My family of 6 participated in the Dolphin Royal Swim on Jan 7th. The cost was $149 each person that we had pre-paid and no refunds would be given so we choose to participate even in questionable conditions. The adjoining beach had a RED FLAG and no swimmers were allowed, but the paid experiences all continued as scheduled. The weather that day was cold, windy, raining at times, and the waves were so big we had trouble even hanging on to the fence and staying on the platform in the water while waves came up from behind over our heads. The dolphins were great and we did complete the experience, even though the waves forced us to swallow sea water a few times and I injured my hand trying to hold onto the fence in the rough conditions.
I knew the photos would be expensive, and with the unfavorable weather most of the shots were not great pictures to begin with. The photographer did not take enough time to even be sure you were looking at the camera as they hurried each of us though the promised experience. We did not get any "free time" to swim with the dolphins as stated in the program. But of course, everyone wants pictures of this once in a lifetime experience that has already cost our family $900. They charged $250 for the photos for the 6 of us and acted like we were getting such a great discount. (Interestingly my sister got the same exact amount of pictures on a CD for her family for just $78 just an hour earlier) These are not professional quality pictures by any means. I could have easily taken the same shots with my own DSLR camera if I was allowed the opportunity. They would not include the additional photos (about 10 shots total) of us with the sea lion on the CD for the $250, stating they wouldn't because it was a different photographer, and we would need to pay another $16 per photo to get those. I agreed to pay for the dolphin pictures but passed on the sea lion pictures so the experience is now totaling $1150 for one family for less than one hour.
So we left the park with a bit of shell shock from the photo prices, but overall glad we did it. Unfortunately on the way home after our cruise, my vehicle was broken into when we stayed at a hotel. All of my camera and computer equipment was stolen, including the photo CD from our experience that was stored in the camera bag. I contacted Dolphin Discovery the day we got home and explained the situation, hoping that we could get a new CD or have the photo's e-mailed to us if they still had them on file. They did respond and stated that they could look up the photos, but that there would be a $35 reprint fee. I have no problem with this since I was so grateful to be able to get back a little bit of what we lost in the robbery. So a few days later I get the link to the photos, and put them in my shopping cart to find that the fee is listed as $350.00. I e-mailed back thinking there must have been a mistake with the link, and was told that they would now cut me a deal and let me have all my pictures for just another $250.
I am sure nearly everyone reading this is able to copy and paste photos onto a CD or into an e-mail and knows that is doesn't cost anything to do that except a few seconds of your time. The desire of this company to profit a second time from our misfortune is just disgusting. If they are not making enough money to support the program, then I would recommend charging more money up front for the experience and include the photos in the price. I think most customers would appreciate knowing up front what the real cost will be.
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