Things To Know
There are a lot of things to consider when diving while cruising. The main issue is that dive shops typically have 2 dive times per day. The morning dive is usually around 9:00AM and the afternoon dive around 2:00PM. This can conflict with the times the cruise ship arrives and departs the port. Cruise lines have made special arrangements and offer 2 tank dives that you can purchase from them. The dives offered by the cruise lines can vary from date to date and can make it difficult to research the dive shop prior to booking.
A second thing to consider is what equipment to bring. If you bring a full set of gear, it could mean a second suitcase. A minimal set (Mask, Wet Suit, and Fins) should fit into a large suitcase along with the rest of your clothes. Many of the dive excursions from the cruise ship include all the equipment.
For non-certified divers you have several choices
NOTE: For Scuba divers, allow 1 day before and after diving before flying.
Where to Go
There are a lot of choices here with over 200 dive sites with 29 PADI dive shops. The conditions are excellent, averaging between 60 and 100 feet (18-30 meters) of visibility and water temperature ranging between 78-82°F (26-28°C). Snorkeling can also be an option. With its small coves and shallow water coral reefs, it is one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean. At the shallow North Sound Bay you can even swim with Stingrays
The best known dive in the Caymans is the USS Kittiwake. Its shallow location off Seven Mile Beach. The wreck ranges from 15 to 64ft below the water and allows for scuba divers as well as snorkelers and free divers.
USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) was a United States Navy Chanticleer-class submarine rescue vessel in commission from 1946 to 1994. It was decommissioned Sept. 30th 1994 and sunk as an artificial reef in Jan. 2011.
Roatan Marine Park, located at the southern part of the Meso-American Barrier Reef, has more than 80 dive moorings along with hundreds of other dive sites around the island. It offers a very wide range of dives from shore diving to wrecks at 120+ ft. If you book through the cruise ship you will be all set. If you book private you will need to arrange transportation to the dive shop. Depending on the cruise line it can take about 20 minutes for the drive. Also, when we dove, May 2018, Carnival did not allow private taxis up to the ship in the morning, so you had to carry your equipment about a ¼ mile. In the afternoon the taxi was allowed to the port gates
Belize’s has the second largest barrier reef in the world, next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and offer a vast amount of diving. There is no port in Belize City so you have to take a tender, which takes about 40 minutes and leaves you limited choices. Your best bet is to use what the ships excursion desk offers.
Cozumel is located at the northern part of the Meso-American Barrier Reef, and offers a wide variety of diving. Palancar Gardens is 30 to 80ft wall dive with optional swim throughs. In contrast to Palancar, Paradiso is a shallow 30-40ft sandy bottom drift dive. Cozumel has a lot of diving so the operators do the 2 dive times and thus limit your option based on ships itinerary.