First, the good: Holiday Inn Kandooma is a fantastic resort, with top-notch bungalows at reasonable prices and excellent service from the very friendly multinational staff. I would highly recommend a stay at HI Kandooma. The dive sites are quite good as well, especially if you like big fish. Not as ideal for macro, of course, given the lower biodiversity and the sometimes strong currents.
Now to the bad part – I cannot recommend the Euro-Divers at Kandooma. Unfortunately (as at all resorts in Maldives) they have the monopoly. I have dived with them twice, thinking that the first time may have been a fluke and wanting to give them another chance. My observations below:
1) The staff – Pedro and Oliver were overall friendly and competent. However, that was not the case with the others - Samir in particular was highly unpleasant to be around and the dives that he led were particularly poor. On one dive to Kandooma Thila (which is the top divesite in the area), we ended up seeing no large fish at all – quite an accomplishment!
2) The biggest issues I had was the complete inflexibility of the staff, in particular Samir. It started right in the beginning – they insist on a “refresher dive” unless you have a documented dive within the prior three months. Quite extreme, but OK. Problem is, they don’t tell this to you anywhere, nor was it mentioned when I called them in the morning. So I walked to the dive shop, only to be told I have to go all the way back to get my gear to do the refresher dive. I asked – can I just do it right before the 2PM dive, instead of walking back and forth? The answer was: absolutely not – that’s not convenient for the staff. This was a recurrent theme, in fact – the dive center seems to be run more for the benefit of the staff, then the guests.
3) Finally, in line with Euro-Divers philosophy of “the customer is always wrong”, they overcharged me at the end. They counted the number of dives wrong – I dove 13 dives, as I was aiming for the 12dives+1free package. They only recorded 12 dives and charged me a HIGHER price than for the 12+1 dives package. Despite discussing this issue with them THREE times, they refused to adjust the final price and I had to pay more than the correct amount. The difference was less than 5% of the total dive bill.
I still can’t believe that (a) they recorded the number of dives wrong and refused to correct it, then (b) they charged me MORE for 12 dives than for 13 dives – effectively overcharging me for NOT taking the “free” dive and (c) refusing to do anything about it despite the fact that I was visibly upset and complained 3 times. This last episode summed up the whole experience – avoid Euro-Divers at all costs!
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