The Port in Barbados
Leaving Antigua, we stopped in our final port on the Caribbean island portion of our cruise in Bridgetown, Barbados. This was a return visit to Barbados for us. We stopped in Barbados on a previous cruise of the eastern Caribbean islands. We had a good bus tour of Barbados on that trip. On this visit, we planned a different type of excursion. A submarine ride in Barbados would let us explore below the sea.
Bridgetown was not a port where you could walk right off the ship into town. This was a busy shipping port. We saw the iconic 3 stage towers for loading sugar.
We left the cruise ship and boarded a shuttle bus to the cruise terminal. The long walk through the cruise terminal provided an array of shopping opportunities. Once we exited the cruise terminal, we then went in search of our tour bus.
It was a very short drive from the cruise terminal to the main office for the Atlantis Submarine Adventure in Barbados. We could even see our cruise ship from the dock.
Getting Ready for our Submarine Ride in Barbados
There was a submarine on blocks in the parking lot. This provided a glimpse of the submarine we would take under the sea. Inside the office, there was even a view of the control panels for the submarine.
We checked in and were given our submarine boarding passes. We shuffled around the office for about 30 minutes before our 11am group headed out to the dock at about 11:20. Our submarine ride in Barbados would last less than 45 minutes but the whole process took several hours.
There was a short boat ride to get to the submarine. We went past the dive boats sitting in the harbour. This submarine ride in the Barbados would give us a view of what scuba diving may be like in Barbados.
We got a briefing that included the safety equipment on the boat and on the submarine. There were both life jackets and respirators in the sub in case there was a problem under the sea.
A supply ship was docked beside the submarine. We tied up on the other side. The tour group before us was loaded back onto the boat before we transferred to the submarine.
Checking Out the Submarine
Getting on the submarine, we headed down the ladder backwards. This was not a tour that was accessible for everyone.
We boarded early in the group and had a chance to check out the submarine. David took the opportunity to chat with the submarine captain. We got to look at the controls and the captain even let me take the driver’s seat.
People were seated back to back and everyone got a porthole window. Fish identification cards were located at each window.
The captain and mate maintained a light banter throughout the trip. It made our submarine ride in Barbados much more entertaining!
Descending To the Sea Bottom
The captain slowly took the sub down. There was a depth gauge visible for the passengers to watch the descent. The submarine levelled off at about 30’ on the first tier of the Clarks Reef. Visibility was just ok. We wondered if recent rains had stirred up the bottom or if this was the normal underwater visibility in Barbados. It was hard to take good pictures since the sub moved all the time and we were shooting through two layers of window glass.
Most of the coral was pretty colourless although occasionally I would catch a flash of yellow. The fish at this level were mostly juveniles.
The submarine moved deeper. The next coral reef tier was at about 55’. As we descended we saw less fish and less colour.
When we ascended, we managed to find a spot with more large fish. They were curious and came close to the submarine.
The Wreck at 150’ Below Sea Level
The submarine ride in Barbados takes you to a depth of about 150’. Our actual maximum depth recorded was 140’. We circled the Lord Willoughby wreck several times to make sure that people on both sides of the sub could see the wreck.
There seemed to be very little coral growth on the wreck. We did not see any interesting sea life making the wreck home. But then the sub always stayed more than 7’ from the bottom or from the wreck. It may have been interesting to poke into the wreck when scuba diving.
Finishing Our Submarine Ride in Barbados
All too soon, the submarine headed back to the surface. People filed back up the ladder and onto the boat. The next tour group was crowding the deck, waiting for their turn to descend. This transfer process seemed to take forever.
Once the new tour was in and the hatches were closed, we slowly pulled away. The captain turned our boat so we could watch the sub descend.
As we left the dive sight, we saw our cruise ship in the harbour. So close, yet so far. It would be another hour before we retraced our multi-stop path back onboard. When we hit calmer waters, the crew offered cold drinks. Rum punch seemed to be the perfect end to this excursion for many people.
Each guest got a certificate to commemorate the submarine ride in Barbados. There were photos to purchase of us boarding the boat.
Our Underwater Experience in Barbados
We were glad to have tried the submarine ride in Barbados. It was much more exciting than the semi-submersible boats that got you a view just below the water line. The visibility and sea life we saw made us glad we have not paid for a scuba diving excursion in Barbados.
I am sure that the submarine ride in Barbados was very exciting for people who had never been deeper in the ocean than a snorkel trip. As scuba divers, we have spent lots of time down to 60’. We have been spoiled with great scuba diving vacations. St Lucia offered much more colour and sea life. Diving the Great Barrier Reef was a bucket list adventure. But we would not have had a chance to see a wreck at 150’ scuba diving!
We were happy to see that the seas remained calm in Barbados. This was our last Caribbean port before we headed out to cross the Atlantic Ocean. There were 4 days at sea before we finally hit land again in Africa. We would be happy to be back on land and touring Cape Verde!
Have you tried the submarine ride in Barbados? Did you see much more below the sea?