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This period is a very difficult time for individuals & businesses around the world. The Covid-19 coronavirus is affecting almost everyone. Even those who are not worried about the virus itself are still indirectly affected by cancelled flights, falling stock markets, and temporary laws to contain the outbreak. Some divers’ flights are being cancelled, or their home countries are banning travel, so they can’t come to Thailand and Indonesia to enjoy a liveaboard cruise. Others are worried about travelling, and they choose to cancel or postpone their vacations. Boat operators are like hotel owners and airlines in that they are suffering huge financial losses, and they have no one to blame or claim from. But the weather, sea & marine life are not affected at all by what’s going on. For example, in Thailand’s Andaman Sea the conditions are perfect. The weather and sea conditions are ideal, and the big fish are here like every year from February to April. Almost every day in March Manta Rays have been seen at Koh Bon, in the Similan Islands. And everyone’s favourite (the Whale Shark) is making regular visits to Richelieu Rock & Koh Tachai.
Most of our boats’ trips are half full, instead of 90-100% full as expected at this time of year. So if you’re lucky enough to already be booked, it’s likely that you’ll have more space on board than expected, and solo divers may even get a cabin to themselves. But if you haven’t already booked your trip yet, you can look for some unbeatable & unbelievable deals! Some boats are offering up to 50% discount for remaining spaces.
The Effects of Covid-19
The Effects of Covid-19 are being felt all around the world. People are worrying about infection, for themselves & their loved ones. Many are also worrying about their businesses or income. And of course, individuals are having flights & holidays cancelled, even if some still wanted to travel. People are working from home, and children are off school & bored, but unable to go out to have fun. It’s a very challenging period for everyone, but we all hope that the situation will improve soon. As an online booking agent, we are suffering from reduced bookings and some of our divers are having to cancel their trips. For us, it means less income. But our dive boat operators are suffering much more than we are. They have overhead costs that include staff, office rent, and of course running the boats. What makes things even worse for the boat operators at Thailand’s Similan Islands is that the diving season is from October to May. They have seven months or less to generate enough income for the whole year. Many of them depend on plenty of bookings from February to April, because this is the best time of year to dive in Thailand. Sadly, this situation has been going on since New Year and became world news in February. Even if things improve within the next two months, most boat operators can’t earn any money from diving guests until October at the earliest. Some of them are just having to tolerate the situation as they look forward to next season. But others are aggressively marketing this season’s trips with huge discounts.
The Diving Conditions
Right now, the diving conditions are perfect, especially on Thailand’s west coast. The sea is calm, and the weather is dry & sunny. But what divers mainly come for is the marine life. And this month has been amazing. There have been plenty of sharks and rays seen throughout this season, many include species that are not normally seen by recreational divers in Thailand. But as soon as we get near to March, the Manta Rays & Whale Sharks are seen more & more often. This usually continues into April and sometimes into May. This season has been especially good for Manta Rays & Whale Sharks. On some dives just north of The Similan Islands, many Manta Rays have been seen at the same time, and even Whale Sharks join in the action on the same dive! It really is that good! The sea, the weather, and all the marine life have no idea of the coronavirus, and their behaviour is not affected in any way by it.
Boats are half empty
Many boats are half-empty during this period for a couple of reasons. These are that people who had already booked trips had to cancel due to travel restrictions, pressure from their families, or just personal worry. Several of our boats attract lots of guests from South Korea & China, and these divers often book trips and travel in large groups. When groups cancel this leaves lots of space. It’s great for those who do join, but bad for those who are trying to run businesses or earn a living on the boats. Also, many people who hadn’t booked their liveaboard diving trip yet are deciding not to. Our statistics show that in regular seasons most of the divers who join trips in March & April book a few weeks before departure, and many at the last minute. It’s natural for those people to change their plans before making the commitment.
Some of the boats have to cancel trips, but this is unfair for those divers who can still make it. Normally, when a trip is cancelled the operator or we are easily able to offer an alternative trip. Normally though the trips run as normal and even if last-minute discounts are offered, the boats are rarely full during this period.
Some boat operators are offering HUGE DISCOUNTS on trips for the rest of this diving season and a few for the rest of 2020! In Indonesia, Mermaid 1 & Mermaid 2 are offering a 50% discount, free Nitrox, and a night in a hotel on Bali! This applies to all remaining spaces on trips until the end of July 2020. And for trips from August to December, there’s a 20% discount! Oh, and don’t worry about your booking and having to cancel. They have very friendly cancellation terms during this period. Normally a credit or full refund is possible.
In Thailand, there are plenty of cracking deals for the rest of this season, and for the low-season months of June to September. The whole Manta Queen fleet are offering 4,000-5,000 THB discount for the rest of this season, plus 15% Early Bird discount for trips next season. Finally, MY Genesis and MV Marco Polo have 10% discount on several trips, and Genesis sometimes offers more discount one week before departure.
Why are the boat operators offering such great deals?
Well, they understand that it’s necessary to attract as many guests as possible in these challenging times. If a trip is already confirmed with 30-60% occupancy, it makes sense to try to recoup some revenue by selling the remaining spaces for whatever they can get. The trips will run anyway, with a full crew, food, and they will offer the same number of dives and great service. If you can join at the discounted price, then everyone’s a winner!
So, what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to get a great deal on your next diving holiday. Flight prices have never been lower, and there are plenty of hotels who are desperate to welcome anyone at the moment. Add to this the best diving experience on a half-empty boat and with up to 50% discount, and you would be crazy not to contact us today to see how we can help you find the best trip for your needs, schedule & budget!