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Dive Review of Dive with Cristina/Villas El Encanto in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

Dive with Cristina/Villas El Encanto: "Dive with Cristina--Built for comfort not speed!", Apr, 2017,

by Robert L Short, CO, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 10 Helpful votes). Report 9568 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I vetted many dive operators in Cozumel and was looking mainly for a larger more comfortable dive boat that wasn't a cattle boat. I chose Dive with Alison but when I confirmed my dates she was to be out of town and she referred me to another operator who wouldn't book me as a single diver on my dates--why I have no idea. Further searching I picked Dive with Cristina with her 42 ft. boat the Nina. As a more mature diver I'm built now more for comfort and not speed and Nina seemed my kinda boat. Older and slower but with lots of room to move around--a head and a large comfortable soft area for sitting. Nothing but 5 star ratings on Trip Advisor too. Giant stride for entry and large ladder for re-entry onto the boat. I contacted Cristina who replied right away and we confirmed my dates--no pre-deposit of monies needed your word with her was good enough. She asked me where I was staying and said she would pick me up at my hotel each morning and take me to the boat--no charge--can't beat that. I also wanted to get my Nitrox cert while there and she said no problem she would have the materials there for me when I arrived. I contacted her on Whats App once I arrived and she told me the pick up time the next morning and was there with her van to take me to the boat. Cristina never dove with us during my stay but turned me over to her dive master Javier once we reached the boat. He inquired about my dive experience and what kind of dives I liked to do and then told me we would be picking up 4 more divers down the coast at their hotel pier. On the way to pick up the other divers Javier and the deck hand Fernando inspected and set up my gear. We set out from the pier at about 9:30 am picked up the other divers and were ready to get in the water on the dive site by about 10:20. Most other fast boats were already leaving the area after their first dives so we were pretty much alone on the reefs in the morning. Four of us would be diving with Javier and one new student would be with her instructor. Not to detailed a dive brief and we were into the water--I'm quite new to drift diving but had no problems with the currents as they were mostly mild the whole week on most of the reefs with a few dives with moderate currents. First dives were almost in the 60 to 70 foot depth and always lasted at least 60 minutes and some over 70. We never had anyone needing to surface early and Javier kept a good check on all divers and their remaining air--I always felt looked after but not controlled. All but one diver had cameras and so we didn't rush through the dive but had a good relaxing pace and great photo opts. We would end our dives usually in a shallower area and made our 3 minute safety stop then surfaced and the boat was always not more than 2 minutes away for pickup. All gear is taken off in the water and taken aboard by the captain and deck mate and fins handed up too--then easy climb up the nice ladder back on the boat. Included with the price of the dive is a nice lunch--rolls, turkey, chips, guacamole dip, potato salad, tomatoes, onions, fruit and sodas, juice and bottled water--nice spread! About a hour and twenty minute surface interval and we're at our second dive site. Second dive is usually in the 50 foot range and again always at least 60 minutes if not more--always came up at around 600-700 psi and a few times more to our safety stop. Before our first dive Javier had discussed weighting with me--I felt I was always over weighted by other dive masters at 18 lbs. He felt that was to much and suggested going down to 16 lbs. to try it out and we'd go from there. Eventually I was down to 14 lbs. by the 3rd dive and feeling much better in the water but still having problems with trim. We tried different configurations of weights even going to some weights on a weight belt instead of all weights in the bc--to no avail--the jacket type bc was just keeping me to vertical in the water and I will be looking to test some back buoyancy bc's when I get home to see if that will help--but they tried their best. On a boat that would hold 10 to 12 divers comfortably we never had more than five divers which was great. Two tank dives were $90 with air (includes all tax and Marine Park fee and lunch) and 36% Nitrox was $5 more per tank per dive. I finished my Nitrox cert after the first day and dove with Nitrox my remaining 8 dives. They do not have a Nitrox analyzer on board to test the mix so you need to rely on them being correct in the mixture which was a little disconcerting. On my 7th dive at depth my new Mares Puck Pro computer quit on me-I alerted the dive master and he said to stick with him and watch my gauges and finished the dive no problem. At the boat we opened up the battery compartment on the computer and it blew off like a cork on a champagne bottle--the battery had burst open and leaked acid into the compartment but no water flooding--hmmm? cleaned it out and replaced the battery and O ring and it fired right up and no problems on remaining dives but I did lose that dive in the log and of course the second dive that day didn't reflect residual nitrogen from the first dive. Each day after the diving they would wash down all our gear with a fresh water hose and store it locked in the boat for the next days dives. Diving with Cristina was very enjoyable and relaxing--great people from the skipper Leno and deck hand Fernando and of course Javier the dive master who went out of his way to make my diving better with education and tips on getting the most out of our dives. Water was clear up to 100+ feet on most dives with less on some in shallower areas--Palancar Bricks reef was my favorite dive with lots of pinnacles and swim throughs. Turtles on every dive including one huge loggerhead turtle. Some moray eels, no Manta Rays and about six nurse sharks--my first. As I said being a little older (69) I enjoyed the comforts of the boat--almost all my dive companions were a bit older too--mostly in their 50's and 60's with only two being in their 40's. Yes I would dive with Cristina again and hope to do so again soon. No afternoon dives as they do start rather late--we always got back to the Caleta marina (old marina) at about 3 pm. I stayed at Villas El Encanto which is just south of down town close to Scuba Club. Its more of an apartment complex than hotel with apartments with kitchens, two small pools and no restaurant. I would not stay there again as I think there are better places for the money I spent here--about $850 for the week solo. But it is within two blocks of a large grocery store and also the oceanfront. I did not take the vans from the airport to the hotel--I walked across the street to Diegos Tacos and had some lunch and then they hailed a cab for me--150 pesos to the hotel, they do not allow taxis to pick up at the airport. The return taxi to the airport was only 125 pesos. Diegos Tacos are great--give them a try-- its less than a five minute walk out the door of the airport, have lunch and get a taxi and its still cheaper than paying for a van.
Websites Dive with Cristina   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Utah, California, Akumal Mexico, Cozumel, Philippines
Closest Airport Cozumel Getting There Flight from Denver to Dallas to Cozumel arriving about 3 pm

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 81-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions we always stayed with the dive master. some of the divers were very experienced and used cameras and had no qualms about no venturing off on their own. We were watched and monitored by the dive master but not controlled
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments no dedicated table for cameras, saw no plug ins for recharging batteries, they did have a very large cushioned sitting area out of the elements you could place your camera or work on it.
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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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