Many cruises feature ports of call – that’s part of what makes a cruise so interesting. You get to moor the ship and be a tourist for a little while. But sometimes, the more interesting ports of call are actually under the water. Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line that offers an onboard scuba certification program. After you get your sea legs, you can dive in and explore beneath the waves.
Royal Caribbean ships offer PADI scuba certification. PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is the largest and most trusted diver training organization in the world. With your PADI instructor, you’ll be able to master your Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus in no time.
PADI offers a few different courses and tours on Royal Caribbean ships, but before you choose which one is right for you, you have to meet the requirements for learning how to scuba dive.
Prospective scuba divers must:
- Be at least 12 years old.
- Complete a scuba medical questionnaire.
- Demonstrate basic swimming skills (swim for 200 meters, float and tread water for 10 minutes).
Got that covered? Check out the following courses.
PADI Discover Scuba Diving
This program is for beginners and first-time divers alike. You’ll learn how to maneuver in shallow waters first, then head out on a guided tour. It’s like an introductory scuba class, but it doesn’t come with certification.
PADI Open Water Diver Course
The open water diver course offers scuba diving certification, and it comes with at-home prep for you to complete before you board the ship. You’ll execute a two-tank dive through some of the most beautiful underwater seascapes and walk away with independent diving qualification.
This program is for those who are already certified divers, and just want another chance to tour the ocean deep. If you’re qualified for PADI Reactivate, you can also try one of Royal Caribbean’s private dives.
Try Dive is for those who just want to get their feet wet (no pun intended) and see what it would be like to enter the diving world. This is just a brief 30-minute course that takes place in a shallow onboard pool. After you try diving here, you might want to go back and experience one of the programs listed above!
Once you know what you’re doing in the water, it’s time to explore the world’s best underwater seascapes. Here are some of our favorite destinations that Royal Caribbean offers dives to.
King’s Wharf, Bermuda
At King’s Wharf, you can see one of Bermuda’s 350+ shipwrecks at depths of 30 to 60 feet below the surface. Then you’ll tour the world’s northernmost coral reef system, featuring colorful reefs with plentiful subtropical fish.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
You can also explore a shipwreck in the waters of Tortola. This dive is situated around the ruins of the RMS Rhone, a massive British steamer that sank in 1867. Explore the ship from stern to bow, from shallow to deep waters. You’ll also encounter the resident turtles, eels and nurse sharks.
In Willemstad, you can explore the Curacao Sea Aquarium’s sparking blue lagoon. On this 3-and-a-half-hour dive, you can swim with and feel stingrays, giant turtles, tarpon and lemon sharks. Pose for underwater pictures while you’re at it!
Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico
Puerto Costa Maya features a super-involved 4-hour dive in which you can experience the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This reef system is the largest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere and the second-largest barrier reef in the world. This hidden gem features 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk and 500 different species of fish.
Bonaire National Park, Bonaire
Bonaire National Park is one of the Caribbean’s top scuba diving destinations, and it’s not hard to see why. The park has been a protected reef since 1976, and it has a massive diversity of underwater wildlife like tropical fish, coral, eagle rays, turtles and more. The warm, pristine waters of Bonaire are a perfect setting for this underwater kaleidoscope of color.
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Rivaling Bonaire National Park as one of the best dive destinations in the Caribbean, St. Croix offers a varied dive experience. At St. Croix, you can scuba down to three different shipwrecks: a fishing trawler, a barge and a tugboat. After exploring the ruins, you’ll head to a colorful, biodiverse reef that sits at the comfortable dive depth of 45 feet. These pleasant and gentle waters make for a stress-free scuba experience.
No matter where you go scuba diving, it’s one of the coolest things to do on your vacation. And if you get certified, the fun doesn’t have to stop when you go home. Your scuba adventure doesn’t have to be a one-off, it could be the start of a whole new underwater hobby. You might even grow gills.
Save on a Royal Caribbean cruise when you book today.