Carnival Cruise - Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Grand Cayman December 2012
The MWMD Crew just returned from a week of cruising on the Carnival Glory out of Miami, stopping in Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. As we looked forward to the cruise, I wasn’t sure if this was something I would enjoy, be bored, or maybe even be the longest week of my life. For the record, we enjoyed the trip. The ship was huge and had a lot going on from movies on the deck, typical pool party, casino, nightly shows, and even a comic relief club. There seemed that there was always something to do or not to do if you just wanted find a quite place to yourself. The staff was simply awesome and they became friends very quickly. The food, well it’s everywhere and pretty much anything you want you can find. One thing I didn’t know is that the ocean breezes and salt water tends to shrink your clothes.
Onto the diving. We booked 2-tank dives in Coz, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. We sat out in Belize because many commented that the best diving is not available to cruise goers due to having to meet the boat schedules. We elected to schedule all our dives through the cruise line simply because we were concerned that if we were late getting back the cruise ship would wait for us. As opposed, to booking independently and having boat troubles causing us to miss the boat. Looking back, I don’t think I would have done this. First, the dives scheduled through the cruise line are very basic dives as contracted by the cruise line. They were all fairly simple dives typically close to where the ship docked. Having dove many of the reefs prior to the cruise we knew that we were not seeing really what each area had to offer. Second, local dive shops deal with the cruise lines everyday. Even if they were not booked through the cruise line they fully understand you need to be back by a certain time. If we cruise again, I would book my diving independently because it is cheaper and you have better opportunity to book a dive that meets your skill level and to an area that is better diving. Keep in mind the dive is dictated by the skill level of the most basic diver. Cruise Divers tend to be those that are newly certified or only dive once a year. We saw lots of divers having trouble with basic dive skills.
We dove with Sand Dollar Dive. They met us right on the pier and generally they were very good people. We had a total of 15 divers and a boat that could comfortably fit maybe 7 divers. My dive buddy and I actually sat on the engine compartment hood and used this as our gear up bench. Needless to say, we were stumbling over each other. The dives themselves were blue water ocean dives, but that is about all I can say. We dove close to the pier and not on a reef section. Our dives were mostly sandy bottom dives. We have dove Coz before and fully understand the beautiful reefs that is offered, but we did not see this. If this had been our only experience with Coz diving we would be wondering what all you see in diving Coz. I think the focus from the dive operation stand point was to get us geared up, in the water for a 30 minute dive, repeat, and then get us back to the pier because they obviously had more trips going out in the afternoon. It all felt a little rushed.
It has been a couple years since we dove Roatan; so, it was great to be back on the island. We love Roatan and have debates all the time as to if we like Bonaire or Roatan more. This was the first time we dove with Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR). They picked us up at Mahogany Bay and transported us to their resort where we boarded the size of boat we needed in Coz. The operation and resort was simply top notch. We had talked about spending a week with AKR, but this synched it. We will be back. The diving was great. The reef was full of life and colors as we had remembered. They took us to a wreck dive, but due to depth we didn’t spend a lot of time at the wreck. Did I mention the reef…awesome. We did see a few lion fish that the DM speared and amazingly feed to the Grouper who appeared to love them. The hope is that the Grouper will eventually find the lion fish as a tasty treat and start hunting them on there own.
This was the first time we dove in Grand Cayman. Our first impression was that the water is an amazing blue. We got off the boat and taken to Don Fosters Dive Shop. Our impression was that this is a top-notch dive operation. The dive briefings were very professional, the dive boat had more than enough room for 19 divers, and the DM’s were very personable. Our group did see an 8’ nurse shark lying along the reef and later a ray playing in the sand. Overall a very good day of diving. I would recommend Don Fosters to all divers.
So What’s My Thoughts on the Cruise Thing?
I would have to say I’m glad we did this, for the experience if nothing else. We enjoyed the cruise. Our tropical vacations are typically flying to an island somewhere and spending a week diving 4-5 dives a day. We did not get this on the cruise line having only made 6 dives all week. So, it all depends on what you want out of your vacation. If you are looking for a dive trip the cruise option isn’t a great one. If you’re looking for a vacation and want to get a few dives in then maybe the cruise option is good for you.
One thing that struck me is that pulling into the various ports you are given the magnificent impression of a tropical paradise. However, if you really spend some time in these locations it is really not that way. I found myself missing the ability to spend some time on the island and take in the real culture of the island. I also felt that we needed more time in the ports – we felt rushed getting off the boat, diving, and then back on the boat. We typically would arrive in port around 7am and then be leaving around 4pm. This was enough time to get a couple dives in, but nothing else. So, you had to choose if you wanted to dive or really do any excursion or hang out on the island shopping or whatever. You cannot do both.
For more pics and video, take a look at our Midwest Muck Diving Photo/Vid Page linked above.