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Thread: Quick St. Croix Trip Report

 


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    drrich2's Avatar
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    Quick St. Croix Trip Report

    Hi:

    Recently did a 7 day Royal Caribbean southern Caribbean cruise on Adventure of the Seas. Did private 2-tank charter boat scuba trips at St. Lucia and St. Croix. The St. Croix trip was on Saturday, Jan. 18'th, 2014. I dove with S.C.U.B.A. (St. Croix Ultimate Blue Water Adventures).

    I did some research as to who to book with; reviews were good for S.C.U.B.A. and mostly also good for Cane Bay Dive Shop (I figure most any op. that's been around for years and served a lot of customers is going to have a bad review out there somewhere). Cane Bay Dive Shop has a cruise ship visitors page, but under a summary of services to consider, it mentions a 1 tank dive, but I didn't see a 2 tank dive. Maybe you can book 2 (?), but this concerned me. I've thought if I ever spent a week dive vacation I might use Cane Bay Dive Shop for their dive services, plus their cottages option for lodging, and could hopefully shore dive to supplement the boat diving (I like 3 to 4 dives/day; 2 dives/day seems anemic to me as dive vacations go).

    But this wasn't a 1 week dive vacation, this was a 1 day cruise ship stop. So I looked at S.C.U.B.A.'s website. They've got a page for cruise ship visitors. From their website:

    You have two great options for diving on St. Croix from your cruise ship.


    1. By far the easiest is to take our west end dive boat which is located right on the cruise ship pier. This boat dives the shipwrecks and reefs along the west shore of St. Croix. All of the dive sites are 15 minutes or less from the cruise ship pier and you’ll be in sight of the pier at all times. Two-tank dive trips depart at 9:30am returning around noon, and at 1:00pm returning around 4:00p.
    2. For those who want to dive our “wall” you’ll want to take our north shore dive boat. Take one of the Christiansted Shuttles or taxi vans from the cruiseship pier to Christiansted (about 35 minutes). All will drop you off right in front of our shop. The boat leaves at 9:30am (on cruise ship days) returning around 1:00p. The two-tank dive trip starts with a wall dive followed by a coral garden dive.
    I like easy, but I'd heard good things about St. Croix wall diving. So I e-mailed for info. on big tank availability and how the 2 trip options compared. Part of Ed Buckley's response to me:

    Is the overall diving quality comparable between the 2?
    Both dive sites are uniquely different. There are three wrecks together which we tend to do as the first dive of the west shore boat followed by a reef dive. St. Croix is known for its wall diving and that’s the first dive of the north shore boat. I believe that both boats do equally good though vastly divergent dives.

    What does a 2 tank trip run? Do you have an option for tanks larger than 80 cf? Oh, I have my own gear; just need tanks & weights.
    Two-tank boat dives are $115. You can upgrade your tank to an aluminum 100ft3 tank for $10 per tank.

    Do you by chance having shore diving as an option? I see your morning trip gets back around noon. I wouldn't be above doing a couple of shore dives early afternoon. If that's an option, what does it cost.
    There’s really not much in the way of shore diving near either of our locations. The barrier reef along the north shore prohibits shore diving near Christiansted and the sites on the west shore, though fairly close, would still make for a long swim out.
    So I picked the west end trip. And it was easy to find. Here's a shot of St. Croix and the pier from the ship ( believed we docked at Fredricksted Pier):



    You walk down the pier toward the island, and on your left, there's a small set of stairs down to where the dive boat waits.

    Here's a shot of our ship, by me standing near the dive boat.



    The boat:





    Oh, some 'St. Croix sure is pretty' pics; it's a mountainous island, green and good to see. At least from a distance it didn't seem as lush as St. Lucia.





    Overall, it was a good trip. I dove an Al80 on both dives. Our Dive Guide gave me some pointers on snap shooting, and while he didn't hunt lionfish on the dive, mentioned he sometimes comes back for them later. We didn't go far to the 2 dive sites.

    Dive #1.) The Butler Bay Shallow Wrecks (Northwind, Virgin Islander, and Suffolk Maid are the names of the three wrecks). Sandy bottom, some wreckage. Mild current. I’d say viz. maybe 30-50 feet. Early on I spotted a small stingray over the sand; maybe a yellow stingray? Saw a school of jacks alongside a wreck. Did a swim through early on. Dive Stat.s: Duration 48 minutes, max. depth 60.19 feet, average depth 36.22 feet, temp. 77 degrees.



















    Dive #2.) Spratt Hole. I found a flounder. I’d say viz. maybe to 50 feet. Flat ground, mostly coral growth over it, almost like a boulder-strewn field but with coral growth, not rocks. Mild current, but in the first part of the dive a lot of particulates (looked like sand) in the water. Later our guide pointed out a small stingray (thought to be a southern stingray) in a sandy region. He pointed out 1 lionfish to me on each dive; the one on dive 2 postured defensively when I got close for a shot. Nice, long dive. My dive buddy and I think his wife were from Texas; she snorkeled. Dive Stat.s: Duration 67:30 minutes, max. depth 53.43 feet, average depth 31.31 feet, temp. 77 degrees.









    See the animal?



    Richard.

    P.S.: One fly in the ointment that's not their fault. I had a pair of used XL Atomic Smoke on the Water black split fins. When you get back on the boat, they take your fins to help free up your hands. And apparently put them in a pile. When I left the boat at the end of the dive, heading back to the ship, I gathered up my gear but didn't realize I didn't have my fins. We left port that night before I knew. So I e-mailed Ed Buckley to see what could be done. It took a few e-mails and phoning one of the dive shop staff, but here's the bottom line. He e-mailed me:

    I just spoke to the dive crew from that day and your fins were taken back to the ship. Right after you left they found the fins and some of the other divers said they would take them back to the ship and have them contact you. I’m assuming that didn’t happen since you didn’t get them back. I don’t know if they have an ongoing lost and found that would be able to get them back to you.

    Sorry about that.
    I called a customer service rep. with Royal Caribbean and she investigated the matter, but I got a voice mail that basically indicated R.C. didn't have my fins.

    Weeeeeeeell...I guess now I know what I want for my birthday.

    Richard.
    Last edited by drrich2; February 2nd, 2014 at 11:48 PM.

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    reghunnicutt's Avatar
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    St Croix is my favorite dive spot. I'll be there next week in fact. I mostly used SCUBA on every trip but have tried other operators.

    Reggie in NC


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    drrich2's Avatar
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    Reggie:

    Interesting! Can you share why you prefer St. Croix over other Caribbean destinations? I didn't see from your profile where else you've been, so I don't know what you're comparing it too, tropically speaking.

    I've kept it in mind as one of those 'maybe someday' destinations, since it's supposed to have good boat diving and some pretty good shore diving (albeit with longer swim outs than I'm used to in Bonaire).

    Now that I've been to Key Largo in the Florida Keys, and I know Cozumel is a good value trip for boat (drift) diving, and Bonaire is wonderful for shore diving, any other place I consider gets weighed against those 3.

    Richard.

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    reghunnicutt's Avatar
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    Only Aruba. I must confess I am biased towards US territories.

    I fall back on why mostly St Croix, same reason I wake up next to the same woman for 35 years....I like what I see and experience.

    I am mostly an offshore NC, Hatteras, Quarry and then Cruzian diver.

    This summer I am planning a two week dive tour of Florida. I have only been to the springs in Florida. I am headed to the tech conference in Miami in May.

    So I guess I get stuck in a rut of what appeals to me is good to me.

    Going forward, shore diving long distances and high seas of Hatteras may be over for me because of lower discs issues. The operators on St Croix accommodate my back and hand off side mount bottles while entering and exiting the water from a boat. No strong currents and small waves make it nice too.

    Reggie in NC

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    Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip report and photos! I have researched St. Croix as a possible future dive destination. I love Bonaire, but it seems to become a more and more difficult task finding reasonable flights at decent times.
    "The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli" George Costanza

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    drrich2's Avatar
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    Thanks, glad to share. Some of the most interesting threads on the forum to me are those that give the 'work flow' of a dive trip (whether a cruise ship 1 day stop or week long dedicated stay), with a few photos to break it up so I can concentrate & my brain doesn't shut down, and ideally compare the trip to other destinations.

    I, too, have been sizing up St. Croix as a potential destination for a future 1 week dedicated dive trip. I keep stumbling over whether the shore diving would equal Bonaire (or at least get close), whether the boat diving would equal Key Largo (equal doesn't mean be identical; just conquerable in overall enjoyment), whether the combo. of the 2 would outweigh Bonaire or Key Largo, and how much hassle it'd be to get groceries/food if I stayed at Cane Bay Dive Shop's cottages.

    I still haven't got to try St. Croix's wall diving.

    Richard.

    P.S.: I'm conservative and tend to find a comfortable rut and get in it. Preferably the best available rut. I've been to Bonaire 7 times (1'rst 4 with a dive club), and pretty well 'know the drill.' Haven't been to Curacao as yet, where I think the trip might not be as simple and I'm not familiar with it. Loved Key Largo enough that a it's my new comparator for boat trip destinations.

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    Re: "There’s really not much in the way of shore diving near either of our locations." But what he didn't say is you can shore dive the north shore wall at Davis Bay at Carambola Resort. The Cruise ships already take a bus there (I've stayed there, the beach turns from empty to Jersey Shore when they do that). There is an on site dive shop. It's a short swim out. You can also shore dive the wall at Cane Bay but I haven't done that myself.
    captboob likes this.

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    drrich2's Avatar
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    Thanks for letting us know! Some of us love shore diving, and knowing the options is great. I don't see near as many reports for St. Croix giving a shore diving work flow as for Bonaire or Curacao; for that matter, I think I've seen as many or more talking about shore diving in Grand Cayman.

    Richard.
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    I just got back from St Croix today.

    The best shore dives are:

    The Pier - Easy structured dive and lots to see. Great night dive. Air fills nearby.
    Butler Bay - long swim to wrecks. Some current.
    North Star - just dived this Friday from a boat but it is only a five minute swim out. A big wall and lots of very alive coral.
    Cane bay - a wall dive with big sand chutes. I have see many reef sharks here. This is a very popular shore dive to the wall. Air fills nearby.
    Carambola - another wall north shore dive. More to look at than Can Bay. Air fills nearby.

    Reggie in NC


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    How'd you make out on your trip? Was there anything special you can share?

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