Boat Cruise Warning
by Jim Jamieson
If you're planning a boat cruise in Huatulco, make sure you get ALL the details before handing over the pesos. This obvious, though often overlooked guideline is likely true for any resort in Mexico, but we learned the hard way in Huatulco.
My wife and daughter and I were there for just four days and we wanted to make the best possible use of our time, so when a young man named Valentin approached us during breakfast on our first morning there with a modest proposal, we listened.
"How would you like to go to some beaches that you can't get to by car?" he said in halting English. "It's a day-long tour with free booze." The selling point was a promised tour of three beaches that aren't accessible by car.
It sounded reasonable, so we signed up.
The day of the cruise we got a few surprises. The first was the crew attempting to charge us for the use of snorkeling gear that was supposed to have been free. We refused to pay and took two sets anyway, but that still meant there wouldn't be enough for all three of us.
The second -- and more infuriating -- surprise came after we'd stopped at the first water-access only beach for an hour of snorkeling.
We then proceeded to cruise down the coastline to another water-access beach, where instead of landing we hove-to for scarcely five minutes while the captain directed us to some points of interest. This brief stop was repeated about a half-hour further down the coastline at another inaccessible beach.
"Visiting" beaches Nos. 2 and 3 was evidently meant in a very loose sense.
Upon returning to port after what was otherwise a very pleasant cruise, we made our complaints known to the general manager of Nautitours, Martin del Signo G.
He apologized profusely for what he termed a confusion about the snorkeling gear and said that Valentin must have misinformed us about actually landing at three beaches. He said his company has never done that and no one in Huatulco does it. He also offered to have us take the cruise again the next day for no charge, which we declined.
About that time, Valentin showed up and denied having told us we'd be going to three beaches, although my wife and I distinctly recall him saying it.
The confusion may well have come out of his insistence on speaking English to us -- when our Spanish was equivalent. Whatever, the lesson here is -- regardless of what language you're dealing with -- make sure you get all your details straight before you pay.
(Jim Jamieson has been a reporter for The Province newspaper in Vancouver, Canada for the last 15 years, covering sports, hard news and, most recently, high technology. He has also written numerous freelance magazine and newspaper articles about Mexico and no longer sweats in the D.F. Jim was also an editor and typist (in the pre-computer days) for The People's Guide to Boating, Backpacking and Camping in Mexico).