View Full Version : Carnival Cruise -dive sites

10-02-2007, 19:52
I'm going on a Carnival Cruise at the end of November. The ports are Grand Cayman, Belize, Roatan and Cozumel. I'm concerned that the ship's dive excursions are expensive and crowded. Does anyone have experience with Carnival Cruise dive excurions? Tx!

10-02-2007, 20:18
I'll be going to Cozumel in Dec. for my wedding and I MIGHT dive. I am kinda nervous about diving with a bunch of strangers. I'm the only one in my party diving. Anyway, I echo your question. I would like to know other's experiences as well.
Save The Shark

10-02-2007, 20:26
The destinations sound great. :smiley20:

I have never done the cruise ship thing but I have dove with shops in locations where they would service the ships when they docked. From what I gathered the normal set-up was the ship books the dives with the shop. They go through the normal questions, forms and briefing then take the group out for 2 shallow dives close to shore. It seems very hectic because divers are mixed regardless of experience or lack of. Then you are brought back to shore and shuttled back to the boat.........
The divers I spoke with from the ships said they had a great time but it was the first blue water dives for most.......

I would be interested to hear what you think about it when you get back. Please post!!

10-03-2007, 14:38
Im doing this at end of Feb, diving while in Carribean on a Princess cruise and these will be my first warm blue water dives. I don't have my expectations set to high since I am guessing these will be fairly easy dives in 60ft or less especially when you figure that even though they may be protected by divers signing a waiver a ton of bad press could destroy them.

10-03-2007, 14:52
My husband and I went scuba diving at Mahahaul (from the port of Costa Maya, Mexico), the first part of last August and had a fantastic time. We dove at the Dreamtime Scuba Shop. All of the staff were very knowledgeable and very friendly. We were on the Carnival Holiday. As for your question about cost. As for us, diving in Cozumel is the cheaper way to go, but since Hurricane Wilma, Cozumel has not been the same. I have never seen such beautiful scenery as I saw when we went diving a Mahahaul. We dove down to approximately 100 feet and had no visibility problems. We are planning on going back this next summer and perhaps stay on the island for a week or so. I have no regrets diving there even with the slight price difference. Good luck on your dive.


10-03-2007, 15:25
Roatan - Anthony's Key
Belize - Hugh Parkeys
Cozumel - Dive House
Grand Cayman - Don Fosters

Yes they are cattle boats. How many divers depends on the cruise. I was on one where we had 100 divers in Roatan (split into 4 groups of 25). Cozumel, we had 10 divers split into two groups.

I would definitely recommend doing the Belize one through the ship. They pick you up and drop you off directly from the ship. Otherwise you have a long tender two and from the mainland and its a long trip out to the reef.

fire diver
10-03-2007, 16:49
I just got back from "cruise diving" last week. I don't have time to type everything out. I have an errand to run. I will give a full run down tonight though.


fire diver
10-03-2007, 19:49
Ok, I've got some time now...

I have done the cruise diving thing twice in the last 2 years. It has it's good and bad points. Sometimes these change depending on the operator.

The cruise line contracts with a dive company to provide a service to you the customer. In exchange, the provider promises (the cruise line) to take you to easy sites that any vacation diver could handle. They are usually not the prettiest sites either. Sometimes the contractor runs cattle boats and you will be one of a dozen or more divers crowded onto one dive boat. Sometimes you get lucky and get small pax boats. The cruise line also wants to make money from your diving, so they charge more than standard rates, and keep part of the money themselves.

If you book your dive through the cruise line excursions, the ship will never leave you if your dive boat breaks down or some other mishap. If your cruise ship arrives late, the dive op will still be waiting for you on the pier. You may have oportunities you couldn't book on your own. On my last cruise I went cenote diving on the yucatan (from Cozumel). I could never have arranged that time-wise on my own. So that is one instance of the cruise diving being the best choice. Ship-booked dives are safe and worry free for you.

If you want to book your own excursion, you have to do the leg work and research all your dive-op options. You have to talk to the operator and verify that they can work with your cruise ship itenerary. (When you book your cruise they will give you the dates, arrival and departure times for all ports of call.) You need to verify contingencies with them for late arrival, the ship not coming into port, payment refunds, etc.

You get to choose exactly who you dive with, no guessing about who it will be. If it's a bad time you only have yourself to blame. You typically get to see better sights or more challenging dives if that is what you want. Just talk to the operator. You get to be a real customer, not just another cruiser to shuttle through for the dive-op.

So does help clear things up any? Any particular questions about my experiences? Just ask.


10-04-2007, 20:47
I agree with fire diver (http://forum.scubatoys.com/member.php?u=236) -- going on your own is riskier, but the payoff is a much better dive experience. I would add that if you have at least 3-4 people in a group, odds are you will be able to charter with an independent operator to make your own schedule. A lot of people post messages on places like the cruisecritic boards to get a group together in advance.

I've gone with non-cruise ops in Cozumel and Grand Cayman and both worked out very well. Cozumel is a particularly good port to go independent because most ships dock directly (no delays waiting to tender) and the boat rides to the dive sites aren't too long. (Most trips are done by 1 PM so even if the dive boat breaks down you have plenty of time to get back before the cruise ship leaves.) Coming off the cruise ship, you're probably docking after most of the AM dive boats leave. Your options are to pick a big company that has late morning trips (like Blue Angel), or to find an small operation that can work with your schedule (which is where the group comes in handy). You'll probably get lots of recommendations but my suggestion is Raul at Bottom Time Divers (http://bottomtimedivers.net/). I've gone with him many times and he runs a great operation (and is an amazing DM to boot). It's a six pack boat so if you're booking with four people you can call the shots! But you probably don't need to -- because it's a small operation, the people diving with him are pretty flexible and willing to work around other people's schedules.

To give you an idea of how different the experience can be: when I went with the cruise ship op, we did 35 minutes on Santa Rosa Wall and 42 minutes at Paradise Reef, about 20 people on the boat and 8-10 divers in a group. With Bottom Time, I've had anywhere from 2-6 divers on the boat, all diving in one group, with 58 minutes on Santa Rosa and over an hour on the second dive at Cedral Pass (would have been longer for both if my air consumption were better). Plugging only because I like him so much but -- Raul works really well with less experienced divers (my friend was having problems equalizing and learned a lot from him) and lets experienced divers do their own thing.

In Grand Cayman, I went with Off the Wall Divers (http://www.otwdivers.com). It turned out that another 2 divers off the same ship were also diving with them and to be honest everyone on the boat was off a cruise ship! they just picked us all up at the tender pier in a van, and off to the boat dock we went. By popular request we ended up doing a 3 tank trip with 2 wall dives plus Stingray City. Great outfit and a much better trip than I had on a prior trip through the cruise line. We thought it might be tight for time getting back to make the last tender but we weren't even close.

I haven't been to Belize by cruise ship, but in that case the boat rides are so long that it probably makes sense to go with the cruise line op. Sad, because I was on a liveaboard trip there and got to chatting with one of the DM's. He used to work for one of the cruise ship ops and bemoaned the fact that his only goal for cruise ship divers was keeping them alive.

10-05-2007, 20:12
thanks everyone for your suggestions

10-05-2007, 20:20
Don Fosters is the diveop with the cruise contract in Grand Cayman now. They're easy walking distance from the Cruise port. But their max divers/boat is 2-3 times what most of the other diveops on Cayman do.

Try Off the Wall, Wall to Wall, Neptunes Divers or Ambassador Divers. Most (All?) will pick you up by the cruise dock.

10-08-2007, 08:32
I too have had hit and miss excursions with Carnival. St Thomas was a little dive op called Dive World the dive was at Coki Point. It was a beach dive with walmart gear , it was $104.00 for 1 AL63 tank 28 minute 38 foot dive every joint and O-ring was leaking, they handed me 14inch fins they told me it was to protect the reef. My wifes rig was the same way except as we entered the water here octo went into free flow that couldnt be stopped and the Dm removed the octo and hose and plugged the first stage while standing in the water.We complained as did the other 12 people that made the dive never heard anything back.

St Maarten was awsome, as was the dive op Dive Safari's $110.00 2 AL80s, great crew on the boat Scuba pro gear. We dove Big Mama's Reef where they do the shark rodeo 48 feet 45 minutes an a drift that was one of the best dives I have ever made. Second dive was to the wreck of HMS Proslyte 45 feet 45 minutes beautiful dive,class act dive operator

10-18-2007, 07:13
Roatan and Cozumel are both BEAUTIFUL sites!!

10-18-2007, 12:35
My wife and I dove three ports of our honeymoon cruise last week. People always recommend booking your own excursion through another operator. I have to recommend booking through the ship though. The cost might be a little higher, but you can consider it "insurance" against your cruise. If anything happens, the ship will wait for you or they will arrange transportation to get you caught back up with the ship. If you book on your own and you run late for whatever reason, you're on your own to get home or get back with the ship. There's no recourse for you if you didn't book through the ship. The other reason is it gives you a mean to go through if the shore excursion is less than enjoyable...I'll explain in a minute.

I dove with the operators mentioned by tremtech in St. Marteen and St. Thomas...as well as one in Nassau. The Nassau and St. Marteen cruises were great. Well run dive operations that brought to some nice easy sites. Well the sites could have been more challenging, it was still enjoyable and relaxing. My wife and I both brought our own dive gear with us, so we didn't use rentals other than the tanks. It was kind of a hassle to travel with it and to get it on and off the ship, but compared to rental gear it was worth it.

Nassau took us out to a wreck and a break water reef. Both dives were about 40-45 minutes ranging in depth from 40-60 ft. Relatively easy dives with decent divemasters that knew the sites well and took the time to point things out to you. The boat wasn't overloaded, and the staff was friendly and knowledgeable.

St. Thomas was the next stop where we dove at Coki point through Dive World. From the beginning this operation was flawed. The Dive World employee who lead the excursion was rude to people asking questions to begin with. And when you go to the dive site, you're going with swimmers, snorkeler's, snuba users, discover scuba groups and dive groups. The number of people going to the same destination was rather high. When we got there, we got an AL63 to set up our gear on. We were glad again to have our own gear as every single person had a problem with their gear. Some had fit issues, some had leaks from minor to major. After setting our gear up, we got some weights. After explaining a few times that we didn't need that much weight because we had stainless steel backplates, she finally gave us what we asked for. As well as commenting that we didn't need our wetsuits that we were wearing. She said "noone else here wears one." However, our divemaster happened to be in one. As we're ready to enter the water the divemaster was looking at our gear and says "what's this set up all about?" when she saw our long hoses and bungeed octo's. After explaining it she just kind of shurgged her shoulders and said "well if you're both diving together and you're both comfortable with it, it's okay." We entered the water and got a 26 minute dive with a max depth of about 40 ft or so. The divemaster was just swimming along, not really pointing anything out. It was a try to keep up if you can kind of operation. The entire excursion took four + hours, for a 26 minute dive. All this and they straight up asked for a tip. Tips are for good service. Not sub par. After returning to the ship, a group complained to the ships shore excursion desk and on the final night of the cruise we got the entire excursion refunded back to us. Another good reason to book through the cruise. They want you satisfied.

Our final destination was St. Marteen. We dove with Dive World who was a great operation. The boat wasn't packed and the crew was knowledgeable and friendly. They took us out to the carib cargo wreck which is about 65 ft down or so and to the frenchman's reef (also called moonwalk). Both dives were about 45 minutes or so and the divemasters lead the group and took the time to point things out to us as well as to tell us about the sites when we returned to the boat. They brought the shop's dog with us and he hung out on the boat and was friendly to everyone. Dive Safari's was a good operation and one I would dive with again given the chance. A solid well run operation.

So those are our experiences with cruise diving. I think next time we want to dive the caribbean though, we're simply going to take a trip there instead of doing it on a cruise. Easier from a gear point of view, and we can get in more dives and sites.


10-18-2007, 12:50
In Grand Cayman you might want to do a shore dive of Eden Rock or Devil's Grotto. Both reefs are only about 150 feet off the shore and in the 40 foot range. There is a dive shop right on the water's edge called, what else, "Eden Rock Dive Center". You can walk there in about 5 minutes from the cruise ship pier. No hassles with transportation, boats, etc. If you need equipment they rent it. You can also book a guided dive with them. Their web site is www.edenrockdive.com (http://www.edenrockdive.com). I'm going on a cruise there in January and plan on renting a tank and doing a couple of dives. No problem getting back to the ship as it is only a 5 minute walk to the tender pier. As a matter of fact, you can see the ships from there. You can do a dive or two and still have plenty of time to explore the town. Its also a good place for snorkeling for the non-divers. Again gear is available for rent or just bring your own for free snorkeling as there is no charge to use there ladder to enter or exit the water.

DLXM Cayman
10-18-2007, 20:17
Re Grand Cayman, Don Fosters can be very good but (a) depends on numbers and (b) which sites the boat goes to. Eden Rock and Devil's Grotto are both good although the reef has seen better days due to the numbers diving it. The cruise ships don't normally set off before 2.30 so you should have plent of time for most along the west side. Although I have not dived with them, Diver's Down operates from right by the drop off for the ships and has an 8 divers max policy on a boat. Another shore dive worth considering i you can get up there is Turtle Farm reef - it will take you about 15 minutes in a cab to get there but a great mini-wall shore dive and again you can rent your gear there.