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About omeinv

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Denver, CO

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  1. Mac, That's great! Congratulations! Harris Denver, CO
  2. omeinv

    Full Face Snorkel Mask

    Most of my response is copied and pasted from previous posts I've made. I would recommend against a full face snorkel. If you have issues with panic using a regular mask and snorkel, you'd likely be placing yourself at greater risk should you have leakage or flooding with a full face type. That being said I cannot caution you strongly enough to avoid the cheap full face mask/snorkels. If you decide you absolutely want to go with a full face, at least go with a brand like Tri-Bord or Head. I'm both a Scuba Instructor, and retired from decades as a Coroner's Investigator. I mention this because I have knowledge of what snorkeling is, and knowledge of the danger of death presented by oxygen displacement. The danger is quite real. Carbon Dioxide is not poisonous, the way carbon monoxide is, but it displaces oxygen, causing hypoxia. Carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, and other non-poisonous gases are frequently used in suicides by suffocation; again to displace oxygen, without creating the "air hunger" that would otherwise result. The point being the lungs fill, but since the oxygen is displaced, the person dies from lack of oxygen, without the discomfort of being unable to breathe. With the full-face snorkels, a lot of users say "If I felt a problem, I'd simply take the mask off". They don't realize they may never perceive the sensation of difficult breathing, Since they are breathing fine, but they're not breathing oxygen The lack of air hunger means a snorkeler likely will not realize their situation is becoming perilous. The problem created by breathing improperly is hypercapnia (excessive CO2). This can result from hyperventilating with no other factor present (no mask, snorkel or other obstruction). This is exactly what happens when kids play the "choking game" where they deliberately hyperventilate, then another restricts their breathing. It's not the lack of oxygen directly, but the presence of carbon dioxide displacing oxygen. Further, the brain signals the breathing to occur in the presence of carbon dioxide, rather than the lack of oxygen, thus hypercapnia results in a autonomic response to breathe. This ends up in a even more rapid, and less efficient breathing. If not recognized and consciously overcome, hypoxia is the result. If on land, the person faints, and returns to baseline. If in water, loss of consciousness results in drowning. The volume of a full face snorkeling mask is much more than a snorkel. A snorkel gets very close to 100% exchange with every breath. If a full face mask is not designed to provide for proper exchange of exhaled gas, it is a nearly perfect system to cause hypercapnia. This is exacerbated if the user hyperventilates. This can result from exertion, or simply stress from the new experience; or, obviously, hypercapnia. Since the full face mask provides no means to equalize the ears, those using them tend not to dive below the surface, but even the effect of surface swimming can be enough to cause improper, rapid breathing. Now, to be clear, the quality brands (Head, Tribord, etc), have design features to significantly lessen this danger, but the features rely on proper maintenance and cleaning that is easy to neglect. Most of the "knock-off" full face masks lack these design features, or they're poorly constructed. Some of these knock-offs are marketed in a way that a buyer thinks they're getting a good brand, when they aren't. Harris Denver, CO www.divessi.com/pro/64612
  3. omeinv

    Snorkel masks always leak.

    Amanda, There's no way to say which mask would be best for you. Generally the cost isn't the determining factor. The best way to get the right mask is go to a dive shop that has a good selection, and have the staff help you select one for you. Ideally, they'll have a pool where you can try the mask out. The right mask for you is going to depend on the shape of your head and face. One common mistake people make when a mask leaks is to try to tighten the strap more. All that does is make the mask uncomfortable as well as leaky. In water the mask strap is inconsequential on a properly fitted mask. The water pressure is what actually holds the mask in place. Harris Denver, CO
  4. I believe the total was $106.00 for a two tank dive. I have my own gear, so it likely is more if you use their equipment. The provided gear looked good. The depths are fairly moderate, but the only limit is they requested divers ascend from the first dive at 60 minutes (I actually had 62). The second dive was slightly deeper than the first (I know it's supposed to be the other way around). That dive I had 54 minutes. The Pro Dive boat is at the marina that is a short walk from the ship, so it couldn't have been more easy. All around, a great day. Harris Denver, CO
  5. Mac, You'll like Jeffrey at Happy Divers, and I know he'll take good care of you. Since you'll be certified after Aruba, you could book dives with VIP on Bonaire as a certified diver. That would certainly be a great place for your first two "certified dives". 🙂 For St. Maarten, I used to recommend Octopus Diving. However, they changed ownership after the hurricane, and I had a recent bad experience where, although they sent an email confirming my dives, they had no record of me when I arrived. If you do go with Octopus, do not rely on the email address on their website. Apparently they're trying to use a central tour booking outfit to handle their reservation. Make phone calls, and don't consider yourself booked until you've spoken directly with Leroy, as he is the boat captain, and the guy actually running the shop. Otherwise, there are a few other operators there on the Dutch side (Phillipsburg). I would definitely not book with anyone on the French side. The hassle of getting back and forth is just not worth it. Harris Denver, CO
  6. In that case, it's pretty common that the operator that Carnival uses is the same that RCL and Norwegian use. I'd send them an email and see, since you've been happy with them. Harris Denver, CO
  7. I've not heard who the cruise ship operator is for St. Lucia. However, I wouldn't book through the ship there any way. The primary reason is that the diving you want is about a 30 minute boat ride from the port. The cruise ship operators are always operating at a financial disadvantage because - even though you are paying a higher price - they are getting a lower price from the cruise line. That means they are disinclined to make the trip, and instead use sites that are closer to the port. In St. Lucia I've dove with both Scuba Steve's (http://www.scubastevesdiving.com/) and Eastern Caribbean Divers (http://www.easterncaribbeandivingstlucia.com/). Both provide trips out to the vicinity of the Pitons, which is where you want to go. Scuba Steve's charges extra for this calling it something like their "platinum package"; but even at that price it's still reasonable. Both companies pick you up, an return you, in their boat at the same pier the ship docks at. Both have nice boats, and the trip out to the Pitons is in essence a free boat trip of the sort many of your fellow cruisers are paying for. Of the two companies I prefer Eastern Caribbean, but that's based on my own impression of friendliness and professionalism, but the two are very close. I think Eastern Caribbean has a price advantage as well, but I can't be certain about that. Harris Denver, CO
  8. omeinv

    SCUBA recommendation for ABC on RCL

    Generally the advantage to diving is that the dives are as early in the day as the operators can do them. I've never been anything close to late, or even close to feeling anxious. When I said to plan for the whole day with VIP, it's only because, you'll likely enjoy taking time after your dives at their lovely facility. Harris Denver, CO
  9. omeinv

    SCUBA recommendation for ABC on RCL

    I would recommend booking yourself for all three islands. I wouldn't characterize any of the three as "best" as they're all different. That being said Bonaire certainly has the reputation as a "diver's paradise". This is well deserved as the entire west side of the island is, in essence, one giant dive site. For Bonaire, I recommend VIP Diving. The price is actually about what the RCL ship's excursion you've quoted is. However, their level of service justifies the cost. They provide port pick up and return, personalized selection of dive sites, and no more than 4 divers in a group. The price also includes a nice lunch, beverages and an overall great experience. The first step is they sit down with you, and discuss all the site options, and come up with two site that meet your desires, and your level of experience. Nitrox is included in the price, but only if you also have your nitrox certification. Nitrox is usually easily bundled in with your open water course, so you may want to look at that now. Also, while they normally use standard 80 cubic foot tanks, they have 100 cf tanks available for the asking, so ask; and you'll get more bottom time for the same price, especially since newer divers tend to use more air. One thing with VIP is they require full payment in advance, and do not offer refunds for no-shows, even if the reason is the ship didn't make port (they will switch days for you if itinerary changes). So make sure you have travel insurance (you should anyway). Sine you can literally select any dive site on the island, and there is never any rush, plan for your day there to take the entire time you're in port. (https://www.vipdiving.com/) For Curacao, you want to talk with Hans Pleig, as CURious2Dive. Again, he offers port pick-up and return, and a very reasonable price. Curacao has sites well suited to newer divers as they reward diving at any depths, so you can stay in your comfort zone easily, working your way only to the depths you're comfortable with, and still see plenty. Nitrox is available here at an extra cost. (http://www.curious2dive.com/) Aruba is distinctly different than Bonaire and Curacao, in that there' isn't so much of the drop off/wall appearance to most dive sites. That leads to it having the reputation as not being as "Good" as the other islands. I disagree, as there are plenty of reefs with abundant life, and one of the most interesting wreck dives in the Caribbean, that is also very well suited to a new diver. The Antilla Wreck (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Antilla_(1939) ) is in about 50 feet of water, and sank in the early days of World War II, in the intervening years, the shallow depth has resulted in its breaking up in storms. So now, its interior is quite visible with no penetration, and that depth means even new divers will be able to explore the wreck well on one tank of air. The operator to use there is Jeffrey Kost, of Happy Divers Aruba. Again, he provides port pick-up and return, a reasonable price, and no more than 6 divers on the boat (usually less). I don't believe nitrox is available here. He's a smaller shop, so can take a couple days to reply to emails. Also, He will always show up for the port pick up, but a few minutes late isn't uncommon, so don't panic. (https://www.happydiversaruba.com/wp/) Harris Denver, CO
  10. I think you'll be very pleased with VIP. They are my go to operator for Bonaire. You are doing the right thing to research sites in advance, as one advantage of VIP is they will go to the sites you select, assuming you have a preference. of course a lot of divers just walk in with no idea what they want to do. With a junior OW diver, the Hilma Hooker wreck is out (too deep). I would suggest the Salt Pier, if you haven't dove it before, and assuming there's not a ship there that day. It's always got abundant life, and I've never failed to see turtles. There are usually tarpon as well. As Robin noted, I've not seen sharks or rays in Bonaire, although it's not unheard of. Eels I can almost promise, and octopus are likely if you have a sharp eye. Otherwise, you might look at a site up north, like Karpata for your first dive, then Salt Pier for you second. That would give you the most variety. Its worth everyone in your group getting their nitrox certification before the trip. VIP's price includes nitrox, but you need to have the certification. Also, While they'll automatically give you regular 80 cubic foot tanks, they'll give you 100 cubic foot tanks if you ask, so ask. Why wouldn't you want 25% more bottom time. Harris Denver, CO
  11. I can now report that Pro Divers in St. Kitts is indeed a great dive operator. They made a great day's diving easy and fun. Harris Denver, CO
  12. I suspect Dive St. Kitts will be contracted to Costa, since Costa is part of Carnival Corp. I'm sure Pro Dive will be able to help. If Dive St. Kitts can accommodate you, they are good too. Both provide port pick-up and return. Harris
  13. I've not been to the Dominican Republic, so I'm no help there. Antigua, the diving is far fro the port. It's on the south side of the island, near English Harbor. It's nothign to rave about, and not worth the expense and hassle of making the trip down there. St. Marten, the diving is better, but the operator I used to use, Octopus Diving, has changed hands since the hurricain, and is no longer reliable. If you can find a good operator there, it may be worth considering. St. Kitts has good to great diving. IN the past I've used Dive St. Kitts, but they now have several cruise line conracts. If they've contracted with your cruise line, they won't take you as an independent customer. I'll be diving with Pro Dive there in a few days, so I'll be able to give you a complete review. THus far they'e been very good with the pre-dive communication. Harris Denver, CO
  14. omeinv

    Aruba dive operator - RCCL

    The last I knew all the cruise lines used Red Sail in Aruba. I have heard a lot of negative things about them. You may look at Trip Advisor, and find you'd prefer to book independently, which would also make it more likely you could do your afternoon activity as well. Harris Denver, CO
  15. omeinv

    Snorkeling Favorite

    Roatan Harris Denver, CO