My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful trip to South Africa except for one facet - a whale watching trip with this company.
When driving to the beach we heard a weather warning for Plettenberg bay. I asked the staff at Ocean Safari whether it was still safe to go. Their reply was once we saw whales we would forget about the swell on the ocean.
Ocean safari seem to have two boats with one being considerably bigger than the other. The larger boat was undergoing a refit and therefore the company was using it's smaller boat, as I witnessed the day before we were due to go. We had booked to go on the 1100 hrs trip. The company contacted us at 0810 hrs to tell us that the trip had been brought forward to 0900 hrs. We declined and cancelled. They contacted us again to tell us that we could go at 1200 hrs which suited us.
On arrivalwe were told that we would be going out on a boat owned by Ocean Blue company which are based next door to Ocean Safari. The boat they used was bigger than the smaller of the Ocean Safari boats but not as big as the other one.
We set sail. One could see the ocean boiling at the point where the shelter afforded by Plettenberg Bay dissapated. I heard the guide remarking the the skipper that it was going to be really rough out there.
He was not joking. This turned out to be a frightening experience. The swell in the ocean was at times up to 10m. The boat was at the extremity of its capability to deal with these condiitions. Many people on board were ill, including my wife.It took her until 1900 hrs that evening before she recovered. There were plenty of whales - you could only see them for fractions of a second. At one stage the skipper of the boat refused to pursue some whales because conditions were so dangerous- his words.The journey out and back to the Bay was truely dangerous.The boat would be sitting on top of a huge swell and then come crashing down followed by the bow at times seemingly almost vertical with the swell towering over it.
Upon return I went and spoke to the Ocean Safari staff to ask for a refund and, surprise surprise I was refused. The staff member tried to tell me that the conditions were caused by the combination of a high tide and sea conditions. I pointed out to her that high tied was not until after 1600 hrs- this left her somewhat tounge tied. I spoke to the manageress by telephone and again was refused any refund.
Clearly this company are more interested in money than customer satisfaction or seemingly safety. The bottom line is that this trip clearly endangered lives. The boat should never have put to sea in these conditions.My advice is to heed weather warnings before choosing to embark on any such voyage.
The price for the trip is 650 rand per person. In terms of South African prices , clearly far too much. We saw more and better whale action whils't on the beach at St Francis Bay and Port Elizabeth.
I am of the opinion that all Ocean safari customers on this day were being grouped with Ocean Blue because Safaris' boat was even smaller.
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