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Trip Report Cozumel Palace & AquaSafari March 2021

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staggsSevin

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The Palace booking includes 1500 credits for a 7 day stay - and that covers your diving plus a little more. Watch their website for deals. We were fortunate to purchase when they had their 2-for-1 deal - used the week in March and will return in May. With covid still wreaking havoc, maybe they'll offer that again?

I'm planning on booking this week or next weekend. My wife IS interested in Cozumel Palace, they have a pretty good deal going for around $2600 for the week I believe.

I've only dove with Aldora in CZM before on the three trips there. I'm wondering how Aqua Safari is compared to the more smaller bontique operators, I think I read they use larger boats and not six pack boats which is fine.....but are they still a valet type operator or more of a cattleboat op?

I think the actual deciding factor is what I want to do for the diving :)
 
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Kimela

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I'm planning on booking this week or next weekend. My wife IS interested in Cozumel Palace, they have a pretty good deal going for around $2600 for the week I believe.

I've only dove with Aldora in CZM before on the three trips there. I'm wondering how Aqua Safari is compared to the more smaller bontique operators, I think I read they use larger boats and not six pack boats which is fine.....but are they still a valet type operator or more of a cattleboat op?

I think the actual deciding factor is what I want to do for the diving :)

The word 'valet' means something different to everyone. If you want them to (I don't), they'll change over your gear to a fresh tank between dives, but you set up your gear when you get on the boat. I take off my BC in the water and they haul it up for me. They provide water - and offer it often (along with sanitizer these days!) - and bring you your weights. They make sure your air is on when you get to the dive site. They assist you to the back of the boat to do your giant stride - hand you your camera if you have one. They do a great job of pointing out critters and alerting you to passing turtles, sharks, eels, rays, etc. If they have divers who require more supervision you will not get as much personalized stuff, but that's true wherever you go.

I think they have 5 boats in their fleet. All have a head and are fairly big. None are cattle boats. If they fill them up - and I don't think they CAN during covid (70% right now is the max allowed) - they get crowded. However, when you're in the water they have a guide for every 6 or so people - and if there are 8 or 9 people they'll have two guides in the water (one at the front and one at the back of the group). Prior to covid, there were times there might have been 16 divers (?) on the boat, but we'd be in two groups, going in different directions - and each group would have two DM's in the water with them.

We dove with Scuba with Allison and her boat is small and fast - I guess it's technically a 6 pack (the Maximus) - we're diving with them when we stay at Fiesta Americana in May again. There are pluses and minuses to both setups. I really like a marine head, and the 6 packs don't have one. The long ride out on the big boats may feel tedious, but provides time to chat with people and get to know divers from elsewhere and leisurely set up your gear. No hurry - it's vacation and the fish aren't going anywhere. We really, really like the crew on the AquaSafari boats and look forward to visiting with them too. And .... the fast boats get you to the destination quickly and in the water quickly. It depends on what's important to you.

Will your wife be diving? When are you thinking about going?
 

staggsSevin

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Thanks for the info Kimela! I missed the update where you said they provided lockers. I think my term for valet just means we don't have to drag our gear back to the hotel daily. Seems like AquaSafari would be similar to a lot of ops we've used over the years at random places...defiantly doesn't sound like a cattle boat

My wife will be diving, it will the first time we've been back to Cozumel diving since 2013 so it's been a while since we've targeted it for a trip. The three times we went before we stayed at Park Royal, I think a good portion of the week we took a taxi still and went to dinner.

I'm looking to book kind of last minute for May or June. I'm really on the fence on where to stay, I think for me I'd just assume do Casa Mexicana and do Aldora/Liquid Blue/3P. But my wife likes the ideal of staying at an AI, and just being able to relax and not think about where we'd go to dinner at night (I think i drive her crazy when we are in Bonaire about picking where to go nightly).

How do you rate Cozumel Palace vs Fiesta Americana (having a beach isn't to important to us).
 
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Kimela

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The Palace vs FA. They're both awesome, IMO. It would be helpful to have passable Spanish at FA as their customer base tends to be more Spanish speaking so their staff doesn't need to have wonderful English. I'm ok with this because I want to work on my Spanish - so it's fun for me. At the Palace, most of the staff speaks decent English. Overall, the Palace has a better 'wow' factor, and it's closer to town so if you want to go to Chedraui it's across the street, and if you want to go get a drink and watch the sunset at No Name Bar it's a 10 minute walk. Both have great amenities and food. The Palace property looks nicer, but FA has more plant life around the grounds - and it's right in front of Explorean, which is basically set in the jungle. You DO have to cross the street to get from the FA to the 'beach' area, but there's rarely any traffic so it's not a big deal. I don't think there is a 'bad' choice here. Like us, you may discover you like both for different reasons.
 

nodakdive

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Something that was pointed out to me, if you stay at the FA, the dive op world is your oyster. Any shop can and will pick you up at the pier as it's south, just a little south, of the marina. If you stay north of the marina, you either need to get to the marina (one way or another) or dive with an op that leaves from downtown. Also, since it's just a little south of the marina, the north dive sites in the marine park are doable. If you stay far south, depending on who you dive with, the north sites might not be an option as the dive boat would have to take you all the way back south to drop you off at your hotel. Same thing staying at the Presidente. Anybody will pick you up and drop you off at their pier.
 

ReefHound

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I'm looking to book kind of last minute for May or June. I'm really on the fence on where to stay, I think for me I'd just assume do Casa Mexicana and do Aldora/Liquid Blue/3P. But my wife likes the ideal of staying at an AI, and just being able to relax and not think about where we'd go to dinner at night (I think i drive her crazy when we are in Bonaire about picking where to go nightly).

I think it's 10x easier to find dinner in Coz. Many more affordable choices in centro. No need to drive around.
 

DSR-3

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I wish Aqua Safari still had the "fast boat" option. Used it for all of 1 trip and was good. The 1 time I did a night dive from the regular AS boat (I would call it a cattle boat), it was huge, SLOW, stinky, and just not my thing.
The guys in the shop at the Palace once let me and another diver use tanks out front, which was good to test some stuff.
I'm ready....
 
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