WASHINGTON — Makisha Wiley planned a 30-day September vacation that would leave most of us dripping with envy.
The trip began with a sailing excursion in the Seychelles Islands. From there, she would head to Madagascar and eventually end in the trip Zanzibar. No work. No responsibility. Just pure fun and a lifetime of memories crammed into a calendar month.
“I was going to enjoy myself,” said Wiley.
Part of the trip included seven days of sailing through Seychelles.
That portion of the trip wouldn’t require much planning on her part because Yacht’Nik, a company that organizes sailing experiences for Black travelers, was handling most of the logistics.
Leading up to the trip, she made her payments, communicated with other attendees, and allowed her excitement to grow. But something else was also brewing simultaneously.
“I do believe there were red flags,” said Wiley in the living room of her Prince George’s County home. “You raise your eyebrow. You have a level of suspicion. You brush it off. Maybe it’s not what you think it is.”
Leading up to the trip, Wiley noticed many questions to Jeremy Moore, owner of the Yacht’Nik, went unanswered or required repeated emails or messages. She also noticed critical information regarding required travel documents arrived late.
Yacht’Nik organized the trip into two, one-week vacations. Attendees could choose from one of the two weeks to participate. The price for the trip varied depending on the size of the boat. An advertisement obtained by WUSA9 showed prices ranged anywhere from $2,400 to $3,200 a person.
Wiley attended the first week.
"Yes, I'm angry. I'm pissed off even, but I don't want to go to jail,” she said.
Shameka Jennings attended the second week.
"I had every faith in [Jeremy Moore] because of what was shown, however, kind of like makeup, you can cover what you see,” said Jennings.
Yacht'Nik advertised the trip to include seven days on the boat, with WIFI, professional photography, transfer to and from the airport, a professional skipper, and a food package with a hostess that included 14 meals.
Attendees told WUSA9 that much of what they were told was included in the trip package was not what they received upon arrival.
Wiley received an email from Yacht’Nik Founder Jeremy Moore once she landed.
“He starts to email the group to let them know that many of the things, he had offered to us, it was no longer included. And if we wanted to have those things, we needed to pay for it,” Wiley recounted.
WUSA 9 confirmed the contents of the message.
While on the trip, Wiley spent $500 on food because she said Yacht’Nik failed to provide the 14 meals they advertised were included in the purchase price. Shameka Jennings encountered a similar problem during her week traveling with Yacht’nik.
“I just looked at my credit card statement. It's easily $4,000 extra [I spent on the trip],” said Jennings, a professional event organizer.
Jennings said Yacht'Nik only provided two meals during the second week and the hostess that Yacht’Nik said was included in the purchase price also wasn’t there.
“I went online and was literally looking for a private chef when we were considering going to an Airbnb so we could continue to have the experience that we wanted,” said Jennings.
Attendees told WUSA9 Yacht’Nik also failed to provide the photographer and videographer that were included in the travel packages. Attendees on both weeks said more than half of the amenities they were told would be included, were not.
Despite the alleged shortcomings, Wiley and Jennings said they refused to let Yacht’Nik and its owner Jeremy Moore ruin their experience.
“I'm going to enjoy this time while I'm here because I may not get back,” said Wiley.
After the trip was over, the outrage intensified.
Jennings wrote a lengthy article about her experience warning others about Yacht'Nik and its founder Jeremy Moore. Some even took to TikTok and Instagram to share their stories.
WUSA9 spoke with more than 50 people via zoom, who either attended the trip in Seychelles or who have information about Yacht’Nik and its founder. More than half of those on the call attended the recent trip to Seychelles.
Many of the attendees moved forward filing disputes with their credit card companies. At least 10 claims provided to WUSA9, showed claimants received either a partial or full refund depending on the dispute. More disputes are expected to be for have been filed.
Feeling the pressure to respond and account for the alleged misfortune of the Seychelles trip, Moore participated in a townhall type discussion on Instagram live were an attendee, on behalf of the group, asked questions about the trip, Moore’s role in the planning process and communication problems throughout the process.
“There are certain situations like this where it is very unfortunate for you guys and I am sorry and I do understand,” said Yacht’Nik Founder Jeremy Moore in that September Instagram live conversation.
Moore claimed there was also confusion about the meaning of ‘all-inclusive’.
“I think the ‘all-inclusive’ element in saying that is bad marketing in a sense, right? All-inclusive means all the stuff on a boat like your water, fuel, and activities,” admitted Moore. "I think I need to go back to the drawing board on that and that is where the issue came."
During the online conversation, Moore said he would work on refunds to the passengers, but the process for how and when those refunds would be executed wasn’t clear.
Moore declined multiple interview requests.
"I am aware of various public statements that have been made by some of the Seychelles trip attendees, and negative news articles and blogs that have been published,” he said in a statement eventually provided to WUSA9. “I am consulting with legal counsel to evaluate potential legal remedies for those false statements and the damage to both my reputation and the reputation and business of Yacht’Nik.”
WUSA9 learned a complaint against the company has been filed with the FBI and the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is currently investigating two consumer complaints lodged against Yacht’Nik, which is based in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, Wiley and Jennings said they’re doing their part to warn others and plan to purse every official remedy they can to get their money back and protect consumers.
“I don't think he understands that he's deflecting and not realizing he is the reason why the trip failed,” said Wiley.