Global Entry Pass – yea or nay? Is it really worth that $100?

When they first came up with the idea of a pass to let you breeze through customs, I was intrigued but wondered if it would be worth it. I mean, it is $100 every 5 years.  I had some friends that did it and really liked the ease of reentry into the U.S.  I didn’t do if for a couple of years then finally after one too many long customs lines, I bit the bullet and paid the $100 for 5 years.

Ok, now is it worth it?  If you travel internationally at least once a year, YES!!  The very first time I used it, I was flying home from South Africa and my flight from Amsterdam was nearly 2 hours late into Seattle.  I had never gone through customs in Seattle and it was a nightmare.  Granted, I should have been there 2 hours earlier but there were so many flights coming into the line at once, I would have missed my connecting flight, no question!!  I breezed through and made the flight, barely!!  They had already boarded nearly everyone and it was supposed to be a full flight.  6 people arrived later than me and 15 people on the flight from Seattle didn’t make it!!  I’ll bet I know where they were…

Not all customs lines are that bad, I realize.  However, there are certain entry points that are a constant source of problems with missed connecting flights.  Miami is the worst for me and my clients, especially on a Saturday!!  I won’t even book a flight from the Caribbean or Mexico through Miami with less than a 4 hour layover.  Even that may not be enough on Saturday!!!  Dallas, Atlanta and Houston I want a minimum of 3 hours, 3 1/2 is better.  I’ll be flying into Charlotte in November so I will see how the lines are there for my clients that are flying with me and don’t have Global Entry.  Hopefully, everyone will make it through in a timely manner.

I have also learned that come airline credit cards will reimburse the $100 fee so I need to remember that when I renew.  I also need to check to see how I paid the initial $100.  I may get it back yet…

 

 

Muck diving & other dive adventures in Dumaguete, the Philippines

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The Philippines is truly one of my favorite dive destinations, ever!  From the beautiful reefs at Puerto Galera to the pristine pelagic diving in Tubataha and now the fabulous muck diving in Dumaguete, the diving here is so varied that every diver will find something they like.

Seahorses are always a favorite with divers.  The Thorny Seahorse above is one of about a dozen to be found on the house reef at Atlantis, Dumaguete.  That’s crazy!  The views from the resort aren’t too bad either.

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The “muck” diving is world class.  Muck diving is diving on a black sand bottom instead of a beautiful coral reef.  You find some of the most unique critters when muck diving.  I missed out by a few minutes of seeing one of my most sought after critters – the Blue Ring Octopus!  However, about half of my group did get to see it.  I was bummed but… oh well, that’s diving!!

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I got a nice shot of the Mandarin fish mating and a couple of white eyed moray eels were clowning for me.  Maybe they were mating too.  I mean, what do I know about eels mating???  There was a fabulous variety of critters in Dumaguete.  You can also take a day trip to snorkel with Whalesharks.  If you’ve never seen one, you should definitely do that.  For little critters, check out the tiny frogfish below with a friends thumb nail to show it’s true size!!  How do the dive guides find this stuff???  I’m loving my Olympus TG-3 camera.  It takes wonderful underwater photos!

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There are unique sights everywhere.  The motorcycle taxi above cracked me up.  Note the signs on the back.  Across the top it says “Keep me safe oh god” and down at the bottom it says “Bang me nicely”  Like I said, you see some unique things!  I would highly recommend the Philippines as a dive destination.  There is something for everyone and you can combine multiple destinations into one trip.  Thanks Atlantis Resorts for another great time diving.  So worth the trip!!