We are going on an Eastern Carribean Cruise in January. NCL Jewel. Islands are San Juan, Antigua, St Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay. I Have heard at St Thomas we should take a Ferry over to St Johns for snorkeling. I am wondering if snorkeling at alot of these places is from shore. How expensive is the equipment rentals? What part of the equipment do you really need? I have snokeled with just a mask and snorkel, with mask, snorkel, fins and Life jacket. How much is really neccessary? Could we bring a mask and snorkel and rent life jackets, or would we not save much? We have younger people going with not alot of extra cash.
Also I have heard renting a jeep on San Juan is the way to go for the Jungle tour. Is this safe and how easy is it to get around without getting lost? Thanks for any help.
All of the excursions we've booked have included the snorkel gear as a part of the excursion. If you have your own mask and snorkel, most of the beach snorkels will not require a life vest since it is not an organized excursion (ie. Trunk Bay in St. John). Great Stirrup Cay is a private island and you can use your own equipment there. We booked an excursion in Antigua, although the water was clear, there were too many jelly fish for me to enjoy the snorkel. If you have your own equipment, I would recommend bringing it. Not because it will save you money through an excursion, but because it will fit properly. Also, if you choose not to book excursions and do beaches on your own, all you have to do is take your equipment. Most locals will be very helpful suggesting beach snorkel areas. Of course, most will be very willing to take you there, so make sure they are a valid taxi service. Best wishes and have a wonderful cruise!
We have been on two other cruises and have done four other snorkeling excursions. On which one we were only give a snorkel and mask and told to swim out to a reef and be careful where we stepped. On another one the sanitation of the equipment was questionable. The other two were good. All of which we set up thru the cruise ship. So my experience is if I am going to snorkel from shore and don't need a life jacket why rent equipment that is less than adequate.
I'm not sure what you're asking, but I think you are wondering why you have to pay full price for an excursion if you don't use their "less than adequate" equipment. My only guess would be that there is a formula for pricing that is used to insure a line of profit. Doing excursions on your own, in most cases, will save you money. For an example: Trunk Bay-ferry $6/pp (each way), cab to Red Hook $11/pp (each way), cab to Trunk Bay $4.50/pp (last time we went), park entrance was $2/pp, I read a post where now it is $4/pp. So, for approximately $50/pp you could go to St. John. The excursion price on board $60-120/pp. You could take a cab from Charlotte Amalie to Magen's Bay for $8.50/pp or to Coki Beach for about $10/pp. However, in St. Lucia I decided not to do an excursion and we went to Pigeon Island. Cab fare was $30/pp each way, entrance was $10/pp for the day. Total cost $160 including tips. We could have booked an excursion through the ship for $59/pp that included rum punch, so we spent an additional $42 but came and went as we pleased. So it can go either way. Do search the internet for excursion pricing, it may turn up some good deals. I'm not sure about beach snorkeling in Antigua or San Juan, but in St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay there definitely is. Hope I understood your question and helped a little.
Most places will rent you some equiptment and the quality will vary from place to place. But keep in mind how many people have used the gear before you. Foot fungus...oral diseases etc. I have worked in a few of these places and have never seen the gear washed. The point is...bring your own mask and snorkel...fins better yet. As for the life vest, you should be OK with the operator's vest unless you plan to go off on your own. You might also consider buying a snorkel vest while you are in port - the cost is not really that much different than in the states and you will not have to carry it down with you. The key consideration in using a vest is to avoid the yellow colored vest because the marine life, including sharks and stingrays, are attracted to the yellow color...same with fins. You will note that many stores and operators currently sell or stock the yellow color - the word has gotten out and you will see more blue and black in the future. This phenomemon has been looked at closely and many caribbean shark attacks have been traced to the yellow snorkeling vests and/or fins.
Also a wetsuit can come in very handy ( blue or black only). Remember the water temperature varies between 70 and 80 F; your body temp is 98F. The 20 degree difference can lower your body temperature quickly and often results in impaired judgement ( going out too far or down too deep) or extreme fatigue. The wetsuit can also prevent the bends, sunburn and massive burns from jelly fish.
Lastly, make sure that you take your wallet and passport with you. A passport is worth about $1000 on the black market in the caribbean. Your wallet..well are you gonna trust that left in your room? with the operator? worse yet...with your spouse?