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  • The AquaCat Liveaboard

    Fdog review – AquaCat Liveaboard
    By: James Flenner

    This is a review of the AquaCat liveaboard, which we were guests aboard on the week of 21-28 January 2012. The charter was all-inclusive, and cost me $2195. There were additional taxes and fees (such as a fuel surcharge, Marine Park fees, Port fees, etc) that added roughly $250. I chose to breathe Nitrox, which added $150.


    The AquaCat lays alongside at port in the Atlantis Marina, not their usual berthing, in Nassau, Bahamas.


    The AquaCat is a liveaboard that is based in Nassau, Bahamas. They frequent the dive sites at the Exuma Cays to the southeast, Eleuthera Island, and (not so much) Nassau.


    The size of the AquaCat just doesn’t sink in until you see her next to another vessel.

    When it comes to liveaboards, our group has been traveling to a different liveaboard, about 2 liveaboards a year, for the past 10 years or so. The vessels have varied from the Red Sea to Palau to the Caribbean, on a variety of “brands”. Comparisons become inevitable, and the AquaCat compared very, very well indeed.

    Our group generally consists of about 80% expert divers, and the remainder low-time divers just starting out. This trip was no exception, and gave us a chance to see how the boat accommodated differing skill levels.



    Janet hangs out for a stop at the end of a dive. The boat also deployed a “hang bar” at 15’ with hooka regulators.



    The stern, and dive deck. The AquaCat is equipped with 3 smaller boats for diver support and shore excursions.

    We had heard about the AquaCat for years, seeing the ads in the magazines. We really hadn’t considered them seriously, because we’d been on previous shore-based trips to Nassau. These had been nice, but we experienced underwater conditions that were just average, and not what we’d pay the expense of a liveaboard for. Also, when perusing the website, it always appeared to have a smallish dive deck.

    As it turned out, neither of these assumptions were correct!



    Waiting to board: our group mills around waiting for the magic 6:00 PM boarding time.

    As we waited to board the AquaCat, I observed some worn paint and scuff marks on the exterior. This is different from most of the liveaboard vessels we’ve been on, where the exterior generally looks like they’ve been freshly repainted. It was with a sense of foreboding that I accepted the cheerful invitation of the crew to come aboard.

    That foreboding disappeared instantly when I stepped on board the AquaCat.

    The reality of the vessel, once on board, could not have been more opposite from the exterior: absolutely spotless, in perfect condition. The interior of the vessel looked, smelled, and felt like it was brand-new. When I asked how long since the vessel had been in for a refit, it had been almost a year! The crew works hard to keep the interior shipshape, and it shows.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Fdog Review: the AquaCat Liveaboard started by fdog View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. ScubaVideo's Avatar
      ScubaVideo -
      I loved my trip on the Aqua Cat. The only negative of the entire trip was that I was on her during 9/11. The crew handled it very well, kept us informed with what little information was available at the time. We voted to stay on the vacation, not that ending it soon would have done any good sitting in a Bahama airport for several days.

      The vessel, crew and diving were all outstanding.
    1. Oldbear's Avatar
      Oldbear -
      This looks great. A big difference from the last Liveabaord I was on in Thailand.

      How is the AquaCat for non-diving activities. My GF does not dive, but does snorkle. I saw the sun deck and it looked awesome. She really likes beer, so she will love the bars. Do you think there is enough to entertain her too?

      ~Michael~
    1. Gruz's Avatar
      Gruz -
      Been there, done that the last week in 2011. Absolutely the best liveaborard I have ever done! It's quite expensive, but you get what you pay for. Great crew, great food, great service, great mood ...

      If you want to dive, you really can dive ! Up to 5 dives a day and every day there is something different (drift dives, also @ night, blue holes, sharks, corals, night dives etc etc.. ).

      Just be aware, that this really is a dive cruise. There are usually 2 land excursions (one can be done without missing a dive), else there really is nothing else but diving! (Well you can do snorkeling and there are some canoes.. Just so you know what to expect, in case you are considering bringing a non-diving significant other with you... )
    1. drrich2's Avatar
      drrich2 -
      This is a very good write up. It addresses not only what the boat and crew are like, and the diving, but does so in the context of prior live-aboard experiences and having dove other places, providing a more informed opinion. The Bahamas sometimes get portrayed as 'lacking' compared to, say, Cozumel, and this review addresses concerns people might have.

      Richard.
    1. daniel1948's Avatar
      daniel1948 -
      I dove on the Aqua Cat a couple of years ago. I give it five stars. Comfortable quarters, excellent crew, world-class food. I was the only vegetarian on board and would have been satisfied with very basic vegetarian fare, but the chef always prepared something extraordinary for me. I dove nitrox, and it was always within 1% of 32, very uniform, and the fills were always good.

      The one problem I had was that the boat has a shallow draft, so it bounces around like a cork when seas are rough. When we made the crossing from the Exumas to Eleuthera the breakfast dishes and utensils were flying across the deck and I was as seasick as I've ever been. And I've been VERY seasick.

      On the positive side, one of the crew devoted considerable time to helping me through it.

      Absolutely excellent boat and crew, if you can handle the movement of a shallow-draft boat.
    1. tdtaylor's Avatar
      tdtaylor -
      I absolutely agree with everything in the report, having been on the Aquacat in October 2011. My wife is a bubble watcher, and was the only one on this trip. She had a fabulous time. Every day the First Mate was available to discuss her agenda for the day and what was available, and then to personally escort her to beaches, accompany the hunting expeditions, snorkel above the shark dive, or just take the RIB for a trip around a couple of islands- her own personal chauffer. What a fabulous experience!
    1. BrotherBear's Avatar
      BrotherBear -
      I just returned from the Aquacat Feb 4-11 and I couldn't agee more with this commentary! Unfortunately this was my first so any others that I do will probably not measure up We had a great time as well although the legendary Chef Kirk was on vacation and our captain was Ron (they're on a three week rotation).
    1. MRadke's Avatar
      MRadke -
      Did you look to see what make the boat was? It looks an awful lot like the Carri-Craft Cats that were made up here in Wisconsin in the mid 90's.
    1. diverdoug1's Avatar
      diverdoug1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by MRadke View Post
      Did you look to see what make the boat was? It looks an awful lot like the Carri-Craft Cats that were made up here in Wisconsin in the mid 90's.
      The Aquacat was produced in Australia I believe. Made by the same manufacturer as the Mike Ball Spoilsport. I have been on 9 Aquacat cruises with my wife ( the 10th will be in may). The boat and crew are top notch!
    1. Gruz's Avatar
      Gruz -
      Quote Originally Posted by diverdoug1 View Post
      The Aquacat was produced in Australia I believe. Made by the same manufacturer as the Mike Ball Spoilsport. I have been on 9 Aquacat cruises with my wife ( the 10th will be in may). The boat and crew are top notch!
      The plate in the engine room said "Austal" if my memory is not wrong.. Outfitting was done in Germany, if I understood the skipper correctly.
    1. mjrob's Avatar
      mjrob -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gruz View Post
      The plate in the engine room said "Austal" if my memory is not wrong.. Outfitting was done in Germany, if I understood the skipper correctly.
      Yep. Austal. Take a look at their webpage to see some utterly spectacular designs and accomplishments. I think that, if you have about $7-8 million (US) burning a hole in your pocket, you can get your own copy of Aqua Cat.

      Fantastic boat, even more fantastic crew...all the way to the US office. Been on the boat twice and will be there again in Oct., I believe. They also run the Blackbeard's (camping at sea) boats and Cat Ppalu, a 65' sailing catamaran. Great crews on all the boats and EXTREMELY accommodating. Non-divers will have plenty to keep them busy, if they're not lounging on the 3rd level sundeck. The first mate generally runs the daily non-diving excursions and they have it down pat. In fact, Cap't. Mark (while serving as first mate one week) was trying to ply the divers with a cooler of rum punch and a beach excursion rather than diving. These people are so much fun that it was almost tempting...almost.

      I'll echo all the comments above but, as in everything, the people make the difference. Of course, it's easier for them when they have such a comfortable and quality platform from which to work. Worth every penny you'll ever spend for a cruise. I promise.

      Mark
    1. potato cod's Avatar
      potato cod -
      Thanks for the write-up! We're heading out on the Aqua Cat in 3 weeks and can't wait!!! Sounds like we're in for a treat.

      I'm going to send this link to my husband to soften the blow the the credit card bill for the trip that just came...
    1. markrodg's Avatar
      markrodg -
      Quote Originally Posted by potato cod View Post
      Thanks for the write-up! We're heading out on the Aqua Cat in 3 weeks and can't wait!!! Sounds like we're in for a treat.I'm going to send this link to my husband to soften the blow the the credit card bill for the trip that just came...
      Potato Cod, my diving buddy and I are booked for the week of March 17th. What week are you going?
    1. potato cod's Avatar
      potato cod -
      Quote Originally Posted by markrodg View Post
      Potato Cod, my diving buddy and I are booked for the week of March 17th. What week are you going?
      Same week! Looking forward to meeting you and your dive buddy. In real life, I am called Camille and I'll be there with my husband, Dan.
    1. markrodg's Avatar
      markrodg -
      Quote Originally Posted by potato cod View Post
      Same week! Looking forward to meeting you and your dive buddy. In real life, I am called Camille and I'll be there with my husband, Dan.
      Great! Camille, Brian and I (Mark) look forward to meeting you and your husband and joining you on a few adventures. Can't wait!
    1. Zesty's Avatar
      Zesty -
      Quote Originally Posted by tdtaylor View Post
      I absolutely agree with everything in the report, having been on the Aquacat in October 2011. My wife is a bubble watcher, and was the only one on this trip. She had a fabulous time. Every day the First Mate was available to discuss her agenda for the day and what was available, and then to personally escort her to beaches, accompany the hunting expeditions, snorkel above the shark dive, or just take the RIB for a trip around a couple of islands- her own personal chauffer. What a fabulous experience!
      My wife is a watcher too - so this is a component of my diving I have to be aware of. Good to hear they were accommodating! What was the cost for a non-diver?
    1. cyberick's Avatar
      cyberick -
      Just completed my third trip on the Aquacat, and while we had a good time, it wasn't like the previous trips. The food was great, as usual, but the boat seems to be showing signs of wear; and the service definately isn't what we had on previous trips. We had two episodes of "transformers blowing out" in the staterooms with lots of smoke (no fire), and several transient episodes of loss of power. The AC didn't work periodically and we blew a line on the nitrox one day. The boat was behaving so poorly that we weren't able to get to some of the dive sites that were originally planned. Also, the service on the dive deck was very lackadaisical, not up to their previous standards, and certainly not worth this very expensive price tag.
      I doubt that I will be returning to the Aquacat anytime soon. There are too many other good liveaboard diveboats that are not this pricy.
    1. dmoore19's Avatar
      dmoore19 -
      I have a trip planned for April 13-20 2013. The pictures of the Aquacat are amazing. It will be my 1st liveaboard and I have heard a lot of good things about it.
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