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omeinv

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  1. Chris, I haven't been to Tortola, so I have no insight there. St. Thomas has nice diving. In the past I've used Blue Island Divers, but it appears they've closed down. They were based in town, close to the cruise piers, so were good if you like the wreck dives that are abundant in that area. If reefs rather than wrecks are your thing, go with Aqua Marine St. Thomas. They provide port pick-up/return. They are a ways around the island to the south. (Maybe a 15 minute drive). (https://www.diveaquamarine.com/) It sounds like you know Aruba. I really like it there, but most people like it least of the ABC islands. Bonaire has great diving for sure. If you haven't dove the Salt Pier, and you can when you're there (you only can when no cargo ship is there), it's a great second diver. There's usually a lot of good life, and it's and interesting site. The depths are moderate, which is why I'd recommend it for your second dive. The Hilma Hooker wreck is fun. Otherwise I like the sites on the northern end of the island closer to the oil terminal. I use VIP Diving in Bonaire. They're really outstanding, but they do have a very restrictive payment policy that some don't like. They include nitrox in the price of diving, as long as you're certified for nitrox. Another thing with VIP, is that you can select basically any site on the island, and the day includes lunch, and all the time you need. Generally we start as soon as the ship docks, and between long dive times, a long surface interval, and monkeying around using their nice facilities to clean gear and relax we are there the vast majority of the time in port. I mention this since you have the concern about others in your group. The other places you probably could still be a part of an afternoon activity after diving. ( https://vipdiving.com/ ). For Curacao, it's shore diving (like Bonaire). The diving is a little more varied there than Bonaire, and so I find it more interesting. I really enjoy diving with Hans at CURious2Dive. He provides port pick-up and return. Nitrox is available at an extra cost. ( http://www.curious2dive.com/ ) If I were going, rest assured I'd dive all the islands. But to rank them: 1) Curacao 2) Bonaire 3) Aruba 4) St. Thomas I don't know where I'd put Tortola in the list, since I've not been there. On my list Bonaire edges out Aruba in large part because I don't find Bonaire very interesting save for diving. Harris
  2. One thing: Jeffrey can take a few days to reply to emails. If you have trouble making contact, use the link in my signature to email me, and I'll try to get him for you. Harris Denver, CO
  3. Yep. I'll be there in January myself on the Celebrity Summit. Happy Divers is the answer. Harris Denver, CO
  4. Mac, I dove in Freeport, never in Nassau. Stuart's Cove seems to be the go-to there, an dI believe people have said they offer port pick-up and return, and often are the cruise ship's excursion provider. I'll be there in November and may dive then. If I do I'll let you know something more concrete. Harris Denver, CO
  5. The best thing to do is find a dive shop near you, preferably one with their own pool. A snorkeling "set" is always going to be some component. The critical thing is a good mask. The right mask for one person may be completely wrong for another. Fins have a lot of different designs. Some have better propulsion, others pack more easily for travel, and thir weight can vary. I would strongly recommend an open heel design. Most of these you wear with booties, although ScubaPro has a model, called the Go fin, that has a bungee strap, is quite light and designed for travel, and doesn't require boots. Almost any snorkel a dive shop sells should work well for you. The advantage of a shop with its own pool is that you should be able to try equipment before you buy it. This means you can get good fit and go on your trip knowing you'll be set. I realize you could get something on line or at Costco or what not, for probably a third of the price of going through a dive shop. However, considering the cost of the excursions, let alone the rarity of the opportunity to enjoy great snorkeling locations, the price of quality is a bargain in the long run. Harris Denver, CO
  6. For all the Tahitian Islands, you should look to Top Dive. They have operations on all the islands, and you can buy a package, that you can use at the different ports. The diving there is expensive, but amazing. The pre-paid package gets the price down to fairly reasonable. (www.topdive.com) In all cases, I would definitely prearrange your diving. If it's a tender port, advise the operator. In may of the South Pacific ports, even though they tender, the anchorage is very close to the dock, so tendering goes quickly. You're smart to start planning now. My experience has been that responses to inquiries can be slow. Again, the diving is amazing, so it's worth the hassle of planning. Harris Denver, CO
  7. I almost always book my diving independently of the ship. If it's a tender port, that is a slight inconvenience, but can usually be worked around. If the ship is docked, it's generally no problem at all. If I'm looking at the right cruise, I may have some recommendations for you. Please let us know your ports. Harris Denver, CO
  8. You can stay out the entire time the ship is in Bermuda if you'd like; or come and go at any time. Harris Denver, CO
  9. The good news is, all four are ports where you should be able to enjoy great diving that is not unduly challenging. I think you're wise to steer away from the ship excursions. I've seen the operator the ships use in Aruba (Red Sail Sports) and they are definitely "cattle boat" diving. St. Kitts and Aruba are boat diving (Aruba can be shore diving, but boat diving gets you to the nicer sites). Both have a lot of great diving at moderate depths (less than 60 feet). Curacao and Bonaire are typically shore diving spots. I've had excellent experiences on all four islands: St. Kitts: Pro Divers St. Kitts does a nice job, and operates out of themarina immediately adjacent to the ship's dock, so no transportation issues whatsoever. ( https://prodiversstkitts.com/ ). There are interesting wrecks there at those shallow depths, and wrecks you can enjoy without the need for penetration. These are haven's for a lot of good reef life. Aruba: Jeffrey Kost, at Happy Divers Aruba is great. Never more than 6 divers on his boat. He provides port pick-up and return. He's as friendly as a Dutch guy can be. There the Arashi Reef, and Antilla Wreck are favorite dives of mine. Again. the depths are moderate, so you you should be able to have an enjoyable return to diving. ( https://happydiversaruba.com/wp/ ) Fair warning, Jeffrey can be slow to return emails, so be patient. Some history on the Antilla Wreck: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Antilla_(1939) Bonaire: I really like diving with VIP Diving. Some people don't because their booking policy is that they retain 100% of the required pre-payment if you don't dive, including if the ship misses the port. If you have travel insurance this shouldn't be a concern, but it is something to be aware of. They will pick you up at the port for a day of shore diving in which you select which sites on the island you want to dive, based upon your level of experience, and your particular interests. If you pick sites on the northern end of the island you basically get an island tour included with your day. The price includes nitrox, as long as you're nitrox certified; so you may want to take the nitrox course at the same time you do your update class. ( https://vipdiving.com/ ) Curacao: Hans Pleij, at CURious2Dive will take care of you here. Again it's shore diving, and I've never had a group bigger than three people. He'll provide port pick-up and return, and the prices are very reasonable. Nitrox is available at an extra charge. There are many great sites in the Director's Bay area, including the Tugboat dive. ( http://www.curious2dive.com/ ) Harris Denver, CO
  10. All three islands are quite different one from the other, but all have great diving. Bonaire is the most famous for diving, but I woudln't discount the others for a second. Aruba: Jeffrey Kost and Happy Divers Aruba. Port Pick up and return, small boat, great guy, and the Antilla wreck. You don’t need more. Be patient for email responses, Jeffrey can take a couple days. (www.happydiversaruba.com) Curacao: Hans Pleij and CURious2Dive Hans picks you up at the port, and generally there are no more than a couple divers in the group. (http://www.curious2dive.com/). Bonaire: VIP Dive. They pick you up at the port, and you select the sites you want in consultation with your guide. It pays to do you research in advance, so you can make intelligent suggestions. The Hilma Hooker is the only wreck there, but it’s a good one. Nitrox is included in the price, so get your nitrox cert if you don’t have it. Also, they have both 80 and 100 CF tanks, so ask for the 100’s and Get more bottom time for the same price. (www.vipdiving.com) Harris Denver, CO
  11. Feel free to email me (Link below) if you have any more questions. Harris Denver, CO
  12. I imagine they do. I will say diving there is more expensive than other places, so the "boat-rider" fee may be steep too. Harris Denver, CO
  13. Thanks! Harris Denver, Co
  14. Mac, Thanks for the info on everything. Do you have either a website or email info for them? Thanks, Harris Denver, CO
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