Each December we here at Marinas.com run the Boaters' Awards, and each year it sparks anew a conversation about what makes a good review. Our pals at Dockwa put together a blog post with some of their high- and low-lights to help guide boaters and marinas alike. Read on for some key takeaways, and click here for the original post in full.
We keep a close eye on reservation requests, approval times, and – you guessed it – the reviews that pepper our marina partners' pages in the Dockwa app and website. And honestly, they can't all be gems: while some are candid and manage to stay level-headed even when reporting a less-than-excellent experience, others can come off sounding personal, malicious, or unreasonable.
One of the best things about Marinas.com is that marina managers can respond to reviews (for free) to correct the record or – if they were in the wrong – attempt to make amends. Also, boaters and marina staff alike can flag reviews if they don't meet the community guidelines.
So while we'd love to show off only the glowing praises, we'd thought that we'd take the opportunity to check out some of the ones that are somewhat less than helpful in the spirit of encouraging boaters to leave helpful reviews, even if their stay was less than enjoyable. We'll lead with the less-good so we can end on the high note.
Afterwards, put your top-notch review skills to the test by leaving a few at some of the marinas you visited this year by going to Marinas.com. And who knows, along the way you might help a marina you love qualify for a Boaters' Choice Award.
The Bad & The Ugly Reviews
In truth, there are no bad reviews. We want you to be able to be yourself, share what matters most to your boating experience, and tell your story. If you only have a moment, a short review is better than no review. You can always go back later to fill in the details of your stay, or update the review after each visit. Here are some noteworthy negative reviews:
"The dockmaster was rude and unprofessional. Would NEVER go back."
It's a start, but other than a tone of foreboding, reviews like this don't give boaters a whole lot to go on and don't carry as much weight.
"We got nothing."
"Just took a mooring for one night. Did not go ashore."
There's more to review than ashore! We'd love to know about the mooring conditions, the vibe in the field, was launch service reliable, etc. That said, simple and sweet is a great start and we hope he'll be back.
The terrible, horrible no-good very bad stay
"Absolute horrible service, the owner [name redacted] is rude, very nasty and talks nasty about the customers to other employees thinking you didn't hear him and a total unprofessional business man. Please do not use this company. My husband and I were ripped off and treated very poorly. No one seems to now how to be professional at this marina to their paying customers."
The vast majority of marina staff we work with are professional, polite, and love their line of work. So we would have loved to hear specifics – what about the service was horrible? How were you ripped off? Because horrible launch driving and horrible engine work are two very different degrees of horrible, and someone forgetting to add on a discount (which can be remedied) is different from them forgetting to fuel your boat up.
"All 000000000. Horrible marina. Mechanic [name redacted] sucks."
Maybe it's just me, but I completely ignore reviews like this full-stop. There is nothing constructive in this review to actually aid a marina in becoming better hosts and it definitely doesn't help a fellow boater make an informed decision about whether or not to tie up at this marina.
"Horrible experience. The rift raft walking back and fourth and the drunks hanging out on the benches was disruptive to our vacation."
This is great intel for the peace-seeking and party-going alike. We'd love to know what control the marina has over this and what expectations were set – did they not patrol when they said they would? Did you ask to be moved to a new dock and they refused? What was the facility like apart from your fellow guests?
"If I could give this place negative stars I would. Always dirty. Docks are in bad repair. The owner is an ass and a thief. If you stop here does not matter if you lock your things up he will cut the locks and take your things because he thinks he is entitled. He is NEVER in the office. He holds mail locked in the office for weeks and lets the worst of the worst in there. If you confront him about wrong doings he will force you to leave. Awful awful place."
All we can say about this is, "yikes".
Wi-fi, Weekend Staff, and Restrooms
"No wifi. Only one bathroom and shower. No place to sit and relax. No one to ask questions of. Office closed on weekends?!"
We'd be exasperated as well. Marinas take note: boaters depend on wifi to plan, keep friends and family updated on their travels, and handle business. It's 2019, the statute of limitations on having poor or no Wifi has run out.
And to our fellow boaters: Quit streaming Netflix while you're on the docks. You know who you are.
Power to the People
"Horrible. 5 boats in our club could not get power!! Marina blamed our boats at first. They knew this was a lie. Staff would not admit their wiring problems. Locals all knew!!! Bad Bad Bad To hell with [marina name redacted]."
Not good, marina that shall remain unnamed! Solid feedback for the marina that the word is getting around and they should step up their game.
The Good Reviews
When you leave a marina rejuvenated, you want to tell the world and show your appreciation to the staff. Thanks to boaters who stick the landing during their check-out by writing a review about their great stay, not just problematic ones.
Safe Harbor Onset Bay – Buzzards Bay, MA
"Brandon, the Dock Master, helped us land our 34ft sailboat with an opposing wind. After fueling up, watering up and pumping out, we decided to stay in a slip for a few nights to wait out the upcoming storm. Again Brandon assisted us docking into the slip, and tiring our lines for the expected blow. Thank you for wonderful service!! Also the marina facilities are top notch and very clean. We will be back next year."
We love reviews that showcase how helpful the dock hands were when tying up, especially during situations with some tricky weather. This type of information is always appreciated by fellow boaters looking to find a slip in a pinch when some nasty weather is on the horizon. And as always, clean facilities go a long way with boaters!
Herrington Harbour South – North Beach, MD
"We pulled in after a 10 hour run a little past 1700. They close at 1700 and we were met by Adam and he was very friendly and would not leave until we were securely tied up and had power. Very clean and well maintained marina with either a restaurant (Katch-22) or the deli across the street."
Talk about marina staff going the extra mile! Another boater went on to say:
"Outstanding service from every member of the staff. They make you feel that you are their top priority......imagine that....a place that actually prioritizes customer service . Great overnight stay, great amenities, great people!"
The Good Reviews That Last
It's one thing if you had one good experience at a marina, but it's another thing when that good service is consistent time and time again.
Mentor Harbor Yachting Club – Mentor-on-the-Lake, OH
"I've spent close to 20 nights over the last 4 years at MHYC, and this is a fantastic place to visit. The Marina is well-protected, and their floating docks are among the nicest I've seen anywhere. They have an outstanding restaurant with a nice view out over the lake, and the fuel dock is staffed 24hrs a day."
River Forest Marina – Belhaven, NC
We love seeing reviews that boaters come back to to update with more information and insight about their experience. Bonus points to River Forest Marina for responding to every single one of their reviews (and for this amazing sunset picture)!
"Great marina. Staff is wonderful and accommodating, facilities are clean and new, and it's the closest access to the ICW in this location. It is a bit farther from town than other marinas in the area, but they have loaner golf carts that you can use to go shopping, grab a bite, or just check out the town of Belhaven. They have plenty of room on the docks for bigger boats, and getting in and back out is very easy. Both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, and it will be a regular stop on our yearly trips, both up and down. Update: Thank you, Henry! Although getting older, we hope to keep doing our trip for at least another couple of years, and will be glad to see you on the way."
Port of Kingston – Kingston, WA
"I was only able to stay one night of the two [nights] I booked. The harbor master, Ray, who came down personally to meet us as we arrived and assured us we would not be paying for a night we didn’t stay there. He gave us a free night stay. Kingston was beautiful and welcoming as always."
Positive reviews that name marina staff members are an A+ in our book. It shows that that person really made a great impression during your stay and other boaters should know it. Hats off to you, Ray!
Thanks again to the thousands of boaters who have contributed to Marinas.com thus far! Marinas love hearing from you and being able to respond and react by sharing the praise with their team or working to improve.
Thankful for the awesome marinas that made your boating experiences even more wonderful this year? Show them your love (and help them qualify for a Boaters’ Choice Award!) by leaving them a review on Marinas.com.