FAQs

Travel Planning

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.

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.

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.

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 Cat Ppalu you’ll get to experience a week of delicious meals and great diving along with optional included shore excursions and eco adventures.

Your group will have a great time exploring the northern Exumas with their many beautiful beaches. In addition to scuba diving, you can spend time beachcombing, hiking, fishing, kayaking, wind surfing, paddle boarding or photographing the many natural sights. The underwater window in cabin #6 always gives you a spectacular view of what’s below. In Nassau you can enjoy the shopping, casinos and night life of Nassau and Paradise Island.

You may board after 12:00pm on Saturday. We plan to shove off by 3:00pm at the latest to make the trip from Nassau to the Exumas during daylight hours. We can, of course, stay longer to accommodate later arrivals as this is a charter only vessel. Keep in mind that if it gets too late, then the captain may decide to leave early Sunday morning instead of Saturday afternoon for safety reasons.

The Cat Ppalu returns to Nassau Thursday afternoon, usually by 5:00pm at the latest. We still serve dinner and provide lodging at the dock. This is your night in port so that you can experience some of the local culture. All passengers must disembark Friday by 9:00am.

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 crew is 242.376.7603. If you have pre-arranged Ground Transfers through All Star Liveaboards, to report any changes in flight arrivals on the day of travel, please 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.

The Cat Ppalu docks at the Nassau Harbour Club Marina on East Bay Street, right across from the Starbucks. The ride is approximately 30-40 minutes from the airport to the dock. It is not that far but slow down, Mon! You are on island time now.  If you need ground transfers while in Nassau, we can assist. You can make the ground transfer arrangements online or call our office at least 7 days prior to your departure. The cost is $18.00 per person per leg. Taxis are readily available at the airport too.

Certified scuba divers need snorkel, fins, mask, regulator, buoyancy compensator, u/w watch or computer 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. Storage is available on deck for all gear and there is a hose to rinse cameras and regulators. Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended.

You’ll spend your days in bathing suits and casual wear. Bring shorts, t-shirts and a windbreaker. Bring a pair of deck shoes / sandals, suntan lotion (non-oil) and sunglasses. In winter, a sweatshirt is advisable. We provide 3 towels. If you would like more towels or would like a beach towel, you should bring them with you. Here is a quick checklist.

You will need enough spending money for an evening ashore (shopping, drinks, souvenirs), and for the crew gratuity (15% is customary). 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 and crew gratuity to your cabin account. Cat Ppalu accepts VISA, MasterCard and Discover.

Yes, with at least 7 days’ notice. Click here to arrange online or call our office. If your departure date does not appear in the date drop down box, the deadline has passed.  In this case, taxis are readily available at the airport.

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

Since Cat Ppalu is a charter, there is no minimum age for children but 5 years old would be a recommended minimum. Keep in mind, children under 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.

If the cancellation occurs more than 6 months prior to departure, the deposit is refunded less a 5% cancellation fee. Within 6 months of departure, there is no refund unless we resell the charter, in which case there is a full refund less a 5% administrative fee.

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Diving

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

We host all levels of divers from beginners on their check out dives to seasoned pros on vacation! Be sure to bring your certification card (c-card), we’ll need to see it. If not certified, you may take a Discover Scuba Diving course from our dive instructor for a $125.00 fee.

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.

Yes. You can complete your open water checkout dives with an instructor. Prior arrangements are recommended. The cost is $15.00 per dive with 4 required plus cost of the certification form if not provided. Many guests choose to complete their open water certifications in the crystal clear, warm waters of the Bahamas!

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

3-4 dives per day Sunday through Wednesday with 2 more on Thursday. The 4th dive of the day is a night dive and is offered Sunday-Wednesday.

We’ll be diving up and down the Exuma Sound, an abyss that drops over 4,000 feet to the ocean floor! While the Northern Exuma Cays are only 30 miles from Nassau, land-based dive operators are too far away to dive this area. The Exuma Cays are known for their wonderful reef dives due to the protection they receive from the Land & Sea Park sanctions so you can experience truly virgin diving. 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! 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!

We have 63 and 80 CF tanks for guests to use. We do not have 100 tanks on board as they will not fit in the dive bench.

Single side mount diving is possible as each guest is assigned a dive position that holds one tank. Be sure to choose an end unit position to better accommodate your gear.

We do not have the ability to accommodate rebreathers.

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. Cyalumes can be purchased on board for $3.00 each for night dives.

Rental Rates

Regulator with octopus and gauges   $50.00
Buoyancy Compensator (BC)              $50.00
3mm wetsuit                                           $35.00
Dive computer                                        $50.00
Dive light                                                 $30.00

Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. The chart will give you a general idea of the water temperatures and what weight wetsuit you will need. When deciding what to bring, consider that you will be diving a lot each day and it takes your body a while to warm up after a dive. Air temperature, the wind and whether it is sunny all affect how fast your body warms back up after a dive. What each person needs is an individual choice. Some wear a full suit in the summer and some dive with a shorty in the winter.

Yes, anytime the boat is anchored. You will need to bring mask, fins, and snorkel. Snorkeling is not supervised. Our instructor on board will be happy to instruct you in snorkeling skills.

For a fee of $125.00, our dive instructor will spend some time at the beach giving you instruction. This will allow you to make 2 dives under their supervision. This resort course does not certify you. The BC and regulator are included in the cost. Additional dives may be arranged with the instructor for a fee. A Medical Form is required.

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!

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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.

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!

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 best time for sailing is from October to April. During the period from May to September there is normally very little wind. The crew welcomes passenger participation or you may just relax in the sun.

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!

We serve three meals a day, as well as snacks and fresh fruits. Fresh fish is also served, in season, when caught. Most meals served will be American cuisine. A selection of beverages is always on hand from soft drinks and lemonade to beer, wine and rum drinks.

We return to Nassau Thursday afternoon so that our guests may enjoy an evening ashore. Nassau has much to offer, with dining, entertainment, casinos and shopping all within a short distance. There aren’t any ports in the Northern Exumas, just quiet uninhabited beaches and gorgeous sunsets.

We do not offer connectivity on the Cat Ppalu. Your smart device may be able to connect to the Internet when we are within range of the 2 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.

You will have the opportunity to visit isolated beaches where you can sunbathe, explore, kayak, SUP, windsurf, snorkel or fish. You will enjoy feeding and photographing the iguanas on Allan’s Cay. You can visit the headquarters of the Exumas 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 Tropic birds, Audubon Shearwaters, Brown Noddies, and Bridled and Sooty Terns. The possibilities are endless!

Yes, as long as it is outside the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. Fishing gear is included.

Cabins #1, 2, 5 and 6 each have a double bed that sleeps 2. Cabins #3 and 4 each have two twin beds. All cabins have a sink and vanity. There are 2 shared heads and 2 shared showers.

Cat Ppalu has standard U.S. 110-volt current outlets in each cabin as well as the salon.

Yes, we have a DVD player. We also have a stereo system and CD player with iPod docking station.

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Miscellaneous

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