We went on a snorkelling trip to Raya island with Raya Princess Tours yesterday.
We went because the tour agency highly recommended Raya Princess Tours. Well, in 7 years of travelling to Thailand and doing various tours, this was the worst. Late pick-up by a driver who was Thailand's answer to Lewis Hamilton who dropped us off in a tiny side street with about 70 other people and left baking in the sun for 45 minutes. If we wanted to snorkel (snorkelling trip?) we had to pay extra for the flippers. After some passengers started to complain about the lenghty waiting time we were told to walk 500 m to the beach where we would be picked up. The beach was littered with broken glass and the boat looked like it had seen better days. They crammed 31 passengers with 3 crew on a boat which was licensed for 26 passengers and 2 crew. There were a few life jackets strewn about the boat. The rest was 'safely' locked way in the toilet. When we got to Raya island we were dumped on a beach at 10:30 and were told to 'relax' for an hour when we would be picked up 11:30 for the snorkelling part of the trip. At 12:05 the boat showed up with another load of people, ready to be dumped on the same beach. We got herded back onto the boat for the snorkelling part. After a short 5 minute drive to the snorkelling area everyone was told to get in the water. About a third of the passengers had to exchange their diving masks because the straps were faulty or the mask was just simply leaking. They didn't appear to be washed either. 25 minutes later everyone was ordered to get back in the boat because the time was up. Back to the beach where we were told to walk about 10 minutes down a dirt track to a 'restaurant' where we were treated to a 'boofay' consisting out of fried rice, sweet & sour something (think it was tofu), deep fried vegetables and watermelon which was way past its use-by date. After 'lunch' we were told to go back to the orignal 'relaxing' beach and be ready for pick-up at 3:00 pm. On the way back the engines broke down 3 times. The fourth time we were close to the glass littered beach so the captain jumped in the water and dragged us back to shore.
The drive back to our resort was the highlight of the day with our driver making the morning's Lewis Hamilton look rather pedestrian. Able to do 110 km/hr in a 45 km/hr zone and managing to make the van go into a drift on a windy road, we were grateful to be dropped off at our hotel. When we saw the tour agency the following day and complained they didn't look surprised. Obviously Raya Princess tours pays the best commissions and let's face it, there is a new load of tourists every day.