Forward note Big Fish Dive Centre has been renamed to Blue Sea Dive centre, which I assume is because it was barred from PADI in 2012. It only re-opened in early December.
We wanted to do our Advanced Open water PADI course. We were greeted by a lady who said they could do it, and asked for a 100% upfront payment. They didn't ask for any certification, she seemed to have no idea about the course itself and did not give us any explanation on how it was all structured, nor any material for the theoretical aspects of the course. She said to come back the following morning to meet our dive instructor, watch the instructional video and take care of the paperwork. Our package was 5 dives, which included the Blue Hole as our deep dive.
The following morning we arrived to a busy and chaotic office. There seemed to be a lot of confusion between the staff. Our ‘dive instructor’ (a 21 year old stoner) was literally running out the door to get on a boat for another dive until we caught his attention to ask him what we were meant to be doing. He advised that the only advanced open water instructional DVD had been scratched so we couldn’t watch it…but he said not to worry because we could stream it on youtube. They didn’t have the textbook or any other reading material and they seemed to have no idea what was going on. This was concerning because our deep dive for advanced certification would be at the blue hole.
We left the shop a bit uneasy about the whole thing and decided to do more research online and also chat to others on the island. Ultimately we discovered that the place has a bad reputation. The dive shop, trading under Big Fish Dive Centre, was barred from PADI a couple of years ago and changed name only recently to Blue Sea Dive Centre. Apparently it’s run by the same group of people and the staff are all the same. As soon as we heard that a dive instructor died at the blue hole the week prior (he apparently ran out of air!?), we made a decision to cancel the course.
At first they hesitated, trying to convince us that everything was ok and that they seemed unprofessional because it was a busy time of the year. We stressed that we were not comfortable with the competency of the staff and their ability to train us in accordance with PADI standards. After a bit of debate they refunded us the whole amount.
We did not test any of the equipment so we can’t comment on this, but ultimately we can say that the staff are unreliable, unprofessional and don’t seem to regard safety as a no 1 priority. I’ve done a lot of diving in other ‘developing countries’ and this is the first dive shop where I’ve had cold feet.
We ended up doing our certification with Frenchies who were great.
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