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The “world’s best scuba diving locations” vary depending on who you ask, but several dive sites that frequently receive high marks also appear on a number of cruise itineraries. With many cruise lines offering scuba diving certification right on board the ship, the underwater world is that much more accessible – and affordable. There are plenty of low rates available throughout December while everyone is preoccupied with the holidays, and wave season (which starts in January) has yet to hit full force. Here are three popular seven-night cruises that set sail from U.S. ports, with prices starting from as little as $279.
Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a seven-night voyage from Miami on January 9 that is priced from $379 (other dates are available at slightly higher costs). The Carnival Glory first calls on Cozumel, the drift-diver's heaven with crystal-clear waters that allow a visibility of up to 200 feet. Then it’s on to Belize, home to a large array of marine life and the second largest barrier reef on the planet – much of which remains unexplored. After, passengers can explore Roatan, an under-the-radar diving destination that is quickly growing in popularity thanks to its spectacular wall dives, which begin to drop from depths of just 25 feet in some areas. Lastly, the Glory calls on Grand Cayman, which boasts more than 200 snorkeling and scuba diving sites that are littered with sponges, wrecks, walls, and the famous “Stingray City.”
The Italian-based cruise line, MSC is stationing one of its newest ships, the MSC Poesia, in Fort Lauderdale during the winter. The ship embarks on seven-night itineraries this January with two dates starting from as little as $279 per person. The ship first calls on Key West, which is home to the Vandenberg shipwreck, the 520-foot missile tracking ship that sits 140 feet underwater on the second largest artificial reef in the world. After a day at sea, the Poesia heads to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where numerous coral reefs can be found, however we’d suggest spending a day in the sun and saving the diving for Grand Cayman and Cozumel, which are consistently ranked among the top diving spots in the world.
Those seeking wreck dives should consider a spring cruise to Bermuda, where many ships rest in less than 80 feet of water. The Constellation, a four-masted schooner and the Hermes steamer vessel are two of the most popular wreck dives, but there are also several reefs and caves awaiting divers off Bermuda’s pink-sand shores. Holland America offers seven-night cruises this spring embarking from New York that are part of the “View and Verandah” sale. Discounted rates are available on oceanview and balcony staterooms, with oceanivew rates on the April 23 sailing priced up to 63 percent off – starting from just $699. The ms Veendam first calls on this historical port of St. George’s, Bermuda where it remains docked overnight. Then, it will spend two nights in Hamilton before heading back to New York.