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Hi all,

sorry to clog up another forum but here's my report on our recent trip to Djibouti with Tony Backhurst. I notice the lovely Enzo's have already popped their thoughts up and these are similar, but damn it, I wrote mine first! :teeth: Apologies is this isn't quite forum etiquette, I'm new to this:embarassed:

Djibouti – April 07
Tony Backhurst – c£1300

Djibouti is a small ex-French country right in the horn of Africa’s arm pit. Near equatorial humidity hits you like a warm wet flannel when you get off the plane and stays with you until you enter the boats air-conditioned rooms and cabins, where it turns into a much colder wet flannel of equal force. But that’s what you expect from this part of the world.

We’re here to dive. All year long we’ve saved for the big trip and now it’s finally here, we’ve struggled through the delights of a delay in a retail closed Gatwick North terminal, suffered the antiquated plane with its antiquated entertainment and food, stopped off in Paris to pick up the rest of the divers (only 4 from the UK) and passengers, negotiated the unhelpful but pleasant air side airport greeting staff in Djibouti (who don’t know who Tony Backhurst are, but will let you look at their printed out e-mail to find your own names) and even skipped past the Presidents entourage in the harbour to join our vessel, Djibouti Divers 1. A warm welcome greets you in the form of Lea, owner’s daughter and leader who met us land side at the airport, and Momox, who turns out to be the dive guide and course instructor.

According to the web site and adverts, the boat is refurbished, restocked, and ready for eager divers, and is part of the wonderful fleet of TB boats. So what does is hold for us? The usual for a dive boat really. A dining galley to sit all 24 of us, a rest area in the cool, nearly enough space in the covered outside area for us all, a sun deck/sheesha bar, and the obligatory jacuzzi. The cabins are big enough although usually small, the en-suites have the necessary and most lights seem to work. The air conditioning can be turned from disturbingly loud and cool to slightly less disturbingly loud and slightly less cool, or off. The Dive deck has enough room for all 24 with moderate ease and the boat has enough staff to help in all manners without any real delay, and are typically friendly and helpful. The food so far has been the usual carbohydrate extravaganza accompanied by fish and meat in a variety of sources, all very nice and tasty.

The diving, which is why we’re here, is surprisingly unspectacular. We know we’re out of whale shark season which is the big draw to this region but thought there might be some spectacular sights and creatures to see. There are the usual suspects down here but in slightly bigger proportions. None of the sea creatures have been frightened off yet and are much more inquisitive than their more northerly cousins which makes for great fun on the long bimbles. And there are many bimbles. There’s only one deep dive here (40m) and that’s not so spectacular and comes with its own feisty current. We are in the 7 Brothers area and have moored for a few days in a quite bay, taking foluka rides to the dive sights which vary from 20-40 mins journey. We are to do each dive site twice but at different times of the day apparently, although we seem to be repeating yesterdays “dusk” dive tonight at night. It was our choice, we could have gone at dusk. The dolphins seem very friendly and playful down here and most have seen them at safety stops or snorkelled with them during the ride back to the boat. A squadron of devil rays, a sword fish, and a baby reef shark are to be added to the list so far. The Coral is plentiful, pristine and utterly beautiful and there’s absolutely no rubbish anywhere. Apart from the few bits that have been broken off by our French photographers, all of the coral is still totally intact. Everything is at this time a little milky and getting worse as the coral gets jiggy with it, but with the sun out the visibility is a good 10-20m in places.

This all sounds wonderful, so why am I not my usual elated self? Well, it’s because we’ve come to expect just that little bit more from TB, and for this trip we paid more than just that little bit more too! It’s the little things that stand TB out from the rest and you’re prepared to pay for them.

It’s not so much that there are only 4 UK divers and that everything is pretty much conducted in French apart from the very, very abridged version of the dive brief tagged on the end for us non frenchy types. It’s not that so far almost every dive has not been totally as gleamed from the interpreted dive brief. It’s not that currents apparently suddenly turn tail and run in opposite directions from said brief. It’s not that half the doors of the boat don’t fit properly and eagerly applaud any journey the boat makes. It’s not the musty cabins and linen, which after some experimentation turns out to be damp mattresses and pillows. It’s not that the boats main in-door area has water drops from several of the light fittings (supposedly from the bathrooms of cabins upstairs) which have ruined the wood ceiling and drop indiscriminately on any one passing. It’s not that everything is about 1hr later than advertised on the first day, which means so far the last dive is an even more murky one. It’s not that you feel you’re getting about a quarter of the regular info on the day. It’s not that the boat still has masking tape on it from the refurbishment. It’s not that the foluka’s have some rivets and screws sticking out of the side making the entry a tad randomly death defying, and the paint comes off in your hand giving every one a fair go in the Blue Spotted Ray look a-like competition. It’s not the lack of anti slip matting in the foluka. It’s not that the PADI courses are taught via only very passable pigeon English, if you can actually get any info on them from the crew. It’s not that the dive guide is always the first on the foluka home and isn’t so much a dive guide but more a race leader. It’s not that the boat never has a shot line, or a tank, or a drift line out for returning divers. It’s not even that the sun never came out today. Who can you blame for that!

No, it’s the fact that when you put all this together you wonder if you’re actually on a TB holiday at all. Perhaps your booking got mixed up and you’ve ended up on a cheap charter from a local port. But no, your bank account says you’ve paid for the real deal (unless you managed to grab a dive show or late internet deal, and even then you’re left feeling a bit hard done by). This just doesn’t feel like the same class at all. Nothing about this set up says TB. You start to notice the other little things. The missing grouting between the basin and pedestal. The mould a third of the way up on every picture. The rust marks on the doors and fixtures. The cupboard knobs that come off in your hand. The cracked cups. The fridge lid that doesn’t close properly. The wall paper lifting at almost every edge. The flaking paint work. The dive guides are fairly uninterested and rarely socialise (and so far commonly wrong about the currents and rarely actually check them). There’s little communication so that when a dive was cancelled due to currents (and we all have the same opinion about the validity of that!) we weren’t told until they brought up some nice dough balls with a semi cheery smile (by this time it’s a little late to go snorkelling/climbing the hill/walking the beach or pretty much anything you could have if you’d have known the score). The boat is tired and unimpressive.


Here comes the real rub. Now we’re at the end of the holiday and we’ve spoken to most of the other guests and the boat representative, Lea, it turns out that TB have not visited these dive sites and only came to recci the whale shark trip. Compared to what’s advertised, this, in reality, turns out to be a very different sort of package. This is indeed a lovely coral garden area with most of the sights being between 12m and 3m. It’s lack of magnificence is made up for only by the lack of divers, and they are no more special than any that the red sea have to offer, even shore based. There are no drop off’s at all despite what the web site says and you only visit 3 of the 7 islands. It also turns out that we’re only the twelth set of TB divers to come and most have said the same thing. It’s not what they thought it would be and feel they’re been miss sold and used as a trial package.
To a man (and woman) we’ve said that had we known we’d have not come and gone to do the diving we like, such as the Brothers or Elphinstone.

So, is it worth the money? Absolutely not. Is the diving it’s self worth the trek down? Not unless its whale shark season or you get a stonkingly good deal which suppresses the fact that you should probably have opted for any of the better served southern Red Sea trips. If what you actually want from a dive holiday is a very laid back, pleasant, Parisian style, expensive dive in a coral garden on an average boat then this is for you, but I’d check out Regal who do the same for less, European agents who do this trip for less, or wait a few more years till it’s not so ‘exclusive’!

Sub note: Having just returned home after spending the day on Moucha island (there is nothing there and at 48 degrees walking around the island isn’t an option) and the day in the Sheraton (the best Djibouti has to offer? It’s a very average hotel with no hot water and a tired “2* in Marbella” looking outdoor area), and then the debacle that is Djibouti airport (think chickens and goats on a crowded local bus but with less information about what’s going on), I’d have to say it will now be many years before I think about returning to this area, even at the right price!



To be fair to TB, I've had fantastic holidays with them before and this will probably not stop me form taking others. This one is way below their usual and I hope that we will receive the appropriate response from him when he returns to the country and reads all our letters, in an attempt to appease loyal customers! I'll keep you posted........



PS. to the lovely Mr & Mrs Enzo... thank god you were there!!:thumbs_up::teeth:



[Darn - i have some pics of the boat too but not with me.. i'll add later. -:redface:]
 

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That's a really well written report Chris! And I'm glad you maintained your sense of humour. I really hope you and your friends get some joy in the form of compensation from TB, it is not good enough is it? I found it helpful to send photos when we had a similar experience of a very expensive and disappointing southern Red Sea tour.

And to be fair, normally, as you say, TB are very good. Hopefully they will value your feedback.

Try a bit of UK diving this year and save a few bob eh?

Good luck. :teeth:
 

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3.5 brother's just about

Thank you Chris, likewise the company made up for the holiday and we hope to sell the benefits of coastal diving off Brighton to you both very soon!
 

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Not on my boat their not.......:cat: :cat:

Enzo

PS only joking Chris. Hurry up and get down this way soon, there must be at least 3 bottles of S/Comfort here that need 'dealing' with. Tell Caz to bring the Spiced......we have ice.
 

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Hi all,

sorry to clog up another forum but here's my report on our recent trip to Djibouti with Tony Backhurst. I notice the lovely Enzo's have already popped their thoughts up and these are similar, but damn it, I wrote mine first! :teeth: Apologies is this isn't quite forum etiquette, I'm new to this:embarassed:

Djibouti – April 07
Tony Backhurst – c£1300

Djibouti is a small ex-French country right in the horn of Africa’s arm pit. Near equatorial humidity hits you like a warm wet flannel when you get off the plane and stays with you until you enter the boats air-conditioned rooms and cabins, where it turns into a much colder wet flannel of equal force. But that’s what you expect from this part of the world.

We’re here to dive. All year long we’ve saved for the big trip and now it’s finally here, we’ve struggled through the delights of a delay in a retail closed Gatwick North terminal, suffered the antiquated plane with its antiquated entertainment and food, stopped off in Paris to pick up the rest of the divers (only 4 from the UK) and passengers, negotiated the unhelpful but pleasant air side airport greeting staff in Djibouti (who don’t know who Tony Backhurst are, but will let you look at their printed out e-mail to find your own names) and even skipped past the Presidents entourage in the harbour to join our vessel, Djibouti Divers 1. A warm welcome greets you in the form of Lea, owner’s daughter and leader who met us land side at the airport, and Momox, who turns out to be the dive guide and course instructor.

According to the web site and adverts, the boat is refurbished, restocked, and ready for eager divers, and is part of the wonderful fleet of TB boats. So what does is hold for us? The usual for a dive boat really. A dining galley to sit all 24 of us, a rest area in the cool, nearly enough space in the covered outside area for us all, a sun deck/sheesha bar, and the obligatory jacuzzi. The cabins are big enough although usually small, the en-suites have the necessary and most lights seem to work. The air conditioning can be turned from disturbingly loud and cool to slightly less disturbingly loud and slightly less cool, or off. The Dive deck has enough room for all 24 with moderate ease and the boat has enough staff to help in all manners without any real delay, and are typically friendly and helpful. The food so far has been the usual carbohydrate extravaganza accompanied by fish and meat in a variety of sources, all very nice and tasty.

The diving, which is why we’re here, is surprisingly unspectacular. We know we’re out of whale shark season which is the big draw to this region but thought there might be some spectacular sights and creatures to see. There are the usual suspects down here but in slightly bigger proportions. None of the sea creatures have been frightened off yet and are much more inquisitive than their more northerly cousins which makes for great fun on the long bimbles. And there are many bimbles. There’s only one deep dive here (40m) and that’s not so spectacular and comes with its own feisty current. We are in the 7 Brothers area and have moored for a few days in a quite bay, taking foluka rides to the dive sights which vary from 20-40 mins journey. We are to do each dive site twice but at different times of the day apparently, although we seem to be repeating yesterdays “dusk” dive tonight at night. It was our choice, we could have gone at dusk. The dolphins seem very friendly and playful down here and most have seen them at safety stops or snorkelled with them during the ride back to the boat. A squadron of devil rays, a sword fish, and a baby reef shark are to be added to the list so far. The Coral is plentiful, pristine and utterly beautiful and there’s absolutely no rubbish anywhere. Apart from the few bits that have been broken off by our French photographers, all of the coral is still totally intact. Everything is at this time a little milky and getting worse as the coral gets jiggy with it, but with the sun out the visibility is a good 10-20m in places.

This all sounds wonderful, so why am I not my usual elated self? Well, it’s because we’ve come to expect just that little bit more from TB, and for this trip we paid more than just that little bit more too! It’s the little things that stand TB out from the rest and you’re prepared to pay for them.

It’s not so much that there are only 4 UK divers and that everything is pretty much conducted in French apart from the very, very abridged version of the dive brief tagged on the end for us non frenchy types. It’s not that so far almost every dive has not been totally as gleamed from the interpreted dive brief. It’s not that currents apparently suddenly turn tail and run in opposite directions from said brief. It’s not that half the doors of the boat don’t fit properly and eagerly applaud any journey the boat makes. It’s not the musty cabins and linen, which after some experimentation turns out to be damp mattresses and pillows. It’s not that the boats main in-door area has water drops from several of the light fittings (supposedly from the bathrooms of cabins upstairs) which have ruined the wood ceiling and drop indiscriminately on any one passing. It’s not that everything is about 1hr later than advertised on the first day, which means so far the last dive is an even more murky one. It’s not that you feel you’re getting about a quarter of the regular info on the day. It’s not that the boat still has masking tape on it from the refurbishment. It’s not that the foluka’s have some rivets and screws sticking out of the side making the entry a tad randomly death defying, and the paint comes off in your hand giving every one a fair go in the Blue Spotted Ray look a-like competition. It’s not the lack of anti slip matting in the foluka. It’s not that the PADI courses are taught via only very passable pigeon English, if you can actually get any info on them from the crew. It’s not that the dive guide is always the first on the foluka home and isn’t so much a dive guide but more a race leader. It’s not that the boat never has a shot line, or a tank, or a drift line out for returning divers. It’s not even that the sun never came out today. Who can you blame for that!

No, it’s the fact that when you put all this together you wonder if you’re actually on a TB holiday at all. Perhaps your booking got mixed up and you’ve ended up on a cheap charter from a local port. But no, your bank account says you’ve paid for the real deal (unless you managed to grab a dive show or late internet deal, and even then you’re left feeling a bit hard done by). This just doesn’t feel like the same class at all. Nothing about this set up says TB. You start to notice the other little things. The missing grouting between the basin and pedestal. The mould a third of the way up on every picture. The rust marks on the doors and fixtures. The cupboard knobs that come off in your hand. The cracked cups. The fridge lid that doesn’t close properly. The wall paper lifting at almost every edge. The flaking paint work. The dive guides are fairly uninterested and rarely socialise (and so far commonly wrong about the currents and rarely actually check them). There’s little communication so that when a dive was cancelled due to currents (and we all have the same opinion about the validity of that!) we weren’t told until they brought up some nice dough balls with a semi cheery smile (by this time it’s a little late to go snorkelling/climbing the hill/walking the beach or pretty much anything you could have if you’d have known the score). The boat is tired and unimpressive.


Here comes the real rub. Now we’re at the end of the holiday and we’ve spoken to most of the other guests and the boat representative, Lea, it turns out that TB have not visited these dive sites and only came to recci the whale shark trip. Compared to what’s advertised, this, in reality, turns out to be a very different sort of package. This is indeed a lovely coral garden area with most of the sights being between 12m and 3m. It’s lack of magnificence is made up for only by the lack of divers, and they are no more special than any that the red sea have to offer, even shore based. There are no drop off’s at all despite what the web site says and you only visit 3 of the 7 islands. It also turns out that we’re only the twelth set of TB divers to come and most have said the same thing. It’s not what they thought it would be and feel they’re been miss sold and used as a trial package.
To a man (and woman) we’ve said that had we known we’d have not come and gone to do the diving we like, such as the Brothers or Elphinstone.

So, is it worth the money? Absolutely not. Is the diving it’s self worth the trek down? Not unless its whale shark season or you get a stonkingly good deal which suppresses the fact that you should probably have opted for any of the better served southern Red Sea trips. If what you actually want from a dive holiday is a very laid back, pleasant, Parisian style, expensive dive in a coral garden on an average boat then this is for you, but I’d check out Regal who do the same for less, European agents who do this trip for less, or wait a few more years till it’s not so ‘exclusive’!

Sub note: Having just returned home after spending the day on Moucha island (there is nothing there and at 48 degrees walking around the island isn’t an option) and the day in the Sheraton (the best Djibouti has to offer? It’s a very average hotel with no hot water and a tired “2* in Marbella” looking outdoor area), and then the debacle that is Djibouti airport (think chickens and goats on a crowded local bus but with less information about what’s going on), I’d have to say it will now be many years before I think about returning to this area, even at the right price!



To be fair to TB, I've had fantastic holidays with them before and this will probably not stop me form taking others. This one is way below their usual and I hope that we will receive the appropriate response from him when he returns to the country and reads all our letters, in an attempt to appease loyal customers! I'll keep you posted........



PS. to the lovely Mr & Mrs Enzo... thank god you were there!!:thumbs_up::teeth:



[Darn - i have some pics of the boat too but not with me.. i'll add later. -:redface:]
my girl went last year £1500+ and no big fish, plus crap vis :frown:
Can't honestly say i was on the verge of booking a TB holiday, but these reports have been saved within "ze little grey cells" for future reference.

Thanks all.
 

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errrrr, errrrm, help needed. I've got a dive buddy booked to go to Djibouti next week, travelling alone. I'm not sure what's the best thing to do. Show him this and the other trip report and really piss him off, or hope he finds a totally different experience (judging by some of the pics, if the same boat then it's gonn abe difficult me thinks).
I'm not sure on the boat but he's definitely having to fly to France first and he thinks he 'may be' the only English guy on board. ALmost certain he mentioned TB also.

Arrrrrrgh Help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
if he speaks perfect French he'll be fine. As long as he forgets the amount he's spent on it! I'd warn him so at least he know's what to expect. Advise taking books and lots of them! =)
 

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Host the pictures somewhere else like flickr and then provide links to the posts here. You can then have up to 10 pictures (I think) per post.
 

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Herewith my cabins "referbishments"

(Can't seem to get more than 2 pics up here and i've made these small!)
mmmmm nice sink! I hate being the bearer of bad news, especially for something that has nothing to do with me and compounded by the amount of money it will have cost.

Will give him a call tonight. He's been away to the Farnes this week diving with Sovereign:eek:mg:. I can see a pattern forming here :teeth:
 

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Definitely tell him!

I would show all the messages and if he would like any further info we would be more than happy to help. Cannot imagine being the only Brit that will be even more horrendous. If he likes sunbathing in 50 degree heat and occassional diving on sandy bottom corals with guides that constantly convince you it is very very beautiful - will be fine! TB may of course change the holiday....

PS. those were great pictures Chris!
 
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