Dive Operator: Dive Palancar Rating: 3.8 Stars
In Cozumel we stayed at the Aura Hotel which had a dive operation located at the hotel's beach. The operator was Dive Palancar and their boat was a decent medium sized boat that allowed for sufficient movement but not tremendous walk around space. There was a dock located in front of the hotel which made it convenient for loading and unloading from the boat.
They had several divemasters, so we had a different divemaster for each day of diving. All of them acted professional. When a diver informed one of them that she was nervous about the upcoming dive, the divemaster told that diver that he would take extra care with her and go at her pace. That really set the diver at ease and she was just fine in the water. The dive briefings were very limited in their scope and should have been more thorough. All of the dives in Cozumel are drift dives. With drift diving one should assemble all members of a dive group together and they should all exit the boat at the same time in order to prevent the divers from being spread out. However, that did not occur. Divers entered the water separately which spread them out too far apart in the water. Although no problems occurred, it would have been difficult for the divemaster to assist a diver in trouble when the divers were spread out and drifitng in a moderate current.
The instructor did not act as a divemaster. Instead he only provided lessons. He was a really nice guy who was educated as a marine biologist. We took an Underwater Naturalist Class with him. Although he did not exactly follow the course protocol, his knowledge as a marine biologist provided us with an experience that most other instructors could not have done. Unlike the divemasters, the instructor always provided a proper dive briefing.
On a scale of one to five stars, I would rate this operator with 3.8 stars. They are dinged partly for the poor dive briefings of the divemasters, and even more for the failure to have an entire dive group enter the water together on the drift dives.