I signed up for Tropical Sails' Transit of Venus tour to Maui for a four night package from June 3 - 7, 2012 for $769 fully expecting an outstanding tour based on their Internet postings of solar eclipse tours. I did not expect to get ripped off as I was. It turns out that Tropical Sails' owner Daniel Oppliger is a cheat and a crook to be avoided at all costs.
First, I told him back in February not to charge my American Express card until the end of April as I am on Social Security and did not want to be burdened with the charge until then. The charge was supposed to be charged to Tropical Sails but what this cheat did was to have the charge charged by the resort, the Royal Lahaina Resort on March 3, 2012 for $921,69 not the $769 that I was supposed to be charged. I did not notice this charge until July and all the while Dan led me to believe that he was going to charge my card not telling me that my card had already been charged. Had I noticed the charge on my card, I would have disputed it and canceled the trip as I would have realized that he was a cheat.
In April I spoke with him about the details of the trip and he assured me that he was going to be there with telescopes and that he had a lot of people coming and that we would be observing from the Lahaina Resort's beach. I had booked my airfare in March to get a good rate flying First Class.
As it turns out, he did not book anyone else other than me for the trip and there was no Transit of Venus tour as he advertised but he did not let me know. If I did not contact him the week before the trip and simply went to Maui expecting to meet the group at the resort as arranged in April, I would have been left high and dry at the resort with no telescope to observe the Transit.
He did not go to Maui and did not make arrangements for a telescope at the resort. He made no effort to contact me to tell me this. Fortunately, I called him the week before the event and he informed me of this and I was able to contact the local astronomy club and make arrangements to view the transit with them. Had I arrived on the night of June 3rd and had to try to make arrangements on June 4th to try to locate the astronomy club on June 4th I would have been unsuccessful and would have missed the transit and would have made the trip for nothing but more importantly missed an event that would not occur for another 105 years. This cheat should be tarred and feathered. He does not give a d**n about his customers.
From what I have been able to ascertain from the resort, Daniel Oppliger did not book a block of rooms for the event for his Transit of Venus Tour as advertised in his brochure. It is clear that he had no intention of actually running a real tour but simply was going to book rooms at the resort to earn a commission for himself. I am told by the resort that he told them that he was a travel agent when he booked my room and that he earned a large commission, upwards perhaps of $360 on my booking on the $921.69 charge he told the resort to charge me when he advertised $769. This guy is a total rip-off. He advertises tours that are nonexistent. Beware when you consider going on one of his total eclipse tours as you may find yourself in the same situation - being booked on a group tour of his that he does not go on and does not make group arrangements for. His tours may be nonexistent - BEWARE.
When I contacted him and asked him to refund the difference between the $769 he advertised in his brochure and the $921 he told the resort to charge me he was abusive and nasty and basically told me to go f**k myself. This was a mere $152 when he earned a $360 commission! This is the kind of behavior you can expect from the kind of crook that Daniel Oppliger clearly appears to be. Avoid this guy and his Tropical Sails Corp at all costs.
If you want to go on a Solar Eclipse tour I recommend MWT which you can find by an Internet search. They run excellent trips at affordable prices and are an honest and ethical company. I have gone on two of their trips and am completely satisfied with them. I am sorry that I did not go on their Transit of Venus trip but I wanted to go to Maui as I wanted to see the volcanic crater on the island.
Once again, AVOID TROPICAL SAILS AT ALL COSTS AS DANIEL OPPLIGER IS A CROOK.