Jump to content
S0nny

All about our PADI certification on board Harmony OTS

Recommended Posts

I wanted to start this blog by sharing our Open Water Diver Certification process on board Harmony OTS, Nov 2019. Hopefully this will help answer any questions or concerns. This will be partly live since we are still on board; if you have any questions you want me to relay, let me know! (We disembark on Nov 16, 2019)

We signed up for the excursion about a week prior to the cruise. I asked a bunch of questions, and THAT same day the excursion team reached out to the dive team. All my questions were answered that same day (appreciated the quick responses!). They also included copies of our medical questionnaire (see pictures) and asked us to send them back. The same day I sent them back, they responded with my PADI redeem key so I could start my eLearning modules. I HIGHLY recommend getting them done early (obviously...) this was a last minute decision (largely thanks to @twangster and noting some advice he posted. I owe you a beer on our next cruise...provided I get certified... 😂😉)

Since it was a last minute decision, we spent most of the morning of our embarkation (both before and after we were on the ship) frantically trying to finish 😂😭 Ultimately it didn’t seem like a huge deal if we hadn’t, since all open water stuff was going to be done the following day. They didn’t seem too concerned that some of our modules appeared as not complete (even though they were), they just softly reminded us to finish them and encouraged us to get them done ASAP. There are NUMEROUS glitches with the PADI eLearning app (known as “PADI Library” in the Apple store). We found the iPad to be WAY easier to use vs. just an iPhone. Even with the large screen of the iPhone 11 Pro... it still was difficult to navigate, watch videos, take exams, etc. 

Once on board, we showed up before 3:pm to prove all our pre-cruise requirements were completed, our medical questionnaire, doctors note (if needed), and PADI folder were all filled out. I would HIGHLY suggest you review the medical requirements and get all issues signed off by your MD well in advance. We had to show back up at 6pm to fit our gear (and buy what we didn’t have). They (Francois and Kelly) seemed really friendly, and probably would have let us borrow equipment had we pressed the issue, but we wanted to just buy our own anyway. If you’re smarter than we are, I would suggest going to your local PADI (or dive) shop, try on products there, and buy them in advance. Ultimately the masks they offered ranged in price from $20-120 , but they had limited options for colors, styles, brands etc. This is like going into your local bowling alley and seeing all the pretty, fancy pro gear, and then going online and seeing about 8 million different options than what was offered. You may not only save some money, but also have something that fits better or you like more. 

That was it for day 1!!

They were supposed to have us do our confined water dives on Perfect Day, but the pool was down for maintenance apparently. This meant we got a free day in Cocoa Cay! BUT it meant we had to use the on board pool (and NOT the aqua pool like I’ve heard they used in the past) for our initial confined dives. This meant our first sea day was an almost all day practicum  day and only in 4.5 ft of water 😂

Day 2 (our 3rd cruise day and first sea day). We met at 6:30am at the dive shop. We grabbed our gear (prepared and fitted previously) then prepped it like they taught us, and went into the pool. There are 7 in our class and they said that is about typical for on board certification. People ranged from having previous dive experience to having none. Overall our class went until about 10:30am. At that time one of our classmates apparently gagged on something and threw up in the pool 😳😒 Whatever, lol 💩  happens. Rolling with the flow of the ocean is what cruising is all about. They did have to clean out the pool which meant lessons were over for the morning. This was kinda a hindrance since we need to come BACK this/that evening at 4:30pm for more training. 


As of writing this (I’m sitting in the hot tub in the solarium relaxing until evening class), things haven’t been too crazy difficult or hard. Super basic skills (removing mask and regulators, practicing emergency procedures etc) were all we completed. (But according to our instructors we are doing relatively well!)

I’ll keep you all updated with the thing that happen next and relay any lessons learned I thought might be useful!

39B5B948-6B20-4878-B339-70883554A10A.jpeg

5F8158A0-0534-4473-AD11-D5E2229CED4D.jpeg

2BAEB726-FA31-4F13-A71E-B6851EC5715B.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, teddy said:

Following with interest as I am doing the Open Water Course on our Adventure sailing in January.

Thank you for taking the time to share

 

I appreciate the effort here, but I would highly recommend not doing the course if you can avoid it.  My friend did it some years ago on vacation.  It dominates your vacation.  The OP talks about it above.  It was like he wasn't even with us.  He was in class, in the pool, and had to study at night.  If it's important to you and you have time do it at home before your vacation.

 

Just my opinion, but it should be a real concern.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, S0nny said:

@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. 

I completely agree with your position on the subject.  If your group (you mention "we") is all doing it, and it was a goal of the trip, it seems to me you have hit on the one way that it is productive to do it.

 

My comment was based upon my experience where there was 4 of us (3 brothers and 1 best friend), and 1 did it.  It turned out to be a drag on the group.

 

Here is an example of how it would not work: for me to do it on a trip with my wife only or on a trip with my wife and children (21, 19, and 12).  By the second day of my trip, their trip would be ruined, and I would have to drop out of the course to save it.

 

I would want to save others from the same pitfall who don't think in advance just how involved the process is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, RCVoyager said:

would want to save others from the same pitfall who don't think in advance just how involved the process is.

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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate all the info.  It's always good to hear people's experiences both positive and negative.

I am under no misconceptions of how much time and effort is involved, and neither is my wife. 🙂    I'd be concerned if the whole course was short and simple.

I have a childhood friend who is a rescue diver up here.  He has been a great source of info for me and has made sure I know what a commitment the process is.  He also goes to St Maarten a couple times a year to dive and is hoping I go with them in June to do some diving in areas he is familiar with.

Getting certified is a bucket list thing for me.  I missed a chance to get certified in 1991/1992 when I was in the service, and have regretted it for many, many years.

 

Our cruise is 8 nights...Labadee, San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten.   I'll have time to relax.  🙂 

I will read any and all experiences that people want to share.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, teddy said:

will read any and all experiences that people want to share.

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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I understand from reading the literature, all equipment is provided other than mask/snorkel?

Thanks 🙂 

Edit:  I just received access to the online course that needs to be completed before arriving at the ship as well as an email from Royal.  My question(s) has (have) been answered.

 

There are a lot of modules.  I'm very excited but also very glad I have two months till sailing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm halfway through section 3 of the elearning.  I'm glad I am doing this at home on my desktop with plenty of time before our sailing.  I can't imagine trying to get it completed in one or two days.

 

Hope you had a great cruise!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Christie said:

What happened next?? Don't leave me hanging!  Highly considering doing this for our upcoming Liberty cruise and was looking to see how much of our cruise it would take up.  

They went diving!

Pinning @S0nny to complete the process. Put Another Dollar In 🤣

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...