This is not a blast post... I just ask if anyone else has experienced anything along these lines.
Wife and I returned from a second honeymoon trip to CSA in November. We were excited to spend the time re-engaging ourselves in to Jamaican life and all the experiences CSA had to offer. Our last trip was in 2007. The snorkling boat (apparently not owned by Couples at that time) was run by a guy who called himself Captain Jack. We went out with staff members Trillan and Garfield (on separate trips).
This time, the experience was... different. The boat driver (a CSA employee) always seemed to be in a bit of a bad mood. He drove us directly to the spot, recited a list of rules, then we were in the water. No fun music during the ride out, no joking, nothing we'd come to expect from CSA folk. In the previous visit, Garfield snorkled with us, explaining what we were seeing and pointing out some of the lesser-noticed creatures. These guys sat on the boat and talked while we were out.
Don't get me wrong - we had a great time on our own, and they were very professional with what they did. They were to ferry us to a snorkling location and bring us back. They did that. It's just that the experience lacked the charm we had previously experienced.
Also, I have to ask... when was the change made to require life jackets while snorkling? While I admit, while the seas were a bit rough while we were there, I would have liked the opportunity to free-swim and take closer video of the wildlife.
The lifejackets are inflatable (or deflatable). They're just of poor design (strap around waist, strap through legs) and really detracted from the fun and excitement of being out over a natural reef in Jamaica. A standard life jacket that allowed you to bob along the surface (such as those used while cave-swimming on the Catamaran Cruise) would have been much nicer, not to mention less "awkward".
Bottom line: I guess I feel that one should not be concerned with the aquatic wedgie while gawking at Jamaica's beautiful underwater scenery. I'm sure it's a safety thing, and it's an insurance liability... I would appreciate the option of signing a release and jumping overboard with a simple mask and snorkle.
I know everyone can have a bad day (boat driver) and it's probably a good idea to wear a life jacket. I'm just looking at the pictures from 2007 vs those in 2012 and I think I had more fun snorkling in 2007.
Your observations are spot on. Trillian[ spell?], had a huge personality. Next came Marlon who new more about what was in the water than anyone I have met there. Both were diff. but fun. Last was Oliver. We got along with him great. The life jacket thing, I first noticed in Dec. 2011, and I agree, what a pain. Let's sign a waver. I don't know if the whole snarklin trip is any less fun, but it is diff. I'm sure it will continue to go through change. But hey, the Red Stripe is still cold!
The requirement to wear life jackets at CSA is fairly recent. When we were there in February 2012 it was not a requirement. Although when we visited CSS in January 2009, lifejackets were required there.
There are different crews that work the snorkel boat. As far as I can remember from our early trip to CSA in 2005, they were Couples employees, but I guess I could be mistaken. On our trip last year, the crew did join us in the water on a couple of our trips (we snorkeled almost every day). Honestly, I would rather have at least one of them in the boat keeping an eye on things. And trust me, they do know what's going on even if they are chatting with each other.
I'm not crazy about wearing a life vest, either (we like to dive down to investigate), so I definitely see your point.
the first time we went to CSA was in 2009 and snorkeled with Trillan, he was great and very amusing. and as you pointed out, life jackets were not required, which i loved. i could swim before i could walk and have enough extra bouyancy that i really do not like the life jackets nor do they fit me well. our return trips to jamaica and other couples resorts, the snorkeling trips all required life jackets and i really did not like that. our last trip was to css and i finally quit taking the snorkel trips and used my own gear to snorkel from the beach because i could go w/o the hinderance of the life jacket. if it is a liability/insurance reason for this requirement, i too would be happy to sign a release and be free to enjoy the water as i want to.
Dang! I hope you don't have to wear a life vest when we go. A lot of the fun is being free in the water while you are swimming with the fishes. I found it very relaxing and romantic. With a weird thing around my neck and groin it wouldn't be that way. Please someone say this was just a fluke.
Bummer.....when I snorkle, I like to dive down and get close to the coral and wildlife...do these lifejackets keep you on top of the water? If that's the case, I'll probably pass on the snorkling on our next trip to CSA.
This worries me! We loved snorkeling on our '09 trip! Richard was our captain and always had music going. He got in the water a few times but when he wasn't he was keeping a watchful eye on all of the swimmers.
This is disappointing to hear. When we snorkled at CSA back in 2008 it ws a great team. We did more diving, and they were a great team also. In 2011 we went to CTI and the weather was too rough to snorkel or dive all week, but when we talked to a couple of the dive team it just wasn't the same. At CSS we went diving, not snorkeling, and the dive team was awesome. It does make a bigh difference, especially for diving. If life jackets are now required to snorkel, I guess we'll stick to diving in future.
We too had the pleasure of meeting Trillan on our first visit to CSA six years ago. What an amazing personality. We have met many wonderful water sports staff since then but we often speak of how great Trillan was!
i cannot relay a reason for the change- but i can say that in sept/2011 on our first trip to CSA
, they were not required--- and in sept /2012 we were told they now were required, nobody asked why, we just dutifuly put them on----im sure there was somebody who blew it for all, and that Couples now has to require them for obvious liability reasons. mike
My husband and I have been snorkeling several times on our two trips to CTI in March 2011 and March 2012--it's something we both enjoy and look forward to. The watersports guys made sure everyone wore a life jacket on the boat, but said once you jumped into the water you could remove them if you wanted--just not to lose them! They were standard vest style lifejackets with a clip belt, no crotch strap!