Something that we particularly enjoy – and take part in every few months or so – is scuba diving while we’re on a cruise. No, not a liveaboard. A cruise ship. Some of you out there may be pish-poshing us already. I can hear it. But we’ve met quite a few folks out there while on our trips who also enjoy the experience. There are many positives to using a cruise ship as your base of operations for a scuba trip. Here are our top seven.
1 – Quick Access to Your Nearest Cruise Port
With the growth in popularity of cruising, there is likely a ship within a few hours drive from your house. Northeast. Southeast. Gulf Coast. West Coast. Northwest Coast. Granted, not all of those ports have cruises that you might go scuba diving off of, but many of them do. Being able to drive would certainly allow you to dive much sooner because you wouldn’t be accommodating for a flight. Many times the first day is at sea anyway, so if you do fly in the night before (which we always recommend!), you’ll be enjoying all that your cruise ship has to offer before you enjoy your scuba spots.
2 – A Multitude of Things to Do
A cruise ship is like a floating city. There’s so much to offer! Whether it’s a midsize contemporary cruise line or a premium cruise line’s larger ship, you and your companions will never be short of things to do in your off-time. Live music? Check. Several restaurants to choose from and room service? Check. Have non-diving travelers with you who can do other things in the port? Check. That last piece is a biggie. We ALL have family and/or friends who just don’t dive. (It’s a modern day tragedy.) And because they don’t dive, you’re either going on vacation by yourself (yeah, that’s kind of a hard sell if you’re married or partnered up isn’t it?) or doing something you’re just not all that into. OR worse yet, you just don’t go on vacation. *gasp!*
3 – Unpack Once and See Multiple Destinations
This is possibly the best reason ever to try out a cruise ship for your dive vacation. Yes, we’ve been to resorts. And yes, it’s absolutely amazing to see one place more in depth. But have you ever wanted to try a place out first? Or maybe you didn’t think you’d ever consider going to Aruba for a week, but after visiting on a cruise, you craved more immersion into the culture. There’s something about coming back and telling your friends that you visited four countries in eight days and dove in all four places. And you only unpacked once!
4 – Speaking of Packing…
You don’t have to limit yourself quite as much as when you’re flying. (If you have to fly to get to your cruise ship, then skip ahead ;-)) With your nearest cruise port within driving distance of many homes, you don’t have to be worried that your dive bag is 2.3 pounds heavier than what your first checked bag weight allowance says it should be. Or whether you’re going to get the stink-eye from the airline desk that you even have a dive bag. You’re biggest worry is shlepping those bags to the cruise line’s drop-off with your stateroom tags attached. That’s it. They’ll even haul it off the ship at the end for you to pick up. You’ll still have to carry it to and from the cruise terminal though, sorry.
5 – Get the Balcony
There’s a reason balcony cabins on cruise ships sell out first (as do the best suites, but that’s another post for another time). You get extra space. And you know what that space is especially good for, my fine finned friends? Putting all your wet gear out to dry. And unlike at a resort, no one is going to be walking by and stealing any of your items. The balcony is your oasis for wet items, watching the sun rise or set, and taking a snack or drink to relax privately. Take it from us, we’ve cruised on Inside cabins, Oceanview, and Balcony. If you have a lot of wet gear and don’t want to stink up the place for days, get the balcony. You’ll also appreciate having extra space for your swimsuits out there versus moving them around between the shower’s tiny “drying” line and the sink. It could literally be the difference of a few dollars per night.
6 – You Are Not Limited to the Cruise Line’s Excursions
You were waiting for this one, right? The whole reason to say nay to cruise ships and scuba diving. We’ve been there with the cruise ship excursions. Yes, sometimes they do offer a very good price. And sometimes you can end up with a smaller group. Sometimes. The biggest problem a certified scuba diver is going to face with a cruise ship diving excursion is the possibility that Discover Scuba and Certified Scuba are combined. We love you newbies. Really we do. We were all there once. But combining the 537 of you trying to learn with the maybe 5 of us who just want to get to our 2-tank dives while we’re in port is a rather frustrating proposition. (Okay maybe that was a bit dramatic, but you got our point.) I personally experienced this when I went out in December 2014 on the Norwegian Epic in Cozumel. It’s another great reason to use a travel agency like us (see 10 other reasons to use a travel agent here). We have access to our own excursion providers that we have personally tried. If I send you to dive in St. Maarten or St. Thomas, I know exactly where you’re going and the dive shop you’re going with. It’s a much better value proposition (price, time AND quality).
7 – You Are Less Likely to Get Seasick Than on a Liveaboard
“I can’t cruise because I’ll get seasick.” If you’re basing this statement on the fact that you get seasick on small to medium boats, then you are cheating yourself out of a terrific experience. I get seasick on dive boats. Yup. I’ve chummed the waters over the wreck of the Rhone, barfed all over a dive master in Panama City Beach before we took that giant stride into the water, and turned so green in Pompano Beach that I couldn’t do a second dive. I knoooooow seasick; it’s the main reason I won’t do a liveaboard dive trip. I have never, ever been close to seasick on any of the cruise ships I’ve ever been on. It’s a different feel. It’s a much larger ship versus a boat. Bring your sea bands/Dramamine/Bonine/prescription nausea meds and try a weekend 3- or 4-night cruise. I can almost predict that you won’t get seasick and that you will enjoy yourself. Think of the opportunities it would open for you. Don’t just take my word for it; our company offers a satisfaction guarantee on your cruise vacation.
Got more reasons that you prefer a cruise ship dive vaction? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Until next time, keep traveling and keep diving. And if you haven’t yet, go there with us!