FAQs

Travel Planning

Dive liveaboard cruising is an appealing alternative to conventional land-based dive vacations and larger cruise ships. We offer a richer travel experience – one that goes beyond the typical tourist sites. Aboard Aqua Cat you’ll get to experience a week of delicious meals and great diving along with optional included shore excursions and eco adventures.

The Aqua Cat departs Nassau on a course for the Exuma Cays. We plan our week as we go so we can offer you the best diving conditions based on the weather. We’ll explore the northern Exumas and south end of Eleuthera most weeks. On a daily basis, the itinerary includes up to 5 dives per day and eco adventures like snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and stand up paddle boarding. Along the way so you can experience the wonderful Central Bahamas above and below the waterline.

We serve three gourmet meals a day with a choice of entrees at lunch and dinner. Snacks and fresh fruit are always available. A selection of beverages is always on hand from soft drinks, juices and lemonade to beer, wine, vodka and rum drinks. Dinner is ashore Friday evening in Nassau.

For flight planning, boarding is at 6:00pm on Saturday. We offer a welcome orientation, dinner and an important safety briefing immediately afterwards. It is important that you attend this informative meeting! Please plan your flights accordingly. If you are arriving earlier in the day, you may drop bags off at the boat prior to boarding. The Aqua Cat will depart Nassau early Sunday morning for the Exuma Cays – usually before 5:00am.

Please contact the vessel if you experience any changes or delays in travel to the Bahamas on Saturday as our U.S. Reservations Office is not open on the weekends. The cell phone number to the bridge/captain is 242.357.3974. To report any changes in flight arrivals on the day of travel, please ALSO contact Mr. Wright from Island Escape Tours directly at 242.449.7862.

The U.S. Reservations Office can take your calls Monday thru Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm EST at 800.327.9600 or 954.734.7111.

We have a list of hotels that we can recommend. Let us know what you want to do and see while you are in the Bahamas and we’ll do our best to steer you in the right direction. Click here to go to the Trip Info page with hotels in Nassau.

All travelers to the Bahamas need a passport. As you arrive into Nassau Airport you will clear Bahamas Customs & Immigration. Be sure your plane ticket matches your documentation. Check with the Bahamas Embassy for visa requirements if you are not a U.S. citizen. U.K. Embassies act on behalf of the Bahamas as well. As you depart Nassau at the end of your trip, you will clear U.S. Customs & Immigration before arriving at your departure gate. Please plan extra time to check in for your flight home.

On Saturdays only, we provide complimentary ground transfers to/from the Aqua Cat, docked at Hurricane Hole Marina on Paradise Island, and the Nassau International Airport. We have contracted with Mr. Wright of Island Escape Tours to provide this service. You will find him just outside the airport (by the railing). He will be holding a sign with the boat name on it. If you don’t see Mr. Wright immediately, ask anyone to point him out for you or you can reach him at 242.449.7862. Be sure to double check that you are on the right bus/van! No credit for missed transfers.

By all means, yes. There will always be a diving buddy for you. Many of our passengers come aboard as singles and it’s a great way to meet other likeminded adventure travelers who love to dive!

The atmosphere on board the Aqua Cat is always relaxed and casual. You’ll spend your days in bathing suits and casual wear. Bring shorts or jeans, T-shirts and a windbreaker. Also bring a pair of sandals, hat, suntan lotion (non-oil) and sunglasses. In winter, a sweatshirt or sweater is advisable. Our ship’s boutique offers shirts, rash guards, mugs, hats and toiletries. Here is a quick checklist.

The fees cover the Bahamas government taxes and fees.

Do I need any vaccinations? Most visitors to The Bahamas do not need special vaccinations before entering the country.

***Latin American Citizens:However, travelers over age one must provide a YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CERTIFICATE, if they are coming from countries with the risk of infection such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. They must be vaccinated 10 days before entering The Bahamas. Information can be found on the following sites:

Bahamas Entry Requirements

CDC Travelers’ Health

We strongly recommend purchasing dive accident and travel insurance for your trip. In order to maintain our reasonable cost and high level of service, we do not automatically insure your trip against the adverse effects of weather or other factors beyond our control. Your holiday represents a very large investment, and unforeseen circumstances such as named storms, injury or sickness, airline issues, and family emergencies can easily affect your ability to travel.

Diveassure: For annual combination trip and dive accident insurance.

Divers Alert Network: For annual combination trip and dive accident insurance.

Travelex: Travel protection for a single trip. You may choose the TRAVEL SELECT policy and select the optional ADVENTURE SPORTS COVERAGE upgrade which waives the policy exclusions for extreme sports such as scuba diving.

Transfers are included from airport to dock on Saturdays only. If you are extending your stay in the Bahamas and would like for us to assist with ground transportation, the cost is $18.00 per person per pick up for hotel transfers. Prior arrangements are required.  Click here to arrange Ground Transfers.

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 10-15% 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.

NAS is the airport code for Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport. All the major carriers fly into Nassau, most of them with very competitive fares.

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Policies

Families that wish to join us are welcome. It is recommended that children be divers or snorkelers to fully enjoy the activities on board. For individual bookings, the minimum age is 10 years of age. If you charter the full boat, there is no minimum age but keep in mind that water savvy children will most likely enjoy this type of vacation. Keep in mind, children under 15 must be supervised by a parent or guardian at ALL times. Our crew is most gracious and good with all ages however, the crew will not provide child care services or supervision at ANY time.

Individuals – $750.00 per person. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and Discover, personal check, money order and wire transfers.

Individuals – More than 9 months prior to departure, a refund less 5% administration fee will apply. Within 9 months of departure, all payments are forfeited. If the trip departs full, a refund will be processed less a 5% administrative fee.

We offer a future credit for any days missed due to a named storm. We know many people have busy schedules so we don’t place a time limit on the use of this credit. There is no refund for cancellations due to weather.

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Diving

If you are a certified diver, yes you can. Be sure to bring your certification card (c-card) with you; we’ll need to see it. If not certified, you may take a full certification course (prior arrangement required) or a Discover Scuba Diving course. The minimum age is 10 years old for scuba courses. A Medical Form is required.

Divers will have the opportunity to log up to 5 dives each day Sunday through Wednesday. Thursday, 4 day dives are offered and that evening is the Captain’s Dinner with presentations. Two dives will be offered on Friday. Up to 26 dives per week maximum.

4 night dives are offered weekly. Two light sources are required for night dives, whether they are chemical cyalume sticks, a non-flashing substitute or a 2nd dive light. You may purchase cyalumes on board for $3.00.

Yes, nitrox is available on board for $150.00 per week per diver. Our membrane gives us 32% nitrox. Get nitrox certified while onboard! The course is $150.00 and then you receive a $50.00 credit for fills. Instructional materials not included. A Medical Form is required.

There is a dive instructor in the water on each dive to guide you around, but most dive buddy teams choose to dive on their own. The instructors on board will give you a good, in depth briefing before each dive describing the conditions, the current, depth and it will include a visual aid.

While the Northern Exuma Cays are only 30 miles from Nassau, land-based dive operators are too far away to dive this area. You can experience truly virgin diving. The Exumas have walls starting in as little as 40′, as well as drift, reef, and shark dives. There is a large blue hole located between Nassau and the Exumas. For over 40 years, much of the northern Exumas has been a National Underwater Park with no fishing, spear fishing or collecting allowed. Because of these laws, there are miles of undersea gardens in which coral, sponges and fish abound. Turtles, rays and sharks are seen regularly on most dive sites. Goliath grouper truly are gargantuan in the Exumas!

Yes, Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks frequent many of our sites. We normally offer 1 shark feed on each trip. This is the perfect time to see sharks up close and in action!

Yes, you can complete your open water checkout dives with an instructor. You must bring your referral from your local instructor for us to complete the course on board. Prior arrangements are recommended. The cost is $125.00. Instructional materials are not included.

Yes, an instructor is available to teach these courses. Prior arrangements are recommended. Instructional materials not included. A Medical Form is required.

Solo dive certification is required for those divers who wish to dive alone. Otherwise you will be buddied up with another diver.

If you do not have your own equipment, we have “top of the line” buoyancy compensators (BCs), wetsuits, computers, dive lights and regulators with octopus and gauges available for rent. All rentals must be arranged prior to departure and can be ordered on your Trip Application.

Rental Rates

Regulator with octopus and gauges               $50
Buoyancy Compensator (BC)                          $50
3mm wetsuit                                                       $35
Dive computer                                                    $50
Mask, fins & snorkel                                          $35
Dive light                                                              $30

For a fee of $99.00, a dive instructor will teach you the skills to safely enjoy shallow scuba dives. You will then be able to make 2 scuba dives with your instructor (This course does not make you a certified diver). Equipment is included. A Medical Form is required.

Our tanks are fitted with yoke valves, however if you dive with a DIN regulator, let us know and we can have an adaptor added to your tank.

Certified scuba divers need snorkel, fins, mask, and regulator with pressure gauge, buoyancy compensator (BC), u/w watch, and depth gauge. For night dives the minimum requirement is two light sources: a dive light plus a backup dive light, a non-strobing marker light or a chemical light stick (cyalume). Cyalumes are $3.00 each and are sold on board. We provide tanks, weights and weight belts. Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. There is storage on deck for all gear and we have rinse buckets for underwater cameras and regulators.

Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. The chart below will give you a general idea of the water temperatures and what weight wetsuit you will need. When deciding which wetsuit works for you, consider that you will have the opportunity to dive as many as 5 times a day and it takes your body a while to warm up. Wetsuit needs are different for everyone. A general guideline follows.

Month Water Temperature (F/C) Air Temperature (F/C) Wetsuit Recommendation:
January 72-75 / 22-24 72-80 / 22-27 Full Wetsuit 5mm
February 72-75 / 22-24 72-80 / 22-27 Full Wetsuit 5mm
March 73-77 / 23-25 72-85 / 22-29 Full Wetsuit 5mm
April 75-79 / 24-26 76-90 / 24-32 Shorty or Full
May 77-80 / 25-27 80-90 / 27-32 Skin or Shorty
June 79-81 / 26-27 80-90 / 27-32 Skin or Shorty
July 83-87 / 28-30 80-90 / 27-32 None
August 83-87 / 28-30 80-90 / 27-32 None
September 83-87 / 28-30 80-90 / 27-32 None
October 78-82 / 26-28 76-90 / 24-32 Skin or Shorty
November 75-80 / 25-27 72-85 / 22-29 Shorty or Full
December 73-78 / 24-26 72-85 / 22-29 Full Wetsuit 5mm

We can provide you with a cylinder of oxygen with prior arrangements, however, you must bring everything you need to fill your rebreather as we cannot supply it for you.  The cylinder of O2 is $80 dollars and there is no credit for unused gas.

Side mount diving is possible as each guest is assigned a dive position that holds two tanks.  You can dive either single side mount or double side mount.

We have 63, 80 and 100 CF tanks for guests to use. There is no additional charge for the use of the larger 100 tank however, we have a limited number of these on board so note this request on your Trip Application.

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On Board

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free are pretty easy to work with as well as allergies so let us know upon booking if you require special 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 may be difficult to accommodate.

Finally, if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other special life event, please let us know. Our crew stands ready to assist you in making your special day something to remember.

The Aqua Cat returns to Nassau the following Friday afternoon. Dinner ashore in Nassau is on your own Friday evening. All passengers must disembark on Saturday by 9:00am. You may leave your bags at the boat if you have a late afternoon flight and are welcome to use the showers and restroom on the dive deck.

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 liveaboard diving vacation is that we can flex our schedule to go where the weather and conditions are best!

The first and last night will be spent in Nassau/Paradise Island. Dinner the first night is a casual meal on board followed by introductions and an Aqua Cat orientation. You are free to explore the island that evening. Enjoy shopping, casinos and nightlife in Paradise Island and Nassau! We shove off for the Exumas very early… around 5:00am on Sunday morning! Once we leave port, you’ll escape the hustle and bustle of the city to the pristine Exuma Cays!

We return to Nassau on Friday afternoon. The Captain’s Farewell Cocktail party is at 6:00pm. Dinner on Friday evening is your responsibility ashore. Go play or stay aboard. The crew can make dinner reservations and recommendations.

We do not offer connectivity on the Aqua Cat except while docked in Nassau. Your smart device may be able to connect to the Internet when we are within range of the two cell towers in the Central Bahamas. Otherwise, you are disconnected. Breathe, it’ll be okay! Be sure your cell provider has international service with the Bahamas before you go.

The reefs are perfect for snorkeling with crystal clear waters and lots of fish, both small and large! You can snorkel anytime the boat is anchored! You will need to bring mask, fins and snorkel. If you don’t have them, we have some available for rent. If you have not snorkeled before, the crew will be happy to instruct you. You can enjoy a variety of snorkeling experiences whether on dive sites with coral heads that reach close to the surface or nearby mangrove nurseries close to shore, for example.

Sea Dog, the Aqua Cat’s 28’ launch can take you to isolated beaches where you can sunbathe, explore, kayak, SUP, snorkel or fish. You will enjoy feeding and photographing the iguanas on Allan’s Cay. You can visit the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park on Warderick Wells and explore the many trails. Be sure to check out the whale bones on the island. Don’t miss the blow hole! You can also kayak the creeks that meander through Shroud Cay. These creeks are nurseries for many varieties of fish and sharks. For those interested in bird watching, the Exumas are a nesting area for many species of seabirds including White-Tailed Tropicbirds, Audubon Shearwaters, Brown Noddies, and Bridled and Sooty Terns. The possibilities are endless!

Yes, as long as it is outside of the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. Sea Dog, the 28’ launch can be used for trolling. Fishing gear is included.

All guest cabins, main salon and photo table on the dive deck have U.S. standard outlets for 120-volts / 15 amps. Passengers joining us from abroad should bring adaptors and/or converters depending on country of residence to transform power to 220-volts. There are 220-volt outlets on the dive deck for charging.

Smoking is only permitted on the top deck where receptacles for butt disposal are located. Please do not throw them overboard.

Friday evening is spent ashore so you will need spending money for dinner, drinks, shopping and souvenirs. The local currency is the Bahamian dollar, which is equivalent to the U.S. dollar and are interchangeable. If you have U.S. dollars it is not necessary to exchange currency. You can charge your specialty classes, boutique purchases and crew gratuity to your cabin account. Aqua Cat accepts VISA, MasterCard and Discover.

Yes, bring your music! We have DVD, blue ray and old movies on board. Feel free to bring your favorites. We also have books for those who enjoy reading.

If someone needs to get in contact with you because of a true emergency, they may contact our U.S. Reservations Office and we will relay the message. Cell coverage in the Exumas is spotty but if we are near a tower, you can use your phone. Be sure to turn on international plan prior to travel to avoid roaming fees.

The Exuma Cays offers opportunities to go ashore and explore and enjoy the uninhabited beaches. For these occasions, we highly recommend proper footwear. Flip flops are not suitable. We suggest water shoes or TEVA type sandals. Sneakers are fine but they will get wet!

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Miscellaneous

Effective February 2016, all drones/UAV in the Bahamas MUST file an application for admittance with the Ministry of Aviation. You can apply at www.bcaa.gov.bs. On this page, the button for drones is RED and you must create an account first. You will receive an email with an access code to do so. Apply for a drone entry form. This takes time and must be done well in advance of travel. Bring the approval letter from the Ministry of Aviation with you to the Bahamas along with the purchase receipt to show value.

Be aware of Bahamas Customs regulations. Visitors to the Bahamas are allowed an exemption of $100.00. Anything in excess will be made to leave a deposit equal to 45% duty plus 7.5% VAT. In the case of drones, this is to insure that you are not leaving it or selling it in the Bahamas. Bring the receipt of purchase to calculate value. If you do not have the receipt, you can print a price from a web seller like Amazon.

This deposit must be cash. U.S. dollars are acceptable. No credit cards accepted for this deposit. If you pay this by credit card, you will not get it back. It will be considered DUTY. Upon your departure from the Bahamas, you can reclaim your cash deposit from the customs desk in their office at the airport. You must show the customs receipt (Don’t lose it!) for your deposit and the physical drone to the agent to get your deposit back. Do not check your luggage before reclaiming your deposit. An officer will escort you to either the airline check in counter if it is being shipped as baggage or to U.S. Customs if it is something carried on the person and the deposit left would then be refunded with the owner of the goods signing the reverse of the receipt to acknowledge receipt the funds.

Note: If your drone uses a camera that is a separate entity, the camera is duty free/deposit free. The drone is subject to the deposit duty and VAT. If your drone has a built in camera purchased as one unit, it is not necessary to leave a deposit equal to duty but must pay VAT as a deposit.

For example:

A drone that uses a GoPro camera attached valued at $1,000.00.
$1,000.00 less $100.00 allowable is valued at $900.00.
Deposit equal to 45% duty is $405.00
VAT of $67.50 based on value is on top of that!

Note: UAV operators must not fly within 5 nautical miles of any airport; at a height above 200 feet; or within 150 meters of any congested or populated area; over or within 150 meters of an organized open-air assembly of more than 100 persons; within 50 meters of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aerial vehicle, without special permission of the owner; or within 50 meters of any person.

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