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  1. I wanted to share my experiences with a set of reviews on my back to back on Mariner recently Getting There I used GoPort's full service hotel and transfer package out of Orlando Airport. After booking a stay at the Holiday Inn at the airport, I contact them to change my pickup date to the end of the second cruise. This went very smoothly. When I arrived in Orlando, I followed GoPort's instructions and contacted the hotel for a shuttle pickup expecting a long delay. I was pleasantly surprised to see the hotel shuttle show up for me about seven minutes after the call. I was at the hotel in another five minutes. The hotel was fine. It has a nice pool area with good food options including a regular Cuban food truck nearby. The trip to the port could have been smoother. We were given an hour window for our motor coach to arrive and it did right at the end of the window after waiting outside for its arrival. We picked up other cruisers and were at our ship within fifty minutes. Rating 8/10 Boarding went extremely smoothly as I had completed my check in process earlier. I was on board within ten minutes. Rating 10/10 Our first stop was in Cozumel where I pre-booked a photo tour with a local photographer, Tati Biermas and German/Dutch ex-pat who has been living on the island the last 18 years. She offers several types of photography services from wedding, real estate and photo tours and coaching. I enjoy various types of photography and wanted to get out of the manual slow down mode. Her advice helped me feel more comfortable with how and when to choose aperture and shutter priority rather than fully manual. I also refined some composition techniques through her coaching. Tati is pictured in the right most photo below. All images can be found on the IG @highseasnomad. All images below are snipped from that IG page. A requirement of the full island tour is to rent a car. I did so through ISIS Car Rental in downtown San Miguel. I received a manual transmission Nissan Tiida which is similar to a Sentra. It had cold AC, and that was important. The full experience was quick, efficient and inexpensive despite the check engine light being on. It was fun driving on Mexican roads. Our first stop was the food market where locals buy produce to seafood to clothing. The Hacienda Punta Sur and the Eco Park We made a 12' long friend which I had fun editing later Rating 10/10...highly recommend Some images around the ship... Costa Maya I have become quite attached to the staff of Jaime's Blue Reef and the amenities in Mahahual, so this is my go to choice when I am there now. I have been twice with many more to come. My only wish is for early arrivers that they offer breakfast on their menu. Their tamarind margarita is quite frankly amazing with the tanjin rim salt. Rating 10/10....they really take good care of you On the second leg of the back 2 back, we stopped in Cozumel. After debating whether I wanted to go third party, I opted for a Royal Caribbean SCUBA excursion which was handled by Sand Dollar which is located next door to the Mexican Coast Guard building. The benefit was the pickup at the pier. the drawback was that there were too many people on the little dive boat. There were two divemasters. Mine was Reuben, and he was really good and very safety conscious. Our first dive was a gentle drift dive on the reef a little north of Mr Sanchos. We saw a large sea turtle, an eagle ray, a nurse shark and several very large lobsters along with teeming life on the reef. We went through a really cool coral swimthrough mid-way. There were also at least a half dozen dive operators with boats nearby. A lot of people were on the reef that day. The second dive started just north of the Mexican Coast Guard building, and ours was the only boat, which was nice. It was a drift dive as well, and there was a VERY rapid current. At first it was disconcerting, and we just went with it while we kept Reuben the dive master in our view the whole time. It may have been a five knot current, as we ended up surfacing about a mile north of where we put in. You just have to go with it and not fight it. We saw a large barracuda and a lot of life on the reef. I learned more about how to relax and handle myself on such a dive as it is easy to get exhausted. When we surfaced, the current diminished as we ascended and the boat met us with the dive master's marker. While things were ok with this dive operator, I will not use them again. I think booking scuba with Royal is hit or miss, and of the three I have booked with them, I only really liked one of them. I expect that I will go third party exclusively when I cruise. Rating 5/10 The shows were really good, especially the Ice Under the Big Top skating show. I decided to practice some sports photography with my lens which was limited to good light environments. Still, I took some images that I really liked and am excited to share the raw files with some of the skaters who noticed the pics from Instagram. Rating 10/10 See @highseasnomad on IG for better resolution of these images.
  2. Hi Folks, Doing B2B on Symphony in April 2024. We are wanting to take the on-ship scuba lessons and are wondering which leg of the trip would be best for diving. The 1st sailing (4/6/2024) is 8 nights and has stops in Oranjestad, Willemstad, and Labadee. The 2nd trip (4/14/2024) is 6 nights and includes stops in Nassau, Falmouth, and Labadee. Would love some input regarding which sailing you would recommend for brand new divers. Thanks in advance for your help! Tom
  3. I will be trying to edit and add more over the next few months in between replacing the roof on the house among other things.
  4. Hello All! My Wife and I are leaving for our cruise on Serenade of the Seas in 13 days (woot woot, FINALLY!) and I’m trying to get dive information about the diving excursion in St Thomas. Has anyone ever did the diving excursion in St Thomas? If so, was it a good dive? Any information helps! Thanks in advance!
  5. I will be taking my first cruise with Royal Caribbean this summer and docking at San Juan, St. Maarten and Haiti. Which would be the best location for scuba? We also go to Bermuda, but have already dived there once before.
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