Below the Blue
One of the best activities on a cruise is to take to the water on an exciting excursion. Snorkelling around the tropical islands of French Polynesia, scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, or simply floating in the warm waters of the Dead Sea top many cruisers’ bucket lists in warm climates. Alternatively, exploring frozen islands by Zodiac or kayaking amongst mountainous icebergs are thrilling activities for a colder climate, expedition-style cruise.
If snorkelling and diving aren't for you but you long to venture into the blue on an underwater adventure, why not step into a state-of-the-art submarine and mingle with the marine life? Explore kaleidoscopic coral reefs filled with tropical fish and otherworldly creatures as you journey to the depths of the ocean.
There are several expedition cruise ships that feature submersibles and offer underwater experiences, including Crystal Esprit, Crystal Endeavour, Seabourn Venture, and Scenic Eclipse. Each of the submarines is custom built for optimal sightseeing and your six-star underwater experience is equally as impressive as on board the ship. You'll find some of the submarines even feature revolving seats to provide you with panoramic views so you don't miss a thing.
Imagine watching through the window as the submarine dives down hundreds of metres into an oceanic realm where you can witness sunken ruins and marine reserves in places such as the Antarctic or the Caribbean. We can guarantee a submarine experience is one you won't forget in a hurry.
We've scoured the oceans and gathered some of the best places to explore on an underwater adventure.
Did you know there are at least 235 marine species living in the waters of Antarctica and the Arctic? A submarine experience below the icy waters takes you on an incredible journey where you will come face to face with creatures such as whales, icefish and seals.
There are eight species of whale to be found in Antarctic waters; the Humpback, Minke, Orca, Sei, Southern Right, Sperm, Blue and Fin. Undoubtedly, the most impressive is the Blue Whale, which can weigh up to more than 130 tonnes.
One of the most incredible experiences you must include in your Antarctica itinerary is to embark on a thrilling underwater adventure in a submersible, like the one found on Crystal Cruises’ new expedition ship, the Crystal Endeavour.
The Caribbean is one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the Atlantic and is home to colourful coral reefs and thousands of species of marine mammals and fish. The gorgeous turquoise waters and magnificent creatures lure scuba divers down to the depths of the ocean each year.
As you venture into the deep blue waters in a state-of-the-art submarine, you will have the opportunity to meet some of the most weird and wonderful marine life on earth. Witness leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles, dolphins, stingrays, whales, iguanas, and shoals of vibrant fish in their natural underwater habitat.
Due to the luxuriously warm climate in the Caribbean, cooling off in the ocean is the perfect activity after a day basking in the sun. More chilled out water sports are common on these islands, such as snorkelling and scuba diving; you really don’t have to venture very deep to see some of the most beautiful creatures on earth. Some of the best diving spots in the Caribbean include Aruba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands. Roatan Island off the coast of Honduras is an excellent location for turtle spotting (I was lucky enough to get my PADI certificate here a few years ago!) and Jardines de la Reina in Cuba has world-class shark diving.
Southern Europe & the Mediterranean
Hot summers in southern Europe are a staple for many travellers’ holidays, and for good reason. Vibrant Portuguese cities and quaint coastal towns are the backdrop to some of Europe’s best surfing locations, including the likes of Faro, Ericeira, and perhaps some of the tallest waves in the world at Nazaré.
The warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea play host to hundreds of species of marine life. Loggerhead turtles, sting rays, dolphin, and even some species of shark can be seen gracing the waters with their elegance and beauty. If you're fortunate, you might even spot a Mediterranean monk seal, which is one of the rarest animals on the planet!
The Mediterranean is also considered a hotspot for biodiversity, with over 500 native marine fish species, unusual considering it is a temperate sea. These include the poisonous pufferfish, bluefin tuna, Mediterranean parrot fish and swordfish. The Mediterranean Sea really is one of the most spectacular marine environments and is highly recommended if you want an unforgettable submarine experience.
Some of the popular destinations for water sports and relaxing underwater adventures include the stunning and varied Greek Islands (including the famous ‘shipwreck cove’ in Zakynthos), the chic seaside towns of southern France, the crystal clear waters surrounding Sardinia, and the beautiful stretches of the Dalmatian Coast.
Almost every luxury cruise line offers tempting and indulgent voyages around Southern Europe. Emerald Yacht Club’s stunning new super-yacht the Emerald Azzurra is one of the most magnificent and deluxe bespoke vessels, with some incredible itineraries taking in the most remote ports and harbours around Croatia, Turkey, and Greece.
French Polynesia is possibly the world’s most pure and untouched natural environment. While tourism is increasing, it is being treated as carefully and sustainably as possible, with many eco-tourism companies keen to keep the islands undamaged and intact. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting and growing corals, to expand and nourish the reefs and underwater ecosystems.
Encounters with exotic marine life are an everyday occurrence among the beautiful islands of Tahiti, Fiji, Bora Bora, Mo’orea, and the rest. French Polynesian Islands truly are majestic destinations, drawing in travellers of all abilities who wish to explore both above and below the crystal blue waters. Opportunities to swim with tiger sharks and release baby turtles into the ocean are unforgettable bucket list experiences in this idyllic part of the world.
Relaxing underwater activities are a highlight on any French Polynesian cruise; Windstar Cruises venture to secluded coves and undiscovered atolls. Their yachts feature a water sports platform which opens off the back of the ship directly into the sea and offers kayaks, paddleboards, water skis, and an abundance of fun toys for ocean-lovers to use whenever they wish.
It’s no surprise that luxury cruise lines offer such incredible underwater experiences to guests. No matter the location or climate, there is always an adventure to be had below the blue!