On our recent Caribbean cruise we stopped at the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin and took a shore excursion called “Underwater Adventure and Magnificent Views” offered by our cruise ship, the MSC Musica. It turned out to be a great trip, and we were taken around the island with a few stops and a scenic viewpoint, but here I’m going to talk about the highlight of the excursion, the underwater adventure part.
If you’re not familiar with the island of St. Maarten, it is divided in half, the south side of the island, where all the cruise ships dock and the airport is located, is Dutch. The capital of the Dutch side is Philipsburg. The north side of the island, called St. Martin, is French, and its capital is Marigot.
After boarding our tour van we drove up to the north side of the island, the French side, to a town called Grand Case where our underwater trip was to take place.
In Grand Case, we boarded the Seaworld Explorer XIII and headed toward Creole Rock (shown in the picture above). Once we got near the rock our adventure was ready to begin. Note: The boat shown in the picture above is not the Seaworld Explorer. It’s just a catamaran that was out near Creole Rock.
The Seaworld Explorer is a tour boat with a unique design. From above, it looks just like any tour boat with seats and a place for the captain to drive the boat. But below, accessed through a hatch in the back, is a hollow bow with windows on both sides running the whole length of the boat. This allows people to see the bottom of the ocean as the boat drives around.
When you first get down below deck, they pull down seats so you can sit down. The seats fold up against the wall to allow you to enter the submersed area, then fold down to allow you to sit while you watch the sights outside.
Then a diver, employed by the tour company, goes down into the water and rounds up the fish with food, bringing them by the windows on each side of the boat so everyone can see. After that, the boat drives around for a while allowing passengers to see the whole area. Everyone was snapping pictures like crazy as it is a pretty cool experience. To me, it was just like snorkeling without getting wet.
We saw many kinds of tropical fish, turtles, stingrays, starfish, sea dollars, coral, and other sea life. It was a fun time.
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All images copyright © 2014 Eric T. Christensen