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Need Southern Caribbean Island Dive Recommendations

Discussion in 'Cruises' started by mkgriesinger, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. mkgriesinger

    mkgriesinger Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: San Diego, California, United States
    67
    0
    0
    Hi All!

    My family is going on a cruise this year and can only dive 2-3 of the islands below. We have 7 adv. open water divers with no less that 30 dives each.

    What are your favorite islands to dive? Please share your experiences, and who you booked with. What was the ballpark cost of the dive? So far my research shows, St Kitts, St Lucia, and Barbados to be the favorites.

    PS. Feel free to share pictures!!!

    About the ship...

    We are leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico at the end of May 2014 on our 7 day Cruise. The cruise ship is Royal Caribbean 'Jewel of the Seas'.

    Islands the ship visits...

    Day 1 - Puerto Rico (we will stay here 3 days after day 7)
    Day 2 - Philipsburg, St Maarten (10 Hours) Arrives 09:00 Departs 19:00
    Day 3 - Basseterre, St Kitts (11 Hours) Arrives 08:00 Departs 19:00
    Day 4 - St John's, Antigua (11 Hours) Arrives 07:00 Departs 18:00
    Day 5 - Castries, St Lucia (9 Hours) Arrives 08:00 Departs 17:00
    Day 6 - Bridgetown, Barbados (10 Hours) Arrives 07:00 Departs 17:00
    Day 7 - Sea
     
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,209
    5,660
    113
    If I were in Puerto Rico 3 days, I'd probably try to hit the El Yunque (? spelling) rain forest for a trip. Might dive with Sea Ventures out of Fajardo, assuming it's still there. Been quite some years.

    I did a cruise ship day stop diving in St. Lucia; here's my trip report.

    There's a thread on Barbados diving; check it out.
     
  3. Barrod

    Barrod Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States
    124
    37
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    Please remember that ship time can differ from island time. You'll end up left behind and could cause you headache if you don't check with dive op. Have fun!
     
  4. giffenk

    giffenk Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: toronto
    4,924
    2,406
    113
    None of the above.
    while all of these places are nice to visit, they are generally not considered scuba destinations.

    Have used a live aboard that leaves from st maartens (but does not dive there) and st kitts diving is just okay (compared to Saba).
     
    farsidefan1 and oly5050user like this.
  5. farsidefan1

    farsidefan1 Loggerhead Turtle Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah USA
    1,293
    163
    63
    Yup, no dive destinations there. Some places to dive but no dive destinations.
     
  6. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,209
    5,660
    113
    Granted, they aren't often called 'dive destinations' in the sense that lots of us choose them for a 1 week dedicated 'dive trip,' unlike Cozumel, Bonaire, Key Largo and some other places.

    But a cruise ship lets you sample a range of islands 'buffet-style' and can make your list of experiences more interesting.

    From the list given, based on what I've seen on the forum (I've only dove Puerto Rico 2 tanks, & St. Lucia 2 tanks, of the ones you listed):

    Antigua & St. Martin seem to be about the least favored for scuba diving, although some people have posted about diving St. Martin some. Unless forum research proves otherwise, I'd knock them off the list.

    St. Lucia has good diving. I also enjoyed a rain forest hike there on another trip. Lush, beautiful. Unless you've got something better to do there, I'd dive it.

    Barbados - discussed in the thread I linked in my 1'rst post. I'd been under the impression it was underwhelming, but some folks with 1'rst hand experience spoke quite well of it. Probably a good choice to dive, if you've nothing better to do there.

    Puerto Rico - my 2 dives were decent, with good but not great viz., and that's the impression I'd gotten from one or more other posts. We stayed at the Hyatt Dorado about 3 days after a cruise in '06 (honeymoon), and the dive guide came & picked us up and drove us & others a long ways to Fajardo. Nice scenic drive looking at the island.

    St. Kitts - I don't know. I don't hear much great or ill about it. If I had to choose between St. Kitts and Puerto Rico, I'd ask myself how likely I was to cruise in the future. Quite a few cruises ship out of, or stop at, Puerto Rico. Not so much St. Kitts, or so was my impression. If this is apt to be the only time you'll hit St. Kitts, you've nothing better to do there, and you'll likely cruise & hit Puerto Rico in the future, then it might make sense to hit Kitts while you're there. This chance may not come again.

    Richard.
     
  7. Rhone Man

    Rhone Man Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: British Virgin Islands
    11,296
    10,702
    113
    I'd broadly agree, except in relation to St Lucia. There is some good diving to be had there. St Kitts has some reasonable diving. The rest are pretty forgettable and/or there are better things to do.

    If I was going with my family on your itinerary I'd do the following:


    Day 1 - Puerto Rico (we will stay here 3 days after day 7) - See El Moro and the Old Town
    Day 2 - Philipsburg, St Maarten (10 Hours) Arrives 09:00 Departs 19:00 - Shopping for the wife
    Day 3 - Basseterre, St Kitts (11 Hours) Arrives 08:00 Departs 19:00 - I'd go to Brimstone Hill Fortress and do the historical tour, but if that is not your thing - beach.
    Day 4 - St John's, Antigua (11 Hours) Arrives 07:00 Departs 18:00 - Beach. Or stay on the ship. St John's always reminds me of Soweto.
    Day 5 - Castries, St Lucia (9 Hours) Arrives 08:00 Departs 17:00 - Diving.
    Day 6 - Bridgetown, Barbados (10 Hours) Arrives 07:00 Departs 17:00 - Lots of good options, but diving isn't one of them. I quite like Harrison's Cave.
    Day 7 - Sea

    ---------- Post added March 1st, 2014 at 12:00 AM ----------

    PS. Despite the lack of diving, you'll have a blast. Those Caribbean cruises are really fun.

    PPS. If you do diving in St Lucia or elsewhere, you can usually save a fair bit of money arranging independently. Most operators will pick you up at the cruise ship, and although people fret about missing the boat, there is just about zero risk of that. You are usually back for lunch after a two tank dive. You would have to be staggeringly, unbelievably, late in order to miss the ship's departure.
     
  8. ginovega

    ginovega Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Fayetteville, NC
    152
    37
    28
    With all due repesct I totally disagree specially about PR. I understand every one has the right to their own opinion but saying that Puerto Rico is not a diving destination is far from the true. If you have dive there only once you have no idea what you are missing. The best diving in Puerto Rico is in the SW of the island. Yes, it is 2 hours from San Juan but is worth the drive. Puerto Rico might not have dive resorts like the other small islands in the Caribeen but it does have honest and profesional dive operators that will show you the best spots in the island. If you are staying three days after your cruise I suggest you rent a car and drive to the SW. I am heading there 6- 25 Mar '14, I will be diving in Guanica, Aguadilla, Rincon etc... I was born and raised there so if you need tips on operators , sites etc. send me PM and I wil hook you up...Also see my other post about PR in this forum. For starters check these two web sites: Dive West Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Day Trips | The Best Puerto Rico Travel Guide Featuring Reviews, Tips and Inside Information

    Enjoy...
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  9. mkgriesinger

    mkgriesinger Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: San Diego, California, United States
    67
    0
    0
    Thank you everyone. This is great information. It's also awesome that people posted things to do on the islands other than diving:). As many of you guessed, this is more of a vacation with diving and not so much a dive vacation. Again, thank you all! All of your suggestions are greatly appreciated:D.
     
  10. kokanee

    kokanee Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Reno
    57
    17
    8
    We just returned from a cruise out of San Juan that visited all those ports. All ports listed are in the same time zone as Puerto Rico so no worries there. I wasn't expecting great diving because, as mentioned above, these aren't known as dive destinations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Unless your previous 30 dives were in Cozumel, Bonaire, Saba or Little Cayman, etc. you will likely enjoy the diving in St. Kitts, Barbados and St. Lucia. I would rather be underwater doing fish surveys than on a beach so for me it was an easy decision. I say dive!

    St. Kitts
    We dove with Dive St. Kitts. They provided transportation to and from the cruise ship pier. First dive was the MV Corinthian, a wreck on the sand at 100' with slight current.
    Second dive was Broad Bar, a low profile reef with sand channels and pretty soft corals.
    Good dive op, would definitely dive with them again. Oh, and you get a rum punch at the end!

    St. Lucia
    Used Dive Fair Helen, who also picked us up at the cruise port and drove us to the dive shop in Marigot Bay. Marigot Bay is beautiful and worth the drive alone. We dove at Anse Cochon and the wreck of the Lesleen. I wanted to dive the Pitons but the land-based divers that day had requested these sights. DM said that had I requested the Pitons they would have gone there...so request the Pitons when you make reservations! I would love to come back to this island for a week or so for the diving as well as the topside activities. Would dive with this op again as well.

    Barbados
    Dove with Barbados Blue, who also does pick ups for cruisers. We dove on the south of the island and I thought it was actually pretty good, maybe because I wasn't expecting much. Did 3 dives; the first was a drift over a fairly healthy low profile reef. The second was Friars Craig wreck which had a wicked current that day (3 divers aborted) then along lobster reef, another pleasant drift. Third was in Carlyle Marine Park, a shallow wreck park. The dive shop is right on the beach next to the Hilton so you get beach and diving.

    ENJOY!
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014

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