Blackbeard's Cruises offers liveaboard scuba diving adventures to the Out Islands of the Bahamas. Reefs, walls, drift; night, blue holes and shark dives are offered each trip. We have three 65' sloops designed especially for scuba diving. Cruises that depart from Nassau will explore the Exuma Cays of the central Bahamas. Dive the pristine waters of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. Eco-adventures are included.
We'll spend the last night in port where you can experience the local island life too. Our crew consists of 5 dedicated and personable mates! The captain, first mate, engineer, dive instructor and cook are all more than happy to assist you in any way they can! We look forward to having you join us aboard a Blackbeard's Cruise liveaboard!
Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions!
What should I bring? Space is limited on liveaboards and the islands we visit are very casual. Several bathing suits, shorts, long pants, several T-shirts, one blouse/shirt, and a wind breaker all packed in soft luggage. Deck shoes or sneakers, sandals, towels, suntan lotion (non-oil), sunglasses, and foul weather gear (pants and jacket) which is a necessity to keep dry from spray or rain. Personal items such as aspirin, decongestants and shampoos are also recommended. We provide all bedding. We have storage at our dock for any empty bags or any bags you won't be needing.
How much storage space is there for my dive gear? There is plenty of space for your dive gear in our top side storage compartments. There is a shelf at the end of each bunk where you can store clothes and other personal items and a few hooks to hang your ditty bag on too.
Do I need a passport ? All travelers to the Bahamas need a passport. Book your air tickets with your name as it appears exactly on your passport. Check with the Bahamas Embassy for visa requirements if citizenship is not US by visiting this link.
***Latin American Citizens
How do I get to the docks? Taxis are readily available from the airport. The ride is approximately 30-40 minutes travel time from the airport to our docks. We are located at the Nassau Harbour Marina on Bay Street. It is not that far mileage wise, but you only go around 25 miles per hour, slow down, Mon! You are on island time now ;-) If you would like us to make ground transfer arrangements for you, we can do so! The cost is 15.00 per person each way to and from the airport and dock. Please call our offices two weeks prior to do so.
What time will we sail? We set sail at approximately 3 pm. The dock gates open at noon on Saturdays so please make travel arrangements that will allow you time to be there around noon, 1 pm at the absolute latest. We serve lunch, get you settled and have our safety briefing before we depart Nassau for the Exumas!
What time will we disembark? All passengers disembark by 9 am on the following Friday. If you have a flight later in the day out of Nassau, you may leave your luggage with us while you sightsee and return 2 1/2 hours prior to your flight's departure to retrieve your bags. Your last dive is complete by early afternoon on Thursday. Plan your flight home according to your "NO FLY" standard from your certifying agency.
Will I get seasick? Motion sickness medication should be brought along in the event that we encounter rough seas. We want you to be comfortable. The boat will spend the night in calm anchorages and normally scuba diving will be done on the lee side of the islands. The best thing about a live aboard diving vacation is that we can flex our schedule to go where the weather and conditions are best!
What is our itinerary? There is no fixed schedule. The Captain will vary the itinerary to take advantage of the best weather and diving conditions. We'll traverse the northern end of the Exuma Cays in search of great conditions with nights anchored offshore one of the many islands. The last night of the trip will be spent in Nassau where you can explore the big island with your new buddies! Dinner on Thursday is served on board at the dock.
Do we actually sail? The best time for sailing is from October to April. During the period from May to September there is normally very little wind. Passenger participation is welcomed by the crew or you may just relax in the sun.
Do you have showers? Yes, there is one shower equipped with both fresh and saltwater taps. Everyone cringes at the mention of a 30 second fresh water shower but it does warrant some explanation! There are two showerheads in the shower: one fresh and one salt. Saltwater use is unlimited so lather, shampoo, shave, etc. with the unlimited salt water and then use the 30 seconds of fresh water at the end to rinse. You'll feel fresh as a daisy! Bring your own towels-we recommend two- one for topside and one for showering.
What are the meals like? 3 complete meals are served daily, as well as snacks and fresh fish in season, when caught. There is always a hammock of fresh fruits for those between meals snacks. A selection of beverages is always on hand, from soft drinks and lemonade to beer, wine and rum punch-all included in the price of your liveaboard cruise!
What if I have special requests for meals? Please remember that you are participating in an adventure travel vacation that is occurring in a remote part of the world. Many of the modern conveniences, brands and pre-packaged goods we use at home are not available in remote destinations. As such, many special requests that are very specific are difficult to accommodate. If you have food allergies, please contact us well in advance so we can be prepared upon your arrival. Finally, if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other special life event please let us know. Our crews stand ready to assist you in making your special day something to remember.
Can I fish? Yes, all the fishing gear is provided and our cook encourages it! Whatever we catch that is edible is cooked for passengers or used for sushi! The rest is saved for the chumsicle and the shark feeding dive. Just keep in mind that we spend a bit of time within the limits of the Land and Sea Park which is a marine sanctuary. There is no fishing or taking of any kind while we are within the park boundaries. Otherwise, we are happy to fish and spearfish!
How much spending money do I need? You will need spending money for an evening ashore (drinks, souvenirs) and crew tips (15% recommended). You might note some of the smaller Bahamas Out Islands do not accept major credit cards. The currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar which is on par with the US dollar and is used inter-changeably. We accept Visa, MC, and Discover for boutique item charges and crew tip.
What is the recommended gratuity? The liveaboard business is a service industry, and although the general public is seldom aware of it, gratuities are a major part of a crewmember's salary. Few other recreational activities rely so heavily upon the professionals in charge for your enjoyment and safety. A gratuity of 15% is customary, but many leave more when they feel the service was outstanding. If you are disappointed with the service, you should inform the Captain of your feelings right away so he may rectify the situation. Leave no more gratuity than you feel is right.
What is a resort course? Our scuba diving instructor will give you basic instructions. This will allow you to make two dives under the supervision of our dive instructor. This resort course does not qualify you for certification. The BC and regulator are included with a resort course. The fee is $125.00.
Can you do open water checkouts? Yes, our dive instructor can with prior arrangements. The cost is $15 per dive plus cost of the certification form if not provided. Many new divers choose to make their first dives in the gin clear, warm waters of the Bahamas instead of in cold muddy lakes!
Are continuing diving education courses available on board? Yes, our instructors can offer specialty courses as well as advanced diver on board. Check with your instructor on board to see what is available.
Where do we dive? We'll be diving up and down the Exuma Sound, an abyss that drops over 4,000 feet to the ocean floor! The Exuma Cays are known for their wonderful reef dives due to the protection they receive from the Land and Sea Park sanctions. Sometimes we dive Eleuthera but that is also weather dependent. Our specific itinerary varies with the winds to obtain maximum visibility for diving. The depths normally range from 20' to 120'. There are swift drifts between the cays as well as a blue hole that divers will love!
Will there be a dive guide in the water with us? We do not offer led dives on Blackbeard's. The instructor on board will give you a very in depth briefing before each dive describing the conditions, the current, depth, and it will include a visual aide. The instructor and/or staff will be in the water for all drift dives and the shark feed!
What dive gear do I need to bring? Snorkel, fins, mask, regulator, buoyancy compensator, u/w watch, depth gauge and for night dives, a dive light and cyalume stick (may be purchased for $3 each) are required. We provide tanks, weights and weight belts. There is storage on deck for all gear and we have rinse buckets for underwater cameras and regulators.
Do you have scuba diving gear rental equipment? We are proud of our "top of the line" ADV/BCs, wetsuits, computers, dive lights and regulators with octopus and gauges. All must be rented by prior arrangements thru our US reservations office. If you have not requested this on your trip application already, you can call and add it to your reservation. We do not store our gear at the dock so last minute requests may not be available. We also have cyalumes available for sale.
Do I need a wetsuit? The chart below will give you a general idea of the water temperatures and what weight wet suit you will need. When deciding what to bring, consider that you will be diving frequently each day and it takes your body a while to warm up after each dive. Air temperature, the wind and cloud coverage, all affect how fast your body warms back up after a dive. Choosing a wetsuit is a very personal decision, some people wear a full suit in the summer and some dive with a shorty in the winter.
Are there any wreck dives in the Exumas? There are few wrecks to dive in the Exumas but we do have the famous Norman's plane to snorkel and the Austin Smith to dive. It is not penetrable but it lies on a great reef and is the site of our shark feeding dive.
Do you offer shark dives? Yes, we normally do one shark feeding dive each trip. Sharks are seen on most dive sites throughout the Bahamas. The chum-sickle regularly draws in both reef and nurse sharks.
Am I required to dive with a guide? Our instructor on board will give you a thorough dive briefing so you can plan your dive and dive your plan. We don't usually have an instructor in the water on each dive, but we have crewmembers that would be happy to act as guides when possible. Solo dive certification is required for those divers who wish to dive alone.
Do you have a compressor and tanks? Yes, we have an electric 17 CFM compressor on board. This electric compressor system keeps the noise down compared to the gas powered ones of the past! Tanks on board are typically 80's. We do have 63's and 100's available upon request. Each diver has a dedicated tank for the week with our updated tank benches too!
What is the minimum age for passengers on Blackbeardís Cruises? Blackbeardís Cruises are geared towards diving so the recommended age for children would be 10 for junior divers and 12 for open water divers. Keep in mind that all children under the age of 15 must be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times. While our crew is most gracious and good with all ages, they WILL NOT provide childcare services or supervision at ANY time during the cruise.
Do non-divers enjoy the trip? For the non-diver there is swimming, sun tanning, beach combing, fishing, snorkeling and just plain relaxing. If they are happy hanging out on a boat with other adventurous souls they will be fine? If shopping and island hopping is on their mind, then remember- our cruises are destination and activity oriented, not amenity based. Casual, outdoor lovers that enjoy the salt air and open seas will be most happy on a liveaboard.
What do I need to participate in the eco-adventures of the Exumas? The Exuma Cays offers many opportunities to go ashore and explore and enjoy the uninhabited beaches. For these occasions, we highly recommend proper footwear for these eco adventures. Flip flops are not suitable. We suggest water shoes or TEVA type sandals. Sneakers are fine but they might get wet!.
Is lobstering allowed? Yes, but we follow Bahamian law which limits you to free diving only. No trigger and no tanks! We have Hawaiian slings on board. The lobster season runs from August 1 until March 31. We can only hunt outside the park boundaries.
What if I need to cancel my vacation? Within 60 days of departure, there is no refund unless space is filled and the trip departs full. We strongly recommend that all travelers purchase trip insurance for their hard earned vacations. This covers you in the event of unforeseen incidents that may interfere with travel including weather. If you are interested in trip insurance, give us a call and we'll send you a brochure that will explain the different types of coverage. We also strongly recommend that all divers carry diver's insurance.
What if I want to spend extra time in Nassau? We have compiled a list of hotels that are conveniently located in Nassau.
Is there internet access for passengers? We do not offer internet services on board, sorry. While underway, there is no access as we explore remote dive areas. Unplug and relax while you dive all week!
Is smoking allowed on board? No smoking is allowed below decks on any of our liveaboards. We ask that smokers step aft to the stern where a canister is kept for butts. Please do not throw them overboard.
What if I need to be contacted in an emergency? If someone needs to get in contact with you because of a true emergency, they may contact the office and we will relay the message. This should only be done if it is a real emergency. The boats travel to remote areas. The only possible way to contact them is to relay a request to return to port so they may call our office. Since the boat is frequently hours from the nearest port, this can cause you and your fellow passengers to miss out on part or all of a day's diving. This contact should be for true emergencies only for this reason.
*What is a fuel surcharge? Blackbeard's Cruises has control over many factors that contribute to great vacations. Some things, however, cannot be controlled and one of these is the cost and supply of fuel. We will adjust our fuel surcharge accordingly as fuel costs in the Bahamas change. When this does happen, we will issue credit to those passengers that have paid the higher fuel surcharge prior to the adjustment. Also, please note that port charges, taxes, dive permits and other fees are subject to change without advance notice.
Sleeping Cabins 1-4 upper and lower bunks are single bunks with curtains for privacy. There is more privacy here but less space. 5 and 6 upper and lower bunks are double bunks meant for two people to share. This is typically where couples are housed. 7, 8 and 9 upper and lower bunks are in the main salon. These bunks are double wide but usually only sleep single passengers. There is less privacy here but more room.
How do I make my reservation? Just call, email us or fill out our check availability form and we'll be happy to assist you! A deposit of $150.00 per person is required to confirm a reservation. Balance is due in full 60 days prior to departure. Cancellations are risk free up until the 60 day mark. Within 60 days of departure, the cancellation policy applies.