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SCUBA Excursions- Ships or Your Own ?


airbusdrvr

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I've dove GC and Coz several times while on the western caribbean cruise and almost booked my own dive last March while on Mariner of the Seas, but I always chicken out. The reason is a fear that something will cause a delay and I will miss the ship. But I'm also tired of the cattle car dives that are offered by the cruise ship. And all divers are treated as beginner divers which I understand but I'm ready for something more.

 

I just booked the western caribbean cruise on Legend of the Seas that goes to GC,Cozumel,Belize and Costa Maya. Has anyone booked your own dive at any of these places and if so with whom? I'm pretty sure I'm going to book my own in Coz since the ship doesn't leave until 10pm

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I just booked the western caribbean cruise on Legend of the Seas that goes to GC,Cozumel,Belize and Costa Maya. Has anyone booked your own dive at any of these places and if so with whom? I'm pretty sure I'm going to book my own in Coz since the ship doesn't leave until 10pm
We always use Scuba with Alison in Cozumel - she's a terrific DM, and great fun as well. She's also very accomadating to cruisers timeframes.

 

In Grand Cayman we normally take the bus up to Dive Tech and do shore diving. The people in the shop are terrific, and the diving there is pretty good - never crowded. The one Dive Op we booked a boat dive with was just so-so - although everyone raves about them - maybe we hit them on a bad day ....

 

Belize we have used Seasport Belize when going independent. Due to time contraints, we've booked the cruise excursion other times and they used Hugh Parkey - also a great op.

 

In Costa Maya we used Dreamtime a few years back and it was just okay. Since then they've gotten some cruise ship contracts and I hear they are running a much better Op.

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You have several choices in Grand Cayman. For a boat dive I recommend http://www.neptunesdivers.com Casey has a flexible departure schedule to accommodate cruise divers. The better of the easy shore dives is at http://www.divetech.com at their turtle farm site, which is probably in better condition that the shore dive site at Eden Rock. However, Eden Rock easiest shore dive site to get to since you can easily walk there from the tender dock in Georgetown. There are 2 dive shops near by, http://edenrockdive.com/ and http://abanksdivers.com.ky/ Also in Georgetown, a little farther away from the tender dock is http://sunsethouse.com/ which has an on-site dive shop and a decent shore dive.

 

In Cozumel I would definitely go with one of the small boat operators. My personal favorite is http://www.bluextseadiving.com and if Christi has no spaces available, she recommends her friend http://www.scubawithalison.com . I've also heard good things about http://www.scubatony.com If you have 4 or more divers in your group, absolutely do a private charter. You'll be able to set the schedule and pick the dive sites. You don't need to worry that you'll miss the ship in Cozumel. Mosts 2 tank trips are done by 1:00 pm, and that includes the 1 1/2 hour surface interval at one of the beach clubs.

 

I can't offer any personal advice for Belize or Costa Maya, but I hope the GCM and CZM info is helpful.

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Last Dec we dove with Aqua Safari. The shop and dock is right there on the main street near the cruise port. For a special treat, and if you have enough time, sign up ahead of time for Sherl Shea's Introduction to Fish Watching class. Its more fun diving when you know what you're looking at -- and what to look for! Check them out at http://www.aquasafari.com/:)

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This past March I cruised the Mariner of the Seas. When diving Coz I met a fellow cruiser that had his DM certification. I noticed he buddyed up with one of the guys working on the dive boat and they went their own way and did not stay with the group. I assume they went on a more advanced dive than the rest of us.

 

Is it common practice on cattle car cruise ship dives if you are a DM or DI you may get to buddy dive with one of the crew away from the group ?

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Is it common practice on cattle car cruise ship dives if you are a DM or DI you may get to buddy dive with one of the crew away from the group ?

No, I can't think that what you describe would be a common practice on the ship's dive excursion. Generally, everyone is lead (herded) by the DM on the dive.

 

My experience on Cozumel has only been with small boat dive operators where the groups are usually 6 or less and everyone stays together in a fairly loose group. Divers got to stay down as long as they wanted, air and NDL time permitting, and everyone had their own dive computer. Personally, I can't see how anyone dives without one.

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For Cozumel, we used the cruise's diveop one time (off of RCL) - it was terrible. There were so many people squeezed on to the boat. We take our own equipment - and people had problems with the rental equip. Since then, we've dove w/ Scuba w/ Alison and Eagle Ray Divers - I recommend both.

 

For Belize, on Princess, we have used the cruises's diveop (Hugh Parkey) - we didn't have any problems. Technically, I don't know how you could do your own excursion - its too tight for time. We were the first ones off the boat (on to the dive boats) and we were always the last people to return to the ship too.

 

for Cayman - we've only dove once (the other times have been canceled for various reasons). We used the cruise's diveop Red Sail. We had a decent time with them. We are going to look around for a separate diveop just to experiment. Actually, on our Dec cruise on RCL, I don't even see a scuba excursion offered (just snuba and snorkel).

 

We didn't attempt to dive at Costa Maya - just snorkeled nearby.

 

I think in general - if you have the time - find a reputable diveop and go with them (as opposed to the cruise ship op). They are usually cheaper - and you have fewer people on the boat - you get to take your time and stay down below a lot longer (for me anyway - I can last forever on a tank)

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My DD will be my new dive buddy on our cruise next spring:) she will finish her Jr. O/W this week-end. I hope to have my DM certification before we cruise on Legend of the Seas next April. My DD will turn 13y/o while on the cruise so she will still be limited to 60' depth. Has anyone been on a dive boat with a Jr. o/w diver yet ? If so did they dive with the regular group or separately with parent and DM ?

 

RCCL shows 12y/o as the minimum age for scuba excursions on the website so obviously they have made provisions for Jr. o/w divers.

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We had the same problem in Aruba... Do Princess and HAL grab all of the best tour operators leaving the left overs for RCL?

A lot of it has to do with a divers experience level and expectations. If you are a more advanced diver that prefers to do your own dive, then you will probably be greatly disappointed with the follow the leader, limited bottom time dives usually conducted on the ship's excursions. Plus they often use larger boats to accommodate larger number of less experienced divers. I don't mind diving with a group that has one or two newbies in it, but not a whole group of them.

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A lot of it has to do with a divers experience level and expectations. ...

In this case it was simply poor operation on the part of Red Sail Sports. Had two small groups on the boat. Not over crowded, but the DM was not too hot to say the least.

He swam off more than once leaving the group. Fortunatly most of us were advanced divers, so we just followed the dive plan. Their operation on the Big Island doesn't get good reviews either.

They did limit both dives to 50 min. even though both were shallow. The girls came up with almost 2000psi.

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Hi Kathy,

How have you been doing? We will see Alison next week. She is going to take a day off from her vacation to take me and my wife out. I will get to see her again in early Nov. On that trip, I have two of my relatives doing a resort course with her after we get done with our first tank.

 

(Remember NO COOKIES) :)

Dave

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I always use Dive with Martin in Cozumel. You can tell him what you want to see & that is where he will take you. However, this has been on land based vacations.

I would only book dive trips or any boat adventures through the cruise ship since you are on your own. When in Cancun several years ago, the boat we were on broke down. They had to send someone out to get us. If I had been on a ship then, we would have never made it back in time.

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This past March I cruised the Mariner of the Seas. When diving Coz I met a fellow cruiser that had his DM certification. I noticed he buddyed up with one of the guys working on the dive boat and they went their own way and did not stay with the group. I assume they went on a more advanced dive than the rest of us.

 

Is it common practice on cattle car cruise ship dives if you are a DM or DI you may get to buddy dive with one of the crew away from the group ?

 

DM's are a dime a dozen and local DM's and shops are not impressed by a DM or Instructor card for that matter. These people have literally thousands of dives under thier belts and they see self proclaimed "advanced" divers all the time who cannot even maintain proper buoayncy control. Don't expect any special privledges or treatment just because you hold a DM card. Did you think maybe that guy arranged for a private DM so he could do something outside of the cookie cutter dive offered? That would certainly be an option.

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DM's are a dime a dozen and local DM's and shops are not impressed by a DM or Instructor card for that matter. These people have literally thousands of dives under thier belts and they see self proclaimed "advanced" divers all the time who cannot even maintain proper buoayncy control. Don't expect any special privledges or treatment just because you hold a DM card. Did you think maybe that guy arranged for a private DM so he could do something outside of the cookie cutter dive offered? That would certainly be an option.

 

Thats absurd. Local DMs and operators in general respect the level of competency achieved by anyone who receives DM or Instructor certifications. Dime a dozen? Hardly, for the most part the divers who come off cruise ships are novice and have far fewer than 100 dives logged. That's like a doctor saying interns or residents are a dime a dozen. That simply is not correct.

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Self proclaimed "advanced diver" and actually having a DM certification are totally different. I don't know where you live damselfish, but where I live DM's are not a "dime a dozen". Since IslandJim lives in Cozumel they must not be a dime a dozen there either .

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Hi Kathy,

How have you been doing? We will see Alison next week. She is going to take a day off from her vacation to take me and my wife out. I will get to see her again in early Nov. On that trip, I have two of my relatives doing a resort course with her after we get done with our first tank.

 

(Remember NO COOKIES) :)

Dave

Hey Dave!!! Hope you see this when you return .... You're a lucky dog!! We won't see her till our December cruise!! Alison is the best!! I think she was taking time off then as well, but changed her schedule to take us out .... any suggestions to take the place of the cookies????:D
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airbusdrvr,

 

We were on the Miracle last week. Same itinerary you mentioned. We did shore dives on Grand Cayman and Cozumel, took a shiptrip snorkeling Belize, and snorkeled out front in the town at the Costa Maya stop.

 

GCM, shore dive at Sunset House, nice easy dive, the taxi dropped us at their dive shop, we could have done 2 dives, but opted for their pool instead. Cost $13. for a tank and weights. $8. a tank. We have done shore diving at DiveTech several times, at least once on a cruise--nice spot to see Tarpon, just go to the left. Similar price up there. It is/was next to the Turtle Farm, but that may have been reconfigured by the last hurricane and construction of a new resort. Not sure, as we didn't go up there this trip.

 

Cozumel, we tried a new shop to us, Blue Angel--did a shore dive out front of their shop next to a hotel they work with. Lots of juvenile fish on rubble in 25 ft, we saw 3 eels, 1 a Snake Eel out hunting. I saw an octopus in a hole. Nice dive for critters, but noooo soft corals as they were scoured clean by hurricane. Both of these dives were in sight of the cruise ship.

 

Belize, I had thought that we would use Seasports Belize, but they were almost as high as the shiptrip. So, we went snorkeling to Caye Caulker and Shark/Ray Alley. Lots of Southern Stingrays and a couple of Nurse Sharks in 4 ft of water. Different than Stingray City in that only the guides touch'em mostly. Once a guide has a ray in hand, the guests can touch, pet, etc. Somebody feeds'em, but not the guests. For $79. not too bad, considering pickup/dropoff at the ship and free rum punch on the way back. The boat was a 65 ft catamaran with about a 20 ft beam--30some folks onboard and it seemed empty, at least until we got into the water.

 

Costa Maya, we thought we would go diving, didn't make it though. The diveop I contacted Blue Ocean Safaris, was well south of where the taxi dropped us in Mahajual, a $3.each taxi ride from the pier. So, rather than get another taxi, we went to a restaurant on the beach, Cat's Meow. Nice place, a beer, 2 cokes and chips and salsa were $5., we snorkeled in front, not too bad, saw some Palometta, several Royal Grammas occupied a large old Conch shell, very nice, a lady there found some juvenile Conch. The Turtle Grass looked healthy, saw some Grunts and Sergeant Majors, the usual--though not thick, are there.

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Thanks for the info , we will most likely do a ship dive excursion in Belize and most likely dive with blueseadivers in Cozumel on Bruce's recommendation. Still checking on GC.

 

How is the diving in Costa Maya ? Haven't seen very many dive comments on this place.

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DM's are a dime a dozen and local DM's and shops are not impressed by a DM or Instructor card for that matter. These people have literally thousands of dives under thier belts and they see self proclaimed "advanced" divers all the time who cannot even maintain proper buoayncy control. Don't expect any special privledges or treatment just because you hold a DM card. Did you think maybe that guy arranged for a private DM so he could do something outside of the cookie cutter dive offered? That would certainly be an option.

 

Darn,

If I had known Dive Masters and Instructors were a "Dime a Dozen" I sure would not have spent all that time and money getting the additional training!!! Thanks for setting me straight.Next Sunday I think I will let all the Open Water divers that have been wanting to dive the Mount Carmel Church Cemetery (of Deliverance Fame) in Lake Jocassee,SC go ahead and give it a try.The water temp is up to 58 degrees and the water level of the lake is down so the Graveyard is only a 135 foot dive--just a little over the "rec' limit so I am sure these inexperienced divers will do just fine!!! I will let all of you know how many of them make it back to the boat without serious injury!! Then I won't be a DM anymore and can just follow the crowd!!!!!

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Airbus...You'll enjoy Majahual....right now it has the feel more like Cozumel in the 70's & early 80's. Still unspoiled. When there in Feb. there had been some weather, so it wasn't as clear, but vis was still good...just not up to what Cozumel usually is. Some current and lots of small fish and the coral has been unaffected by the hurricanes. If you haven't seen our Homepage, I have some video from there, Belize & Cozumel. First time using the video, but I'm learning:D Depending on computer speed, they will take 30 sec - a minute to load. Have a great trip!

 

Mike

 

www.homepage.mac.com/csealove/

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