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Belize diving dilemma


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OK, I could use some diving advice. My wife and I will be on a cruise where Belize City is a port. My two diving options are to go through the boat with Hugh Parkley or plan a diving trip through Sea Sports Belize.

Option 1)Through Sea Sport Belize, it is cheaper by about 35 dollars a diver so 70 for the two of us. We will have a smaller boat (1 to 8 divers) and we will be diving the Belize reef.

Option 2) Through Hugh Parkley, it is 70 dollars more then option 1. We will most likely be on a cattle boat with from what I have read about 25 divers. On top of that, according to some posts, this dive op runs the dive by first diver to run out of air, everyone comes up leaving lots of unused air. The positive to this dive operation is that they take you to the Turneffe Atoll.

So, is it worth more money, much less bottom time, and a packed boat to go to the Turneffe Atoll? I am leaning towards going with the smaller operation, but I wasn't sure if the Atolls are a thing that cannot be missed versus going to the Reef.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!


"When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself"

G Thorogood

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short answer, no. IMHO go with Sea Sports Belize. I don't have personal experience diving there on which to base this opinion, it is just that I don't care for cattle boat diving, long boat rides, or spending $70 more to dive.

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i agree with brucejr, i think for $70. it would be worth it not to be on a cattle boat. we are going back in nov. and i am planning to dive with sea sports. We went in Feb. but were weatherd out.


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We will be doing the ships dive op (I quess that's Hugh Parkeys). We are really looking forward to diving the Turneffe Atoll. We can dive shallow reefs another time. I wish we had more time to see inland Belize but we are going all that way to dive the famous barrier reef so we won't mind the boat ride out to the atoll. I don't want to take a chance on a private dive op being that the weather can change so quickly- we want to relax during our dive and not have to worry about getting back to the ship on our own since we have never been there before. If we get a chance to dive Belize again, then I would try a private dive op. icon_smile.gif Jane


Explorer 10/10/2004 Here we go again


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I would go with the ship. If I'm not mistaken Sea Sports is almost the same price as the ships tour. ($109.00) Plus you have to tender in and walk to the dive shop. (as you know getting off the ship at a tender port can be a slow process) Belize is a funny port....the ships anchor about 5 miles off shore and they use fast speed boats to shuttle you in. I found the ships dive operators were great! They pickup at the ship...10 drivers per fast boat. Great bottom time. Stop at a sandbar between dives for a drink and fruit and then after the second dive to another island for lunch. Then they drop you off back on the ship. Total time from about 7:30am to 2pm.

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I have been diving on both the inshore reefs as well as Turneffe. Without a doubt GO TO TURNEFFE. The barrier reef is overfished by the locals outside of the few areas that are marine sanctuaries. I would consider the diving average for the caribbean. Parts of Turneffe approach world class. The live aboards in Belize spend their entire itineraries on Turneffe and Lighthouse atolls. I don't believe they even do a checkout dive on the local barrier reef.

Given that. There is no reason Sea Sports cannot take you out to Turneffe also. Get together a group from your ship and approach them about going out there instead of local.

We are doing just that in January. Hugh Parkey's is not the op for Celebrity. I have been trading emails with them about accomidating us to Turneffe that day instead of the ships op(most likely Sea Sports). If we fail I will still just use the ships op rather than dive the local reef.


Have a great time either way


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When Keith & Cousin Hal and I went to Belize, we took the ship's dive op. We were picked up and delivered right from the side of the ship, and to me, not having to tender was worth every penny of the extra price.


Both dives at Turneffe were great, and we ran in to the University marine station for a lunch of BBQ chicken, pasta salad & beans between dives.


The boat was fine - we had maybe 14 divers, and people low on air ascended for a boat pickup.


It was a long ride out to the dive sites, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. If your tummy is not OK with ocean rollers, you might want to take something beforehand. We had a couple greenies on the way back.


All of that being said, a custom trip is always the way to go - if you can get your own dive boat and still do the atoll, go for it, and be sure to let us know how you set it up.


Good cruise and great diving to you!



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  • 2 weeks later...

My husband and I have been on both the RCI excursion in Belize and with Sea Sports Belize in the past two years. Two years ago, we went on the ship's excursion ($140.00? each) We really enjoyed the trip. Because of mechanical problems, the boat was one hour late in getting to our ship, so RCI refunded us each 1/4 of the money we had paid. We were happy that the problem was dealt with in this way. Once on board, everything worked perfectly. Yes, it was a large (cattle) boat, but the coral and marine life of Turneffe were incredible. Everything went smoothly, and the divemasters were very professional and competent. They checked everyone's air supply often, kept in close contact with each group, and pointed out many things we probably would have missed. The private island was beautiful, and the lunch of bbq chicken, beans, and watermelon was very good. There was a beautiful beach with gradual entry into the water. It was our first certified dive and a wonderful experience. The next year, we went with Sea Sports Belize (because of the cost and the fact that we wanted to see somewhere new). It was a much different experience. The day was very cloudy and windy. It had been raining all morning. There were fairly high waves (5-6 ft?) and there was no easy way to enter the water (no platform) without getting smacked back into the boat, which several people did. One diver got cut on the boat's propellor trying to reenter the boat in these questionable diving conditions. One diver nearly ran out of air, so we had to surface several hundred yards away from the boat. This would have been no problem, but the sea conditions caused several other people to get seasick and start vomiting in the water as we were all trying to get back to the boat in a group. Of our group of 20, only 6 divers even attempted the second dive (which went much more smoothly). On both dives, we noticed that the Barrier Reef was not nearly as colorful as Turneffe, and did not contain nearly as much life. In our opinion, Sea Sports Belize should have never taken us out in these conditions. Since they did, we feel that they should have checked everyone's air more often, especially since there were several first time divers on the trip. We know we should have cancelled the dive ourselves, but did not want to forfeit $218.00, which we had paid up front before we left on our cruise. In the future, we will be wiser about entering the water on such days. The private island was much smaller than the first one, but it was still lovely. It was a man-made fishing island surrounded on all sides by rocks, so we could not swim. Lunch consisted of tuna sandwiches, chips, and a snack sized Snickers bar. I think the RCI excursion was definitely worth the extra money. I would go on it again, but I would think twice about Sea Sports Belize. Our negative experience may have been more due to the conditions of the day than the dive company, but I think you should hear as many experiences as you can about both options in order to make the best decision for your family. I hope you have fun in on your dives. Belize is a beautiful place!

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I did the barrier reef with my wife and a friend back in January. We went with Sea Sports Belize. We were the only three on the dive trip, so it was great. The marine life is on the scarce side because of all the local fishing, but the coral life was great. Our surface interval was spent on a small Gilligan type island in which we were provided food and drinks. Sea Sports dropped us off at our ship, which saves a ton of time. If you could get 4 other people on your cruise ship to go you may be able to book the Turneffe

Atolls with Sea Sports Belize. The problem is when you are waiting for people from other ships, which slows down your departure time from Sea Sports.

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We loved our dive w/ SeaSport Belize. I was able, with the help of these message boards, to get together a group 6 to dive. Since you have to get tender tickets we just all met at the Belize Cultural Center and walked together to the diveshop. The staff was wonderful. While diving we seen plenty of lobsters, fish, nurf shark, rays, and sea turtles. The visablity was perfect. The lunch that was served to us did consist of the tuna sandwich, chips, snickers, and the best pinapple I've ever had! We were able to collect conch shells out of the water at this island (they were emptied by the local fisherman and discarded there). I would definately use SeaSports again and highly recommend them.

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