Where And Which Type Of Snorkel Trip To Book?
It’s exciting to plan your cruise vacation. You are interested in learning how to snorkel, but aren’t really sure what you’ll need or how to book your snorkel trip? This article will help you decide which type of snorkel trip to book, as well as the type of equipment you’ll need.
Necessary Snorkel Equipment
Many tour operators provide all the snorkel equipment for the tour. However, it is recommended you purchase some of your own gear and bring it with you. Most major cities (even in land-locked states) will have a dive shop or two. Go to a local dive shop and have them assist you in selecting a snorkel mask that fits your face well. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of your exotic destination and having salt water pouring into your mask, burning your eyes, and making your snorkel trip terrible.
Spend a little more money for a good mask (it will make a big difference) and make sure to purchase some defogging liquid. You’ll also need a snorkel. It’s advisable to purchase a dry snorkel, which is specifically designed to keep water from traveling down the snorkel tube to accidentally be inhaled into the lungs. Don’t worry about purchasing fins in advance. These are way too bulky to pack in your suitcase, and most tour operators will have a set you can use.
Snorkel Trip Choices
Looking through the shore excursion options from the cruise line can make their snorkeling tours seem very exciting. They can also appear to be the only options you have available. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are two choices when it comes to booking this type of tour.
Cruise Line Snorkel Trips
Cruise lines make arrangements with tour companies to offer cruise passengers shore excursions. For example Caribbean cruise vacations, these often involve water activities – such as snorkeling. The cruise lines want you to believe it’s safer and more convenient to utilize the snorkeling excursions they offer. Keep in mind that the cruise lines derive a huge amount of revenue from offering these shore excursions. Let’s look at the pros and cons of cruise line snorkeling trips:
Pros: When you book your snorkel excursion with the cruise line directly, you don’t have to deal with another company. It’s all handled by the cruise line, which makes it very convenient. Another pro is that in the unlikely event of a delay on your snorkel trip, the ship will wait for all passengers to return to the ship before disembarking from a port of call.
Cons: Cruise ship snorkel excursions are usually very crowded with long lines and a lot of waiting. Passengers are usually transported in large buses and it can be a timely affair to arrange transportation for 100+ people. Typical cruise line tours do not support the local population (as many employees are seasonal). So, these tours can take away from the local economy of a destination.
Independent Snorkel Trips
There are many independent companies offering snorkeling trips for cruise ship passengers. These trips tend to cost about the same as a cruise line-sponsored excursion, but they often offer a much more personalized experience. Independent tour operators are often local residents who will return your tourist dollars to the local economies of the destinations you visit. This is very important in order to preserve the unique qualities of each locale. Here are the pros and cons of independent snorkel excursions:
Pros: Independent snorkel trips are often smaller, more intimate groups. The guides often get in the water to identify animals and plants of interest. You won’t find that on most cruise line snorkel trips. Additionally, the price is often the same (or perhaps a better value for the same money) as cruise line trips. Most independent tour operators offer online booking, so it’s just as convenient to make your reservation through them as it would be through the cruise line.
Cons: Using an independent company means you’ll have to do a lot more research to make sure you’re booking with a reliable outfit. Also (although you’ll probably never have to worry about this), if your shore excursion experiences a delay, the cruise ship probably won’t wait for you to return before it leaves the port of call. So, you would have to arrange your own transportation to meet the ship at the next port. However, the risk is so small of this occurring, that it shouldn’t really be a major factor in your decision.
Recommended Places To Snorkel on Your Cruise Vacation
The Caribbean is one of the most popular destinations for cruise vacations, and its waters are home diverse, beautiful ocean life that beckons a closer look. With few prerequisite skills besides swimming, snorkeling is a fun, safe way to get a close-up look at the underwater world of the Caribbean. Here are five popular ports-of-call where you can enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean on your next cruise vacation:
Barbados is a popular stop for Caribbean cruise vacations, and the western part of the island (sometimes called the “Platinum Coast”) is prime territory for snorkeling, with gentle waters, a variety of underwater sights (including close-to-the surface shipwrecks), and diverse ocean life such as brain coral, sea fans, sponges, plenty of varieties of fish and sea turtles. There are plenty of group tours available that will take you from the cruise port to several spots around the island for swimming and snorkeling. If you want to head out on your own, visit Mullins Beach or Heywoods Beach — both offer coral formations worth exploring.
2. Grand Turk
Though it still has the feel of an off-the-beaten-path destination in the Caribbean, Grand Turk boasts one of the best cruise ports in the Caribbean, with its own beach a swimming pool, cabanas for rent and even a surfing simulator. It also offers incredible opportunities for snorkeling, with spots like Governor’s Beach, White Sands Beach and Pillory Beach. You can rent gear (or bring your own of course) and snorkel right off the beach at all three. Highly popular (and highly recommended) are day excursions to Gibbs Cay, an uninhabited offshore island that is just a short boat ride away. The untouched beaches on the island are perfect for sunbathing, barbecuing, picnics and general lazing, while translucent blue waters and pristine coral reefs provide the perfect backdrop for snorkeling. The island is particularly noted for the docile stingrays that dwell there, which you can feed and pet.
3. St. Martin/St. Marteen
The crystal-clear blue waters that surround this island shared by the French and Dutch offer some of the Caribbean’s best underwater visibility, making this a perfect port-of-call if you want to snorkel during your cruise vacation. The government has taken great measures to protect the shallow coral reefs that surround the island, as well as the large numbers of fish and sea turtles that call the reefs home. While there are many snorkeling spots, Dawn Beach on the eastern side of the island is considered by many to be the best, but the surf and amount of swimming required can be challenging, so it caters better to experienced swimmers. Tiki Hut Snorkel Park in Philipsburg is a viable alternative, and caters to all ages and experience levels.
4. St. Thomas
Part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is a port-of-call for many cruises throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Coki Point is among the most popular beaches on the island, and boasts a reef area close to shore and a dive shop on site where you can rent snorkeling gear as well as other water sports equipment. Sapphire Beach is another option, with its own shallow reefs to explore while you’re in the water, and a beach bar that sometimes features live music. Both these beaches are ideally suited for days in port where you want to enjoy a combination of sunning, swimming, snorkeling and socializing.
Part of Mexico, this small, idyllic gem off the coast of the Yucatan is a popular stop for cruise vacations in the Western Caribbean. When your cruise ship docks in Cozumel, you will enjoy a classic Caribbean setting with a distinct Mexico flavor, as well as miles of protected reefs that provide world-class snorkeling and scuba-diving. Natural currents keep the water clean and the coral supplied with nutrients, providing an unparalleled underwater environment and superb visibility while submerged (some actually rate the diving experience here above that in Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef).
The clear waters of Maui beaches with rich sea life and best reefs are the perfect destination for snorkel in the world. This is considered to be one of the greatest places by the tourists around the globe. A cruise to Molokini Crater which is an underwater sanctuary to the southern Maui shore has a visibility in excess of 100 feet. Snorkeling can be done independent of any previous experience or age. Gears can be rented with other equipments from any of the dive shops available. The resorts may have facilities to supply the required equipments at a cheaper price.
Upgraded fins, easy to breathe snorkels and certain kind of masks can be expensive. Avoid a rubber mask and rent a silicone for better comfort. They can give a better seal around the face. The equipments also consist waterproof fish identification card and anti-fog liquid. This liquid should be sprayed in the mask before covering the face as this will prevent the mask from fogging up. It is important to familiarize with the equipment by entering a swimming pool. One can have the fullest enjoyment by feeling the exciting marine life under the sea.
Walking backwards if the fin is trapped will help the user in getting relieved. The depth must allow the swimmers to turn and swim but beginners may find it difficult. Fins are designed in an easy way to prevent the swimmers from mocking waves. A life vest is very important to wear as it will add up to buoyancy. They are of light weight to enhance the water skiing experience. A swimming noodle is also another option to stay floated in the waters. It is good to take something to feed the fish. It usually costs about $4. Basic precautionary methods should be followed. The fish may swim around the swimmers and they may even follow them for more food.
There are bountiful beaches along the west and south sides of the island. Beginners can have a better experience and it gives immense pleasure to snorkel when the sun is very bright. Weather conditions must be studied properly before starting to have the adventure. High tides can be seen during the period of storm or bad weather condition. The crystal clear waters of the ka’anapali are one of the best places to snorkel. Nature can be enjoyed at its best here in this place. Octopus, sea turtle can be occasionally found. Some of the beaches like Honalua Bay have rocky shores so water shoes are always beneficial. People must be very well equipped according to the beaches they are going to visit. Certain beaches have seals, whale,sharks, rays and eels. Bountiful abundance of sea life and underwater sanctuary make these places to be the favorite of tourists around the globe. Maui snorkeling can be the best for the beginners to make a perfect start.
When visiting the Maldives you should take masks and snorkels to view the abundant variety of fish. It is not even necessary to swim. Wading through the lagoon you can see shoals of fish though the crystal clear water. Coral fragments on the beaches can be sharp so it is a good idea to have footwear. Dipping your mask under the surface gives a clearer view undisturbed by ripples. Zebra, surgeon and angelfish abound and a conga eel peeped at us from a hole in the coral.
On the beach, spider like crabs – all legs and practically no body – advanced from their nest to find food and at the slightest danger would retreat at incredible speed. If they were scaled up to the size of a human they would be running at about 300 mph. Beyond the reef a scuba diving course is always in operation, couple of dives with an instructor may cost about $224 only.
Lunch is usually prepared under the cover of palm trees. Barbecued fish fresh from the sea served with jacket potatoes and mixed vegetables, which were imported. These are just some of the perks you may experience
Depending on the cruise ship you have boarded, most likely all meals on the ship will be served buffet style. Breakfast usually is extensive, a variety of fish and meat offered for lunch and dinner; some subtly spiced and all the product of a master chef and numerous choices of red wines which cost wise range from £9.40 to £36, while whites go up to £25. Overall, Maldives is a must snorkeling experience to try!
In conclusion, cruise ship vacations are for all types of people. There are people who love the organization and structure of the cruise ship life. Others, enjoy some aspects of cruise ship life, but are interested in venturing out on their own at times too. For those who love routine and organization, the cruise-ship organized snorkel trips will be a good fit. However, for those who are looking for a little more freedom and adventure, an independent snorkel excursion would probably be a better fit.
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