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Subject: Raja Ampat Cityseahorse Deb Fugitt Ondina

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Gee, kinda makes one wonder if "sparky" (hiding behind anonymity and making his very first post) might just be the same person who started this thread (or at least a close friend)... :)

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Isn't there a point, after everyone has had their say, when we can lock down threads? Would be nice to not have this popping up to the top anymore now that things are just getting nasty . . .





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Whoa - I just discovered this thread. I was looking for something else when I came across it. I know that everyone wants this thread to go away but I feel compelled to speak out on this matter.


My name is Tom but not that other guy. I was on Deb's trip following the one discussed in this thread. I gotta say - it was probably the best trip u/w photo trip I have been on. On another wetpixel thread I posted my favorite photo of the year and it was taken at the pier!


I learned more about wide angle photography on this trip than ever before. Deb and a couple of the more experienced photographers gave me some excellent advice on how to shoot w/a in the not-so-great viz. To that point, I am giving a presentation at our u/w photo club in February on this very subject.


The Ondina turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, I wish all liveabroads could be as accommodating as this one was. Deb, Roberto, Aan and the whole crew were super to my wife and myself. Unfortunately, the trip to get there was not so accommodating as our luggage did not quite make it to Sorong when we did. The boat captain left a crew member in port for two days until our luggage arrived and then ferried it out to the Ondina - now that's customer service!


I have organized several dive trips for our u/w photo club and like the song says, 'you can't please everyone'. But I sure was happy with our trip and I will be sure to say so to the 60+ members in attendance at our club meeting in February.


Tom Collier

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I do sympaphise with both Tom and with Deb.


I know what it is like to pay out a few thousand pounds/dollars to not get what you were expecting. That said I think that Tom should have done a lot more homework prior to parting with his hard earned cash. Perhaps in doing so he would have realized that this particular trip would not have been suited to him.

I was actually at NAD Lembeh earlier this year and a large group of German guests arrived and were complaining about the diving in the Strait. They had obviously not done thier homework as they were expecting the kind of diving found at Bunaken. Walls, drifts, palaegics. They were complaining after the first day of diving in the muck.



I also think that it is hard for Deb to get her point across as it is very difficult to sometimes put into words what you are trying to say, i know this too well also, as i am sure i have come across in other posts as a rude obnoxious person, which i am not.


Food is always going to be subjective. What one person rates another person might slate. this is life and unfortunatley we have to put up with things like this. I remember reading a posting on here a few years ago about a diver who was complaining about the Mexican food at KBR.... saying it wasnt as good as REAL Mexican food. Lol


The postings following the OP I think that you obviously have been doing a good job Deb as there have been some good things written about your tours. I personally would love the idea of an open deck.


Happy New Year to all



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Tom dont book a trip to the Galapagos islands and complain about being stuck at Darwins Arch for a day or two.

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ondina food great. crew great. excellent diving. Why the sub-zero Air-con in the restaurant area though? Recipe for respiratory illnesses...


There were many good things about my trip on the Ondina to RA.


BTW - I am not the same person who was also unhappy with their trip who posted on this thread.


e.g. I liked the passage (only went for a day/ half day - can't remember now). Plenty of big enough stuff for me when I was there.


Had an awesome trip to RA all the way to Banda with a different (much friendlier) boat recently. Giant Groupers hunting Snappers in breeding ball.

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Rather than rehashing replies to my previous post, I would like to offer some lessons that I learned from my experience.


By way of introduction, I’m a diver first and photographer second.

From the nature of most of the replies on this web board, it appears that most members here are the reverse.


Obviously, I selected a trip that was not in line with my expectations. I should have done more homework.

Out of the frustration that followed, I stumbled onto this forum and hastily posted my review with the desire that others not make my mistake.

I could have stated thiings differently.

I didn't.

In the process, I insulted a number of people, including Deb. For that, I apologize.


I have been on a number of liveaboards, most with lots of avid photographers.

I used to be one of them.


In light of these blunders, out of fairness to Deb and to inform all those photography-first divers out there as to what Deb's trips have to offer,

I would like to offer that which I left unsaid.


So here it goes:

From my first-inquiry email until the last day on the boat, Deb was always there. She replied to every email promptly and clearly.

When she knew she was going to be without Internet access, we were notified and given an alternate contact.


As things progressed, she sent out updates. She researched airfares and offered hotel and resort recommendations.

She cheerfully responded to all of my serious and non-serious email requests.


Organization and management are her strong points and she has them in spades. I have considerable work experience as a manager and have spent a fair of time in developing countries.

In looking at our trip with these challenges in mind, our trip was nearly flawless.


For those of you with high end camera rigs, you will appreciate her attention to detail. The layout of the dive deck, camera table and rinse tanks are nearly perfect.

She specifically recruits a cruise director and dive master for all of her trips and they are excellent at what they do.


The dive briefings were appropriate and to the point. The process of getting dive ‘teams’ in the water that she has developed and refined was effortless to follow. And of course, the all-important dive tenders – good-natured, friendly and totally competent – I can't say enough about them.


It is clear that Deb and I differ as to what constitutes a good dive site.

But that is entirely subjective and could be debated forever.


What is not at question for me is her integrity. She is responsible, reliable and competent at what she does.

If you are a photographer-first kind of diver who appreciates all of the intangibles that high-level photography requires, I can assure that you will find it with CitySeahorse as long as Deb is in charge.


Signing off.



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A very dignified and thoughtful response, Tom.


A similar thing happened to me a few years back. I was disappointed in my experience on a certain (quite reputable) liveaboard, and upon my return posted a quite negative review of the trip on a prestigious uw photo board. It resulted in a maelstrom of vehement rebuttals, including one passed on from the captain of the boat asking if he really deserved to have his livelihood threatened by things that were largely beyond his control...especially when he had done all he could for so many years to provide his guests with exceptional experiences.


Upon reflection, I decided that I had indeed been a bit brash and had done him a disservice. I felt terrible, and actually lost a good deal of sleep over it, wishing I could take back - or seriously edit - that post. Ultimately I posted something akin to your last post.


Oh, and I agree with JTemple, that was a very nice way to end this thread!

Edited by bmyates

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