I had my second dive experience with Eco Dive a few months ago. Having looked at some of the reviews here, I thought I could 'balance out' some of the less positive ones.
A previous review says: “Andrew doesn't "babysit" and actually, he doesn't. On my first dive 2 years ago, as a newly qualified diver, I was a little surprised at the relatively large spaces between us. He doesn't babysit, but he does expect everyone to be professional and competent and behave responsibly. Is that a lot to ask? If you do have a concern though, he will help you as much as he can. On my first trip with him, for the first time ever, I felt sea sick. Andrew helped me by assisting me with my preparations to get in the water, keeping me calm, reassuring me that all would be well when I got a few metres deep (it was!) and reminding me of the briefing and safe descent procedures (it's hard to concentrate on anything when your uppermost thoughts are that you're going to empty your stomach over everyone). Does that sound like someone who doesn't care about his guests, or who would abandon them?
Another review says “Choose another Dive Shop” and makes several quite critical comments. I don't recognise Eco Dive and the experience they provide from those comments. They do have a small boat, but they don't travel very far in it, and as someone who has now suffered sea sickness several times whilst diving from boats, I don't find the boat insufficient. He only takes a maximum of 6 divers, and the boat is adequate. (Get it in perspective - you're on the boat for 20-30 min each way, consider the size of your plane seat where you might be sitting for many hours). Andrew is careful about the amount of stuff taken on board because wet feet, a rocking boat and a cluttered floor (deck) are a recipe for trips and falls and injuries. As for the other comments, Andrew takes good care of you, and that includes carrying everything on/off the boat and washing you down.
The dive trip this time was planned around what we all wanted. There was one diver who had dived with Eco Dive many times, and 2 USA men who were visiting Barbados on a cruise as well as myself. (the last time I dived with ED there was only 4 of us then) It wasn't dictated where we were going, but after we all said what we were hoping for, Andrew made a suggestion and we all enthusiastically agreed. Every other operator I've dived with has always had a set destination, and there's never been any discussion about it.
Andrew does I suspect, have a short tolerance of people who expect guarantees about the wildlife they will see, the sea conditions, dive site etc. Its not possible to do that and sadly, being unwilling to do that is sometimes reported on here as being awkward, unpleasant etc.
I suspect he also has a low tolerance of people who do silly/dangerous things and who exaggerate their abilities. Sadly, I've met quite a few of these kind of divers myself whilst diving abroad and I can imagine the problems and frustration of dealing with them every day, knowing that ultimately you're responsible for their safety and for others they may endanger. So, if he comes across as being a bit strict with rules etc, then bear in mind he's trying to ensure that EVERYONE gets back on shore safely. The first time I dived with him I must admit he came across a bit strong, but bear in mind he didn't know me or what silly things I might do to endanger me, him, or the others. After the dive though, he was much more affable. This time around, it was totally different from the start. Maybe it was because we were all more experienced divers.
If you talk with Andrew you will find he is very knowledgeable about the area, wildlife, and diving, and passionate about it all. He has good admin, with my pre (and post) visit emails being dealt with first thing the next day at the latest (bear in mind the timezone difference), good dive briefing, snacks/drinks on the boat, good equipment, and in short, will do everything he can to ensure you have a great time.
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