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March 1997 Vol. 12, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Bargain Diving: A Caribbean Sampler

Contents of this Issue:
All publicly available

Bayman Bay Club, Guanaja

Bargain Diving: A Caribbean Sampler

Resorting to Alternatives

Great Whites Winter in Florida

Hot Flash: Substrobe 200

Travel Notes

Looking over the Edge

DEMA: BOBS, Yes; No Bubbles, No

Flotsam & Jetsam


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Ben Davison

Publisher and Editor

Undercurrent

3020 Bridgeway, Suite 102

Sausalito, CA 94965

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from the March, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

I assigned myself the task of finding the best budget itinerary for a dive trip, and I was surprised by what I found. Would you believe a Caribbean sampler of Curaao, Venezuela, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Honduras, and Cozumel, all for $52 a day, including accommodations, meals, and transportation?

Not your normal dive trip, but here's how it can be done. Norwegian Cruise Line is offering an 11-day cruise aboard the Royal Odyssey to the above six destinations for $649 a person for the first two passengers and $199 each for the next two. Add that up and divide it by four people, and it's $52 a day. True, you have to pay for the diving at each port, but I think it's still the hands-down winner of the budget-dive-trip-of-the-year award. According to Norwegian Lines, the trips, which run through April, are selling out fast.

Cruises normally offer their own dive packages, but I would avoid them unless you're willing to sacrifice for the convenience. Not only are they usually more expensive, but I've noticed that cruise-ship divers are treated differently by the local dive operations -- they usually take divers to the closest and easiest, but not necessarily the best, dive sites. It takes a bit of pre-travel research to come up with the dive shops on each island, but the rewards are better diving. An In Depth/Undercurrent reviewer recently did a cruise-and-dive on a different Norwegian Line itinerary. She did her homework before sailing; she shares what she found out below.

First stop was Barbados with Hightide Watersports at Sandy Lane Hotel in St. James (bookings 1-800-513-5763, web site www.gti.net/hightide, email hightide@sunbeach.net). Primo service, supplying us with transportation to and from the terminal. The dive boat was fast, with cover from the sun. Did the Stavronikita wreck, which maxes out at about 100 feet. Interior passageways have been cut out to accommodate divers. This is a beautiful wreck, but viz was poor due to a recent storm. It's a macro paradise!

Next dive was Fisherman's Reef, a nice, relaxing drift dive, but I couldn't help feeling that it was called Fisherman's Reef because it had been fished out. I would forego the reef dive.

Next port of call, St. Lucia, where Anse Chastanet provided a pickup service. My experience with them was not the best -- $85 for a two-tank dive and a lunch, the first dive being a checkout dive off the beach! We did stumble upon two scorpion fish locked in either mortal combat or wild sex.

The second dive was about a three-minute boat ride to just outside the reef -- a drift dive. I trailed behind and found a large frogfish sitting quietly in a barrel sponge. Our short-tempered German divemaster was an aggravation (011-758-459-7000, fax 011-758-459-7700).

Third port of call was Tortola, where I took a taxi out to Blue Water Divers on Nanny Cay. These guys were service oriented and took us out to the R.M.S. Rhone wreck. However, the place reminded me of a big parking lot! There must have been at least eight boats. Visibility was poor -- too many divers stirring up sediment -- but the wreck was another macro paradise (1-809-494-2847, fax 1-809-494-0198).

Last port: St. Thomas. I was picked up at the dock by Sea Trade Ltd. (1-809-774-2001, fax 1-809-777-9600). These dives were shallow, but a welcome surprise: loads of fish, large spotted eagle ray, large spotted drum, baby spotted drum, nurse shark, lobsters galore, goldentail and spotted eels, and more. Tom, our divemaster, gave me lots of latitude.

B. A.

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