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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just returned from 9 days diving (well, sort of), on the 7 Brothers Islands out of Djibouti.

Following a host of delays and wasted time on the boat we(Mr. and Mrs. Enzo) have only had two hours sleep.

Hence this is a pre-warning of a not very happy dive report from supposedly one of the best tour operators around.

I'll post the full report over the weekend of my personal experiences and I'm sure our new friends Chris and Carolyn will be along shortly to post theirs!!

Pictures may be included depending upon whether I can be bothered to re-size.

If you are thinking of going on this boat/trip...........get a drink and sit down.



Enzo

Off to bed, again.
 

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aka Chimp 1 or Mavis...
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Excellent.

:popcorn: & :cocktail: ready
 

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Should be interesting..

Liisa and I were the first Tony Backhust customers on the 7 Brothers trips they ran in Feb this year - we were both very very impressed.

Wondering where they went wrong?
 

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Jury's Sworn-in , first witness please!

Aren't these moments just the most exciting , the anticipation is building up.
 

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Blimey, he's having a long lie-in - maybe we should give him a ring!! A fellow shouldn't pre-post without following through - my crisps are almost gone :(

Dianne
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Firstly, my apologies to Jay for clogging up his forum.....

OK, are we sitting comfortably? - then I'll begin.

After having dived the Southern(ish) Red Sea for a few years now, me and Mrs. Enzo decided it was time to experience what a little bit more money could buy us in the way of luxury liveaboards and something 'different'. Well, different it certainly was!

By chance LIDs was fast approaching and so we decided to get up there and chat to 'supposedly' the best in the business. That's right, Tony Backhurst Scuba Tours.
We had a rough idea of what trip we was interested in- the Seven Brothers, out of Djibuti.
We spoke to two people on the T.B. stand and explained that the sort of diving we were after was something along the lines of Brothers/Elphinestone/St. Johns reef etc. We asked if they had any pictures of the diving, their reply was "oh, we havn't had time to get them printed". Can you see were this is going yet??
Both people extoled the virtues of the Seven Brothers and the excellent wall diving/marine life in residency. Even the boat had just been 'refurbished' throughout. This is just what we needed, no crowds and unspoilt corals.

Our deposits were paid there and then, made even better with a show 'discount'?!

The pictures on the stand only showed two areas of the boat, both looked very nice and smart.

Well, onto the trip I hear you cry.

We arrived at Djibuti airport only to then have to find our 'Tony Backhurst' rep. After a protracted discussion/guessing in pigeon english/french with a man holding a clipboard, we finally found our names on one of his sheets of paper. Ahhh, we are now part of Djibuti Divers - obvious really. Then met Lea after picking up our bags.

Visa and transfers not too bad, even met up with Chris and Caz - also from England. The rest of the boat were all from France (20 - 4).

One of the first things Mrs. Enzo asked Lea on the boat was the arranging of a Nitrox course. This was also discussed on the T.B. stand and we were told it would be 80 euros, payable on the boat. Lea said that would not be a problem and left it at that. We were also introduced to Mamox, the dive guide. Then it was time to be shown the 'luxury' room. On first impressions, not too bad. Until the smell of mould/damp became too strong to ignore. I know, let's open some portholes - no worries. We''ll pick this up later....

First the compulsury check dive- no dramas there then. We had some dinner and the boat was then motored up to the Seven Brothers. We awoke with the boat moored in a sheltered bay which was to be our base for the week. Diving was to be conducted from the two felouk's being dragged behind the boat. No RIB's, apparently it's too humid down here for them to last. This was Lea's reason anyway. And I thought they were meant for 'wet' enviroments.

The first dive brief was (as we soon discovered to be a recurring theme for the week) conducted in French for about 15-20 minutes and our pigeon english brief for about 4 minutes. Not exactly the fluent French and English speaking guides as described in the DVD supplied by T.B.

This briefing scenario was carried out before every dive with us even helping Mamox with hard to describe terms such as the 'tail' of a fish etc. Mmm, not that fluent then??

Now, what also happened on EVERY dive is the only dive guide for 24 people - Mamox, would descend very quickly to whatever depth he had loosley explained and then swim into the current for the whole of the dive until he had eventually left every one behind. This was made all the more simple due to the wearing of some lovely Sporasub Spearfishing fins. It's nice to know that your best interest's and safety are being monitored throughout the dive. We eventually became fed up with this game of chase the dive guide and just went our own ways - with the current.

The coral gardens were some of the finest I have ever seen, with so many fish that would just swim right up to you and and stay there. Now whose doing the watching??
We were still waiting for the drop-offs and walls that were promised on the T.B. stand, maybe tomorrow......

After a few days of diving "very beautiful"(in a strong French accent) coral gardens, we asked Lea about the mystery drop-offs and walls. Her reply was that they do not have any here and it is mostly gentle slopes......WTF!!!:angry:
It did not get any better from here on.....

One day, I asked Lea for some fresh towels as ours needed changing. Her first response was for one of the staff to hang them out up stairs for us! No, I said, can we have some fresh ones please? Oh, I'll get someone to wash these for you. In the meantime, have two bathrobes to use........

It was now becoming apparent that the boat was not quite as 'refurbished' as one was led to believe.
Almost every single door on the boat would not close without a good 'shouldering'. Every single picture had mould forming inside the glass. Water was leaking through into the main cabin from 4, yes 4 seperate light fittings. A tea towel was our daily reminder not to tread in the areas. Momox explained this was from the cabins above.....was this waste or fresh? Whatever the source, it had been hapenning for a long time, as evidenced by the rotten wood ceiling panels. One day, between dives, I found not one but TWO cockroaches in our beds. These must have been related to the one I spotted crawling over the teabag box up in the main lounge. Luckily, I don't drink tea!!

The week was just perfectly finished when we discovered that:-
* We could not dive in the bay where we spotted dolphins twice a day.
* Only 4 of the islands were dived (must be the 4 Brothers Trip). Some dive sites were visited 3 times.
* Not one person from Tony Backhurst has ever been down to check the boat or dive package out on the Brothers Trip. This was straight from Lea.
* The boat is not owned by Tony Backhurst, it's just chartered.
* We had to leave, still with two dive days remaining, to dive a wreck and drift along a silty slope with some rocks dotted along. Why not spend a full day diving and then steam back - ala Red Sea.

As part of our 'package' we were also entitled to a dive on Moucha Island. Which as it turned out, was quite a laugh with only the four Brits. The French having been safely packed off to their hotel for TWO days!
Alex, the dive guide was such a breath of fresh air. He even had time to talk to us and point out different things during the dive. We could even see him underwater....

After the dive in the morning, all that we could do was sit in the shade and relax. No siteseeing because the Shade Temperature was 39'C. And almost 48 in the sun. Hot Hot Hot.

I won't even go on to tell the storys of delayed planes, left standing outside the airport for an hour, just to get in. No return phone calls from the holiday rep about pick up times for transfer to airport. And the case of the forgotten Nitrox course for 3 people, even though we asked Lea twice.....


I could go on, but that would take all the fun out of someones holiday.

And so to summerise.

Never expect the boat to be the same standard as the rest of the fleet, even after winning 'Liveaboard of the year' and best 'Dive operator'??

Never believe what you are told on a show stand, even when they tell you they have visited the boat.

Never get on a boat with a French guide called Mamox, he really does not want to be there.


A few piccies to help you visualise your next 'luxury liveaboard'....


Enzo :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Waiting...........

I'll keep you all posted with regards to T.B.'s action plan...!?


Enzo.
 

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mrsenzo

Well Mr Enzo just about summed up the 5star diving/holiday expected. He forgot to mention that I nearly broke my kneck in the falouka's on the first day, all for the sake of some non-slip matting in the bottom! How can ribs disintegrate in similar seas to the Red Sea? Maybe it is the 29 degree heat??

Also Lea's main purpose is to parade a different swimsuit each day colour coordinated of course and not show up until at least 3-4pm and party with her friends that were invited on board. Nitrox what Nitrox? Daddy must be so pleased with her....

Night dives extremely entertaining 24 people set off into a head on current (which of course we were told was not there as usual) without any dive guide at all on both dives! We reccd the dive site the second time snorkelling and advised all divers not to swim into the current that our wonderful dive guide said was not present. Not sure he knew what tides/currents are?? Perhaps its all in the translation who knows!

I am in the process of writing to Tony Backhurst directly, with an edited version of Big Brother Djibouti the real deal. Will let you know what the response is shortly...

Better than the red sea, I think not... Very beautiful corals and lots of fish life with no dive boats, if you like bimbling along on sady bottom max 20m dives this woud be the dive for you... but you can get much cheaper further up with better boats, less hastle with the trip/airport and have change for another holiday....:angry:
 

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Thanks for posting this. I was thinking about heading to Djibouti later on in the year on the Whale Shark itinerary but now am having some serious second thoughts.
 

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Well, your thread and more importantly your pictures have pretty much ensured that I won't be giving my money to TB this year as planned.

Many thanks for your post, and good luck with getting a satisfactory resolution.
 

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Thanks for your post.

I had not quite as rough a time as you on a trip on Hurricane in February. I haven't posted anything about it, as I believed it to be an unfortunate one-off.

TB have dealt with our complaints really badly. I spoke to him about a month ago, and he mumbled a few apologies, mentioned 'vouchers' and said he would personally look into it and would get back to me when he returned from a trip.

Nothing since.....

I think TB has just got a bit too big, and they no longer have the quality control they had in their early days....

Good luck with your complaints...
 

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Complaint

thanks for the advice on how your complaint was dealt with, maybe vouchers and heading out on the Hurricane is not an option then!

how on earth do they keep winning liveaboard of the year then??
 

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That's really awful when you have spent so much money and had the holiday hyped up to that extent.

Our club has used TB a few times and had good holidays but we once complained because we had awful (and I mean REALLY horrible) guides. He - TB - went over to Egypt and sacked them.

We also, with another company, had a hyped up boat on a deep south trip which turned out to be a broken, cockroach infested skip. We got £100 each back which was fair enough.

You can never expect luxury on a liveaboard but the descriptions and expectations should be modified to match the reality!!

And swimming into a current all week? What the blue blazers is that all about?

I really hope that they act on your complaint and sort it out.
 

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thanks for the advice on how your complaint was dealt with, maybe vouchers and heading out on the Hurricane is not an option then!

how on earth do they keep winning liveaboard of the year then??

Ah..............

I'm on Typhoon in two weeks doing 'Get wrecked'. I know its not the same area or boat but the customer service described in this post worries me.:frown:
 

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Sorry if I've alarmed people.

I've used TB for the last 7 years, and never had a problem before. They've always been very good. The trip wasn't horrendous, and we actually had a lovely week - just a few irritations and a bad last day, which I wanted to point out - if no one complains to TB, they don't know what is going on out there!

But all of us that complained (at least five of us) have been palmed off, and had aggressive/defensive letters back from Tornado marine.

What also annoyed me was that Tornado replied and left in all the email history. TB had forwarded my email to them with the comment... "can you do another of your replies please" :mad: Doesn't look too good really, does it!

And now after waiting another month, I'm getting a bit peed off to be honest.

But that's just my experience and, as I said, I've always had great holidays with TB - Grand Sea Serpent last year was the best crew and boat I've ever had...
 

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Ah..............

I'm on Typhoon in two weeks doing 'Get wrecked'. I know its not the same area or boat but the customer service described in this post worries me.:frown:
Nick, the wife and I did 'Get Wrecked' in March see http://www.yorkshire-divers.com/for...6-typhoon-get-wrecked-17-24-march-2007-a.html for our report.

Enzo
sorry to hear you had such a bad time, I will be interested to see how TB deals with this, as we were thinking of doing something like this next year (looking for something different), not quite so sure now.
 
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