I LEFT LIVEABOARD.COM CONFUSED. Perhaps Diviac.com would be clearer with its offer of “The biggest selection of liveaboards – always the lowest price”? Once again, its website looks very professional – it even offers an “online account” from which to manage bookings.
Buried in the terms and conditions, Diviac.com makes it clear that it will “act as an intermediary between you and the service provider” and how, should any cancellation of the service occur, it “will act in accordance with the applicable policy specified by the dive-centre”.
All very clear – or so I thought until I spoke to Manuel from Diviac.com, which he described as “based in Switzerland”.
I asked him what would happen if the same liveaboard fleet should go bankrupt – would I be covered by ATOL?
He replied that he wasn’t “familiar with ATOL, I’ll have to look it up” but that “we have insurance like that but I don’t think it will go out of business”.
It was time to press further, so I asked where on the website I could find this information.
Manuel’s reply of “I don’t think we put it on the website, I’ll have to find out who it is with… but Swiss law will cover you” did not fill me with confidence.
In Diviac.com’s terms and conditions it makes clear that all arrangements are with the dive-operator, so to tell me how I would be insured in a similar way to ATOL was in my opinion to offer advice that was grossly misleading.
There are a number of other comparison/booking sites that focus on the dive industry: Divebooker is based in the USA (so why would I use it?) and Norway’s DivePlanet.biz offers a full diving package-holiday service.
However, the ATOL-type protection it offers would be subject to Norwegian law, because this is the country in which it is provided and from which it is regulated.
Why would I want to run the risk of a holiday being cancelled and having to go through a foreign system to make a claim?
Closer to home is Liveaboardsrus.com which, like the other booking/comparison sites, make it clear in its T&C that “the operators are sole contract partners and contractual partners for all of your concerns, questions and disputes”.
Which is just as well, because nowhere on the Liveaboardsrus.com site can you find a contact telephone number if you did have a question.
Perhaps you could call in at its office? Like its telephone number, this isn't revealed on the site other than deep within the T&Cs, where you’ll find its registered office (from Google Streetview) sharing the same address as a B&B in Swanage, Dorset. Liveaboardsrus.com is also described in the T&Cs as a “website owned by ScubaClick Ltd”.
A search on the Company’s House website shows this business, as of the latest filing period ending 31 March 2016, to be a dormant company, which means that it is one that has had no significant accounting transactions during this accounting period.