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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters Diving/Hyatt Regency in
Curaçao

Ocean Encounters Diving/Hyatt Regency, Dec, 2012,

by Gary Lindenbaum, PA, US ( 1 report). Report 6832.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Fiji, PNG, Thailand, Puerto Rico, USVI, BVI, New Jersey, North Carolina, Belieze, Australia, California, Indonesia, Galapagos, Cocos, Hawaii, Africa, Cayman, Jamaica, Antigua, Curacao, Cozumel, Honduras, Costa Rica
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 70 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 60 ft depth limit and 45 minute dive time strictly enforced regardless of experience. Must stay with group.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 1 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments If you are any sort of serious U/W photographer do not dive with Ocean Encounters. They make no allowances for photographers whatsoever. Their boats are not in any way equipped to handle cameras. The divemasters scolded any diver who stopped to take a picture.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments I've been a diver for over 45 years and have worked in the industry as well. We stayed at the Hyatt which was wonderful, but when we return we will take our dive business elsewhere. Here are but a few of our experiences with Ocean encounters:
1-Guests were treated with disrespect by the boat crew. For example after one dive in rough water a guest remarked that he had had some difficulty on the dive. The dive master he spoke to replied that he thought that was a piece of cake and didn't know what the guests problem was.
2-The dive guides were in such a hurry to finish to dive and so focused on keeping everybody in a tight ball that between the swimming speed and all the tank banging by divemasters these guys did to keep everybody above 60 feet and all together they could have run over a pod of whales and never seen or heard them. Take time to point out interesting creatures? Able to stop and take a photo? Forget about it.
3-The seas were rather rough that week and the driver drove the boat at what in my opinion was an unsafe speed. Gear, cameras, and guests were flying around the boat. It was a miracle a guest was not injured. On one rough day, after the first dive, four guests demanded to be returned to the dock and taken off the boat. I spoke to one couple after we got back that day and they said they had just "had it".
4-Speaking of miracles. This operation has a unique approach to recovering divers in rough water.Their version is to gather all the divers right behind the boat at times close to a rocky shore in a heaving sea. Again a miracle that the boat didn't come down on someones head. Again obviously in a big rush to get everyone on board and finish the dive.
6-This operation is extremely passionate about divers not touching the reef. That's OK, but having their divemasters take out a few sea fans with their safety sausage lines during a dive didn't seem to bother them one bit.
7-We dove for four days with these guys. On the fourth day the divemaster told us they had "run out of dive sites". This was interesting since we had repeated two sites already in the prior three days. So this dive operation has only four dive sites? Really?
8-If you are a serious photographer this is definitely not the operation for you. The boats have NO accommodations for cameras....no camera tables...no rinse tank big enough for any sort of serious kit. Divemasters did not point out anything of interest and did not allow divers to stop and take photos.

Look. The dive industry is tough and every operation has a bad day or two, but what I saw in my four days with Ocean Encounters was in my opinion over the top and unprofessional. In the future, we will use another dive operator.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Cynthia Franklin in KY, US at Dec 18, 2012 06:49 EST  
Wow - I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience. Perhaps you should try the other end of the island, if you don't mind not staying at a resort. We stayed at the All West apartments and used Ocean Encounters West, and we were well taken care of and thoroughly impressed with both. (I heard recently that All West apartments had been sold, but I haven't confirmed that.)
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 18, 2012 09:20 EST  
Thank you for your suggestion. We dove the west end in 2002 and just loved it. That's why we came back. It's really a shame because the Hyatt Regency was just First Rate.
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 18, 2012 09:24 EST  
I think I should also point out that while Ocean Encounters is very close to the Hyatt, they are an independent contractor.....not part or owned by the Hyatt. The resort itself was fantastic.
By Ms Lynda Durfee in VA, US at Dec 20, 2012 12:49 EST  
I stayed at the Marriott (short walk from the Hyatt) in Oct 2011 and dove with the on-site shop, Caribbean Sea Sports. Very friendly, and your morning dive payment includes free tanks for the afternoon for shore diving. One day, I was the only customer, and they still went out (didn't cancel). See my review.
By Craig A Wood in PA, US at Dec 22, 2012 14:56 EST  
Hi Gary, Sorry you had a bad time, sounds dreadful. My wife stayed at Lodge Kura Hulanda and dived with All West Diving (previously Ocean Encounters West). Accomodations were excellent as was the diving. The house reef, Playa Kalki/Alice in Wonderland, is great day and night. Many of the boat dives were excellent. Looks like All West Apts and All West Diving are under the same ownership, I've heard good things about the apts. I'd love to return to Curacao one of these days
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 23, 2012 12:24 EST  
I was referred to Kura Hurlanda, but we wanted more of a beach with it sounded like Kura Hurlanda was somewhat lacking of. We will strongly consider it next time we go there. Thanks.
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 23, 2012 12:27 EST  
Lynda. Thanks for your message. We stayed at the Marriott in 2002 and dove with the on site operation. Loved it!!! However, the resort was a bit run down back then which is why we chose the Hyatt which other than the dive operation (An independent contractor not affiliated with Hyatt.) was really wonderful. How is the resort now?
By Ms Lynda Durfee in VA, US at Dec 23, 2012 12:44 EST  
Gary. I think it had undergone a renevoation prior to my stay in Oct. 2011. The fitness center had just reopened. I had a beachfront corner room right next to the dive shop. Of course, I'm a Marriott Rewards Platinum member, so maybe that's why I got such a good room, although I was staying on rewards points. By contrast, the Hyatt didn't look so appealing from the public areas, which were pretty dark at night when I walked over from the Marriott.
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 23, 2012 12:57 EST  
Thanks Lynda, but I think you we're at another Hyatt. The Hyatt Regency where we stayed is quite far from the Mariott even by car. The resort is quite lovely. I think we'll go back to the Marriott next time. That was our first vacation together when my wife and I started dating so a lot of good memories and we did adore the diving. My main reason for this trip was to dive my new D800 U/W system before we head to Asia in the spring for some photo shoots. I also discovered a minor leak in my back up U/W photo housing. So mission accomplished despite the efforts of the Divemasters. One DM at OE told me he could "teach me everything there is to know about diving". He didn't know I was an instructor. I bit my tongue. :-) Thanks for your great advice.
By Robert S Kuhn in IL, US at Dec 23, 2012 21:40 EST  
Curacao 9 times last visit Dec 2012. Ocean Encounters at the Hyatt charges a 10% premium over regular rates and has no shore diving, they use the boat from the main Ocean Encounters dive shop at Lions Dive Resort and pickup divers at the Hyatt. Its a cattle boat often with 12+ divers. If you want serious diving do not stay at the Hyatt, go to the West End of Curacao. All West apartments has same owners.
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 24, 2012 16:28 EST  
Robert!!! I could not have said this better!!!! Thank you.
By Robert S Kuhn in IL, US at Dec 29, 2012 14:45 EST  
Its a shame about the Hyatt and Ocean Encounters, they could be diving virgin Curacao eastend dive sites and promoting it as a luxury resort with virgin dive sites but they don't. They could bundle it with a Golf package. The best diving and Golf resort in the Caribbean for divers and non divers. What a money maker. They just don't get it. I know many people that travel with non divers or also dive and golf, and the golf course is pretty good. Dive the morning and golf the afternoon - Yee Ha - My kind of vacation. So sad.
By Ms Lynda Durfee in VA, US at Dec 29, 2012 17:25 EST  
I agree with Robert. I stayed at the Marriott because I needed to use a 7-night award certificate, but opted to go with the house dive shop (CSS) vs. Ocean Encounters, though it would have been a short walk to the Hyatt. The dive sites north of the Marriott & Hyatt up to the Mushroom Forest were great, and I don't think we saw another boat on any day on those sites. Did the Superior Producer wreck/deep dive, and the tugboat (what a waste of time, lots of algae, cruise divers from OE, BORING!) Passed the golf course on the way to the northwestern dive sites.
By Gary Lindenbaum in PA, US at Dec 29, 2012 19:43 EST  
Robert as the Hyatt management does not hesitate to point out, OE at the Hyatt is an independent agent and in no way affiliated with the resort. So I'm not really sure what the relationship is. Is OE leasing space from Hyatt or from the adjacent Marina in which case their proximity to the Hyatt is coincidence? I don't know. We did dive Klien Curacao at that was pretty nice.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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