150 feet undersea and snug as a bug

By Elliott Hester

Imagine you are diving beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea.

A school of horse-eyed jacks suddenly changes direction, flashing what appears to be a silvery sheet. A shipwreck emerges in the deep blue distance. You head in that direction, cruising alongside a picturesque coral reef. 

In this underwater adventure, you're neither a snorkeler nor a diver. You're a passenger in an submarine. 

Since 1986, when Atlantis Submarines International Inc. launched the world's first public-passenger submarine off the coast of Grand Cayman Island in the British West Indies, more than 11 million customers have taken the plunge.

The voyages are now offered in 28-, 48- and 64-passenger subs at 12 island destinations in the Caribbean, Hawaii and Guam. 

I went under in Atlantis III, a 48-passenger sub operating off the coast of Barbados.

The journey began at the dock in Bridgetown, the capital. I boarded the Ocean Quest transfer boat for the 10-minute trip to the dive site at Freshwater Bay Reef, a mile off Paradise Beach on the west coast of the island.

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Caribbean technology submarine

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