First Cruise Snorkling a must!!

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Cruising for the first time? Our members will have you cruising like a pro in no time! Don't forget to read our 8000 reviews written by first timers just like you!
First Time Cruisers
You May Also Want to Read: Over 8,000 Published Cruise Reviews by First Time Cruisers

Best advice for first-time cruisers; learn how to pick a cabin, find the best cruise bargain, tips on what to pack.

Browse Cruise Critic's First Time Cruiser Resources (articles)
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 07:46 PM.
4 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Hi this is my first post and me and the wife need to get away. I have never been on a cruise. I plan on doing a Caribbean or Bahama cruise on Carnival or Royal Caribbean. My main activity I want to do on my cruise is Snorkeling and the more ports that have that offer great shallow reefs the better our trip will be.

Unfortunately I am also a cheapskate and don't want to pay for nonsense. We have our own snorkeling equipment so I don't have to use any tours unless it is away from the port or ship. So whats the best way about doing a snorkeling cruise that won't break the bank?

Here is what suites us best time and money wise. But Cozumel should be a port so I have read.

Thanks for the help.
Portland Oregon
767 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
The very first thing you should do is check out the Ports of Call information here on Cruise Critic. Here is the link to all of the Caribbean Ports:

If you want snorkeling information for any of the ports use the search function and it will bring up all the threads on on that specific topic in any given port.

Once you've chosen a cruise there is also a roll call section of cruise critic where you can get in touch with others on your cruise. Sometimes cruisers book snorkeling tours together that are less expensive.

That said; Cozumel is a good choice for snorkeling. One of our favorite things to do is spend the day at Chakanneb, a beautiful beach front park. There is a taxi fee to get there and back, and a small entrance fee, but you can spend the day getting in and out of the water as you wish. There are many tours available if you prefer snorkeling from a boat.

In Grand Cayman, if you walk to the right, as you're facing the beach from the water, about 2 blocks from the pier is a restuarant that rents lounge chairs by the hour or day, and has a stone stairway entrance into the water.

There is wonderful snorkeling in Belize, but all of it is by boat. I think all the ships have some version of a Shark/Ray alley boat trip that is, IMO, well worth the money.

Have a great time.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
~ Cheryl
4 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
The only port I see is from the link is Cozumel. I am mainly looking for ports that will allow beach access to shallow reefs on most of the ports. I am asking for ports you can access from Florida on a 3-4 day cruise with the best snorkeling. So i can pick the best cruise.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
190 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Best way to avoid the ship is usually just talk to a taxi driver just off the ship. They can drive you to a beach and arrange to pick you up in a couple hours. Done it many many times. Cozumel is great for diving. I can't say much for snorkeling. If I were looking for a short cruise out of florida I'd be looking for something that hit the USVI as much as possible. I think I'd avoid bermuda and the bahamas. However this is more based on what I've heard for diving, not snorkeling.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
216 days at sea and counting. 7 Days West Coast of Mexico on Carnival- 101 Days Circumnavigating the globe on the USS Universe Explorer- 7 Days Alaska on Galaxy- 7 Days East Caribbean on Carnival- 10 days Panama on Galaxy- 12 days Baltic on Century, 14 Days on Infinity Trans-Panama. 7 days X East Caribbean. 10 days NCL Jade Canary Islands. 20 days Oceania Marina Santiago to Tahiti. 7 Days NCL Dawn western Caribbean. 14 Days RC Jewel of the Seas.
1,521 Posts
Joined May 2012
Originally posted by mr2nr
I am asking for ports you can access from Florida on a 3-4 day cruise with the best snorkeling.
You really don't have many options if your starting point is 3-4 days from Florida. You've basically got Cozumel and the Bahamas. Cozumel has great snorkeling. My one experience in the Bahamas was not positive.

Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Upcoming: 10-night Mexican Riviera, Grand Princess, Jan. 12, 2018; 1-night Transatlantic to Barcelona, Crown Princess, April 3, 2018; 11-night Baltic cruise, Regal Princess, Aug. 9, 2018; 7-night Northern California Coast, Ruby Princess, Sept. 22, 2018

2000: Sovereign of the Seas, Bahamas * 2004: Carnival Pride, Mexican Riviera * 2007: Diamond Princess, Mexican Riviera * 2010: Carnival Paradise, Baja * 2012: Norwegian Jewel, Alaska; Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera * 2014: Celebrity Constellation, Cozumel and Key West; Carnival Valor, Eastern Caribbean; Golden Princess, San Diego and Ensenada, B2B * 2015: Norwegian Dawn, Western Caribbean; Crown Princess, Alaska; Grand Princess, California coast; Island Princess, Panama Canal * 2016: Crown Princess, Mexican Riviera; Regal Princess, Copenhagen to NY, TA. * 2017: Royal Princess, Caribbean; Emerald Princess, Vancouver to L.A.
SF Bay Area
1,470 Posts
Joined May 2007
Originally posted by mr2nr
The only port I see is from the link is Cozumel. I am mainly looking for ports that will allow beach access to shallow reefs on most of the ports. I am asking for ports you can access from Florida on a 3-4 day cruise with the best snorkeling. So i can pick the best cruise.
If you can take a 7-day cruise, be sure to visit Roatan, Honduras and snorkel near Bananarama Resort (Sorry I dont know the name of the beach)

Again, this is a 7-day cruise, but I've heard the snorkeling is good from Coki Beach in St. Thomas.

I've been to Cozumel twice and I have heard the snorkeling and diving is not very good from the beach. Much better while there to book a spot on a snorkeling boat.
Portland Oregon
767 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I'm sorry, when I used your links I only found ads for Royal Caribbean. I guess I didn't understand your question. Do you want us to pick a cruise for you, or are you looking at two different cruises and asking where the snorkeling is best? Do you have a list of ports on specific cruises that you want to know which are best for snorkeling from shore?

If you are interested in which RCI cruise would be best for you I'd suggest you post on that forum: If you are interested in which Carnival cruise, their forum is:

By posting on a forum specific to the cruise lines, your questions will reach the highest number of cruisers with experience with the ships and/or itineries which interest you.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
~ Cheryl
Denver, CO
82 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Hi Mr2nr!
I'm doing my first cruise this year also. Snorkeling in the Caribbean is a must for me, too. The itinerary I chose is the 7 night leaving out of Colon, Panama. It costs a bit more, because it's 7 nights, but one of the Ports is Bonnaire, the third best snorkeling spot in the world, according to a Diver magazine. The other ports include Curacao and Aruba, more top snorkeling locations. - just a thought!
Have fun!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
12-02-2012 Grandeur of the Seas
38 Posts
Joined Jul 2012

I absolutely adore snokeling and did a 5 day western cruise on Carnival last year and snorkeled off of Grand Cayman and Cozumel. It was so relaxing and beautiful. On Grand Cayman we just got a taxi ($4 each and went to 7 mile each and snokeled off the shore for hours). In Cozumel, I did a tour that took us out a ways to the reefs and snorkeled in about 50 feet of water. You could see clear to the bottom; it was simply amazing and worth every penny!( we saw tons of reefs, fish and a freakin huge barracuda).

I'm very excited to be taking another cruise in a couple months and am happy to say Grand Cayman is included
4,446 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
For 3 or 4 nights Cozumel will be the best there is available. Chankanaab is a national park and for a few $ cab and a park entrance fee you can snorkel as long as you have the time. Of course the dolphin, etc. is extra but I've been to Chankanaab several times and always just snorkeled, enjoyed the beautiful water and the beach. Just do a Google search for Chankanaab Park.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

X Elite

2013-2017, 271 nights at sea
and counting
Celebrity Constellation June & July 2017
DIY Turkey July 2017

Queen Mary 2 TA July 2017
RC Explorer Of The Seas April 2019 (23 nights)

"The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see." -G.K. Chesterton
Philadelphia area
600 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Welcome to CC, mr2nr!

I like you, do not like to spend money on rental. The cost of new snorkeling gear may be only 3 times as expensive, and so we tend to take snorkeling gear with us. Others have already posted a lot of information for you, but just two minor points:

(1) On some snorkeling boats the cost of rental is included in the boat excursion. Several times we’ve dragged our snorkeling gear with us from the US, but we could have just used their for free.

(2) Snorkeling gear takes up surprisingly a lot of luggage space. We figure maybe 4 to 6 L of space per person. Although our family of 5 typically travels for a week-long vacation just with our carry ons, we have a problem fitting the snorkeling gear into our carry ons as well. Checking a bag never used to be a problem, so I did not worry about stuffing the gear into a duffel bag whenever we went snorkeling, but now airline companies charge $20 to $30 per bag. That means that our savings by not renting might be partially eaten up by airline charges.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
New to cruising, but an experienced traveler
Mobile, AL
450 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
We snorkeled in Georgetown, Grand Cayman last winter. Just got off the tender turned right and walked a couple hundred yards to Eden Rock dive shop. You will see a blue sea wall and a big apple on the side of the building. Total price was $35 for equipment for two and a locker. If you have your own gear you can just rent a locker for $5. Not a bad deal for a great beach dive and the people are the friendliest I have met in the Caribbean.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Total days at sea = 4000+ including days at work

Mesquite, Tx, USA
12,331 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
Also look at the Ships that go out of Galveston, as most stay in the western.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end" U.K.LeGuin

First sailing, 1987, Admiral - Emerald Sea
7 Lines sailed