Once a year, my dive buddy Alfred Kirkland and I
charter a live aboard dive boat to some world class destination and invite
friends to join us there. Initially we used a travel agent, but problems
developed and we've since formed a club, set up a bank account, registered
with the IRS, and taken to organizing the trips ourselves. Between us, we've
been to Papua New Guinea, Grand Turk, Belize, Palau, the
Pacific Northwest, the Red Sea, Cay Sal Bank, the Galapagos, Truk, and the Maldives.
For 2004 it's a return to Papua New Guinea, this time Kavieng, in July.
We generally organize by email, from folks who've dived with us on long range trips
before. We are mostly early-30's to mid-50's in age, with a few above and below that.
We come from all walks of life, and have with an enormous amount of
international dive experience. Photos of many of us can be seen in the dive trip
photos section on the left menu.
Big discounts for full boat charters.
Chartering a full boat usually results in the following discounts
to the chartering agent:
- 2 free berths.
- A 3rd free berth if chartered by Jan 31.
- 10% individual discounts,
(instructor, senior citizen, etc)
- 10% commission on the gross due.
Each item varies from boat to boat, with specifics known on each trip,
before signup. This is easy to understand by visiting one of the Status
sheets from past or ongoing trips on the left menu.
Since we are a non profit club, we simply
reduce everyone's price by the amount of the discounts. This always results
in a 25% savings over the rack rate. When combined with individual discounts,
where applicable, the resulting discount sometimes approaches 40%.
Division of the discounts.
All the discounts are divided among the participants, including the organizers.
- Free slots are divided equally among the participants.
- Individual discounts are applied as earned.
- Commission is rebated as a fixed % per dollar of room cost.
Higher cost rooms
receive more rebate.
- Park fees, decompression chamber fees,
etc. are added to each bill.
Who can go.
Anyone can travel with us. We usually have 2-3 openings for new people per trip.
It's easier on the trust factor if
they know us, or at least know someone who has been on trips with us before.
Otherwise they're sending a check blindly to someone whom
they only know from email. Not usually a good idea.
Folks come from one of several dive email
lists, others from no email list at all, and are located worldwide geographically.
They must actively use email, or we can't maintain contact with them.
Nobody is required to join anything, pay any dues, or attend anything except
the dives. We don't sell email addresses. In fact, we don't sell
anything at all. We don't arrange hotels, flights, tours, etc.
We just charter the boat and pay them when due.
How much is the deposit?
$500. The same, or slightly less, than dealing with the dive boat
What are the progress payments?.
The deposit and the final payment are all there is. We must pay 90 or 120
days before departure (boat dependent), so we begin collection 60 days before that.
We have to get international transfers, and that takes some time.
What if I pay and can't go?
As in anything else, you could lose all your money. We will make every attempt
to sell your slot to someone on the waiting list, and failing that, to anyone else
you or we can find. There are no limits on who you can sell it to, or for how little.
However, if the slot remains unsold, you will be out the money.
Your dealing directly with the dive boat has even bigger risk, as they'll not pursue
the replacement as vigorously, and will also recommend you buy trip insurance. Trip
insurance is equally applicable to travelling with us. If you can't go, they repay
you, and the system is made whole.
What if the boat doesn't sell out?
That's happened in the past.
Since we've put all the savings into discounts, everyone has to
make up the shortfall. For example, if we fall one short on a 16 passenger boat,
it works out to be around $120 each. What started out as a $500-700 discount
works out to a $100 less. Still, a substantial saving,
and everyone is motivated to join the search for the final slot filler, to boot.
With our expanded roster of travelers, we usually have a solid wait list, and
sometimes even run two trips to accomodate people wanting to go two places.