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Blackbeards Liveaboard Review

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Blackbeards Liveaboard Review

Today, we will review and share my experience with the Blackbeard Liveaboard Duo – The Sea Explorer and The Morning Star.

While my experience took place on The Sea Explorer, the boats are pretty much identical, with the only differences being the crew that tends to run the operation and some smaller structural changes.

We’d like to thank Kevin and the AllStarliveaboards team for taking us out on the trip, allowing us to share out experience with you all.

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What Are Blackbeards Liveaboards?

Blackbeard’s by AllStarLiveaboards is a 6-day adventure in the Bahamas that goes around the Exumas and its Cays. 

It comes in at a price of $1055 + Crew Gratuity. Recommended gratuity is typically around 15%, so around $160, taking the total for the week to be $1215.

You’ll find a near-endless supply of delicious freshly cooked meals and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

Most trips will have 19 dives spread across 6 days. You can expect 3-4 dives a day, which is usually a post-breakfast dive, pre-lunch dive, pre-dinner dive, and then a night dive most nights.

Overall Impressions

This was my first time on a liveaboard so while I didn’t know exactly what to expect, in many ways it exceeded my expectations.

Overall, Blackbeards’ is an incredible trip and a bargain at it’s price.

It’s a fantastic way to experience all incredible dive sites the Exumas have to offer.  Every dive site had something different to see, and the crew was extremely knowledgeable.

The only real downside I can say is that the cabins and facilities are by no means luxury – and could be more comfortable.

The crew themselves even call it camping at sea, and that’s a pretty accurate description.

That being said, the boat was built in 1979, and at the great price point of ~$1200 for 6 days, it’s to be expected.

If your goal is to be comfortable out at sea then this might not be the liveaboard for you.

And that’s ok.

Everyone diver has different preferences and comfort levels. You may want to check out their other liveaboard boats, the Cat Ppalu, and Aqua Cat.

If you’re still interested in learning more about the Blackeard’s liveaboard, than keep reading!

The Boat

The Sea Explorer and Morningstar are 65’ Sailboats with a spacious deck, and a below deck arrangement as seen below:

 

From what I could tell, bunks 5-9 are the most spacious, whereas 1-4 were the smallest.

On top of that, the top bunks (see the pun), were even less spacious.

They do the best they can to place people according to their size, age, weight, etc, but it’s not going to be incredibly comfortable regardless.

Pictured below was the top bunk I stayed on. To get an idea of ceiling height, I could not sit down on the bed without bending my neck down, and I’m only 5’6″.

Blackbeards Liveaboard Bunks

Overall, the point of the trip is not luxurious cabins, it’s to dive, and they do an incredible job of doing that, I just want to set expectations properly for what the cabins will look like.

The cabins do have AC, but it isn’t the strongest, so you should pack and sleep accordingly.

Crew, and Guests

Onboard, you’ll find around 10-17 like-minded divers and five crew members.

Even though many of the people on my trip came from many different backgrounds, ages, and diving skill levels, everyone got along and made the trip great!

What I found super interesting about the passengers, was that besides a group of three that came together, every single other diver came by themselves (including me). So if you’re worried about doing this trip alone, don’t be!!

Given that there are two separate crews depending on the boat, I won’t be referencing specific names, as there’s no guarantee you’d get placed with the same one as me

Onboard, there’s a captain, deckhand, engineer, dive instructor, and most importantly a chef!

They have their own quarters but are very friendly and active onboard from pretty much 6 AM – 11 PM.

Blackbeards Crew Selfie
Here's a selfie of me in the galley along with Benny (The Engineer) and Santiago (the Deckhand)

Itinerary

Due to the design of the boats, they are VERY heavy, and travel at 5-6 miles an hour. Departing from Nassau, the 30-mile trip to the Exumas will be around 6 hours.

This rules out diving on the first day.

So now that there are 5 dive days, you can expect 3.8 dives a day, which is usually a post-breakfast dive, pre-lunch dive, pre-dinner dive, and then a night dive most nights.

Sometimes this order will switch depending on weather, locations, and other conditions.

At any point, you can choose to sit one or many out. You could even sit out all 19 dives and drink the entire time if that’s what your heart desires but probably not the best idea.

The dive sites were super interesting, ranging from shipwrecks, smuggler planes, a blue hole, and endless coral heads. There’s even a shark feed that they do where you sit a few feet under a shark feeding frenzy.

Blackbeard’s gives you the option to pursue the following certifications:

  • Openwater Checkouts
  • Advanced
  • Deep Diver
  • Night Diver
  • U/W Naturalist
  • Boat Diver
  • And more!

Notably missing from this list is the rescue diver certification.

Unless you’re doing a course or certification, all of the diving is unguided.

You must go with a dive buddy, so make sure to make some friends if traveling alone.

A highlight of the diving was a shark feed dive where you sit a few feet under a shark feeding frenzy.

After the frenzy, you can scan the bottom of the ocean floor for loose shark teeth, as these reef sharks lose teeth upon feeding. Several divers found some!

Now let’s dive into the most important part, the food, and alcohol!

Food and Drink

Every meal is freshly made onboard and contains a variety of different bowls to serve yourself from.

Before the trip, you can even request accommodation for certain special diets like vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, kosher, etc.

Keep in mind that grocery shopping takes place on an expensive island, so they can only accommodate diets within reason.

Below is an example of a meal made on the boat, and how it was served. It was delicious (but to be fair every meal was).

Blackbeards Liveaboard Food Example

There’s a soda gun that allows for:

  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Water
  • Sparkling water

 

There’s also pineapple juice, orange juice, coffee, milk, hot chocolate, and more.

My favorite combination was soda water + pineapple juice which I went on to name Pineapple Seltzer.

As far as alcoholic drinks go, there’s unlimited beer, wine, rum punch, and a few other options.

Keep in mind there’s a strict policy on board relating to drinking and diving. After one sip of alcohol you are ruled out of dives for the day, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Pricing And Other Costs

As we stated above, the trip cost $1055 plus gratuity. Considering recommended gratuity is typically around 15%, that makes it $160, taking the total for diving to be $1215.

But as you probably guessed, the expenses do not stop there.

Food and drink is covered (we’ll cover this more below), but you’ll obviously need a flight there, and once you land on the island, a way to get to the harbor. We’re unable to give you a quote on the price to Nassau, given we don’t know where you’re coming from! 

That being said, you can organize a ground transfer through AllStarLiveaboards, for about $18 each way.

The only other expenses we could think of, is if you’re going to buy any Blackbeards merchandise, or if you’re renting any gear from them. 

Concluding Thoughts

The Blackbeard liveaboard experience is for divers of all skill levels who want to dive their brains out for less than $200/night.

If your goal is to be comfortable out at sea then this might not be the liveaboard for you. 

Like to move forward and reserve your spot on a future Blackbeard’s Liveaboard?

Book it here.

Have a question you’d like to ask us?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Austin Tuwiner Administrator
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    My name’s Austin, and I created OtterAquatics to help readers become better divers, help them buy their first gear, and plan their next dive vacation!




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