Here's something I remembered from another web page (travelnotes.cc) about snuba with Mayan Paradise. This person mentioned claustraphobia too, so I thought it might help...
subject: Cozumel Snuba
Posted: Sun Feb 29, 2004 5:12 pm
February 29th, 2004
Snorkeling and Snubaing in Cozumel
My fiancée and I have just returned from a week long Holiday in Cozumel. It should be illegal to have so much fun and so many adventures.
One of our top reasons’s for choosing Cozumel, was for their world renowned reef. Jacques Cousto explored these reefs in 1961, and made the world aware of their magnificence.
Steve and I snorkeled some of the reef from the shore and they were indeed spectacular.
On the third day of our holiday we took an organized tour aboard ZORRO, a 46 foot catamaran manned by the greatest bunch of guys. We were particularly interested in the Snuba adventure. SNUBA is a shallow water diving system developed to bridge the gap between snorkeling and scuba diving.
Now you must appreciate that I suffer from claustrophobia and previous diving attempts failed because of this fear. Steve on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed diving and was eager to participate in this activity.
The staff was thoroughly professional and safety oriented. They were eager for all the participants of the tour to enjoy the marine life by ensuring that we saw all that was to be seen.
Two snorkeling guides were posted to the group. The lead (Pedro) was responsible to lead the group and spot any opportunities to be viewed. The back up, Alvin was responsible to keep us all together and ensure that no one was having difficulty with their gear or with the activity.
On my second snorkeling activity I seemed to be having a great deal of difficulty with my mask and decided to call it quits. Alvin reassured me and urged me to stay in place while the boat came over to me, to pick me up.
Once in the boat, Gary Hillson the general manager, quickly assessed my mask situation and suggested I try one of theirs. I was reluctant as I was starting to have fears about the Snuba as well.
Gary urged me not to give up and try the new mask, and gently encouraged me not to give in to my fears.
When it was time to snuba, Gary and Ivan prepared the six people who were participating. Gary was to take Steve, another guest and I down and Ivan took the other three people.
Gary had me hang on to the raft until he got Steve and the other guest down the 20 foot distance, while I sensitized myself to my environment. Not once did I feel any sense of urgency. When I was ready, Gary took my hand and we swam around for a few minutes and slowly and gradually made our decent. Gary kept a very close I on me and constantly asked if I was OK, if I wagged my hand and pointed to my ears, he would simply float me up a few feet and allow me the time to equalize my ears. Once I was ready he would return to our decent. Within moments we were swimming close to the bottom, I was thoroughly amazed at the beauty of the reefs we were exploring.
After several minutes Gary handed me over to Steve and he and I floated merrily along, under Gary’s watchful eye. First thing I knew it was time to go up and leave behind this beautiful adventure.
Steve and I enjoyed the adventure so much that we returned twice more. Each adventure became easier to do. By my third dive I required no assistance to float down the 20 feet and was totally independent with my dive.
Steve wants to certify for diving before our next holiday and I think I’ll attempt it also.
We shall see.
For those traveling to Cozumel, please look up Gary Hillson and his crew (Victor, the ships captain, Pedro the snorkeling lead, Ivan, Alvin, and Jeremy), Mayan Paradise Tours at 987-872-2394 or see their website at www.snubacozumel.com
One thing that Steve and I observed on our trips was the dedication this staff had to providing a safe, enjoyable adventure while being extremely sensitive to the fragility of the world we were exploring. One particular diver ignored the urgings of the staff and picked up a piece of broken coral to bring back home, Gary promptly had the piece of coral returned to the reef.
Denise Boutet and Steve Revoy
Sudbury, Ontario Canada