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Dive Review of Aqua Cat Liveaboard in
Bahamas/Exumas

Aqua Cat Liveaboard, Sep, 2008,

by Steven Y. Davidson, GA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 4436.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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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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