We’re excited to announce that Royal Caribbean is the first and only cruise line to offer on board Professional Association of Diving Instructors® (PADI) Five Star Dive Centers, letting our guests become certified scuba divers as part of their cruise. While diving trips long have made for some of the coolest shore excursions we offer, from exploring shipwrecks in Bermuda to scoping the world’s second largest barrier reef in Belize, adventure-seekers now can take their explorations to new depths.
Here’s everything you need to know about the program, with special insights from Mario Almeida Irisarri, one of our Royal Caribbean International Dive Instructors currently on board Harmony of the Seas.
Who should try the PADI program?
Anyone with a curiosity or an existing passion for diving, Mario says. He also recommends the program for anyone who loves marine life but thought scuba diving was too difficult—since this program makes it safe, easy and exciting.
Royal Caribbean offers the full PADI Open Water Diver course for scuba certification, but beginners also have the option of a 30-minute Try Dive program (starting at $29), and for certified divers in need of a refresher course, there’s PADI’s Re-Activate™ program. All courses are open to anyone age 12 and up, and in his experience, children learn even faster than adults.
How does the program work?
Guests will receive first-rate training and certification, with a mixture of online lessons, practice sessions in the ship’s pool, and finally, four open-water dives. The PADI eLearning™ online course and the PADI Touch™ mobile app are designed to let you study scuba theory pre-cruise, so, as Mario says, your trip will be “all about the fun of scuba diving.”
The best part? The four open-water dives will take place in two ports of call—in either the Caribbean or South America—letting you hone your skills in exciting environments.
What are the benefits of becoming certified?
You can scuba dive without certification in supervised situations, but being certified means you can explore more of the sea, by going on deeper and more advanced dives than beginners. “After all, 70 percent of the planet is covered in water, so the best way to explore it is scuba,” Mario says.
Safety is a major factor, too: there’s no better preparation than knowing the ins and outs of your equipment, diving techniques, and dive procedures. Certified scuba divers also can rent their own equipment from dive shops on land, a perfect way to extend your adventure after a Caribbean cruise that wraps up in Miami.
Why do it on a ship?
This all-in-one course is an easy and efficient way to become certified, but it also allows you to put your skills to immediate use in different ports of call. You can appreciate the payoff right away and start collecting stories and photos to share from your newfound hobby.
What can you expect to see on scuba excursions?
Our dozens of dive excursions can get you incredible up-close views of brilliantly colored coral, mysterious shipwrecks, and sea creatures like parrotfish, eels and rays. But one of the most exciting parts of the sport is that it continually surprises you: Mario has come across a pack of more than 100 dolphins, found himself amid a school of cownose rays, and witnessed a penguin expertly hunting fish on his underwater excursions.
Our new PADI program is perfect for anyone looking to explore more of the marine world; learn more about it here, and look for Mario if you end up charting a Caribbean adventure on board Harmony of the Seas.