Motorized ocean wheelchairs for me...
I was checking out the weather for the day and it was going to be a balmy 88 degrees outside.
Now today's adventure was picked by Sakari, so no surprises for her today. We are going to ride the SeaBobs. Last time we did these, we went with Aruba Bob down on the opposite side of the island and went to Mangel Halto. It was an AMAZING adventure. The coral that we seen and the whole trip in general was perfect. We ended up in a shallow area to rest then circled back around and over a shipwreck.
Well, I wanted us to have a different experience this time around and was reading up on the trip by Noord. Seabob Aruba would be the one on that side of town.
Now there are different trips you can take and of course the price depends on the trip you want.
The cheapest is a turtle tour for $95 and you are in the water for 45 min.
Next is Boca Catalina, Malmok, Rock formation, 3 trapi, turtles area and small reef for $115 and in the water for 1 hr 10 min.
The grand pappy of them all tour is everything listed above PLUS the Antilla Shipwreck for $125 and in the water for 1 hour 30 min.
Now of course I asked Sakari what she wanted to do and once she heard the words "shipwreck" everything else I said was a complete blur. I guess shipwreck it was.
So here's the full description of our tour:
And this is the hubby getting ready for the day. He's let his hair grow out and it's at the point where it won't stay out of his face when snorkeling. However, he decided against the pebbles look this time around. LOL
So, I booked the tour for 3, costing $375, and our tour would be at 2:30PM.
At 2pm, I decided it was time to head out...I never like to be late for anything even though it was only right down the street.
We pulled up at Boca, the meeting place, at 2:10 and managed to snatch a parking spot under a tree and that would keep our car a little cooler for when we would return.
We waited and waited and didn't see anyone show up. I thought that was weird because normally vendors are really early for tours.
Of course since we were away from the house, we didn't have any service, but I was able to somehow get on my phone and read emails that had downloaded prior to us leaving. I had an email from them saying they needed to know our exact address (even though that was something that was filled out with our booking) and saying that the driver needed us to get on Whatsapp to give him the exact location so that he could pick us up. Wait what? I had talked to the people in the office many times and that was one of the questions they had ask me...Do you need picked up or do you have a car while on the island. I told them I had a car and would just meet them there.
Now panic was sitting in because somewhere along the line they are trying to pick us up and there was no way to respond. I didn't know what to do because they had not showed up at Boca yet. I asked the hubby if we were at the correct location and he had assured me several times. He's always been my personal GPS so I believed him. Wrong answer! Always take matters into your own hands!
At 2:40pm I decided to get out and walk up to the beach entrance to see if maybe they were down in the water and had parked somewhere else. As I walked up to the entrance, it said we were at Tres Trapi!!!! Crap!
Back to the car to let the fam know we were at the wrong beach!!! I drove next door and seen their van with the seabob's on the back...whew! They had finally found me. ;)
I told them what had happened and it was ok because they were still getting paperwork signed by the other couple and hadn't even taken the seabob's off the trailer yet.
We stood around for quite some time and they ask if we wanted to wear wetsuits. Sakari and the hubby declined and I can always take them or leave them. I've been suckered into getting a wetsuit with previous places before (usually scuba diving) and they won't mention there's an extra charge for it until after you complete the tour. However, I decided to go ahead and take one.
Next up they would have a short class on how to use them and the speed of them: which would be 0 (click) then it would go to 15 (click) then 30 (click) then 45. Now I assume this meant 45km, which would be about 27 mph.
We went down into the water at 3:15pm. They did carry all of the seabob's for us...thank goodness.
They brought the seabob's down to the water one by one. As they hit the water, each one of us would decide if that was their lucky color that they wanted. Sakari picked a faded neon yellow/green color. I picked a bright red color and the hubby had a silver one. The other couple had a bright yellow and a red one. I had really wished they had a different color for the guy because it would make it easier to tell us all apart in pictures.
Once you got your seabob, you could go around the area and practice using it while everyone else waited on another one to come down.
By 3:20pm we were all in the water and ready to head out. He said "Let's go find some turtles!" as we took off down the coastline. Of course prior to heading out, he would tell us "In no way chase the turtles or get close to them. We don't want to disturb them"
Within 3 minutes we would spot our first turtle. Now my pictures didn't turn out too good...especially since we weren't allowed to get close to them. :/
What we did notice is that he was diving down right beside them and taking pictures and going along with them. Hmmm, why couldn't we do that as well?
Then we came across this turtle who looked like its shell had been smashed at some point.
After seeing the turtles, he asked everyone "Do you want to swim along the reef and coral or do you want to head over to the shipwr....." Everyone screamed SHIPWRECK! Well, everyone but me. I didn't even get to say anything. I mean yes I wanted to see it but at least thought they would have us on the reef for awhile.
So, off we headed....out to the deep blue sea.
Sakari was really good at diving down. She's a pro. Of course she's always good at everything she does and especially if it's water related.
He would take several pictures of us as we zipped along and headed out to the shipwreck. I have to say that he took an abundance amount of Sakari. She was doing all kinds of dives and turns.
We made it out to the shipwreck and I was kinda disappointed in not really being able to see the greatest. Now I know that the deeper you get, the visibility gets worse...at least from the perspective of being on top of the water looking down. But this was a lot worse than I had pictured in my head. I remember when we did the seabobs before at Mangel Halto, we were over top of a shipwreck (that was much deeper than this one) and we could still see the entire thing easily.
There was nothing but deepness and darkness around us. I don't like that feeling at all, which is probably why I usually don't do boat snorkeling tours or I freak out when diving and come to a wall that you can't see what is over the wall. Eeeekkkkk!
I couldn't really see anything but Sakari went down and got some better pictures with her camera.
The guide went down and took some more close up shots as well.
Sakari was going waaaayyyy down there and truth be known, it was freaking me out. I mean I know she can hold her breath for a very long time and I know that she now has this motorized scooter but me not being able to see what was down there all kinds of things were racing in my head. I think this is why I sometimes have these little panic attacks when diving...I over think things and get all up in my head and then anxiety kicks in and sometimes panic. I've always been an over thinker and imagining all the terrible things that could go wrong at any given moment. I need to get on some chill pills or something. Ugh! I was always relieved to see her surface again with a smile on her face. It was always comforting to me. Now mind you, this is pretty much what I was seeing when I looked down.
And yes, it's pretty far out there and there are boats going back and forth to and then boats that are coming in to show their snorkeling tour the shipwreck. Throw that into the mixture and I have a whole lotta nerves on my hands.
Then we spotted another turtle and Sakari would get the good pictures of it because she was the one down there.
The guide would chase the turtle and get a better picture of course.
So at some point the guide decided to take off and head back to shore and when I say take off, they took off! We were really far behind and really struggling with the water. We were going against the waves and water in our face and it was very hard even though we had the water scooters. I'm going to be honest, I was giving out and my arms were getting tired. I would have to stop every so often to just hang on and rest. The part that upset me was that we were left behind. Like we couldn't even see him OR HIS RED BOUY that helps protect us from boaters out in the water. That was the scary part. But, I was glad I at least had a bright red seabob and hopefully any boaters passing by would see us. The last picture I would take at the ship showed the guide coming up in the water at 4:04pm
The next picture would be one that I took as we stopped along the way to rest our arms and we were getting closer to the shore. I had drank so much sea water at this point I might as well have become a fish. This would be at 4:17pm, so almost 13 minutes out there by ourselves. We were getting close to Arashi and hoping we were heading the right way as we still didn't see the guide or the red buoy yet.
This guy behind us didn't seem to be having too many problems...he was just going along with the waves on his flying board.
So the time we officially made it back with the rest of the group was 4:21pm. I know this because I snapped a picture once we arrived...even though it was blurry.
He tried to snap a few pictures of us, but I was so mad I wouldn't even look at the camera and turned around. I was tired, my arms hurt, I drank so much salt water and we were left. That about sums it up. The hubby was busy making sure I was ok. He's always so worried about me. I think ever since I broke my leg and then developed a blood clot, he's been overly worried about everything I do. He knows I've always been pretty active, especially when it comes to vacations and now he just thinks I push myself too much and I'm going to get hurt. Although he's probably right, I do push myself, even if I'm in pain, because I try to live life to the fullest and cherish every moment , except moments like this where we are left behind to fend for ourselves, but I don't like to be held down. If there's a possible way for me to do it, I'm going to try! I'm trying to gain back as much of my dependence that I can. Now I know the way a lot of my patients feel when you try to take everything away from them and do everything for them. Don't get me wrong, he still has to do a lot for me like carrying and lifting things. Any added weight is very hard on me and anything that requires balance is also hard (like steps and especially carrying things on steps or an uneven surface).
So we had made it to the shallow end and there were boats everywhere up and down the coast.
So after we got to the shallow area, the hubby ask Sakari and I how far could we "click" our speed. Three times of course, from 0, 15, 30, 45. Well he kept saying to try to click it again but why?? Well here's why...he discovered his clicked a lot more times than just 3x. His clicked 5x and went to 75km!!!! That means it goes as fast as 46mph!!! I guess he discovered on the way back and said he would put it all the way up and couldn't understand why we were going so slow and he would have to wait on us. Well, THAT'S WHY! We had no idea.
He decided to give Sakari his seabob and she started playing around with it and having some fun! She was doing flips and circles and anything else she could do. She loved it!
Meanwhile, I was snorkeling with mine and checking out the reef.
The guide took a few pictures of the reef as well. They turned out pretty good.
Sakari was busy having fun and he took pictures of us zipping around. I definitely felt more comfortable in the water here than way out where I couldn't see where I was going.
Now for some reason, he didn't really take a lot a pictures of the hubby. I'm not sure what happened there but we ended up with only 2 pictures of the hubby riding the seabobs. Mostly everything we got was of Sakari, which I don't mind having a bunch of her but man, at least get a few of all of us. I did get a decent amount, but most weren't of me under the water, which believe it or not, I did do, especially on the way out to the shipwreck.
The guide told us that we were going to head back. Sakari yells "mom, did you see the starfish?" I had to go see it and take a picture, even though the picture ended up very blurry and I'm not sure why. Actually I ended up with a lot of blurry pictures for some reason. Maybe it was the setting. It would be the ONLY starfish we found during our entire stay. Last time we were here they were everywhere.
It was time for us to head back but I really thought we were going to go up and down the shoreline and see the reef and fish. However, the guide headed back out to the deep part and AROUND all of the boats. Like wait what? I really couldn't understand why. It's deeper out there and harder to see anything (not like we were stopping along the way or going slow so that we could see if there was anything) and the tour said we would be seeing a reef and "rock formation" which I have no idea what that was supposed to be.
As we were coming in, I managed to get a few other shots of fish.
And then...there is was...the QUEEN showed up!! These fish are absolutely beautiful! I see them here and there but not often so I get really excited when I do see one. It's too bad this would be the only picture I was able to get of her.
So i guess I should tell you why these pictures look so blah and bland. Every so often my thumb must hit the rotating button on my camera (and it does happen a lot) and it takes it off of "underwater" and back onto just regular pictures. Well, this creates GREEN pictures and they are horrid! It happens, it sucks, but it really sucks when you are trying to get an important picture like the one above. So the only thing you can do is try to correct it, which doesn't turn out very beautiful.
So here's what you get when you accidentally flip the switch:
We made it back and all is good...expect I don't feel like we got to do everything the list said. I was a little disappointed but Sakari was having an amazing time on her newly found speed racer.
Here's a short video I put together of Sakari riding the seabob. My camera was still having issues focusing for some reason. I think maybe it got off the motion underwater setting as well. I'm struggling with this camera this time around. UGH!
It was almost 5pm and we were back out of the water and they took our seabobs back to the trailer. Wait, there was a green one? Why didn't they give one of us a green one so we could distinguish each other? Just a thought.
Now the pictures that the guide took, he went over and let us see them. At this point I was really unsure about them. I was seeing a lot of them that were completely blur (they ended up being pictures that were snapped as he moved along of his shirt or whatever. I believe it just happened to be the part of the pictures we were looking at and I wasn't sure. I did see several good pictures of Sakari, which were great, but there seem to be a lot more of the other couple. I scrolled the pictures and finally gave up. I was totally unsure about purchasing them. They were $45 for all of them. The other thing I noticed were there wasn't any videos. I had really wished there were videos on it.
I ended up telling him we would have to think about it and I'd let him know. He said if we later planned on purchasing them we would have to actually go TO the Seabob Aruba office to get them. I was ok with that because I have a car. However, it didn't really make any sense because these other people were purchasing it now on the spot. How are they able to get it as a download but I wasn't? I just really needed to think more about it and if it was worth the price. I did take a lot of pictures of my own.
I also have an issue with these pictures were of everyone on the tour. So, you got all of them (I realize it would be hard to separate them of course) but my thoughts are just how many are ours? AND the fact that they will charge the other couple $45 and then us charge us $45 for the same pictures. It's like getting double paid. I understand this is how a business works but it was just a combo of things that didn't set well with me. Also, Aruba Bob took pictures and it was included in the price! I think it was really based off of the experience we had of getting left behind, not going to all of the snorkeling spots that had me in a mood.
Now I will say that after we went home, I just felt the need to write Seabob Aruba about my experience. I pretty much expressed my feelings about not going to the sites we paid for, being left behind, not seeing the reef, then the picture situation. After explaining my feelings, I just told them that since we didn't get the tour we were supposed to the least they could do was let me have the pictures that other tours usually include in the price or at a discount.
I did get a response from Seabob Aruba already about my email to them. They were super nice an addressed all of my concerns.
*They did say visibility wasn't as good during the afternoon hours because the wind picks up later in the day (which I don't know about that because I've done things later in the day and still been able to see...more on that later in the review), and that it was quite windy that day with big waves (she stated it was 32-43 knots when we were out and it's normally only 20 knots).
*About the guide taking off from us...her response put me off a little bit. She said the guide had been with them for 6 years and was very concerned about safety and went on to say that he was probably diving under and that's why we couldn't see him. NO, I know that was NOT what was going on! He was GONE! No buoy in site and the other couple was gone as well. Diving or not, you can still she them come up and still see the buoy!
*As for the pictures, she said he takes 200-500 pictures and the price is $40 per family not $45. I will tell you that I received 160 pictures...not even the smallest amount listed. But a lot of them are snaps taken one after another. For instance the turtle, he took 9 pictures of in a row, basically all of them looking the same. Now I'm not saying this is a bad thing...I do the same to make sure that I get the perfect shot. Just saying it's easy to come up with 200-500 pictures when you are doing this. That's my only point. (And remember the hubby only had 2 pictures of him riding the seadoo out of all those. The only pictures we got of him was out of the water or standing in the water. I didn't have many of me either.) Then factor in all of the blurry pictures as well and you don't even have 160 pictures either.
*In the end of the email she stated she only wanted happy customers so she was returning 50% of my money! Wait what??? I was not expecting this at all and the thought had not crossed my mind!!! I was just asking about the pictures and if we could get those since we didn't get to do everything or see everything and also replying about the safety issue of getting left behind because that could be tragic if this is something that happens frequently. She said she would talk to him and issued me a refund of $187.50.
I did respond back to her thanking her for the response...and I did want to assure her that the guide was not "diving down". Then I did tell her (since they refunded the money) that I would purchase the pictures at the $40 rate and ask how to go about doing so. I did end up getting the pictures and I was grateful that they refunded some of my money. They made it right. They are a good company for doing so. However, I probably won't use them again in the future for many reasons.