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All about our PADI certification on board Harmony OTS


S0nny
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It really depends on where you are at and the time of year for doing the training dives.  A lot of people choose to do the pool and classwork (even though it's mostly online) at their local shop and then do a referral so they can do the open water dives wherever.  It ends up costing a little bit more but you will have nice water to do it in.  

My certification in Oklahoma was in a pond that was about 25 feet deep.  Basically just deep enough that you really need to worry about equalizing and buoyancy control.  Cost was around 350 at that shop and the only rental was mask, snorkel and fins which they will give you a credit for if you purchase gear through them.  Personally I would just buy a set of fins on Amazon along with a decent glass lensed mask and snorkel before class.  You just have to make sure that the fins are for SCUBA and not snorkeling or freediving which can be a pain.  I am also of a different mindset for gear than most people, I have rebuilt a ScubaPro MK5 and 109 that I put on a pony bottle as well as a MK20 and a G250 that I use for my main stuff and working on my Gen 4 Air2 right now, I get TONS of flack about it because it's "life support" equipment.  I can work on hydraulic systems and not have leaks or issues and have done much more intricate and dangerous things as well, a regulator is basically a hydraulic system and tearing it down give me a huge understanding advantage over someone else because I KNOW how it functions.

An advantage of doing the pool work and certification at home is that if you have difficulty with things like equalizing or using the gear you will be able to try again until you get it right.  PADI has a do it till you pass successfully program.  If you are on a ship you will be more stressed to try and complete things and then if you have a problem you may have to take another cruise to be able to complete things.  I was doing advanced certification in Jamaica and there was a young lady doing open water certification who had issues equalizing and spent most of her time on a boat while her boyfriend did dives alone.  Once you pay someone for training you are more than likely not going to get a refund but can "come back any time" to try again.  Not saying this to scare anyone but it's something to think about.  At the very least doing the pool work at home is worth it just because of that.  But if I had the opportunity to do things again I may have opted to take a trip to an island and do my actual open water dives at full depth in the ocean instead of in a pond.  The advantage I have had though is I am not afraid to get into low visibility water either.  Over the summer I was doing lake cleanup in Ardmore, OK at lake Murray and vis is often just about 6 to 8 feet.  Some people will have a hard time switching between low vis and high vis dives without some practice. 

But I have to agree that booking a cheap inside room and not much else is a good idea if you are going to do the certification on board.  And get all the online classwork done as far in advance as possible and be sure to go over everything right before the trip and possibly during while you are getting some down time.  BTW I have all the offline english training video's if someone wanted to watch them on their own.  Just PM me for info if you are interested.  

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nothing personal but I would do the training at home where you are not distracted. there are plenty of local dive shops that would help you no matter where you live. Enjoy your time on the cruise and even go diving on it but get your certification before you go. That my personal thought as a diver for over 30 years

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7 hours ago, Nicci said:

I’m in northern Europe, and the nearest dive centre is 4 hours away with dives in an old quarry... I guess it would mean getting used to a dry suit, hmmm..

I did my first dive in  early April near Chicago we had to break a small layer of ice to get in. It made the water in Hawaii seem very warm

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I got certified on Adventure back in January of this year (2020).  I can't remember if I posted about it.

It is time intensive, so if you are traveling with people who will resent you for not spending time with them, you'll have to decide which is more important.

I did all the "book learning" at home before the cruise.  On boarding day, we had to check in at the PADI shop and take a small quiz to see that we actually learned something at home.  Any areas that were foggy were gone over.  We also fitted for gear and learned about it that same day.

The training in the pool was done in the early mornings before it officially opened.  It was interesting to see the people lined up to get chairs as we were finishing up each day.  One morning I went to the chair I had left my bag on, and someone told me that the chair was already taken. 

We did our actual open water dives in San Juan and St Thomas.  The PADI instructor on the ship was not allowed to work in the US (or its territories) due to visa requirements, so while at those two ports, we had an instructor from the dive shops that Royal contracted with.  Our ship-based PADI instructor came with us and for all intents and purposes instructed us with the local instructor.  It was really great because there were two instructors for three students.  We had a lot of personal attention and instruction.

In San Juan, we entered the water from shore.  In St Thomas we entered from a boat.  After the final training dive in St Thomas, we had dive time left to do some sight-seeing with the local instructor.

Diving is something I always wanted to do, and my wife encouraged me to take the course.  We were on the cruise with another couple who we are close to, and they thought it was awesome that I was doing the course.  My wife spent the day in San Juan and St Thomas with them while I was diving.  There were no bad feelings.

The only bummer is that I haven't been able to dive since (we came back from our cruise shortly before the pandemic exploded), so if our back to back cruise in Aug/Sept 2021 goes, I'll take the reactivation course on the first week and do some actual diving the second week.  I don't feel comfortable enough to just go on a dive since I haven't actually practiced what I learned.

 

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Yeah, I wish I had a dry suit on my last dive.  60 degree water and I hate to think what was in there for sure.  I helped a little while 3 vehicles were pulled out of the Missouri River just down from Kansas City.  I was looking at the map yesterday and cringed.  Their "water treatment(sewer)" plant was just up river.  No wonder the muck near the shore was so foul.

But hey, pulled a 80's Chevy Cavalier out that had been in the water since the early 90's, a Pontiac Fiero that was dumped around the early 90's as well and a Chevy 1500 club cab pickup that was from around 2000.  

In some of my home lakes I go on trash patrol's and clean up can's and stuff that have been in the water since the 70's and anything else I come across and can bring up.

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On 11/28/2020 at 10:25 AM, Nicci said:

I guess the best plan will be for me to di PADI on a solo cruise, no stress or guilt...

1000%... 

We packed too much "fun" into this cruise. Really you "shouldn't" be drinking... so there goes the wasted drink package, and if you're on a cruise with friends, at least 3 days will be dedicated to this. While there are no longer didactic classroom instructions (everything is online)... the time in the pool and then early mornings of excursions may be a drag for the other party members. 

I would 10/10 recommend getting certified on a cruise ship... I would just plan the cruise accordingly. (short 3-4 night, inside cabin, very cost effective) And I say this as someone who went through PADI Jr. Open Water Certification back when I was 16. It was a lot of night classes, a lot of rental fees, a lot of poor visibility and dive spots. 

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On 11/28/2020 at 11:04 AM, MuttMutt said:

An advantage of doing the pool work and certification at home is that if you have difficulty with things like equalizing or using the gear you will be able to try again until you get it right.  PADI has a do it till you pass successfully program.  If you are on a ship you will be more stressed to try and complete things and then if you have a problem you may have to take another cruise to be able to complete things.

So I can only speak to what I observed and what I discussed with the instructors, but here's what I learned. You do not have to take another cruise from what the instructor said. We had a girl that couldn't get past her motion sickness, and gave up after her first open water dive. I specifically asked the instructor what happens to her now that she paid for all this, and she indicated that she would be credited with PADI to complete her certification once on land. She wouldn't need to book another cruise. She paid for 4 dives and the lessons. She completed the lessons and 1 dive... she would just need to complete the other 3 open water dives. 

This truly comes down to preference. I've certified both ways, and preferred certifying on the cruise ship. We had 2 Master Dive Instructors with the 9 of us the whole time... One lady always had difficulties equalizing... she had 1:1 instructor with her the whole time. I don't know if that is normal... but when I got my Jr. Open Water Cert... we had 1 instructor for like 15 of us... and my buddy/instructor was NOT interested in hanging around to make sure I was equalizing ok. 

I think it just goes to show there isn't a perfect answer for everyone. Collect as much info as you can and make the best informed decision you can and be adaptable ? 

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7 hours ago, S0nny said:

One lady always had difficulties equalizing... she had 1:1 instructor with her the whole time

When we hit the actual open water in San Juan, I had a hard time with neutral buoyancy.  The local instructor told the ship instructor that he'd help me and she could stay with the other two students.  I know the small number of students we had was random luck, but getting that one on one time was awesome.  I don't think I would have had that in a larger, local class.

From talking with our ship instructor, it seems like most cruise classes are small, so there is a very good chance to get that one on one time if you need it.

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  • 9 months later...

Hi there!  This is something I've been eyeing up for many years.  We are going on a cruise at the end of the month with 3 sea days, St Thomas, St Maarten, and Perfect Day at the end.  We have no plans for St Thomas and St Maarten and my husband wouldn't mind working from the ship while the 7 year old is in adventure ocean (she can't get off in the other ports without an excursion anyway).  

But we do have the ultimate dining package.  

Think I should still do it?   The early mornings don't bother me.  We often cruise with extended family and I never wanted to tie up too much time... but I was just sitting here wondering what the heck I'm going to do all day and this crossed my mind.  

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39 minutes ago, Christie said:

Hi there!  This is something I've been eyeing up for many years.  We are going on a cruise at the end of the month with 3 sea days, St Thomas, St Maarten, and Perfect Day at the end.  We have no plans for St Thomas and St Maarten and my husband wouldn't mind working from the ship while the 7 year old is in adventure ocean (she can't get off in the other ports without an excursion anyway).  

But we do have the ultimate dining package.  

Think I should still do it?   The early mornings don't bother me.  We often cruise with extended family and I never wanted to tie up too much time... but I was just sitting here wondering what the heck I'm going to do all day and this crossed my mind.  

I've stated this in earlier posts here.  I don't think you should do it.  It will dominate your vacation.  Do it at home either before or after so you can enjoy your vacation.

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2 minutes ago, RCVoyager said:

I've stated this in earlier posts here.  I don't think you should do it.  It will dominate your vacation.  Do it at home either before or after so you can enjoy your vacation.

I would add on the argument that if learning a new skill in a unique setting and creating that memory of doing something for yourself would add to your vacation, I would say absolutely. Based on the review my husband and I are considering this. 

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14 minutes ago, RCVoyager said:

I've stated this in earlier posts here.  I don't think you should do it.  It will dominate your vacation.  Do it at home either before or after so you can enjoy your vacation.

I understand your point, but I also feel like this would take up *several* weekends at home- I'm a doctor with a busy schedule and it sounds exhausting to try to "fit in" at home.  I'm not a lounge by the pool type of person on vacation.  I enjoy the evening stuff on the ships but am often finding myself "what to do" during the morning/early afternoon.
 

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2 hours ago, Christie said:

 the 7 year old is in adventure ocean

7 year old ?!  Where has the time gone ?!  I remember when she was a newborn.  Holy cow !!  She'll be graduating from college before you know it !

You'll be Star Class, right ?  So no need to worry about something to do.  The Genie can help you set up a clinic somewhere on the ship and you can see a few patients.  Might as well work if hubby is going to work, right ?  LOL

It's good to see you on the boards.  You've been gone waaaytooo long.

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@Christie It is well worth learning to dive hands down.  However it will take some time on board to do your skills and such, if that is not an issue you may as well go for it since your time is constrained at home.  You will be given a code or link to start doing the online learning and you have to have it all completed and all the testing done before you start doing in water stuff.  You should also try to watch some of the dive video's online as much as you can to expand your knowledge on things like doing mask clears and taking your BCD on and off in the water.  The more you have exposed yourself to the better off you will be when it comes to be skill time just remember that ever instructor is a little different in how they handle things so some steps may be a little different.  Also remember to watch the ones based on PADI techniques as other agencies do have some minor differences like how to hand off a regulator when you are out of air.  

And all along the way teach your husband and/or children the hand signals.  It will help you practice and will get them prepped if they ever decide to join later on.  I actually have the open water course video's that I have had my friend watch so she isn't as worried while I am on a dive on the ship.

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5 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

7 year old ?!  Where has the time gone ?!  I remember when she was a newborn.  Holy cow !!  She'll be graduating from college before you know it !

You'll be Star Class, right ?  So no need to worry about something to do.  The Genie can help you set up a clinic somewhere on the ship and you can see a few patients.  Might as well work if hubby is going to work, right ?  LOL

It's good to see you on the boards.  You've been gone waaaytooo long.

Hey there! 
 

Haha, I actually wouldn’t mind doing an onboard clinic and recoup some travel costs. One one cruise, my mom got acupuncture and the lady was also a chiropractor. They snuck me down to the spa to swap adjustments with her 🙂 

The kids sure don’t keep, do they? Poor thing is so excited to be back on a ship.  She’s most excited to be an explorer in adventure ocean.  
 

Yea, sorry I kinda disappeared for a while. Went through several hard years with Kenzie’s autism diagnosis and intensive therapy and I finally feel like I’m getting my feet back underneath me. In all transparency, it was hard to read about peoples’ amazing vacations while we were in the thick of it.
 

Sorry to derail the thread. If I decide to do it, I’ll post a review with a flipped itinerary (Coco Cay at the end) and Eastern Caribbean ports. 

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21 minutes ago, MuttMutt said:

@Christie It is well worth learning to dive hands down.  However it will take some time on board to do your skills and such, if that is not an issue you may as well go for it since your time is constrained at home.  You will be given a code or link to start doing the online learning and you have to have it all completed and all the testing done before you start doing in water stuff.  You should also try to watch some of the dive video's online as much as you can to expand your knowledge on things like doing mask clears and taking your BCD on and off in the water.  The more you have exposed yourself to the better off you will be when it comes to be skill time just remember that ever instructor is a little different in how they handle things so some steps may be a little different.  Also remember to watch the ones based on PADI techniques as other agencies do have some minor differences like how to hand off a regulator when you are out of air.  

And all along the way teach your husband and/or children the hand signals.  It will help you practice and will get them prepped if they ever decide to join later on.  I actually have the open water course video's that I have had my friend watch so she isn't as worried while I am on a dive on the ship.

Thank you. This is very helpful 

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@Christie Glad you found this review helpful! 

We did the UDP and UBP. In hindsight, we probably would have skipped out on both because we booked a JS; we had the option for CK for dinner. But I stand by my original recommendation. Book the PADI! And if you already purchased the UDP, I think you will still get plenty of use out of it based off your input. 

I can't wait to hear how amazing it was! Happy Sailing!

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On 9/22/2021 at 12:10 PM, KLA said:

I would add on the argument that if learning a new skill in a unique setting and creating that memory of doing something for yourself would add to your vacation, I would say absolutely. Based on the review my husband and I are considering this. 

I agree if you and your husband are traveling alone.  Any other party, children, friends, ect. will grow tired of their vacation being spoiled by the constraints of your obligations toward your goal.  That's the biggest point I'm trying to make.  It will dominate your vacation.  I saw it happen with our good friend.

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I know you mentioned it earlier in the thread- but wanting to verify before I go shopping this weekend.  What should I purchase ahead of time?  Just mask and fins?  What about a regulator?  Would a bag to carry the stuff in help too? 

(There's this tik tok about having ADD and hyperfixation and basically it's like "I have this new hobby, all I can think about is this new hobby, I've bought premium products for this hobby...."  This is me to a tee lol).  

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Hi Christie,

I was certified, twice, on RC ships, with three attempts (due to getting sick) as SCUBA diver and upgrade to Open Water. The only items necessary are mask and snorkel. If you have picky feet, like me, I would also buy fins in advance, but it is not necessary. The cost of the course includes all other gear. I have attached the SCUBA course outline I received October 2017, as I cannot find a later copy. The number of stops on the cruise will determine the exact days of pool sessions and open water sessions. 

I hope this helps, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask

HM Scuba Course Schedule LB, FL, CZ no cw on D6.pptx

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Mask and snorkel is a must most any place. Fins are not bad to pick up but you need to pay attention if you don't go to a dive shop as you may end up with fins designed for snorkeling which are shorter than scuba fins or freediving fins which are much longer. Another thing is don't worry about the split fins, they are for wreck penetration or cave diving and will underperform compared to regular fins. I personally use the Cressi Pro light fins and picked up the Cressi bungee straps.

 

On a regulator I would say wait till you have some experience. I rebuild my own regulators and like the Scubapro piston style first stages and the G250 but a new equivalent would be a MK25 with a G260. But for every personal opinion on gear there is someone else who completely hates it. The best thing you can do is try some different rental stuff and see what fits you and your style. As far as new and used well I bought all my stuff used. But new Scubapro stuff get free parts for life from my understanding or at least the stuff to rebuild them. So while used will be cheaper there will be some costs added to the life of the product if parts are included and I have a MK5 with a 109 that was made in the mid 70's that prove the piston 1st stage and a 2nd stage can last a long time. 

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