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Old 02-12-2009, 05:33 PM
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Hello;

Before I begin, please accept my apologies if these questions are redundant. Our family will be going on a nine day Caribbean cruise in March on the Explorer of the Seas. We will be visiting Labadee, St. Thomas, San Juan, and the port in the Dominican Republic (I forget the exact name) We would like your opinions and suggestions on a couple of questions that we have.

We have cruised once before on a 4 day just to get our feet wet. We enjoyed it so much that we are back for seconds! However, on the first cruise, we did not do any excursions. Our children (4, ages 12-17) would like to try snorkeling. Alas, we have never snorkeled before, either. Swim? Yes. Snorkel? No.

We were wondering if a novice can have a nice experience with snorkeling? Should we try to get some instruction before we leave?

Secondly, I have seen some posts about using your own gear, as opposed to using "USED" gear that is provided. What is the general opinion on that?

Thirdly, would you recommend a cruise excursion for this? If so, which one, as I have seen multiple ones listed. There will be three to five of us going.

I was also wondering if you can find private operators in port who offer snorkeling trips? I am just looking at this as a possible way to save some money, perhaps. Are there reputable private operators out there that you would be comfortable using for a snorkel trip? I would like to be smart with what we spend, but I also appreciate the peace of dealing with the cruise excursions, as well.

Thanks in advance for all of your help. I appreciate it. We look forward to hearing what you might have to offer for suggestions.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 02-12-2009, 05:33 PM
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Hello;

Before I begin, please accept my apologies if these questions are redundant. Our family will be going on a nine day Caribbean cruise in March on the Explorer of the Seas. We will be visiting Labadee, St. Thomas, San Juan, and the port in the Dominican Republic (I forget the exact name) We would like your opinions and suggestions on a couple of questions that we have.

We have cruised once before on a 4 day just to get our feet wet. We enjoyed it so much that we are back for seconds! However, on the first cruise, we did not do any excursions. Our children (4, ages 12-17) would like to try snorkeling. Alas, we have never snorkeled before, either. Swim? Yes. Snorkel? No.

We were wondering if a novice can have a nice experience with snorkeling? Should we try to get some instruction before we leave?

Secondly, I have seen some posts about using your own gear, as opposed to using "USED" gear that is provided. What is the general opinion on that?

Thirdly, would you recommend a cruise excursion for this? If so, which one, as I have seen multiple ones listed. There will be three to five of us going.

I was also wondering if you can find private operators in port who offer snorkeling trips? I am just looking at this as a possible way to save some money, perhaps. Are there reputable private operators out there that you would be comfortable using for a snorkel trip? I would like to be smart with what we spend, but I also appreciate the peace of dealing with the cruise excursions, as well.

Thanks in advance for all of your help. I appreciate it. We look forward to hearing what you might have to offer for suggestions.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:04 AM
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Hi there! You can definitely snorkel without any "training" IMO. As long as you are a fairly strong swimmer, you should have no problems. Of course, not going with a tour, you're not going to know the nuances of that particular island with regard to currents, tides, etc (so staying with a tour group might not be a bad idea). We bring our own gear always, but I don't really know if that's better than renting to be quite honest. We also always go out on our own and never with a tour. I personally wouldn't hesitate in hiring an island tour company as long as you do your research before hand, though I know there are many on here that always suggest going through the cruise line.

As for "having a nice experience" on your own...that's going to depend completely on where you snorkel and that's where a tour would be beneficial. We've gone on our own and havent seen a single thing. And we've gone and seen a lot. Crap shoot.

I'm sure some of the very experienced cruisers on here will give you some great ideas on where to go and possibly on who to use on any specific island. Wealth of knowledge on here.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:48 PM
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There is beautiful snorkeling in St. Thomas at Coki Beach, from the shore. Great place to try this on for size. Also many posts on ferry service on St. John. On St. John there is Trunk bay with a marked snorkel trail, also accessible from shore. did not think snorkeling at Dominican Reb. was that good compared to around St. Thomas. We are using a private vender in St. Thomas (can't recommend yet,won't have tried him personally until March 6). we always prefer this to the ship's offering due to smaller groups. We have had amazing luck with Shoretrips.com, Much smaller groups (although not much cheaper--still worth it to us). You can try out snorkeling at Labadee, but there is not much to see. We have snorkeled there "for practice" for my kids but wouldn't want that to be their only experience with this.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:49 PM
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by the way, shoretrips.com is US based and insured. they have been operating something like 8 years and none of their venders has failed to return people to their ship on time. I have used them about dozen times for many different types of tours and have zero complaints.
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Old 02-13-2009, 06:36 PM
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Thank you both for the help. I'm trying to get a feel for if we can snorkel without experience, if we need our own gear, and if it would be better to book through the ship or try and go it alone.

Your answers helped tremendously. If there are others with opinions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you, too!

Thanks!
Mark
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:43 AM
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We have used the gear provided by the tours for years and years and never had any problems, sometimes need to ask the guide for a better fitting mask and the like. We now have our own and love it. I would try it out and then decide about purchasing in the future. It also adds a certain amount of weight to the luggage. I know people who carry their own mask and snorkel for sanitary and fit reasons, and use the tours fins.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:32 PM
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mstick
We have snorkeled at both Coki beach and trunk bay also. There's no need to book a tour, just hire a cab right at the port.
Both places offer gear right on the beach. This makes it very easy to get the right fit.
Don't bother with flippers at coki, the water is very shallow. you can see the fish while standing. Coki is in a 'rough' neighborhood, but really more poverty than danger. The advantage is that here you can feed the fish. A lady sells dog bones and they'll eat right out of your hands. They also have jet ski rentals and coral world is here. ( not really worth the money as you can see all the fish out in the water for free! Also the lawn chair and drink vendors can be a nuisance!
St. John is a little more expensive to get to. A cab, a ferry and another cab. But it is very clean and has clean bathroom facilities.
Megans bay is a nice sandy beach, but nothing to see while snorkeling.
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Old 02-14-2009, 04:29 PM
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Again, thank you for the responses. It all helps in making our decision a little easier. I appreciate the insight of all you veteran cruisers out there.

Mark
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Old 02-15-2009, 02:57 AM
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quote:
We were wondering if a novice can have a nice experience with snorkeling? Should we try to get some instruction before we leave?

Secondly, I have seen some posts about using your own gear, as opposed to using "USED" gear that is provided. What is the general opinion on that?


If you have access to an indoor heated pool, you could get some inexpensive equipment and practice. It probably isn't necessary though.

To the second question; If I'm driving to the port I take my own. If' flying I at least take my own tube. Something about putting their tubes in my mouth I don't like. Yeah, I know they "sanitize" them, but for a germ-a-phobe their method is questionable.

Carnival's shore excursion desk sells inexpensive tubes for $5. I'm not sure if they do on Royal Caribbean. Good luck and happy snorkeling! You'll love it!

Dwayne
 
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