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Nekton (Bad News)

Discussion in 'Liveaboards & Charter Boats' started by DeputyDan, May 1, 2010.

  1. cappyjon431

    cappyjon431 Captain

    # of Dives:
    Location: Carrabelle, Florida
    Your point is well taken. There were enormous costs to carrying a US Flag. In addition to the financial costs, after 911 there were also huge logistical considerations involving security, crew training, and paperwork. Running out of Port Everglades for the Bahamas itineraries got much more expensive because of increased port security.

    Nekton could have dropped their US Flag, moved to a different base of operations (Blackbeard's moved from Watson Island in Miami to Nassau shortly after 911) and cut costs considerably. The question is, how would it affect the customer base? I know many Nekton guests who went out specifically because the boats left from Ft. Lauderdale. It was cheap for the guests to fly into Lauderdale and hop a boat to the Bahamas. I also know that occupancy rates were always significantly higher when the boats ran out of Ft. Lauderdale (as opposed to Belize, Cayman, and Puerto Rico).

    A certain segment of the guests felt reassured that the boats carried the US Flag, because it assured that the crew and boats met USCG regulations--the crew was properly trained and certified by the USCG, the boats had to undergo USCG inspection annually, night watches were required (to me this is basic maritime safety, but other liveaboards that I have been on let the crew sleep through the night). I believe that they kept the flag because it symbolized safety and that appealed to a large segment of the diving public. In that respect, it was a business decision. It might not have been the correct decision based on economic factors, but it certainly emphasized dedication to safety.

    The consensus of most posters who have been on the boat the last few years is that the boats were not well maintained. I shudder to think what may have happened had the company reflagged and not had the oversight of the USCG.
  2. Wookie

    Wookie Curmudgeon Apprentice ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    The US Flag is expensive, but it isn't what killed Nekton. There are plenty of US flagged liveaboards running in the US. What killed Nekton was too much debt, and not enough customers, which led to the maintenance and crew issues. Nekton, in it's heyday, ran a luxury class liveaboard at a budget liveaboard price. Management failure to anticipate changing markets, and boats that were built for a single purpose doomed the company. John did see the market change, and jumped to cover that change, but (in hindsight) he jumped the wrong way. Instead of closing down operations during his slow season, he moved his boats to other markets. I tried that too, although on a smaller scale, and it ate my lunch. I never made any money outside of my primary market because of the cost of moving the boat, and doing business in 2 places (licensing, taxes, etc.).

    In the end, what has kept a lot of the US based liveaboards alive is to be a vessel of opportunity for research, natural disaster, and military. The Nekton boats were too specialized for that, and couldn't adapt to the changing market. Someone will get a heck of a deal on those boats at auction, far less than the 6 million they cost to build, and I predict you will see them again.
  3. mike_s

    mike_s Contributor

    what's the "asking price" for them now as they are for sale?

    just curious... not like I'm trying to put together a group buy or anything. :rofl3:
  4. Shasta_man

    Shasta_man Contributor

    Still don't understand the point of coming into this thread of people who got directly screwed for thousands of dollars through no fault of their own and in fact are the people who DID invest their money in the company to say what a wonderful human being the owner is. Multiple posts about how they're not getting their money back. And then they are to blame. People who went 20+ times on the boat! Unbelieveable.

    I can appreciate the difficulties of running a business, but that has zero to do with giving people a poor product. No posters venom was the reason for the company's downfall. Actually just the opposite. That company was a victim of economics. First, apparently, after 2001, then, after destroying the loyal following through providing a poor product. Simple as that. The first was not of their making, but there were years of control over the second and over the way it finally expired. People spend their money on value. You have to give people value or they will take their money elsewhere. Not everyone is willing to overlook problems to save a few bucks and that quality of product won't sell itself. Being unable to capitalize on the what other businesses strive for, a loyal following who will go on the same trip 20+ times is pretty amazing. What I've learned on this board and through posts on this subject is the value of giving customers what they want. Whether widgets or liveaboard trips, the business proposition is the same.

    but, you knew this....
  5. Brown Mermaid

    Brown Mermaid Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    DD we were lied to and taken for our money when JD knew he was going under. So please don't blame our present President for JD's demise, because this is not political and it is not his fault about the economy. That's what he walked into.

    Second, where do you get off by saying the Belizean crew gave bad service? One person does not define the whole crew if that's an experience you had.

    Another thing, you didn't loose your hard earned vacation money, I did and so did my friends. When my cruise went out we were stranded most of the time. We had to be towed in by a tug boat, which took a very long time. Our dives sucked big time. Our rooms sucked BIG TIME. Our trip was so bad that John met us at the dock. Not only did he apologize, he offered us not one but 2 trips on the Nekton free of charge, instead of a refund, which we should have gotten. I thought "this is tooo good to be true." And you know the rule of thumb is "if it's too good to be true, it usually isn't".....true that is. So now, the insurance does not cover us (and it didn't before since the cruise went out) because we took a credit. So instead of blaming everything and everyone else, it still rests on JD. He made a promise to us that he knew he could not keep. He knew in 2008 when he lost his main charter, that paid most of the bills.

    You might want to try a little diversity training and tolerance or a little updating and educating of your skills and experience with people of a different race, culture.
  6. Brown Mermaid

    Brown Mermaid Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    A few years ago we were booked on teh Nekton in Belize and got fogged in in Chicago. The travel insurance (the same that just denied us) paid a hotel in Houston, dinner, $1,600 to a water taxi to ferry us out to the Pilot and 1/7th of the cost of the trip because we missed a day. To say they cover nothing is an over statement.

    Was on the Sun Dancer last month doing the Belize itinerary. We asked what would happen if we had missed the boat. He said the a company would ferry us out to the Sun Dancer at $700 each way.
  7. donhealy

    donhealy Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: San Diego
    Wow, I can't believe that this thread is still going on. I just got caught up on the recent activity. Doug, We've traded some very cogent replies, so don't take this the wrong way. I think you were a little harsh on JD's friend of 30 years. Maybe accurate but still... Cappy, its good to see your comments. If I'm ever down there I will make sure to hook up with your dive shop!

    I confess that I still think often of Nekton's management practices and style and how I can learn from them. I head the operations group for a division of a large medical device manufacturer. If I maintained my manufacturing floor and distribution system the way JD did his boats, I would be in real trouble with the FDA. Certainly my customer base would seek a better product. I would have high turnover and my quality would continue to deteriorate. Ultimately I would be replaced and should be!

    I don't pretend to understand JD's management problems or decision making and I'm sure our economy had something to do with it. Most people that worked for him describe him as a dedicated and loyal person who cared deeply for his business. however, A savvy owner would have found wisdom in turning the day to day operation over to someone else with the requisite skills. Often the entrepreneur who has the vision and ability to get a business started does not have the same skills to operate the business as it moves to the next phase. Its a testament to his determination that he made it 16 years.

    He entered into a tough business with a great idea and the boats offered opportunities not found with mono hulls. The model worked for a while then he got caught caught in cash flow issues and made decisions that ultimately did not work out. He's not the first owner to have this problem and won't be the last.

    I will never see my money from the canceled trip and am just glad that Clay and Explorer Ventures was kind (and smart) enough to offer the compensation packages. They have found a new loyal customer!
  8. diverdoug1

    diverdoug1 Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Florida (via Texas and New York)
    Sorry Don, I know I should be nice, but anyone that comes on a thread like this, and starts expounding the virtues of the proprietor, calling the customers whiners, and misrepresenting the facts , deserves no quarter, and will be given none by me.
  9. scubamurr

    scubamurr Registered

    # of Dives:
    Location: Flower Mound TX
    I have avoided posting on this thread for as long as I can.........I was a frequent traveler on the Nekton boats. I have heard enough of how great JD was....I agree at one time he was an honorable person, that stopped being the case for how I saw him when I found out that the tips I paid for with a credit card for the CREW ON THE BOAT were not paid to the crew but kept by JOHN DIXON for the operation of the business. There is no excuse for this practice! NONE period.

    I also lost all respect for JD the man when HIS company at the direction of him continued to take deposits and full payment of charters when the company had no way of ever fulfilling the obligations to the passengers. If that does not make sense I am sorry. He took the money and knew he could not provide the service that those payments represented.

    I have spoken personally to two people that have defended him throughout this ordeal and the arguments made always go back to what a great family man he is. Well that may be, so but as far as am concerned that has nothing to do with his business practices, NOTHING.

    I am out real dollars and that is my bottom line along with hundreds of other hard working people. It is a shame that people would still defend this man under any circumstances. I would love to speak to him personally. Clearly he does not have the BALLS to talk to any of the passengers that he cheated out of their hard earned money, by evidence of the fact that NO communication was ever forthcoming by him or his company to any individuals that paid him for services that he knew he never had any hope of providing.

    I challenge him to reply to this posting privately and I will provide him a phone number to contact me so we can have a conversation about this issue.
  10. scubamurr

    scubamurr Registered

    # of Dives:
    Location: Flower Mound TX
    Doug I agree with most things you have stated, we dove together on Nekton.

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