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“Lots of Sharks, Customer service/crew awefull” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Great White Adventures

Great White Adventures
2038 Pacific Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501
510-814-8256
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Ranked #16 of 24 things to do in Alameda
Activities: Scuba diving
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Attraction details
Owner description: Shark-diving experiences off the coasts of northern California and Mexico.
Coronado, California
1 review
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Lots of Sharks, Customer service/crew awefull”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2012

So I went on the Guadalupe Island 5 day trip back in November 2008, 11-1 thru 11-5. All started well, with everyone very excited about the next 5 days. Once under way, I got my first taste of how things were going to go. The tour leader, "Josh" started out telling us some general info, then introduced us to another tour leader, Jillian, who he was obviously jealous of, by mentioning that if we had any questions about the sharks on the island, to ask her, because she had a marine biology degree. Odd, but we all blew it off. He held true to his claim though, and didn't offer a single bit of education about any of the sharks, or the island. I asked him about the mexican regulations on chumming, as they had recently changed, or so I thought. He told me that it was OK, and totally legal. The next day we were at the island, and the cages were being deployed. There were a few people who weren't certified divers, and who were visibly struggling, and having trouble donning their suits. The crew who watched literally stood and did nothing, including Josh. I helped her get the suit on. My buddy rented a video camera from them for $100.00 and told them he had never used one. They said no prob, that they would give him a good intro, and show him how to operate it. The first day, he sat frustrated in the galley, trying to put it together alone, as the sulking leader did nothing to help him. Half the customers on board were Josh's tattoo artist friends, and he catered to them well, but really dropped the ball for the rest of us. The only compliment I can pay was for the chef, man that guy could cook. Other than the sharks, which were plentiful, thank God, he was the only highlight. These guys taunt that they have the best customer service in the business and focus on everyone! Not even close. The crew who were baiting the lines and throwing them were helpful about 1/4 of the time. When the action slowed, and we were in the cages, they must have fallen asleep, because the bait literally drifted into the cage, and just sat there. They are supposed to pull it in and throw it back out. These guys were definitely part of the fishing boat that we were on's crew(The Searcher). Not into service for the customer at all. For $3000.00, and all the claims about customer service, I'd say you could could go elsewhere and do better. As for the "legal chumming" old Josh assured us all of, we got a surprise visit from some Mexican official types, and the "legal chum" buckets were promptly hidden below deck in the engine room???? Wow is all I have to say. The last day we were there, the guy running the show was at the back of the boat, standing around, then vanished to the front of the boat. There were still people in cages, with sharks swimming around, mind you! I go up there to see what's up, with my video camera rolling, and there's old Josh, fishing, and lands a pretty sizable tuna. As I'm taping the whole thing, the crew who gaffed the fish tells me that it's illegal to fish while there are divers in the water, and to not show anyone the footage!!! Boy was the tour leader proud of his catch, so much so, he blew off the rest of the divers in the water, and on deck in the back of the boat. The icing on the cake is that they include tipping etiquette in the info packet, and suggest 10% of the trip cost, which would be around $280.00at that time. I thought it was maybe me, or my own perception, and expectations getting the best of me, but as we were making our way back into San Diego, I asked several of the paying customers what they thought, and they were equally unimpressed. One gent tipped only $40.00!! He had the dough, but wasn't about to do so, based on his own experience. The final insult was as we were pulling in, the crew asked us to bring our bags up to the top deck, so they could "help" us with them when we pulled in. I was like, wow, finally someone is gonna get off their A#@ and do something!! Nope. They all stood around once the boat was tied off, and watched all the paying customers lug their own stuff back to shore. I'm not to good to carry my own stuff, or incapable of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but it started 10 minutes off the dock, and stopped when we all humped our stuff back onto it. I work very hard for my money, and felt pretty fortunate to be going on such an expensive amazing trip. I tip over the standard amount just about everywhere I go to eat, and on trips, when I feel they deserve it. Not a chance. I wanted to give what money I did tip directly to the chef, and maybe 3 others, but it all goes into an envelope left in your cabin. The sharks are going to be there, it's a given at Guadalupe Island, so if you have the option, pick another company, and save a few bucks. Oh, and half the crew all got free tattoos from the other artists on the boat. Good for them..........at least they got some extra attention while on the trip. You may have seen footage of a shark breaking through a cage at Guadalupe, with 2 divers in it. That was them!! On the Searcher, exactly one year earlier, almost to the day. I called before booking the trip, and asked about the safety of the cages. They assured me that they were busy re-designing a safer cage, to rest assured all was well. On the 2nd day of the trip, while in the cage, with sharks swimming around, I looked down, and the bars on the cage I was in had paint on them, and fresh looking weld sites, on the top as well. Some new design, a weld of the exact same cage that had the front ripped off by a juvenile male white shark, hehe. In the owner of the companies defense, I liked him, and he always treated me with respect, and was very courteous on the phone. I'm sure if he would have been on board for the trip, it would have possibly gone better. He cancelled at he last minute with some health issues.

Visited November 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Los Angeles, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“DO NOT BOOK! SAVE YOUR TIME & MONEY!!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2012

Planned a trip with friends and family out to the Farralon Islands thinking $775 was a pretty good deal for a Great White Shark cage dive! Expensive, but worth it, right? Wrong! After months of anticipation we traveled to the bay area (by the way, Emeryville is not a safe place to stay). I was informed at 7:00pm the night prior, by my group leader, that the trip had been cancelled due to inclement weather. It's now obvious why Great White Adventures (doing business as, Golden Gate Expeditions / Shark Diving International???) requires all divers to purchase the Divers Alert Network (DAN) trip insurance. While I would never imply this company is verging on insurance fraud, they certainly have a profitable business model for their Farralon operation. Lucky for me after a couple of months my insurance claim was processed and I received my refund check for $775.

It took several emails to receive the necessary weather cancellation letter from GWA, in order to process my insurance claim. Once I did, they couldn't even get the correct date on the weather report. It is almost comical because when I pointed out the weather report was for the Saturday prior, she simply adjusted the date on the letter and sent it back. Amazingly, the weather report was identical for both dates (what a coincidence)! I believe a previous post used the word, "SCAM". Hm...

Finally, I could not be happier that the trip was cancelled due to poor weather. It would have been terribly disappointing to go out on the boat to see nothing and not be able to get our money back. After purchasing the trip I found these reviews and began realizing that our chances of seeing sharks were very poor. Even if the sharks showed up, catching a glimpse of them in the cage seems nearly unachievable. Congratulations to those of you who have seen a Farralon Great White in one of GWA's cages, I hope it was worth it!

For those of you who are thinking about a trip out to the Farralones, think again! Save your money for South Africa, Australia or even Guadalupe (but be nervous about booking through GWA).

Visited November 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“A Total Waste of Money.. The employees at the Hilton say it is a scam..”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

Before I begin this was the best part. If you call and ask anyone at the hotel that Great White Adventures picks up from they will tell you that this is a scam. The front desk told me that they have never seen anyone go out. So a group of us fly in from out of state. I flew in ahead of time, I did this to confirm everything was a go. As you can imagine I was excited with all of the promises that I was made from Great White Adventures. My disappointment started when I checked in. The front desk asked me why I was visiting the Bay area and I told them. He in a very professional manner told me that they had cancelled Saturday's trip and he has never seen but one couple ever go out. The person next to him said that it was a scam. So I immediately called Great White Adventures and was told yes the cancelled today's trip because of weather. So I asked her well seeing the weather report is the same for Sunday are you going to cancel Sunday's trip also. I figured at least I can call my friends and not have them fly out here. I was told that only the expedition leader could make that call and that would not happen for two more hours. So as you can guess the trip was cancelled. I did buy the trip insurance. I did receive great customer service from Capt. Aqua's dive shop who did refund me my money without question. As you can expect the letter of cancellation that I was suppose to receive first thing Monday morning has still not arrived. Do not book through this company.

Visited November 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Dysfunction at its worst.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2011

Paid for the trip , filled out release forms and never heard back. All phone calls and emails were ignored for months until 2 days before departure when someone actually answered the phone and confirmed. Travelled to Bay area to discover via second-hand info the trip was cancelled due to inclement weather. After enquiring if the trip was really cancelled, they affirmed ten hours before departure but an employee tried to convince me they had no obligation to refund because they "had expenses too".Now it's up to DAN to see if insurance will cover any part of the expense. There is no evidence this operation at the Farallones will result in an underwater cage sighting if they even get you there. The worst customer service you can envision. Stay away.

Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cincinnati, Ohio
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Go with your eyes wide open”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2011

We didn't see a definitive, Hollywood-style shark sighting either. But that doesn't mean the trip was a rip off. Having read the other reviews, I encourage people to have a bit of common sense (he says having just got out of a cage with Great Whites).

Location: It's fall, the Pacific Ocean, and two+ hours West past the Golden Gate Bridge. We had a gorgeous day and the water was still pretty rough. Large swells and a little boat. If you get seasick easily, this probably isn't the trip for you. 12 hours in total on the boat, and no way to stop the rockin'... take a Dramamine the night before and the morning of and you're golden.

But it is gorgeous out there. And the trip under the Golden Gate was superb.

Temps: The water was stupid cold (well, 54 F anyway). So rent a decent 7mm wetsuit. Prepare for the conditions, and be prepared be cold out of water too. Bring a hat and gloves.

Wildlife: It ain't Sea World. The big fish aren't fenced in, and you can't chum. This isn't a play station game where you can be instantly gratified, this is the open ocean and the greatest predator the world has even seen. So be prepared to see nothing, and bring a large dose of patience.

I didn't see a shark, and saw nothing worthy of taking a picture. But they did see a predation of a seal while we were in the cage (but at 50 yards off, to those of us in the cage it might as well as been 50 miles). I did see a hazy shadow off to my right that was larger than a seal and faster than a whale; but to be honest, it could have been Nessie for all I could see in the murk.

The last, most patient diver on the boat laid solo and flat on the bottom of the cage- he was rewarded with another shadow, but more conclusively a Great White.

All told, having seen the thousands seals and taking in all available info (shadows, previous sightings, known behavior, etc), I'd say there was a 75%+ chance of Great White Sharks being in the vicinity of our boat (within a hundred yards anyway) when we were in the water. No breaches, fins, teeth etc, but enough circumstantial evidence to know you likely weren't alone. It was freaky down there...

In a surreal turn of events, I attended a business conference the following day with a guy who recently went diving in Atlanta's aquarium. Sounded way cool. Whale sharks, hammerheads, amazing 'vis'. If you want to see wildlife, definitely the way to go.

My little swim in the Pacific was different in every way, and done for different reasons. It was done to scare the living day lights out of me, by doing something not many people can or will do, involving going somewhere few people can or will do, and tolerating conditions that few can or will tolerate. If that's what you're after, for whatever personal reason, this trip should fit the bill.

Visited November 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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