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January 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Sri Lanka Aggressor Cancels Early Trips

from the January, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Sri Lanka Aggressor

Did you have a good dive trip during the holidays? If you did, you were a lot luckier than subscriber Mike Jöst (Würtenberg, Germany), and presumably all the other guests booked on a December Sri Lanka Aggressor trip. Twenty-eight hours before he was to depart from home, he was notified by Andrew Rachlin of the Aggressor Fleet that the newly minted boat was undergoing maintenance and his trip was canceled.

Aggressor apologized profusely for disrupting his vacation plans, and, unlike many other liveaboards we have reported on, offered Mike a refund of his airfare expenses, plus a $500 voucher redeemable for another Aggressor trip within the next two years. If he does not want to reschedule, they say they will fully refund the charter fees already paid.

We might have assumed this was due to an unforeseen mechanical problem. Surely, Mike would not have appreciated putting to sea in a vessel that was likely to break down. So, we contacted Wayne B. Brown, president of the Aggressor Fleet, who told us, "The vessel is in no way unreliable. For every new build, there are always tweaks you want to make once you have everything loaded and a couple of charters completed.

"We commit to our guests the ultimate in liveaboards, and when that does not occur, we take immediate action. While we looked very hard at all options other than canceling charters, at the end of the day there are just not any down weeks where we could take the time without affecting guests for the next two years, so the decision was made to take the next couple of weeks."

Fair enough, but this is precisely why we have warned our readers not to rush off on new liveaboards and new itineraries, but to give the operator a couple of months to sort things out. Too often, it seems, new craft have early problems to address and get pulled out of service -- or, in fact, don't even get finished in time for their first scheduled trips.

Mike handled the cancellation well. With no time to make other plans, he decided to head to Sri Lanka anyhow, and as planned, spend his first week at Unawatuna Rockside Cabanas for some diving and sightseeing. "However, I'm looking frantically for some alternative; there are no other boats cruising, but I thought of a trip down to the Maldives, but still have to get flights." He may also look for a place to stay and dive near the Kalpitiya Peninsula, "which would have been the target and turning point for the Aggressor."

After Mike arrived in Sri Lanka, he told us that he contacted the owner of the Sri Lanka Aggressor (the boats are owned individually, and fly the flag of the Aggressor Fleet), who told him it was not their first cancellation and that it was connected with bureaucratic problems in getting all the permits required.

Hmmm ...

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