10 essential elements to choose your diving center

Very soon you will be on holiday and you must choose your diving center.

Me too 😎

But to make sure I don’t come back frustrated, angry and / or disappointed, I am however very attentive to various points in the choice of the diving structure that will welcome me for these new experiences of scuba diving. I guess that when you choose your diving center you care about it too

Some things are unacceptable in dive centers and we, as divers, have to refuse them.

Throughout my diving trips around the world, I have been able to observe dive centers of all types; Diving centers from very small to large business. Each of them offered a high quality of service while respecting safety … for my pleasure. Unfortunately, I sometimes land in places at the oposite of this giving a much less pleasant touch to my stay.

That is why today I am attentive to my winning “QSP” to give me all the guarantees to arrive in a dive center that meets my expectations: Quality, Safety and Pleasure

In order to feel comfortable with these three criteria, I know that it should not be forgotten that the managers of the diving centers that will welcome me are professionals who live by this activity and who therefore logically ask me for a financial contribution for the service they offer. It is therefore an win-win exchange in which I am entitled to ask a minimum of quality and to refuse the roughly.

 

If you want to dive with Quality, Safety and Pleasure, I suggest you to discover the 10 points that a diving center must propose to make your next vacation a “total experience” fully successful

1 – The manager or staff in charge of the dive center is attentive to welcome you.

This may seem obvious at first but welcoming is the first step in your diving experience.

A minimum is to receive a pleasant welcome.

Nothing could be worse than arriving at a dive center where you wait without any explanation or you are bounced from one person to the other and where, finally, you find advice and information with oher customers obviously already accustomed to the place.

2 – The equipment placed at your disposal is in a technically correct and well maintained condition

It is impossible to have a good dive experience with a regulator so hard that you wonder how long it has not been revised or worn dive suits up to the rope when they are not just holes that let water infiltrate! Also ensure that the bacteriological cleanliness is guaranteed: flushing regulators and wetsuit with disinfectant between each customer is a minimum.

3 – The dive center has a minimum of space for you to equip and store the equipment used

Indeed, what is more unpleasant than to pick up blows from the neighbors who equip themselves, to find themselves in a room so small that the sweats mingle in a joyful mixture of odors or not to find his dive equipment lost among the others, …

On the other hand, the center must also allow you to rinse and let dry your diving material between each immersion.

Some centers pile up all the diving equipment in a tiny unventilated room (although there are often simple solutions to remedy it) where, despite the pleasant outside temperature, nothing dries. After a week, you are no longer certain that your dive suit smels neoprene and your feet can no longer get into your booties so soaked with water.

4 – The proposed sites are acceptable for your diving certification

It should be understood that it is not acceptable for a self-sufficient and experienced diver to find himself on a “try scuba spot” because the manager of the dive center has novices to escort with depth limitations. If this can be bearable once on the whole stay, but it will very quickly be a brake on the joy of diving explorations that you had planned to do if repeated several times.

Even if the aquatic environment are at their best in the first 20 meters, it is also pleasant with a level 3 */master scuba diver C-card to be able to dive on magnificent wrecks at – 40 m for example.

Do not forget that you also paid for the pleasure of your dive and not just to facilitate the work of the center. Fortunately, when they do not have the opportunity to do otherwise (not enough staff, for example), most of the center managers I met at least planned to go to two dive sites one after the other. If this solution is very unpleasant for people prone to seasickness and takes a lot of time for all, it nevertheless makes sure to be able to take advantage of what the sea has best to offer us whatever our level.

5 – The briefings are of quality and allow you to well visualize the diving and everything that you can discover during this one

This is crucial.

A high quality briefing is a guarantee for a successful dive.

If the briefing should not be too long (a handful of minutes is enough to give the essential information), the person who does it must be able to tell you precisely what is the best route to take for each site according to your level of diving. Telling to go down to 18 meters just to port of the anchor point because there is a beautiful arch where the rays like to stay is an information I want to have not to start right off starboard

For this point, no mystery, the person making the briefing must know perfectly the places.

6 – The boat is a real boat and not a sardine can that does not allow you to move

The boat also represents an essential element of comfort during your dive, especially if the sites are distant and / or if you have some back problems for example. According to the diving centers, you will find boats of all kinds: the superb catamaran with elevator to go up the divers without tiring them to the tiny fishing boat with a very random ladder passing by the traditional zodiac and its ascent on the rib.

Whether it is very spacious (it must be said that it is really nice) or very small, the organization set up on the boat can completely change the situation.

I recently dived with a tiny diving structure in a place where diving centers were not allowed to have their own boat because the “tacit” agreement meant that the fishermen of the village used their boat to take the divers to the different spots. Despite this major constraint, John, the person in charge of the small diving center with which we were going to do our underwater explorations, organized the space optimally on the boat making us almost forget the narrowness of the boat.

7 – Rotations are acceptable and the time between two dives reasonable and safe.

Although making two dive on a row is not advised, some diving centers offer (impose?) you make all your dives in the morning.

For the managers of the centers, it is less expensive to make only one exit with the boat.

On the other hand, this solution may be suitable for some of us because performing successive dives close together on holidays allows to free time  for example, to enjoy the afternoon with the family, visit of the surroundings, …

However, successive dives too close together are not safe because they do not allow enough time for the body to optimize desaturation and therefore increase the risk of a decompression accident.

So I always make sure to choose a center that provides an interval between two dives of at least one to two hours depending on the depth of the dives, or better that allows a dive in the morning and one in the afternoon.

8 – User-friendliness after diving is present

Another element of my QSP is user-friendliness

It is probably one of the points that will most positively color the memory of my stay in the dive center.

A minimum is to offer fresh drinking water on the boat and in the center. In addition to responding to a major need for hydration for divers, this is a positive sign of interest from the center manager to its customers. Many managers also offer a snack on the boat: cookies, fresh fruit, … little touches very appreciated because, it is well known, diving makes you hungry.

I remember a boat where the captain took care to have on top of fruits and water at will, a small “planter cocktail” at the end of the last dive of the day 😎

In the same spirit, a space of relaxation and sharing allows the meeting with other divers and promotes friendliness. Some diving centers have tables, armchairs, corner wood … but close shop almost immediately after coming back to the dive center. What a pity ☹️

It is really nice to be able to take a moment to exchange with your buddy and / or divemaster on your respective impressions of the dive just made. This is alos part of a “total experience

9 – Safety: Oxygen & Co

This is a basic element of the S of my QSP.

It is important to have oxygen on board , in sufficient quantity for all divers.

It is also important to clearly indicate where it is, and/or to specify the functioning of the dispensing device. Oxygen is only one element of safety, one can add to it the radio in working order and preferably equipped with the DSC system (GSM at sea is not enough). Better, if your radio is coupled to the GPS, the rescue team will know precisely your position, the visual or auditory devices of signaling in case of distress etc …

10 – Price and quality of service

The lowest price is a selection criteria for many of us when choosing a dive center for our vacation and this is understandable. However, most of the time, the quality of service will depend on the asking price, but not always!

Indeed, there are diving structures (small or large) very well organized which respect the 10 points above and which are not necessarily more expensive than other structures that neglect the elements of quality, safety or pleasure.

It is conceivable that a non-profit structure offers fewer things because people do “with the means of the board” by volunteering their time. But should we agree to pay the full fare at a professional diving center that would offer us an associative type service?

While some elements such as the size of the boat or the premises require a budget and / or excellent organization, many elements of QSP do not really cost much: a warm welcome, friendliness, water available, quality briefings, a judicious choice of diving spots according to the level of each one, well-maintained equipment (it will last longer), a sufficiently long surface interval between dives, safety equipment present on the boat… Every dive center manager can make the choice to be attentive and, luckily, many do.

These 10 elements of the QSP will make sur you enjoy the “total experience” of diving holidays. Of course, it is not always possible to find a center that meets all these criteria but it is better to go to the one that comes closest to it.

From experience I have found that quality, safety and enjoyment do not depend on the size of the structure and if some dive center chains with more resources, could set up a top service more simply or efficiently, we can quite find in tiny structures the QSP. Most of the time, an excellent sense of organization, friendliness and some common sense and goodwill are enough for a dive center manager to do wonders with a very small budget.

Therefore, before your go on holiday, I can only encourage you to inquire about the dive center that will welcome you for your wonderful experiences and discoveries of scuba diving. Do not hesitate to ask the right questions and check the most important points before registering in a dive center.

Because diving is and must stay … a pleasure 😊

 

Good dives, good bubbles, and do not forget to be happy 🤗

 

Helene

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