Saturday, April 25, 2009
yes, i did say "underwater scooters"
Ahhhh... the underwater scooter. Look at it. Marvel at the awesomeness that is the underwater scooter. The day after the Cayman Islands we made port in Cozumel, Mexico. Instead of sightseeing first, our shore excursion is the first thing we did. Douglas and I were the only people from the Disney cruise going to underwater scooters and we were running late because we had to wait to get off of the ship. The tour company representative put us in a taxi and sent us across town to where the boat full of guests from other cruises and the crew was waiting. As soon as we were on board we launched for open water. Our guide was super cool and funny, but after the excitement of being late, the Mexican taxi ride (no pictures cause i was holding on for dear life - that driver should be an amusement park ride) and trying to fill out the requisite medical forms and waivers on a moving boat i totally never heard his name. After an informative video (really, who makes those awful things?) he walked us through the basic structure of the scooter and how you get into it - remember : hold onto the back of the bubble, carefully walk your hands around to the bottom lip, take a deep breath and swim up into the scooter, head first. Once we arrived at the proper spot it was fascinating to watch the crew load machines and people into the water from the back. On each side there is a winch which is attached to a scooter, lifts it over the side and unceremoniously drops it into the water, where a diver attaches it to a buoy line, checks the equipment and brings it around back to get a passenger. There were 18 guests on the boat so they divided us into 2 groups : one to scooter and the other to snorkel until their turn to scooter. We were obviously in the second group, being the last ones to arrive. I've snorkeled in my pool, but never in open water before. Speaking of water, let's check today's color. Just a touch greener. Once flippered, snorkeled and be-goggled i set out around the boat and was surprised to see ships. Cozumel is such a popular cruise destination that there are 3 different cruise ship ports. Look at how they are parked like cars in a lot. Incredible. I really enjoyed snorkeling, even though my mask had a bit of a leak. I wasn't too keen on the fins, though, cause they made my ankles tired; I assume i was doing something wrong. It was fun to see different fish from the day before like this rainbow parrot and this cool blue fish. I have no idea what it is, but i dove down and chased it to get its picture. There were two guides with the snorkeling group : one in front and one in the back. I was so fascinated with everything underwater that on several occasions i got separated from the group and the rear guide fetched me to take me back. opps. Finally it was our turn to scooter. Would it surprise anyone to know that i was the first one on a scooter in our group? It really wasn't that hard to get onto it, but the diver must have thought i was taking too much time after i dove under the water because as i was swimming up into the scooter he took my hips and just put them right on the seat. Our guide had told us that they've had people freak out half-in and half-out of the scooter and so they do not mess around getting you situated. Each scooter is lowered by the divers and hooked onto a line until all 9 are sunk. Then they use weights to make each one neutrally buoyant, unhook us and off we go. There is a guide who leads you past a number of cool things, but it was really hard to take pictures since the camera is like 2 feet from your face. You can't go very fast, but you are definitely moving around underwater on a scooter. There are multiple divers swimming around the group, keeping tabs on people and checking to make sure everyone is okay. Toward the end of the tour they have you maneuver your scooter into a circle (not nearly as easy as it sound) and hold hands so that everyone is together. They release feed and the fish swarm around you. With the number of fish and the weird round-vision of the scooter bubble it really looks like you are inside of the aquarium. Plus, if you have an underwater camera with you, like we both did, the divers take it from you and shoot pictures off you. The coolness factor is off the scale. Once we resurfaced and had all the gear stowed it was back to the port. Douglas and I were wondering how we were going to get home since we had been put in a taxi to get to the launch and had no earthly idea where we were. But I was unconcerned; we'd figure something out and it would be an adventure. As we docked i got off of the boat and one of the crew looked at me and said, "Disney?" referring to the sticker on my shirt and when i nodded he continued, "No, no. You don't get off here. Far away." Okey-dokey, back on the boat. We unloaded about half of the passengers and then set off for another dock where we unloaded the other half. The guide came to us and said, "If you don't mind waiting while we drop off the equipment, the captain will take you back to your ship." That sounded duckey to us so we launched again and docked at a third pier. This time we got to watch as the crew stripped the boat completely down. It was fascinating how much stuff they needed to do underwater scooters besides the scooters. They were efficient; it really was quite impressive. As each crew member left the boat they came over and shook both of our hands. It was sweet. Then the captain launched again and took us around to our ship. And when i say he took us to our ship i mean right to our ship. We literally pulled along side of the Magic and got out. There wasn't even any place to tie off the lines; one crew member held the side of the railing and another helped us up onto the sidewalk. It was ridiculous and fun. You should have seen the looks we were getting from people walking by. If you eve have the chance SCOOTER, baby!