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Old 02-08-2013, 03:21 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Wisconsin
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Cozumel Dolphin Encounter Warning and Notes

Hi everyone!

We did the Dolphin Encounter in Cozumel. "Swimming" with the dolphins was on my bucket list and we were limited on what to do with 4 and 7 year olds. So we chose this one. It said "no sunscreen" so I booked at 9:45 time. My thought was we would be in and out of the water before the hottest part of the day (we were there on Feb 4, 2013). Unfortunately how it worked out was different from what I thought it would be and it impacted the rest of our vacation. So I am sharing this to make sure it doesn't negatively impact anyone elses vacation!

The 9:45 time was the time to meet in Wavelengths (on the ship). We probably didn't leave the ship until about 10:15. Once we left the ship we had to meet our guide and walk into port and thru the port shopping center (stopping to make sure we had the whole group along the way). Then we had to get some instructions, get in cabs, and regroup at Chankanaab. Once there we had to get instructions, get life jackets, and finally get in the water. We did not GET IN THE WATER until about 11:15 am. So much for my thought about not being in the sun during hottest part of the day! The encounter was about 45 minutes in full sun, in the water (adults are exposed from their stomachs up).

The encounter was great, but by the time we got out, I realized we were all burned. We had spent about 60-75 minutes in the sun unprotected (with time stopping and waiting since getting off the ship). I immediately sun-screened everyone and we played for a bit more at the beach (I stayed in some shade) but the damage was already done.

So, my suggestion to you...WEAR A LONG SLEEVE SUN SHIRT and a BIG HAT (for EVERY member of your family)!!! I understand they do not want the dolphins and sea life to be exposed to the chemical sunscreens that most people wear (they are bad enough for us, I am sure the wreak havoc on the animals and fragile ecosystems). And some people will likely just wear it. I suspect the mineral sunscreens would be fine but I was following the rules for the animals. But the next day, at sea, my family had to stay out of the sun to avoid a burn on top of a burn. Today is Friday (we are now home) and I can still see pink from the burn (so it was a pretty bad one...worse than I even realized on Monday).

Also, we had our 4 yo and 7 yo with us. The 4 yo had to be held the whole time because the water was the same depth as he is tall. The 7 yo could have stood the whole time, but the waves come thru the dolphin pens so you have to brace yourself against the continuous waves. So, she kept trying to hold on to the fence that surrounded the pen. That was fine, except that it was rusty metal in some places. I wasn't crazy about the thought that she could get cut by rusty metal in Mexico and need a tetanus shot on the ship. So, we held on to her as well (she is about 47" tall and weighs about 48 pounds).

I would still recommend this for kids, but just want you to have all the info! And though the info might be here on the boards, it might be buried in trip reports. So, I thought I would put it in it's own thread.

Oh, ONE more thing. You can't take your own pics on the docks or in the excursion with the dolphins. And for "good" reason...because they charge BIG bucks for the photos. One picture is about $30 (digital...they don't print photos there). With 4 ppl, just 1 photo of each of us would have been $120. We opted to suck it up and buy all of them (we had about 70 pictures) and spent $169. If you go with a big/extended family or friends (even if you just met those friends!) you can put them all on one disk and split the cost and just split up the pictures later. They just have you go thru ALL the pictures taken in your encounter group and pick out those that are your family to add to your CD.

Anyways, if you go I am sure you will have fun! And things are usually more fun when you have all the info and aren't surprised!

Oh, do plan to stay for the is lovely. And the food at the restaurant there was very good! We didn't get to see the sea lion show because they only had one during our time there and we missed it. And we didn't check out the botanical garden, the tequila tour, or do any snorkeling. But there is LOTS to do there!

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Old 02-08-2013, 03:35 PM   #2
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Thank you for all of that info. I will be doing this same excursion later this month & have been wondering about pretty much every detail that you described. I am a major planner & hate to be surprised by anything so this helps so much. Now I will bring shirts, hats & enough cash for the photos and hopefully things will go smoothly for us!
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:55 PM   #3
Lisa Anne Colling
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Panama Jack does make a sunscreen that is safe for marine life. They give it to you at Discovery Cove in sea world. I have sen it at walmart and dive shops. i believe it is in a brown bottle. VERY thick but works great.
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing. This was on our short list of possible excursions. This info will help us in our decision making.
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:58 PM   #5
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Great info thanks
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:02 PM   #6
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We did this excursion on our own, not through the ship. It's a quick cab ride. You will spend less time waiting around. Our younger son was held in the water by a lifeguard through his entire swim experience since the waves were strong. It gave us the opportunity to enjoy our swims without worrying about him. The park is fantastic. Also has a fresh water pool there.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:48 PM   #7
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Just thought I'd throw out that the other option in Cozumel is Dolphinaris. It's horribly commercial, but the one advantage it has over Chankanaab Dolphin Discovery is that the pools are not open to the ocean like they are at Chankanaab, so you don't have to contend with the waves. (Chankanaab has chainlink fences separating their pools from the ocean, whereas Dolphinaris has man-made pools that are separated from the ocean.)

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Old 02-08-2013, 08:00 PM   #8
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Dec 2012
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Well, the EWG doesn't review THAT Panama Jack sunscreen, but I am not impressed with the reviews of their other sunscreens (they get anywhere from a 4 to a 6...higher numbers are bad). We use Badger Balm unscented biodegradable and organic sunblock (gets a 1 on the EWG scale), so IF we had been allowed to use it, I would have used that. We went unburned for a week at Disney in 2011 with that, went all summer here unburned with it, and even at Castaway Cay, was reapplying it every 2 hours and my daughter only got a tiny bit pink in one spot when she was in Scuttles Cove for 2 hours (so she probably went about 3 hours since her last application...I thought she would spend a little more time in the shade in there!).

Here is the sunscreen guide done by the EWG in 2012. Great info on the safety of sunscreen ingredients!!
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:05 PM   #9
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The dolphin encounter in Atlantis provided wet suits. I don't know about he others. Rash guard t shirts would be a good idea. I've seen them for kids on sale at Lands End.
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