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September 2004 Vol. 30, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Reader’s Reports: Part II

airline problems and attitudes

from the September, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Bahamas Find:We did a full review of the Hawk’s Nest (Cat Island) in September 2002 and noted that if a solid dive operation were in place, the quality of the accommodations and food and diving would make it a real Bahamas find. Several readers have told us recently it’s come together. Chuck and Nancy Anson, who have a thousand dives under their collective weight belts, report on their June trip. “Diving was super good with visibility 150’+ on the remote walls. Caves, swim-throughs, grooves, pinnacles, and vertical drops with spectacular views. Healthy coral, sponge, and sea fans on the walls, most as good as Cozumel. At The Trench, we were guided down an open trench to a cathedral-like cave 40’ long and 30’ high, encrusted with beautiful coral and sponge growth, that opened into the deep blue water at 105’ and a wall covered with plate coral, huge barrel sponges, and large gorgonians. We saw schools of horseeyed jacks, Bermuda chub, permit, ocean trigger, yellow stripped jacks, a reef shark, and a nurse shark during the week. The shallower dives were good for fish, large schools of the usual tropicals, and critters in crevices, but visibility dropped to 60’ - 80’ and the flat bottom areas had the Bahamas algae plague. The dive operation is well run. The dive boat is a 28’ fiberglass Panga powered by twin Mercurys to get to remote sites quickly. Randy has the dive sites on GPS, knows them well, and leads a good dive. He lets you do your own thing once he knows your ability. The large, comfortable rooms had recently been refinished.” Looks like a comer.

Kosrae: Micronesia is so distant that people who pick Truk or Palau as their primary destination usually add a few days on Yap. Jeanne and Bill Downey, stopped off at Kosrae instead. “Kosrae is untouched by large hotels. The Kosrae Village Ecolodge has ten open-air thatched huts along a winding path through the jungle, close to the ocean. Our room had twin and double beds enclosed in mosquito netting. We were transported in ten minutes to a marina where we boarded a small pontoon boat with no more than six divers. The diving was wall/slope diving with fantastic visibility. We saw barracudas, turtles, eagle rays, sharks, grouper, a huge variety of small to mid-size fish, eels, nudibranchs, and other invertebrates. Kosrae has to be the world’s Christmas tree worm capital, and home to hundreds of clown fish. Some coral formations looked like castles. We did all easy drift diving, starting around 80 feet and moving up the slope. Beautiful sunrises, tasty food, killer brownies, and a great way to break up the trip.”

Flight Problems I: Cayman Islands: Cayman Air decided to compete with Island Air between Grand Cayman and the sister islands, but their attitude doesn’t seem to have caught up with their flight schedule. Chuck Levine (Red Lion, PA), a frequent visitor to the Caymans, says Cayman Air seems to “regularly lose/misplace/ forget luggage. It doesn’t seem to bother the airline personnel with whom we interacted that the absence of personal belongings (including dive gear) might negatively impact a week long vacation.” Jerre Sadler (Bartow, FL) says, “Cayman Air’s unprofessionalism, and unfamiliarity with customer service is all but unrivaled.” However, service may be improving. Marc Pothier of Paradise Villas told us that both Cayman Air and Island Air now run a “one plane schedule” with two planes. Each adds extra flights when things are busy. Cayman Airways Express now has their own counter so people aren’t missing their flights anymore.” Still, he says, Island Air has the more dependable service.

Flight Problems II: Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire. Lots of divers book American Airlines through Puerto Rico, with flights to the ABC islands on smaller American Eagle planes. And man, do we get complaints. Clay Coleman (Baton Rouge, LA) says, “In August, late flights, cancelled flights, endless delays, and lame excuses. There were 16 divers in our group and not a single checked bag arrived with us. However, the bags arrived on the next evening’s flight. 15 folks from that arriving flight did not have their luggage, so it seems that the American Eagle flight from San Juan operates on a daylate schedule for luggage.” George Wilkens (Boulder, CO) says in June, “Dutch Caribbean Airlines: Miami to Curacao flight was delayed so much that we were forced to spend Saturday night in Curacao. The 10-minute flight from Curacao to Bonaire was supposed to leave Sunday morning, but we did not arrive in Bonaire until 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Our luggage was not delivered until Monday morning. We lost diving for Sunday and half of Monday. Our return was so delayed that we missed our connecting flight, we had to spend the night in Miami.” Be forewarned.

Hold: We’ve heard a few disquieting comments on Fiji’s new Bamboo Beach resort – not quite ready for prime time – on Nananu-I-Ra Island, built by the former owner of Marlin Bay. And questions about the once top drawer Crystal Divers – not delivering the top sites like before. To use stockbroker terminology, these are neither a buy nor a sell, just a hold. Same for Bubbles Below on Kauai – not delivering with quite the same panache. Another hold, that is, hold out for more information. And, why do those divemasters at DiveTech on Grand Cayman have an attitude? We reviewed them not long ago, but comments this summer suggest that they’re a bit full of themselves, at the expense of the customers who pay their salaries.

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