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Cruise ship and diving
oceanbound - 3/24/2010 12:29 PM
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Category: Travel
Comments: 4
Cruise ship and diving Valor, November 29, 2009 sailing - Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel out of Miami
My review as a scuba diver and cruiser. After researching airfares and resorts decided that we would try diving some ports thru a cruise ship. i’ll have to say that for the most part it worked out fine. I wanted to write a review for other divers as before I left on this cruise I could not find the information I was looking for about dive ops and such thru the ship. so here goes:
First let me say that I am one who dives most weekends when weather permits. But I love to cruise and chose to combine my two favorite hobbies. I do own all my own equipment and used mine for some and rental for other excursions. After some research I decided to go with Carnival excursions for two of the four ports.
Miami: We stayed at the LaQuinta near the airport. No problems here. They allowed us to part the car and leave it thru out the cruise. continental breakfast in the morning and they shuttled us to the port the following day. Just be sure to get on the list at the front desk
Grand Cayman: This was one port I could not find information on as to what outfit the ship uses but took a chance with the ships excursion as it was also my first time at this port. We were tendered to port and taken to Don Fosters Dive center. This is a very nice outfit, and the DM’s were both knowledgeable and safe. As equipment is included with the ship’s excursion, we chose to only take our snorkels and masks, and I carried my own dive computer as a backup, and my Shorty and full rash guard. We got our equipment. The equipment was fine with the exception of fins. Let me say that as a small frame woman, I’m use to having to use children’s sizes for a lot of things. I was not expecting the fins though. They were the small black fins, child size, snorkel type fins. But they worked out anyway and there were no problems with the dive. We did all have to do a required check out dive in order to check our skills. i have no problems with this as I’d rather they and I know the skill levels of the group I’m in. Our two dives were at Round Rock and Royal Palm. Both great sites. Duce and Norm were our Dive Masters. Some of my highlights were the tons of squirrel fish, a pipefish, and hog fish. Two large puffers were also seen as well as many Christmas tree worms in bloom. I have no complaints with this outfit and booking thru the cruise with them. It was nice not lugging the equipment around for this dive. Next port: Roatan..... (to be continued)
Isle of Roatan: We were told that we were the first ship to use the new port. it was a very nice port but you could tell the people and shops weren’t prepared. Our excursion wasn’t leaving for an hour after we arrived and there was no one around with the normal signs directing us. i was a little unnerved but it worked out. They eventually showed up and there were only 5 of us diving. We rode a bus to Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) along with others who were going to snorkel somewhere else.
I’ve always wondered about dolphins and wanted to know more about them so I started researching for excursions off the ship. What I found was Anthony’s Key Resort. This is the one I would have picked for myself then found out thru these boards that it was who Carnival uses. So this one was booked thru the ship too. Again, all we brought were mask, snorkel and wet suits and my dive computer for a back up. oh, and my Shorty and rash guard. We were all required to do a check out dive for our Dive master to access our skill levels. After this we were taken to a pen where we met two teen dolphins, French and Kenney and their trainers. We got to interact with them and watch them work with their trainers. This was a one tank dive which lasted about 50 minutes. We were taken to the "front porch" near a reef and two other dolphins and one of the trainers met us out there. We swam with the dolphins and explored a little of the reef. It was a pretty good dive and I liked the look of the resort and would like to stay there in the future. There was a photographer along with us from AKR taking video of all of us. When we got back to the resort, we were allowed to watch the video with the option of purchasing. I would have but it was $50. I felt this was too high. in fact I don’t think anyone purchased it. I was thinking later if they had the price lower they probably could have sold 3 or 4 then made something. As it is they didn’t sell any to us.
Belize: I had researched this port and dive ops in the past. But since I had never been diving in Belize I went with a recommendation of another diver and cruiser. We booked thru Coralbreeze who in turn booked us with Hammerhead dive op. I had heard good things about Hammerhead so this was good. This excursion was not booked thru the cruise ship. We got a little better price than would have thru the cruise and the equipment was also included as well. So again we only used our Shorty and rash guard, our own snorkels and masks and my dive computer as back up.
No tender here. i was a bit concerned about this one as i have heard negative things about Belize city and many warnings. But we never went out of the port as we waited for Hammerhead at one of the local bars. which right now i can’t remember the name of it. I want to say it was Wet Lizard. We were met by someone from Hammerheads there as well as a little later, Tim. Tim is a character. Very laid back, easy going, takes things in stride but a good divemaster. Our excursion had been moved back to a later time so i was a bit concerned that we would get back to the ship on time. Tim said not to worry, he would be sure we got back in time or he would have to take us to Cozumel lol. There was a "discover scuba" diver in our group and her husband was also a diver. We first went out to a popular reef in order for us divers to snorkel while Tim worked with the new "diver". It went very well I must say for a new diver. She was apprehensive but done very well. As i had never seen or been to a discover scuba this was interesting to me. yes it might be a bit annoying to some divers but we didn’t have any problems with it. There were 4 other divers with us, one of which was the girls husband. then we went to the Lost Anchor for our two dives. The 6 of us divers, along with another dive master, Patch, went one direction while Tim and the DS diver went another, easier route. Oh, during the snorkel part, I saw three Eagle Rays swim by. That was an awesome sight as that was my first time to see them. Not something I see off of Destin while usually diving. While diving we saw several more. And many hawksbill and sea turtles! I swear one tried to kiss me! It got so up close and personal i decided to move as I could see it’s beak! Saw lobster,, orange spotted filefish, rainbow parrotfish, bi-colored damsel, spotted scorpion fish, and a lion fish which Patch attempted to kill. (Lion fish are bad, but beautiful). After the dive we took a quick stop at Bannister Island. Wish we would have had more time there as it was nice, and again sat at Fat Tuesday for a beer after the dive :) And we got back to the ship in time, but with no time to shop. Just as well.......
next port... Cozumel
I forgot to add that all of these excursions had dive computers and octos for the divers which were included. But I found myself relying on my own computer for the most part. One because i’m used to it and two so i could upload my dives into my laptop later.
Cozumel: the night before we arrived in Cozumel, the Captain announced that instead of leaving at 5 PM we would be leaving at 7 PM!! this was great as I had never been in Cozumel at night and was looking forward to it. i know now why we hadn’t......bring BUG SPRAY!!!!!
now, for this excursion I also booked off the ship. The reason is that my first dive I have had after certification, in salt water, was in Cozumel with DivewithAllison. That was my first dive experience with Cozumel, and we had a wonderful Dive master Chucoo that time and I was hoping to dive with him again. Allison informed me that she and Chucoo were no longer in business together but they must be still on good terms as she gave me his email. I contacted him and set up or dives. This time we took all our equipment. (except tanks and weights of course). I had asked ChuChoo for nitrox before we arrived and he that ready for us when we arrived. We were the only two divers on his boat that day and it was great! I was soooo glad to be using my own regulator! and my own fins! and my own BC! This dive was truly the highlight of my week. Not saying that the other dives were not great but this was truly the best.
Lots of turtles, and the biggest two eels i have ever seen in my life! one was swimming thru the rocks. the other was laying under a ledge along with a giant grouper. We saw two nurse sharks also under a ledge and another shark but too far off to make out what type. Let me say that even with well over 100 dives I seem to be a shark repellant. i want to see a shark (nurse sharks don’t count lol). I want a photo of a shark but though ChuChoo tired, sadly, no sharks for photos this trip.
oh, i forgot to add that in Belize there were some problems with the equipment, but all fixed quickly. One was a fin of my buddy’s broke off during the snorkel, but was replaced quickly, and my inflator hose leaked on the rental gear. It too was quickly replaced. But I got a regulator that, well, though it worked find, I will be bringing my own from here on out lol.
ChuChoo’s boat is the Egnima II. it was a drift dive and that makes it difficult for photos but I did get a few good ones. We saw French Angels, a Skate, smal sand divers, southern stringrays, barracuda, a baby 1" peacock flounder, lots of yellow tale, queen and gray angels, damsels, durgeon, graysby, trumpet fish, french grunt and loads of blue chormis and yellowhead wrasse. We went to Santa Rosa Wall, and Tormentos Reef.
The Advantages of diving while on a cruise ship:
1. cheaper than a liveaboard dive trip
2. cheaper then a week in the keys when room and food, and gas factored in.
3. most places will furnish gear thus eliminating need to carry larger heavier items. (if your ok with rental gear)

1. room smelled! (divers will understand this after a week of diving)
2. no good place to hang wet suits. had to use the shower in the cabin which was not set up to hang heavy wet suits in. I’m sure our room stewarts were really glad when we were gone!
3. at one point we had to wash out wet suits and gear on lido deck where there was a shower for the pool. (got strange looks there)
4. was asked going off the ship in cozumel "are you coming back?" (large dive bags)
5, Dragging dive gear thru ports to cabs, also stange looks.

i don’t think cruise ships are very used to divers.
ok, that’s it for my review

would i do it again? in a heartbeat! in fact, we had looked at spending the following week in the keys but decided to do another cruise so we went on a 4 day to Key West (didn’t dive) and cozumel (dove again with ChuChoo)


Smithsgold - 6/16/2012 5:21 PM
Great Review Thanks for taking the time to write it.
flaski - 4/11/2010 10:20 PM

i had to say this "wow what a great review" cant wait to go again after that review. all those places are great, hope to see you there again in about a month.

Pasley - 3/27/2010 11:39 AM
I took this exact cruise in February 2008. I went SCUBA diving in all 4 ports and I booked all dives through the cruise ship. You can save money if you book on your own, but if you book through the cruise ship you have the following advantages:
1. If you are late returning from the SCUBA dives, the ship waits for you or is responsible for getting you back to the ship and your are first off too.
2. The SCUBA dive boat does not leave until you are there, when ever that is as cruise ships are sometimes early, sometimes late.
3. At one stop the dive operation picked us up at the ship which was anchored miles off shore. If you are not booked from the cruise ship, you have to take the tender ashore first and then link up with the dive operation.
4. If you have an issue, the cruise ship will help you deal with it. (left my regulator and dive computer at Cozumel hanging next to the rinse tank).
Book a balcony, but secure the gear so it does not blow away.
billfort - 3/26/2010 9:56 AM
Thx for great writeup. I will be taking Carnival from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean in August. Had been wondering if I should use the cruise line’s excursions to do some diving, or book on my own. Sounds like Carnival set you up with OK dive ops. So I’ll probably go with their packages even though that costs a bit more. However I’ll haul all my gear except tanks/weights. Not fond of rental BCs, regs, or computers!