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A 5-star out of this world experience

Everything was amazing! This was an experience of a lifetime. The accommodations, crew, food... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Islander charters great white trip is amazing!

Great white cage diving at Guadalupe island ! Amazing experience with an awesome charter company. I... read more

Reviewed February 7, 2020
Michael W
Chicago, Illinois
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Reviewed September 26, 2016

So let me start by saying that my trip was paired...it was Islander Charters in conjunction with SDX dive charters. (Shark Diving Xperts)
The SDX owner was on the trip, so I will try to only include information that I know fell to Islander instead of to the SDX company (for the record, I wouldn't use them again either.)

The crew: The young men and skipper of this boat were knowledgeable, friendly, worked hard, and deserve every ounce of praise outside of the chef. The chef was not exactly accommodating and did not have a good attitude when you asked for simple and small modifications of meals so that you could actually eat them. The meal schedule was quite restrictive, and if you didn't make it in time to eat, you didn't. BBQ sauce and pepper were over used on a lot of dishes so that I didn't even actually eat them. The crew meals looked quite different from ours. I was told before the trip by the SDX owner that the food was top notch, and yet when for example tri tip steak night came around (I'm a HUGE steak fan) I received four tiny little medium to well done end pieces. The crew (two of whom didn't even eat their meat, but the rest of the food around it) had two large, perfect cuts of medium rare beef. Several of us sat there in awe comparing our plates to theirs. This was obviously not their fault, but a shock considering how much I paid for and was promised things that were absolutely not delivered. There was no way to just grab a snack outside of a little granola and some fruit that they had out the entire time. And based on the cook's attitude, no one really asked for anything outside of meal and snack time. The menu was fixed. So if you didn't like what was being prepared, you simply had the option not to eat.

The berthing: I paid for a stateroom to myself so that I could have space to relax and decompress but after being assigned my quarters and several days on the trip I found that the forward berthing area not only had fewer and larger beds in each room, but also had more headroom. Apparently the SDX owner wasn't sleeping with the crew, but took one of the better rooms (that I had paid for) for himself. The beds are about 24" across, not even a twin mattress, and there are 2-3 in a room with a single sink. The "sleeping pad" is only a few inches thick, so even though I've never woken up with hip or back pain on a regular basis before, I sure did every morning on this trip. You don't have a bathroom on the lower level, so you have to leave your room and climb up the stairs to even get to a bathroom at night, while the boat is listing side to side. The boat is a little dated other than that, but was comfortable upstairs.

Upon seeing other ships in the area doing the exact same work, I can honestly say that I wouldn't choose to vacation or travel with Islander again. This was partially due to their accommodations and chef, and partly because of the owner of SDX charters. For what I paid ($3500) and what I was promised, I left disappointed. Be careful, I found out from other travelers on the trip that they not only paid different amounts, and via different methods (I had to wire the money to SDX and miss out on the miles and they paid different amounts and directly to Islander where they could use credit cards) but they too did not receive what they were promised. The sharks were fantastic, and this was definitely the time to go (September) but I can't justify the result for the price.

The trip from customs in Ensenada to Isla G was quite tipsy, and given the size of the boat I pretty much spend the entire day in bed. Several of my co-travelers got sick, which meant either vomiting in their sink (which is what most did) or over the edge of the boat. Well, not exactly "bed" but in the bunk that I climbed into and onto the thin, uncomfortable mattress pad I was provided.

Long story short...read more reviews...ask more questions...and if you're spending thousands to experience diving with great whites, be sure you know how you're getting there and who with. In hind sight I should've checked on many more aspects of the trip and chosen a vessel and company more suited to my needs.

Date of experience: September 2016
4  Thank Hootiemcfly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IslanderCharters, Owner at Islander Charters, responded to this reviewResponded October 6, 2016

Dear Lisa,
I am so sorry to hear you did not enjoy your trip. We will definitely be speaking with the cook regarding any attitude he may have directed at you - that is not in his nature and I am surprised to hear it but we will make sure he understands that it is unacceptable. I'm also sorry the food and the room wasn't up to your expectations. I wish you would have said something to the captain if the cook was not accommodating. He would have made sure you were satisfied in the galley. Other than that, I am glad to hear the rest of the crew were, as you say, 'knowledgeable, friendly, worked hard, and deserve every ounce of praise' and that 'the sharks were fantastic, and this was definitely the time to go' since the shark experience is the main reason people go on the trip.
However I would like to address your comments about the price and the accommodations. All prices and pictures of the boat are clearly visible on the Islander Charters website. You booked with SDX, who is a reseller of our trips and like all travel agencies the world over, they mark up the price to account for their services. I do not think it is fair to include your dissatisfaction with SDX's payment methods, price, or lack of information about the accommodations on a review about Islander Charters.
The SDX owner is an outsourced (non-employee) divemaster for us. He is given the only room without a sink (the room schematic can also been found on our website) and it's the same size as the room you received, except it has an extra bed squeezed in it. It is the least desirable room. The aft staterooms where you resided are best for passengers who get seasick so we typically put our travelers familiar with a rougher ride in the forward staterooms as they take the brunt of the waves. We are not a cruise ship that motors along a coastline but a small boat that's designed to travel open ocean voyages. Guadalupe Island is 220 miles offshore and yes, the ride can be bouncy. All this is covered in the pre-departure document we send our passengers as well as on our website. I'm terribly sorry if none of this was explained to you but I can guarantee I personally speak with every passenger who book directly with us to make them aware of everything.
All this being said, I wish you would reconsider a large portion of your review. I completely understand if you were unhappy about the food & the cook but that is not the basis of the entire trip. With all due respect, being that our crew and the experience of the sharks we provided was excellent, I think we deserve a higher rating than 'poor'.
Best regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2016

It is just like Discovery Channel's Shark Week - up close and personal. While the boat is slow and sometimes bumpy, you'll forget all about that once diving. Crew was a friendly and a great help. There was a set schedule to dive, but that dissipated by the first afternoon and you could go down as much as you wanted. I spent three hours on one dive. Visibility was great and the sharks accommodating. Highly recommended.

Date of experience: September 2016
3  Thank John A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 24, 2016

I went on a Guadalupe trip with Islander Charters in October of 2015 and I couldn't be more impressed. The crew, boat, and food were top notch! I never once had to ask for anything and was taken care of the entire time. The sharks were incredible as we saw sharks on every time in the cage! I will definitely be doing this again! I highly recommend Islander Charters to anyone thinking about going to Guadalupe, you won't be disappointed!

Date of experience: October 2015
2  Thank K2520IOrichardb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2016

Fun group on our Oct 2015 trip to Guadalupe. For anyone looking for 5 star accomodations, this isn't it but anyone looking for a laid back trip with lots of knowledgeable people, this is worth it. It's also great that the staff will stop or slow down along the way to give you time to see the dolphins, whales & other sea life that may show up.

The crew is helpful, the food is plentiful & there throughout the day so you can keep hydrated & fed inbetween dives.

No shortage of big sharks to see. I did False Bay in South Africa a few months earlier & saw even bigger & more curious sharks in Guadalupe (in warmer water!). JImmy & the crew are there to answer questions, offer insight & make the trip more enjoyable. The sharks here are much more curious & approach the cages so you can get many pictures of a lifetime easily. There is no shortage of cage time & it may take a little while to get the sharks there on the first dive, but once they show up, you'll see all you ever hoped to see.

My only negative of the whole trip was breaking my hand on the trip out. The crew quickly did what they could to bind it up which I appreciated. Did make getting in the cage a bit more challenging but everyone stepped up to help. I was a bit disappointed nobody bothered to check on how I was after we returned. Oh well.

If you like laid back, good people with a lot of knowledge, good food & BIG sharks, this is for you.

Date of experience: October 2015
3  Thank Patti W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2015

This was a bucket list trip for me and it went way beyond what I expected. The close encounters with ENORMOUS sharks literally within 1 - 3 feet of the cage made this the trip of a lifetime. When they turn and face you, there's something primordial in you that says I shouldn't be here, but I knew I was safe in the cage and I was able to capture the moment on film to share with all my family and friends. I can't emphasize enough, this trip is amazing!! The captain Jason is super knowledgeable and approachable, and ensured that we saw dolphins, whales, and seals on the trip to/from Guadalupe Island. The dive master Jimi from Shark Diving Xperts answered all our questions and made sure that we had the BEST dive experience possible. The crew, especially Rick the Chef, made it a 5 star trip. This is a MUST DO trip!! I traveled as a single unaccompanied female and felt totally safe, please consider it!!

Date of experience: October 2015
7  Thank Christine V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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