A week aboard the Bahamas Aggressor

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OP
charlesml3

charlesml3

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So this is the problem with a description from someone who's dove the Caribbean for decades vs someone who's new. For a new diver, yes, the Bahamas is just fine. Once you get out and see Cozumel, Roatan, Turks, Cayman, Belize, Bonaire and Grenada your perspective will change.

I'm not at all saying the diving was bad. I'm saying it just wasn't nearly as good as other Caribbean destinations. I have to make decisions about where I spend my money. There are many other dive destinations in the Caribbean that are a better buy.
 

soldsoul4foos

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I always feel there should be alot more fish in Bonaire than there seem to be....well, except for the boats docking in lac bay and unloading (truckloads I saw one time wowza)
 

Ironborn

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I was on the Bahamas Aggressor the week of November 23-30, which would appear to be the week before the OP's trip, if I am not mistaken. My take on the whole experience was similar to that of the OP but a bit more favorable: the boat and the crew were good, but much of the diving (with a few key exceptions) left much to be desired. I normally write a full trip report, but I had so little to say, and the OP had already conveyed the gist of what I would have said, so I will just add my comments here.

I had originally been hesitant to book this boat because of some extremely negative reviews in years past, stemming from major mechanical problems that disrupted diving. I was relieved to learn that they seem to have fixed these problems, except for some low Nitrox blends on one or two days, for which the captain reduced our Nitrox fee by half. Yes, the boat is old and small, but I did not find that either of those points detracted significantly from our experience. In fact, I would argue that the somewhat smaller number of guests made the experience more enjoyable than it might have been otherwise, as we had a good group dynamic. The crew was professional and attentive – no complaints there. The food was good, which seems to be par for the course for Aggressor boats.

I found that the most interesting dives were actually the ones closer to Nassau, including the very shallow and very beautiful Periwinkle site that the OP mentioned, which we also did on our last day. Also of great interest was the Blue Hole, where we saw a “sharknado” school of reef sharks inside the hole and a lot of sharks, rays, and other fish near the coral heads and sea grass beds around the mouth of the hole. Also of particular interest was the wreck of a drug smugglers' airplane that crashed in about 20 feet of water and was teeming with schools of fish and many macro critters. The downside of these sites, which seemed to have a greater number and variety of animals, was that the water was colder and the visibility was lower, which was a reasonable trade-off for me but might not be desirable for others. I am now curious about what it would be like to dive with a land-based operation out of Nassau, such as Stuart Cove's. This would have been a better trip if most of the dives were like these.

The highlight of the trip for me was the two shark dives on the Austin Smith shipwreck. Sharks are arguably one of the main attractions for Bahamas diving, and I certainly got my fill of Caribbean reef sharks on these two shark dives. As for the regular dives, we did see Caribbean reef sharks more frequently than we would in other destinations in the greater Caribbean, but not as frequently as I would have thought, given the Bahamas' reputation for sharks. I found that the Turks & Caicos actually had more Caribbean reef sharks, if you factor out the Austin Smith shark dives.

Once we got into the actual Exuma Cays, the reefs were not in great condition, as the OP wrote, but steadily improved as we approached and eventually entered the Marine Park. The Marine Park did make a significant difference at least in the health of the reefs. What disappointed me more about the Exumas was the scarcity of moving animals, aside from the occasional shark, lobster, or lionfish. On that note, the lionfish infestation seemed to be worse here than elsewhere in the greater Caribbean, as I saw them in greater numbers and larger groups than I have anywhere else.

I would be willing to go on the Bahamas Aggressor again, but I would not have any interest in visiting the Exuma Cays again. I am curious about the boat's other itineraries, particularly the Tiger Beach itineraries, but I was wondering what if anything I might hope to see on these itineraries other than sharks. I am also curious about the diving closer to Nassau, where the conditions might be less desirable for some but seemed to have a greater density and diversity of moving marine life.
 
OP
charlesml3

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Excellent summary and precisely my experience. Again, I'm not saying it was BAD. I had a good time. I just have to really be careful with where I spend my dive vacation dollars and with this in mind, I probably wouldn't do Bahamas again. I can go other places with significantly better diving for the same money.

I cannot say anything bad about Aggressor at all. The crew was great. The did everything they could do to make it a good trip. I'll be back on Aggressor this spring in the Maldives.

-Charles
 

Redfoot

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Thanks all for opinions.

I am booked on the Aqua Cat in June. I am also happy to be diving anywhere, but at least you all have put my expectations in the right place. I chose the Cat because of the shore excursions, the shark dives, wrecks and the great reviews it gets. I got great reef diving in Cayman Brac, and awesome animal encounters on the Turks & Caicos Aggressor, so Bahamas seemed like a logical next choice. Plus, the Belize & Roatan boats were sold out the week I had open :wink:

Like someone else noted, I am still early enough in my dive career to be happy diving anywhere, so this should be a fun trip!
 

Saniflush

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Thanks all for opinions.

I am booked on the Aqua Cat in June. I am also happy to be diving anywhere, but at least you all have put my expectations in the right place. I chose the Cat because of the shore excursions, the shark dives, wrecks and the great reviews it gets. I got great reef diving in Cayman Brac, and awesome animal encounters on the Turks & Caicos Aggressor, so Bahamas seemed like a logical next choice. Plus, the Belize & Roatan boats were sold out the week I had open :wink:

Like someone else noted, I am still early enough in my dive career to be happy diving anywhere, so this should be a fun trip!
You will have a great time on the Aqua Cat. We will be back on there in September (our 3rd time) The crew and boat are top notch and if you don't watch yourself you will leave ten pounds heavier than when you arrived.
 

t-mac

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Anyone done the Bahamas Aggressor more recently? We're booked for the week starting 20 Nov. Wondering about the current condition of the boat, functioning nitrox, condition of the reefs, etc. Any experiences with the covid policies and how they affect things? I did my health visa online and I have to say that was, surprisingly, remarkably easy. We have an extra day up-front and on the back end in Nassau to account for any airline or other tomfoolery. Assuming we get those days, any suggestions on what to do in town? We're not resort people and so what I'm seeing isn't enticing. Maybe just a suggestion of a good beach bar in which to get potted and watch the surf?
 
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