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Alton's Dive Shop

St. Petersburg...
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17 posts
13 reviews
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Alton's Dive Shop

Personally, I would NOT recommend anyone to take their open water certification here, for a few reasons. 1. They do not seem to service their equipment very well, especially their regulators. I was already certified before diving here and got a bad regulator during a dive and had to do an emergency ascent which cut my dive short by 30 mins along with the rest of the group. I think if I was not already comfortable diving I would probably have panicked, being 50 feet underwater and not being able to breathe. It seemed the dive master panicked more than I did....and what's worse, is when we got back on the boat she asked me not to tell anyone, so as not to "scare" the other divers. Upon return to the dock, the manager came to my room and said she heard about my bad regulator and wanted to apologize and offer me a free Tshirt. ARE YOU FRIGGING KIDDING ME???!!! I could have died due to your negligence and you offer me a t-shirt?!!!!! What kind of business does that? Who is training these people?? Not that I wanted it anyway, but oddly enough I never got the T-shirt. How about a full refund??! Or at least a refund for the dive that I did not get to finish>???! I think they were more concerned with keeping things under wraps. The next day diving three other friends of mine also had bad regulators. AND, they even found a tooth in a regulator!!??? Come on people....get it together. Work hard, play hard. Diving is diving, but here they seem to mix too much play and dangerous practices with their diving. Speaking of teeth, it was like pulling teeth to get a new set of sheets. The beds at this place are really not beds, you are more or less sleeping on a 2 in piece of foam with some sheets that probably havent been changed since 1982. There is also NO hot water here.

My roommate stopped her open water certification as she did not feel comfortable here. Also, they seem very keen on pushing additional certifications on you.....and seem to be more concerned with getting more money out of you than they are about your comfort level or safety. Don't get me wrong, many of the dive masters here are nice people, but like I said I personally am scared for all the people going through courses here, as I cannot imagine they are being properly trained from what I have seen on the 7 dives I did attend. I bought a 10 dive pack and stopped diving after 7. Please please do your research and make sure you feel comfortable. I really think this place is on the brink of getting someone seriously injured. OH...another thing is they pack their boats with at least 20+ people, which makes it really annoying to try to get a good dive in without some other diver kicking you or bumping you constantly. I talked to many people on the island about this and they all seemed to say that they would not want to dive with that many people on the boat and that they in fact, did not. I would suggest looking elsewhere, based upon my recent experience.

Utila, Honduras
Destination Expert
for Utila
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2,842 posts
291 reviews
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1. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

Did u miss anything? :)

Perhaps a review of Alton's on tripadvisor would be more useful to potential customers than a rant on the utila forum.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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11,395 posts
327 reviews
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2. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

I've only had great experiences at Alton's. For me, the way to avoid those packed afternoon boats was to dive in the morning - always small, respectful, fun groups in my experience. Sorry for your bad experience.

I had a horrifying experience at Utila Dive Center years ago and can relate - that place usually gets great marks, too. Hopefully your post and potential review will be a wake up call for Alton's and they can get their act together before I head down next time.

St. Petersburg...
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17 posts
13 reviews
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3. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

I posted this exact thing as a review and someone at Alton's must have complained because trip advisor removed it, and said it belonged in the forum? Rant or not it's the truth and I personally would want to know these things! I emailed trip advisor to get more specifics of why it was removed but haven't heard back yet. Their email did not make sense.

Victoria BC Canada
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44 posts
3 reviews
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4. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

Alton's has made a response to the safety issues in the review section.

As to the complaints WRT the accommodation, well...it is usually free.

St. Petersburg...
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17 posts
13 reviews
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5. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

Yeah, Kate's response is chock full of blatant lies to save face for her company. The regulator was absolutely not working...at all....and for her to claim it was and that I was in no danger is mind boggling. Oh well. The whole intent was to make people aware that they are very lax on the safety measures there.......they didn't actually have me sign a waiver until after my "bad Regulator" go figure.....and not once did they even check or validate my open water certification.

Yeah, for free accomodations, you pay for what you get.

Victoria BC Canada
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44 posts
3 reviews
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6. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

Damn, I'm sorry to hear that. I had a great time diving with Alton's earlier this year, 40+ dives over 5 weeks and as an experienced diver I found absolutely no reason to fault them in any way. I had my own gear so equipment wasn't an issue for me but I didn't see or hear anything that was cause for alarm.

Having said that though, I understand Alton's is under new management ( as of last September ) and one thing that I felt that was keeping Alton's the quality shop that it was was the "hands on" style of the owners/managers.

As an example..I tended to head down to the dive shop in the evening just to make sure everything was OK for the morning boat and one evening, I was told ( by staff ) that the morning boat was cancelled because there was a beach rave going on that night and the staff wanted to "sleep in" I was kind of bummed out because I Like the morning boats and I went back to where I was staying.

One of the owners/managers. Julie, heard about the boat being cancelled and called the shop to tell the staff that "my divers don't care about beach raves, they;re on the island to dive and that boat is going out tomorrow morning with all staff in prime condition" An email appeared in my inbox at the same time a member of Alton's staff showed up at my door to tell me things were on for the following morning.

But maybe things have changed, it won't be the first time I've gone to Utila and had a shop not be the same shop I'd experienced the year before.

I'll know soon enough as I'll be there in less than a month and even though Alton's is on my list of places to dive with, due to the management change, they're no longer on the top of that list.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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11,395 posts
327 reviews
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7. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

Stout - I wish you'd go with Alton's again and let me know how it goes.

St. Petersburg...
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17 posts
13 reviews
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8. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

If you go with your own equipment you shouldn't have a problem. She did mention to me after we surfaced that she had never seen that happen on a regulator, and chances are 1 in 100. If that's true then yeah I probably am an outlier, but with multiple people having a similar regulator issue it really make me hyper vigilant. Guess I need to invest in some gear!! Don't he me wrong I did have fun there and some good dives, just was taken back by the way the entire situAtion was handled.

Victoria BC Canada
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44 posts
3 reviews
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9. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

hopefulist, I do plan on visiting Alton's I want to start out with Coral View simply because a buddy of mine constantly raves about them. He's friends with the manager and did his IDC there. I'll be traveling solo for the first month and fear I may get bored, not have anyone to hang with in the evenings so I may move to a busier shop so I'm not drinking and dining alone.

I ran into Eddie there ( at Alton's) earlier this year and hope to again.

Andrea R. Regulator failure is pretty rare but the fact that Kate had you buddy breathing at 15ft is a strong indication that something was amiss. Maybe your air wasn't properly turned on, maybe your buddy messed up the buddy check and turned the valve the wrong way but issues like yours are the reason people like me frequent forums such as this.

Alton's had a great gear guy last season.... but this season ???

St. Petersburg...
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17 posts
13 reviews
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10. Re: Alton's Dive Shop

The air was def turned on, and kate was my buddy. I checked my gauge and it was at about 2000psi and saw the needle swinging and signaled to her and it was near impossible to breathe, she looked at it and said ok, I signaled something wrong and no air, then I checked the gauge again and it instantly dropped to 200psi and no breath was possible and that's when she gave me her octopus.

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