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Liveaboard Review: Juliet Sailing and Diving(Lionfish Derby 10/22-10/28/2016)

Discussion in 'Liveaboards and Charter Boats' started by scbaNE2179, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. scbaNE2179

    scbaNE2179 Barracuda

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Ocean
    Liveaboard Review: Juliet Sailing and Diving(Lionfish Derby 10/22-10/28/2016)
    Bahamas Liveaboard Diving

    The Juliet is a 104ft steel hulled sailboat vessel providing all-inclusive liveaboard dive vacations. Depending on time of year, the Juliet has 5 different itineraries; The Bahamas(Bimini Islands), St. Croix, The Florida Keys, Repositioning Trips(Turks and Caicos Islands), and Mona Island. For my review, I was on the Bahamas trip with where we had a Lionfish Derby contest scheduled. This special trip was set up with the intent to help eradicate and control invasive Lionfish that's been infesting the Caribbean for some time now.

    The ship has 6 cabins for a maximum of 12 passengers and usually a crew of about 5(Captain, Engineer, Cook, Dive Master, Marine Biologist).

    Getting to the Juliet
    As previously mentioned, my 10/22 trip was scheduled for the Bahamas, which meant the Juliet was currently docked on Miami. Being in the New England, I was able to secure a direct flight to Miami without the complications of connections. Once arrive and luggage was claimed, I waited for my buddy and we soon got a cab to head over to the Juliet.

    Juliet Layout Overview
    The Juliet is a large sailing vessel with 2 primary decks. The dive deck, salon, wheelhouse, and galley are on the primary deck with cabins situated on the lower deck. Cabins can be accessed via ladder through the wheelhouse or through one of the port openings on the dive deck.

    Crew for 10/22/2016
    Liza(Capt), Jimmy(Engineer), Steven(Cook), Amanda(Marine Bio/DM), Liz(DM), Pearl(Resident Cat)

    One of the most interesting things about the Juliet is that this is one of the only livaboards that I've been on that has an on-board marine biologist that offered several educational briefings on the marine life in the Bahamas. Throughout the course of the trip and dive briefings, Amanda offered some highly educational information on various marine topics.

    Arrival/Boarding Procedures
    Once arrived, you are met with Liz to set up your gear for the week. More on that later. After gear set up, you are introduced to your cabin to unpack your belongings. Once unpacked, you leave your bags in the hallway where the crew will then store your bags outside of view for the entire trip. Important note-be sure you unpack EVERYTHING you need out of your bags prior to leaving your bags in the hallway. Once stored, it's a real pain for the crew to get your bag out of the limited storage space on the boat. After you settle into your cabins, you will then meet with Liz to fill out remaining paperwork, provide $120 cash for Bahamas immigration fee, hand over your passport and dive cert cards. If you are diving Nitrox, you will need to provide $100 cash/CC, Nitrox cert card, and sign the appropriate safety documents for this gas. Lunch was served during boarding process.

    The usual 3 squares-Breakfast(7:30am), Lunch(12pm), Dinner(6pm). All meals served buffet-style. Kickass and outstanding homemade desserts by Amanda during lunch and dinner. Snacks made fresh in between dives. Anytime snacks(chips, cookies, candy) are also provided.

    Upon arrival, you are given a Juliet water bottle to use/keep. For hot beverages, SS mugs are available in the salon. Just be sure to label your mug if you want to use the SS mug for the entire week. The Juliet has a high-capacity ice maker should you need ice for your beverages. The Juliet has 2 beverage jugs filled with water and lemonade respectively. Tip: Fill your Juliet water bottle and leave it in your storage dive locker bin-that way you have access to water without having to trek into the salon for a swig of water.

    As for booze, they have beer, wine, and hard liquor on board. Please note that like all livaboards and for safety reasons, the crew will monitor and mandate that once you have a drink, you are not allowed to dive for the remainder of the day.

    Gear Set up
    As previously mentioned, the first thing we did when we boarded the Juliet was to set up our gear for the week. The industry standard on any dive trip are the use of AL80s for tanks. The Juliet recently acquired a new set of neutral AL80s. These tanks are known to be neutral when empty, assuring that the diver is not too buoyant when the tank is empty. Personally I have never liked diving AL tanks due to the inherit buoyancy nature of the tank so I discovered that the Juliet does have one single steel 100cf tank on board available. Being the first to sign up for the trip, I made sure to get this tank reserved asap.

    Like all livaboard trips, you set up your tank once in the beginning of the trip and you use the same tank for the entire duration of the trip. Each diver has a vertical bin locker that you can use to store all of your gear.

    Cabin Overview
    As previously mentioned, the Juliet has has 6 cabins for a maximum of 12 passengers. Cabins 1 and 2 are suites that provide private heads and showers whereas cabins 3-6 share 3 common heads and 2 common showers. Having been on previous trips on Blackbeards where 18 divers and 6 crew share 3 total heads and one shower, this was definitely a more comfortable atmosphere on the Juliet. There was NEVER a moment during this trip that I ever had to wait for a head or a shower.

    Most cabins have either double, full, bunk bed layouts. Bottom beds in bunk cabins are usually larger so if possible I would try and score this bottom bed. I was situated in cabin 6, which is the largest of all “standard” cabins. I gave up the larger bottom bunk to my buddy as I slept in the smaller top bunk. The beds on the Juliet are thick mattresses with memory foam toppers and I have to say, one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on any livaboard. They are actually even more comfortable than some of the more luxury livaboards I have been on.

    Each cabin is equipped with a sink and faucet so you're able to brush teeth and wash your face if needed but if you need to shower, you'll need to access either the common shower by the 2 heads in the lower deck or the on deck shower. My cabin had more than enough storage drawers than I knew what to do with so be careful where you put stuff as you can easily lose track of where everything is. Each cabin is also equipped with multiple standard outlets to power all your electronics.

    The Juliet is equipped with 2 common showers, one next to the common heads in the lower deck of the ship and one on the dive deck. The lower deck shower is more your traditional shower with removable handle and privacy curtains. The on deck shower is mainly for post-dives but it is not as full fledged as the common shower in the lower deck. The hot water in all showers are HOT, HOT, HOT-so watch out!

    The Juliet has 5 total heads-2 heads in suite cabins, 2 common heads in the lower deck cabin area, and one head on the stern of the Juliet. Each head is a full-sized toilet with push button flush. It is not a marine head where you have to pull handles, but rather, a button push. After you do your business, you push the button fully to flush the bowl with salt water. The heads does not use fresh water so flush as often to your smelly heart's content. The on deck head is ideal if you need a quick visit before or after a dive but be sure to knock before entering as the door is easily accessible on both sides.

    Diving on the Juliet
    Diving on the Juliet is pretty much the same as any other LA boat. Briefings are done by Liz directly on the dive deck, followed by a quick marine bio fact by Amanda. The Juliet only has one dive platform, with a standard dive ladder. The dive platform is about a 6-7 ft jump into the water so be sure to giant stride with caution. If you have bulky equipment or gear, you'll jump into the water and then a crew member will hand you whatever items you need for the dive.

    Diving with Nitrox on the Juliet
    Diving with Nitrox is a no brainer on livaboards if the vessel offers it. I dive exclusively with Nitrox on ALL my Caribbean trips to maximize and extend my bottom time. All but 2 divers on this trip are diving Nitrox, so be sure your diving buddy is breathing the same gas or else you'll have conflicting dive profiles. The Juliet uses a membrane system, consistently providing us with 31-32% on all dives.

    Juliet Exclusive-Lionfish Derby for 10/22 Trip
    For this particular trip, the Juliet hosted a Lionfish Derby competition, where hunters competed in several categories-most lionfish kills overall, most lionfish kill on a single dive, largest lionfish and smallest lionfish. For equipment, I brought down a zookeeper, 24in and a 4.5ft Hawaiian-sling pole spear. I'm not sure if the Juliet allows actual spear guns though.

    Final thoughts
    The Juliet is my 7th livaboard trip in the past few years and I would have to say, I would be more than happy to book this trip 7 more times around in the blink of an eye. Unlike my other livaboard trips where I was more relaxed and seeing the sights, I was on a mission on this trip-the end of goal of removing these pesky lionfish in the Caribbean. The Juliet is by no means ultra-luxury but the crew-hands down some of the most friendly, knowledgeable, attentive, and awesome crew I have ever been around with. The crew alone, regardless of trip itinerary on the Juliet, makes me a repeat customer for years.
    <*)))><, johnl45, ppatin and 5 others like this.
  2. Newdiv

    Newdiv Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    The Juliette was my first live aboard experience and I had an absolute blast on that boat. Agree with your entire post.
  3. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    Sounds like a great trip. A few basic questions:

    1.) Does the Juliet put a guide in the water? For some unknown reason I'm thinking no, but figured I'd ask.

    2.) Does the Juliet allow solo diving?

    3.) With all that lion fish killing, did any sharks, moray eels or other 'interesting' animals show up after a free lunch? Would be good news for some, perhaps not so much for other people.

  4. scbaNE2179

    scbaNE2179 Barracuda

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Ocean
    Hey Richard,

    Unfortunately no, the Juliet's crew does not go into the water with you. This may have something to do with the limited crew they have on staff to conduct topside safety and other tasks. They will however, upon request to guide you if needed. Most of the divers on the Juliet are pretty self sufficient or diving in buddy teams so nobody really required a DM in the water on every dive. I notice on this trip some of the crew did enter the water with us either to hold zoo keepers for the hunters or just to get a dive in for themselves.

    They never advertised nor did they mentioned this but from what I know the Juliet is very respectful to every diver's ability should they choose to solo on their own. On this trip I think most of the hunters went off and did their own thing. For the most part I was on my own but I had several dives with my buddy as my spotter in the event I missed a lionfish. I know for a fact most or all other livaboards does not allow solo diving unless you're officially certified. I would contact the Juliet's main office to get an official answer.

    With every kill that I made, I never once had anything that approached me. This was mainly due to the fact that immediately after I make contact with my spear, I put the lionfish into my zoo keeper for safety reasons. So I guess I didn't draw too much attention with the lionfish being inside the keeper. I also made sure that after I make the kill, I do a quick glance around my surroundings to make sure the coast is clear before I put the lionfish into my containment device. I know when I was hunting in Cozumel the Queen Triggers and Groupers are downright nasty when they see wiggling lionfish.
  5. scbaNE2179

    scbaNE2179 Barracuda

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Ocean
    Can't agree more. Most of my other trips have been with large commercial dive ops but there's just something to be said about the service we got on the Juliet.
  6. SailJuliet

    SailJuliet Dive Charter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Miami, FL
    Thanks for the great review, we really appreciate it! So glad you enjoyed yourself on board, we can't wait to have you back on board soon.

    As for the guided diving, the reason we don't by default guide dives is because we have found that most divers prefer to have the freedom to do their own thing and not be limited on dive time or route. We give as detailed of a site briefing as possible so you know where the good stuff is (which is usually not far!) and set you loose to plan your own dive and dive your plan for as long as you like (within air and NDL limits of course). But as you said, if anyone ever wants a guided dive, one of the crew is happy to take you on a tour at any point.

    We allow solo diving as long as you provide the proof of solo diver training and certification, and plan to dive the redundancies to go along with it. We also are rebreather friendly (we can supply O2 and have a booster pump on board, you provide bottles and sorb) and can accommodate side-mount divers.

    See you again soon!
    RVA_Diver, noj3333 and drrich2 like this.
  7. They call me Tater

    They call me Tater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Wisconsin
    Thanks for the report. I hoping to try them next year.
  8. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    How many dives were offered on your trip?

  9. scbaNE2179

    scbaNE2179 Barracuda

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Ocean
    If conditions are right, the Juliet will offer up to 19 dives for the week. Around 4 dives a day. For this lionfish derby trip however, we were only able to get in 18 dives in only 4 days due to conditions being less than ideal.

    Here was the breakdown for our specific trip:

    -Arrival, rough crossing to Bimini

    10/23, 10/24
    -4 dives each day

    10/25, 10/26
    -5 dives each day. Due to conditions being real bad later in the week, the captain offered us 5 dives during these days to make up for not being able to dive on Thursday.

    -Rough crossing back to Miami. No diving on this day.

    -Departure from Juliet

    I think we were still feeling some of the aftermath from Matthew that really caused havoc all over the Caribbean.
    drrich2 likes this.
  10. ppatin

    ppatin Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Baltimore, MD
    My wife and I also did our first liveaboard on the Juliet and it got us hooked as well.

    Re: solo diving, I'm not surprised that they allow it if you're certified and equipped. On my trips divers were always treated like adults who could take responsibility for their own safety as long as they didn't do anything idiotic. That was back when John owned the boat, but when I spoke with Liza she seemed to have a similar attitude and I'm glad she still runs the boat the same way.
    Newdiv likes this.

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