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HOW TO CHOOSE DIVE SHOP FOR YOUR DIVING COURSE
So you’ve decided to take your scuba diving certification course.
Congratulations! That’s the first step.
Now you have equally big decision to make – where to do your training? Believe me, it is important decision, you don’t want to entrust your first underwater experience to the wrong dive shop.
One of my students confessed to me that after her first scuba diving experience she decided to never do it again. Apparently she was pushed beyond her comfort zone by a reckless instructor, who didn’t care that she needed more time to adjust to unfamiliar surrounding.
Fortunately, her friend convinced her to give it another try. She came to us for a proper Discover Scuba Diving program, after which she proceeded to become an avid certified diver.
Let’s have a look at some aspects you should consider when choosing the scuba diving center that is right for you.
Location of your scuba diving training should be the first thing you think about. Why? Simply because it would be prudent to train in conditions similar to those in which you’ll be diving most of the time.
For most people that means warm vacations destinations, and that’s totally fine. Honestly, most divers are holidays divers for very simple reason – we all like warm waters with good visibility and plenty of things to see. And diving is fantastic family activity to enjoy on all holidays.
In order to make sure that safety will be observed during your training, it’s best to choose a dive shop operating under one of internationally recognized organizations. There are many of those – PADI and SSI being most popular around the world. PADI certification is currently recognized in 186 countries, meaning that with PADI certification you can basically dive all over the world.
What other advantages come from choosing renowned diving association?
Confidence that your training will be carried out according to world-accepted standards. You will have to gather certain knowledge, master particular skills and practice safety procedures. Basically you will be trained the same way like all the other divers in the world and you will follow the same safety standards.
OPINIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Best way to chose a dive shop, as well as other services as a matter of fact, is following recommendation from a trusted person – a friend or a family member. But, what if you don’t know anyone who completed diving course, or you want to do it abroad where none of your friends went before?
Of course the internet comes to an aid (doesn’t it always?).
My suggestion is to look for recommendations on biggest services: Tripadvisor and Google. Don’t only look at the rating and number of stars, but take your time to actually read the comments. Do they sound genuine? Were those people enthusiastic and happy about their training? What do they say about safety?
Do not get discouraged if you encounter one or two bad opinions, read what it was all about and check out the reaction of management. Even the greatest make a mistake, but it’s how they handle it that’s important.
If you like most of the opinions that you read, you may have found your winner.
PRICE vs. WHAT’S INCLUDED
Ok, let me tell you a short story here.
One week vacations to Playa del Carmen in Mexico.We just couldn’t go without visiting one of the best dive sites in the world. Of course we had to explore Cenotes and dive around Conzumel Island.
Since our holidays were a bit heavy on the wallet, we were searching for the best price available. Eventually, we were already Advanced Divers (so experienced, in our minds), we would be ok diving with anyone. Little did we know..
On our first dive from a tiny little boat I felt so sea sick half way going down through tremendous surge that I just stopped on the line and started backing out. As I took my time to ascend to the boat, nobody came to check on me, calm me down and convince to continue a dive. Needless to mention, there was no briefing explaining that getting to the bottom may be challenging, but once down there it will be much calmer. I spent my entire dive on a boat… puking mu guts out.
cheapest isn’t always best.
Why did we give them another chance is beyond me..
On our second day, we planned a trip to Conzumel Island. You can imagine how big was our surprise, when we discovered, that we had to go on foot from a dive shop to the port and catch a ferry ourselves. The ferry ticket was not included in the trip price and we were about to meet our Divemaster in the port on the other side.
Carrying heavy scuba equipment all the way from the dive shop to the port was hardly what we needed before diving. Not to mention we only had some pocket money on us, just enough to pay for the tickets for ourselves. Another couple had to resign from the trip, they didn’t expect additional costs.
Well, at least it was cheap.. but you can imagine our frustration after this experience. Our memories from wouldn’t consider the price as the main factor.
My advice is, always check what is included in the price. Sometimes the cost may seem very attractive and only later you find out that you need to cover additional fees for transportation, equipment rental or local conservation fees. This leads me to our next point:
CONTACT THEM AND ASK QUESTIONS
This is an important point, at least for me. The way how somebody answers my questions and how they treat my concerns gives me a pretty good idea how they will treat me later on.
If it’s not clear what the price includes, ask about it. You have the right to know what you’re paying for before you make your decisions.
Contacting the dive shop will give you an idea how serious they are treating their customers. Did they answer all your questions clearly or were they vague and uninformative? Did they take time to resolve your doubts? How soon did they answer? Nobody likes to wait for reply to few simple questions few days.
The more the merrier ?
Well, this saying isn’t necessarily true in scuba diving. Less students in the group means more instructor’s attention. It is especially true in confined water training sessions, where it is important that you see exactly what your instructor is showing you. Group of 2 to 4 students is great, you will make new friends, have fun and learn from each others mistakes.
Don’t be shy to ask the dive shop about the size of the group. Make sure that you will get all the personal attention you need during your scuba training.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST – TRUST YOUR GUT
After you gathered all the information and contacted the dive shop by e-mail or phone, what was your general feeling? Was the overall impression consistent? Would you trust them with your safety? Do you feel those are the right people to introduce you into the magical underwater world?
Trust your internal voice, if you sense something is wrong search for another option. If you feel good vibes go on and start this beautiful adventure.
I hope that this post helped you choose the dive shop and you will have loads of fun during your training. In the end your first experience underwater should leave you wiser, curious and ready for more exciting adventures.