Posted 30 August 2014 - 07:40 PM
There are over a hundred Cozumel Dive operators, and probably dozens that will work with divers off a cruise ship. Yes, you will save LOTS of money booking your own dives; the Cruise Lines extract a big kickback from all of their excursion contractors. As a general rule, I would not book through the Cruise Line for ANYTHING. On to Dive Ops. If you are coming in on the International Pier (the one a couple miles south of town), which I believe Carnival does, Dive with Martin is probably the most convenient Dive Op, as it's shop is right at the end of the pier. Also, Dive with Martin will include rental gear in the price they quote you. It is not a high end valet operator, like Aldora, Living Underwater, Blue XTC, but it will provide you with an excellent dive experience. I've been diving with DWM several times, and I'm going to be with them for 5 days of diving in December. Miguel and Roberto are both excellent DMs and both can show you lots of good stuff while diving Cozumel. DWM is a budget operator - AL 80 tanks, 45-50 minute dives, 1 hour surface interval. If you want Steel high capacity tanks, much longer bottom times, SI on a beach or at a beach club, check out the higher end operators. Aldora is my favorite, but there are others who swear by operators like Living Underwater, Blue XTC, Tres Pelicanos. Check out reviews on Scuba Board Cozumel Forum.
A bit of advice if you have never dived Cozumel before. It is all drift diving, and that makes some people nervous. I LOVE Drift diving - it is the most relaxing, least tiring diving you'll ever do, IF you remember some simple rules. First, do NOT fight the current - it is your friend, and will do most of the work for you, you are along for the ride. Second, stay behind (up current) of the DM at all times. If you get distracted and go by him, it can be HARD WORK to swim against the current to try to return to the group. If the DM stops, you stop. Third, stay at the same depth as the dive group. Currents can run at different speeds at different depths; don't think that you'll be "safer" or "use less air" if you try to helicopter 20-30 feet above the group. I hate that, the DMs hate it, and its highly likely that you'll be in a current that's traveling at a different speed than the group, meaning you'll drift out ahead of them or lag way behind. If the group is at 80 feet, you should be too. Fourth, learn the tricks of minimizing the current. Stay horizontal, presenting a small cross-section to the current. The current is usually weak very close to the bottom, and nonexistent behind a coral head, so if the DM stops to show the group something, a Moray, a Lobster, a Toadfish, whatever, you can stay in place and wait for the group by ducking behind something that blocks the current, or getting horizontal, close to the bottom, facing into the current; with a small cross-section, you can stay in place with minimal effort. Once you get used to drift diving, you'll love it.