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So what do I want in a Coz dive trip...

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by DandyDon, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    45,471
    2,908
    113
    Well, it's a question we often ask others looking for recommendations, and whether my preferences are reasonable or not - they're my views...

    (1) I want to get there quickly, safely, and cheaply. I have paid too much for air at times over the years before I learned how to shop better, sometimes over $500 from Lubbock, but other times closer to $300 - these days more like $400 altho Amarillo may became my new gateway and/or Cancun my new arrival, depending on what the airlines do for same day arrivals and returns. At least this trip I am getting out of AMA at 5 so I can be into CZM by lunch. Time will tell for next year but I don't want to overnight at a connection or go thru Cancun if I can avoid it.

    Continental, American, and Delta are sparing over demand but the 5am flights are vanishing around here for a few months at least so connecting into CZM the same day is becoming challenging, as are cheap fares. It's looking like I'll may need to get used to airport lunches on the way to CUN or overnights on the way to CZM if I want to go before spring. The old rule of "it's got to be at least $100 cheaper thru CUN" may become more applicable for me if I want to go in the winter with hotel nights factored, but at least I can Open-Jaw, arriving CUN, departing CZM, maybe.

    I hope things look better after the next merger. Only thing I know for sure is that driving is still out of the question, gawd.

    (2) I want a comfortable hotel in the first taxi zone south of town, close to the water, with reasonable security and air conditioning for around $50/room-night double occupancy if I can. Mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, and in-room safes are nice extras. Tourists drive the prices in Coz, and there is a market for fancier & more expensive digs, but I don't want to encourage that. My old favorite hotel was nice enough, and it's even nicer now, but at much higher rates than in years past - and they won't participate in Air & Hotel discount packages. They market a Hotel & Diving package as they have in the past but with room rates around $100/room-night, so it was time for me to move on and make room for the bigger spenders.

    I have stayed in many a Marriot Suite over the years and chilled in various Concierge Floor lounges, but really don't even care for fancy hotels, certainly not enough to pay for it. For $100/room-night I could have booked Air & Iberostar all-inclusive, but I've tried those: Too far from town, too packaged, not my style. I really like more localized properties, not Four-Seasons-Wannabes. What I booked this time is Air & Private Upgraded Villablanca rooms for $27/room-night taxes included after Orbitz $200 discounts. Who knows that the airlines, hotels, Orbitz & other booking sites will decide to do in 2011? So far it looks like they want to drive the rates up and see if customers go for it; we'll see in time. I am going to scout some other, popular & well rated but cheaper hotels this trip, and - I may check back with my old fav then to see if they're still as they were the last time I tried. There is a bit of a bottleneck when one person handles all quotes personally, but we'll see. Half the time I have to go alone and that can get pricey!

    (3) And I want a decent dive operator for quick & safe* trips to good sites, shaded boats, leave me alone until I think I am low on air, a skipper who will find me and pick me up later, and not turn my valve off then 1/4 on while I'm not looking - as happened once last year, for around $60/trip with reasonable upgrades for 100 cf tanks or Nitrox. Again, tourists drive the prices in Coz, and there is a market for fancier & more expensive operators, but I don't want to be a part of that either. I can carry all my gear including pony bottle, my camera bag, and personal bag with a quart of decaf or Kool-Aid depending on the weather in one trip, and I have rinsed, dried and stored my own gear a few hundred times before everywhere else other than liveaboards. They'd better have a functional Oxygen kit and other basic safety needs aboard, and I saw that fail in Coz once, but there's just so much one can check before leaving a dock.
    * Hey, I don't trust anyone's driving, and yeah I look silly compared to the others in my snorkel vest on a moving boat - but I really don't care. Shoot pics if you want. I've been pretty good about wearing seat belts since before they were required because wrecks happen and they save more lives, and while laws are still more relaxed even on US waters - boat wrecks happen and virtually all drownings happen without flotation devices being worn. I wear mine on moving boats, and bring my own to avoid having to ask. Hey, at least I don't carry my own portable marine radio anymore. I once had an Op try to take me on channel crossing from Roatan to Utila without vests onboard; I fixed that, but he had more problems and failed to get far that day.​
    And it really is preferable to have the dive Op docked at the hotel. I know that many good Ops will pick up divers at various docks, but I like one I can check-in with on arrival without a taxi - especially with my pony to be filled, to see my boat waiting when I walk to the dock rather than wait for it to show up if nothing goes wrong, and the convenience of my helpful Op after lunch if I need help with something or want to change plans someway.

    What I booked this time is a week with a Scuba Mau whom some have been bragging about, lowest rates I've paid in years, discount Nitrox and free 100 cf upgrades. (I don't know why so many Ops charge $5/tank for 100s, like how many times does a larger tank need to pay for itself?) This Op also likes to provide valet services with basic gear which I don't need - but we'll give it a try. Their published site rates are somewhat higher than that, and I don't know what they'll charge next year, but we all know that when someone wants your business - negotiations are possible and real live cash talks. Ok, maybe there are some who may not seem like they want my business? There are other Ops, other islands, other countries - but this one looks nice so far.

    If Orbitz does not come thru with the $200/week discounts in 2011, looks like this Op can put me into the same hotel for $58/room-night for the upgraded shared room, $55/room-night for upgraded private room or $43/room-night for standard private room - at least on weeklong stays. They seem to have other hotel arrangements but still working on their site.

    We did our practice dives in New Mexico last month to see what needed fixing or replacing and what packing and diving skills we forgot since last trip, as well as working on our camera skills in challenging conditions. I got my new dive skin in, got my pony vized, returned my refurbished dive computer to Oceanic after a leak, and tried to get HP to fix my laptop before the warranty expired - altho that last one failed. I made other arrangements for the trip so I'll deal with my other warranty when I get back. My bud is carrying my backup laptop so we can edit pics simultaneously at times...

    "The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew," Robert Burns,1785 Murphy was a plagiarist. ​

    I have to check-in by 4:20 am and I've not even been to the Amarillo airport in 20 years, so I guess I have my pickup loaded and awake from a nap by midnight, set the AC on 88, water heater off, and be gone by 1:30 am so I can be at my bud's house before 2 to start nagging about why he isn't totally ready - then the 100 miles on I-40 watching out for roaming coyotes. I sleep well on planes but I'll need afternoon siestas for a couple days to catch up on the journey stress and there will be a run to MEGA on arrival to pickup comfort needs I couldn't pack now that I am limited to 50# bags like most. More to follow soon...

    Edit: I thot I'd carefully proofread all that, but somehow I totally mistyped myself - which lead to some confusion over some of the first few replies. I certainly did not mean to say everyone liked them; gawd, I really am getting old. :blush:
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  2. MMM

    MMM Orca Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sask. Canada/Cozumel, MX
    7,810
    1,555
    113
    Do you maybe mean "who SOME have been bragging about..."?
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010
  3. cicopo

    cicopo Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    1,382
    276
    83
    Too bad we don't all live where it's just a short hop to Coz, plus in my case the wife thinks it's OUR vacation & expects the frills. If I could find direct flights at prices like you people get I'd be there a lot more often, and staying in very basic rooms but I do like the fridge idea BIG TIME.
     
  4. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    45,471
    2,908
    113
    Yeah it's an overnight trip there or go thru Cancun huh, but doable for less than $600. I don't know where your wife likes to stay, but Casa Mexicana is a 4 star for $28/room-night including taxes on the Orbitz $200 off package, Fiesta Americana a 4 for $38, Hotel Cozumel a 4 for $48, Ibostar for $66 plus a night at iAH. I've had worse trips.

    Or go thru Cancun for less money, 6am to 12:30pm, into Coz a few hours later by bag-drag or do the air shuttle.

    Eh, you've got Thousand Islands; I don't. I once flew and drove all day to get there.
     
  5. judydivescoz

    judydivescoz Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Hudson Valley, NY
    1,303
    318
    83
    I have not been bragging about them.
     
  6. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    45,471
    2,908
    113
    What...???
     
  7. Basscat

    Basscat Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwest Missouri, USA
    403
    178
    43
    I'll just add that I am sure you will have a good trip with Scuba Mau, based on a very well informed recommendation by a very good friend.
    Hope Orbitz comes through for next year with the discount.
    Enjoy your trip! Can't wait to read your reports !-)
     
  8. MMM

    MMM Orca Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sask. Canada/Cozumel, MX
    7,810
    1,555
    113
    I have never dived with them. Therefore do not brag about them. Or Judy, apparently. Therefore, not "everyone".
     
  9. firstdive2005

    firstdive2005 Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: edmonton, alberta, canada
    2,018
    314
    0
    Well Don at least the people that you did read from had good taste. I'm quite sure your great adventures you have on the island will be going on for quite a while. I know your sense of humour will be loved by all at the shop. Everyone loves to joke around, I get the sense you like to mess around too.
    I wish I could use your coupons they seem to never work for me here in Canada. I just plan my vacations at two thousand a week and if I spend less than that well more for later. I usually stay at Park Royal, I like it there. I also like the spot your staying, but I have a plan a PR so I spend 80 a night there now at high time and 60 at low. All inclusive.
    I guess I could jump around checking all the places out and that would be adventurous but when I go now my vacation starts at wheels up. Not after I figure out where everything is at my new digs. So I think I'm doomed to repeat spots on the island, the only thing that changes are the divers on the boat, funny thing is alot of the divers on the boat are starting to be so regular I know a lot of them, thats fun, especially the new divers I like to see their improvements. But I have to admit it is special planning trips with other people from around the world to dive with on the greatest dive spot in the world. Cozumel. That's not up for debate.;)
     
  10. blue steal

    blue steal Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California/Redondo Beach area
    2,533
    252
    83
    Hey Don, have a great trip. Don't forget a trip report.:cowboy:
     

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