The MSC Divina sailed past colorful houses and a working port into Aruba on a windy December day. We booked a sail and snorkel excursion through the ship. It had two stops, one at a reef and the other at a wreck.
After meeting with our excursion group in the specified lounge we joined the group of passengers following the guide holding up the paddle with our tour number on it.
We did not have to take a bus or shuttle. Our group just walked across the dock to a waiting catamaran named Rumba on the other side of the pier. Rhumba’s crew took a passenger count before leaving the dock so they would know how many people they needed on board before leaving each stop in order to insure everyone returned at the end of the journey.
After pulling away from the dock the sails went up, though the rumble of the engines never quieted. We really didn’t expect it to. There isn’t usually time to actually sail on this sort of excursion, though in Saint Martin when we sailed to Tintamarre they did sail for real a short while on the way back. A fair way down the island the boat stopped relatively close to shore near a lighthouse and a beach full of palapas.
The captain listed a number of places where passengers could exit the boat, so with snorkel gear in hand people made for the exits. Most went to the starboard side so I pretty much had the port side to myself.
With clear space and calm water around the boat, jumping in first and then putting the snorkel mask on seemed the easiest thing to do. Heading away from the stern to snorkel away from the crowed seemed like a good idea to me, but apparently to the crew not so much.
Snorkeling out deeper than where the boat sat seemed off limits as they motioned me back when I started out that way. Alongside the boat and toward shore the areas they allowed us to go had a number of places with several varieties of coral, each teeming with numerous fish. A couple long thin swordnosed fish I’ve not seen before zipped by, too high and too fast to catch with my trusty Panasonic Lumix underwater camera.
I followed three fairly large French angelfish for a bit and eventually swam over to the other side to see what everyone else was looking at. That side had less structure on the bottom, but still had some fish to see. Shortly after finding my husband in the crowd a lady said she’d seen some octopus or something like them. We went where she said and found a school of cuttlefish, which I have not seen previously while snorkeling anywhere else.
snorkeling with cuttlefish video
The boat’s horn signaled time to climb aboard. Everyone got settled in and we headed off to our next stop over a shipwreck. We did not go far, just out to deeper water. It almost seemed like a swim-over like last year’s 3-reef snorkel in the calm crystal clear waters of Cozumel would have taken less time, but sea conditions and the presence of a semi-sub probably made that impossible even if the distance had been half what it was.
We tried scrub mask & slate cleaner and quick spit antifog the first time this trip, and my mask was the clearest it’s ever been. No fogging whatsoever. My mask stayed just as clear at the second stop as the first without adding any additional product in spite of the fact that we used them last minute on the boat with no water available to rinse as the jars instructed. We just sprayed the cleaner on and wiped it off with a towel, ridding the mask of salt spots left from last year, then did the same with the defogger. (This time I actually cleaned the salt off with fresh water once back in the cruise ship cabin.)