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Marina Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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 Marina 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:

Mysterious Stays

“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.

The Throwaway

“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.

The Riff-Raff

“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 Marina 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.

By: Becky Pineo, published on November 26, 2019
Categories: Kudos

New Marinas.com Chart Overlays

You may be pleased as punch to see the thousands upon thousands of world-wide marina profiles – as well as the detailed information within each profile – but we’re working on even more features to help you floatplan. Marinas.com’s charts now allow for chart-type – chart, street, and satellite – as well as weather radar overlay.

Simply select your location on the chart, then use the tools in the upper left-hand side of the screen to toggle weather radar, storms, and advisories.

By: Becky Pineo, published on January 09, 2019
Categories: Product-Updates

Announcing the 2018 Boaters' Choice Award Winners and New Elite Fleet Tier

Marinas.com announced today the recipients of the 2018 Boaters’ Choice Awards, honoring the marinas which boaters most praised throughout the year. Click here to see the complete list of 2018 Marinas.com Boaters’ Choice Award Winners.

After coming under new ownership last year, Marinas.com revised what it means to be a Boaters’ Choice marina. Rather than rely on a condensed voting period at the end of the year, Marinas.com leveraged its thousands of user reviews to determine the 2017 award recipients. By relying on reviews submitted throughout a marina’s season, Marinas.com was able to give all boaters an equal voice and all marinas an unbiased assessment of their standing in the boating community.

The tradition continues this year; any marina with at least three reviews in 2018 and an average rating of at least 4 stars received the accolade of being a 2018 Boaters’ Choice Marina. This year’s recipient group is comprised of 217 marinas that consistently provided excellent experiences to their boaters in 2018.

The 2018 recipients list includes a diverse range of marina businesses, from private yacht clubs to public service yards, and locations from the west coast to Marinas.com’s hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. Marinas.com includes profiles for more than 8,500 U.S. and Bahamian marinas, which places the 2018 Boaters’ Choice winners in the top 3% highest-rated marinas in the US & Caribbean.

This year, to further recognize those that not only provided a consistently positive experience, but went above and beyond to delight their boaters, Marinas.com added the Elite Fleet tier of the Boaters’ Choice Awards. Representing the top .2% highest-rated marinas in the US and Caribbean, marinas in the Elite Fleet received at least ten boater reviews in 2018 and maintained an average rating of at least 4.8-stars. Click here to learn more about qualifications for the Boaters’ Choice Awards.

“We live in a world where providing excellent customer experiences is table stakes for success,” said Dockwa & Marinas.com CEO Mike Melillo. “The addition of the Elite Fleet tier of the BCA lets us recognize those marinas that are both overwhelmingly loved by boaters and are actively putting boater needs before immediate business needs. We believe a strong star rating coupled with a large volume of reviews confirms a marina’s excellence, and demonstrates a marina’s willingness to relish feedback, positive and negative, in order to provide the best possible experience.”

Only 21 marinas listed on Marinas.com qualified for the Elite Fleet. To commemorate their achievement, they will receive emphasized recognition throughout Marinas.com as well as a custom-framed, Elite Fleet Boaters’ Choice Award.

By: Becky Pineo, published on December 11, 2018
Categories: Boaters-Choice

Introducing Favorites & Lists: Bookmark Marinas, Harbors, Anchorages and More ❤️

We’re excited to introduce two new tools to help you plan your time on the water.

Marinas.com’s new Favorites feature allows you to save the marinas that interest you most. As you browse the site, favorite any marina that catches your eye to view later and share with friends. You might also mark a marina as a Favorite after you’ve stopped in unexpectedly and want to remember to write a review, give feedback, or plan a return trip.

The new Lists tool helps your organize your trips and bookmark future stops. Create as many as you like – one for every state, harbor, or week of the summer – and easily share with your friends on the water.

Give’em a whirl – here’s how to get started:

Adding a Marina to Your Favorites

  1. Visit any location page on Marinas.com. Location page types include Marinas, Harbors, Inlets, Bridges, Locks, Lighthouses, Ferries, Landmarks, and Ramps. You can view this list and navigate to each location page type from the Explore tab in the top menu bar.

  2. Once on the location page, click the ❤️ icon in the top right-hand corner.

And voila! You can view that location in your list of Favorites at any time.

Creating a Marinas.com List

  1. Log in to your Marinas.com profile (click here to create your free account)

  2. From any marina profile (or any other page on Marinas.com), click on ‘New List’ to start organizing your trip.

  1. Name your list and add a description.

  1. Once a list is created, you can add any marina, harborage, anchorage, bridge, etc.

You can also:

  • Drag to reorder the order of destinations in your List
  • Share your List with friends or keep it private
  • Build multiple Lists
  • Rename and edit the descriptions on Lists

Questions? Feedback? Let us know – email [email protected].

By: Reid Burns, published on March 28, 2018
Categories: Product-Updates

Marinas.com Announces 2017 Boaters' Choice Award Recipients

Marinas.com announced today the 152 recipients of the 2017 Boaters’ Choice Awards, honoring marinas which boaters have most praised throughout the year. See the complete list of 2017 Marinas.com Boaters’ Choice Award Winners.

Rather than rely on a condensed voting period as in years past, this year Marinas.com leveraged its thousands of user reviews to determine the Boaters’ Choice Award winners. Any marina with at least three reviews which averaged a rating of 4 or more stars receives the accolade of 2017 Boaters’ Choice Marina. The 2017 recipients list includes a diverse range of marina businesses, from private yacht clubs to public service yards, and locations from the west coast to Marinas.com’s hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. Marinas.com includes profiles for more than 8,000 U.S. marinas, which places the 2017 Boaters’ Choice winners in the top 2% highest-rated marinas in the United States.

“This revision in Boaters’ Choice marina selection more closely aligns with the mission of Marinas.com to empower every boater an equal voice, to provide boaters worldwide quality marine information, and to reward marinas that work to consistently provide excellent service to boaters,” said Dockwa & Marinas.com CEO Mike Melillo. “Boaters contribute reviews throughout their cruising season, so the associated ratings reflect their experiences without having to jog their memories in an end-of-year contest.”

The use of user-generated content (i.e., user reviews) to validate a product’s value (i.e., a marina’s rating) is one of several ways in which Marinas.com has evolved to meet boaters’ needs since its acquisition by the slip-booking and marina management software Dockwa in January 2017. Dockwa has also since integrated the data and functionality of Marinas.com into its software to provide a more comprehensive, seamless experience for the boater’s booking process, as well as for each marina’s business management.

While marinas use Marinas.com to increase exposure, generate sales, implement marketing campaigns, and respond to boater reviews, they simultaneously use Dockwa to respond to boater reservations, process payments, manage their docks, and communicate with customers. Boaters use Marinas.com to find information about harbors, marinas, and waterways; once they’ve set their sights on their next cruising destination, they use Dockwa to book and pay for their slip or mooring.

In the digital environment provided by Marinas.com and Dockwa, marinas and boaters can conduct all administrative aspects of their respective roles online and on the go. As the travel industry as a whole continues to trend toward a 100% digital booking and transaction process (nearly all major airlines charge travelers extra for ticket purchases made over the phone), the boating industry must follow suit.

Marinas.com has millions of visitors each year and provides information for more than 17,000 marinas worldwide.

By: Becky Pineo, published on December 05, 2017
Categories: Boaters-Choice