The Easy guide for diving novices:
How to choose a Diving Center
Traveling is a life-long learning. Going from one country to the next, taking tours in exotic cities, visiting new places and meeting new people can be such a wonderful practice and a great added value. It enhances your knowledge, builds your character and shapes your personality. Still, traveling outside the boundaries of your country involves a certain degree of risk. Going to places where you are a “foreigner” and treated as a tourist or a stranger might be an intimidating experience if you get involved with the wrong type of local people in any country. The type of persons who perceive you as a walking wallet, ready to rip you off of your last dime and give you a less than mediocre experience of the city you are visiting.
When it comes to diving in different places around the world, the same concept applies. Whether you are in Galapagos, Maldives, Australia or South East Asia, novice divers need to reach out to trustworthy diving centers to ensure a safe and fun diving experience.
Hurghada is the prime city for diving in Egypt and is one of the most exquisite diving sites in the whole world. Beautiful marine life, fantastic underwater visibility, mild water temperature and warm weather year-round as well as different sites for night wreck and deep diving. Therefore, this city alone comprises more than 100 diving centers located either inside hotels and resorts or stand-alone shops in commercial areas. Choosing the right diving center to deal with can be quite a challenge since they are all offering the same excursions and offers. Accordingly, it is important to take into consideration certain aspects when choosing your diving center while visiting Hurghada.
Check for the center’s presence online:
Many diving centers in Hurghada are operating only to serve in-house guests staying in the hotel of the resort and they focus more on personal interaction. This can be tricky because the person interacting with you might seem and look like they are experts in diving, yet he/she might be lacking hands-on experience.
A professional diving center must have a professional presence online. Visit their website, check for credentials and profiles of the people who are operating it. Check for reviews about its service via famous traveling sites like www.lonelyplanet.com, www.booking.com, www.google.com, and www.tripadvisor.com. Search for their Facebook page and check their posts and clients questions and comments and observe the answers to the page admin to evaluate the level of professionalism.
Don’t be fooled by a cheap price:
In times of crisis and economic stagnation, service providers tend to adopt different pricing strategies, focusing on offering sometimes unrealistic discounts just to attract solo divers or budget-conscious travelers. If the Diving center is offering irresistibly cheap prices (less than USD 40 or Euro 35 per dive), be sure that this will affect other aspects of the diving experience. Remember! In diving, “Safety Comes First”. Cheap prices might compromise with the quality of the service, including but not limited to the quality of the boat, the equipment, the food offered…etc. Feeling happy to pay cheap for your dive for a day is good. Just remember, if you eat a bad quality food and get sick, your whole vacation is ruined.
If your first point of contact with the diving center is through a website, check for the “contact us” section or even the live chat. Take a real-time connection with the crew and take the initiative to ask questions:
- What is their diving affiliation (PADI, CIMAS, SSI…etc)?
- What is the number of the instructor card?
- How many sites do they cover? (the more the diving sites, the more experienced they are)
- What is the variety of excursions they are offering?
- What are the languages they are using to communicate?
- What are the courses they are offering?
Once you are in the location for diving, check the equipment and do a good inspection and see the standard of the equipment used for diving and make sure they are well maintained. Look around for certificates and check their dates. Most importantly, make sure that the persons you saw their pictures on the website are the same people you meet for real to ensure trustworthiness.
Follow your intuition:
Once you step into the boat, take a quick look and be sure to observe everything around you. Check the status of the boat, whether it is well maintained or not. Check the equipment and make sure they are good to use. Look for the available first-aid kit and check for availability of buoy for an emergency. Before installing your equipment, check the quality of the air in the tanks by inhaling a breath from the regulator and tasting the air before going to the water. Also, check for the number of people on the boat. Make sure that the number of guests around is proportionate with the size of the boat. Check the behavior of the crew and ensure that they are working according to the safety standards of international affiliations (especially PADI).
Look for the personal touch:
Consider the following: you are on vacation, and you owe it to yourself to have a good time. Consider that personnel in diving centers who make you feel welcomed and important. It’s not a matter of spending a fortune and get the most luxurious and expensive boat. On the contrary, going on a very low budget in diving can have its negative effects. Spending too much or too less money and getting a bad service or feeling unwelcomed or mistreated will not give you the memories you are looking forward to making while traveling. Having a crew that is trained on customer service, who are looking after your safety and security, who is creating the right atmosphere for you is much more important. It’s all about making new friends and enjoying your time.
For more information about professional diving and diving courses, please visit www.dive-hurghada.com
Dalia Saleh - Clients Relations Manager