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Recommendations for November sailing: Costa Maya/Cozumel/Belize/Grand Cayman


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Ahoy!
As vaccination rates continue to climb and infection numbers continue to drop, we've taken a chance on a November booking on the new Celebrity APEX. While my wife doesn't dive, she's given me clearance to book as many dives as I'd like for the week (she prefers to sleep in, anyways!).

My last dive was March 2020, just before the plague hit, in Cozumel. I've never been to Belize or Costa Maya, and while I've been to Grand Cayman, it was before I took up diving.

The Cruise Planner for this sailing only has 1 2-tank dive excursion listed for the whole week, in Belize. I suspect that might be because we're still 130+ days out, but I would prefer booking with a third party anyways... except for Belize.

I saw a thread recommending Sea Sports in Belize, but their schedule wouldn't get me back to the ship until 2:30, while the cruiseline's excursion would return for 12:30. Since I've never been to Belize (and have dreams of possibly retiring there someday), I'd like to reserve some time to at least walk around the downtown for a couple hours, so I'll probably just book the ship's excursion for the extra $40 or so. 
Any recommendations for the other ports?

Edited by bruzin_for_a_cruizin
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For Costa Maya, it's easy: Gypsea Divers.  You can be assured of a great time, at a very reasonable price, and with people that love what they're doing.  Catherine and Abel will make your day in Mahahual memorable.  Contact in advance by emailing info@gypseadivers.com.  One thing, they don't take credit cards.  I find it easy to just PayPal the money a few days before my visit, but you can take cash of course.  When you get off the ship, just walk all the way through the port shopping mall, then take a taxi.  Tell the cab driver either Gypsea Divers, or the Nacional Beach Club. Tell Catherine that Harris and Rito sent you.  She'll probably charge you extra 🙂. Also, Mahahual is still a pretty nice little village.  Your wife could sleep in while you dive, then catch up at mid-day. ( http://gypseadivers.com/ )

 

Belize is an interesting case.  If the ship offers an excursion, you may want to do it, because then the dive boat comes to the ship, where you're tendered.  It's an unusually long tender ride into Belize City, and then you go back the same way to get to the dive sites.  As for Belize City, I had exactly the same thoughts you did, having heard good things about Belize, so I thought Belize City would be nice.  It's not.  If you don't dive there, please book some excursion. 

 

In Cozumel the people I dive with (Aldora) no longer take cruise customers, unless you're a regular customer.  There are countless options there, some I like, some I don't.  But you should not have any trouble finding something that fits.  You definitely wouldn't want to do the ship's excursion there.  Use the link in my signature and we can figure out who there would be your best option.  

 

In Grand Cayman, I use Off the Wall Divers.  Tom there is a great guy.  He'll pick-up and return you to the pier (it's a tender port), and typically there are very few on the boat.  I hope by November the Cayman Islands are back open, but they've been super-slow to open at all, and even more so to discuss allowing cruise ships to return.  (  https://offthewalldiverscayman.com/ )

 

Harris

Denver, CO

 

 

Edited by omeinv
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20 hours ago, bruzin_for_a_cruizin said:

I knew you would come through with some great advice, Harris. Thank you once again.

If we ever meet up on board, first round is on me!

I absolutely concur with everything omeinv has said; it is all good, sound advice.

 

Let me add, Gypsea Divers is the cutest, most adorable dive shop you will ever go to. The shop could be mistaken for a tool shed. The personal attention is outstanding. 5 out of 5 stars

 

Cozumel has nearly 100 dive shops on the island. Your brief visit there should plant the seed that you need to go back to dive for a week there.

 

The logistics of diving a port stop Belize is rough. Stick with the ships excursion. 

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7 hours ago, omeinv said:

Well, send me an email.  I’ve got several booked so it’s more likely than you might think. 
 

Harris

Denver, CO

Ha! My next two are in my sig: Celebrity APEX on Nov 13, 2021 and Symphony of the Seas on August 27, 2022.

 

Looks like Costa Maya will be a no-dive day this trip. I will use the ship excursion for Belize (I hate paying full pop when I have all my own gear!), and I know Tres Pelicanos gets lots of love in Cozumel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't want to disappoint you, this is informational only and what they stated previously. Grand Caymans is not accepting cruise ships in 2021. Even though the country has stated it, the cruise lines are not taking it off itineraries yet. Just something to keep in the back of your head and plan accordingly.

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8 hours ago, BoozinCroozin said:

Don't want to disappoint you, this is informational only and what they stated previously. Grand Caymans is not accepting cruise ships in 2021. Even though the country has stated it, the cruise lines are not taking it off itineraries yet. Just something to keep in the back of your head and plan accordingly.

Alas, this is a very valid point.  We have a large classified diving program (For divers with disabilities) at our shop, and we've had to continually re-plan scheduled trips to the Cayman Islands.  Consequently I've been paying close attention, and unfortunately November doesn't look good.  Our December trip there is currently so tenuous we're advising people not to book air yet,a nd the Cayman government has made statements indicating cruise visits will be later than other forms of tourism to open up. 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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Here's the graphic the Caymanian government issued today (July 8, 2021), which indicates they're not envisioning a return of cruise travel until January 27, 2022. 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

210644950_5752867588119335_5556816576543539534_n.png

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Bummer. I suspect this will just become a Sea Day on the itinerary.  I was really looking forward to diving in Grand Cayman.

 

I guess that means this trip will just be Belize (already booked the ship's excursion) and Cozumel (still need to find someone who will accommodate ship schedule).

 

 

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  • 3 months later...
On 6/26/2021 at 9:38 PM, omeinv said:

For Costa Maya, it's easy: Gypsea Divers.  You can be assured of a great time, at a very reasonable price, and with people that love what they're doing.  Catherine and Abel will make your day in Mahahual memorable.  Contact in advance by emailing info@gypseadivers.com.  One thing, they don't take credit cards.  I find it easy to just PayPal the money a few days before my visit, but you can take cash of course.  When you get off the ship, just walk all the way through the port shopping mall, then take a taxi.  Tell the cab driver either Gypsea Divers, or the Nacional Beach Club. Tell Catherine that Harris and Rito sent you.  She'll probably charge you extra 🙂. Also, Mahahual is still a pretty nice little village.  Your wife could sleep in while you dive, then catch up at mid-day. ( http://gypseadivers.com/ )

 

Belize is an interesting case.  If the ship offers an excursion, you may want to do it, because then the dive boat comes to the ship, where you're tendered.  It's an unusually long tender ride into Belize City, and then you go back the same way to get to the dive sites.  As for Belize City, I had exactly the same thoughts you did, having heard good things about Belize, so I thought Belize City would be nice.  It's not.  If you don't dive there, please book some excursion. 

 

In Cozumel the people I dive with (Aldora) no longer take cruise customers, unless you're a regular customer.  There are countless options there, some I like, some I don't.  But you should not have any trouble finding something that fits.  You definitely wouldn't want to do the ship's excursion there.  Use the link in my signature and we can figure out who there would be your best option.  

 

In Grand Cayman, I use Off the Wall Divers.  Tom there is a great guy.  He'll pick-up and return you to the pier (it's a tender port), and typically there are very few on the boat.  I hope by November the Cayman Islands are back open, but they've been super-slow to open at all, and even more so to discuss allowing cruise ships to return.  (  https://offthewalldiverscayman.com/ )

 

Harris

Denver, CO

 

 

Harris,

 

Came across your reply - Im on NCL in Jan 2022 and stopping in Cozumel and want to dive. Any places you recommend? Im a seasoned diver but first time cruiser and solo cruiser too and want to make sure I have a good experience finding an non cruise line excursion as I just keep hearing to not book outside of the cruise line because I will get left behind. However NCL isn't offering scuba anyways and I really want to dive Coz.

 

Any suggestions would be great!

 

Thanks!a

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I am sailing next week, so I can't report back on the actual diving, but I've had a great experience thus far dealing with Dive Paradise in Cozumel. Susan (their stateside booking rep) has been exceptional in communications, and I was able to connect with a dive buddy in the Roll Call thread for my cruise.

 

The reason I chose Dive Paradise (aside from some positive reviews on Scubaboard) was that they are offering a 10:00 a.m. Express Boat for cruisers. The other dive shops only have the standard 8:30 a.m. departures, which can be dicey to make in time. Plus, it's an Express Boat, not a "cattle boat" so we will be able to go to sites a little further south, and it won't be in a big group.

 

I wouldn't worry about being left behind in Cozumel. A two-tank dive, even leaving at 10:00 a.m. will get you back to the port by 2:00, or 3:00 at the absolute latest.

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17 hours ago, Megraz said:

Harris,

 

Came across your reply - Im on NCL in Jan 2022 and stopping in Cozumel and want to dive. Any places you recommend? Im a seasoned diver but first time cruiser and solo cruiser too and want to make sure I have a good experience finding an non cruise line excursion as I just keep hearing to not book outside of the cruise line because I will get left behind. However NCL isn't offering scuba anyways and I really want to dive Coz.

 

Any suggestions would be great!

 

Thanks!a

Because I know them, and they know me, I dive with Aldora.  However, they no longer will take cruise passengers otherwise.  
 

Dive Paradise is probably a good option.  I see a lot of them as they’re based at the hotel I start at when I go to Coz.  My only concern is they do a lot of work with large groups like dive clubs and US dive shop group trips. There are large boat is far larger than I would like to be on. However the regular boat should be fine. 
 

You may also want to contact My Grandson Snorkel & Diving Tours Cozumel.  They don’t have a web page, but you can contact them on Facebook, or phone/WhatsApp at: +52 987-118-8974.  I haven’t done with them, but they’re smaller so should need less crowded, and the owner’s son is a staff member on Equinox. 
 

Harris

Denver, CO

Edited by omeinv
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@megraz - We are going on a cruise at the end of November & are diving with Roberta's Scuba Shack.  We have not dove with them before but they had some good reviews & take cruise passengers.  Their communication has been excellent (although they told me they do have some internet issues from time to time; so they suggest resending the email if you have not received a response in 24 hours).  I will be happy to report back after we dive with them with my thoughts & a review.

And has far as getting left behind (which scares me too); most of the dives are going to be a half day & you should have plenty of time to return to the ship unless you are only in port for a couple hours.  Plus these companies know: If a passenger misses a ship because of them, word will travel lightening fast & they won't get another cruise booking in the future.

Edited by Team Stag
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