When it comes to cruise shore excursions, it’s true that some like to take it easier than others and equally true that some cruisers are more at home in the water. If spending time a little way out from the shore is your idea of cruise excursion fun, then there’s a great choice of ocean-related activities to choose from, such as glass-bottom boat tours, kayaking and sailing but for a fully immersive experience, nothing really beats a scuba dive.
Now, if you happen to be a PADI trained-scuba lover, you’ve got it made and will be able to dive straight into the action. If you’re not, don’t worry as, though you won’t be able to dive unqualified, most excursions come with scuba ‘crash course’ included, so even the most uninitiated novice will be able to explore the depths with the aid of a qualified instructor. If you’re aiming to get serious about scuba, it’s a good idea to gain a PADI Open Water Diver certification in your own time before you sail, though a PADI Scuba Diver certification taken immediately before your experience allows you to dive up to 40 feet in the presence of an instructor or divemaster.
Novice or not, there are many must-do dive areas which area easily accessible while on your cruise, so here’s a look at five of the best.
Key West, Florida
The Florida Keys are where you’ll find the USA’s only living coral barrier reef, making them a natural destination for the country’s divers. As well as natural wonders, there are submerged man-made wrecks to explore too. To experience them for yourself, book a Caribbean and USA cruise with Key West on its itinerary.
This little Mexican island has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the world’s premier diving spots, boasting such must-dives as the Tormentos Reef and the Santa Rosa Wall. The strong currents will take you over the surface of the reefs at a rate of knots, so it’s advisable to have some experience before you tackle this one. Try it out on a Mexico or Caribbean cruise.
Half Moon Caye, Belize
Belize is where you go if you’re up for a real challenge as it’s the home of the famous Blue Hole, a 400-foot underwater sinkhole. If you’re on a Bahamas cruise however, there’s a good chance you’ll stop at Half Moon Caye, another of the country’s top dive spots which showcases a wide variety of marine life.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
One of Grand Cayman’s premier tourist attractions is Stingray City, and it’s also the place where you can enjoy one of its most spectacular diving experiences. The name of the place pretty much gives away the nature of what you’ll see, but as such a tourist-centric place, it’s perfect for novice divers.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
As you would imagine, the world’s most famous reef offers scuba experiences galore to suit divers of all experience levels. At over 1,430 miles long, there’s plenty of reef to choose from, but if your Australian cruise includes a shore excursion in the vicinity of the reef, you’ll almost be guaranteed the opportunity to explore one of the world’s most stunning areas of biodiversity.
By Simon Brotherton