Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monte Mare

Bummer. We were supposed to dive the ESA Space Dive center in Cologne; only to find out that they were closed. (Turned out, they had sent us a cancellation e-mail which had gotten lost.). So there we were, outside the closed scuba center, faces looking pretty stupid. Yet again, science (me) saved the day. I quickly called some of my contacts and asked for the address of the nearby Monte Mare Spa, with its own Indoor Scuba Center.

Twenty minutes later, and 40 Euros poorer, we were in a humongous spa, with competitive water slides, several indoor and outdoor pools, a legion of saunas, … and a scuba pool. The pool is ten meters deep, features some plastic tubes, fake wrecks and some other bogus. Temperature wise, it was a little chilly, and a shorty was recommended. (The dry suits that some idiots brought were entirely unnecessary.) So we dove for a while, and then some more. There is no fixed schedule, you just pick a tank (included in the price) and hop in any time you want. However, as we soon found out, there is very little to do inside the pool. The first 20 minutes are nice, the second 20 minutes I played with my cameras (thanks to Victor), but the third 20 minutes I was a bit bored already. On the second dive, I was rather unmotivated, and the third was just because I decided I had to get “my moneys worth”. Afterwards, we quickly jumped in the sauna, and off we were.

Overall, Monte Mare is clean, friendly and well organized. Given the free air and saunas, the price is even acceptable. Yet, the one lesson we learned: its super hard to entertain people underwater. How do you make them feel thrilled 45 minutes into the dive? How do you make them want to come back three weeks from now? These are the questions the operator of any indoor center has to answer.