While visiting Grand Turk Island in Turks and Caicos during our Carnival Miracle cruise, we took the “Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure” shore excursion ($59.99/adult and $39.99/child). Here’s my review.
As soon as the ship docked, we walked over to meet the captain and crew of the boat that was to take us on the snorkeling adventure. We had about 20 people on board which was plenty given that when something exciting happens in the water, everyone is on top of each other for a few minutes. The crew also provide cold water and juice. The boat has a small bathroom on board.
Everyone was given a yellow life jacket (see photo) and we were instructed on how to inflate it in case of emergency. We were provided with swim fins, masks, and a snorkel.
I had my own adapted prescription goggles and enhanced snorkel. A few people on board also brought their own mask and/or snorkel from home. I didn’t bring my fins because they were too bulky to bring on vacation which a few people agreed was their reason for not dragging theirs along as well. It worked out though because the crew provided swim fins that were great for snorkeling.
First Time Snorkeling
There was at least one person on board who had never snorkeled before. She took it easy at first and away she went. The main trick to snorkeling is to get use to breathing into the snorkel. Once you’re comfortable with that, you’re all set. The crew can help you if you’re a first timer.
What Do You See?
It was a short ride over to the first of two stops. The boat stopped next to a couple of other snorkeling tour boats which meant there were a lot of people (probably at least 50) in the area around the boats. It anchored above a coral reef and cliff. The cliff was exciting to see as it went from about 15 feet to very deep! There were tons of fish swimming all around us. The boat’s crew (a few guys) got in the water with us and started feeding the fish little by little via a small water bottle filled with food. Once the food was out, fish came in schools.
After about 20 minutes, we got back on board and went to our second destination. This was a much shallower area, closer to shore (Round Cay). It was about 10 feet deep. There were a lot of fish here as well but what was really unique was that a nurse shark lives in these waters and one of the crew would feed it and pet it. One-by-one, people held their breath and swam down a few feet to pet the shark. Do you know what a shark’s skin feels like? Sand paper. When we got back on the boat, someone mentioned that he swam a bit further away and saw a couple more of these sharks swimming (which I think are also pets). Cool!
I brought my Canon D20 underwater camera and took some fantastic photos like the one on this page. A few people had cameras including a GoPro camera and small bags covering their camera. I have one of those bags but they simply aren’t as good or as convenient as having a dedicated underwater camera. Still, we all took lots of photos which were certainly unique memories.
Was It Worth It?
It sounds a little grandiose to call this the “ultimate” snorkeling adventure but it was a great time. You got to see a deep coral reef, plenty of fish, touch a shark, and so on. It’s a little pricey for what it is but the experience was worth it. I’ve snorkeled around the world and this was among the most colorful experiences I’ve had. You don’t have to tip the crew but they did a great job and most people gave at least a few dollars.