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Dive Review of Mermaid Liveaboards in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Mermaid Liveaboards : "Avoid Using Mermaid Liveaboards!", Mar, 2020,

by Michael Francis , CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 9 Helpful votes). Report 11474 has 6 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments April, 2020
Times of crisis, such as Covid19, have a way of revealing the true character of a company. This was unfortunately the case of the Mermaid Liveaboard (“Mermaid”) company. Until the Covid19 crisis, I held the impression that Mermaid was a reputable well run company. After the Covid19 crisis experience, Mermaid revealed itself to be disreputable, greedy, money grubbing, and rude toward their repeat guests. I urge any divers considering Mermaid to look to and book with one of the many competing liveaboard operators.

Here is my March 2020 story. I paid in trust 3400 euros well in advance of my scheduled Mermaid Raja Ampat liveaboard excursion, as required by Mermaid. Even though travel restrictions to the Raja Ampat departure port, Sorong, were pouring into Mermaid, Mermaid provided me with assurances that the excursion would occur as scheduled. Relying on these Mermaid assurances, I traveled half way around the world incurring very substantial travel expenses and exposing myself to the Corona Virus in connection with such travel to get to Sorong. When I arrived in Manado, Indonesia, a few days before the scheduled Mermaid excursion, I contacted the Mermaid because I heard Sorong was closed to foreign travelers. Finally, Mermaid advised me that the excursion was canceled.

This was very disappointing news to say the least. However, my initial thought was, not a problem, Mermaid would certainly refund my money since the excursion was canceled. I was wrong. Mermaid absolutely and unapologetically refused to refund my money. After much deliberation, Mermaid unilaterally decided to provide me a 3400 euro credit toward a future Mermaid excursion. After considerable thought and research, I reluctantly came to accept the 3400 euro credit.

After traveling back to the United States and after a week or two in quarantine, I went to the Mermaid website to book a 2021 liveaboard excursion using my 3400 euro credit. I saw on the Mermaid website that there is a 20% early bird discount in effect. My reaction was great, my 3400 euro credit will effectively cover the cost of my 2021 excursion. I was wrong again. Mermaid advised me that I could not apply my credit to the early bird rate for the same excursion. Again, Mermaid unilaterally decided that the 20% discount for early bird bookings only applied to new bookings and claimed my 2021 booking using my 3400 euro credit was not a new booking.

So, the situation is this, even though Mermaid has enjoyed the use of my 3400 euros since 2019, Mermaid now refuses to allow me to take advantage of the Mermaid’s 2021 advertised early bird rate using my very real 3400 euros. Mermaid essentially stated that I must pay Mermaid an ADDITIONAL 600 euros to use my 3400 euro credit.

When I pointed out the unreasonableness and unfairness of Mermaid’s unilateral credit policy, and I offered a fair compromise that gave full value to the 3400 euros I paid. Mermaid responded again with a rude and unapologetic no. In this response and other responses Mermaid cited some legal mumbo jumbo to justify its unreasonable position and suggested the Mermaid was doing me a favor. Plus, even though Mermaid touts itself as a “premier liveaboard,” Mermaid said its credit policy was like most other liveaboads. (It is curious that even though Mermaid claims its prior agreement provides it the ability to treat its guests so unreasonably, Mermaid has added numerous additional provisions to its agreement protecting the Mermaid's interests at the expense of it guests.)

What this boils down to is the Mermaid is holding my 3400 euro credit hostage to subsidize new bookings and demanding I pay a 600 euro ransom for me to use my 3400 euros.

Again, Mermaid’s actions toward this repeat guest has revealed the true character of Mermaid. That is, Mermaid is disreputable, greedy, money grubbing and rude because it takes Mermaid’s sole interests over those of its guests. I urge my fellow divers to look to and book with other liveaboard operators.

As a closing note, I shared a draft of this review with Mermaid before I posted it to give Mermaid another opportunity to change its unreasonable and unfair position and do the right thing. Although Mermaid stated it’s was “sorry” and recognized I was “upset,” Mermaid again refused to be reasonable and fair toward this repeat Mermaid guest.
Websites Mermaid Liveaboards   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Raja Ampat, Similan Islands, Tubataha, Komodo, Nusa Penida, Palau, Galapagos, Cozumel, St. Lucia, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, Roatan, Belize, Redondo Beach, Catalina Island, Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands, Bunaken, Maldives, Maumere
Closest Airport Sorong Getting There Sorong is difficult to get to. Indirect flights are generally available from Jakarta and Bali.

Dive Conditions

Weather Seas
Water Temp -°F / -°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility - Ft/ - M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available?

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters N/A Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
Was this report helpful to you?
Report currently has 6 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By nikkijd in , at Apr 27, 2020 23:08 EST  
Thank you for sharing. I, too, have lost the fight with a live-aboard company for a refund of two trips. I really feel your pain. I think these forums will be useful for us booking future travel based on these companies' performance now. It's not looking good for them, in my opinion.
By report author: Michael Francis in CA, US at Apr 28, 2020 10:52 EST  
Thanks Janice, if you feel comfortable doing do, let us know the live aboard operators.
By Kay Golding in Banora Point NSW, AU at Apr 29, 2020 20:33 EST  
Michael Francis booked an adventure of a lifetime with his group of guy dive buddies – Mermaid I Raja Ampat to Ambon March 17-28 followed by Stella Maris in the Philippines April 16-22. Due to his partner wanting to join him/dive, he transferred his booking (which was also in part paid by a credit from several years ago) from Mermaid I March 17-28 to Mermaid II March 27-April 4 in a budget cabin. They wanted to book deluxe however it was fully booked. Michael took his booked flights departing the US on March 15, arriving in Indonesia on March 16. Mermaid Liveaboards did not mislead him about the situation in Indonesia nor was our ability to run his trip date impacted before his arrival into Indonesia. Through multiple emails with his booking agent, direct calls and emails, the guests were kept updated with known facts and decisions required in light of what was unfolding in front of us all during the very days immediately prior to his trip. There were rumors on the evening of March 16 about foreigners joining flights into Sorong, however it was not till March 17 late in the day that any vessel received official notification from Jangkar – Indonesia Liveaboards Association, that Sorong had advised airlines not to ticket foreigners into Sorong. This meant not to issue new tickets… Mermaid Liveaboards had a number of guests arrive on March 17 to join Michael’s originally booked cruise. All foreigners with existing/purchased tickets were still being permitted to fly to Sorong and arrived through the week when Sorong airport officially closed to foreigner arrivals. Any foreigners in Sorong/Raja Ampat returning from their cruises were able to take flights back to Jakarta or other areas open in Indonesia into early April. Many boats continued their trips as their guests were either in/or arrived to Sorong until the airport finally closed to all foreigner arrivals. Those returning from trips were able to make their flights to Jakarta to meet their international departures on their vessels’ return. On March 19, we decided that as there was uncertainty about how long Sorong airport would remain open (a major foreigner destination) and no uncertainty at that time associated with Ambon, we needed to plan the best solution for all our guests. We had 6 guests in country booked on a variety of cruises through to mid April able to join the Mermaid II March 27 and 2 already on Mermaid I who indicated they would join an Ambon rescheduled trip, we formulated the best plan for all parties was to fly guests to Ambon and join a special cruise on Mermaid I Ambon-Banda Sea-Ambon and started to review this option with our guests. For most this was a vessel upgrade, with no extra trip costs being charged and a great destination (see the You Tube vdo of Mermaid I March 17-28 – amazing diving). This trip finally did not happen due to most of the guests deciding they were best to return to their home countries. Excerpts from our terms and conditions relating to this matter :- - Acceptance of the above booking means that you and or your agent agree to the terms and conditions as outlined below in their entirety. - Guests are strongly recommended to have valid medical, travel and cancellation insurances* - Mermaid Liveaboards will do their best to transfer the guest to a vessel the company deems to be of similar or better standard, Alternatively, we may ask the guest to transfer to the date before/after their cruise - Lastly Mermaid Liveaboards, its Indonesia operations company nor its booking agency CMC Marine Ltd, do not offer refunds in the event of personal injury, airplane delay, breakdowns, weather, sickness, strikes, war, criminal acts, quarantine, acts of god, if another guest requires immediate evacuation and the vessel must return to port or for any other event beyond the Company’s actual control No one likes their travel plans to be interrupted like this and the impact of travelling due to covid 19 pandemic was certainly way beyond Mermaid Liveaboard’s control. In good faith, we have issued all guests affected by Covid 19 travel restrictions with a straight date transfer or a price paid credit voucher valid through to an extended period June 30 2023. Additional payment is required if a guest wishes to book something of higher value that their date transfer/credit voucher. Michael rebooked a deluxe cabin at a higher value than his credit voucher and took further umbrage at receiving an invoice for the difference. There are many operators around the world who have not issued a refund nor a rebook… Mermaid Liveaboards have truly done their utmost to manage through an unprecedented situation. We have to have one sets of rules for all and the majority of our guests have been most gracious and understanding. As mentioned in the very issue of Undercurrent that Michael wrote in, the majority of vessels are facing months without running and the implications of that brings grief to us all. We will manage but we are certainly not in a position to provide anything else for free or to manage in any other way than we have already. We truly feel for Michael Francis as his whole plans went out the door due to Covid 19. Fortunately, both Mermaid Liveaboards and Stella Maris, who were also forced to cancel only at last minute due to only last minute airport closure, have provided Michael with free rescheduling of what he originally booked – so his trip of a lifetime can go ahead, albeit it 1 years later… We wish him well and safe diving.
By report author: Michael Francis in CA, US at Apr 29, 2020 22:19 EST  
Obviously the Mermaid and I have a very different view of the facts. Although the Mermaid should have provided me a full refund, I did accept the credit. Mermaid should have honored the full 3400 euros that was paid in the credit instead of discounting it. (I had a Mermaid credit from a prior excursion because I insisted Mermaid provide such credit because I was moved to a budget cabin instead of sharing a deluxe cabin with a seriously sick diver Mermaid allowed on the boat.). As discussed above, I requested the Mermaid apply my 3400 euro credit to the Mermaid advertised early bird rate for a deluxe cabin, and I offered to pay the difference after applying the 3400 euro credit. That was the fair offer I referenced above. Mermaid rejected my offer. In terms of “KNOWN facts,” Mermaid admitted it received several notices that Sorong was closing that predated the March 17-18 televised news broadcasts that Sorong airport was closing to foreign travelers . Mermaid did not share any of those notices. Mermaid later tried to justify its failure to share such notices because they were reportedly unofficial. I stand by my comments.
By alan rider in VA, US at May 08, 2020 12:31 EST  
Assuming you paid with a credit card, contact them and check their "holding" time. e.g. My Visa is 30 days. If within it, tell the CC agent to cancel the transaction, and they will.
By Toshihisa Tsunoda in Tokyo, JP at Apr 19, 2023 01:51 EST  
Toshi Tsunoda April 18,2023 "Avoid Using Pearl of Papua! All payment before Covid-19 was completely forfeited, even Tags for Raja Ampat!"
By Toshihisa Tsunoda in Tokyo, JP at Apr 19, 2023 01:52 EST  
Toshi Tsunoda April 18,2023 "Avoid Using Pearl of Papua! All payment before Covid-19 was completely forfeited, even Tags for Raja Ampat!"
By Kay Golding in Banora Point NSW, AU at Apr 20, 2023 06:58 EST  
Michael Francis was refunded when wishing to cancel his credit rebook . Credit notes by the way was the global norm for covid management . He and his buddies have a booking inquiry on Mermaid II in 2024
By report author: Michael Francis in CA, US at Apr 20, 2023 11:14 EST  
It is true that I have rebooked with the Mermaid. I have done so over my objections to dive with my buddies. I am going to give Mermaid another chance. However, additional facts should be shared regarding my credit refund. First, Mermaid should have refunded my complete payment in 2020. Second, Mermaid attempted to unilaterally revise my 2019 contract to include a substantial fuel surcharge. When I pointed out that the Mermaid could not unilaterally revise the contract, the Mermaid then offered to refund my money. Third, the Mermaid charged me a 100 euro fee to refund the money it received from me in 2019. I would like an apology and thank you from the Mermaid for giving it a second chance instead of a “BS” justification for it bad behavior and lousy business practices.
By report author: Michael Francis in CA, US at Apr 20, 2023 11:14 EST  
It is true that I have rebooked with the Mermaid. I have done so over my objections to dive with my buddies. I am going to give Mermaid another chance. However, additional facts should be shared regarding my credit refund. First, Mermaid should have refunded my complete payment in 2020. Second, Mermaid attempted to unilaterally revise my 2019 contract to include a substantial fuel surcharge. When I pointed out that the Mermaid could not unilaterally revise the contract, the Mermaid then offered to refund my money. Third, the Mermaid charged me a 100 euro fee to refund the money it received from me in 2019. I would like an apology and thank you from the Mermaid for giving it a second chance instead of a “BS” justification for it bad behavior and lousy business practices.
By report author: Michael Francis in CA, US at Apr 20, 2023 11:14 EST  
It is true that I have rebooked with the Mermaid. I have done so over my objections to dive with my buddies. I am going to give Mermaid another chance. However, additional facts should be shared regarding my credit refund. First, Mermaid should have refunded my complete payment in 2020. Second, Mermaid attempted to unilaterally revise my 2019 contract to include a substantial fuel surcharge. When I pointed out that the Mermaid could not unilaterally revise the contract, the Mermaid then offered to refund my money. Third, the Mermaid charged me a 100 euro fee to refund the money it received from me in 2019. I would like an apology and thank you from the Mermaid for giving it a second chance instead of a “BS” justification for it bad behavior and lousy business practices.
By Kay Golding in Banora Point NSW, AU at Apr 20, 2023 17:28 EST  
The terms and conditions stated clearly on all invoices including the right to add fuel surcharge at any time . With fuel prices running at 120% higher than the cost of fuel precovid majority of vessels were left with no option thsn to pass on a fraction of these costs
By Kay Golding in Banora Point NSW, AU at Apr 20, 2023 17:28 EST  
The terms and conditions stated clearly on all invoices including the right to add fuel surcharge at any time . With fuel prices running at 120% higher than the cost of fuel precovid majority of vessels were left with no option thsn to pass on a fraction of these costs
By report author: Michael Francis in CA, US at Apr 20, 2023 17:46 EST  
To be clear and honest, Mermaid tried to justify its substantial fuel surcharge fee by pointing to a unilateral contract amendment that post dated my contract with the Mermaid. When I pointed out this attempt to unilaterally change the contract was invalid, Mermaid finally offered to refund my money almost 4 years after I paid it. There is a saying I offer to the Mermaid as friendly advice, “if you find yourself digging a hole, stop digging.” The facts are before my diver peers to judge for yourself. I have rebooked with the Mermaid recognizing the risks associated with dealing with this sort of business operation. I suggest my fellow divers recognize these risks and proceed as you deem appropriate given your risk tolerance.
By Toshihisa Tsunoda in Tokyo, JP at Apr 20, 2023 23:18 EST  
Our situation is much worse. We 12 divers lost more than USD20,000. Pearl of Papua made an unacceptable request two months before our departure, The price was higher than the price quoted by live-aboard.com, Theu insist us a minimum number of passengers to operate our schedule, even though it was not a charter. When I request a full credit or even a partial refund, they say they can't do that. The quote ”To your knowledge, your 2020 trip payments have already been paid to vendors and third parties and we are unable to get that money back. We have lost the money either.” We have already secured plane tickets and have no choice but to change to another ship.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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