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How do cruises work? For divers..

Discussion in 'General Travel & Vacation Discussions' started by RRbbb, Jul 5, 2021.

  1. Rick Brant

    Rick Brant Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Kaua'i
    The timing issue is more problematic in the smaller ports. In the South Pacific some ports are tender ports and it can take hours to get everyone off the boat. People booked on cruise-line tours get off first, that's just how it works. If you book a dive tour on your own -- which I generally do prefer -- you may not get off in time. In the Caribbean it is much easier as most ports have docks.
  2. patrickusaf08

    patrickusaf08 Registered

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Spring Lake
    I done quite a few dives off of cruise ships. One thing I used to run into all the time was "lack of participation". I used to sail out of Baltimore MD on smaller Royal Caribbean ships during the fall and spring months. The clientele on that ship is older and most of the time the dives are cancelled because not enough people sign up through the ship. I now book ALL my own dives. I talk to the tour operator and tell them what time I am coming in. Most of the time we work together to figure out a time. I once even booked a dive in St Thomas and it was just me on the boat, but they still took me out. Most operators will get you back to land in time to get to the ship unless something mechanically goes wrong. Just think what would happen if someone from a ship left a bad review on that shop. Then everyone looking on cruise ships would look at other shops to use for their dives.
  3. BigDaddyGlad

    BigDaddyGlad Registered

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    I don't have much to add to the excellent advise already posted in this thread (so why am I typing right now?), but I will share my experiences/thoughts.

    We are seasoned cruisers, but I'm a relatively new diver. While I had always dreamed of diving, my first couple experiences came as cruise excursions: a "snuba" experience in St. Martin four or five years ago, and then the following year a "Discover SCUBA" excursion got me hooked.

    I've since been on a couple dive-only land-based trips, and an ABC-island cruise where I dived Aruba and Bonaire. Both those dives were booked directly with the shop, not through the cruiseline, though I did get great advice on the Scuba board on Cruise Critic (thanks, Harris!). In Aruba, I dove with 3 other customers, picked up from a local hotel. In Bonaire, I dove with 1 other passenger from the same cruise ship. In both those ports, I was back on-board in time for lunch, and even had time to wander the port area for a bit of shopping. On our next ABC cruise, I'll probably use the same shops, because the experiences were fantastic.

    I do have an upcoming cruise scheduled for November with stops in Cozumel, Belize and Grand Cayman (GC is on the itinerary, but likely won't happen as the island looks to remain closed to cruise passengers until 2022). In Cozumel, I'll likely be using one of the local shops, but in Belize I've already booked a ship excursion. Belize is a tender port, and for the reasons mentioned above, I figure it'll be worth the extra $40 or so to avoid any issues getting off the ship.

    I guess the point is, keep flexible. In tender ports, ship excursions are likely to be best. Don't worry about missing the ship; dive shops will get you back onboard in plenty of time.
    jonhall likes this.
  4. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    I've dove from a cruise ship multiple times at all three ports. My two cents:

    Cozumel: more dive ops than you can count, and the marina that most of them leave from is just down the road from the cruise terminal. Find your favorite dive op, contact them and make sure they can take you diving with your ship's schedule (some dive shops like to get their dive boats out early, before the cruise ships let their passengers off.)

    Grand Cayman: if you do somehow get the chance to stop here... as you noted, this is a tender port. Makes getting off the ship a bit less predictable, but the dive shops on GC will work with you. Do your research, communicate with the shop, find out what they can do. I've done this and have always been able to work it out.

    Belize: assuming your stop is in Belize City... this is arguably the worst cruise stop in the Caribbean for diving. Not because of the reef or dive sites, but simply because of the lack of options. It's a tender port, but I've found only a couple dive shops in Belize City. The one I used (only one time) had the worst customer service of any dive shop I've ever been to. I assumed it was because they had no competition, so they didn't care what customers thought of them. Even worse, the area with the best dive sites is beyond where the cruise ships anchor. So we would take the tender from ship to shore, take the dive boat back out from shore to the area of the ship, then back to shore, then the tender from shore back to ship. A lot of wasted time.

    One cruise fixed this problem: for the ship's dive excursion, the dive boat picked us up directly from the ship... using the tender platform. We took off directly from the ship and headed east to Turniffe Atoll. At the end, the dive boat brought us directly back to the ship. It was a little more expensive than going with the independent dive shop in Belize City, but more than worth the extra cost.

    When booking your dives at your Belize City stop, get the details on the ship's excursion. It's the only one I've ever booked through the ship.

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