Basic Trip FAQ Page

Many times people ask the same questions about our trips, and here are the common ones with answers...

The most frequently asked question recently...Where are all the new trips??
I am blessed and honored that so many of my friends from previous trips keep e-mailing asking where the new trips are. The problem is that I am doing too many things. I'm in production on
Jonathan Bird's Blue World, so I have been too busy to schedule much new! Also, having two small children cuts into my travel time as well. The best thing to do is get on my mailing list so you will be notified of new trips immediately and get on them before they are sold out.

What is included in my trip?
This varies from trip to trip, and the details will be listed on the individual trip page. Airfare is not included since people join these trips from all over the country. You are paying us for the location portion of the trip, such as the live-aboard or the hotel/diving package for land-based trips. You will usually find that joining one of our trips is less expensive than going on a trip organized independently.

Why should I go with you? Why not just go with any open charter or my local dive shop?
Good question! First of all, believe it or not, our trips are often less expensive than those put together by your local dive shop. Next, we tend to put together special itineraries that are not part of a "standard" live aboard trip, like a full week at Darwin Island, Galapagos, rather than just a couple days there as part of a tour throughout the Galapagos, or a special live-aboard trip to Little Cayman Island, rather than a normal Grand Cayman trip. Our trips are all geared towards the photographer/videographer, which means going to the best spots for photography and critters and staying there. This usually appeals to non-photographers as well since we explore the best sites and try to avoid the "newbie" sites or sites with a lot of diver traffic. Also, since our trips are so much fun :-) we end up having a lot of repeat guests and we all get to know each other and have even more fun. That's what it's all about right? Great diving and lots of fun!

Why do I have to put up a deposit?
The deposit serves two purposes. First of all, the deposits go immediately to pay the deposit on the boat or hotel. We try not to ask for a higher deposit than is necessary to hold the reservations. The second reason for a deposit is to be sure that people who say they are going to join the trip actually do. Unfortunately, people often intend to join a trip but at the last minute back out unless they have a financial obligation. It's only fair to the people who organize trips and to the people who were unable to go because it was "sold out" that those people who said they were going actually show up! A deposit helps to insure this.

I gave a deposit but now I can't go. What do I do?
In this case, the obligation to find a replacement is yours. We will make every effort to help by contacting anyone that may have been on the standby list and putting out the word. Ultimately, however, the responsibility to fill the spot is yours. If the spot is filled, we will gladly return all of your deposit...and tell you what a great trip you missed when we get back! ;-) If we cannot fill your spot, or we have to discount the spot at the last minute to sell it, you will not get your deposit back, or you may only get part of it back. I'm sorry that it has to be that way, but that is the way a deposit works. You place a deposit to hold a spot on the trip, and that deposit prevents another person from taking your spot. If you decide you don't want the spot, we are in a "bind" to fill it. The best way to be sure you will get your deposit back is to find someone to take your spot.

How soon do I need to give you a deposit?
As soon as you RSVP for the trip. We will hold your verbal reservation for 7 days to give the deposit time to arrive, but after that if the deposit doesn't show up, your spot is up for grabs. Our goal is to fill the trips, so we cannot turn people away if the trip is not truly full. Until your deposit arrives, your spot is not confirmed! Once your deposit arrives, we will send you a confirmation e-mail.

When is the rest of the money due?
The payment schedule is listed on the trip description web page for each individual trip. Please try to make your payments on time. The payment schedule of money due to us is based on the schedule of when money is due to the live-aboard or the hotel. If you don't pay us on time, we have to cover your payment until your payment arrives, so please do not be late with your payments. We reserve the right to make your space available to someone on the stand-by list if your payment is significantly late.

What is this "standby list" thing?
We maintain a list of people on standby after a trip fills up. Sometimes, a confirmed guest has to back out of a trip for some reason and the first person on the standby list will be offered the chance to take that spot. We go down the list until we fill the spot. We nearly always end up taking at least one person on the standby list for every trip, so if you really want to join a trip that is sold out, being on the standby list often works.

Do you give a photo course on your trips?
Some of our trips are specially planned as courses (and advertised as such). If you want a structured photo or video class on your trip, with daily lectures and formalized instruction, then definitely join one of our designated photo or video course trips. On other trips, Jonathan is usually leading the trip because there is something there he wants to shoot himself. In that case, the thrust of his effort will be maximizing photo-encounters for the group. Nonetheless, on any trip Jonathan is more than happy to provide cheap advice, wise-ass comments, and suggestions. On some trips he provides shorter seminars tailored to the shooting at that particular location. For example, he gives a seminar with tips on "big animal" photography during Galapagos trips since that helps everyone get the best pictures without taking too much time out of the diving schedule.

I'm traveling alone. Is this a problem?
Not generally. We will try to hook you up with a roomie. We rarely have a problem hooking people up with suitable roommates, however sometimes on liveaboards if we end up with one single guy and one single gal, they may have to room together if there are no other options. This has only actually happened a few times, but it is a risk if you sign up as a single diver on a live-aboard trip. On land-based trips, if we have nobody to room with you, you might have to pay extra for a single room, but this doesn't happen often.

Are your groups fun?
Well, we try to make them that way. On a scale of 1-10, our group fun factor is usually an 11.

I'm bringing film. How do I carry it?
Are you kidding? Switch to digital!

What if I have specific questions before I decide?
No problem. Drop us an
e-mail and we'll answer it as soon as possible. In general, we respond very quickly to e-mail unless we are out of the office diving!

Do you take credit cards?
No, we're a small operation and it would only drive up the cost of our trips! Generally we do business with the old fashioned check in the mail. We can accept wire transfers from our international guests. Please be advised that we do not pay the fee for these transfers! We will accept the fee on our end to receive the payment, but the guest must pay the fee to send the transfer. Because these fees are now about $15 per transaction, we may ask guests to pay for the trip in fewer payments to reduce the fees. A trip with 4 payments can add up to over $60 in bank fees, which is more than we can absorb.

Where should I send my deposit?
Make checks payable to Jonathan Bird. (No "productions" - Jonathan Bird Productions is my film production company and is completely financially separate from my dive trips. I cannot deposit checks for dive trips that are made out to Jonathan Bird Productions.) Contact us for the address to which to mail the check. (We are no longer publishing the mailing address on-line due to spam, solicitations, junk mail, telemarketers and other annoyances!)

Can the trip price change?
I make a valiant effort not to allow the price of a dive trip to change once I post the price, but it has happened (only once though!) Please understand that many of these trips are booked in foreign countries that use a different currency. I may lock in a price with a dive operation, but the exchange rate changes and my price in US dollars changes. Since I don't have a large profit to cover the variable, I may end up having to increase the cost of the trip a little. I always try to book my trips in USD, but some operations will not do it because they don't want their price to change with fluctuations in currency either. On top of that, the price of fuel recently has caused many dive operations to add fuel surcharges to their trips, and this cannot be avoided. So while I will say that 99% of the time the price of a trip will not change, sometimes is has to and therefore I reserve the right to change trip costs if necessary. Please be assured that I do not take this lightly and I will always work to insure that the guests on my trips are getting the very best price I can manage. I haggle with the dive operators pretty well!



Check out the trips!

whale shark

Humpback whale

Potato Cod


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Last Update 12/20/01