Rum Runner I Liveaboard, 2003
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By: Dave Anthony

More a warning than a report, unfortunately!

I've just returned from a liveaboard on board the Rum Runner I, operated by Coral Sea Diving Company out of Cairns, Australia. I felt I was so badly ripped off that I had to warn read on!

The trip as advertised was an overnight trip to Holmes Reef, followed by 2 days of diving before another overnight trip home. The first part of the trip went reasonably well, although it was pretty choppy and about half the people on board were seasick. The food was great (for those that could face it!), even for vegetarians, which I really appreciated - I've been on other boats and ended up on baked beans for the week, not a great idea in enclosed cabins!

We arrived in time for the first couple of morning dives, which were spectacular - 40 metres plus visibility, pristine coral, reef sharks, barracuda, trevallies, garden eels, cuttlefish. So far, so good.

Then the problems began. The northwesterly winds that had made our trip out choppy began picking up to about 15-20 knots, and the company had no moorings suitable for winds from that direction, which apparently only blow a couple of times a year. So, we had to turn back and head for shore. Obviously we were all pretty annoyed about this - but things got worse when we arrived back at the office and were told we were only entitled to a 25% refund.

While we all understood that the company doesn't control the weather, the winds had been forecast, and were already blowing when we left Cairns, so noone could understand why they had sent us out in the first place. There was no way we could get the trip we had paid for, so sending us out seemed like a very greedy bit of money-grabbing.

It seems that the company manager had originally refused to offer us anything, and only changed his mind on the advice of his marketing manager. He became quite abusive when we pushed for a bigger refund, and threatened to give us nothing if we continued complaining... So, if you're headed that way, my advice would be to avoid Coral Sea Diving Company and the Rum Runner I at all costs! Service obviously comes second to profits as far as their manager is concerned...


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