Dive review Carnival Valor, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Costa Maya
This review is really detailed *laugh* hope you like it!
In case you are interested the main eview is in these posts:
Carnival Valor Review – 1/22/06 – 1/29/06
Valor 1/22-1/29 western review part I:
Valor 1/22-1/29 western review Part II
Valor 1/22-1/29 Western review Part III
Valor 1/22-1/29 western review Part IV (Roatan)
Valor 1/22-1/29 Western Review Part V (the rest!!!)
Diving with Casey at Neptune divers @ Sea Grape Beach
2 Tank = $80US
Rentals = $30US
I prearranged our dive with Casey almost 8 months out from the cruise. There are 5 divers in my group and I did this for each port we dove. It turned out that the other 2 people booked on our dive were also cruisecritic members. I met up with Augie on our Valor Roll call – and it turned out we both picked all the same operators!
So the morning of Grand Cayman we were up bright and early to get tender tickets! We wanted to be off on the first non-carnival tender. What we should have done was hook up with Augie that morning and he could have gotten us off with his platinum status….but we didn’t realize this till later in the cruise. No matter the 5 of us all got #1 tender tickets and met up with Augie on the pier. Now Augie’s beautiful wife decided not to dive with us this trip so there were only 6 divers.
Off the 6 of us went to locate the bus depot. We asked for directions and found it easily. The Bus is 2.50$ per person US and is cheaper and faster than a taxi. If you want to locate the bus go right from the North pier and make your first Left, with Columbia Emeralds on your left. Head up that St. to the post office and major intersection then Hang a left and the depot will be across the street on your right. It is just a little hut and then the busses are more like vans.
We took the public bus over to Sea Grape Beach and the proceeded to drag all our gear over to Casey’s boat which she had pulled up to the beach. On to the boat we went and were greeted by Casey – who is originally from Connecticut my home state. This woman is FANTASTIC! She has everything you could need right on her boat! She first asked if we needed any gear (we didn’t) and then showed us where there was oxygen and water etc. She then gave us the run down on the tanks and how to mark when they were empty. We busily got to work setting up our gear. She also offered to do this for us but the 6 of us were happy to do it ourselves.
Onwards to our first dive site – Augie recommended we check out Trinity caves so that is where we headed. Once we got there Casey briefed us on the dive and went over hand signals. She was very thorough! and left nothing out. Over the side we went – back rolls – and then down the ancor line. She then lead us through an amazing series of swim thru’s! This was my first experience with Swim thru’s and I had a blast! We all went single file with enough space so that we didn’t bunch up and be in danger of hitting the reef. The visibility was about 80 feet and the water temp was in the 80’s.
Unfortunately it was over cast for our first dive so the colors of the coral were not lit up. However upon exiting one of the last swim thru’s we came across a good size turtle who hung out with us for a few minutes. It was very cool because this guy didn’t seem afraid of us we all hung there and let him swim around and at one point I thought he was going to swim right in to me!
For the 2nd dive we picked up another diver over on sea grape beach. This diver needed to rent some gear and so we got to see Caseys rental gear – she had top of the line stuff! After a surface interval – where I promptly drank one of the Prieas I appropriated from the ship – we were off to Public Beach Reef. Once again we were briefed by Casey and then into the water for a max depth dive of 50 ft. So said Casey – heh she said to get any deeper we would need a shovel. The visibility was much better on this dive! And the water slightly warmer as we were shallower.
Public beach reef was alive with life and there were lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Also Casey gave some attention to our new diver – as she hadn’t logged a dive in over a year. It was great to know that Casey could be both attentive to one diver and still point out lots of cool stuff for the rest of us!
Over-all Neptune Divers is a GREAT outfit! Tight, well equipped and above all SAFE!
Diving: Subway Water Sports
US$ 65 per person for two dives including bus transport from and to the cruise ship dock. That also includes tanks and weights.
Nitrox is $ 5 extra per tank. Equipment rental is US$ 35 for the day.
Prices are cash or travelers checks. If paying by credit card add 17% tax.
Where to start…..Ok I have a lot to say about this particular Dive!!! We have named is “adventure diving in Roatan” Let’s just say this was our “problem” port. The carnival Valor docks in Roatan and lucky for us tired cruisers it doesn’t reach port till 11am ship time (11am eastern standard time) It is 10am Central time in Roatan when you dock.
This gave us time to eat something, collect our drying scuba gear off our balcony, and load up the sherpas to hop off the ship. Well the disembarkation in Roatan was not so smooth!!! There were HUGE lines that backed up the forward staircases!!! Here are the 5 of us with HUGE Dive bags and trying to maneuver our way through the crowd with out hitting anyone…..once again should have smiled at Augie and gotten off with him! Of course unbeknownst to us – Augie was behind us!
Anyway when we finally made it out on to the pier with the rest of our ship we made our way across the street where Patrick was meting us divers and the Kayaking group. This was the most efficient part of our day. Anyway Patrick gathered up us divers and kayakers and placed us all on different vans and sent us on our merry way.
Sadly, our day in roatan was awful weather! It was POURING for the most part and cloudy the rest of the time. Anyway we 6 divers and then 3 other divers who were joining us Plus 4 guys going fishing made our way to Subway Water Sports resort. This was for the most part uneventful. We arrived to the resort and had to take a boat over a canal to the shop. The 3 divers that joined us needed to rent some gear….and we all needed to fill out the paper work.
Subway water sport started out fine – checked our C-cards, wanted to know when our last dive was etc. They divvied out gear for the people who needed it and then it was back on to the boat and out to the site in the pouring rain. We all quickly donned our wetsuits since it was cold and then we were good to go.
1st Dive – Mary’s Place – Aborted.
Ok so we motored up to Mary’s place the famed crevasse dive in Roatan. I can tell you I was SO EXCITED to dive this spot!! But I should have known when we had trouble catching the mooring line that we were in for some rough seas. *sigh* But let me back up a bit. As you already know our group sets up our own gear – ok so we go about doing this, and low and behold we start finding hissing tanks. This in itself was not alarming until we found 3 hissing tanks and 1 tank leaking from the neck!!! The tanks we found that were usable were under filled – for me who doesn’t use “as much” air and Meg who re-filles her tank as she dives whom this wasn’t a huge deal. But for some of the other divers who like to have a full tank to max bottom time they were not happy!. Well we get all our gear set up and we realize yet another issue….
One of the women who joined us, had to rent a BCD – no problems Subway Water Sports provided her with a BCD. However it did not come with a power inflator hose – OK not a problem she’ll have it on her Reg, NOPE. So really this could be seen from either side. Either you think the BCD should come with it or the Reg should (she brought her own Reg set up) anyway there wasn’t a hose and we didn’t discover this till we were motoring away from the shop. Now what I had a problem with is neither the Captain nor the DM could help this woman out! First they have no tools on the boat – personally I think this is poor planning/set up. But not only did they not have any tools they didn’t have any spare parts or gear. Thankfully our group had both extra hoses and tools! So Meg lent the woman a hose and Geoff set it up on her Reg for her. The diver in question was very appreciative! But I didn’t think it should have been our job to help her out – NOT THAT we minded, we didn’t, just I feel Subway water sports should better stock their boats or more properly check out a persons set up if they rent partial gear….
Ok so finally we are ready to dump into the ocean blue at Mary’s Place The DM does a briefing, and then she is first over the side – then Augie, and another gentleman who joined us then me and Meg. The plan was to all meet at the front of the boat and make a group descent. I should have known there was a problem when the DM started falling behind the boat! Anyway Meg and Myself didn’t notice how big of a problem there was till we were in the water! I should also let you know that both myself and Meg are life gaurds and I was a nationally competitive swimmer. Upon entering the water we realized there was a very strong current!!!
The three people in before us were rapidly putting distance between themselves and the boat. I promptly put my back to the current and started kicking – then yelled to the captain about the current and that he needed to toss a line! The people still on board didn’t realize what was really happening – at first they though both Meg and I were having problems breathing – which we were but only because we were working so hard we were winded. Regardless I got back to the boat and Meg was right behind me. We were the only ones able to swim back to the boat. Once the Captain realized how much trouble we were having he tossed in a line and caught the DM and one Gentleman. Augie was beyond the line at that point but told the DM he was fine and to come get him with the boat once she got everyone else settled.
Worse was Meg and I were on the other side of the boat than the ladder and had to hand over hand make our way around. Our problem came when we go to the engines – I yelled to the captain to walk the live over the engines but he was busy with something else – so my Husband did this for us. Once we all got back on board we went to pick up Augie, who by this point was worried he had ruined the dive – as he didn’t realize we had aborted due to current!!
Once on board – as you can imagine I was pretty nervous not to mention tired after a hard swim. Lets just say that was a bad set up for the next dive try. It’s never good to be nervous! Anyway we motored to another site, did a current check, and found that it was fine. This is when we realize there was yet another problem…..*sigh* it turns out that all the weights were miss-marked or not marked at all. Neither the DM nor the Captain was able to correctly identify the weights. SO what ended up happening was both Meg and I were under weighted. Also one other diver had a problem with this. In we go – we both start swimming for the bottom, only to find that even after 15 feet we were having problems. Augie and and the gang were helping us out – trying to make sure the BCDs were empty etc. but to no avail neither of us could stay down.
Both Meg and I aborted the 2nd Dive – between the weights, and the first attempt we weren’t really willing to try as hard as another time maybe – and yes we probably both had more air in our lungs due to both nerves and the swim work out. But with out the correct weights we were just too buoyant! Back on to the boat we went. *big sigh* Anyway we then re-set up our gear on different tanks (for both the 1st and ht e2nd try we had the original tank) and found evn more hissing tanks. Really at this point I was rattled and wasn’t sure I was going to get back in the water.
The rest of the group completed what they thought was a good dive – in fact Roatan had more sea life that any of the other ports we dove (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya) too bad it was over cast but that wasn’t Subway’s fault!
OK once the gang was back on the boat we did a short surface interval – In fact I think that the DM and the Captain were too loose about this. Seemed they were more concerned about making sure to get our 2nd dive than safety – anyway I clocked the surface interval and for most it should have been ok. So I bet you can guess what happens next….the gang starts setting up their gear and low and behold there are not enough tanks that AREN’T hissing to go around. Ok – Ken and Geoff are like, well do you have any spare O rings? Cause we can change them…..Nope no spare O rings….and no O ring puller. Well once again our gang has both the parts and tool s so Ken gets busy changing out O rings. Bu tin the end we still ended up a tank short
On a happy note both Meg and I were able to add a few lbs (we used all the weights on the boat!!) and were able to complete the next dive. Honestly the only reason I went back in was a combination of getting back on the horse and being mildly nauseous in the boat *laugh* I had no problems on the 2nd dive – got my weight correct because I had no buoyancy issues nor did I need to add air to my BCD so I wasn’t negative. According to the weights I had on like 15lbs – but I think it was more like 12lbs which is what I normally carry with a full 3mm and in salt.
The actual diving was FANTASTIC! I was so happy I made the effort to get back in! the sponges were huge!!!! There were gorgonian sponges I could practically fit in! we saw a jaw fish and hamlets and sea cucumbers, plus a grouper or two. This was one of the best dive of the ports!!! Just gorgeous, the sun came out for a brief second or two so things lit up – fabulous! But the diving was not enough to make me forget the equipment issues we had.
Overall I wouldn’t Dive with Subway Water Sports again – they just didn’t seem to have their act together for us. With that said – I am sure this HAS NOT been the experience of everyone – in fact I have read many positive reviews of this operation. This has been my only negative experience with recommended dive operators. I am Hoping this was a localize deal and we just had the unfortunate timing to be present for a slip up.
Dreamtime Resort Beach Party, Snorkeling and diving
Two Tank Diving w/Dream Time:
75$ 2 tank, 25$ gear rental
Ok for those o fyou who read my review on the Roatan dive shop you can imagine that we were a little leary of what we would find in Costa maya! Well of the the ship we went – we had arranged to be picked up earlier than the rest of the group doing the beach party and snorkel. We were supposed to meet up with Dreamtime for 9am Ships time( 8am central time) well when we got to the appointed place we couldn’t find anyone. So we started asking the people who were running the taxi stands and they let us know that Chris from Dreamtime was there. It took us a little while to find him and it turned out we walked right past him. This was the only mishap of the entire day It turned out chris was waiting for us at the flags right as you get from the pier to the shopping portion. He only had a sign that said dive excursion and we thought he was just someone trying to sell excursions and kept walking. So my only piece of advice would be for them to carry signs with the pre-arranged groups names or with thei own name.
Anyway we got that all sorted out – and since we were late we were able to introduce Chris to some of the rest of the group he was meeting for 10am ship time. This worked out well. Then it was off in a taxi to Dreamtime resort which is just down the road form the little village Mahalua. We arrived at the shop which was just a little house but seemed to have a lot of gear hanign in racks, and were greated by our dive master. As it turned out we had left behind one of our members and we also let them know that the said member might be making his own way to the shop. They said that wouldn’t be a problem.
Anyway as none of needed any gear – they checked our C cards, asked how much weight we needed in in which ways (belts or integrated) and then it was on the boat to dive.
The boat was very nice with side sections for tanks and two spots to do back entrys from. We each set up our gear and were happy to find full tanks and not hissing Then Ricardo our dive master did the first dive briefing. Happily he also warned us that they were trying to preserve their reef and that if he felt you were too close or he saw you touch or hit the reef he would give you one warning. Then if it happened againg the whole group had to abort the dive. Hoenstly this might seem a little harsh but it made me feel that they were really paying attention to both their environment and their divers. We also had another nice couple on board but since they hadn’t logged any dives recently they went out with their own instructor. The only other person in our party was Fabia the dive photographer/videographer.
We did backrolls in to the water and met at the front of the boat and all descended together. As you can imagine I was a little hesitant at first but everything went well and after sucking thru 500psi pretty quickly I calmed down Ricardo was GREAT! Paid a lot of atnetion to us with out getting in the way (that was my problem lol) and pointed our some great things for us. We say a HUGE lobster!!! And then we got to see two porcupine fish swimming together bigger than I have ever seen!!! We got them on the video that Fabia shot with us.
Speaking of the Video Fabie did a great job of getting our entire group preserved on disk I was more interested in diving then playing for her (plus I was still a little more tense than normal on the first dive) BUT the rest of the guys in the gang had a blast hamming it up for the camera! We had a great shot of Augie (CC member) impersonating a ray for the camera and two of the gang p-laying Knockem’ sockem’ – pretty much just having a great time. She also got all the cool creatures we say and in general great footage. As this was my firt underwater video I was all about getting it. Well the group decided to get it – it was 30$ a piece for the master. Fabia did the editing while we were all on our 2nd dive and then finished it when we were over at the resort having food with the rest of the gang.
The 2nd dive was just as good! We did our surface interval on land and found out that our missing buddy had caught up with us. He ended up doing two dives with only a dive master! Talk about service! Anyway then it was back in the water with Ricardo. The other couple decided not dive again – so it was just us, Ricardo and the captain. I guess we passed the test and were decent enough divers to only have Ricardo with us lol.
This dive was just as good and we had a great time! Ricardo on the 2nd dive was a little more “trusting” of our skills but still was very attentive. We all dove a shallow area and then stayed down until almost all of our tanks were at 500 or just a little less. Then it was up to the boat.
Overall we had a GREAT experience with Dreamtime Diving! Our Dive master Ricardo was GREAT!!!! And he was lots of fun too! Our video shot by Fabia is definitely a treasure!.
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Great review........I would not use Subway water sports after that review... And hissing tanks... Very bad... And that current sounded rough... That can be real scary for divers, especially those with less experience.... But it sounded like great fun, lot's to see... I will be at some of those spots in December.....Thanks for the review.....
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The Scuba Diving in Tahiti was fantastic
WOW! I'm glad I booked the ship's dive in Roatan (Anthony's Key). I was tempted by other reviews to try Subway but now after your review I feel much better about my decision. I've never heard any bad reviews of Anthony's. I'll be sure to write a review of my experiences on our upcoming dives in Cozumel (Dive With Martin), Roatan (Anthony's) and Belize (Hugh Parkey's).
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Great review Wystiria!
Folks - it went down just like she said!
I'd like to add that it was a pleasure and a privelege to dive with Wistiria and her group. Their comfort level in the water belies their relative inexperience (except for Geoff - diving with him was like having an extra divemaster on board), but more importantly, they are just a nice bunch of folks that made this "outsider" feel like one of the gang.
I hope to be able to offer them, individually or collectively, a respite from their tundra like conditions at home, if they can come down to Florida to dive in "my backyard".
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I had the same great service from Neptunes Divers when I went out with them. Casey is really nice. Was Keith on the boat too? He was with us, but he was more reserved than Casey.
I don't suppose you have a photo or two to share, do you?
Diving in Fiji was just FANTASTIC.
Thanks Augie! You were fabulous to dive with yourself - and wait your an outsider? I thought you were one of the gang *grin* We definitely need to find some time to come take you up on diving in your backyard!!! Heh and some summer if you ever want lobster you can come dive up here with us *laugh* just bring a 5mil or better since you probably won't like the temperatures LOL
We do have pictures actualy - they are on a friends website - also shortly some more will be added, right now he is busy sorting one of our other divers pictures in to days and then they will be on teh same site probably under Armando's shots.
As for Roatan - we were really dissapointed, i had read such great reviews! I didn't talk to any of the other divers ont eh ship so I have no clue how everyne else faired - and there were a lot of divers on our ship & sailing!!
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