Our group booked with Blackbeard's expecting "camping of the seas" and the crew and ship delivered well above and beyond all expectations.
Our crew for the week were Capt. Chris, 1st Mate Iain, Engineers Corrai and Dan, Cook Charlie, and Dive Master Marina. They were all incredibly helpful, friendly and hard-working. They kept the week running smoothly and made 26 strangers on a 65' boat a great experience. From what we met of the crew from the second boat on Thursday evening in port, they're equally friendly and capable.
The berths were a bit larger than I anticipated (there is very little storage space, but I found I could sleep with my soft-sided duffel bag in my bunk), and we had more privacy than expected. It was surprisingly quiet at night, and we always dropped anchor in calm waters for sleeping. The AC pumped out lots of cold air, and made sleeping comfortable (a bit cool even).
The packing list provided by the company was spot-on, and I don't feel like we over or under-packed anything. If in doubt, bring motion sickness medication and take it. I asked the crew every morning if it was going to be a rough day, and took preventative measures when required to make sure I didn't feel sick.
The food was excellent, far better than any all-inclusive I've ever stayed at, and there was always plenty to eat. I brought snacks expecting I might be hungry between meals (or not enjoy a meal or two and skip them), but didn't touch the snacks. You won't go hungry, and won't be disappointed with the food. We had a vegetarian with nut allergies in our group, and they were very accommodating.
The boat isn't new, but appears well-maintained and the crew works wonders when things go wrong. One of the toilets stopped-up mid-trip and the crew had it replaced in a few hours over the course of our night dive. A note about the toilets - you have to pump them before and after each trip to the washroom, and make sure you pump them dry when done so they don't smell. It's a marine toilet, it's not large or pretty, but it does what you need it to do. There are 3 on board for 26 people, but there wasn't ever much of a wait. The one shower on board is equally small, but I found that hosing off on deck with their AC condensate hose kept me feeling clean all week. You're in the water 4+ hrs a day, so you really only need to get the salt off before bed.
The diving: it was incredible. The crew kept us in calm waters as much as possible, and we managed to dive all over with only a few repeats. The night dive of the crashed DC-3 was really impressive, as were the Washing Machine high-speed drift dive, and the shark feeding dive. Some of the best diving was on the shallower reefs that were full of coral and fish. We rented everything but masks, fins and snorkel, and were happy with the gear. There were a few minor issues over the 18 dives, but the crew had enough backups to swap out what they couldn't quickly fix. Note that the rental wetsuits are 3mm, which some people may find hot, especially in the summer. You may want to consider bringing your own 1mm or rash guard instead of renting a wetsuit. Check the water temperatures before your trip, they were ~28 C / ~84 F in late October.
I can't say enough about how fun this trip was, especially given the price point - it's an exceptional value. Read all the reviews, go in expecting camping on the sea, and I'm certain it will exceed your expectations.
One more plug for the crew: they work really hard, and make most of their income from tips. It's a value cruise, but make sure you plan for a 15%+ tip; by the end of your trip, you'll agree they deserve at least that.
I'm a very lucky guy. My wife lets me book an annual boys' dive trip with my buddies. We decided to give Blackbeard's a go for this trip but with some pretty low expectations because the trip is so incredibily affordable.
We were wrong!
I was concerned about the small single racks - I'm a light sleeper and I slept like a baby!
25 people on a 65' boat? How bad would the food be? Wrong again. Chef Dan had previously run large resorts in Canada and really knows his way around a kitchen. Even if it is only 3' X 4'! He turned out over 400 plates of food the week we were on. Never a meal that was't delicious. He can even work with allergies.
First Mate and Engineer Iain kept everything from the compressors, to the dinghy, the plumbing working flawlessly all week. He even did a free dive to around 50' to recover something that a diver had dropped. Above and beyond right there.
Having dove at resorts and dive boats in several locations, I was very impressed with Marina's briefings before every dive. She told us exactly where to go and what to look for. She really helped us get the most out of every dive.
Captian Chris kept us from getting lost and got us home on schedule all while putting us on some of the best dive sites The Bahama's have to offer.
A truly amazing trip but the coolest part was being a part of a group of 20 people walking onto a boat as strangers and all walking off friends. Totally wasn't expecting that. It was also wonderful to see a woman who had come on the boat with only 12 dives in her logbook leave the boat with more skills than most divers will ever have.
If you want a bad trip - book somewhere else! Blackbeard's blew away all of my expectations. Hope to return soon.
Not going to lie, this is my 3rd time out with Blackbeard’s in 2017. This was my first solo trip out and it was easy to find dive buddies to hang out with underwater.
This is hands down the best bang-for-your-buck liveaboard dive trip out there! It is a week of fun, amazing people (both crew and other divers), and great dives. If your goal is to dive- then this is the trip to take! The crew is always amazing- the captain does a great job of getting great dives in even when the weather isn’t cooperating, the chef always makes sure you have a full plate of delicious food and awesome snacks (and we even had hot s’mores as a pre-dive snack), the dive master does a great job telling you about each site, what to look for, and how to safely navigate the dive site. The rest of the crew is great at making sure everything else is perfect as well- the deck hand and engineer are always doing something to keep things running without a hitch.
I will definitely be back- already have a trip booked with my dive group for March 2018! But think I will be out at least twice a year from here on out!!
This has got to be one of the first companies I've booked a service/trip through where the employees (read "crew") are fully invested in your happiness and safety. Everyone on board the Sea Explorer deserves five stars and more for providing an amazing environment for everyone of the 19 passengers on board. Elayna was our Divemaster for the week and she did a fantastic job finding all the creatures (day and night!) on our dives while keeping everyone safe through the Washing Machine!. Jeff and Jim were fantastic crew members, super knowledgeable and great guys for story time. Tristen was our chef and the food couldn't have been better. And our captain Chris was the man, he helped rescue a tired diver from another cruise when they were unresponsive, he took the initiative and jumped off our boat to help tow the diver to their other liveaboard. Overall, this trip is what you make it, there is opportunity to have an amazing time and fully immerse yourself in every dive each day and soak in the stars all night long. Highly recommended!
I had a great experience until the captain of our ship grabbed one of the crew members on the rear. The female crew member was clearly upset and felt disrespected but the captain brushed it off like it was standard practice. I have a hard time seeing how the leader of one of these trips can treat their crew with such disrespect. It was such an unfortunate moment because most of the trip was so great. The rest of the crew was awesome, but the captain kept making misogynist jokes and then put his hands on his crew member like that. The total disregard for the equal value of the crew members has humans is sad and disappointing. This company needs to do more to create a positive work environment for all its crew who work so hard to accommodate their guests. It's sad that a week of positive experiences can be colored by what was probably a cumulative 2 minutes of blatant disrespect.
That being said the chef made great food, the dive instruction was awesome, the engineer was extremely knowledgeable and hardworking, and the deck hand was inclusive and accommodating to all the guests on our ship. The diving was great, the accommodations were great, but all it takes is one person to ruin all the positive attributes of that experience.
We took a group of Boy Scouts on this trip and WOW, what an experience. The crew was fantastic. Very helpful and knowledgable. While 20+ people on a 65ft boat may seem tight, we never once felt it. The diving was WORLD CLASS. Excellent spots and Marina, our dive master really helped with what to look for. Well worth the price and i can not WAIT for my next trip with Blackbeards!!
Just returned from my third trip with Blackbeard and I highly recommend this live-aboard. Keep in mind this is 65' boat with as many as 25 people aboard so space is at a premium and you will get to know everyone on board. With that understanding this is a wonderful opportunity to do some serious diving involving different environments including shallow reefs, deep walls, fast drifts, shark feed, wrecks as well as occasionally going ashore on a pristine white sand beach with heart stopping turquoise water. This is a lot like a camping trip on a boat with someone else doing all the cooking and so forth, by the way, the chow was great and plenty of it. If you are a new diver this is a great way to gain some confidence and experience. If you are an old hand you will love the variety of diving in a beautiful part of the Bahamas that is not often visited. Everyone will enjoy the Camaraderie.