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Catamaran Snorkeling Excursion by El Tigre in Barbados
I have found a lot of good information from cruisecritic.com for my past Carnival Destiny cruise on 07/23 sailing. I was looking to do some snorkeling in Barbados but did not want book through the Shore Excursions offered by the cruise ship. I learned about El Tigre (www.eltigrecruises.com) and many other tour operators in Barbados through this forum. However, I decided to book with El Tigre and sure was glad I did. Here's my contribution back to this informative forum. I hope whoever's looking for things to do in Barbados will find this helpful.
My group comprises of 13 people (including 6 children of ages 9-13). My process started with inquiries to several companies that offer catamaran snorkel tours. I decided to book with El Tigre because the email replies from Jessica of El Tigre were all timely and concise. I booked the 5-hour catamaran cruise that include swimming with Sea Turtles, Snorkeling at a shipwreck site and lunch. There were a total of around 25 people on our boat (this is probably one of their more crowded days because of our big group).
At about 9:45, We were greeted by an El Tigre staff and picked up at the cruise ship terminal#1 by a small bus that drove us through the busy town of Bridgetown. We arrived at the marina where we boarded the catamaran. There were already about 10 people on board waiting. We were the last to board. The boat is very clean and has plenty of room to roam around. There were 4 crew members on-board including the captain. The crew were all very friendly and fun to be around with. Their service and cater to you are of first class !!! The crew brought us drinks (and beer or wine) as we sat back and sailed toward the open sea. We passed by our ship the Destiny then toward the snorkel sites. About an hour into the trip, we arrived at the Sea Turtle site. There were already 3 or 4 other catamarans anchoring there. We were briefed by the captain and then handed our snorkel gears. The crew got into the water and fed the turtles. We saw turtles but they tend to be shy and swam away quickly. The visibility at this site is ok but not the best. After about 20 minutes in the water, we headed to the next site which is a shipwreck and a coral reef offshore (maybe about 400-500 ft from shore). I recall the crew member said "Paynes Bay" is where we were. Again there were 2 other boats anchoring here before us. We got in the water and followed the one crew member guiding us to the shipwreck below (maybe about 10 ft deep). This site is fantastic ! The water is very clear and the fish are abundant not to mention colorful ! I have never seen this many fish in one place before. Everywhere you look, there are fish. After about 20-30 minutes, our guide took us back to the boat. I wish we had more time here. Back on the boat, as we sailed to our next destination, we were served lunch (bbq chicken, breaded fish, rice, maccaroni, rolls and salad,...) and of course wine, beer, punch. The food & drinks are all you can eat. We then headed to a secluded beach nearby where we anchored again offshore. The turquoise water here is so clear that you can see right to the bottom. Those who wanted to walk on the beach can do so by swimming a short distance to the shore. Everyone in our group did so. We took a stroll on this beautiful sandy beach and took in every bit of the peaceful scenery surrounding us. Just a short walk from our boat are huge mature trees that provide canopies of shade over a couple picnic tables. After about 20-30 minutes, our captain blew the "horn" to signal us that it's time to head back to the boat. Again, we could have enjoyed another half hour on this beach. The rest of the trip is just relaxing and laid-back as our catamaran cut through the wind and headed back to the marina. The crew interacted with everyone on-board and took pictures of us with our own cameras. It was the best excursion ever ! Finally a mini bus took us back to the ship by about 3:00pm.
Everyone in our group including the children agreed that this was the highlight of our Southern Caribbean cruise. We are still talking about this excursion at many of our gatherings today ! Thanks El Tigre for making it such a memorable moment of our caribbean vacation.
We were in Barbados in July for 8 days and we sailed twice that week with El Tigre as well. We loved our first catamaran sailing with them so much that we booked another one a few days later. Great review! ~ Els
After reading most of the posts on this site and as specially this thread I decided to book a 5-hour lunch cruise with El Tigre Cruises. This was truly the highlight of our cruise. There where about 16 people onboard. I think they carry up to 36 people, the captain said although they carry 36 didn't mean they had 36 every day, in fact they were more in the 50% - 60% full. The crew were very attentive and lots of fun not to mention the exhalant service. They said that the boat had just got back for a two month refinish and did it ever show. It was in immaculate condition and very clean. We made our first stop with the coral reef and shipwreck where they had hundreds of fish. I have never seen so many fish in one place before. Afterwards, we went to the turtle spot, we arrived just as the other boats were leaving it was as if our captain had it planned so perfectly. At this point I was glad we were not on the ships catamaran excursion when I saw how many people where on board. We snorkeled with the turtles for about 30 minuets this was more than enough for me. They are truly amazing. They actually swim right up to you that you can touch them. Finally we sailed to another bay called Paradise Beach having lunch on the way. Lunch was exhalant more than enough for every one and very tasty. Paradise Beach is a very quiet beach with almost no one around, we got some of the best pictures there. After spending about 30 minutes we were then called back to the boat to make our way back to the dock where we meet the bus to take us back to the terminal. Some of the others stayed in Bridgetown for the shopping. This was truly a fantastic cruise and very highly recommended. Thank you Chimmoi for leading us in the right direction to having the most memorable day of our vacation and thanks El Tigre Cruises for making it all happen.
Thank you for the great review, I'm sailing the destiny on 3/11/07 and have planned to go with ElTigre (the tiger in spanish). I'm sure we will have and awesome time. One question, do they provide the snorkeling gear??
Based on the great reviews, I e-mail El Tigre seeking to book a tour (I tried another tour group, but no reply, oh well ).
I got a quick reply and talked to Jessica. I booked right away.
I prefer non ship tours because of the smaller number and great service. Out of all my cruises, I only had one tour operator that was only fair. The rest were outstanding (including one that recall me from a few months earlier! They knew my name and greeted me like family).
I can't wait!!
We just did this exact tour with El Tigre last week and had a WONDERFUL time. The two prior postings is exactly what we encountered so no need for me to copy them. Jessica was very quick to reply with all my questions so that is one of the big reasons I booked with them.
Oh, they take credit cards without a fee. Alot more tour groups add a $5 fee for taking cc.