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S0nny

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About S0nny

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  • Birthday 06/13/1984

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  1. Just FYI, a lot of credit card companies are deferring interest and monthly payments (as well late payments and fees). I encourage you to call your company and ask for any available assistance during this time. You may find that many of them are super lenient.
  2. OVERALL REVIEW Alright cruise family. I wanted to write this post to give people the opportunity to decide IF getting their certification onboard a cruise was the right choice. Let me start with some pro's and cons. PROS: - Some of the BEST DIVE LOCATIONS you could certify in! It's not everyday you get to dive in crystal clear water and see amazing coral life. To certify in those conditions with varied locations is not afforded to everyone. - You are certifying with experienced dive instructors who really know how to cater to their clientele while providing exceptional customer service. We heard horror stories from members in our class that went diving with a local company on Cozumel. (apparently the dive "master" grabbed her by the arm and tried dragging her under when she had difficulty clearing her ears. And then when she fought back, he just LEFT HER and her buddy!) - You will NEVER certify with equipment of this caliber. Everything from the gorgeous blue tanks, to the BCD's, and depth gauges are an amazing quality given the amount you're paying. - Speaking of money, the COST is really on par with what you would pay on land. For approximately the same price for certifying on land, you are getting quality instructors, quality equipment, and TOP NOTCH dive destinations. - NO IN CLASS INSTRUCTION! I personally LIKED not having to be in class like I did when I certified for my Junior Open Water Certification. It was all online and at our own pace. - Even if you don't complete your Open Water Diver, you can be signed off for the water depth you did complete, and may have a credit towards a future PADI course. We had a student that refused to dive after our first open water dive due to motion sickness. I asked what would happen to money she paid, and they indicated that she could use it towards a future class. I think this would just cover the PADI expenses, but at least it is comforting knowing it's not a total loss. CONS: - You're supposed to be on vacation! Our vacation time is sacred to us; spending any time not drinking, relaxing, or doing cruise activities is kinda a drag. And you're not supposed to drink prior to diving... so that leaves little time to enjoy the libations. - Cruising with a group would RUIN your experience. If you were part of a larger group that DIDN'T want to certify, it would be very difficult to coordinate dinners and excursions around the certification and training. We were lucky it was just the two of us, but we would have been miserable doing the training if our friends were on the ship too and living their best life. - Not all equipment can be rented. You still have to buy a mask/snorkel and fins; they "can't" be rented. (I think your millage may vary depending on our instructors... ours were accommodating, but we wanted our own anyway). - Taking the course with a group of people is a gamble. Our group wasn't terrible. But, there were members that were constantly sea sick and that brought its own challenges. - This is not something you can add at the last moment. You have to have paperwork signed by an MD if you have any health conditions. Not everyone has a primary care provider, so not every MD would be willing to sign you off without knowing you and your medical history. You also have to complete the online training modules (which take almost 2 days if you're really going through them thoroughly... and probably longer if you are doing a few courses after work or school or dealing with kids). My take: Don't book this if you are going on a cruise with a group, plan on buying a dining or drinking package, or have a splurged on room accommodations. I also wouldn't do this again on a longer cruise. Financially, we splurged for everything: room, dining, drinking... the works. That means we paid for days of dining and drinking we weren't really able to use with our constantly changing dive schedule. I would have much rather booked a 4 night cruise from a local port, and dedicate it to JUST the diving certification. When all was said and done, I don't regret doing it this way! I would get certified on a cruise ship again, but would take into consideration the comments above. Let me know what questions you have! I will try not to take 4 months to respond 😜
  3. Day 4: Nov 14 (Roatan Honduras / Open Water Dive 3 & 4) We had to wake up earlier this morning than we did the previous day. Bag drag started at 06:30!! It was enough time to eat some breakfast and meet in time to grab our dive bag and head off the ship. Getting off the ship and into port, we were quickly met by a bus which took us and a new set of advanced divers to the reef. PRO TIP: For the early morning show times, have a continental breakfast delivered by room service! It was a quick (and free) way to get some food in without rushing! Plus, we were able to enjoy the view from our balcony. We arrived at the dive resort (about 30 minutes away from the port) and quickly were able to split into groups and board different boats. This place was MUCH nicer than Costa Maya and you could tell the resort catered to divers! All the staff was super friendly and you could tell they wanted to operate safely. We didn't rent equipment from here, BUT, we did have an issue with one of our tanks! (it was a good thing we performed our pre-dive inspections) The staff was awesome and changed out the tank with no issues. One of the tanks had a damaged O ring and it was leaking O2 when connected. Nothing but amazing things to say about Anthony's Key Resort. We would LOVE to come back out here and dive. They also can certify you while staying there and offered multiple tiers of certification. THIS REEF WAS AMAZING!! The water and current were a little more difficult to manage than in Costa Maya. Once we descended, we practiced our skills, and practiced navigation. The visibility was outstanding! All we could see was the beautiful reef all around us! We got to see a turtle, TONS of reef fish, huge grouper, a lionfish, and a shipwreck! Demonstrating the dive skills at the surface were a pain while the water was so choppy... I was not a fan! It took about 5 minutes to get my fat butt out of my BCD and put it back on 😆😭. Kelly and Francois were our PADI Dive instructors onboard Harmony of the Seas, and I cannot say enough positive things about them. They were just brilliant and catered to our needs the whole time we were training. At this location, they were keen at getting us through our training, and really trying to let us get as much dive time exploring. I would GLADLY have taken this certification with them any day of the week and twice on Sunday! If you can dive in Roatan Honduras, DO IT! You won't regret it!
  4. Day 3: Nov 13 (Costa Maya Open Water Dive 1 & 2) We were super lucky that this wasn't going to be an early morning deal! This was fortunate for us because we were dancing to the 50's theme party most of the night. Show time the next morning was 11:30 at the dive shop to pick up our gear. We picked up our gear and did a bag drag off the ship. No real logistic issues. Carrying the bag could be challenging if you would have difficulties carrying 20 lbs the length of the ship and into port. (I am by no means in perfect health and had no issues) Once off the ship and in the port, we waited approximately 30 minutes to get sorted into our excursions. We were separated from the certified/experienced divers, but ended up heading to the same dive destination. After being herded onto a small bus (and some of us in taxis paid for by RCI), we were on our way to our dive site. The site was about 20-30 minutes from the port, but it wasn't anything remarkable. We were going to be taking a small dive boat out to the reef area and given two tanks to dive and practice our open water skills. PRO TIP... if you get sea sick (or even think you might get sick) consult your doc about taking something prior to jumping on the boat. The water was SUPER choppy! I normally don't get motion sickness, but prepared anyway with some natural ginger pills. I'm glad I did! Falling off the boat and into the water was pretty magical. We made our way to the descent line at the bow of the ship and followed it down. We descended with no issues (some had ear problems, but one of the dive instructors (Kelly) spent a GREAT DEAL of time working through her issues while the other (Francois) led us down to settle on the bottom). This was a perfect place to practice our first open water skills. There was plenty of sand clearings (so worrying about messing up some 10,000 year old coral wasn't an issue). With the basic skills checks completed, we were able to practice other skills (buoyancy control, and navigation) over the coral! We were about 40 ft deep and had a good amount of time in the water. We surfaced, and the water had grown MUCH choppier! On the down side, this meant 3 of the other students got really sick. On the plus side, we were no longer in the pool and had to have it cleaned out AND it chummed the fish!!! After resting and re-positioning most of us were ready to go down again. (one of the students was so sick, she refused to get back in the water in spite of the instructors telling her she would feel better if she did). Second tank on, we dived back down. This second site had MUCH more coral and far fewer sand barges. We again only dived to a depth of about 40 ft, and worked on some additional mask skills and buddy skills. We completed some more advanced skills (taking off the tank and BCD and putting it back on). But then we got about 30 minutes exploring the coral! When we were done, we practiced ascending with our buddies and navigating our way back to the ship. The trip back to port took about 30 minutes, and we didn’t spend much time there. We were rushing to get back on the ship to watch the Aqua Show and have a few drinks! Overall Impression - Costa Maya was an awesome place for our first open water dive. - The sand barges gave us plenty of area to practice our skills, and the coral was beautiful. Not sure if the water is always that choppy, but take some anti-nausea medication and you should be fine. Visibility was amazing! - The dive shop had merch (T-shirts and hats etc), a decent bathroom, and the staff were friendly. - We were sent out with the "experienced/certified" diver group... which actually was super annoying. They kept trying to grab our gear instead of theirs, and they were super disorganized and needy (ironically). I felt a little Sharks vs. the Jets kinda thing going on. - Don't wear sunscreen. They provided some at the shop which was safe for the coral! - Collecting our gear and keeping it separated was annoying with the "experienced" group because they kept grabbing our stuff. The space to clean your gear and prep was small and cramped for the 20+ people that were all there.
  5. Oh goodness! I must have had some serious cruise brain, because for some reason I thought I completed this process 😆 I am so sorry fam... I have failed you all 😭 OK! Let's pick this back up. Day 2: Nov 12 (Sea day and pool skills) We went back to the ship's pool and completed that evening of dive skills! No more issues, no more vomit (for now... 😒🤢) and no more road blocks between us and the open ocean! The remainder of the skills check took about another 3 hours, which meant we had JUST ENOUGH time to catch our reservation at Coastal Kitchen for dinner. We finished out the dive portion by prepping our gear for an early morning dive in Costa Maya!
  6. DAY 6: COZUMEL And yet another early morning 😭😭 We weren’t feeling very vacationy when we woke up. We showed up the the theater by 8:00am and met with our excursion group. We were that last group off and made our way to the ferry. This ferry ride was better than the last one to Cozumel (which consisted of almost every single person on the ferry throwing up... all ... over... 🤢🤢🤮 It was like the Exorcist... except everyone was possessed and hurling pea soup all over... I have a tough stomach being a nurse, but I’m a terrible sympathy puker! I lucked out and made it off both that ferry and this one just fine! We made it to the mainland where our excursion group met us to drive us to the Cenote. (We did the Mystical Chaaktun Cenotes and Mayan Spiritual Cleanse. Cenotes and spiritual cleanse We arrived at the site and immediately the excursion site staff were not nearly as friendly. They were short and rather rude... but who knows... it was like 9 in the morning. (I’m used to working with non-morning people hahaha) We brought our own snorkel and mask, but checked out a flashlight and water shoes from them. The rental locker was the only thing not included and it was $3 to rent (but big enough to fit two medium sized and packed backpacks). We made our way down to the Cenote and it really was beautiful and magical. I have never seen a cave like that (and certainly have not swam in them in the dark!) We got to cleanse our faces with calcium bicarbonate sediment in the cave, and it was really cool! The guide had us turn off all the lights and just float there with our masks on. (He then screamed and scarred the poop out of everyone there!) Which is a bad thing since that’s still people’s drinking water... When we got to the end of the cave and they were taking us out, I realized I had dropped the very expensive flashlight they warned us NOT to loose 😂😂 At least I know I must have dropped it when he screamed and scarred us. So good thing was... I knew where it should be located... bad thing... it was BACK in the pitch black and I no longer had my flashlight! The brusband and I tried calling to the group to wait, but they had already gone too far ahead (we stopped to search all our gear). So I just to Hell with it and swam back. Luckily I still had my phone on me so I used the light on that to find the flashlight! (It was still kinda creepy but kinda cool to be there by myself). We caught up with the group and made our way back up to dry land. They then performed a Mayan spiritual cleanse which was really cool! We stood around a fire and learned about the Mayans and this process. Then they put us in this thing that looked like a giant tandoori pizza oven, and turned it into a steam room. (It never really felt overly religious or anything if that is a concern for people) It did feel rather spiritual and grounding. Now that we were cleansed, we were permitted to head into the next cenote. This one was much smaller, but I thought it was cooler because it was deeper, and it had BATS flying around in it!! (I love bats... 🦇) They were super chill and didn’t bother us at all (even though they scarred a few people when they started flying around 😂😂). With the cenotes completed, we turned back in our gear and ate the lunch provided (chicken , beef and vegetarian Fajitas). The food was enjoyed by everyone in my group and we headed up to exit. They did an impromptu tequila tasting/lesson which was nice... but it was really just a sales pitch. I didn’t mind because... you know.. free tequila! We jumped back on the bus and made it back to the shopping scented just inside the ferry port. Did a little shopping and caught the ferry back. (We were nervous because the all aboard time was 4:30 and the ferry didn’t leave until 3:50... but it all turned out fine. I didn’t think they would leave 3 ferry boats of passengers behind 😂) Once boarded, we showered, changed and got ready for dinner. Overall we were both happy about the excursion even if it was a little long. We enjoyed the cenotes and it didn’t feel as crowded as the other group headed to the mystical river excursion. Dining We decided to eat at Chops. We had a great meal! The steaks were cooked perfectly even if the sides were a little lackluster in my opinion. UBP Count X2 frozen mojitos, x3 glasses of wine No Key amenities
  7. DAY 5: ROATÁN HONDURAS Dive 3 and 4 Another dive day, and another early morning 😭 We had to be at the dive shop at 06:15am to gear up and be at the theater by 07:00am. We were again the first group off and into the port to start our adventure! The dive group “Anthony’s Key Resort” picked us up in two big vans (there were more students for advanced open water) and some were just diving with the resort. We unloaded our own bags as a team and put them on the boat for prep. The weights needed to be attached to our belts, and it was a short hop over to overheat reef via boat! This dive was AMAZING! Tons of coral! Tons of fish. Beautiful water. We went topside then changed tanks and location after a short surface interval that included a chance to buy trinkets! We went to a different dive spot that included a sunken ship! We got to see some huge grouper, a lion fish, a sea turtle (that I didn’t see 😭). It was an amazing last dive. Roatán Port The port was SMALL and had very little in terms of amenities. We made the mistake in Costa Maya by eating food (so close before dinner), so we skipped out on that here and just made our way back to the ship! The island was beautiful and definitely was a place we would go back to for diving! Dining We decided to eat at 150 Central and had an AMAZING meal. By far this has been our favorite all cruise! The service and meal was perfect! (And they had an amazing Grey Goose martini that was just ridiculously delicious!) Ship We honestly didn’t do much else after dinner 😂 We were soooo tired from all the scuba, we just went back to the room after a drink in Central Park listening to music. We also had an early day in Cozumel the next day so we decided to call it early! UBP Rather slow night for us! I didn’t even take count. We had just a few drinks with dinner and a few after No new trinkets or amenities from “They Key”
  8. @Lovetocruise2002 Maybe! (Or maybe we just got lucky at every venue). But they all take one look at our SeaPass and usher us through. 🤷🏼‍♂️ I’m not complaining!
  9. DAY 4: Costa Maya This day started off as our first open water dive day! This was our first day of the cruise we got the morning to ourselves and got to sleep in a bit. This was due to our 09:30am arrival into the port which meant we didn’t have to get off the ship until 10:30am! It really made no difference seeing how I’m a morning person 😂😂 but the brusband (who can sleep in until 2pm if I let him) was perfectly happy! We ordered the free room service (remember... I’m the cheap one 😂) which was just coffee, bagels, cream cheese, oatmeal, and juice. I think it’s a little ridiculous that plain scrambled egged necessitates a charge of $7.95, but it is what it is. With breakfast eaten on the balcony we relaxed until we had to pick up our gear from the dive shop. Open Water Dives 1 and 2 With our dive gear in hand, we followed our dive instructors (Kelly and Francois) to the theater to exit the ship at about 10:30am. We were the first group permitted to leave which made it nice to not struggle with the crowds while carrying gear. Once in port, we were sorted into these little lines categorized by excursion and we waited for our excursion rep (“Dive Costa Maya” I believe). There was a little waiting, nothing longer than usual. We met up with the dive company who shuttled us over to another part of Costa Maya. The facilities were a little run down, but nothing terrible. They had all of our weight belts ready for use, and carried all of our bags (which was certainly nice) on/off the taxi and boat. The tanks were in okay condition from what the dive instructors said (but certainly weren’t like the nice once we used on board!) The dive went off really well for the brusband and I. There were big patches of sand which were perfect for our first and second open water dive. But there were also still some coral and sea life. Got to see a sting ray (who quickly swam off when we descended), some gangs and a bunch of other fish I don’t know the names of. We ascended at the end of our first dive after practicing our skills, and this is when we lost one of our dive students. She got pretty ill (and started throwing up) right as we all got to the top. Getting in the boat didn’t make things any easier. She decided to stay on the boat forgoing her second dive. The rest of us changed our gear over and got back in to complete our second dive. This one went a lot smoother than the first! We got to tour more of the coral and it was really a blast! We completed dive 2 (with the young student looking more seas sick than when we left her... it really probably would have been better to get back in the water). We made our way back to land via the boat, washed off our gear and headed back to the port. Port Costa Maya This actually wasn’t a bad port, but according to the dive instructors, it’s relatively a new one for RCI. Not sure if they meant for the whole fleet or just for the larger ships. We ate some tacos and burritos right there in the port and drank a few decompression cervezas. Most of the locals working the port seemed to understand English well enough to order food etc. (but I have my own personal interpreter sooo that was nice.) The facilities right there at the port were minimal, just a few basic shops and food places. Prices seemed normal, and the food was good. Not much to do in port so we jumped back on the ship. Aqua Show: The Fine Line This show was amazing! We watched another show on Oasis in 2015 which was good, but this felt like a story with a good production! Definitely give the show 10/10! Music worked really well, the performance acts were awesomely suited for the show, and the production value of all the staging/pool equipment was really awesome! Some pointers... DON’T SIT IN THE FIRST 5 ROWS! It was kinda like sitting in the splash zone at SeaWorld 😂😂 We are first time Suite cruisers so we knew there should be seeding for us, but when we got there and showed the guy our sea pass cards, he frowned and said, “oh, you don’t have reservations” then pointed to the REALLY long line next to us. I politely indicated we were suite guests and thought they had sections saved for us (which I could see the sign for in the sitting area), he indicated no. I noticed the guy right next to him holding a Key for The Key passengers, so I told him we were also part of The Key. He then ushered us to the guy next to him (who recognized us from our Grease outfits the day prior) and he took one look at our sea pass cards and brought us strait to the “Pinnacle, Diamond, Suite” section. When I asked why we were initially denied, he simply stated the guy was new and didn’t know any better. (That seems like a training deficit IMO... it happens... but if that was the only night we were able to see the show... and were turned away... that could have been a very bad experience.) Overall, great show that we really enjoyed! Specialty Dining with UDP We got out of the aqua show at about 8:20pm, which was us just enough time to catch dinner before they closed at 9:00pm. We ate at Jamie’s which was good. We were both full from accidentally eating too late in port so we just had the smaller portions. But both were good. We enjoyed the ambiance of Central Park with the music. UBP Count Champagne x2, frozen mojitos x3, Chardonnay x2, specialty coffee x1 = 8 drinks The Key We both felt it was obviously useless since we booked a RCI shore excursion with the dive... so we got off whenever the group got off. IMG_2805.MOV IMG_2825.MOV
  10. That’s kinda what I figured. I did a search of PADI Certification on the message boards, and didn’t see much come up. I thought any info would be helpful for those trying to decide what’s best for them.
  11. So true 😌 I was going to add this as a final suggestion when I finished. (I wanted to make sure we completed the course and could take into account all of the processes before making any final recommendations. But you’re right, I wouldn’t want anyone to book mid-review based off the small experiences we’ve had! Thanks for looking out.
  12. @RCVoyager While I may have a difference of opinion when we are done, I would have to say it depends on the circumstances. We intentionally did it on this cruise because we were NOT cruising with friends/family. So generally speaking, I would agree with that sentiment; it would be hard to enjoy this experience AND try to enjoy the company of fellow cruisers. We have also had to curtail our drinking (which you may not believe if you read our live blog). It really depends on the individual person and your personal goals too. If your goal is to eat, drink, see all the shows, lounge by the pool or relax the whole cruise, this may not be the best fit. But if you pick this with intention, you may have an amazingly positive experience. If we could go back and rebook and plan this better, we probably would have NOT selected the UDP, the spa all week access, or The Key. (I’ll give a better review when we are done) Getting our certification has been a goal of ours for almost 9 years. To FINALLY be able to get it done, AND scuba in some amazing ports, AND have the security of a 5 Star PADI dive shop with amazing instructors, for one low price, it really is something that SHOULD be considered. You just must do your due diligence to ensure this experience fits the circumstances.
  13. Long day! I’ll post some more info tomorrow since we should be completing our first open water dive! For now enjoy the time lapse video I did of our evening class! IMG_2751.MOV
  14. Well folks... what can I say... what. a. day. We started off this morning with our PADI dive class which ended about an hour and a half short due to one our our classmates throwing up in the pool 🤢 🤮 . Class ran from 06:30am-10:30am. (They had to clean out the whole pool!). You can read more about the PADI certification process over here https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/16546-all-about-our-padi-certification-on-board-harmony-ots/ DRINK COUNT x5 frozen mojitos, x1 fresh squeezed juice, x2 shots of Bacardi (to spice up our frozen mojitos 😂) = 9 total DINNER AT CK This was the first formal night and we actually had made reservations for 5:45pm. Due to the pool vomit, we had to reschedule part of the class in the pm. This meant we had to push CK dinner plans later till 8pm. I was super nervous they would be overbooked, but they were accommodating. And in the end they were practically empty. Dinner was really delicious! Personally though... if you pay for the UDP... I don’t know if I would pass up a meal in one of the specialty restaurants to eat in CK. While on the topic of food, we made a stop by the concierge desk and inquired about having to pay for food at Captain Jacks on Perfect Day Cocoa Cay. I couldn’t get over how cheap it is to charge someone $10 for wings, when the person has already paid $179-$200 for “unlimited” specialty food. 🤷🏼‍♂️ They were really insistent it would not be covered. Be forewarned. Anybody think I can call customer service and have it comped or is it not worth the effort??? PADI open water portion starts tomorrow in Costa Maya. I’ll let y’all know how it’s going!
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