Let me say one thing first: Sea Bees is a very professional outfit. They are German owned/operated, and you can tell. The boats of theirs we have been on have been very well organized and highly professionally done. We felt really good about our dive master (Andrea, who has sadly moved back to Europe now). We also liked the rest of the crew, whether that is the dive crew or the boat crew. Kudos! The diving is also nice in the area. We went to the Similan Islands (#9) and Koh Bon. Not spectacular but fun. And with a bit more luck, the Mantas would have showed up, making for spectacular diving, I am sure. I was also very happy with the dive briefing, which didn't just give us a very detailed overview of the dive but for those interested, Andrea also told us quite a bit a out the marine life we could expect to see and the geologic formations at the sites. Very nice!
So all of that is good and if that is all you care about, you can stop reading now. However, as you can see, I didn't give a 5-star review. Why? Well, it really comes down to some particular circumstances that happened on our dives. Technical problems do happen and that's OK, but I wasn't impressed with how they handled it.
The reason we chose Sea Bees was that they are supposed to have a fast boat, which makes it possible to go to the Similan Islands at relative ease, while it is normally a lengthy trip and borderline not worth it, unless you go on a livaboard. However, the fast boat, the Stingray, was not available on our first day since it had engine problems. This means you spend 3+ hours each way to do 2 dives. We left the hotel in the early morning and got back after dark, yet we dove less than 2 hours. Fine, not that big a deal if you don't have to do it every day, and I kind of like being on boats anyway (and even the backup boat is large and nice... Although some people didn't like that they ran out of beers on the long way back). But it would have been nice if they would have told us about the boat the day before when we booked.
On day 2, the Stingray was back on action, so off we went at higher speeds. However, before we reached the destination, engine troubles developed again and what was supposed to be the last 10 minutes going out turned into half an hour. We did our two dives and then we started our way back. Slooooowly. It turned a supposed 1:40 hour trip into 5 hours. Again, things can go wrong and so be it (although it was more of a hassle for people who had their spouses waiting for them in the hotel until after dark, not knowing what happened, which I am sure didn't make them very happy). We got back home way after dark, even having to climb over to another boat, since ours couldn't make it into port.
In the end, I was a bit put off by how it was all handled. If something like this goes wrong, then I would try to make my customers as happy as possible. Little things. "Beers are all on us today" perhaps would cost them very little and make people happy. "10% off on your next dive with us" might be another option that would not just cost them very little and in fact might even give them more business while customers feel treated well. But nothing! When we returned the next day to pay for our trips, nobody even mentioned anything and just acted like it didn't happen.
What is also important in this respect is that this was not an I expensive dive trip. In fact, these were by far the most expensive 2-tank dives I have ever done anywhere (except for specialty dives, such as whale shark dives). Which is odd, considering how inexpensive other things tend to be in Thailand.
But all of this is whining at a very high level :-). They are a very good dive operator and I would use them again. But in my book, very good = 4 stars, while 5 stars would be exceptional, which it wasn't. At least not in our case, for the reasons mentioned above.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
February 19, 2013
Dear Markus Egger,
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Thank you for your very detailed review. Please accept our apologies for the mechanical problems that we had and we really hope to make this up to you.
The prices that we charge may be higher than other operators but, considering we have not raised our prices for several years and the cost of fuels has certainly increased in the meantime, this should be taken into consideration as well as other related costs.
We would like to thank you though for your comments on the staff and level of briefing but, as for the mantas, Mother Nature is in control there!
We do look forward to welcoming you back
Your Sea Bees Diving team
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.