Day 3 of our land vacation here in Aruba and I had a surprise for Sakari.
We headed downtown and parked and walked downtown to where we were going.
In my video at the end of this portion of the review, you will see Sakari's reaction when she finds out what we are doing for the day...we are going on the submarine!!!! She was so excited! She said she had just been talking about how she had never been on one before with another friend this month. Now she was going to get to do it!
It was one of the few things we found to do here that we've never done before so that was exciting.
They claim to go down 130' and that's deeper than we've ever been before and we will never scuba dive that deep so why not try it out?
So what will it cost you to ride the submarine? It's expensive, of course, like most things on the island. $105 per adult and $69 for a child.
I would book online, which takes you to a check out using fareharbor. I had never heard of them or used them before but it seemed like every place I booked while I was here used them (I think).
When booking any place, I would end up with a booking email, and thanks for booking email, a reminder email, and one for our virtual tickets.
With every booking we did, you had to fill out the online forms and waivers...for each and every person in the party. Everyone couldn't be all on the same one. It was VERY time consuming with all the information and questions they ask.
Once we arrived at the check-in, they ask us for our name and that was it. They didn't ask for the ticket or proof of purchase or anything...just our name. They told us to hang out for awhile on the side and there was a restroom if you needed to go. There's no restroom on the sub FYI. As we waited for the sub, they lined us up and took our pictures. We also did a little bit of shopping in their giftshop and the hubby and I bought sunhats (which I've been wanting for awhile and especially since Sakari got hers over the summer). My hat was $40 and his was $30. I guess not too bad considering back home it was getting harder to find them now and when you did, they were around $60 each. They also offered to hold them for us while we were on the trip. Awesome!
We patiently awaited for the sub to arrive. Sakari kept a close look out for it to pull up. The anticipation was just killing her. She took over the GoPro and would point it at the water. She just knew it was randomly going to emerge from the water and she wasn't going to miss it.
Then all of a sudden this is what came instead...
I'm going to be honest in saying I wasn't sure how this all worked either and I certainly didn't know that we would take a boat somewhere else to get on the sub. So it was a surprise for both of us. They told us it was a short 15 minute ride to the sub, but it sure seemed longer than that.
We headed by the airport and the planes were coming in. We both wished that we would have been going underneath the plane when it was coming in. Our timing was off. But, I assured her we would go to that beach some time while we were here so that she could get better pictures.
Now I have to say that we got lucky in the side of the boat we sat on because the other side was getting a bit wet from the waves splashing as we moved along in the boat. There were people moving around like they were playing musical chairs on the boat.
We finally came to a stop in the water and we patiently awaited for the sub. Sakari was determined to get it popping up. We looked all around us but nothing. We started watching the tour guides to see what direction they were looking in and noticed they were pointing pretty far away. So I guessed that the sub was going to come up way out there and make it's way in. Not as dramatic as we had hoped for.
I was watching out in the distance and all of a sudden it popped up...like super quick. We both missed getting it on video, but at least seen it come up.
As soon as it popped up from the water the pilot boat headed over to it. It guided the sub over to us. I heard a few people on our boat say "that's a lot smaller than what I thought it would be or what I had pictured" and I have to say that was the same thing I was thinking too!
The other thing I wasn't expecting was once they were set up for us to come onboard the sub, we would go down the side of it and stand. We were all pretty close together and 2 rows. Then the hatch opened and people started coming out. I didn't realize people were coming off the sub as we were getting on. But of course makes sense since they run tour after tour. I mean what else were they supposed to do with them? But it did make for a crowded situation and with COVID...you would have thought they might have reduced capacity, especially when you are in a small enclosed area.
It was finally our turn to go down. Now I know that when I purchased the tickets, it did ask you if there were any physical limitations you had such as climbing and so on. I said no because I'm always afraid it will eliminate me from doing an activity. I have a limitation, but I always manage to do that activity...just careful and slowly. When they ask if you can climb, they really mean climb. We would have to climb down a ladder to get into the sub.
Everyone started turning around and going down. It was the hubby's turn.
After he went down, things came to a stop and I guess it was time for them to let others off the sub now. We had to wait for awhile as everyone got off and onto the boat.
Then it was our turn. Sakari went first.
Then my turn. I had watched several elderly people go up and down the ladder and they took quite some time doing it. So, I knew that I was going to be like those elderly people and take my time and not feel rushed. I went down slowly and didn't have a problem and quickly took my seat. One whole side was filled up at this point and only 1 seat left beside me. They started filling up the other side.
Man this thing was SMALL!! Not at all what I had pictured and I could have sworn that I heard them say to take a seat when you got in there and then you could "move around". By move around, I thought you could get up and walk around...like go from side to side. But, there was no moving around in this thing. Once you took your seat, you wouldn't be able to get by others. They also had the COVID plastic wall up between those behind you. I guess the people on the other side were more likely to infect us compared to those beside us. I had myself convinced we were on the "safe" side. ;)
If you are claustrophobic, this is NOT the tour for you. You really are in a small space and packed in there. But, we do not have issues with that. I could hear others talking about how small it was and they didn't like that and we actually had one guy that decided that this just wasn't for him and wanted off after the last person got on. He headed back up and the boat had to come back and get him.
They batten down the hatch and we were ready for take off. Down we went. You couldn't even tell you were going down other than if you looked up, you could no longer see the waves crashing at the top. Sakari wanted to know what was going to happen to her ears and how would she pop them. No worries child. You will be fine.
We started to descend and we could see all the little fishies and the big fishies of the sea. You could see the reef and it was pretty. BUT, I would soon discover that my camera and the GoPro wasn't taking very good pictures. They were green in color and not very clear. It was very disappointing. I just wasn't able to capture the beauty of what we were seeing.
At some point I discovered that my cell phone took better pictures than the camera's. So I would rotate taking pictures with both just hoping that sooner or later the camera would work right.
We came to a shipwreck. It was pretty cool to see however, the sub would have to go by it and then turn around so that the other side could see as well. Every time is was our turn, we didn't see a whole lot. However, when it was the other sides turn to see it, they got to see all the cool stuff. The tour guide making announcements would say "There's a puffer fish, a trumpet fish, a lion fish, and a barracuda (torpedo he called it)"...we didn't see any of that, just a bunch of little fishies swimming around. We were only able to see the Horse Jacks (as the tour guide would say "horsa jacks") when it was our turn.
I did manage to see a barracuda and a stingray and at one point a trumpet fish, but with my camera acting stupid, you would not be able to tell where they were in the pictures. It was just so disappointing (the pictures).
We kept watching the meter on the wall that showed us how deep we were at any given time. We noticed that we were deeper than the 130' they said we were going. Then we came in for a touchdown...we landed the sub on the sea floor at 139' feet! Everyone cheered.
Then we turned the sub around (which was a really weird feeling and you could feel it turning quickly) and headed back in the direction we came from.
Back by another shipwreck, we still didn't see anything interesting when it was our turn to see it and of course the COVID side of the sub got to see everything. I guess the safe side had to play it safe. But trust me, all the pictures I have shared with you have SOMETHING in them...you just can't tell. :(
At this point I just gave up on trying to get my camera to work right and take decent pictures. I just sat the rest of the way back and took everything in only attempting a picture here and there because I just can't resist.
It would later hit me the reason the camera wasn't taking good pictures and why they were all green. Let's think about this. We are more than 15' under the water right? We are as deep as 130' right? If I'm in the water (diving), after about 15-20' the color changes the way your camera processes things. That's why you put a filter on it. The simplest way to describe this is the sunlight gives you a full spectrum of colors. However, when you are in the water, the deeper you go the red and orange colors get absorbed by the water. The blues and greens have shorter wavelengths of light and can penetrate the deeper water levels. So the deeper you go, the less colorful things will look in the pictures but not in real life.
This is why there's a setting on my camera's for "underwater". The manufacturer has this all figured out for me (for the most part except when we are sometimes diving). This is also why I have red filters for the GoPro.
Now you would think I would have learned this lesson already. When we were in St Thomas and went to Coral World, we went down in the underwater viewing tower and I actually discovered that even though I was not physically under water, I was still actually under the water and I switched my camera to the underwater mode. This time, I did not remember to do that even though I was struggling with my pictures. Lesson learned...or maybe not. Who knows at this point. LOL
One last picture of the sub pulling away from us and we would be on our way back.
Now this time when we got back on the boat, I went to the other side to sit. The people who got wet on the way there were scrambling to take up the other side that we were on on the way there. Now people let's think about this. If you got wet on one side going there do you think if you change sides (which actually puts you right back on the side you were on going back) is gonna keep you dry? LOL Yea, some people never learn. I knew what I was doing though and managed to stay dry. :D
We passed wherever they were burning stuff at and it stunk so incredibly bad.
Here's a video of our day. I have found that when the GoPro is in it's case on the stick, it is VERY hard to hear. I'm going to have to invest in something that hold it while on the stick while not being in a case (for land use).
We stopped by the gift shop to pick up our fancy hats they were holding for us and also check out our picture they took prior to the "dive". We did end up purchasing it. The hubby actually talked me into it saying "you always get these pics to put in your scrapbook, why wouldn't you get this one?" Well, I really didn't like it because the picture they actually took of us really had nothing to do with being on the Submarine. I mean it wasn't even in the background. We had one of the ships in the background and it was almost too "blown out" (photographer terms for too light basically) to even really see it. They took our picture and put it in a cardboard picture holder with the Atlantis on it (just like you get on the cruise ships).
So, my thoughts on the submarine tour: to us, it was a one and done kinda thing...just to say we've been in one. You don't see nearly as much as you do snorkeling in shallower water or diving of course. It was cramped and no moving around. The ship wrecks were neat but that was basically it for us. We didn't see anything different than we normally would...fish were all the same.