Carmen you can snorkel or not snorkel with the Sting Rays, when we went we were on a sandbar standing in waist deep water, while the rays swam around us, we did not choose to snorkel - we didn't miss a thing. We have our own snorkel gear that we bring with us on our cruises, i know what you mean about not wanting to wear the gear provided. I think that an inexpensive snorkel mask will be fine for what you are doing., just get a good fit, - PS if hubby has a mustache or beard, he will need to coat it with Vaseline or he will not get a good fit and his mask will leak.
If you are snorkelling and visiting the sting ray city sandbar you will need snorkel gear.
Really cheap is not a good idea but the kind of stuff you can buy "packaged" in a high volume sporting goods store or evn in some warehouse stores is fine.
If you are only going to the sting ray city sand bar, there is no need for snorkell equipment. You will stand in waist to mid chest deep water and the rays will come right to the surface. On our last Carnival Cruise, the excursion desk sold new snorkels (snorkel only) for those adverse to using rental stuff for $5.00.
Papa Bill, I like the idea of the ship selling a snorkel for $5 - would save me from buying and packing one in my suitcase. Since this will be the only time I would likely ever use it, I'd love to get one on the ship. Do you know if all ships do this? Specifically, I'm wondering about the Carnival Paradise? Thanks.