Has anyone given much thought to the legal position when you book a place on a liveaboard?
Just about all sites that I can see that allow you to book on a liveaboard state in their terms that they operate as an agent on behalf of "the operator". Often they don't even specify who the operator is. So this would seem to mean that, when you book with them, you are entering into a contract with some boat operator in a distant country whose name you don't even know. If there are problems with the trip, say the boat sinks before departure, or you get injured on the boat through the fault of the crew, it's not the responsibility of the agent to reimburse or compensate you, it's the responsibility of the "operator". IF you are able to find out who this is, you may find that it's a person or company in the country where your liveaboard is based. It's going to be very hard, if not impossible to pursue them for damages.
Far better if you can use a credit card and book direct with the operator. In the UK at least, you then have the right to claim against your credit card company instead of the operator. That's going to be a lot easier - you can go to the Financial Ombudsman if they fail to pay up, and sue them in the English courts. POSSIBLY you might be able to do this if you book through an agent as well, but the legal arguments are going to be very difficult.
So has anyone tried to do this when booking a liveaboard? Do you bypass the agent, find the operator, and book direct with them? Clearly this still only works if they'll take a credit card, but it will be worth doing if they will.