I love traveling, but I’m not crazy about having to give up my comfort to have a great adventure. When I found out I was going to have the chance to spend a week on the Aqua Cat Bahamas liveaboard, I knew I was never going to want to leave.
Liveaboards are always an adventure, but not all of them are quite as comfortable as Aqua Cat. It’s a huge, beautiful ship with an award-winning crew and dive sites all over the Bahamas.
I had just come from another Bahamas dive liveaboard, and before I even boarded Aqua Cat, I received a call that the week’s trip had been cancelled. Fortunately, instead of having to go back home, I was able to stay in a guest cabin and work from a laptop until the week after, when Aqua Cat would be able to set sail with guests again.
What was the first thing I thought when I stepped onto the Aqua Cat?
I was pretty much in awe when I saw how enormous and comfortable this liveaboard is. There are so many places to sit and relax – including one very comfy hammock. An alfresco deck, observation deck, sun deck, main salon, dive deck, and a spacious cabin made up the environment I called home for the dive trip.
The captain even told me that it would be fine to take a long hot shower in my cabin’s private bathroom any time I wanted, which is a big-time luxury on a dive liveaboard! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be there.
I had the pleasure of working and relaxing quietly on this boat, enjoying the company of the Aqua Cat crew and delicious food for a week while we waiting for the next set of guests at port. Finally on Saturday, 22 guests arrived, excited and ready to dive! We all got comfortable in the main salon and listened to the week’s briefing.
After getting settled, it was time for dinner. I don’t even know where to start with the meals on the Aqua Cat. They’re incredible. I ate more than I thought I possibly could (and had genuine concerns about gaining twenty pounds) during my trip.
Mealtime on a liveaboard trip is the perfect time to get to know the other divers. With 22 guests onboard, I was doing some serious name juggling while I scarfed down seconds. There was a dive group from Connecticut, several different groups of people from Texas, Delaware, and even Canada.
Trying to suppress my Alabama accent became increasingly difficult over the course of a week full of talking about dives with half a boatload of Texans!
After some dice games and lots of stories (and a really good Bahamian beer), I made my way to my cabin for bed. Being rocked to sleep by the swells is a luxury that I wish I could have in my own bed back home.
Waking up was the hardest part of the trip. How could I leave such a cozy bed? With the incentive of diving, of course! I went up for breakfast and coffee, and then it was time to suit up for dive number one.
We stopped at Barracuda Shoals, one of my favorite sites in the Exumas. The water was around 83 degrees, so I just wore board shorts and even left my rash guard on the boat.
Having the option to follow a dive master down on every dive is especially nice for newbies like me, so I followed Alex and he pointed out the first green sea turtle I’d seen up close. Sharks did laps and groupers sat back and stared at us while we enjoyed the reef.
I spent half the dive getting used to my new rental fins (long story) and bumping into Val, who had the misfortune of being the person closest to my flailing. I was just happy that I had the excuse of being a new diver for when I’d have to explain after coming up!
After the first dive, Captain Manny cruised us all the way over to Eleuthera, a long skinny island to the east that provides coverage from the wind and currents coming from the Atlantic. I had only been to dive sites in the Exuma Cays, so I was really excited to get to see a completely new area. Liveaboards are great for reaching distant and remote dive sites quickly!
The visibility in Eleuthera was amazing, and I couldn’t believe how active the sea life was. It was a great place to start learning to spot small critters. Whenever Karl was leading a dive, I was right behind him, waiting for him to show me a lettuce sea slug or a crab the size of a pea.
Wall dives are my favorite, and there were several that I got to see. Nothing is cooler to me than being up close and personal with a tiny decorator crab who’s hanging out with some brittle stars on a sea fan ninety feet below the surface.
Fun on a Dive Liveaboard
One of our favorite post-diving activities was playing games. I became quite familiar with the emotional turmoil of nearly winning every time, but then ultimately losing… having one of Charles’s famed “Jamaican pina coladas” helps.
Later in the week, the crew set us up with a game night featuring Pictionary and ending with – a game that really shows everyone’s true colors – Cards Against Humanity! Relaxing on comfortable couches and joking around with the people I had gotten to know throughout the week was a welcome change of routine when we had to skip a dive due to weather.
One of the dive instructors, Jen, even made up a game for us to play! It was a hilarious fantasy game that had everybody on the boat involved – including the crew. We went to all of the costumed crewmembers around the boat, asking questions and completing fun tasks to try to figure out a password to win the game (guess what, I didn’t win this game either).
More Bahamas Diving
Once the wind had calmed down, we were able to make it back to the Exuma Cays for more diving. I had almost forgotten how beautiful the coral is there! It’s so healthy and colorful I didn’t want to leave.
We got to visit Hammerhead Gulch for two dives, which was special to the crew since they had spent several months moored there during the worst of the pandemic. They were very familiar with the reef, and excited to share it with us. By far one of my favorite dive sites, I followed a sea turtle around, got my picture taken with a friendly stingray, and even got to see a red-tipped sea goddess.
Dive Trips Don’t Last Forever
My week at sea was unfortunately wrapping up and coming to an end. The photo contest was so impressive! I had no idea that there were such talented photographers onboard. We voted on the winners, and then the photo slide show that the crew had put together throughout the week started. It was great – and hilarious!
The video was a lot of fun, too. I was so glad they had taken the time to document such an amazing trip (and do all the work editing, too) for us – and especially those of us without underwater cameras.
Our last hoorah was another classic Aqua Cat cocktail party on the sun deck. I sang a karaoke Ed Sheeran song with the sous chef and considered finding a hiding spot to become a permanent stowaway on the liveaboard. All of us talked about our favorite dives and how we didn’t want to go back to the cold US (and Canadian) weather.
Looking up at the bright stars with the warm ocean wind blowing my hair back while I laid in a pool chair was a perfect way to end the trip.
There’s no reason to sacrifice luxury and comfort to go out on an amazing adventure when Aqua Cat is just a 45-minute flight from Miami! I was sad to go home, and I can’t wait to visit this awesome Bahamas Liveaboard again soon!