Wannabee beginner scuba diver - help!

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#1
Newfoundland, Canada
264 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
For the past # of years I've wanted to try scuba diving. For one reason or another it didn't happen. But I still have a yearning for it. Since I'm going to French Polynesia in July, I'm thinking what a perfect place to start but I have a few questions:
1. I have well controlled hypertension, but would they allow me to dive?
2. I have well controlled MS & really biggest symptom is I lost my eyesight in one eye 10 yrs ago. Would that diagnosis prevent them from letting me dive?
3. I wear contact lenses or glasses. I wouldn't have my own mask, so how tight are the masks they provide? I'm sure experienced divers have prescription masks but for those who don't & are in my situation, would you wear your glasses or contact lenses? I would have to wear one or the other or the dive would be useless, I wouldn't see a thing.

Hope to learn from your responses...of course I'd be expecting to start in the swimming pool

Thanks
Janet
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1987 - Norwegian Southward - Eastern Caribbean
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#2
Thousand Oaks, CA
4,587 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
Hi Janet,

I'm an advanced diver with over 250 dives, so I'd be happy to help you in whatever way I can.

I'm not medically qualified to tell you if your health issues would affect your ability to dive. What I would suggest is to start reading the PADI website: http://www.padi.com/scuba/ There's a plethora of information on there about how to get certified. You'll need to get a certification card from one of the dive agencies, and while opinions differ about which agency to use, PADI is the most prevalent, and a PADI cert card is accepted all over the world.

Here's a good place to start: http://www.padi.com/scuba/scuba-divi...q/default.aspx

As for your health issues, here's what PADI says:

About Physical Challenges: Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. Individuals with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to your PADI Instructor at your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort for more information.
You would likely need to get a medical evaluation and be cleared by a doctor to get certified.

When you say "the mask they provide"...I personally wouldn't use a rental mask, or one of the PG's snorkeling masks, for diving. I'm sure they're fine for snorkeling, but you do NOT want a mask that doesn't fit your face perfectly when you get down to 60 ft., or you'll be dealing with annoying flooding for the whole dive. Buy yourself a decent dive mask from a dive shop. Besides, most places where you would go to get certified will expect you to provide your own mask and snorkel anyway. You can rent the rest.

I wear glasses/contacts, and I don't use a prescription mask - I wear my contacts underwater. Many divers do. (Forget glasses - they won't fit under the mask.) Some divers prefer prescription masks, but I want to be able to see with my mask off too. So I wear contacts. I do have little stick-on magnifiers on my mask so I can look at the little stuff, tho. (These old eyes don't focus as well as they used to!) You will learn how to deal with a flooded mask, and you will even need to perform a skill in training in which you remove your mask underwater, replace it, and clear it. As long as you keep your eyes closed you won't lose your contacts. I never have.

The PADI website can help you find a local dive operator where you can get certified. We went to Sport Chalet for our initial certifications. Certification requires some classroom work, some time in the pool, and two instructor-led dives in open body of water. You will do your initial dives in the pool, but to complete your cert you will need to do two open-water dives (in the ocean, a lake, a quarry or some other open body of water) with an instructor. Your local dive op can tell you where they take their students.

I don't know where you're located, but if you're not near a body of water, you can do the classroom and pool work at a Sport Chalet or some other local dive shop, and then do your two open-water dives somewhere else.

The PG does offer scuba classes, but I would NOT use your vacation time in FP getting certified! Do it at home. If you're not near a body of water, you can at least do the classroom/pool work close to home, then do the two required open-water dives on the PG.

Another, less daunting option is to do the "Discover Scuba" class onboard the PG. That's not a complete certification - it's really just a "taste" of scuba. They'll give you some basic training onboard the ship, a little time in the pool to learn how to clear your ears and mask, and then take you on a couple of beginner dives. But if you're really serious about diving, I wouldn't waste my time with that. First of all you'll be spending all that classroom/pool training time when you could be enjoying your vacation. Second, your options for diving are limited - you can only do the few beginner dives offered by the ship. My recommendation is to get certified in advance, and then you can sign up for ANY of the dives...and enjoy them!

Hope this helps! Ask away - I'll answer what I can.
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LeeAnne
#3
Thousand Oaks, CA
4,587 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
Janet, I just noticed that you're in Newfoundland, Canada. I did a quick Google search and came up with this dive shop: http://www.nlgeotourism.com/content/...C5907D3BDA9C4D

This is not an endorsement, I know nothing about them, but it was just to see if there are any local dive ops near you...and apparently there are.
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LeeAnne
#4
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
2,123 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
I second having your own mask. We have prescription ones as I prefer not to deal with contacts. I also second taking a full course from a local dive shop, preferably with some practice dives after to get more comfortable with the skills, this would help you enjoy your dives in FP more IMHO. Good luck!
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#5
Newfoundland, Canada
264 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Thank you for the responses and LeeAnne, especially for the links. I'm going to check this out further

Janet
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1987 - Norwegian Southward - Eastern Caribbean
2004 - Carnival Imagination - Western Caribbean
2006 - Norwegian Sun - Western Caribbean
2008 - RC Adventure of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
2008 - Carnival Destiny - Southern Caribbean
2009 - Carnival Triumph - Western Caribbean
2009 - Norwegian Jewel - Xmas Western Caribbean
2010 - Nowegian Star - Mexican Riviera
2011 - Carnival Valor - Eastern Caribbean
2012 - Paul Gauguin - Cook & Society Islands - Papeete, Tahiti; Huahine; Aitutaki; Raratonga; Bora Bora; Taha; Moorea
2013 - Carnival Freedom - Southern Caribbean
2014 - Carnival Breeze - Southern Caribbean
2014 - Carnival Breeze - Western Caribbean
2015 - Carnival Glory - Journey Cruise (Southern & Eastern Caribbean)
2015 - Carnival Breeze - Western Caribbean
2017 - Carnival Splendor - Eastern Caribbean
2017 - Carnival Splendor - Western Caribbean
2017 - Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean
2017 - Carnival Conquest - Western Caribbean




#6
Poinciana, Fl (formerly NJ)
1,108 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Dear Wannabee,

I became certified at age 50 and I congratulate you on your spirit of adventure. The PG has its own great dive staff (they don't use the services of land-based dive shops) and given the size of the vessel and the demographics of their clientle the dive boat is not likely to be crowded.

I sailed/dove with them in July, 2009 and owing to a combination of my age (69 at the time) and my controlled hypertension, the PG's divemaster insisted that I be examined by the ship's doctor before they would let me dive. Expect for the $ 40 fee I had to pay for the exam - no problem. PADI's website has a downloadable standard medical form which you may wish to take to your own doctor for completion. The shop where you enroll for your basic dive course may require that medical review in any event. As long as that review is reasonably current, the staff on the PG may accept it and not require you to go through the drill that I experienced. Check in with them as soon as you can after boarding.

The earlier advice from Leejnd4 was right on and I concur completely.

Bon voyage and happy diving!!

John

P.S. On several cruises late this year, the Jean-Michael (?) Cousteau, the son of Jacques Cousteau (the inventor of SCUBA) will be leading dives on the PG. I look forward to diving with him on the 12/1 sailing. When are you going?