don't see how things could have been any better.
The Bilikiki experience was outstanding. I will be reliving those great dives for years. The contrast between the WWII wreck dives and mother nature covering the ugliness of war with beautiful coral community jewels glistening in the sunlight is a lasting impression. That is the greatest diving that I can ever hope to experience.
The gentleman that met us at the Brisbane Airport to give us all our vouchers, maps, etc. was quite helpful, as was the car rental agency. Binna Burra was fabulous. Didn't see any koalas, but saw our first wallabies. We met a gal there that, with her boyfriend, wined and dined us around Brisbane rather than let us stay in a motel on a Friday night. I can't thank you for planning that, but you did put us in the right places at the right times to make that wonderful experience happen.
The Farmstay and B&B in the Northland were perfect. The Kauri Museum and giant Kauri trees were impressive. A highlight was getting to paddle the big war canoe and learn about the Maori culture. The leader did a fantastic job. It was kind of him to call the B&B in Christchurch prior to our arrival to let them know that he had mistakenly kept the B&B voucher. The Auckland car rental agency was also quite helpful. I only got one warning, but no ticket, from a nice policeman that saw me drive on the wrong side of the street heading back to Auckland and took pity on the dumb American driver.
We really enjoyed the APT tour; very small group, lovely people, fantastic tour director and bus driver, and super meals and optional excursions. Without a doubt, New Zealand offers great natural resource diversity and beauty within short distances. It is a compressed jade-green jewel with snow-capped mountains, Pacific Ocean, Tasman Sea, beautiful lakes and interesting agricultural regions and friendly folks. Great white wines, but I gave up trying to find a good red wine. We could not get over how beautiful Eliza's Manor On Bealey in Christchurch was. What a fabulous place to spend our last night in lovely Christchurch.
We are most pleased with all that you did to make this a very memorable trip. Well done, Kirsten!"
Roger and Sandy, South Pacific, October 2008
"Indonesia was incredible, better than when I dove it 10 years ago. Plenty of small and big stuff. Komodo Dragons were really cool. Both hotels were amazing, peaceful, decadent. We have the boat to ourselves. The crew as superb, divemaster deserved extra KUDOS!!!"
Tony and Heather, Bali, September 2011
"The trip was really fabulous! And Komodo was, as you said, good as ever. Weather conditions were good fo cold diving in the south we were well prepared - so no any problems. Accommodation was really very good. The food was one of the best I had ever on liveabords, thank you Siren! Crew was very helpful and performed in the highest level of service! All the arrangements and flights moved smoothly and without any problems. Thank you very much! In general I've got an idea that diving in Komodo is more for macro than for big stuff. Of course seeing mantas on manta alley was wonderful and unforgettable! Yes, this adventure went down as one of the better ones and not the last role for me played Komodo dragons themself! Once again thank you very much!! We are very happy and excited!"
Rytis and Raimundas, Indonesia, Liveaboard Siren, October 2008
"First things first.The last few weeks cruising and diving the
Komodo national park on the Siren was superb, I don't go on holiday
to find fault but this holiday was genuinely without fault. Frank and
the rest of the crew are most welcoming and I would not hesitate to go
on one of their other trips. Now having returned with post holiday
blues it's time to look at something for next year, either in February
or March, have you got any suggestions or deals on for that time of
year? All the best."
Simon, Indonesia, Liveaboard Siren, September 2008
From Denise: "The trip was fantastic! Alam Shanti was absolutely gorgeous – what a view we had. The Cheng Ho was everything I could ask for, very attentive crew always ready to please. The diving was something I'll never forget and Kerri was the best! She was the one who suggested the "newbie" needed to dive in the most beautiful spot in the world and she was right. Whitewater rafting, biking down the mountain, seeing the dragons were all great activities...I wouldn't have changed anything except the 508 stairs we had to go down to get to the river LOL. All in all it was a trip of a lifetime and I would like to thank you for helping to put it all together for us. Can't wait for the next adventure to begin!"
From Steve: "OK that was Denise now it’s my turn. As always the trip as a whole was great. The Cheng Ho is not for everybody hence the Cheng slow talk, but for me it is perfect. I love a wooden boat. It is more of what a boat should be. You feel every creak and groan the old girl gives out. You just don't get that on a steel or fiberglass hull. The food on board was great for me. Tasted good and what seemed to be a never ending supply. Maybe I am easy to please but I was at home onboard even with breaking a toe on the second day. All the other trips that were put together were great. My butt still hurts from the bike ride but still well worth it. Thanks a bunch!"
Denise & Steve, Liveaboard Cheng Ho, September 2009
"Our flights and transfers all went very smoothly. The guides and transfer people took very good care of us and they were friendly and went out of their way to make sure transfers went smoothly. First of all, the guides were very knowledgeable. Our guide at Vumbura, Brian, was superb. His knowledge of the animals, birds and terrain were just amazing. The people who picked us up at Johannesburg and Livingston could not have been better. The Saxon is just marvelous. The room was beautiful, accessible and the food and service could not have been better. We totally enjoyed the Royal Livingston and it was air-conditioned which was a help but it was not as nice as what I had expected. That is probably my problem. We enjoyed the tour to the village which gave us a good perspective on life in Zambia. We did not go on the booze cruise as Dave was not feeling up to snuff but we enjoyed the helicopter trip.
The flights to the camps went exactly as planned and there were no problems handling the wheelchair. Dave is a very good aircraft assistant baggage handler and knows how everything comes apart. We enjoyed all of the camps. Each provided a little different experience. The birdlife was amazing and we enjoyed seeing different types of antelope at different camps. We saw two beautiful sable antelopes at Vumbura. The camps were elegant to say the least and the food was just superb. My favorites were Shumba, Kings Pool, and Vumbura. We saw the greatest variety of animal and bird life in Kings Pool and had an amazing flight via helicopter between Vumbura and Jao over the Delta. Jao Camp was beautiful but unfortunately their boats were not running properly when we were there. The timing for each camp was quite good. It took us a little bit to get used to the heat and how to handle it. The most difficult camp for me personally was Chiawa as I could not get into the shower but we rigged up a substitute shower head and everything got organized. Each of the camp personnel were very happy to assist in any way that they could. I cannot say enough good things about the camps and personnel. No problems at the borders; I did remain on the plane in Kasane while everyone else got off to go through customs as it was much easier.
Our two nights at the end of the trip to Johannesburg were great as it gave us a little time to get organized again. The tour by Robin Binkes was excellent. We went to the Apartheid Museum, the house where Mandela’s supporters were arrested and into the township of Alexander. Robin is an excellent historian and a most interesting guide."
Jeanne and Dave, South Africa, Zambia & Botswana, November 2008
SOUTH AFRICA and ZAMBIA
"All flights and transfers were smooth. If we could do it again we’d pay extra for first class it was extremely long travel and fairly uncomfortable especially the 18 hour flight to Johannesburg. There is little you could have done to make the trip better. We enjoyed it thoroughly.
We loved the Victoria Alfred Hotel. It was beautiful, comfortable and similar to what we are used to in the US. It was well located and the guest service was fantastic. The view was beautiful as well. We enjoyed the food, the all inclusive breakfast had a nice variety and we’d recommend this hotel to anyone.
Klein Oliphants Hoek Bed and Breakfast was quaint, clean and comfortable. The accommodations were lovely and the views were fantastic. The restaurant in house was excellent as well. We did not do any wine tastings at wineries due to a lack of time, but we did wander the town and found several nice shops and restaurants. We loved the area and enjoyed our stay.
Taita Falcon Lodge was beautiful. We were nervous at first because of the long drive down the dirt road, and when we arrived we found out we were the only people staying in the lodge for several days. We became comfortable fast and the staff was welcoming and professional. We thought the view was spectacular and the lodge itself was well represented in the brochures. It was luxuriously rugged. We enjoyed the lodge and each chalet was built out of bamboo walls and grass roof, a very nice African experience.
Victoria Falls was unbelievable and breathtaking. We did the microlite flight over the falls and I’d recommend that to anyone. It gives a great view of the falls and we were able to see several different animals from above as well. We also enjoyed the sunset cruise and village tour. I would remind guests to wear clothing suitable for getting wet, as we were drenched when we were near the falls.
The Mfuwe Lodge was fantastic as well. The guest service was excellent and the accommodations were wonderful. We did have a very nature like experience including frogs, mice, and spiders in our bathroom on different days. We had hippos eating right outside of our chalet in the middle of the night. We saw lions hunting and sleeping on several occasions, hippos, giraffe, zebra, elephants & baby elephants, baboons, impala, kudu, puku, waterbuck, many birds, we watched an eagle eat a snake, crocodile and much more. Apparently the rhino is no longer in the reserve due to poachers and that was disappointing. We had surprise lunches, and sundown fires on our game drives which were fun (the staff would set up and cook food for us in the middle of the reserve) the food was excellent and far beyond our expectations for a third world country.
We ended up canceling the rental car and hiring Ralph (tour guide) to drive us to the winelands, we were concerned about driving on the other side of the road and that was a good idea. The only thing I would recommend is to really enforce packing lightly, and perhaps upgrade flights if possible."
Catie and Brandon, South Africa and Zambia, May 2009
"Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOO much for setting up our Africa trip. I must say, when people ask me "What's your favorite place you've been?" from now on I am going to say Loisaba Ranch. The star beds are AMAZING!!!!! The whole thing was wonderful, thank you so much. We will be in touch when we get our wits together about Indonesia. I really want a liveaboard instead of land based...maybe we shoud try Tonga or some other place. I'll do a bit of research myself and then get back to you. We are getting itchy to get underwater. "
Laura, Kenya, August 2006
"My family and I recently went on safari in Kenya with your company. Our guide/driver was Walter Karanja and this note is to let you know what an outstanding job he and your company did. We had such a great time on the safari, going to Ol Tukai in Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, and also Sienna Springs Tented Camp. While we would love to tell you which one we liked best, there is no way we could decide. Each one offered something new and different. Never did we dream of seeing so many animals and so close up. Walter was amazing. I don't only mean his knowledge and professionalism but he just had a good personality that was a good fit with ours. We are very experienced travelers and it is sometimes difficult what with language and/or cultural barriers to form a relationship. We are folks who prefer to build friendships with guides and or other folks we meet in our travels rather than just "being served" by them.
made some observations regarding your operations and others that we saw.
Our vehicle was spotless every morning inside and out no matter that we
took it "mud bogging" the day before. Walter was always on time
and in a spotless and clean uniform. We noticed other operators whose
guides had a body odor, wore dirty t-shirts, and whose vehicles were
dirty and crowded. I could probably go on and on but suffice it to say that we
had a great time and that we give much much credit to Walter (and of course you, our
travel agent) for the success of our safari."
Jack and Family, Kenya, June 2007
"Our trip was wonderful. All the arrangements were perfect, great hotels and wonderful people. The dive shop had some of the most accommodating people we had ever encountered. With Rich's handicap they went out of their way to help him any way they could. The schedule was perfect also out to dive at 8 back by 12:30 leaving us plenty of time for other things. Since we went out every day they checked with us to make sure they weren't repeating dive sites for us. It was poor visibility which we knew going there at this time of year but did get to see some big stuff including four humpback whales that entertained us one morning between dives as we sat on the boat.
area was great too and had one day where the volcano was perfectly
clear all day. It only rained on the day of our drive to San Jose.
Again great people. All the guides and the people who drove us around
were very friendly and chatty so we learned a lot about Costa Rica just
listening to them. I will be writing a review again for the
Undercurrent magazine on the diving. If you want I will put your
contact in there again. We liked going away at this time of year.
Thinking Bali, Cuba or Hawaii. Thanks again for everything. Once again
it was a tremendous trip."
Kathleen and Rich, Costa Rica, December 2008
"The Cocos trip was a great vacation and adventure and I want to thank you for your assistance. Trip out and back was warm, sunny and calm and seemed to go by fast, the weather at Cocos was the same except for one evening when a storm blew in and later in the week we had a rainy day which fed the beautiful water falls along the island coast. I personally don’t care if it rains while diving, we’re there to get wet anyway. One afternoon we went to the island ranger station and hiked about 45 minutes up to nice waterfall for a swim and back massage under the falling waters.
Diving was amazing, we saw marble rays, mobulus rays, sharks
of all kinds including hammerheads, some on our safety stops, the seas and were
moderate to calm. Diving from the pangas was easy, roll back into the water
and climb the ladder back into the boat. We had a couple of chances to dive and
snorkel near a bait ball with dolphins, sharks, and large tuna feeding on the
smaller fish in the ball.
John and I took the
submarine ride down to 200 meters on the Deep See, we saw a palm frond from
previous day’s storm lying on the bottom with a moray eel looking out from
under it and two frogfish sitting on the branch. A mobulus ray swam by to check
out the new neighbors! They gave a certificate of the dive, a tee shirt, and a
The Sea Hunter was very comfortable and we could wander anywhere we wanted except the bridge and engine room while we were underway. We set up chairs on the bow for the ride back and worked on our tans and the stock of Imperial beer. The cabins were small though comfortable as usual on a live aboard but we spent most of the time on the sun deck or watching movies in the spacious parlor when we weren’t diving. The crew took excellent care of us while diving or back on the boat and we always had a snack waiting on our return from diving or excursion. Food was very good, dinner started with soup, then a steak, chicken, or pork loin and a vegetable along with salad and desert. Eggs, bacon, cold serials, with fresh fruit and juices in the morning and the excellent Costa Rican coffee by the gallon. Lunches were hot meals with rice, beans, and a meat on tray.
All in all it was an excellent trip that I would do over again."
John and Michael, Liveaboard Sea Hunter, April 2009
"I have just returned home from our 10 day trip to Cocos Island on board the Sea Hunter. I apologize but I forgot to fill out the comment book on board the ship before departing. Please allow me to share my thoughts on the trip.
The Diving: The diving was great! The week started a bit slow on the hammerhead count but by week’s end……..Wow! Great encounters with hammers, white tips, silkies, Galapagos & lots of schooling jacks, a few bait balls & more rays than I can count. All this while enjoying good visibility at all sites.
The Crew: Let me begin by saying that I have sailed on some of the finest live aboard vessels around the world but I have never sailed with a better crew!The crew of the Sea Hunter is the finest collection of people I have encountered in my 20+ years of live aboard dive travel. Speaking for all the guests on board, the crew members were more like long time friends that we had known for years. A very special thanks to Leo, Edwar & Javier. (Javier is one of the hardest working, nicest people I have ever met. You are very lucky to have him on the team!)
I departed Costa Rica with what I consider 12 people who I am proud to call friends! I only hope I can set sail with them again soon.
The Ship: The Sea Hunter was a wonderful base of operations to experience Cocos island. The cabins were comfortable and very well kept. The common areas of the ship were extremely well kept and contained all the comforts a diver might need on an extended trip. The food was very good and plenty of it. Louis was very accommodating on requests and the menu was great.
The dive deck was nice sized and very well thought out. There was plenty of room for suiting up as well as great room/facilities for the underwater photographers on board.
Deep See: Having Deep See on board was a very nice plus for this trip. At first we were worried it might hinder the ability of the ship to relocate closer to dive sites on the far side of the island. As it turned out the great dive skiffs made this a mute point & there was no need to reposition the ship during the week.
Deep See is wonderful! I cannot stress enough that if you are a serious diver and have a passion for the sea, YOU MUST experience Deep See! Period! Deep See offers you the unique opportunity to visit the deep ocean & and enjoy something that very few people will ever be lucky enough to experience. It is expensive, but when you consider the cost to build such a wonderful vessel & how rare the opportunity to experience a dive of this nature, you will find the cost insignificant. Trust me, it’s worth it!
Deep See Crew: Schmulik is truly a master at his craft. He was very informative and really made the dive fun as well as educational. You cannot help but get excited at his enthusiasm and be impressed with his precise touch in operating Deep See. I have no problem saying that you would be crazy not to take advantage of an opportunity to experience a dive on Deep See, you will never forget it. Eric was also very helpful and is a great addition to the team.
Conclusion: The entire Sea Hunter Group was wonderful and I can’t wait to return! Cocos Island is a very special place and if you are lucky
enough to plan a trip there, there is only one operation to sail with. That’s
the Sea Hunter family. Please pass on my
sincere thanks to the entire crew and let them know I will see them all very
John, liveaboard Sea Hunter, April 2009
COSTA RICA with COCOS ISLAND
"I am truly stuck for words which is why it has taken me a few days to write back to you. The entire trip was fantastic and we would both like to thank you and the team for putting it all together so seamlessly.
Pacuare Lodge was a piece of luxury in the middle of the rainforest (rain being the operative word) where we went zip lining, canyoning, hiking and obviously white water rafting. A truly stunning destination that we would both highly recommend.
As for the diving and the Sea Hunter crew, amazing is an understatement! The sea was perfectly flat in both directions and the sun shone for the majority of the trip. The main hammerhead action was at Small Dos Amigos and Alycone. Alcyone on our last day was the best dive of the holiday (if you exclude the bait ball we dove with the previous day - Galapagos and silkies everywhere!). There were huge schools of jacks, snappers and very close up hammerhead action followed by a mobula ray, more snappers and more hammerheads on our safety stop. The silvertips at Silverado had unfortunately followed our lead and gone on holiday but the white tips on the night dive at Manuelita thankfully hadn't and wow, what a spectacle. Needless to say, about five minutes after surfacing from our final dive we decided that this would not be our one and only trip to Cocos! The crew was attentive and efficient and we still remain shocked that we were being fed fresh salads on the way home from a 10 day trip. I think the only complaint I have is of the far too frequently seen speedos in the dining room!
Unfortunately for our bank balances, we decided that a once in a lifetime trip aboard Deep See was not to be missed. It is actually quite hard to explain the experience as it was so alien and yet so beautiful. The highlight was definitely the visit from the mobula rays at 200 metres.
To follow such an action packed two weeks with a stay at Punta Islita was perfect and the views over the Pacific coast from our balcony and the infinity pool were dream-like. Other than a highly comical surf lesson we layed by the beach, had extravagant massages and ate indulgent food for the whole three days. To do anything other than relax at this resort was impossible.
The only downside of the whole trip was having to come home. I know for certain that I have fallen in love with Costa Rica and specifically Cocos.
Again we would like to thank you and the team for all of your work. Please also pass on our thanks to the agents in Costa Rica who organised our land trip, everything ran incredibly efficiently and we didn't have to worry about a single thing throughout the entire three weeks - it couldn't have worked better."
Michelle and Nick, Costa Rica and Cocos Island on liveaboard Sea Hunter, April 2009Yemaya was incredible, food was awesome, service unbelievable!! Diving was solid, lots of big stuff, mixture of pelagics and reef fish, even game fish."
Tony, Liveaboard Yemaya, January 2010PANAMA
"Bianca and Reinhald do a great job. Reinhald even met us at the hotel when we arrived which was not necessary but very kind of him. Everything they arranged went perfectly and Reinhald called us often to check on things. The ride to Puerto Muntis was exciting, Otmar got stopped three times for speeding and it was educational to watch how he dealt with the police!
The trip on the Yemaya was great. Juan Carlos does an amazing job with the meals. Our cabin was great. We really enjoyed the crew. Juan and Franchesca were fun to dive with. Some of the diving was very challenging, with some really strong currents. But we enjoyed it all. Some of the diving is really not for divers that don't have alot of experience. Juan (divemaster) said the diving is more difficult here than at Malpelo or Cocos.
The Gamboa Rainforest Resort is a nice place but we were probably there a couple days too many. It's not really the type of place we like, it has a sanitized theme park feel to it, but that's just our preference. I'm sure there are other people that would like it just fine. All in all Panama is a great destination and diving on the Yemaya is a really good time. The captain, David, said we were some of the only people from the US that they have had on the boat. I would think that with the direct flights from Houston and California that this should be a very marketable destination for divers from Texas and Cal. Thanks for all you did setting this up for us!"
Earl, Liveaboard Yemaya, March 2011
“Mexico was wonderful. This is the third time I have been to Cozumel and it never fails to impress. The diving set up turned out great. Because we were six for the morning dives each day, I went to them on the day we arrived to see if we could get a small boat for just us each morning. We were assigned a small, fast boat with a great dive master. Having been doing this since 1976 I have learned that when you get good service tip heavily on the first day and you will get even better service, which we always do. The dive master took us under his wing and gave us a wonderful experience. Even when just Heidi and I (the two hard core divers) went diving alone, he joined the crew on the bigger boat and acted as our personal dive master, taking just Heidi and I separately. He even worked on his day off for us - GREAT!! The hotel in Cozumel was wonderful and as Heidi predicted having an all inclusive was perfect since we had three growing teenagers with us. They could eat whenever they wanted and as much as they wanted. The rooms were nice. They have lots of activities which you could choose to join and the boys did so, keeping them occupied when not diving.
We were met at the ferry just fine once we got to Holbox. Holbox is a very quaint area. Holbox Dreams was very nice. Rooms were nice and they have a pool in the middle court which was refreshing to dip in after the all day boat rides. Snorkeling with the sharks was everything I expected and MORE!! We did not see huge numbers of sharks like they saw later in July, but we saw enough to exhaust us completely. From the surface the sharks appear to be just strolling along, until you get in the water with them and try to keep up!! They are cruising right along and it a great effort to keep up. The VIP boat was worth every penny. With six people going in two at a time, you were just able to catch your breath before it was your turn again. After all the other boats went in for the day we were able to stay out and have sole access to the sharks. As a hard core shark enthusiast for several decades, I was in my glory!! Even my nephew, who never shows enthusiasm for anything (that's not cool!), was smiling and excited by the experience. I will definitely do it again, especially since my dive buddy Jane was not able to join me on this trip.
Thankyouthankyouthankyou for all of your great assistance in making this experience possible. I hope that now that you have set up this trip for us you will offer it to other people and spread the word about the sharks and Holbox so that these magnificent creatures might be saved from extinction by getting tourist dollars down there to support Holbox's efforts to turn LIVE whale sharks into a profitable resource!! “
Kathy C., August 2009
"Hello Dom and Kirsten - We all made it home safe and sound. Thanks for putting everything together for us.
I wanted to write and let you know what a wonderful time we had and to sing the praises of the resort. The resort is just lovely with ten acres to explore. Jim was so gracious to speak about all of their gardens and efforts to control their own use of resources. Robin runs a first class facility with a wonderful staff of people to accommodate all of our needs. The food was exceptional - some of the best we have ever had in all of our travels! The bures were roomy and very comfortable - October is a wonderful time to go - nice cool breezes to fall asleep to at night. The views from the facility are just beautiful. The dive operation is outstanding. Julie and Aaron (along with boat captain Tiko) run a first class operation. The most divers they will accommodate is eight with the two of them diving with us showing us all the critters. We had a good briefing of the boat, safety and marine life before we left the bay - one of the more detailed we have experienced in the past. They took care of everything including washing all of our gear each and every day and folding it right beside our BC. We also had wonderful snacks, hot cocoa and even a hot shower to use after diving. They treated us so well. The only caution I would give is for 1st time divers - the currents are quite strong at times and might be scary and intimidating.
We would highly recommend this resort to anyone that may ask and when we left on Sunday we had a tears in our eyes as they sang the Fijian goodbye song. The day room in Nadi worked our very well and we appreciate Tuula putting that together for us at the last minute."
Julia W., October 2009
"The trip on Island Dancer was very good. Super crew, great captain, wonderful food and good diving tempered only by some rainy weather and overcast. Since we had some non-divers on the boat we did more shore excursions, by choice, than other trips probably do, and it was a nice balance. The boat is in good condition and very comfortable. I love the fact that the service is so personalized with just ten guests…makes a huge difference. Thanks for your assistance with the trip."
Debby B., Liveaboard Island Dancer, September 2009
"Hi Kirsten – I have been so swamped since we returned from Fiji, but have been meaning to contact you to let you know that we LOVED Fiji and had a fantastic time! Both places we stayed were terrific. We especially loved the resort. The family was great, it was beautiful, wonderful food, just a great family feeling. The dive instructors (their daughter and her boyfriend) were fantastic teachers and helped me so patiently. And the diving was so amazing!! Biggest problem is that we have started scuba at one of the best places there is, from what I hear.
Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about the trip. Everyone thought it was our best vacation ever! I so appreciate all your efforts on our behalf and working within our budget to the extent possible. I have already told several people about you, and one in particular has already checked out your website and seems very interested in Fiji. Thanks again,"
Jan, Fiji, December 2009
"Hi there Kris - Sadly, back to the world. Great trip, but not without difficulty (not arrangements). Had much trouble with the Rebreather and finally ran into a problem I didn't have a spare part for and threw in the towel. But was able to cobble together an open circuit rig from assorted parts I brought and press on. Will bring many more rebreather spares next time. But ended up carrying back that scrubber all the way to Boston again. Grrrr.
As for the amenities, I'd pick the Novatell over Raffles for day rooms. Raffles was nice, but there were so many ravenous mosquitoes IN the room I arrived at the boat scratching like a mangy chimp. No such problems at the Novatell coming back.
The diving was great and we got lucky - the trip before us lost three days due to a cyclone passing through. We just had a few showers and clouds/wind. Highlights: a swell canyon that was a Grey Reef Shark nursery. We stuffed ourselves into a Peanut Gallery as the big mom sharks paraded in front of us coming very close over and over. A couple of dozen baby sharks came by in their group and were as cute as can be. A few really ornery Titan Triggers were guarding the exit from the canyon that did their best to goose as many of us as possible when we left. Plenty of lovely mantas around on other dives. Coral was quite spectacular - the most healthy I've seen this side of Raja Ampat. Essentially no bleaching at all. Very fishy, very sharky, plenty of octopus around. Almost no macro life - strange, but one can't have everything, apparently.
The boat Nai'a had a severe burnout and refit and the accommodations were all new and lovely. I lucked out and ended up with a single room after all. Crew was great, schedule was great.
That's all I can think of, except that the TSA is getting out of control. They had no problem with my gear, however I got the double treatment both in Boston & LAX. Full scan, shirt removed (!), pockets emptied, wallet searched (!). OK, maybe I do look like an Egyptian after all... Thanks for all the help!"
James, liveaboard Nai'a, Fij, November 2010
"What a fantastic trip we had to Belize and Honduras!
Chaa Creek was wonderful. The treetop jacuzzi suite was just amazing. We heard the howler monkeys one evening. Well, one howler monkey. He was so loud I swear it was just outside our villa. Very cool. As you mentioned, the food was good but very pricey. We enjoyed the cave tubing and took the zip line although I would not recommend the zip line. We did take the canoe trip to San Ignacio and really enjoyed that.
Robert's Grove was wonderful as soon as they upgraded us (for a small fee) to a more comfortable and spacious room. We ended up in one of the timeshare rooms. We were on the ground floor with two huge bedrooms, each with their own bath. A living room and dining room. The best part we had a view of the ocean which was just steps from our front door. We also had a large veranda with a hammock and chairs. I must say the food at Robert's Grove was excellent, and very reasonable. The weather was nice. It rained late in the evening almost every night, which was great. The days were perfect. Some clear and warm and others with a bit of cloud cover which was a nice change. The kids passed their certifications with flying colors and absolutely love diving. Jerry and I were thrilled. The entire staff at Robert's Grove is wonderful. We took the bikes into town several days and enjoyed the Tutti Frutti gelato. The best I have ever had. Rumfish and The French Connection were wonderful. We also stopped into Francis Ford Coppola's place for drinks one evening. Very, very nice place.
As you probably know, all flights out of Belize to Honduras were cancelled because of the military coup. We had to extend our stay at Robert's for a few days, which was fine. We took a boat to Honduras, then a cab to SPS, which was an adventure in itself.
Our stay at CocoView was amazing. The beach house was very funky indeed, but we loved it. There was no air conditioning so it took us a night or two to get used to it. They provided beach cruisers to get to and from the dining/bar area and dive boats from the beach houses. It was great. I would recommend the Flamingo Beach House to anyone. Also, we had full use of the washer and dryer in the house which was much needed. CocoView is the most organized and amazing dive resort Jerry and I have ever seen. If every dive resort ran like this one it would be a complete joy. While at CocoView we took the Extreme Zip Line which was wild. This is one not to be missed. The platforms are very high with eight or so of them and the lines stretched out as far as 200 to 300 yards.
Jerry and I want to thank you and Kirsten again for putting together such a wonderful trip. We had a fantastic time and can't wait to plan the next dive trip. The kids are looking forward to diving with sharks."
Karen P., October 2009
"Hi Kris -- trip was great. No problem at all with flights even though it was TACA! CocoView is a great place. I went alone and had no problem meeting people. Great topography on the dives -- swim throughs etc. and lots of good fish. Not a lot of bigger animals though -- not sure if that's just the time of the year or the area we dove."
Gordon, CocoView Resort, February 2010
"Thailand was an amazing trip, once in a lifetime experience that we will always treasure.
All the hotels were first class. They were all so different. The Chedi Chiang Mai was beautiful and sleek and probably one of the best values for what we got. The Raffles was perfect colonial for Christmas and the Zeavola was rustic and primitive but lovely. The Shangri-La was also well located and good value. Not only was there a FULL breakfast but high English tea AND early evening appetizers and cocktails each day. The least good value was the Phuket Chedi. I get that this was the tippy top high season and we were renting a two-bedroom cottage but it was over $1000 per night! But the beach was spectacular.
The best meals outside of the inclusive breakfasts were the ones outside of the hotels at the local places. The guide in Bangkok was invaluable in taking us to local, nice places for not very much money. We ate almost exclusively Thai and Cambodian the entire trip except for breakfast and some lunches and the kids were fine with that. The tours were fine. We skipped the temple tour and craft village tour in Chiang Mai because we knew we were going to Angkor Wat the next day. Oh, going to the umbrella factory was cool, where the kids got custom painted umbrellas. We loved Elephant Farm, it was the highlight of the trip. Tell any and all of your clients going to Thailand. It was life transforming.
Guides were all good. Ying in Bangkok was great. She was so knowledgeable and helpful. Phone in Chiang Mai we barely used but he was great too. Kong in Siem Reap was fantastic and has been leading groups there for 22 years. Drew and I LOVED Angkor Wat. Kids less so but it was amazing and I’m glad we went.
In addition, we did snorkeling in Phi Phi and rock climbing there too. These were great excursions and we wish we could have done more rock climbing. We also chartered a fishing boat in Phuket and the kids really enjoyed it. They caught lots of fish and they prepared a really nice lunch for us of fresh steamed fish, fish we caught, grilled squid and shrimp and fresh fruit. Kids ate it all! If I were to do this trip again, I would skip Phuket and go to Krabi and do rock climbing and more snorkeling.
I am happy to speak to any clients you have who are considering this trip and would tell them our opinions. Thanks again for all your help and guidance."
Katrina and Family, Thailand, December 2009