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.