Cruise Company Private Islands: Is the Magic Lost when the Dive is Curated?

Cruise Company Private Islands: Is the Magic Lost when the Dive is Curated?

Have you ever wondered about those private islands that cruise companies advertise in their brochures?  They can rate from a tropical paradise made to look like people have never been there to a modern waterpark that just happens to be in the middle of the ocean.  They are only limited by the imagination (and the wallet) of the cruise company’s marketing team. Most people who love the water are a little leery of “fake” destinations; this is a reasonable concern for those who are travel purists.  However, these little slices of paradise can be a good place to cut your teeth as a new diver or new snorkel enthusiast. Here are a couple of things that you will need to know to get started.

The reason that companies make private islands is because people want the “experiences” of the islands without the crowds of people who mob you at cruise docks trying to sell you tours or items.  Private islands give people the “island life” without having to actually see what makes the islands the way they are. Further, companies also can control the experience that the people who come are having. Depending on the cruise company you choose, you will find that the adventure will be catered to their main audience. Party cruises have party islands, luxury cruises have spa islands, family cruises have family islands – it all comes down to what you are looking for. 

One of the great things about “private islands” is that most people do not know what to do there.  When people get off of the ship and go to the island, they tend to stake out a small piece of sand with the hundreds of other people who are there and sit on the beach all day.  Some of them will wade into the water to swim and fewer still will rent the snorkel equipment and venture out into the curated snorkeling area. The smallest group of people are the people who SCUBA, which means you will have large swaths of the water to yourself.  Even if you are a snorkel enthusiast, if you go over on the first tender or wait until the afternoon, the curated area will be almost barren as people tend to go out around 10 AM and get tired around 11 AM. This means that you can have a lot of open water to yourself and not have dozens of tourists in your pictures.  Knowing the timing can make snorkeling or SCUBA in these areas a magical experience.

Regardless of the cruise company that you choose, you need to make sure that you plan ahead.  Cruise companies only rent so many sets of snorkel equipment, and they rent them for the day. This means that if you are planning on renting that you need to book the tour early so that you get a set.  If you bring your own, this is less of a challenge. Depending on the cruise company, the SCUBA rules are different. Most require that you are certified unless you are doing a guided dive. If you are bringing your own equipment this can be avoided (but you have to lug your equipment around. Generally, your travel agent will be able to book your excursions before you leave, which will mean that you have “first choice” of what you can do.  If you do not use an agent, you can call the cruise company and they will walk you through setting up your trip.

So the big question is whether the curated experience diminishes the dive.  It does not. While you will not be the first person to see anything on the trip, it will be the first time that you experience it.  These are not exploratory dives but dives to enrich your life. And they do that quite well. These are an inexpensive way to get hours and if you are a novice diver, there are always people nearby if you get into trouble.  While the private islands are not equivalent to diving the Barrier Reef, snorkeling in Vietnam or diving with sharks- they are a fun, safe way for people to get into the lifestyle and build confidence. They are something worth giving a try and fun for the whole family. 

About the Author

Dr. Smithmyer is the Vice President of International Affairs for Brāv Online Conflict Management, an international consortium of conflict resolution professionals. Dr. Smithmyer is also a columnist for NRN doing mostly political and international business columns. When Dr. Smithmyer is not working with people to make the world a better place, he enjoys snorkeling the waters of the world.

Dr. Smithmyer has traveled extensively in the United States, Australia, Vietnam, and the Bahamas. He has also presented in the U.K., India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Smithmyer is one of the most lettered men in the world with nine degrees. As an adjunct professor in his spare time, Dr. Smithmyer uses his business experience and travels to help bring the world to his students and even brings the students to the world through experiential learning trips.

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