Jump to content
twhi

Subject: Raja Ampat Cityseahorse Deb Fugitt Ondina

Recommended Posts

Deb, nothing is more challenging then dealing with people, especially people that dont just complain, but want to hurt you, as this person seems to want to do. As you know I am a physician in practice for near 23 years now. Ive had my share of tough situations, and people to deal with. If this is the only complaint you've had in all this time, your way ahead of most. All we can do is what we think is best, and believe in ourself. Im sure you had no intention to deceive anyone. There is no conspiracy .You've had years of full trips and happy divers. Keep up the great trips.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it makes any difference Deb, your liveaboard is now on my radar for over seas trips in the next few years as somewhere I'd consider, primarily because you do cater specifically to photographers. I'm sure there's other people reading this thread that are in the same boat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deb, since you're asking for suggestions, I'll field a few:.

 

1. When someone writes just " lots of beer" and "4 dives a day" to a 'serious' screening questionnaire, one would think a mild flag of followup would be in order if one were into "quizzing non-photogs extra hard." Of course when you have so many trips to organize, it's understandable that something like that would slip by. Definitely the onus of research is on the client, but since you say you screen your client list to ensure cohesiveness, perhaps such details are worth looking into the future?

2. If there was someone skipping 1/2 the dives, it's not usually a big problem but there could be health or other issues they did not mention etc. If a group of 4 people were skipping 1/2 the dives, it could possibly be a sign of something being amiss. Perhaps this entire episode could possibly have been avoided if you'd spoken to Tom directly during the trip (or even after) instead asking his friends. Of course running the boat and dealing with the other guests is hard as it is.

3. With so many responses from former clients (even non clients responded negatively to the review) negating Tom's obviously biased view, was it necessary to even respond directly (especially since you don't usually do so?) to Tom? Your very long reply (which I admittedly skip read because of the length and just jumped to the colored bits, thanks for that) publicly airs the possibly private communications between you and a client could possibly cause a stain of unprofessional behavior. I would think letting your reputation and clients do your talking for you would be the best response, but I obviously don't think like you do.

Anyhow, I'm happy for you that you are getting more business calls because of this incident. Bad publicity is better than no publicity as they say. Hopefully Tom (twhi) realizes that research is important before any trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Since you're asking for suggestions, I'll field a few:.

 

1. When someone writes just " lots of beer" and "4 dives a day" to a 'serious' screening questionnaire, one would think a mild flag of followup would be in order if one were into "quizzing non-photogs extra hard."...

2. If there was someone skipping 1/2 the dives, it's not usually a big problem but there could be health or other issues they did not mention etc. If a group of 4 people were skipping 1/2 the dives...

3. was it necessary to even respond directly (especially since you don't usually do so?) to Tom?

 

1. That't the problem with me not giving ALL the correspondence. Tom was joking a lot in emails.. so I took those form comments as a joking way to say "nothing specific, I'm happy with anything". BTW.. he is a photographer. Presented himself as a photographer. I was surprised he had the camera he did, but I've seen divers with inexpensive cameras that take EXCELLENT photos and are really into it.

 

2. Tom and 2 friends were not skipping the same dives. Some sometimes skipped the 7am dives to sleep in and they all skipped anything after their afternoon Margarita time. Also skipped others, but randomly. Made it difficult to arrange diving for the others as we never knew who would show up for a dive. And then there is open deck.. and its almost impossible for me to keep track of who is diving since I'm in the water myself.

 

I'm not a warm fuzzy person.. so that's why I hired a cruise director who is. He was talking to Tom.. even guiding him sometimes, yet he also got no requests.

 

3. Yes, it is necessary to respond to Tom's post. No one else knows what happened in full and I need to be sure anyone reading his post understands the facts. I named him so that any other group organizers can find this if they research their potential guests. I'm sure most dive ops and travel agents won't avoid him, they'll just go for the $. But there are specialy tour organizers who DO care about getting compatible people on their trips. The posts here should benefit them as well as divers who are planning trips.

 

I know you are trying to moderate, but for every item you come up with, I probably have a logical explanation that requires even more facts to detail it. I was shocked by Tom's post. It was totally unexpected and full of false information.

 

DebF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3. Yes, it is necessary to respond to Tom's post. No one else knows what happened in full and I need to be sure anyone reading his post understands the facts. I named him so that any other group organizers can find this if they research their potential guests. I'm sure most dive ops and travel agents won't avoid him, they'll just go for the $. But there are specialy tour organizers who DO care about getting compatible people on their trips. The posts here should benefit them as well as divers who are planning trips.

Deb, I hope I am reading this wrongly. Are you suggesting that other trip organizers should avoid Tom because of your experience with him? If so, then I have to say it is highly unprofessional of you to do so. As you say, his name could be found with due diligence and his post is very evidently spiteful enough that any trip organizer would do more research. There is no need to imply that he be put on some sort of avoidance/black list because he wrote a bad review of your operation. WP is here for people to write reviews and also allow the operators to rebut but not for them to ostracize a former client in the entire industry for a disagreement. That is simply uncouth.

Every post in this thread had already easily negated any negative comments Tom made. I doubt any other operator would publicly denounce someone like you have. If his review was spiteful, then your suggestion is also vindictive. The facts should speak for themselves in your rebuttal. As proven by the responses here, readers are not sheep-like and I appreciate that you want to protect your business.

I detest writing admonishments publicly and normally deal with this privately but your choice of words and insinuations prompt me to protect Wetpixel's reputation, since this is actually the 2nd time you have done this. I can appreciate an 'industry' blacklist shared amongst operators discreetly, but Wetpixel is here for photographers and industry folk alike. I do hope you refrain from doing this again. If I have read your post out of context, then I apologize sincerely. But I don't think I have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Deb, I hope I am reading this wrongly. Are you suggesting that other trip organizers should avoid Tom because of your experience with him?

 

No where did I say he should be blacklisted from all trips. I said and meant "I named him so that any other group organizers can find this if they research their potential guests." Simply that.. a link connecting the review to a real name.

 

What others glean from this thread is their business.

 

I would never have connected twhi as Tom Witt without identifying info anywhere when I was doing research, so "The posts here THAT IDENTIFY TWHI should benefit them (trip organizers)". Think about it.. if one is looking for a real name, how would you ever find this thread and connect it to someone who is about to book on a trip? How would you know to search for twhi?

 

twhi joined several forums since the trip and has provided no name or identifying info in any of the profiles or in posts he made. I was only able to identify him because he uses his initials and state code as his ID. If he hadn't done so and called himself "squirrelfish" or something I would still be wondering which guest wrote the review!

 

I did not say "his name could be found with due diligence". I just tried, and failed, to turn up his name anywhere except in what I've written.

 

Possibly he could be happy on a Galapagos, Cocos, or other high voltage dive trip assuming they don't do something he doesn't like.

 

By putting a name to the twhi, others will have a chance to quiz him throughly since he isn't doing his research or providing much info on his expectations. Any trip organizer taking him on may want to go to extremes to insure the trip they offer fits what he wants.

 

If I can mess with a quote from Tom's review... "This is a review I wish I'd read before I" confirmed a booking from him on my trip.

 

DebF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Deb, what a mess this has become. I can totally see where you're coming from. You've created a successful business with a specific formula, and on comes someone that doesnt like you, your business or your formula. Not just that, they plaster it all over forums. Welcome to the internet.

 

It is somewhat of an unwritten rule of thumb that defending yourself from these negative attacks is not a good idea. You are on the defense, even though there is no reason to be. Your trips are successful for a reason, and this guy is not going to change that. If anything he might deter like minded people to not join your -always booked full way in advance trips- anyways, leaving more spots for people that enjoy your formula. It is much better to let your existing customers, who are generally viewed as impartial, to do your defending for you, which they did. I think by the time you got involved, their reactions had already neutralized his comments.

 

The dynamics of the thread changed after you joined. It went from a guy that just vented about something he didnt like, to a public dispute between a customer and a trip organizer. I think nothing you said came as a surprise to people that would normally consider joining your trips. Of course you stay in the same spot for a few dives, of course there can be problems with the boat (although, being on the receiving end of some of those problems myself, I can say it significantly lessened my enjoyment of the trip), and I seriously doubt anyone was deterred from going to Raja Ampat based on his post. Just let it go. You can't win this, because it's not about winning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You are on the defense, even though there is no reason to be. Your trips are successful for a reason, and this guy is not going to change that. If anything he might deter like minded people to not join your -always booked full way in advance trips-

 

There is a reason to post the reply. I am receiving emails and private messages from people telling me that if they had not seen my replies they would never have joined one of my trips. That reconfirms my decision.

 

If I have to cancel a trip because someone like this writes a negative review, or I book someone on a trip that many people dislike so much they won't be stuck on a trip with them and cancel, who is it going to impact? Only me? This isn't my primary business, I lose money on it due to the time involved and the expense of taking only 12 divers and paying extra crew. It won't impact me that much. But, what about all the divers who've bought their air tickets and arranged their holidays for one of these trips? What about the owners and crew of the ship who may not be able to resell those dates? What about the extra crew I hire that depend on my trips for their income to support their families? That's what is going through my mind!

 

DebF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every business or profession is the same. We all have policies, protocols and procedures that we follow in order to run our businesses, and to 'control' and grow them the way we choose. Unfortunately we all have customers or clients who wish to make us do things their way, and no matter how many times we repeat ourselves or put our policies and procedures in writing, they will resist, complain, bad mouth us etc. Also no matter how hard we try to 'weed' them out, occasionally one will slip through.

I believe the most important thing for any professional though is not to let it get personal. Repeat your policies and procedures when someone complains, repeat them again when they complain again. Repeat them again on websites like this, but never let it get personal. Then just walk away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never been on a trip whit Deb, but i have been twice on Ondina and i am going back in May 2009 for a third time!

I love the boat and the crew, the rooms are not 5 star but more then enough for a diving cruise in my opinion!

But the thing i do not understand is the food complain!!!

Man i love the food on the Ondina, for me this is the best food ever on a live aboard, been on enough Peter Hughes, Agressor, Maledives, Red Sea live aboards to compare!

Maybe some Americans only like steaks? and that you will not find in on a Live Aboard in Indonesie, and sure not in Raja Ampat where there is almost nothing!

And saying that they spend a whole day on the same spot to save fuell i can not believe this, my last trip on the Ondina (july this year Komodo) the boat was only 1/2 full and nothing was to far or to much!

 

complaining on the diving and vis in Raja Ampat says enough for me!

I really do not like it if you try to tell bad things after the trip but on the trip you say nothing?

 

Pls do never go on a Live Aboard with me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a reason to post the reply. I am receiving emails and private messages from people telling me that if they had not seen my replies they would never have joined one of my trips. That reconfirms my decision.

 

If I have to cancel a trip because someone like this writes a negative review, or I book someone on a trip that many people dislike so much they won't be stuck on a trip with them and cancel, who is it going to impact? Only me? This isn't my primary business, I lose money on it due to the time involved and the expense of taking only 12 divers and paying extra crew. It won't impact me that much. But, what about all the divers who've bought their air tickets and arranged their holidays for one of these trips? What about the owners and crew of the ship who may not be able to resell those dates? What about the extra crew I hire that depend on my trips for their income to support their families? That's what is going through my mind!

Now come on :) Dont tell us your whole business is in jeopardy because one guy writes a bad review. I would find that more problematic than the actual review if it were me. It sounds like you have a solid thing going that can take a punch. Especially with so many people standing up for you. It's not like we're seeing a flood of bad reviews. It's just one guy venting. It sounds like you run your trips pretty much like any other photography trip out there. Honestly, dont worry about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's not like we're seeing a flood of bad reviews. It's just one guy venting.

 

Sometimes on the internet, that's all it takes. We are reformulating all of our products to remove certain preservatives because of one awful study that indicated a possible correlation between the ingredients and breast cancer tumors, which has since been debunked. There are 20,000+ links to this lame study. Do I dare say how much it costs to reformulate and test every product in order to replace effective, low-cost preservatives with higher doses of more expensive, more sensitizing, possibly carcinogenic alternatives? All because of one study.

 

If every participant scores the live-aboard trip, then one bad review doesn't get overweighted. But when there are so few reviews, one bad review can be a killer. It's like reading reviews on Trip Adviser. There's always someone who got a crappy room, but the difference is if one or 99 other people got a good room.

 

complaining on the diving and vis in Raja Ampat says enough for me!

 

Mr. Brumpy, you are correct. That statement alone should be enough, but not everyone has been there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sometimes on the internet, that's all it takes. We are reformulating all of our products to remove certain preservatives because of one awful study that indicated a possible correlation between the ingredients and breast cancer tumors, which has since been debunked. There are 20,000+ links to this lame study. Do I dare say how much it costs to reformulate and test every product in order to replace effective, low-cost preservatives with higher doses of more expensive, more sensitizing, possibly carcinogenic alternatives? All because of one study.

Thats hardly the same is it. This isnt a study, this is one guy saying 'your product sucks!', after which several other people say 'huh? you're nuts, it doesnt suck at all'. It's not even a review.

 

Surely your products will continue to exist if someone posts on a forum that it tastes funny (after which 10 people reply that they love the taste). I just think Deb is taking it way too seriously, and thus giving the complaint more weight than it deserves.

 

Cor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree w/ Cor - as an impartial observer I'd say that you have both said your piece, the situation is now in a "neutral" state - so drop it.

 

That's just my opinion of course.

 

Cheers

Jamse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deb,

 

Reasonable (and complete) response, but a few things to consider:

 

1. The Ondina is not known for good food (and yes, I've been on the boat). For you to try to suggest it is (compared to food served on other boats like the Seven Seas) makes it seem like you're stretchning this a little too far...

 

2. You have a reputation for not being the most approachable person on the planet. If you don't realize this, then you might want to consider a "360" type review of folks w/have either worked with you or that you've worked for (I've heard this 2nd hand from some of your clients).

 

3. Optics are everything - Tom didn't enjoy the trip - he posted his views - your response comes across as a wee bit defensive...

 

No doubt he should have taken more seriously the (quite complete) information you publish (and distribute) before your trips. But as the self-proclaimed cruise director it should have been your responsibility to reach out to him (directly) and see how he was doing.

 

One gets the impression that what you are really trying to do is run a (fairly) small number of semi-private trips for people you want to travel with (which is fine). Advertise your trips as that and keep screening people carefully... you'll get the occasional rough fit, but people will self-select into your kind of trips if they want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... you know I am a physician in practice for near 23 years now. Ive had my share of tough situations, and people to deal with. If this is the only complaint you've had in all this time, your way ahead of most..

 

I quite agree!

 

I'm impressed by Deb's efforts in replying, which have left me thinking I might be on the wrong boat in February...

 

... I think that I would join one of Deb's trips, anytime!

 

As an aside: do you admit your medical qualifications on a trip? I'm an anesthesiologist (though we spell it differently here in the land of much better food than the Yanks believe), do a little hyperbaric medicine, and carry lots of antibiotics abroad, but usually don't admit my medical skills unless something happens. I'm also the only diver I know personally who has been evacuated from a Red Sea cruise and spent a week in an Egyptian hospital - and hence the victim of extreme schadenfreude from my dive buddies - so that I now expect all diving lawyers to be sued, diving chefs to develop food-poisoning and professional photographers to experience total digital meltdown.

 

Tim

 

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And anyone trying to create an enjoyable and productive photographic trip to be plagued by un-enjoyable and unproductive experiences...

 

... which is where, I guess, this has ended up.

 

Tim

 

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
as the self-proclaimed cruise director

 

I am not the cruise director and have never called myself cruise director.

 

I organize the trips. Loads of details. I doubt you can imagine how many if you've never organized a trip out of Sorong and seen all that can go wrong. I don't just charter the ship and take the standard stuff they provide. I organize air travel, hotel overnights & meals, porters, transport, even for the guests to stay in an executive lounge when their flight is delayed. I arrange extra guides, different food and the trips often only work well because of my contacts in Sorong who occasionally help deliver delayed baggage, fix us up if supplies of something are short, help with a medical problem or cancelled flights and so on.

 

It's a different job than cruise director.

 

Agreed that I'm not a warm fuzzy person, that's one reason why I DO have a cruise director on board who is. I picked a heck of a good one for this trip, even Tom mentioned liking him! He talked to Tom and was his dive guide some of the time. Tom didn't request anything of him or express his negative thoughts about the trip to the cruise director.

 

I asked Tony last night if he'd talked to Tom. Tony and I don't do all the same dives so we are not on the ship at the same time. Tony did speak with Tom a few times and asked him how it was going and if he felt OK. He told me that Tom just mumbled that everything was fine.

 

Many guests tell me the food on these trips is better than other liveaboards and resorts they've visited. I think so too, but that's not only my opinion. For sure it was far better than the food at the 5 star resort in Bali we treated ourselves to for a birthday celebration after these trips. As I said, we don't serve the standard Ondina menu on these trips. Most experienced travelers ask for Indonesian food. They don't want steak, potatoes and steamed broccoli. Or gourmet western food (not that Ondina would provide it.. if someone asked for that, I'd tell them to find another trip). Some people may not like Indonesian food or may not know what it is. All are asked about food preferences before the trip and told we will arrange the menu based on their responses. if they have likes/dislikes and don't give specific information before or during the trip well..... what's an organizer or kitchen to do?

 

Several guests on these most recent trips did come with requests for changes in the diving and food and those were honored as best we could. Sometimes logistics or conditions meant that we couldn't do exactly what they wanted.

 

Some of the responsibilty for what happens before or during a trip belongs to the guest. I emphasis to all the guests that if there is anything amiss they should tell me. If they don't, then it can't be corrected. I've never refused to listen to anyone or to reply to any question by email or telephone. And, as you may have noticed.. I write a LOT and do try to explain in detail.

 

DebF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... I think that I would join one of Deb's trips, anytime!

 

As an aside: do you admit your medical qualifications on a trip?

 

I'm also the only diver I know personally who has been evacuated from a Red Sea cruise and spent a week in an Egyptian hospital

Tim

 

Thanks for that!

 

FYI we get a LOT of medical people (doctors, nurses, vets) on these trips and they all admit it. I don't tell the other guests, but I don't remember anyone who hasn't come right out and told everyone themselves. The one most plagued by questions was a plastic surgeon. Guess that's what happens with a group of uw photographers.. most of whom are 50's and up.

 

I was on a ship in the Red Sea when someone got bent. So now you know there are at least two. They (the bent one and partner - gay couple) were sent with O2 to a hospital in Israel as the ship's owner felt they would get much better care there and it didn't take long to get them there.

 

DebF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do wish to reiterate that Wetpixel forums welcome honest trip reports written by anyone. Obviously, providing a name to the report would provide additional credibility. One must also be ready to take rebutals from operators and other clients as well. Having an opinion (positive or negative) does not mean that operator is good or bad. It is the reporter's opinion of the place/operator. The more review/reports, the better the picture of the operation/operator.

The forums are not for malicious intent by ANYONE, operator and/or client.

 

I'm an anesthesiologist (though we spell it differently here in the land of much better food than the Yanks believe)

Yes the british isles gave us Gordon, Nigella and Jamie. Having had a meal at several Gordon R at XXX restos all over, I have to say his creations are aptly devoid of tradition british isle cooking. :P Oh and it wasn't that good either and I always left disappointed :) I do think cuisine criticism is a VERY subjective issue as the opinions expressed in this thread has shown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for that!

 

The one most plagued by questions was a plastic surgeon. Guess that's what happens with a group of uw photographers.. most of whom are 50's and up.

 

 

DebF

 

 

Then I probably can't come on one of your trips. :)

Usually when they ask if I can do anything for them I reply that I can cure the sick not raise the dead!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly don't advertize, but I'm happy to help, and usually have a bag of goodies. I'm glad this thread is finally coming to an end. Alot of emotional energy has been spent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Then I probably can't come on one of your trips. :D

 

Is that because you are under 50 or that you are a plastic surgeon? (I've been needing a little work on my chin, a tuck here and there .. so maybe we can work something out... :unsure: )

 

My experience so far is that the over 50's are generally much better divers than those under. More experience under their dive belt and a bit smarter about it too. We've had a few people in their late 70's on board. Awesome divers. They realized their limitations, but still did a lot of dives. Also they'd been diving for ages and have some amazing stories to tell. Hope I can be the same in my 70's.

 

DebF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been on your trips Deb.

 

You say your older divers are better?

 

All I saw were people who couldn't handle the current with terrible buoyancy.

 

Damn right it's all about Deb.

 

There's such a marked difference between how you present yourself online and in emails to how you are in person.

 

Once you are on the trip you don't give a **** about anyone else.

 

You forget it's your clients who are paying for your free dive trips every year. Doesn't make so much sense to me to be so cold.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok Sparky

If you want to add comments about Deb's trips, please do so in a constructive manner and don't get personal. You have something against Deb, take it offline. Wetpixel has a strong policy against flaming and you are threading VERY close to the line.

If you want credibility, don't hide behind a pseudonym.

Please reconsider some of your words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...