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.
During the end of April and the first week in May I was aboard The Sea Explorer. Crew was made of Capt. Jim, First Mate Iain, Engineer Jason, Instructor Marina and Chef Tristan. 19 dives that included 3 wall dives, one blue hole (Lost Blue Hole), two shipwrecks, one airplane wreck, one fast drift dive (The Washing Machine), a shark feeding dive and several reef dives. All skill levels were welcome, as there were newly certified divers aboard, then four divers who did their Advanced cert, then there was a sidemount student and instructor aboard, and we also had one diver who marked his 2000th dive on this trip. Note that on most dives, you and your buddy will dive without a guide, so it is up to you to plan your dives accordingly - the thorough pre-dive briefings were very helpful. Very professional crew, excellent diving, very good atmosphere aboard. Make no mistake, if you fancy luxury conditions, then The Sea Explorer is not your thing, so book on a different boat within the fleet. But if you accept the modest accommodations and conditions, you will be rewarded with an amazing experience due to the efforts of a small but very hard working crew that really know what they do. Yes, I will definitely come back.
I took my wife on a surprise trip aboard the Morning Star in April 2017. We can't say enough positive things to describe how great a time we had on this trip. Yes, in some ways you're "roughing it", kind of like camping on a boat. For instance, there is only one shower allowing 30 seconds of hot water. BUT we had a bed to sleep in, a shared toilet in each bunk area, all our meals prepared for us, an experienced and friendly crew, beer/wine and yummy rum punch every night, and beautiful dive sites only live aboard boats can access.
Captain Red was great! We were dealing with some rough and windy weather, so Red had to keep our safety & comfort in mind with the travel routes. Even with the weather, he gave us a total of 18 possible dives with lots of variety. There were amazingly beautiful shallow coral reefs, wall dives, a plane wreck, a shark feed, and night dives. There is no set itinerary, so the Captain chooses dive sites based on favorable wind and weather conditions. With so many dive sites available, you could repeat this trip and get a totally different experience. It's not just a job for Captain Red, he has a genuine approach to wanting us all to have the best experience possible.
As for the rest of the crew....Tom, Justin, Marina, and Ivonne worked tirelessly to ensure our safety, comfort, and overall enjoyment. Tom & Justin made sure everything was working or fixed very quickly. Marina, our divemaster, was very knowledgable and was able to certify one brand new open water diver and five advanced certifications during the trip. Ivonne had a hot meal prepared for 25 people 3 times a day plus snacks, which were not only filling but extremely delicious. We caught two mackerel while trolling from the boat and enjoyed the freshest, tasty ceviche.
Bottom line...this trip is a must for any adventurous scuba diver who enjoys the simplicity of great food, great people, and great diving while staying in modest but suitable accommodations. We will definitely make a return visit!
Our family spent a week on the Morningstar, and I am going to guess it was the week after @SCUBAgrunt stayed. The entire family had a wonderful experience. One of the other divers commented that the trip is alot like Summer Camp, and I agree. You sleep in close quarters with a group of folks who you have never met before; you eat family style on great food making sure to not take seconds until everyone has eaten; you spend your days playing in a really big pool.. just like Summer Camp!
The weather was not our friend, and some of the dive sites were blown out. But Captain Red made sure we had a great time on parts of the Northern Exuma and then took us over to Eleuthera for more dives. The entire time Tom and Justin were working hard to make sure the ship was operating well and that everyone was well taken care of. We especially loved to see how the senior crew members were training the junior crew members during the trip.
Our group was a split of experience divers, some folks who had not been diving in 2 years, and some brand new divers. Marina, the Dive Master, balanced this and teaching an Advanced Open Water course very well. We felt safe the entire time, and enjoyed the different dives we were able to do.
As said in other posts, the food was great. I personally gained 5 pounds on the trip. Ivonne, our cook, was new to the role but she delivered an amazing set of meals from that tiny 3 by 3 galley she needed to work in.
If you are looking for that Summer Camp type experience, in a beautiful setting, then this is a great trip. My only feedback to future travelers is to realize that when you are doing four dives a day you will get cold. Next time, we will bring a fleece to sit on the deck and enjoy the rum punch with the other divers.