After many great reviews and recommendations, and talking to the owner by phone, I booked my 3-hr morning snorkeling trip with the Floridays. I wanted the personal service with a smaller crowd and they seemed great. When I arrived on the island on Tuesday, I called as instructed to confirm my Wed trip. It had rained with strong winds for a week and so the water visibility was not good. Captain Alexis had checked and said call the next morning. I did and same thing, let’s try again Thursday. That was fine with me as I wanted a good experience and relied on them to know what was best. Thursday I rode my bike down to the boat to see it and check in person. A man at the boat said they were not going out that morning and probably not in the afternoon, but to call. You could see at the marina things were murky and the waves were a bit strong. So, Friday morning it was. There were 11 of us and the boat was nice. The water looked clearer, although the boat was rocking slightly due to the winds. Captain Yaya and crew member Charla (or Charlotte?) were friendly enough at first. They told us about the drinks on board and the captain acknowledged the past days of bad weather. She said it might be a little choppy going out. That would turn out to be a bad sign. That video on there website was the exact opposite of what I experienced.
We took off to the open water and yes it was a little bumpy bud not bad until about ½ mile out when the waves started progressively getting stronger. Those in the front were it with waves over the bow several times. It was almost impossible to stand up and walk to the front to here the instructions about the snorkeling gear. I received no help in getting up there or back despite the fact that I almost fell twice and slammed against the guide ropes. When I tried to return to my seat, I literally fell hard into it. Not one notice from the capt or crew. At one point the capt needed to get to something and threw my fins on the floor in front of me, never saying a word to me.
At one point in the distance we could see large white caps crashing over something, I wasn’t sure what it was until a while later when I realized this was the reef! At this point the waves were several feet high. I thought, surely they wouldn’t put us in the water here! At first I thought they were moving away from the area to find a calmer inlet, but no! They plopped the boat right near the crashing waves and cut the engine. Now I had taken Dramamine, but when the engine cut and the boat started rocking, I was not feeling that great right away. We put on our gear and were told to jump over the side of the boat. The waves looked daunting, but the boat was moving so much I thought that it might be better in the water, so I did as told. I received no help or instruction from the crew, but another passenger told me to be sure to hold onto my mask as I jumped.
Right away, I knew this was not a good thing. The waves almost pushed me into the boat and I struggled to swim away from the boat. I managed to see part of the reef and a few fish, but nothing spectacular. I spent most of the time getting water out of the snorkel from the waves overtaking me. It became too much and I turned back towards the boat after a few minutes. Another battle to make it to the lifesaver attached to the boat by a rope. Another woman was already there. She said that she had snorkeled over a hundred times all over and this was the worst she had ever seen. She and I hung on to the lifesaver and tried to keep our heads above water.
I thought about getting back on the boat, but it was being tossed around so much that at one point I really thought it was going to capsize. And I knew that it was probably less chance of seasickness if I stayed in the water and went ‘with the flow’. I did call out to say I thought these were unsafe conditions and we shouldn’t be here. The crew member (Charla?) actually replied with “talk to the captain. other boats are out here and other people are managing to snorkel”. Really? That’s the compassion and personal service? I replied that just because others were out here it didn’t mean it was safe. The captain did nothing. We were forced to bob around out there for the full hour.
As others who managed to get out further returned (I hadn’t been able to see anyone else in the water the whole time because of the waves), they complained about how difficult it was. Even the big guys had trouble. One woman said she felt like she had just been beaten up.
So, after a real struggle to get back on the boat (with it swaying back and forth and me bobbing around in the swells), I said I knew I was going to be sick. So, I was told to go the side of the boat and do it there. And I did. I haven’t been that violently ill in years. After several minutes, I realized we were on our way back. They asked if I wanted something to drink and I said just water to rinse my mouth. So there I sat afraid to move the entire rest of the way. The capt and crew did not come over to me once or ask how I was doing. I was left in silence.
Actually, the whole boat was pretty silent as I noticed several others appeared not well. No one had any drinks other than water and no one really moved the entire time. One woman told the captain she didn’t think this was appropriate to be out here and the capt said that you never know what you will get until you get out there and she said it would be choppy.
We made it back. Everyone scrambled off as fast as possible. Again, they did not ask if I was feeling better or really say anything to me.
Now, on a normal Key West day, perhaps these people were fine and it would be a good trip. But the recklessness and lack of regard for safety or even a good snorkeling experience, was unforgivable. Given the recklessness and lack of compassion I experienced from this crew, I will never ever sail with them again.