ALL THE BASICS ABOUT TRAVEL, WEATHER & DIVING CONDITIONS
To help you plan your trip, we've prepared a list of basic information you'll want to know before you book. Once your trip has been reserved, you'll receive pre-departure information with all the details you need for your adventure.
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Most international flights to Caribbean Islands transit through an airport in the United States. If this is true of the flight you book, please be sure that you have a visa which allows you to enter the US.
Belize is located on the Yucatan Peninsula approximately 250 miles south of Cancun. Many major airlines fly into Belize City (BZE) International Airport where, provided you arrive withing the proscribed hours, you'll be met by a crew member and transferred to the boat which will be docked at the Radisson Ft. George dock in Belize City.
Many major airlines fly into Grand Cayman (GCM) where, provided you arrive withing the proscribed hours, you'll be met by a crew member and transferred to the boat at the George Town Government dock. Boarding starts at 4:00 p.m. Passengers can arrive up until the last flight Saturday evening as the yacht will depart the dock early Sunday morning. Cayman Aggressor V returns back to the downtown George Town Government dock Friday afternoon after lunch. You'll be free to explore George Town until time for the Friday night sunset cocktail party at 6 pm. Check-out is Saturday morning at 8 am.
You'll schedule your international flights either to the international airport on St Maartens (SXM) or to St Kitts (SKB). Your cruise will start and finish in different destinations, so if you fly into St Maartens, you'll fly home from St Kitts. Through transfers are not included in the package on the Caribbean Explorer liveaboard, you will be met at the airport by a driver. The transfer price is currently US$10-$30 per person each way, depending on the size of your group. If by chance you miss the driver, simply catch a taxi to either Bobby's Marina (St. Maarten) or Port Zante (St. Kitts) where the vessel will be waiting.
Many major airlines fly direct nonstop from the USA to Roatan (RTB). The Roatan Aggressor departs from the dock located at Romeo's Restaurant in French Harbor, Roatan. It is located 7 miles from the Roatán International Airport (RTB) in Coxen Hole. There are several options depending on what time you arrive. You may take a taxi to Romeo's Restaurant and store your bags on the boat, then have lunch & wander until boarding at 3:30 pm. Or, from the airport you may take a taxi to the host hotel, Clarion Suites at Pineapple Villas in French Harbor and have lunch and enjoy their facilities for an additional charge. You'll return to French Harbor and the crew will arrange your transfer back to the airport.
Several airlines fly to Puerto Plata (POP) International Airport in the Dominican Republic. A few flights go to Santiago International (STI) which is just a bit further away from your embarkation point. All flights that we know of will transit through the United States so it's important to have your visa for the US up-to-date. All 3 liveaboards which offer Humpback Whale snorkelling trips dock at the Ocean World Marina just outside Puerto Plata and departure is scheduled late afternoon or evening. We always recommend arriving a day early in case of flight delays or late-arriving luggage. Taxis which can take you to the marina are plentiful ... or we can help you to arrange a transfer in advance.
You will want to schedule your international flight to & from Providenciales International Airport (PLS). If you are flying from a country other than the United States, it will be necessary to fly through the US, so please be sure your visa is up-to-date for US travel.
Turks & Caicos Explorer: Though transfers are not included in the package, you will be met at the airport by a local driver who will be aware of the boat’s location. She may be located either in Caicos Marina or anchored offshore, depending on tides. The Turks & Caicos Explorer II arrives back in Providenciales midday Friday. T ransportation will be provided for a casual dinner on on land Friday evening. This is not included in your cruise rate. Passengers spend Friday night and have Saturday breakfast on board. There will be sufficient time to catch a flight out at any time on Saturday.
Turks & Caicos Aggressor: You'll be met at the airport by a crew member and transferred to the yacht docked at Turtle Cove Marina. After the cruise, the yacht returns to Turtle Cove on Friday after lunch. The crew hosts a sunset cocktail party, then dinner is your choice in one of several restaurants at Turtle Cove. Friday night dinner is not included in the price of the charter. Check-out is Saturday morning at 8 am. Transportation is provided back to the airport Saturday morning.
In genreal, for all Caribbean destinations visitors must have a current passport, valid for 6 months from date of entry, adequate funds to support themselves and a return airline ticket. However, policies can change or vary by nationality. It's always best to contact the consulate or embassy of your country to verify the requirements
Dominican Republic: Visitors can pre-arrange a Dominican visa or purchase a tourist card for $10 U.S upon arrival at the airport (to be paid in cash ... US dollars). Tourist cards normally permit a legal stay of up to 60 days.
WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE IN THE CARIBBEAN DESTINATIONS ?
The Caribbean islands are characteristically tropical in nature: hot & humid year-round, although late November to mid-April the temperatures can be a bit cooler (still warm enough to swim comfortably). Then, from April to early November you can expect muggy air and not temps ... usually not above 32°C - 90 °F.
Generally speaking, the warmer months are also the rainier months ... and it's wise to remember that those months also bring the possibility of tropical storms and hurricanes.
WHAT ABOUT WATER TEMPERATURES & DIVING CONDITIONS ?
- Belize : You will be diving in water that averages 82°F in the summer months and approximately 78°F in the winter months. Most guests make up to 5 dives each day so you need some sort of protection. A 1-3mm wetsuit or shorty is recommended year round.
- Cayman Islands : You will be diving in water that averages 82°F in the summer months and approximately 78°F in the winter months. A 1-3mm wetsuit or shorty is recommended most of the year, although many divers prefer a 5mm in January & February. All dives are from the yacht.
- Leeward Islands : The Northeastern Caribbean enjoys remarkably consistent year-round weather. Water temperatures range from a low of about 76° F in winter to a high of about 85° F in summer. Normally, you'll have little current and visibility is generally between 50 and 150 feet. A 3mm wetsuit in summer and up to a 5 mm wetsuit in winter is recommended. Your dives will be done from the vessel itself.
- Honduras : Average water temperatures: 78-84F, 25-28C (summer) 75–80F, 24-27C (winter, with possible 72F, 22C drop in January) ...3-5 mm wetsuit recommended
- Dominican Republic (Humpback Whales trips) : The water temperature ranges from 72F -80F (22C-26C).
- Turks & Caicos : Water temperatures range from a low of about 72° F in winter to a high of about 82° F in summer. There is normally very little current and visibility is ranges from 75 to 150 feet. Most divers are comfortable with a 3 mm wetsuit in summer and a 5 mm wetsuit with hooded vest in winter.
AGGRESSOR NAMED STORM POLICY: If a named tropical storm or hurricane cancels all or part of your trip, you will receive a credit voucher called a "StormCheck" based on the number of days of diving missed. "StormCheck" vouchers allow guests to return to the same destination within one year of the interrupted trip.
EXPERIENCE REQUIRED FOR CARIBBEAN DIVING
Overall, scuba diving in the Caribbean is ideal for all levels of divers, including novices. If there is a particular dive site which the Cruise Director feels is too challenging for you, based on your experience and number of logged dives, you will be asked to skip that dive. But, with up to five dives per day on most days, you may be pleased to have a breather !
BEST TIME TO GO
The Caribbean is a year-round destination although we do like to remind divers that tropical storms and hurricanes are a real possibility from mid-summer into early fall, expecially from August to October.
All of the liveaboards have a first aid kit onboard, including oxygen and an AED. You may want to bring motion sickness medication if you feel you will need it. We suggest you bring over-the-counter motion sickness medication or consult your doctor about prescription brands, such as the trans-dermal patch or Scopace tablets.
Belize : Belize, like all Central and South American countries, has reported cases of malaria and dengue fever, therefore, medication is recommended for extended stays into the mainland. We suggest that you consult with your doctor.
There are decompresssion chambers throughout the Caribbean: 3 in Dominican Republic, 2 in Cayman Islands, 1 in Turks & Caicos, 1 in Saba. ... and several more.
Certain sunscreen ingredients have been found to be damaging to corals. These include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, 4MBC, or butylparaben. Research indicates that these chemicals can cause DNA damage to corals, promote viruses in corals, and contribute to the bleaching.
Some dive destinations have banned these chemicals but we would encourage you to choose and use a sunscreen that is "coral safe" in all destinations..
FLYING AFTER DIVING
Current studies show that you should wait at least 24 hours after multiple days with repetitive diving before flying. Please keep this in mind before you book your onward international or domestic flights.
The US dollar is official currency in certain Caribbean nations, but even if the country has its own currency, US dollars are genreally accepted in all tourist areas.
TAXES & FEES
You can estimate approximately $100 per 7 nights for most of the port & park fees ... also roughly $100 per 7 nights for fuel surcharge fees (all subject to change
- Belize : Port fee on board which includes cruising tax & park fee.
- Cayman : A port fee will be collected on board at the end of the week
- Dominican Republic (Humpback Whales Trips) : Sanctuary access & port fees: $450 and fuel surcharge:set by each liveaboard (you can estimate $50 ... rates may change)
- Leeward : Port, Immigration and marine park fees ... fuel surcharge
- Honduras (Roatan) : A port/park fee will be collected at the beginning of the week in cash. All onboard purchases including courses, boutique, etc. will incur a 19% VAT tax.
- Turks & Caicos : Tax & port fees ... fuel surcharge
DO I NEED INSURANCE?
Travel insurance : We strongly recommend comprehensive travel insurance to cover against unforeseeable events including personal & business impediments, illness, travel delays and missed flight connections. We hate seeing any of our clients fall into the category of unfortunate travelers who are without coverage for unexpected circumstances
Diving insurance: the liveaboards now require diving insurance. You must not confuse regular travel medical and/or travel insurance with diving-specific insurance such as DAN (Divers Alert Network) or Dive Assure. This type of insurance will cover all of your scuba diving and snorkeling activities, including the costs for recompression chamber treatment and emergency air evacuation. These are not covered by the average travel insurance.
We recommend Dive Assure as they are one of the few companies who offer insurance which includes general travel insurance, including trip cancellation .... plus full dive coverage.
Click here or on the button in the side panel to access Dive Assure directly.
Caribbean Overview Caribbean Liveaboards