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MITSUGIRLYS FREEDOM OF THE SEAS REVIEW & PICTORIAL

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April 25: Barbados   8-7pm

 

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Off to breakfast we go and I was having my normal breakfast this time around. 

 

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This time we had a nice window seat and could watch the ship pulling in. 

 

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Now today we weren't in too big of a hurry. We were going diving today and we didn't have to be there until 11 or 12 noon. But, we did want to get there (at least I did) early enough to enjoy some beach time as well. So, that meant we were getting off shortly after docking. 😉

 

 

Now to back track a little. Since we always like to scuba dive in at least one port each cruise, I was struggling with actually where to pick. Kia and her daughter Michaela went diving, for the first time, on our last cruise together and they really enjoyed it and said that was a requirement this time around as well. Now, this time Kendra was going and if you think I get anxiety bad before and during diving, you should see her. She has a heck of a time getting used to the breathing with the regulator and freaks out. The last dive, she didn't even get to complete. (She ALWAYS uses some excuse...my mask is leaking, my fins don't fit right, the boat made me sick, blah blah blah). I get that anxiety too in the beginning...just not as bad as her and I know it's an excuse for her. HOWEVER, she actually said "We HAVE to go diving this time around so find us a good spot!" SAY WHAT?!? I couldn't believe she was requesting this. She said "as long as it's a shore dive". Well...I was the same way in the past, but we have done several boat dives now and I'm comfortable with it and it no longer worries me. I actually like it from the boat. 

 

Scouting around here on cc, ABQrobin (who has given me tons of advice in the past about diving) suggested a place in Barbados...Blue Water Sports. She has them booked for an upcoming cruise and I figured why not. I corresponded with them about the amount of divers we had, ages and so on. They had excellent communication back and forth and I have TONS of emails to prove it. 

 

We talked about transportation. We talked about how we wanted to stay at the beach before and after the dive and how long we were in port for. We talked about our group and experience and also about how the day would go, where we would dive, how long we would be out...and THAT IT WAS A BOAT DIVE. Oops...well, they assured me that it was a VERY short ride out to the site (not long enough to sit there and get sea sick which is one of Kendra's excuses) and assured me that it would be better getting dropped off there than having to swim that far. Kendra was just going to have to deal with it. They also assured me that they do the class and skills BEFORE going out on the boat and in a pool. Also great news. So we booked with them. We would be diving at several ship wrecks and I was excited. 

 

The cost of the dive was $99 per person for discover scuba and the dive shop was supposed to be around 10 minutes away from the port. It sounded good to us!

 

So, off the ship we went...and of course "X" was in port with us...and like always, they arrived before us. That meant they had the "prime parking spot" and we were FAAAAARRRRR AWAY! Geesh, like REALLY REALLY FAR! It was quite some walk to even get to the port! I was about to be worn out before we ever made it to dive and I wasn't liking that. 

 

Once we arrived to the port and out the door we didn't find anyone waiting for us nor did we actually know where to go. There always seems to be a lot of confusion at that port with taxi's and if you go inside or outside the port. Since we had been to a port (Antigua) that let the vendors on the dock, we really wasn't sure.  

 

We ended up being put in a taxi inside the port and we were off. I asked the driver about the price and he ignored me. I wasn't getting a good feeling about that. After he dropped the other families off, I ask again. He still didn't answer. I finally had to say "Hey Mister!" He finally answered and I was told it was going to be $7.50/pp for the ride there. Kendra came in a taxi shortly after us. 

 

When he had asked me where we were going I had told him (several times) "We are diving with Barbados Blue Watersports  that is located right by the Hilton." He kept questioning it for some reason and asking if I was sure that was it. I asked if there was a dive place there by the Hilton and he said "yes". So...that's it then. The attitude and the tone of his voice just kinda struck a nerve with me as being rude. This has happened to us in the past as well with drivers in Barbados.  

 

Now we were told it was 10 minutes away. It was around 20 minutes (with dropping off everyone in the taxi in one other location, which probably only added 1 minute total). When we arrived, he immediately jumped out, left the drivers door open and bus running, didn't open our door, and went inside. Um...ok. So we managed to get out and went up to the dive shop and he was coming out the door and said "Are you sure you have reservations here?". I said, "If you brought us to Barbados Blue Watersports by the Hilton, then yes we do". He insisted on seeing them, which I thought was really weird. I walked past him and into the dive shop and talked to the people inside and presented my paperwork with our payments. They told him we belonged there. I thought it was really strange that he was doing all of this in the manor in which he was doing it along with his tone of voice. He gave off the vibe that he didn't believe us. I don't know...maybe it's just the way they act there or something. It just didn't make me feel comfortable.  

 

But we had made it! 

 

 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, tcmagnum said:

Love your review!!

I'm like you, I love snorkeling...

Have you made it to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific?

Harder to get to, but amazing snorkeling...

 

 

Thanks so much. 

 

I haven't heard of Cook Islands. What port would that be?

 

34 minutes ago, Luke gs Daddy said:

Where did you go to school? Nurse correct? 

My wife just graduated from Capital with her Masters In Nursing.

 

As always, awesome review!

 

I went to Columbus State for my Associates and Ohio University for my Bachelors. 

 

Thanks for the comment and glad you are enjoying the review. 

 

26 minutes ago, CAC104 said:

I am so happy to find this review.  I have been in withdrawal with not reading your posts for a while.  I am so sorry to read about all of the sad news and feel so badly for Billie.  He has gone through so much sadness for such a short period of time.  Congratulations to you on reaching your Graduation! 

 

 

Haha. Yea, I don't get on SM anymore. It was just consuming too much of my time. I only post now when I have some cruise pictures or something important I guess. I can't remember, did you see my Christmas cruise review?

 

Thanks for the congrats! Much appreciated! 🙂

 

13 minutes ago, Russ Lomas said:

That is the exact area we snorkeled when we did Cosol's tour (twice).  We saw neat stuff, but nowhere near the amount of amazing stuff that you took photos of.  We did not have too long there on the Cosol stop, so maybe you had more time to search or maybe my eyes are not as good as your eyes.  Like I said, I will have to dive there next time.

 

Yea, if you get a chance, definitely check it out again. It's just an amazing place and has been the same both times we have went there. I would love to dive there! I just gotta make it back again. hehe

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After checking in, we were told to "go hang out at the tables outside the dive shop". But, we were extremely early so...I had already said we wanted to hang out at the beach. I told them that's where we would be going and no one else was even there yet. I mean why sit around on a picnic beach waiting for awhile when we could be sitting on the beach. They said ok and we went right outside the gate and found a spot in the shade. 

 

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Kendra arrived shortly after that and then came Kia fashionably late. 😉   Maybe her and Kendra were separated at birth somehow. I'm beginning to wonder since this happened the last time we dove together. LOL (I still love you Kia 😉 )

 

 

Now remember Kendra had one extra person with her...Shawna. She wanted to see if she could dive too and if not, she would just stay on the beach with Billy and Kam. They first said yes, then changed it to no. Then maybe. Then "we have too many kids". They were so confused. They said there couldn't be more than 4 people in a group (there were 2 other people diving that day in addition to our huge group). Then they said no more than one child per group. Then said it didn't matter because Shawna was 13 years old and the one child per group only applied to anyone under 12 years old. 

 

Then they tried to figure out how to split everyone up. They said there were 3 instructors. Ok, well obviously the "split" is easy enough. Me, the hubby and Sakari (one child under 12) would be with one instructor. Kendra, Shawna and Brayden (one child under 12) would be with another. Kia and Michaela (who is also 13) and the other 2 people with the other instructor. Easy-peasy right? Or at least you would think so. I mean it made sense to me but they would get confused and say "wait, we can't do that because there's 2 children in this group (Kendras) so we need to put one child with another group". Um, ok, you just said it was fine because one is 13. ......... "Oh, ok then, it's fine". Then confusion would set in again and they'd bring it up. They talked about moving one kid from Kendra's group to either our group or Kia's. Wow, now does that make sense? No matter what, you are going to have more than 2 kids in one group. Ugh, this confusion lasted for a little bit before they finally all caught on. Whew!

 

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We were then fitted for our equipment and told we were heading over to the Hilton. The Hilton is a bit of a walk. It's down and across the street and up a hill. Then threw the building, up the steps, down to the other pool and around. Whew. 

 

 

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They started putting our equipment together and those of us who "thought" we could do it could help as well. Kendra and I tackled one of them while they started on the others. 

 

 

 

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We hit the water, put our equipment on and the "class" instruction started. Now this instructor that was going over everything with us was...simply put...amazing! She said things in a way that everyone understood (even though we already knew what she was saying because we have done it before) but she presented it in a way that gave examples, in simple terms, of why this did that or how this happens, with examples that we could relate to. Wow, I really liked her! The other instructor kinda stayed there and didn't talk much but was there to help us out and with our skills for check off. 

 

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Our skills check off began and one by one we removed our regulator and put it back in. We cleared our mask. We threw our regulator over our shoulders and retrieved it....and so on. Then came....REMOVING THE MASK??? Yikes. People panicked. We weren't prepared for this. Everyone said "we've never had to do this before". She said, "it's better safe than sorry and at least you'll know the skill". People were freaking. Honestly, all I could think about is my eyelashes that I have managed not to get a single drop of water on them since the beginning of vacation and now I'm about to drown them. LOL  Kendra freaked out of course and the issues started with her thereafter. 

 

Ok, I was bound and determined to do this. When it was my turn, I did it, but my mask was never the same again no matter how many times I cleared it. Eventually I would have to come to the surface and correct it to feel comfortable. All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't done in saltwater! There was one other lady that absolutely refused. No way was she doing it and she said she would no longer be diving with them that day if she had to do that. Kendra was still struggling and ended up getting one on one attention for quite some time. 

 

Some time during the check off skills another instructor came along and entered the pool. She immediately started barking orders, had an attitude and was just rude with her demeanor. She gave off that "I know it all and do no wrong" type of attitude. The only way to describe it is...you know how you have teachers in school for young children and you can tell those that are good at their jobs and really care about the kids and are patient versus those that are just there for a paycheck and could care less? Yea, it's that kinda difference. 

 

Once we completed check off's we were to grab our things and head back to the dive shop where they would meet us once everyone was completed. We were one of the first to leave. 

 

 

 

 

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Moment of truth...we were about to get on the boat and head out.

 

Then off we went (about 5 minutes from shore just like they said). 

 

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Kendra was looking worried. 

 

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Me, I was excited and not very nervous at all this time. I was excited about doing a boat dive as well and pumped up Sakari about going off the boat to keep her from being scared like she was last time we dove from a boat. You could tell by the look on her face, she wasn't too sure. 

 

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Now I was equipped with a camera and so was Kendra. We were told we would all be in the same area, but not together. So, we would be apart enough that we wouldn't be together and would cross paths here and there. I made sure to put her camera on the water setting prior to handing it to her. 

 

We put our equipment on and it was time to dive. Now I'm normally super nervous in the beginning and until I get going or I have something interesting to look at in the water, my mind gets the best of me. However, our last dive I was super comfortable and didn't get nervous at all. I was hoping for the same thing this time around.

 

Here's a short video of us jumping in. I have to say going off backwards is funner!

 

 

 

 

 

Sakari hesitated but did it and was fine. 

 

We were told to swim toward the line and ease our way down then wait at the bottom. No problems there.

 

Here's some of Kendra's pictures.  

 

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Shawna was karate chopping her way down obviously

 

 

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Brayden was feeling comfortable. 

 

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Then off they went. 

 

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But first a selfie...obviously Kendra wasn't having any issues this time around and no excuses. Good for her. Maybe this will be a good dive for her. I was worried. 

 

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I will start with Kendra's dive first since we really didn't even see them after the initial start of the dive. 

 

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They immediately see a Scorpion Fish. They are a very venomous fish and they look just like a rock. They are sometimes hard to spot and you definitely don't want to step on one. (I don't know the difference between the Scorpion Fish and the Stone Fish...they both look the same to me and both pretty deadly, but they said these were Scorpion fishes). 

 

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Ok, Kendra was off to a good start...then all of a sudden....

 

 

 

BLUE, BLUR, BLUE, BLUR...what the heck just happened? Her pictures are crap from here on out. I don't know if she hit a button and switched them or what. Ugh

 

Trumpet fish

 

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Puffer

 

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Now mind you...I had no idea what they had seen on their dive trip until after we got back to the boat and we compared notes. I have to say that they had a MUCH BETTER dive experience than we did and seen more than we did and I'm totally jealous!!!!!

 

They managed to see a HUGE porcupine puffer and followed it for awhile and she got pretty darn close to it. 

 

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She also seen a flying gurnard...or something similar to it. 

 

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She also must have passed Kia and Michaels group at some point because she managed to get a picture of them. 

 

 

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On 5/5/2019 at 7:50 PM, mitsugirly said:

Star Lounge

 

I honestly do not remember this place or taking the picture. But when I looked it up, I assume that's what it was.

 

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Hi Mitsugirly!

 

This is so cool.  After reading some of your reviews over the last few years I saw this one and realized we just sailed together on this cruise.  LOL!   I probably saw you out and about and didn't even realize it.  🙂

 

I just wanted to let you know that, no, this is not the Star Lounge.  I am stumped though.  I have NO clue what it is so big help that I am.

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On ‎5‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 9:33 AM, mitsugirly said:

On our way back to the ship.

 

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We could see her off in the distance.

 

 

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I always laugh when I see fast food at places in the Caribbean...I don't know why.

 

 

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We made it back around so it was definitely a short ride since we were packing up to leave the beach AT 3pm, which means we left after that time.   It now gives me an idea of how close that string of beaches is and next time I might just hit up Jolly Beach. 

 

We had a lovely day of seeing several different beaches and some of Antigua along the way. It would definitely be a place I'd like to head back to but next time, I think I will just pick a beach and stay there. All this running around beach hoping is nice to see the various beaches and sites, but you just don't feel like you've got your "fair share" of being at a beach. This place is definitely a place I need to come and STAY on the island to explore those 365 beaches. LOL

 

I would recommend Lawrence of Antigua tours. For $50 taking you all over the island...well you can't beat that. Mr NotLawrence was nice (despite the misunderstanding at the beginning about "staying 10 minutes"). He provided drinks during our rides and let us stay where we wanted for the amount of time we wanted with no issues. Lawrence himself was nice, although we didn't get to talk much at the beach because we were on limited time there and wanted to experience the place. I'm not sure if he had a group of his own. I do believe that I saw 2 Lawrence of Antigua buses in the parking lot because I remember walking out and was like...wait, which is ours?

 

I don't know how much a taxi to the furthest area (Long Bay Beach) is, but if you have a large group, need a van, and wanted to go that far, it might even be worth it to just hire Lawrence to get you all there together (like a private tour) even if you was to stay there all day. But anyhow...very nice company.

We took a taxi to Jolly Beach this past Feb. cost was $6.00pp each way. Nice beach & wasn't crowded.

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Then she joked about seeing some turtles...and said "yep, we seen them". I thought she was joking. SHE WAS NOT!!! UGH! We didn't see ANY turtles and that was what I was hoping to see!!!

 

 

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She also managed to see a stingray but most of it was buried in the sand and when I did her pictures, I couldn't hardly tell it was even there. 

 

 

AND THEN THIS!!! OH MY GOSH I'M SO MAD!!!

 

She got to see a lot of Garden Eels!!!! UGH! I didn't see anything like that. She was describing how they were all sticking up and when you got close they'd duck under the sand. I love these things (and we had one in our tank for awhile and it was so interesting to watch). I specifically went diving at West Bay in Roatan just to see the garden of eels but the weather was too bad to dive there that time and we went to another side of the island. So, I have yet to see them!

 

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Then the hubby would tell me..."we seen them!" Um what???? He said they were there and he had seen them...but yet no one told me about it???? UGH! He said I was back taking pictures and he had no idea I hadn't seen them. 

 

 

Trunk fish

 

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So, that was the extent of Kendra's photo's and I'm honestly not sure she's my daughter at this point. Or, she did not inherit my love for photography. 

 

 

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Ok, onto my beautiful pictures. 😉

 

Down the ropes we go to the bottom of the ocean floor. 

 

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I do have to mention that our awesome instructor also told us of another way to clear our ears that no one has ever mentioned before and IT WORKS FOR SAKARI!! We know the pinching of the nose, tilting the head, swallowing but she mentioned to swallow WITH your tongue at the roof of your mouth while holding your nose and IT WORKS FOR SAKARI! She struggles off and on with clearing her ears and goes up and down over and over until she can clear them and sometimes they don't clear and she'll have to stay in about 12-15' of water and that's it. Well, this time it worked. She had learned something new and it even works out of water for her...which had never happened before. 

 

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Off we went with our newly learned way to clear ears. 

 

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Now I want to mention, we had the awesome instructor we liked. I think her name was Keira? Maybe Kia will remember. I know it was a K name. Kia had the mean girl, Ashley. Then Kendra's group had a guy. 

 

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Are you all noticing a pattern here...and I'm talking about the pictures themselves. 

 

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BLUE!! ALL BLUE!! WHAT THE HECK??? Somehow I also managed to get my settings on blue. UGH  It's a bad day. 

 

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We had already made it down past 20' at this point and I was feeling good about the dive. No anxiety, no panic, no nuttin!

 

 

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I absolutely love these fish! They are so unique. 

 

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Posted (edited)

☺️  I am watching!

 

BTW - backroll is way easier and more fun than giant stride.  

 

Edited by ABQrobin

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27 minutes ago, Tiggerontheseas said:

I just wanted to let you know that, no, this is not the Star Lounge.  I am stumped though.  I have NO clue what it is so big help that I am.

 

Looks like it might be the sitting area in the back of Sorento's, or maybe the back of the Promenade Café???  I need another cruise on Freedom to be sure (in 6 days!).

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Then something caught my eye...slithering on the ocean floor...woo hoo. I scored an eel

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Now just to let you know...there's 2 videos above and they were at different times. That's why they looked that way.

 

 

 

 

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And this is the point that I discovered it was on the wrong setting!

 

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Now I do want to mention...when we first started, I was having some buoyancy issues.  I kept sinking to the ocean floor. With each dive company, they have different rules. No one is ever consistent. Some say "DO NOT TOUCH your bcd and we will control it". Others will tell you "It's all on you and you control it". Well, this was one of those companies that said no-no! I kept having to push myself off the floor and tried controlling it with my breathing but it was just too much. I flagged her down and told her what was going on. She adjusted it and we were off again.

 

It wasn't much longer that I was going too high and she adjusted it again. Then too low. Well, I finally gave up and waited until she wasn't looking and did it myself. I understand why some don't trust "new divers" on a discover dive to do it themselves, but it's not the first nor last time we have dove and I knew how to do it. I'm not going to shoot myself up out of the water and get decompression sickness. Little by little I balanced myself and didn't have another problem the rest of the dive.

 

Trumpet fish...doo da loo doo

 

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Now notice my pictures went from green-blue to a blue tint? I have no idea what was going on at this point and my apologies because my pictures sucked this time. I'm so disappointed in them.

 

 

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Ok Robin.... HERE YA GO....GET A LOAD OF THESE!!!!

 

Did someone say is Spring blooming season? hehe

 

 

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Wow, at this point we were down to a little over 30' and I was still feeling confident and good about this dive. No worries at all, controlling my breathing, aware of my surroundings and not scared at all. I'm definitely improving! I have always said I'm most comfortable around 25' but this time at 30' I felt like going just a little deeper would not be bad.

 

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Off in the distance, I saw Kia and Michaela with their group. 

 

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Sakari was not having any issues at all and so far no stings from anything. LOL

 

 

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The ships were pretty amazing to see and not at all what I had pictured for this dive. I think of Barbados and I think of sandy bottom, not much coral but I was pleasantly surprised at the things we saw. Plenty of coral and plenty of fish.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, mitsugirly said:

 

 

 

Glad you are enjoying the review. Thanks for such kind words. It means a lot to me. 

 

When you say that your family hasn't "made it as far down as I go" meaning in the Caribbean?

 

 

 

I meant that when I snorkel, I am really only able to dip below the water. You seem to go deep down and get up close. Do you hold your breath? I know Sakari can hold her breath forever. Just amazes me. I love snorkeling but I get very anxious at first. I despise the salt water in my tube. Once I calm down and enjoy myself... tour is over.

Edited by TheGirlNextDoor

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Posted (edited)

Woo Hoo!  Orange Cup Coral bouquet!  Or are those star coral?  Not sure.  Nice job!

Aren't they gorgeous?

 

ha... luckily my coral ID book is sitting on bookcase next to me.  They are Orange Cup Coral.  Woot!

Edited by ABQrobin

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Ok, so remember those garden eels that Kendra's group seen and I was so mad that we didn't only for my hubby to tell me him and Sakari saw them?

 

Well, here they were staring at them all over the place:

 

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Now I'm going to zoom in to show you...

 

(Sorry for the terrible picture but see all the little black things sticking up?)

 

 

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The next picture I have is one that made no sense to me until now. I saw Sakari and daddy pointing at something and I snapped a picture of....no idea what. Then I saw Sakari move her fins. (Now I have attempted to lighten these pics to be able to see better...but I suck and really don't know how to make them look good).  Look directly below my name stamp..

 

 

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Here's a zoomed in picture of the above picture and lightened a lot to be able to see them...

 

 

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I guess they were just everywhere....truly a garden of eels, hence their name garden eels. The hubby said they were super long (and shows me about 18" on his hands) and he thought it was seaweed. Then the closer they got the shorter they got. He thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. LOL Then they would disappear or barely be sticking up. He definitely knew something was up. Of course, Sakari knew right away because we had one of these in our aquarium but she couldn't communicate this to him under water.

 

 

Here's our "Ellie"

 

 

 

 

 

I'm still very disappointed that I didn't really get to see this with my own eyes instead of my camera. I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open for shrinking seaweed next time.

 

 

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Ok moving on. I'm over it (not really, but we'll pretend).

 

Now I will admit that I was dealing with something else during this eel event. My watch was not looking like itself! Hmmm, my watch states it's rated for 100 meters and we were only down 40' at this point. I have been down around this far before and never an issue. I have had this exact same watch since 2010 and have done dives and snorkels multiple times per year with no issues. My 2010 watch finally broke (the strap only) a few cruises ago and I went out and bought the same exact watch (which is the watch in question here). I have dove with it before as well. But this time...it would not make it out alive.

 

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The other weird thing I noticed was my camera looked weird. The color of the pictures showing up on the screen had a rose color to it. I tried changing settings and no matter what, it was this weird color. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I had no idea what was happening. Then my watch looked that color as well. Am I ready to pass out or something? What's going on? I felt perfectly fine. 

 

I continued on and hoped for the best.

 

 

I spotted a sea cucumber.

 

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Trunk fish

 

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P4252058%20copy-L.jpg

 

 

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I think my camera having a funny color to it was throwing me off and my close up pictures really sucked today as well.

 

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Our instructor made a fist and put it in her hand. I knew what that meant...stone fish (only she would later say it was a scorpion fish).

 

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RING RING....It's for you,...

 

 

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