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Thread: Thailand Trip - End of March: Recommendations Needed

  1. #1
    Grouper Founding Member
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    Thailand Trip - End of March: Recommendations Needed

    I just starting looking into a Thailand liveaboard trip for the end of March or beginning of April. I think I want to do one of the 4-5 night liveaboards and a few days before and after in Phuket. So far, I've been looking at the White Manta and Queen Scuba (they both seem nice, but reasonably priced) and both are diving the Similans, Richelieu, etc. Here are a few questions I have:

    • Which is better, the White Manta or Queen Scuba? Are there others that I should be considering that are approx the same price or only a little more?
    • It sounds like end of March/early April is the end of the season in the Similans, is it still a good time to go there? Should I be considering another itinerary?
    • Not sure where to stay in Phuket before and after the liveaboard. 2 different experiences would be good, with one being more low key.

    I'm trying to narrow my focus a bit so I don't spend too much time researching in the wrong direction. Recommendations and advice are greatly appreciated!


  2. #2
    Grouper
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    Hey lucidblue--

    White Manta and Queen Scuba are similar in many ways, though White Manta is brand new this season. I have a customer who has been on both boats on his Similans trip and has opted to rebook on WM in March. There are a couple of other options in the same price range, yes, but we'd have to look at dates to see what fits best with your travel schedule. Are your dates flexible?

    The end of March should still be okay, weatherwise, though the season will indeed be winding down.

    On Phuket, for before and after the LOB, if you wish to do some daytrip diving, you should stay in one of the beach towns along the southwest side of the island-- Patong/Kata/Karon, or alternatively near the dive pier in Chalong. All daytrip boats offer no-cost pickups and dropoffs in the beach towns, and if you are near the pier, you may even be able to walk, or at worst have a 5-minute ride to the pier.

    If you want to save time and not spend hours researching in the wrong direction, let me know and I'll guide you through the process. I have a pretty good rep here on ST--you can check up on me!
    Last edited by Quero; 12-14-2011 at 02:31. Reason: Formatting gets stripped for some reason :-( I want paragraphs!
    DIVE with me in THAILAND!
    Gekko Scuba Divers, Phuket

  3. #3
    Grouper Founding Member
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    Quick Update: Quero has been extremely helpful with planning my Thailand trip. The White Manta was booked when we wanted to go and she quickly provided similar liveaboard options with detailed recommendations. We decided to go with the Pawara for the liveaboard part of the trip and we'll also be doing a day dive trip to Phi Phi with Quero once we're back on land. Quero provided extremely fast responses to our questions and provided advice/recommendations even when we weren't sure if the trip was going to happen!


  4. #4
    Grouper
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    Thanks for the kind words! Really looking forward to finally meeting you face to face!
    DIVE with me in THAILAND!
    Gekko Scuba Divers, Phuket

  5. #5
    TadPole
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    Hello,

    i'd like to read about your experience on the Pawara! i'm planning the same trip to the similan islands at the moment and i'm contact with this similan liveaboard agent, who actually ran the Pawara as tourleaders last season, so i'm interested in a third opinion.

  6. #6
    Grouper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael.K View Post
    Hello,

    i'd like to read about your experience on the Pawara! i'm planning the same trip to the similan islands at the moment and i'm contact with this similan liveaboard agent, who actually ran the Pawara as tourleaders last season, so i'm interested in a third opinion.
    Pawara is no longer being leased by the company that ran her for the past few seasons. She will be run by an entirely different operator next season with a completely new crew. Since the combination of the crew and the back office are what make liveaboards work (or not work), it's a little hard to say right now what things are going to be like next season. The boat is fine, though. Not new, but comfortable enough.
    DIVE with me in THAILAND!
    Gekko Scuba Divers, Phuket

  7. #7
    Grouper
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    It's so funny.... I received a notification of a reply to this topic, but I can't see it here in the thread! Here's the message I got:
    Michael.K has just replied to a thread you have subscribed to entitled -
    Thailand Trip - End of March: Recommendations Needed
    - in the Asian Diving forum of Scuba Forum - Scuba Diving Forums and Discussion Board. This thread is located at: Thailand Trip - End of March: Recommendations Needed Here is the message that has just been posted:
    ***************
    Thank you for yor reply Quero, that's exactly what those guys told me as well. They also told me that these two companies (Big Blue & Coral Grand) are literally swapping their boats for the next season, and the guys from Thailand Dive & Sail were asked by both companies to run their boats during next season, so staff situations on both boats are at the moment far from beeing sorted out. Might be that both boats are beeing led by those guys. They also came up with quite some pretty interesting details, regarding comfort, food and cabin situations. Anyway as licidblue was on the Pawara last season, she must know at least one of those guys personally, because they were on the boat the entire season - i want to know about experience with the boat and the personal contact with the tourleader on Pawara from last season, that would be a very helpful opinion for me to put all the information i got so far in the right angle.
    ***************
    I'm not sure whether you've misunderstood this complicated situation, Michael, or whether the people you're corresponding with have misunderstood it and have passed on their own mistaken understanding, but what you've been told is not accurate.

    I have been in constant contact with the owner of Pawara (because of needing to resolve issues with a booking I have pending with her). The owner of Pawara is NOT Coral Grand, and in fact Coral Grand has nothing whatever to do with the Pawara confusion and will not be swapping boats with anybody as they have their own vessel. Until just a few days ago, the current owner of Pawara had been leasing a boat called Hallelujah as well, but she has agreed to relinquish the Hallelujah lease to the former operator of Pawara (which is Big Blue).

    Last season's boat crew and dive staff from Hallelujah will be put on Pawara next season, so the staffing for that boat is entirely sorted out. I would guess that the company formerly running Pawara will put as many of their old staff and crew (especially the captain and engineer) on Hallelujah as they can, but I'm not sure about dive staff since I know they have had some major staff turnover recently. I can assure you that the boat operators don't hire outside companies to staff their boats. They have their own fixed staff on their own payrolls, and they fill in gaps (for example, special language needs) with freelancers.

    So, with that in mind, while lucidblue can tell you what last season's staff were like on Pawara, and she can tell you what the boat itself is like, she can't say anything at all about the staff that will be on Pawara next season, or about the company that now owns Pawara. For information like that, I would suggest that you search for recent reviews about Hallelujah.
    DIVE with me in THAILAND!
    Gekko Scuba Divers, Phuket

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