We chose this cruise because it was convenient for all members of the party.
Boarding: about standard. Lido deck was crowded and lines were slow. Wok station offerings were quite good. Burger station, standard but slow. Despite booking Anytime dining and having that show online, we actually had the latest seating and were separated from the other half of our party. They did fix the latter for dinner and by the next morning we had Anytime dining restored, which was nice, and unexpected.
One activity we were all looking forward to was the water slide. Closer inspection revealed the slide emptied into the main pool so they clearly wanted everyone to slide slowly. Ergo, even the small kids were getting stuck. We opted to avoid it.
The staterooms are standard for an older ship, with the obligatory too-short shower curtain resulting in flooded bathroom floor, the vague airflow controller where you guess at the temperature, etc. The shower faucet has a warning to start with cold water or risk being scalded, and the fixture is too hot to touch when you are using hot water at all. Surely that feature could have been changed at any refit.
Afternoon tea was somewhat disappointing. They offered cheap Lipton tea for free and a small variety of other teas for $1.50 per bag. That is the ultimate in nickel and diming. The food options ranged from OK to nice, but they brought the cart to the far end of the table (we were four, next to a table for two, which was next to a table for two, so in essence a six top). Then they asked us what we wanted and we could not see most of the cart. We got up to look and they got a bit upset. We asked what was on offer and they would name one thing when there were about 5 we could not see.
We had dinner in the main dining room each evening and the food ranged from good to excellent. Service was generally quite good.
The main activities for the first sea day seemed to be marketing ploys. My main objection to cruising nearly a decade ago would be that we were stuck in a floating mall and that appears to be more the case than ever. This trend continued. Several events were on the schedule but were really “do your own thing.” We went for the scheduled Scrabble time and after 15 minutes of waiting, one passenger called the desk and was told, if you can find a Scrabble set there, you can play. A couple of us talked about attending the Ladies Pamper Party and decided we didn’t want to sit through another sales pitch.
The walking/jogging path was a nice rubberized path
Our first port of call was Grand Cayman where we dived with Don Fosters. I have dived the Caymans many times but had never used Don Fosters. I was immediately impressed. The sop was clean and orderly. The staff friendly, professional and enthusiastic. They gave us a thorough briefing on the paperwork and what to expect.
We asked for 4 short tanks and they said they would try, and then delivered. Two members of our party got rental gear and said the gear shop mentioned new mouthpieces (a first for me, and a welcome one!) and dive computers—then gave them a quick lesson in how to use the computers. The dive briefings were informative and I could tell the divemasters were excited about the dive sites. Sometimes you get the impression you’re diving the closest, quickest sites so they can get you back on the cruise ship but I really felt they were taking us to the sites they liked. One DM even said they seldom get to use one site in winter so they were excited that the weather was good enough to allow us on it.
We had two new divers and I felt the DMs kept an eye on the group without restricting the more experienced divers.
I would dive with this operation again, happily.View All 46 Scuba - Certified Reviews
When the currents are slack, what do you do? Apparently our divemaster thought finning hard to see the entire reef was a good option.
We were diving with Sand Dollar, and I would not recommend anyone else do the same. The guy we thought was the deck hand (but not dressed to do any in-water rescues) was probably the boat owner, because he was more concerned with my two-band BC damaging his plastic retaining clip that with my gear falling over. I think he came along to make sure the DM didn’t mess up his boat.
As soon as we set our gear down, the deckhand (or assistant captain or whatever he was), M unzipped my husband’s dive bag and started to grab his gear to set it up, and seemed annoyed when asked to stop. They kept wanting to set up my gear too.
The DM’s housekeeping was not good—he was apportioning out weights, dropping a pile of weight belts on the floor as he gave each person weights. My niece asked for 4 pounds and he gave her 6 and seemed reluctant to change it. I was trying to step toward my gear and the DM wandered into my path without noticing me and crowded me so I stepped back. An unsecured tank had rolled out from under a bench into the spot where I had just been standing and I schwacked my ankle on the valve – have a nice souvenir bruise and pain from that. Why was there an unsecured tank there anyway?
The dive briefing was conducted over the roar of the engine as we headed out, with the DM screaming to be heard but not succeeding. At least we got a gist of the bottom time and depth limits for the dive.
The dive platform was quite small with a narrow place to stand and nothing to hold onto as you stepped onto it. As I started my giant stride, my fin caught on the line causing me to twist. I slammed my shin into something hard and face planted into the water. Fortunately I was OK because I don’t think the DM was paying attention.
On descent, my niece--who had rejected the extra weight--was hovering in the water near her husband who was struggling and motioning for an extra weight, which the DM stuck in his BC. Then the DM offered extra weight her – she shook her head and waved him off, but he shoved an extra weight in her pocket anyway. She hadn’t needed the weight but was simply staying close to her buddy; she was then overweighted and struggled a bit during the dive to compensate.
That seemed to be about the last time the DM paid attention to the divers as he took off and kept a steady, fast pace, usually about 20 feet from the top of the reef—or to the side. I’d call it a drive-by dive. We never stopped finning!
After the first dive, the DM insisted on changing my tank and set up my BC incorrectly. He said he would put it right later but for now, he said, M was afraid he would “break the boat” getting the two-band BC into the clip. However, my husband had already shown him how to make it work by putting a weight under the tank to raise it up. Of course, the DM was starting to kit up for the second dive and I had to remind him to reconfigure my gear (I couldn’t get past him to do it myself anyway).
The second dive was similar to the first, with little to no current. In fact, another group passed us going the opposite direction. My buddy and I saw eels, stonefish, and other things we wanted to show the other divers but everyone was finning too hard to keep up with the DM. Finally, toward the end, our companions said screw this and turned around to see an eel and stonefish. Near the end of the dive, the DM found us a splendid toadfish, which was probably the only time he paid any attention to the divers.
Back on the boat, the DM walked past me, trailing signal sausage and hoses which ended up in my lap. That’s the kind of thing I expect from new divers. One of the divers chatted with the DM who said he had once worked for another shop but implied there were too many rules there. Shocker, that. At least he was a pleasant chap.View All 125 Scuba Reviews