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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


 DIVING: How do the onboard scuba certification programs work?
    
 DIVING: Which cruise lines offer scuba certification during the cruise?
    
 DIVING: How much do scuba diving Excursions cost on a cruise?
    
 DIVING: What equipment is needed to scuba dive? How much do I need to bring?
    
 DIVING: Do I have to be certified in order to scuba dive on my cruise!
    
 DIVING: Do I have to know how to swim before I can scuba dive?
    
 DIVING: What kind of certification do I need to dive?
    
 DIVING: How much does diving Instruction typically cost?
    
 DIVING: What's the minimum age for diving?
    
 DIVING: If I've been diving on my cruise, how long should I wait before flying home?
    
 DIVING: What does "scuba" stand for?
    
 SNORKELING: How much do snorkeling excursions cost on a cruise?
    
 SNORKELING: Where are the best places to snorkel?
    
 SNORKELING: Should I bring my own equipment or rent it?
    
 SNORKELING: Anything "new" in snorkeling?
    


 DIVING: How do the onboard scuba certification programs work?
    
      Here's a general overview of what to expect:
  • Advance sign-up is required. You'll be forwarded course study materials and be tested on those materials soon after arrival onboard.
  • You'll receive poolside instruction and at least one pool dive aboard your ship.
  • You'll receive two open water dives at dive sites within your cruise itinerary.
  • Class size is quite small - usually 4-6 students per certified insructor.
  • The course is relatively intensive, requiring investment in cruise time for the instruction, written tests and the dives.
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 DIVING: Which cruise lines offer scuba certification during the cruise?
    
      As of this writing, just two: Princess and Royal Caribbean. Princess Cruises' "New Waves" program offers PADI certification aboard all their ships on most 7-night Eastern or Western Caribbean cruises. Royal Caribbean offers PADI certification on their 7-night Caribbean itineraries on Freedom of the Seas and all Voyager-class ships.
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 DIVING: How much do scuba diving Excursions cost on a cruise?
    
      The costs vary by dive site (distance from ship, local facilities, etc.) but figure on $75 to $100 for a 4 to 5-hour excursion - equipment included. Bring your C-card because ALL require proof of certification and most have minimum age requirements of 12 years. All are operated in conjunction with local, reputable dive operators who employ certified instructors. All excursions are available for advance purchase through the ship's onboard excursion desk.
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 DIVING: What equipment is needed to scuba dive? How much do I need to bring?
    
      Recreational divers should have:
  • A tank of compressed air, carried on the diverís back
  • A first stage regulator to lower air pressure delivered to the diver
  • A second stage demand regulator and mouthpiece which allows air passage upon inhalation and blocks air escape upon exhalation
  • A face mask over the diver's eyes and nose, permitting underwater vision and stabilization of air pressure within the mask
  • A spare second stage regulator and mouthpiece for emergencies
  • Two waterproof gauges to measure diverís depth and remaining tank air
  • An inflatable vest to provide buoyancy
  • A weight belt and weights to reduce buoyancy
  • Fins to help with your underwater speed and navigation
  • A wet suit to protect the diverís body from hypothermia and cuts and abrasions
There's lots more ways a diver can spend their money! Spare tanks, spare wet suits, dive knives, compasses, emergency signals, whistles, underwater lights, or writing instruments.

The good news is you don't have to bring any of this equipment along on your cruise. Rental equipment is available at major dive sites and some lines offer equipment basics which can be charged to your shipboard account. However, most divers prefer to take their own mask, snorkel, fins and wet suit (dependent on water temperatures and dive duration) and rent the tanks at the site.

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 DIVING: Do I have to be certified in order to scuba dive on my cruise!
    
      No! Entry-level courses are available to give you an introduction to scuba diving - but with full supervision and no certification credit. If you find that diving is a sport you'd like to continue, then a certification course is your next step!

If you do wish to take part in a scuba excursion for certified divers, you must be certified, of course! Don't forget to bring your C-card with you on your cruise - even if you're not planning to dive (just in case you change your mind)!

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 DIVING: Do I have to know how to swim before I can scuba dive?
    
      Well, yes. Before beginning scuba instruction, you should feel reasonably comfortable in the water (be able to tread water, swim short distances, open your eyes underwater, etc.).
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 DIVING: What kind of certification do I need to dive?
    
      Dive operators will require presentation of certification before permitting rental of their equipment or use of dive boats. You'll be fine if you have proof of current certification through any of the following world-wide recognized programs:
  • P.A.D.I. or, PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors)
  • N.A.U.I. or, NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors)
  • S.S.I. or, SSI (Scuba Schools International)
  • YMCA SCUBA
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     DIVING: How much does diving Instruction typically cost?
        
          For Full Certification figure about $275 to $350 per person, depending on the certification program, the instruction location and the number in your class. Private instruction is more expensive. The courses include equipment and study materials, pool instruction and open water training dives whether offered ashore or onboard a cruise ship or off. For certification during your cruise, 2 to 3-hour classes and/or dive excursions typically extend through each day of a 7-day itinerary.

    For the "Introduction to Scuba" class: about $90 to $100 per person. The classes typically run about 2 1/2 hours.

    Other classes (Nitrox Diver, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, etc.) are also available but should be made directly with a local dive operator. We suggest you not pre-arrange these instruction classes during your cruise in the event your port itinerary changes.

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     DIVING: What's the minimum age for diving?
        
          For PADI, the minimum age for a Junior Open Water Diver certification is ten. Ten and 11 year old Junior Open Water Divers must dive with a certified parent, guardian or PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 40 feet/12 meters. 12 to 14 year olds must dive with a certified adult. At age 15, the Junior certification upgrades to a regular Open Water Diver certification. Most other certification programs follow similar age restrictions.

    However, most certified dive excursions offered through the cruise lines have minimum age restrictions of 12 years.

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     DIVING: If I've been diving on my cruise, how long should I wait before flying home?
        
          
  • For a single dive within "No-Decompression Limits": 12 hours minimum.
  • For multi-dives over several days within "No-Decompression Limits": 18 hours min.
  • For dives requiring Decompression stops, a minimum of 18 hours is recommended.
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     DIVING: What does "scuba" stand for?
        
          It's an acronym for "Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus." Essentially, scuba equipment allows divers to carry their own air supply (purified compressed air - not pure oxygen as is sometimes believed) on their backs!
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     SNORKELING: How much do snorkeling excursions cost on a cruise?
        
          A lot depends on the snorkeling location, proximity to the ship, and the local snorkel facilities. But figure about $30 to $50 per person for a 2 to 3-hour excursion.

    Many excursions combine snorkeling with sailing, dune buggy rides, bike rides or hiking excursions.

    Minimum age of 12 years is typical for snorkel excursions operated in conjunction with the cruise line.

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     SNORKELING: Where are the best places to snorkel?
        
          Tough question. You might be surprised to know that snorkeling excursions are available on Alaska and Norwegian Fjord cruises (courtesy of thick, hooded, quarter-inch-thick wet suits, thank you)! But head for the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii, Bermuda, the Mediterranean, Bali, the South Pacific or the Galapagos for the finest snorkeling!

    "Cruise-accessible" to most North Americans, the Caribbean/Bahamas, Mexico and Hawaii offer the most in the way of snorkeling opportunities. As with diving, the coral reefs, clear lagoons and bays (versus river-fed harbors) make the best snorkeling sites.

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     SNORKELING: Should I bring my own equipment or rent it?
        
          It's probably easier to just rent your equipment at the location where you'll use it. Snorkeling equipment is almost always available to rent wherever the snorkeling is excellent! Some cruise lines have snorkel equipment available for rent, too, and almost ALL snorkel excursions include all necessary equipment (mask, snorkel & fins).

    Another thing to consider is that many "snorkel" excursions are offered in combination with ATV rides, catamaran boat rides, biking, etc. and your snorkel gear is already included in the price of those excursions, anyway.

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     SNORKELING: Anything "new" in snorkeling?
        
          Yep. There are two fun things to try on your next tropical cruise!:
    • "Powered" snorkeling. Some excursions offer the use of envirnonmentally-friendly underwater motorized devices that remove some of the effort but none of the fun of snorkeling. The devices provide mobility to depths ranging from 3 to 20 feet.
    • "Snuba!" Sort of a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, snuba provides you with long breathing tubes attached to a compressed air tank that floats on the surface above you (rather than strapped to your back). The apparatus permits deeper and longer dives than available to the snorkeler, yet without the complexity and training required by the diver.
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