The Carib Dancer will be offering two extended 10-night itineraries in 2014 and 2015 where guests will be able to enjoy more of what the Bahamas has to offer by adding more islands to their Liveaboard experience with some unique stops.
The dates of the two 10-night itineraries are September 24 – October 4, 2014 and September 23 – October 3, 2015.
Beginning in Nassau, these trips will cruise the Bahamas Out Islands and journey far into the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This protected area is the first of its kind in the world and is famous for its pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages and breathtaking marine environment. The many islands, forming a chain stretching 100 miles southeast of Nassau, are flanked by the Exuma Sound to the east providing deep-water reefs, and the shallow banks to the west providing sea gardens, anchorages, shallow reefs and passages between the islands.
Excellent diving, snorkeling, and even a few shore excursions await passengers as the Carib Dancer visits some weekly favorites such as the Exuma Islands and Eleuthera, along with some Out Islands rarely visited. Though the actual route of the charter will be flexible due to the nature of the weather, planned stops are at the Exuma Islands, Eleuthera Cay, Little San Salvador, Conception Islands, Staniel Cay, Halls Pond Cay, Warderick Wells Cay and Highborne Cay before returning to port.
Guests aboard the Carib Dancer will journey to Eleuthera for some outstanding diving opportunities, as this land mass sits between the ocean-swept reefs of the Atlantic and the shallow, underwater gardens of the great Bahama Bank. Next, a planned stop at Little San Salvador, more commonly known as Half Moon Cay, is open for exploration as the island is also a significant nesting area for waterfowl and to date only 2% of the island has been developed.
The Carib Dancer will cruise next to Conception Island, which may be the loveliest island in the Bahamas as this uninhabited island has miles of pink sand beaches, gorgeous sandstone cliffs, and an extraordinary abundance of wildlife on the land and in the sea. There are numerous locations for spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling and the coral reefs and grass flats in the surrounding sea are unusually healthy and are home to an abundance of sea life.
In all, there are 365 islands in the Exuma chain (one for each day of the year), with Staniel Cay in the center. This small island is known for its hospitality and Thunderball Grotto, one of the most outstanding snorkeling attractions in all of the Bahamas. While this hollowed out rock has been the location for the James Bond movies ‘Thunderball’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’, as well as the blockbuster movie ‘Splash’, it lures snorkelers to enjoy a natural fishbowl of colorful fish, corals, sponges and other sea life. Not far away is Big Major Cay, home of the famous swimming pigs. Yes, that’s right, swimming pigs – and guests will have a chance to share these warm, inviting waters with these friendly mammals.
Guests will then cruise to Halls Pond Cay, which is privately owned and visits ashore are ‘by invitation only’, but spectacular diving is found just offshore at a site called Jeep Reef. Out of the sand and turtle grass beds, small pieces of coral begin to appear, gradually developing into massive boulders standing up to 28 feet. There is the wreck of a jeep on the southwest side of this “J” shaped reef and typical of many sites in the Bahamas Out Islands, it is best to dive this reef at slack water only because of the strong current that maintains the pristine nature of these reefs.
Next planned is a visit to Warderick Wells, which is home to the Exuma Land & Sea Park headquarters. Unique on this cay is Boo Boo Hill, a 70-foot high hill where for many years boaters have been placing memorabilia of their vessels. From the top of Boo Boo Hill the views of the island are incredible! There are also some pretty cool blowholes nearby that shoot a tall stream of water up through the rocks when the conditions are right. From the blowholes you can take a side trip down to Careen Beach where astounding views of the Caribbean waters await or take a small detour down to Powerful Beach where you can see the skeleton of a 53’ sperm whale that washed up on shore.
Guests will continue to dive the waters of these Out Islands as the Carib Dancer continues north of the Exuma chain and back to port in Nassau.
Carib Dancer signature amenities are included in these charters: deluxe accommodations, chef-prepared meals and snacks, soft beverages, local beer and wine, tanks, weights and air fills.
As the longest operating and largest organization of liveaboard adventure cruises in the world, the combined knowledge, resources, experience, and technical expertise of Aggressor Fleet and Dancer Fleet are all focused on delivering a safe adventure you will remember for a lifetime on each and every cruise.
For more information or to make a booking for this itinerary email email@example.com or call +1-800-348-2628 or 1-706-993-2531. Visit www.aggressor.com and www.dancerfleet.com for specific yacht and destination information.
Jeff chats to… Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust about the Big Shark Pledge (Watch Video)
The Big Shark Pledge aims to build one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard awesome sharks and rays.
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
Into the Blue – Part Two
By now, you will have hopefully read the first blog from my recent trip to the Red Sea with The Scuba Place on M/Y Big Blue. If you haven’t, you can find the link to the blog here.
I’ve been diving since 2011, although I didn’t get really serious about diving until 2013. In the November of that year I joined Scuba School on a trip to Sharm El Sheikh to complete my Advanced Open Water course. That was the first time I heard about the famous SS Thistlegorm and its cult status in the wreck diving world. Unfortunately, as I, along with a lot of the group were novice divers, and so we were unable to dive it on that 2013 trip, along with a lot of the other famous wrecks from the North. Little did I know, I wouldn’t return to the Northern Red Sea until this trip in September 2022 with The Scuba Place. The wrecks remained mysterious all those years but I was soon getting the full experience. After the first two and a half days exploring the amazing reefs, it was time to break my Thistlegorm virginity and get the true “lust for rust” experience of the Northern itinerary.
As we moored up at the SS Thistlegorm for the afternoon dive, I got a strange sense of anticipation run through my body. More so than at any other specific dive site. Strange really, as I don’t normally get excited about wreck diving, but here was a site that I’d heard so much about but was still so mysterious. I’d always thought it was a difficult dive and had a slight fear of it, as I wasn’t allowed to do it all those years back. Then, after watching a 20 minute film explaining the story of the wreck and listening to the stories of survivors,. I knew it was a site that demanded respect. As Mo went through the dive briefing, I quickly realised it seemed a lot more simple than I had in mind. I then became more excited than fearful as me and my dive buddy went through our plan.
There was an eerie feeling as we submerged below the gentle swell. The visibility was a lot more milky compared to the clear blue I was used to in the Red Sea. However, the wreck soon came into view as we dropped down the shot line. The first thing that struck me and in my opinion just made the wreck extra special, was the life on it.
Instantly, crocodile fish and scorpion fish were spotted resting on the wreck, as we made our way to the anti-aircraft gun on the stern. I made a quick visit to take some photos before we turned back and penetrated the wreck for the first time. A surreal experience but the numerous glassfish and lionfish at the entry point kept me entertained before seeing the remnants of yesteryear. The different vehicles that still keep their place in the decks are the main highlight, but it was the boots that struck a chord with me: signs of the human lives that were present on the fateful day the bomb hit. I got a real buzz from my first time on the Thistlegorm, with a school of batfish greeting us on our safety stop finishing off the adventure. John and I ascended from a great dive with a high five, knowing I’d fulfilled a special memory.
I enjoyed three more dives on the Thistlegorm, giving me chance to explore a little more and see a little more life. Some cool nudibranch and a cuttlefish making their home inside the wreck added to the array of life I’d already seen. It was the night dive that truly hit the marine life spot. It really came to life at night and I soon lost count of the amount of scorpionfish I saw. The contrast of the dark and wreck against the blue spotted stingrays made their colours really pop as around six or seven were spotted. Eels, lionfish and crocodilefish making up the rest of the weird and wonderful sights on the wreck at night. Amazing memories from my first time exploring the Thistlegorm that will last forever.
After the two morning dives on the Thistlegorm, we headed off to the Barge wreck site for an afternoon and night dive. It’s not much of a wreck when you compare it to the others on the trip. It lies like a flat platform on the seabed with some sides rising out from the reef providing extra space for coral growth and marine life to enjoy. While it doesn’t provide a real wreck fix with penetration, it is a haven for marine life, littered with all types of hard and soft corals. Look closely and the Barge is a great spot for the weird and wonderful. The numerous nudibranch and grey moray eels provided my macro fix on the night dives, while the occasional buzz from huge hunting giant trevally provided the entertainment. A nice contrast of wrecks before moving on to Abu Nuhas.
Abu Nuhas is a really unique place. Its submerged reef has been bad luck for five passing ships, with five cargo shipwrecks lining its northern slopes. While it was more than unfortunate for some, the wrecks have provided fortune for those looking for a wreck diving haven. Our day consisted of diving three of the wrecks – The Carnatic, Giannis D and Marcus/Chrisoula K in that order.
Going into the trip, it was the Giannis D that I was most keen to dive. I’d always admired the wide angle stern shots I’d seen over the years, with it staying pretty much intact and creating a dramatic image as it lies on its side. It was a fantastic dive with some interesting and easy penetration; I also took some shots of the stern in all its glory. A huge grouper sitting inside the wreck provided the wildlife fix, as it floated with ease looking out into the blue from an opening on the wreck. I think it was the Carnatic that stole the show personally though. Her open windows out to the blue that are covered in soft coral were unique, and glassfish dancing in formation inside mesmerised into a truly memorable dive. The Marcus provided the adventure as penetration was a little more difficult to work my way through the wreck.
The day at Abu Nuhas was the best of the trip for me and that wasn’t solely because of the wrecks….. YES!! Once again it was marine life that had me screaming with joy underwater and a buzz through my body like no other. FINALLY!!!!! After 9 years of taking photos underwater, I was able to share the water with dolphins (bottlenose in this instance) and shoot them in all their glory.
Our journey to and from the wrecks on each dive took us through the channel on the ribs, where dolphins were seen on every pass playing in the slight waves. After the second dive, the guides asked if we wanted to try to snorkel with them. It was a resounding yes and as the speedboat whipped up a wave storm, the dolphins headed to the surface to play. I dropped in with no elegance at all, as my excitement took over. I was wondering whether they would stay once we entered, but how they stayed and played was beyond anything I could imagine. Bringing seaweed to us and then, with a flick of their tails, speeding off after teasing with a slow approach. There were nine in total and they even came by to show off the baby of the group. It was definitely up there as one of my greatest moments in the water.
We finished the liveaboard trip with three more amazing reef dives, with the highlight being a small cave full of glassfish and MANY lionfish. I entered to take photos of the glassfish before the lionfish started to sneak out of every crevice and reveal themselves from their camouflaged rest spots.
It got a little hairy but made for a truly interesting moment to finish the week on Big Blue. The fun wasn’t done though, as John eluded to the fact that I was on the same late flight as them on the Saturday and asked if I’d like to join his group for a night at Roots Red Sea. Sounds like a good plan!! Also, if we got there in time, a night dive on the house reef that’s a haven for the weird and wonderful would be on offer. What an amazing surprise end to the trip at an amazing dive resort: secluded, with a beautiful desert backdrop, sitting just metres from the sea. Thankfully, we made it for a night dive and it was as incredible as John said it would be. Reef squid, numerous cuttlefish, a bouncing stonefish jumping over sea moths AND a dwarf lionfish made this one of the best night dives ever, and a perfect end dive to a perfect trip. A final day of relaxation at Roots pool and enjoying the beautiful food finished it in style.
For more information about diving on Big Blue:
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