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Dive Review of Aqua Cat Liveaboard in
Bahamas/Exumas

September, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Steven Y. Davidson, GA, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (7 reports)
Report Number 4436
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Bonaire, St. Lucia, Saba, Cocos, Tahiti, Fiji, Belize, Mexico,
etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
82   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 75    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Proper sportdiving depth limits were stressed in the briefings, otherwise
we were allowed to dive our own profile.  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
1 or 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
N/A  
Large Pelagics
  N/A
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
N/A  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Rinse bucket, camera table.  With the advent of digital, special
considerations are hardly necessary.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
N/A  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
3 stars    
Comments  
Awesome boat design, excellent accommodations.  Boat was clean and well
run. Staff was friendly and went well out of their way to assure a great
trip. We did a sharksickle dive that was very enjoyable and had fun with
the Washing Machine dive in which you drift into a tidal current that is
split by the bottom profile causing you to spin several times in the
current.  Half of the dive sites we visited were good to excellent.  The
other half were fair to poor, many of them having passed their prime long
ago.  Madison Avenue is one of the last sites that we dived.  Aside from
one much heralded stand of pillar coral, half of that broken off, and
sporadic small brain corals scattered about, the coral on this patch reef
is completely dead.  I suspect it is on the itinerary because of its
proximity to the path that the boat needs to travel to stay on schedule. 
Unlike most of the other liveaboards that I have frequented in the Bahamas
over the years, the Aqua Cat did not travel at night.  I suspect that some
of the choice of dive sites was due to the sheer size of the boat.  

My wife and I chose to limit our activities to diving but the crew ran
fishing trips, shore excursions many days and took several of our party
lobster hunting away from the dive sites in shallow water as taking lobster
on scuba in the Bahamas is not allowed. Again, the crew was very
personable, to a man, and made for an enjoyable trip.

Most of the members of my group rated the food fairly high but I found the
food average on the whole.  Breakfast was very good with a wide selection
of fruit, bagels, eggs, bacon or sausage, etc.  Dinner varied, the low
point being fried chicken that appeared to have been pre-cooked and heated
up in the oven.  The high point was fresh lobster caught by the crew and
some of the passengers.  Fresh baked cookies and muffins were always
available as are soft drinks on tap.  

TIPPING.  I prefer not to use credit cards outside the country, too many
fees, so I brought cash for incidentals and to tip the crew with.  I always
leave a tip, the norm for me is 10% and I feel that is generous, although
this boat made it clear that they expected 15% to 20%.  When we checked in,
I was preoccupied so I let my wife check us in.  They insisted that she
leave a credit card imprint with them even though she told them that we
would be checking out with cash.  

When it came time to check out at the end of the week, I paid 50 bucks for
the t-shirts my wife had chosen and asked for the voucher to be returned. 
He held the voucher in his hand and asked if I wished to leave a tip, which
I thought was pretty forward.  I said I would take care of that later with
cash as I did not have it with me at that time.  This is when I remembered
your articles on tipping and I decided to hold the tip money until the very
last farewell.

Sure enough, at the farewell cocktail party the night before we departed,
one of the crew approached me.  "Did you have a good time?" he
asked.  I smiled and responded that we had an excellent time. 
"Well", says he,  "its an unpleasant part of my job to speak
to anyone who has not left a tip and make sure they do not have unresolved
issues with the boat or crew."  I smiled at him once again and
responded that there were no unresolved issues and that I intended to leave
a tip.  "Thats certainly your decision" he says, "but we
have found that often people who do not leave a tip return back home and
say bad things about the Aqua Cat without allowing us the opportunity to
make amends."  I assured him once again that we had an enjoyable trip
and that a tip would be forthcoming.

The implication of the conversation was clear.  "If you enjoyed your
trip we expect you to leave a tip."   Another guest was treated to the
same shakedown.  I left a 10% tip with the captain.  My perception was that
the other guest was sufficiently offended by the shakedown that he probably
did not.

This is a great boat with an awesome captain and crew.  The accommodations
were top notch and if that is high on your list of requirements, the Aqua
Cat would be a good choice for you.  But tipping is mandatory.  
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Other dive reports on Aqua Cat Cruises

All Bahamas Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Bahamas
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.


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