Jen Darby left a perfectly stable government job and started her own wholesale dive travel agency. This move would have the less adventurous among us asking: “Is she nuts?” But for Jen, the move paid off and for many years she successfully marketed, sold and lead dive trips to destinations all over the Caribbean.
For most, that would constitute a great career shift but Jen was restless. “After years of working and traveling the world as a group leader,” she explains. “I decided to sell my first company and for the next few years I spent a lot of time in Papua New Guinea and eventually started a new company, Papua New Guinea Expeditions. That in turn led to my next company Liveaboard Adventures. I have been lucky enough to spend the last 18 years traveling the world with most of my time spent on liveaboards so I know this was a good "fit" so to speak.”
Jen’s reputation as a dive travel service is based mostly on her abilities to provide something different for her clients. She never sells a prepackaged trip unless it’s one that she is leading… and therefore has hands-on control over while it’s running. She points out that her clients have limited vacation time that they want to get the most out of. Her trick is to listen to what they want their vacation to be, what they want to experience and then create an itinerary that meets those needs.
“Personally I don’t think you can do a good job of booking a trip for a client and give them the information they need unless you have been on the trip yourself. I now spend my time leading groups and booking individuals to the best diving destinations in the world like Raja Ampat and Komodo Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Red Sea & Egypt, Fiji, Solomons, Costa Rica, Galapagos, South Africa and almost anywhere there is adventure travel.”
One question that people always ask anyone intimately involved in the dive industry has something to do with where are the best dives and what is the best destination. Jen is in the perfect position to answer but her take is very diplomatic. “Every destination has a best dive, there is no way to say there is one best dive anywhere in the world. In Papua New Guinea I love the Witu Islands, for Indonesia I love the diving off the wall of the Pearl Farm where we were lucky enough to find Ladybugs on our last trip along with shopping for Pearls, where else in the world can you do that. I can tell you for a fact the ladies on board loved the combination of shopping and diving. Then there was the dive in Raja Ampat where we had the M&M’s in one day, Manta’s, Mobula Ray’s and a Marlin on our last day of diving. We came out of a swim through at about 80 feet and as I looked up and out into the blue there the marlin was, just hanging out maybe 10 to 15 feet away.”
Backing up her take on best dives, Jen points out that there are great spots much closer to home. “I take my family with me on some trips and we just returned from a family trip to Cozumel where we did Punta Sur Devils Throat and it is probably one of the most fun dives in the Caribbean.”
Jen’s company stands out because she takes the time to customize trips to fit her clients’ needs. “I never try to send someone off on a basic seven-night trip to a popular resort or liveaboard unless I know this is what the customer wants,” she explains.
Her aim is to provide trips that will be remembered as the trip of a lifetime. As she says, it takes a little more time but the end result is very satisfied customers. This is what Liveaboard Adventures and Papua New Guinea Expeditions excels at.
For more information, contact Jen Darby, Liveaboard Adventures – Papua New Guinea Expeditions, 311 Dorset Drive Cocoa Beach FL 32931. 866-510-DIVE (3483)