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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Online Reviews- the Cool and the Quirky

Getting ready to plan your next vacation? Like most of today’s travelers, you’re probably more likely to head over to the web than visit a travel agency. In fact, the Internet has exploded with travel planning options, such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and Airbnb. Today’s travelers have a dizzying array of tools to plan and book their own vacations, without leaving their sofas. And, there are numerous websites that provide reviews from previous guests, so travelers can easily find out what others experienced on their vacations. 

Like most travel-related businesses, the many positive reviews posted about our Sea TREK operators are vital to the success of their locations. We’re always thankful when guests take the time to review their Sea TREK or Clear Lounge experiences, especially since the vast majority of the reviews we receive are positive…some even inspirational! And, we are grateful for the awards we receive based on consumer reviews, such as TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, received by Clear Lounge Cozumel for three years in a row and Sea TREK Cayman for five years in a row. And though it’s rare that we receive anything outside of a four or five-star review, we do occasionally receive feedback that provides us with opportunities to improve guest experiences. Reviews that are less than perfect can have great value in helping us grow.

Sometimes, mixed in with all of the great reviews, we will find one that is a bit…quirky. Whether it’s a genuine sense of humor or too many vacation daiquiris that bring out these “creative” reviews, we do enjoy reading some of the more obscure comments. Without naming names, here are some of our favorites (these are real reviews for Sea TREK at various locations).
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“I really didn’t enjoy this tour because I don't like the water.”

“I enjoyed my time doing the Sea TREK on Pigeon Island, but I was disappointed that I did not see any pigeons.”
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“The fish weren’t as tropical as I expected.”

“I could not fit my hair into the regular sized helmet and they wouldn’t give me a larger one.”

“It’s a lot cheaper than trying to get a flight to the moon for the same experience.“

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“After arriving at the dive site a guest decided to parade around in her thong bikini the entire time.”

“There were lots of fish, but they weren’t large enough.”

“The Sea TREK is a great underwater adventure, especially for those who have a total dread of even putting their head underwater in a shower. I know, I am married to one of them.“

And here's one of our all-time favorites:

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“OK ladies I'm well over 60 and have a little bit of a beer belly, which is probably fatty tissue…I've got a little bit of fat. Fat floats. Bottom line, this adventure is a 10 out of 10, but check for fatties that need a bit of extra weight.”

We certainly appreciate the creative writing that goes into some of these “reviews”!

Of course, our favorite reviews are those that express emotion and appreciation for their Sea TREK adventure. For some participants, Sea TREK is not just an excursion; it’s a bucket list item or even a life-changing experience.

“9-year-old and 68-year-old son and dad. We did the SeaTREK together. It was just the two of us with a guide and a member of staff watching from above. Once in the water my son, who was initially apprehensive, had a ball!”

“My wife and I are 62 years old. We don't know how to scuba dive and we aren't great at snorkeling either, but could easily do this!”

“My other half and I did SeaTREK and it was absolutely incredible! I suffer from anxiety and not once did I feel anxious. The staff and instructors make you feel so calm and at ease.”

“This excursion was awesome for two reasons, it was just awesome being down there, and the people were great! I also got engaged 20 feet under water!“

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 “I was thrilled that I didn't allow my claustrophobia to ruin this adventure for me. I felt safe and the helmet provided plenty of space and air for me to overcome my fears. The guides were patient and made sure everyone knew the necessary hand signals and felt comfortable during their time underwater. I would highly recommend this excursion to others. Don't miss the opportunity to see all the beautiful sea life under the water and have fun with your family & new friends in the process. This is an awesome experience from start to finish.”

“I was hesitant to do SeaTREK because I cannot swim. All staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable the whole time. Once we reached the ocean floor, it was so clear and beautiful I forgot all fears and enjoyed the experience. I’m thankful that my husband talked me into it - would recommend and do again!”

And this TripAdvisor review, for SeaTREK in Lanzarote, Spain, says it all:

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“Last year, on August 12th, my husband and son did SeaTREK. I really wanted to do it also but it wasn't possible. I talked to the staff and they really wanted to give me the same experience as my husband and son had. I could see that this was a big wish for them! At the end of the year, there was the first youtube video…the first disabled person doing SeaTREK!!! I cried seeing that video…so beautiful! 

Exactly one year later, it was my turn! I had no idea how I fit in a wetsuit. No problem! Within 2 minutes they helped me in it! They are very kind and took good care of me. They explained everything very well…at all times in the water, I felt safe…. What an amazing experience! They make dreams come true! 

This will be with me forever. When I was in the water the tears kept coming, so beautiful and how amazing that these guys…could make my dream come true!  Thank you all for making things possible for people like me!”

Sub Sea Systems, the creators of Sea TREK and Clear Lounge, as well as SolarCat solar-electric catamarans, Aquaticar and Deep Dive VR, love to spread joy for the sea, for new adventures, and for memorable family time. We are grateful to those who take the time to write reviews of their experiences… whether sincere or silly!

sea trek excursion link

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Happy Anniversary, Reef Magic!

My how time has flown! Our awesome operator in Cairns, Australia (on the Great Barrier Reef) is celebrating its first year of Sea TREKking!

Sea TREK helmet diving in Cairns

And speaking of flying, Sub Sea Systems’ Director of Water Operations and Safety (and resident fish nerd) Carl Hanson, took a trip down under to check in with this awesome operator! Here’s what Carl had to say about his lengthy but exciting journey.

Q: Why did you take the journey to Australia? 
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of our operator in Cairns! We have new staff at Reef Magic, so I wanted to get to know them. I also did a site visit, which included training the new coordinators, and conducting a safety and equipment inspection. We reviewed some new ideas for marketing Sea TREK, too! It’s helpful for operators to have an “outside eye” for the program - someone who does not see it daily and can observe with fresh eyes.

Q: How long was the trip?
I left California on May 26th and got back on June 2nd. What’s interesting about this is that I arrived on the 28th, and left Australia on the 2nd. I left Sydney at 10am, and arrived in LA at 6am on the same day! Time traveling!

Q: What was your travel route?
Sacramento to Los Angeles, CA
L.A. to Sydney
Sydney to Cairns

On the return trip:
Cairns to Sydney
Sydney to L.A.
L.A. to Sacramento

I was fortunate to receive an upgraded seat from Sacramento to L.A. Then, I got an upgrade to business class from L.A. to Sydney, which scored me a much-appreciated bed! From Sydney to Cairns, I was upgraded to first class again. It pays to be nice... and to be a frequent flyer!

The only real issue I encountered was the very last leg of the trip. Flying from L.A. to Sacramento, the cargo door got stuck, so we had to wait for 2.5 hours for our luggage. Luckily, I had a 4-hour layover. Whew!

great barrier reef

Q: How was their first year as a Sea TREK operator?
They did really well for their first year! The Reef Magic team loves the product (they were using another brand of helmet diving system prior to implementing Sea TREK). The Sea TREK helmets are easier to use and they do not require a weight belt. Additionally, the helmets require a smaller footprint when sitting on the deck so they are able to have more helmets.

The operators at Reef Magic really want to help more people enjoy the Great Barrier Reef, and Sea TREK affords them that opportunity.

Q: What is unique about this particular Sea TREK adventure?
The uniqueness stems from the reef itself. For a non-diver to be able to access the reef and all of its residents is incredible! In showing more people the reef, we increase awareness of the necessity of conservation efforts. Putting people there “live and in person” really brings home the need to preserve the reef and life within.

Q: What’s new in the area?
ScUber! Travelers can now take a very unique trip to the reef– on an Uber branded submarine! All you need is the Uber app to call for your ScUber to pick you up... and a mere $3000 per person!

great barrier reef from helicopter

Q: What did you do in your free time?
I took a helicopter tour of the reef! This was my first helicopter ride. Seeing the reef from this viewpoint was so different. You can see large groupings of animals, like sea turtles. Manta and Eagle rays are also visible from the air. I spent time with the team socializing and getting to know them. It’s great to establish relationships, so I can put a face to the name when speaking over the phone or via email. They know me now and know that I’m eager to help whenever needed. And, of course, I bought a magnet for my Mom!

Q: What animals did you encounter at this location?
Maori wrasse, Wally! Hawksbill sea turtles, white tip sharks, and an insane assortment of fishes and corals. The Great Barrier Reef is teeming with life.

Marine World Reef Magic

Reef Magic (and its owner, Experience Co.) have some exciting future plans that we hope to share in the near future. Stay tuned!
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