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St Maartin - Airport Adventure SXM & Snorkel


Ocalarnd
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I've seen several posts about snorkeling excursions and various boats in St. Maarten, but I have not seen anything about RCCL's promoted Airport Adventure SXM & Snorkel excursion. Has anyone taken this one that can comment on it?

We will be on Oasis in June this year, so we are wondering if this is a good option. Is the snorkel site really crowded? Anything about the boat or crew?

We are leaning towards this because is not an all day trip, and it has "facilities" on-board (big deal for daughters and wife). Being near the airport flight path seems kinda cool too. Also, the boat appears to have multi-levels for different activities on-board. Girls are young teens and very novice snorkelers, but good swimmers.

So should we go with this or opt for one of the other well recommended snorkel excursions? Thanks!!

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I haven't been, but based on what I see on Trip Advisor's reviews of this excursion, it's lacking in the snorkeling department. I also saw some complaints about lack of safety from people who were self-admitted weak swimmers; one got pulled off the back of the boat by a strong wave and her cries for help were being ignored. It's ranked #25 out of 37 boat tours.

If this is the boat I'm thinking of, I had looked this one up on YouTube when I was looking for my own excursion to book, and confirmed it's basically a party boat more than anything else. Lots of clips of folks in their 20's drinking and jumping off the ship and swimming around it.

Basically, when in doubt, check Trip Advisor and see what reviews come up. Then look on YouTube, as you're guaranteed to find at least a couple of relevant videos.

On a side note, it does seem from the research I've done that the water excursions available through the cruise line (at least for St. Maarten) don't really measure up to what you can find through independent third parties. 

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1 hour ago, rjac said:

Lots of clips of folks in their 20's drinking and jumping off the ship and swimming around it." What......you never did that when you were in your 20's?

Not both at once. ?

Seriously, though, as the parent of a 13-year old and 16-year old, it's not necessarily (depending on overall rowdiness) the kind of behavior I want them seeing. @Ocalarnd said he also has kids but not their ages, so I mentioned in case it might also be a concern for him.

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Thanks for the feedback. We may still consider other options, although we have already booked this, so may have to see what the cancellation options would be. I thought I remembered this getting good reviews on Cruise Critic (this is not the Tiki Hut/Party Boat).

Our kids are early teens, so they enjoy some rowdiness (jumping, diving...), but we are cautious of over-drinking stupidity around water. They are both good swimmers of their own right, but could easily be pulled down by someone else struggling in distress.

A big appeal was the available on-board bathroom facilities for the girls, and the fact that it was a fairly short excursion (in case they do get bored snorkeling). Any other family-friendly snorkeling excursions (with on-board facilities) through RCCL or solid reputable provider, that you would recommend? We are not much interested in the dive spot with the helicopter (have been told that spot gets very crowded and is not much to see either).

Thanks again. We will try to report back on whatever one we end up on.

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Take a look at Random Wind. It's a nearly full-day (10 to 3) snorkeling trip around the island. @bcarney had recommended it to me when I was looking for a snorkeling trip off the beaten cruise booking trail. Small group (no more than 20 people), on-board "facilities" for those who need them, a real meal cooked on board, and the second stop you get to do a trapeze swing off the ship into the water.

https://www.randomwind.com

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  • 1 month later...

OK, I was the original poster for this inquiry, so I thought I would offer a short follow-up, since we ended doing it anyway.

Booked thru RCCL on a discounted sale promotion. So decent price. Very organized initial meeting at the pier by operators, then a 5 minute walk to the dock. The boat accommodates about 120 guests, and does have 2 bathroom (clean would be a relative term). Offered a non-alcoholic small cup of punch as boarding. Its about a 35-45 boat ride to the cove at the airport runway end. Anchor about 300 yds off shore and they tell you that you cannot set foot on the beach (I think this is to cover them from liability in case you do something stupid on the beach and get hurt by the aircraft jet/propeller blast. Did see several planes land while there (mostly turbo-props and smaller jets).

It has a floating dock attached to the boat that you can use for water entry/exit, or you can use the front ramp. But beware that trying to get back on to the boat via the ramp can take a LOT of effort, as the surf pushes you up, but then strong undertow pulls you back off. And there is the upper deck jumping off platform that the kids really liked.

Personally we found the visibility to be semi-clear. You could see about 20 feet down to the bottom, but not as clear as hoped. Very few fish, except for a few small ones that come around when they feed them with bread. Mostly sand bottom, but some basic flat rock formations as you get closer to the shore (or the bar area to the side).

There is really only 2 hrs on site, but actually that was fine with us, because the kids (ours were 11 - 14 range) were kinda losing interest by that point in the snorkeling. Also the surf seemed very difficult to swim against. Not high waves, just a lot of current. They did provide flotation "noodles" if you wanted, and they helped if you got tired from swimming.

There is a bar on the upper deck, and basic food can be ordered, but the prices really were not bad considering you are a captive audience for 3.5 hours. Tabs paid at end, but must be in cash.

So overall, personally, I would give it 4 out 5, IF you are looking for a sampling of snorkeling, combined with a decent water trip along part of the St. Maarten Dutch coastline. It left several hours to walk the shopping district afterwards. If you are expecting a hardcore snorkeling experience, then you want to pass on this one.

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