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bobmacliberty

Woodwind Review with pics (Spoiler Alert: Awesome)

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We did a 3 hour (8:30-11:30) snorkel tour with Woodwind on 23 May and I want to provide some details to those looking for a snorkel tour provider.  Bottom line...they were fantastic.  Well deserving of the great reviews that they get on Cruise Critic.  We were 4 adults (all 50 somethings), two of which had snorkeled before a few times, and two of which had never done it before.  One person who had never done it was very nervous and even considered staying on the boat the whole time.  She ended up giving it a try and was VERY glad that she did.  One of the crew personally stayed with her the entire time to ensure that she was comfortable.

 

Getting there is very easy.  It's a short walk (5 minutes?) from the South Pier to the meeting point by the Casino sign.  See the blue line in the picture below.  The orange box is the Divi Flamingo Resort.  There is a locked gate to the resort property at the meeting point.  Ulf will open the gate and direct you to walk all the way to the other end of the resort property, where you will find a small desk and waiting area.  The boat will be docked here.

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The crew onboard was Dee, a captain driving the boat, 3 other people who helped and were in the water with us, and a photographer.  Dee gave everyone a welcome, orientation, and safety talk before we boarded.

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You could sit in the rear covered area, or the front of the boat (cushions in the picture above or on the netting).  They put everyone's belongings inside the cabin to keep them dry and secure.  There were 2 heads with marine toilets available if needed.  We were split into 2 groups and Dee ensured that everyone had the gear that they needed.  She ensured that everyone's mask fit and if needed, provided prescription masks, and gave everyone flippers to fit their feet.  They had wet suits, UV shirts (highly recommended to avoid sunburning your back) and flotation devices if wanted.  We sailed to Klein Bonaire and began drift snorkelingMost of the passengers were fairly new to snorkeling and the surface waves were a little rough in the first place that we stopped.  They decided to move around Klein Bonaire to a different point where the surface would be less wavy.  As we floated along with the current, the captan kept the boat near us in case anyone wanted to get out of the water.

 

The photographer was great.  She got good shots of the boat, passengers on the boat, passengers underwater, and lots of underwater fish and coral.  For $40, she emailed a link to all pictures that she took...a bargain compared to our cruise ship and other excursions with photographers.  You can download some or all of the pictures for your personal use.  Here are a few of the pictures that she took.

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The water was crystal clear, and the fish and coral were plentiful with a large variety.  You could float over shallow areas using a noodle (see the turtle picture above) or dive down into deeper areas.  There were 3 guides in the water with everyone to point things out and to ensure that no one has any problems.  As noted above, they were absolutely fantastic with the person in our group who was nervous, making her feel very comfortable.

 

We were in the water for an hour but there was so much to see that it went by quickly.  After getting back on the boat (flip down ladder that is easy to climb), there were drinks and food available (included in the price).  They made a nice rum punch (plus water, soda, and juices) and had a fantastic sort of Asian/Caribbean stir fry with chicken.  We devoured the food, both because it was delicious and because we worked up an appetite  I think they asked at the start if anyone had any special dietary restrictions.  None of us did, so I don't know what other options were available.  

 

All in all, it was an excellent experience.  My only disappointment is that they don't have T-shirts for sale. 😄  Happy to answer any questions that anyone may have.

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Nice review! We had very similar experience in early March when we were there.  We found them to be fantastic.  Great crew, great weather, great variety of fish to see and a fantastic meal on the way back.  Would go with them again next time we are down there.

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We are doing this tour in December.  Can't wait..

 

You were only in the water for just 1 hour?  Seems like a short period of time when the tour is 3 hours long

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I think our total trip was shorter than normal...3 hours.  They had another tour going out in the afternoon that I think was 4 hours.  That may be their typical tour length.  Our in-water time may also have been shortened because we needed to move from our original snorkel spot.  About half the passengers were in the water so by the time they got everyone back in the boat, and then motored to the other side of Klein Bonaire, I'm guessing that we lost 15-30 minutes of water time?  It does take time at the beginning to get everyone geared up and give the needed safety instructions, and it takes time to eat lunch and head back after coming out of the water.  While I could have spent more time in the water, 1 hour was plenty of time.  My guess is that most tours will have more than an hour, but that water conditions and the experience level of fellow passengers will influence that.  YMMV.

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Thank you for the review! We booked Woodwind for our cruise in November. I've snorkeled before but am nowhere near proficient and my husband never has, so it's comforting to hear how they work with beginners. I'm looking forward to it now!

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We were on the afternoon tour that same day and it was 4 hours. That was one of the coolest things we've ever done. The water was beautiful and the reef was amazing, Bonaire was our favorite port. We actually talked about it last night and decided if we ever go back we will do the morning tour and spend the afternoon in the town. It was a very fun day!

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5 hours ago, trucker den said:

Tanks for the review. How many people were on the tour? Was it crowded?

I'll guess about 16 passengers. There were 8 of us sitting in the front of the boat and it seemed like about the same number sitting in the back.  I didn't count.  Never felt crowded at all, either on the boat or in the water, other than when everyone gathered around a sea turtle.  😄

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5 hours ago, Reginaldvanpelt said:

We were on the afternoon tour that same day and it was 4 hours. That was one of the coolest things we've ever done. The water was beautiful and the reef was amazing, Bonaire was our favorite port. We actually talked about it last night and decided if we ever go back we will do the morning tour and spend the afternoon in the town. It was a very fun day!

 

Bonaire was our favorite port as well.  We followed your plan and spent the afternoon in town.  After some shopping, we enjoyed a drink at Karel's Beach Bar on a dock next to impossibly clear blue water.ABCIslands-46.thumb.jpg.74f03dd2fb2618aaa307308d58250aa0.jpg

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14 hours ago, bobmacliberty said:

After some shopping, we enjoyed a drink at Karel's Beach Bar on a dock next to impossibly clear blue water.

That's exactly the plan!

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Thank you bobmacliberty for the review.  We decided to book with Woodwind for our Jan 20 cruise on Explorer.

I have a strange question.  Do you have any idea how the prescription googles work?  I am in a position of needing my glasses to see anything, I used to wear contacts to correct my vision but that isn’t possible any longer.  I hate to go without because I would like to see the wildlife.

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They have masks in a variety of prescriptions onboard and will let you try them on the boat to find one that works for you. They are not bi-focal and are only good for seeing distances, not up close (I think...might have that backwards).  They should be able to get a mask for you that meets your needs.  I emailed them a couple of times with questions ahead of our tour and they were very good at replying.  I suggest emailing them with your needs to be certain that they can help.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you bobmacliberty  for the advice.  I have e- mailed them already to ask other questions.  They always respond quickly.  I’ll do the same again.

Oh and——Go Bucks!  O🙌 IO

Edited by TinkBellaMom

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On 6/11/2019 at 12:04 PM, hp_slash said:

Thank you for the review! We booked Woodwind for our cruise in November. I've snorkeled before but am nowhere near proficient and my husband never has, so it's comforting to hear how they work with beginners. I'm looking forward to it now!

 

Let me put you at ease...... my 5 year old and 7 year old did the whole tour last Dec.

We were totally OK having to get back on the Cat to let others continue on if the kids got tired and/or couldn't do it.

 

My 7 year old daughter swam the whole thing. (granted it's a "drift snorkel")

My 5 year old son - Woodwind pulled out a pool noodle and he drift floated/snorkelled the whole thing. 

 

Both kids insist it's the best thing they've ever done (over Disney!) and want to know when we're going back.

 

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On 6/19/2019 at 11:26 PM, TinkBellaMom said:

Thank you bobmacliberty for the review.  We decided to book with Woodwind for our Jan 20 cruise on Explorer.

I have a strange question.  Do you have any idea how the prescription googles work?  I am in a position of needing my glasses to see anything, I used to wear contacts to correct my vision but that isn’t possible any longer.  I hate to go without because I would like to see the wildlife.

@TinkBellaMom just an FYI - about 20 years ago I got a Rx snorkel mask from a local dive shop.  It's a straight magnification lens so they can't correct for astigmatism or if your left/right are vastly different, but for me it's been worth every penny.  These days you can find them online for <$100.  I take mine on every trip (along with a dry-top snorkel) and then just use the boat's fins.

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Thanks for the excellent review.  We have booked this excursion when we are in 

Bonaire in November on the Edge.  Sounds like they do a great job!

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On 6/12/2019 at 5:49 PM, bobmacliberty said:

 

Bonaire was our favorite port as well.  We followed your plan and spent the afternoon in town.  After some shopping, we enjoyed a drink at Karel's Beach Bar on a dock next to impossibly clear blue water.ABCIslands-46.thumb.jpg.74f03dd2fb2618aaa307308d58250aa0.jpg

Thanks for the detailed review!  I am in the process of booking them for our May 2020 cruise.  Was deciding between morning and afternoon and saw this review and this comment and picture.  I think we will do morning and then explore the town.  This spot looks beautiful.  Is it in walking distance to the port?  

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11 hours ago, NBliving said:

This spot looks beautiful.  Is it in walking distance to the port?  

Yes.  It's on the waterfront in the shopping area, about a 5 minute walk from the port.  Turn left when existing the port area rather than right to head toward the shopping area (see map in post #1).  Port, Woodwind, and shopping are all close together.

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WOW! Thank you for this review! We are booked for December 2020 and cannot wait!  Never been to Bonaire and are excited to snorkel the amazing waters

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On 10/23/2019 at 1:09 PM, bobbyd6363 said:

WOW! Thank you for this review! We are booked for December 2020 and cannot wait!  Never been to Bonaire and are excited to snorkel the amazing waters

 

IIRC you're on Freedom in Dec?

We've had to change our itinerary and are now doing the ABC's on Explorer in December.

Just an FYI - I was able to book our reservations with Woodwind on the weekend. Yes, they will book that far out, and I highly recommend this trip. It's our second time, and its availability was my condition for changing our itinerary over. LOL

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I just bought a new underwater camera for this excursion--can't wait to see some sea life!!

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On 10/28/2019 at 6:34 AM, NateUpNorth said:

 

IIRC you're on Freedom in Dec?

We've had to change our itinerary and are now doing the ABC's on Explorer in December.

Just an FYI - I was able to book our reservations with Woodwind on the weekend. Yes, they will book that far out, and I highly recommend this trip. It's our second time, and its availability was my condition for changing our itinerary over. LOL

We are on the 13 December 2020 sailing.  I have created a roll call here: 

 

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We are booked with them for a morning tour February 2020. Cant wait the pictures look amazing we were wondering if it be possible to rent a golf cart for the afternoon after woodwinds tour? Would there be enough time? 

Edited by tlm48

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Thank you, Bobmacliberty, for such a great review! I am sold on this bunch.

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We did this tour earlier in the year and really enjoyed ourselves, we are doing it again in Dec with 4 teens/yong adults

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