As any diver I was very excited about making my way up the Australian coast to Cairns. Diving the Great Barrier Reef may be once in a lifetime opportunity. Two weeks prior I asked around for a good live-aboard and was told to go only with Prodive. Prodive was already booked for over two weeks and next available booking didn't suit my travel plans. So I decided to give Cairns Dive Centre a try despite being advised not to. How bad can it be I thought. It's the same reef for everyone. I purchased two night, three days package.
First sign that this won't be an experience to remember was the accommodation. Four of us were bunked up in a cabin directly across the food store. The cabin stunk like decomposing food and mold making it difficult to sleep.
The boat was so noisy my first night that I barely got 2 hours of sleep. The crew (dive instructors) had to restock the food storage directly across from my room at around 3am. This consisted of several crew throwing boxes down the stairs and stacking them up loudly while yelling instructions at each other. On top of that, engines were working full force all night and it felt like I was sleeping in the engine room. Not getting a good night's rest can be a safety risk as divers are more likely to make mistakes. But nothing can spoil a dive trip like getting a cold. Directly above my bunk, about 5cm from my face, the air conditioning vent was blowing frigid air directly at my head while I slept. Next day, my only full day aboard, was not fun for me or the exhausted crew.
On the bright side the weather was absolutely perfect and being out on the reef was magical. However, we spent almost the entire trip in just two locations. I logged 5 out of 10 dives at Fish Bowl. It's a nice site but point of a liveaboard is the ability to explore the reef and see more sites. Weather could not be blamed for this.
The only redeeming quality is the hard working crew, who despite seeming overworked, tried their best to keep us safe and happy. At one point one of the crew lashed out at me because I complained about malfunctioning regulator blaming it on user error just to find out that regulator was indeed bad and potentially dangerous. Nerves were frayed and understandably so given the pressure the crew was under. Such environment may unnecessarily raise risk of errors by divers, as well as crew.
When we got back to shore I asked to talk to a manager about my experience. Operations manager Peter wasn't very empathic. He asked for my tel so he can call me in couple days to discuss further. That call never came which indicates this is business as usual for CDC. They have little interest in customer satisfaction after they collect the payment.
That's the story of my experience. If you chose CDC, you may have better luck than I but should one leave such occasion to luck?