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What do you love about diving?


jbrinkm
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Doing our first Discover Scuba on upcoming April cruise and I'm wondering if it might lead to a desire to get certified once back home. Can you tell me what you love about diving? How much does it differ from snorkeling? 

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Discover Scuba dives are simultaneously the biggest selling tool for scuba certification, and the biggest hindrance to people pursuing their Open Water Diver certification.  Why?  It depends on how it's run.  If done properly, the Discover Scuba will inspire a person by introducing them to scuba in a safe, comfortable environment, where it becomes clear that being among the sea life, and in the ocean environment is so much more than they imagined.  If done improperly, the person will feel rushed, and uncomfortable, and likely will not pursue diving at all.

 

Some disagree, but for me diving and snorkeling are completely different sports.  Snorkeling you're mostly at the surface, and many people never dive down.  Even if you do - even if you're quite adept at free diving - you're time underwater is very limited.  With scuba, you're literally immersed in the experience.  Some things you will never see from the surface, either because they're too small to see, or their habitats are hidden in the reef.  Even the sea life and reefs you see from the surface, take on a different characteristic entirely when you are among them as opposed to observing. 

 

I hope your Discover Scuba indeed makes you want to move forward with getting your Open Water certification, and becoming a diver. 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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I started out snorkeling on cruise excursions.  Priority for going ashore, short walk to a boat, short ride to a place with interesting things on the sand.  Because my distance vision isn't the best, I would dive down and get close to the coral, wreck, stingrays, turtles.  Problem was I could only stay down there about 4-5 minutes before taking a rest break on the surface.  The boat crew also made everyone wear a nasty airplane life vest, and until I got all the air out of it, made diving difficult.  

I read of the scuba excursions and made excuses, then one summer I went to a local dive shop 100 miles away, and got certified.  Sorry, but I never tried the Discover trips, and when I returned to the ship that fall, I went on the "real" 2-tank dives.  

What's scuba got over snorkeling? 

-- A longer relaxed time with the fishes.  Instead of a half dozen or so descents to the sand, and half an hour on the surface looking down at the sand, I can make my leisurely way up close and personal with the scenery.  

-- There are only a small handful of spots appropriate for snorkeling at each port-call.  Each dive operator has a dozen or two dive sites to chose from dependent on the interests, skills, abilities of the divers.  

-- Diving can get me to places where sometimes only thousands (or even hundreds) of other people have ever seen, and to get to these rare places I don't have to climb a mountain, or sail the Drake Passage.  It's only a short boat ride from the cruise pier.  (Although I would like to dive the Larsen Ice Shelf).

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Like gemerick I was an experienced snorkeler and liked to free dive but could only spend a few minutes under water. I had seen divers while snorkeling and started looking into getting down there.

 

On a cruise to Grand Cayman I walked down to Eden Rock, a short walk from the pier, and did a discovery dive.  First time down I thought to myself..."what have you been waiting for?". I was 65 at the time. Went home and did the pool portion of the training in late 2018 and then on another cruise did the open water part in early 2019. Did a couple more cruises that year and dived 5 more times, the last one in December '19. 

 

Was scheduled to cruise/dive in 2020 but then Covid hit. Ended up not diving again until a cruise in Dec 2021. Started cruising again in 2022.   I now have just over 20 dives in and while I really like it, it has not become a lifestyle for me. I have no desire to buy all the equipment (I did buy a full length wet suit because I tend to get cold) and dive on my own or go beyond OW certification.  I'm strictly a warm water cruise diver.

 

Did an 8 night ABC cruise in Dec and dived on Aruba, Bonaire and Curcao. Going on a 7 night western Caribbean cruise in early Feb and diving in Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan.
 

BTW, I took my 30 something year old kids on a discovery dive in Roatan when we were there in Dec 2021 and I talked my 2 60 something y/o younger brothers to do a discovery dive in Roatan in Feb. I doubt any of them will take up diving but it's an experience they will always remember.

Edited by mac66
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  • 2 weeks later...

when we married in late 70's Mrs was not particularly comfortable in the water in part to being totally dependent on glasses / contacts. I managed to get her snorkeling with soft contacts when we lived near the Florida Keys and she became a big fan and very comfortable. A low volume mask that fit RIGHT and confidence I would not leave her alone and blind were big factors.

 

I'd been certified b4 we married but just kept that skill on the back burner and was happy when we were at least snorkeling regularly in the Keys and on our newly discovered new love - cruising.  It was a natural extension when on a cruise I showed her what a 'discovery dive' was and convinced her to give it a try - we did it together.  Did she like it?

 

The cruise ended on a Sunday. Within 3 weeks she'd completed Open Water certification, we'd bought 2 full sets of gear and had reservations for our first of many dive trips (Grand Cayman first time out) 3 weeks hence.

 

She said snorkeling was like looking at the fish from outside the tank while diving was getting in with them . . .

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I hate snorkeling since I always seem like I'm going to drown. Give me a tank of air and I'm good to go. I love the peace and quiet of diving. You only hear your breath. To me it's so relaxing. I could see nothing on a dive and be happy. Now if I see some turtles, fish, sharks, I'll be talking about it for days.

 

I don't dive as much but when I do it's my happy place.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Unlike most people on here my diving has nothing to do with cruising. I learnt to dive because it was a fun and exciting thing to do. I started with evening classes then decided to finish it properly in the sea. These days I'm the Diving Officer for the local club, am an Advanced Diver, and Open Water Instructor. (I am qualified to 50m on air and full deco). Also unlike many on here I trained with BSAC not PADI and these days mostly dive through the club (with the occasional dive on a holiday with my wife). I've not dived while cruising (unless you count a liveaboard as cruising!). For me it's mostly about the wrecks and photography, but then it's better yet when the wrecks attract the wildlife. When it comes to wildlife I do like seeing the big pelagics. Snorkelling doesn't really compare. It's easy to throw in a mask fins and snorkel and go off look at the fish, but your so limited to time and depth. Also having been taught to snorkel as part of diver training I find the thought of a cruise excursion where they make you wear life jackets laughable. How on earth can I dive down with a life jacket on?

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For me the biggest difference for me is snorkeling is done in 2 dimensions and scuba is done in 3.  For snorkeling - you are lying flat and enjoying the scenery.  With scuba, you are balancing your buoyancy and get a front row show of what you see from a far while snorkeling.

 

The other thing I like of scuba (during a cruise) - the dives tend to be MUCH less crowded and since you are certified; you are given a certain amount of trust / latitude from the people running the tour.  The largest scuba group I've been on during a cruise excursion is 20 people.  Even with that many divers, I can adjust my depth to not be surrounded by others.  The minimum amount of people I've seen on snorkeling trips is usually 50.  All on the same plane.  There is no escaping those.  And due to liability, usually, the ones running snorkeling trips, treat everyone like it's their first time in the water.  With scuba, they know you have had some level of certification and can quickly tell who is comfortable in the water and who probably hasn't dove in a while.

 

Personally, I love the adventure of it.  I get to put on this gear and do something a large amount of people on this planet don't get to do.  I get to disappear for an hour or so into a brand new world where I am the visitor.   It's also the closest I will probably ever get to replicate what I imagine it is to floating in space.

 

Be warned: once you go scuba, it's hard going back to just snorkeling.  😂😄.  Be sure to RELAX and have fun! (and don't be hung over).

 

 

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1 hour ago, Team Stag said:

Even with that many divers, I can adjust my depth to not be surrounded by others.

 

 

You and your buddy I hope. How do you find getting buddies also experience? I don't think P&O do any scuba excursions so probably moot for me anyway.

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34 minutes ago, Advanced Diver said:

You and your buddy I hope. How do you find getting buddies also experience? I don't think P&O do any scuba excursions so probably moot for me anyway.

Absolutely with my buddy.  Fortunately for me, my wife is my buddy and she enjoys it as much as me (it was her idea to get certified in the beginning vs even going the discover scuba route).  Safe to say, I care about my buddy's safety as much as my own.  We discuss it before hand but have dove enough together to know when we want to go higher or further on the edge of the group. 

Rarely do we dive on ship excursions.  Normally, we will dive with local shops.  We find that it tends to be less expensive, way less crowded and often end up in different places than the cruise ship excursions.  While I normally, have my buddy with me in the cases we are on a family cruise and she wants to hang at the beach with the group; I am either buddied up when we get there or end up being the dive master's buddy.  Occasionally you can a buddy through your roll call but normally the dive shops are use to accommodating singles.

Edited by Team Stag
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As for getting a buddy just ask at the desk when you check in with the dive shop. Or ask around when you get on the dive boat. Usually there is another single diver there or you can always find someone to have a 3 man buddy team 

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One thing I've found with cruise ship divers is that many off a cruise are a single divers. I've never had a problem being matched up with a buddy, some tighter, some looser. Pretty much learn to go with the flow.

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On 3/15/2023 at 4:36 PM, mac66 said:

One thing I've found with cruise ship divers is that many off a cruise are a single divers. I've never had a problem being matched up with a buddy, some tighter, some looser. Pretty much learn to go with the flow.

 

Same here.  Solo cruiser here so I almost always dive with insta-buddies when not travelling with some of my diving friends.  Made several friends this way over the years.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We loved it! Definitely wanting to get certified now, so looking into a few local places to figure that out. Once you do your training, can you do your 4 certification dives with any PADI certified site? Did anyone do this, and how did you work it out?

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On 4/10/2023 at 2:40 PM, jbrinkm said:

We loved it! Definitely wanting to get certified now, so looking into a few local places to figure that out. Once you do your training, can you do your 4 certification dives with any PADI certified site? Did anyone do this, and how did you work it out?

I looked at doing it on a RCL ship, it's offered on Oasis class ships but couldn't swing it. Finally did the class/confined water part at home (in a pool in Nov)  and the OW part on a cruise in Curcao and Aruba. OW dives are two a day, a day (or two) apart. 

 

Doing the OW part at a different dive shop is called a referral dive. Just about every dive operation in the Caribbean (or Florida for that matter) will do referral dives. If you want to do warm water OW dives.  Just need to contact them in advance and set it up.  You take your paperwork from your class/confined water part to your OW dives and have them sign off on the requirements.

Edited by mac66
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On 4/11/2023 at 3:23 PM, mac66 said:

I looked at doing it on a RCL ship, it's offered on Oasis class ships but couldn't swing it. Finally did the class/confined water part at home (in a pool in Nov)  and the OW part on a cruise in Curcao and Aruba. OW dives are two a day, a day (or two) apart. 

 

Doing the OW part at a different dive shop is called a referral dive. Just about every dive operation in the Caribbean (or Florida for that matter) will do referral dives. If you want to do warm water OW dives.  Just need to contact them in advance and set it up.  You take your paperwork from your class/confined water part to your OW dives and have them sign off on the requirements.

 

Thanks! I've located a local PADI dive shop where we can do the class and the pool time. Can you explain more about how you did the OW dives? The shop will do free referrals, and I'd love to do our dives in warmer water! What did the timing look like from a cruise ship? How long was each dive? Did you do two a day with the same operator? How long were you in port to be able to work those dives in? 

 

My husband wants to just do a dive (land) vacation to either do the whole certification or the OW portion. I've read all of the advice on here and want to do the class at our local shop, and would rather do the OW part during a cruise if we can manage it. 

 

If we end up doing a land vacation to do some or all of the certification, I'd love to be in Roatan, Belize or Costa Rica. Any advice or suggestions about that? 

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1 hour ago, jbrinkm said:

 

Thanks! I've located a local PADI dive shop where we can do the class and the pool time. Can you explain more about how you did the OW dives? The shop will do free referrals, and I'd love to do our dives in warmer water! What did the timing look like from a cruise ship? How long was each dive? Did you do two a day with the same operator? How long were you in port to be able to work those dives in? 

 

My husband wants to just do a dive (land) vacation to either do the whole certification or the OW portion. I've read all of the advice on here and want to do the class at our local shop, and would rather do the OW part during a cruise if we can manage it. 

 

If we end up doing a land vacation to do some or all of the certification, I'd love to be in Roatan, Belize or Costa Rica. Any advice or suggestions about that? 

It's a bit more complex doing your referral dives while on a cruise as you'll almost certain;y be doing two dives in one port, with one shop, and the other two someplace else.  If you can tell us your itinerary, people here probably know a shop to recommend.

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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On 4/18/2023 at 7:16 PM, jbrinkm said:

 

Thanks! I've located a local PADI dive shop where we can do the class and the pool time. Can you explain more about how you did the OW dives? The shop will do free referrals, and I'd love to do our dives in warmer water! What did the timing look like from a cruise ship? How long was each dive? Did you do two a day with the same operator? How long were you in port to be able to work those dives in? 

 

My husband wants to just do a dive (land) vacation to either do the whole certification or the OW portion. I've read all of the advice on here and want to do the class at our local shop, and would rather do the OW part during a cruise if we can manage it. 

 

If we end up doing a land vacation to do some or all of the certification, I'd love to be in Roatan, Belize or Costa Rica. Any advice or suggestions about that? 

 

When I did my confined water class, the instructor filled out a skills check off form and gave it to me.  That was in November. We had a cruise planned to the ABCs in early Feb the next year. I started calling around and asked dive ops if they would/do OW cert dives.

 

Our first stop was in Curacao. The dive op said sure and we did basically what was a two tank dive with skills check offs. We then did a dive. Can back and rested and then did a quick skills check and another dive.  I was the only "student". The instructor signed off the skills check on the form and gave it back to me.

 

Next stop was Bonaire but we had some family stuff planned and didn't dive in Bonaire.

 

Third stop was in Aruba where I had arranged my second OW dives.  Again, it was pretty much the price of a two tank dive. The dive operator fit me in with 3 local divers for the skills check in about 30' of water on the first dive which was wreck debris site.  We all apparently did pretty well because the second dive was on the Antilla wreck with no skills check.  The instructor signed off and submitted my name to PADI and a couple weeks later I got my ID card in the mail.

 

And just an FYI. I dived in Roatan in Dec '22. On the boat with us were advanced OW (AOW) divers, me and another OW diver and a couple who were doing their first OW cert dives. They were staying on the island and were doing their second OW dives the next day.

 

In terms of timing the OW check off dives were pretty much the same as any other dives depending on whether the instructor goes back over the skills with your before doing the dive. My first OW dive, the instructor went back over the skills but that's probably because it had been three months since my confined water class.

 

The second day OW was just checks. He asked us to do something, we did it and he moved on to the next skill. Maybe 10 mins to do the skills in shallow water and then we just dived.

Edited by mac66
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Thanks @mac66 for all of the detail! Do you mind sharing how long each port stop was and how long you needed for the dives? I'd probably plan to do what you did, and just find local places that are willing to do the paperwork for us. We'd be a group of 4 which seems like the ratio that most PADI places use, if I'm not mistaken?

 

On 4/18/2023 at 8:29 PM, omeinv said:

It's a bit more complex doing your referral dives while on a cruise as you'll almost certain;y be doing two dives in one port, with one shop, and the other two someplace else.  If you can tell us your itinerary, people here probably know a shop to recommend.

 

Thanks @omeinv/Harris! We don't have an itinerary yet but would love suggestions. I'm eyeing one for the kids next spring break that does Labadee, Aruba and Curacao and would love to do our dives like @mac66 did in two of those ports, then just relax and enjoy Labadee... 

 

Another option might be to do two of our OW dives locally and then only need to do two from the ship, leaving more time on shore to explore some other parts of the islands. Any pros/cons to that approach that you can think of?

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Just a clarification....

 

When I did my first OW cert dives in Curacao I had arranged to do it with my kids' discovery dives.  I sat through their discovery dives and did the same check offs. We then did a dive together. And then the second dive was a quick skills re-check and then a dive. We used Scubacao and did the Discovery Dive and my OW check offs at Tugboat beach.   I think we started at about 9 am, but it was about 10:30 before we actually got into the water. We were back by 2 pm.

 

In Aruba I was picked up at 9 probably back by 1 pm.

 

If you can do a 2 tank morning dive in any port you can go your OW certs.

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5 minutes ago, jbrinkm said:

Thanks @mac66 for all of the detail! Do you mind sharing how long each port stop was and how long you needed for the dives? I'd probably plan to do what you did, and just find local places that are willing to do the paperwork for us. We'd be a group of 4 which seems like the ratio that most PADI places use, if I'm not mistaken?

 

 

Thanks @omeinv/Harris! We don't have an itinerary yet but would love suggestions. I'm eyeing one for the kids next spring break that does Labadee, Aruba and Curacao and would love to do our dives like @mac66 did in two of those ports, then just relax and enjoy Labadee... 

 

Another option might be to do two of our OW dives locally and then only need to do two from the ship, leaving more time on shore to explore some other parts of the islands. Any pros/cons to that approach that you can think of?

 

@jbrinkm You seem pretty clear on the process.  Certification requires Class instruction (folllowing e-learning on line), Pool instruction, and then four open water certification dives, where you demonstrate your ability to apply what you've leaned int he class and pool in the "real world" of open water. 

 

Those certification dives can be done in a variety of ways: by the same instructor that conducted your class and pool training, by a different instructor at the same training center, or on referral.  Probably most divers complete their certification dives on referral. 

 

I think your idea of doing your class and pool where you live is better than doing the entire course on vacation, for a couple of reasons.  First, you'll then have a dive shop at home to deal with for further training, and equipment and advice.  This is valuable and generally your instructor will know more about your specific desires, and thus will be a good source of info and advice.  Second, if you do your whole course on vacation, presumably you'll be spending money to go someplace you want to be; and yet you'll be spending probably 6 hours in a class, and another 10 in either a swimming pool, or in the ocean in "pool-like conditions).  Realistically this means at least two days of your vacation lost to class and pool work. 

 

Training standards require that no more than 3 training dives can occur in one day.  Consequently, almost all the time the certification dives are conducted two one day, and two another day.  They really don't take significantly longer than any other two dives, and in some cases even less time (for example when I do certification dives locally, the water is cold, and there's nothing to see, so the dives go quickly).  When you go out on referral to tropical places, you can expect to be there each day 4 to 5 hours comfortably. 

 

You'll always need to arrange your referral dives in advance, both so the operator your going to expects you, and so you can obtain the necessary paperwork from the shop you did your class and pool training at.

 

As I write this there is a move afoot to cease the "Universal Referral" process.  This had started pre-COVID, but was then not implemented.  It's getting back on track.   What this will mean as it takes effect will be that your instructor that completed the class and pool training,and the instructor that conducts the open water dives, will need to be in current status with the same training agency (PADI, SSI, NAUI, etc).  At this moment (April, 2023) there's still flexibility, but the idea is that other agency referrals will be gone by the end of 2023.  This will mean it will streamline things for you if you make sure the shop your going to has instructors from the agency your class and pool training was under.   This is typically not too hard, as even if the shop you go to identifies as being affiliated with one agency it's common for them to have multiple affiliations; or at least instructors that remain current with other agencies.  Of course if you are doing your dives in two ports, you'll have to pay attention to this twice.

 

You mention doing two of your dives locally and two while on a cruise.  If you're going to do that I'd strongly recommend doing all four dives at home, and then going on vacation as certified divers.  Regular dives tend to be to better sites than cert dives, and you'll have more fun to simply go on a guided dive, rather than be concerned about your skills demonstration.  Here in the Continental US, there aren't a lot of inland dive sites that would be described as pleasant, but there is some advantage to experiencing the less than ideal conditions those places present.  I often point out to my students I certify with local dives that they have already experienced visibility some instructors in the tropics have never seen, and there is value in that. 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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I just want to add that when I did my referral dives I didn't find a dive operator on all three islands I went to who wouldn't do a referral. Everybody I talked to say "yes, we do referrals, come ahead".  My experience since then has been that most dive ops will do just about anything to get your business. They've always been very accommodating.

 

  None of the referral dives took longer than a 2 tank dive except for the first one which was discovery dive for my kids which was very thorough and I sat through (and was very helpful).

 

Normally it would have just been a skills check off with very little additional or further instruction. At least that's the way those operators did it. They expected me to know the stuff, they simply checked me on it with the understanding that I was a new diver.  As I said, most dive ops are very accommodating. If you need more instruction they will do it as well.

 

I understand what Harris is saying but in my experience doing referral dives wasn't very complicated. It's not rocket science.

Edited by mac66
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  • 1 month later...

OK, we are signed up for the class and the pool here at home and are booked on Symphony of the Seas next March to do our OW referral dives to finish the process (Aruba & Curacao). I hope we don't get sick of diving for two whole port days back to back! I know there is a recommendation that you don't fly for 24, or 48? hours after diving - we won't be doing that as we have two more sea days on the ship after our dive port stops, but are there recommendations about not doing dives one day after another? 

 

Once we finish our class & pool time, I'll be back here to check in on dive shop recommendations. I see there is another thread already for Aruba and Curacao, perfect for us as well! 

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