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La Galigo - Raja South Itinerary

Pictures and details of the boat will not be listed here, they can be found at

Last week, I embarked on a 9 day cruise to Raja Ampat with the "luxury liveaboard sailing vessel La Galigo". For the benefit of this community, I want to provide a detailed review of this experience. Allow me to preface this horror story with the following insight: Diving in Raja Ampat is magical. The diversity and abundance of marine life has few, if any equals on this planet. Combined with usually clear waters and the sparsely populated, untouched islands, diving here is a majestically beautiful experience. You should definitely go there, just not with this boat.

The 12 guests booked on the cruise with the "Raja South" itinerary arrived on the ship, lying in Sorong harbour . Some of us had taken 5 am red eye flights to make the scheduled departure time of 9 am. For reasons that elude me to this day, we then sat in the harbour for 5 hours while the crew sorted out the boat. Consequently, the checkout dives scheduled for that day were scrapped and we went straight to Misool, Raja Ampat's southernmost Island.

Since I was travelling alone, I was paired with another German to be bunk mates. Our first inspection of the cabin watered down the promised luxury liveaboard experience somewhat: The en-suite bathroom smelled of cloaka (yes, the smell of shit that has been left out for some time) the faucet wasn't working and the shower looked like it hadn't been cleaned in ages. Three prompts to the friendly (no irony) indonesian staff later, and they finally fixed the faucet.
We could not detect a whiff of the "personal pride the owner Tom takes in his boat", as is stated in the reviews on or Said owner wasn't on the boat. He had preferred to leave the operation in the hands of two Indonesian dive guides in order to live in Phuket. My humble self, being used to budget backpacking in somewhat remote areas, was however determined not to be dissuaded by such little foibles.

The next few days passed rather uneventfully. Raja Ampat's breathtaking diving spots really do make up for a lot of minor annoyances. Now, esteemed reader, if you've indulged me this long, we will get to the juicy bit: several grave and inexcusable security risks.
On a longer, overnight journey we woke up at 3:20 am, because it was raining in our cabin. The ceiling wasn't watertight, and the rain had decided to come into our room. In hindsight, we were quite happy to be woken like this. My bunk mate and I had splitting headaches and smelled an incredibly strong odour of diesel exhaust gas in the cabin. Fearing the fumes from the ancient truck diesel engine might also contain highly toxic carbon monoxide, we dragged our mattresses into the mess hall and continued to sleep there. Next morning's examination of the engine and guesses about the exhaust system have led me to believe that an exhaust pipe routed underneath our cabin must have leaked or broken that particular night. The diesel exhaust smell was present before, but far less distinct.

After the rough night, we had a friendly and sensible conversation with the two guys running the boat and told them of our concerns. They were understanding and apologised. The next night we again slept in the mess hall due to the strong diesel exhaust smell in our cabin, already present in the evening. The following morning, we were woken in a very unfriendly manner by an agitated dive guide (fendy was his name) who shook us awake and yelled at us we had to leave the mess in 3 minutes. After telling him we would leave if he would let us open our eyes for a few minutes, the yelling became louder and he even threatened to drag us down at some point. The things he agitatedly shouted at us revealed that he had not understood the subject of our earlier conversation, that the diesel exhaust gas could pose a serious health problem. I could go on about these exchanges, they were numerous. But I'm afraid I will only bore you, dear reader. And we have bigger fish to fry:

Namely grave safety issues with the dive operations. "Plan the dive - dive the plan" wasn't really a thing here. Entry points and routes were frequently completely different from what was discussed in the briefing. Maximum depths were frequently exceeded. I'm fine with diving deep, I just want to know about it beforehand.
The biggest issues where however with nitrox diving. The ship offered to dive EAN32 and several guests took up that offer. However the gas mixtures usually varied between 29% - 34% v/v oxygen. In my experience, dive masters force you to analyse your tank yourself and sign, to confirm that your measurement matches the one from the gas blending apparatus. This crew just tossed a few analysers on the dive deck and left the choice up to you.
I decided to analyse my "air" tank. It varied between 21% - 24% v/v oxygen. Presumably they didn't purge the apparatus before filling the air tanks. One grave error stands out: A dive was planned with a maximum depth of 25m. The crew said EAN32 tanks were given out. However one customer was given a tank that contained EAN36, which she only found out after having analysed the tank herself. At 24,4 m depth, pO2 reaches the toxic level of 1,4 bar. This error could potentially be fatal.

Let me close this story with a little highlight, the last conversation I had with the dive guides. On the last day, I was quite sceptical toward this operation. So I asked the dive guides so sign my logbook, stamp it and write down the divemaster verification number of all 3 guides. The guide Nico answered he had forgotten his number. No problem, just go and have a look at your card then surely? He claimed, he didn't bring the card with him. So I asked for the verification numbers of the other guides. They had all forgotten them as well. I then asked if he was a dive master. He answered yes. Hmm...
So i asked which organisation and School he trained with. He named CMAS, but didn't give the name of a school. Next, I asked him to write down the full names of all dive guides and the organisations they were certified by. I said I would then call them to verify the number myself. He refused. Then the yelling started again. He accused me of "always making trouble". I remained calm and insisted on wanting to verify his qualifications. Still agitated and yelling, he admitted that none of them had formal training or certifications.
That leads us to the conclusion that not a single trained divemaster or instructor was to be found on this diving cruise. Said dive guide also lied to my face about his qualifications. So did the La Galigo homepage. I shudder to think what would have happened in the case of an actual diving accident.

So yeah, 'luxury' liveaboard cruises with La Galigo. Walk away. Or swim away if that is no longer an option.
You might ask why the La Galigo has excellent reviews on e.g.
I booked through this site and wanted to submit a review. However there is no way to post a review directly to the site. The only way is to write them an email with the review and hope that they post it. I have submitted this review to them as well. Let's see if it appears on their site. If not, these reviews are propably editorialised, since the booking sites get a concession.

Wow, this review has gotten long. Guess there was a lot to tell. Thank you for sticking with me till the end.
But please go to Raja Ampat. It is the best diving spot I have seen so far. Breathtakingly beautiful nature.

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