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May 2006 Vol. 32, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Nekton Pilot Plays Reservation Roulette

from the May, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Thumbs DownIn our travel reviews and chapbooks, we print comments about specific live-aboard cabins, because all cabins are not equal. Some are too close to the engine room, while others are too close to the galley. And some are just plain undesirable, as we have noted for several years about the Nekton Pilot, which serves the Bahamas and Belize.

After reading Chapbook complaints about dampness and mold in the Nekton’s lower cabins, subscriber Grant Rowe (Schenectady, NY) asked for a room on the upper level. “The person who took our reservations assigned us an upper-level room number,” he recalls, adding that she acknowledged the condensation problems. “To our surprise,” says Rowe “when we arrived we found that we had been moved to a lower cabin with a 2-foot diameter wet spot already on one bed.” He protested, so they moved him to a second lower level room, which also had condensation problems. Rowe says he was offered a $50 onboard credit as compensation, “but there wasn’t anything to purchase other than chemical glow sticks or a video of the trip.”

A Nekton reservationist told us “It might have been our screw-up.” She noted that their web site ( says: “We make an effort to accommodate requests but cannot guarantee any cabin requests. No refunds or adjustments will be given if you do not for any reason receive the cabin you requested.” However, no one told Grant Rowe about the disclaimer.

The reservationist said one upper cabin is set aside for handicapped guests, so someone might be moved if a handicapped person signs up later. Single divers signing up later get cabins with single beds.

Rowe didn’t think it was an error, saying that all the upper cabins were taken by a group of friends or couples who arrived at the boat before him and, he surmises, probably complained. Rowe says, “I didn’t push it because it would just mean a week of hard feelings if they did evict someone.”

Do other live-aboards take cabin requests? The Aggressor’s Wayne Hasson told Undercurrent that “Customers can view our cabins on the Internet and request a specific one. No one can change the assignment after that.” Aggressor reservationists ask booking parties if they want to request a certain room and as many as 30 percent say they do.

Dorothy Johnson of Mike Ball Dive Expeditions says passengers can lock in cabins when they confirm booking. The vessel layout is on the website ( Explorer Ventures, which operates several liveaboards, also guarantees cabin requests, according to President Clay McCardell.

Larry Speaker of Peter Hughes Diving says, “We guarantee the category of cabin but not the specific cabin number.” Mechanical problems or the need to match up single divers can cause a reservation to be relocated. If someone is downgraded the difference will be refunded, says Speaker.

If three out of four of their biggest competitors can guarantee room requests, surely the Nekton might consider it, since Undercurrent readers don’t want to sleep on damp beds.

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