Blackbeards 2021 Traveler Updates

Last Updated 01-04-21

Last update! Today is the day! If by this point you don’t have your PCR covid test being done, your trip is officially in jepordy. If you, like me, have taken your pixellab test today, just make sure you follow the instructions on the box exactly. Once we get our test results either tomorrow or the next day, we’ll all go to the page linked below to do our Bahamas Travel Visa. (with results in hand)

Last hurdle, here we go!

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Covid Update from our blackbeards contact- please read:

First, we hope you are safe and well.  We know you have been looking forward to this much needed dive vacation.  The government of Bahamas has opened its borders and we have commenced charters to dive!   

Your diving vacation will be on our private liveaboard.  We have safe transfers from the airport to the dock available with prior arrangements. 

For trip departing after November 1st:  Prior to traveling, you must test negative for the COVID-19 virus.  Travelers can schedule their PCR COVID test no more than 5 days prior to arrival. The test must be a PCR test.  This means if you are flying on Saturday of boarding, you must test no earlier than Monday that week.  We highly recommend you test on MONDAY to give you sufficient time to complete this process. 

First you will create a health visa account.  Once you get your negative results, you can add a trip to your profile.  Once your trip is approved, you will need to pay for COVID health insurance to cover the duration of your stay in the Bahamas.  The cost is $60 and you pay online once you get the green approval check mark. 

When adding a trip to the health application:

Port of Embarkation is your origin country.

Your final port is NASSAU, New Providence. 

Destination address line 1 is the marina address. 

             For Aqua Cat the marina address is Bay Street Marina, East Bay Street

             For Cat Ppalu and Blackbeard, the marina address is Nassau Harbour Club Marina, East Bay Street

Destination address line 2 is the boat name. 

Islands visited during your trip:  ONLY add Nassau/New Providence.  Do not put Exumas! 

Bring both the test results and the “approved to travel” QR code form from the Bahamas with you and your passport!   Note- you will get an approved email.  That is NOT your visa.  You must log in to your profile and click on the approved trip box and then download the PDF with the QR code.  It looks like this:

https://travel.gov.bs/international

You will not be required to antigen test in the Bahamas unless you extend your stay beyond the length of the cruise.  Then an antigen test will be administered upon departing the vessel.  Prior arrangements are required to insure testing is available. 

If you have a hard time finding a local test site that can get your test results back quickly, we recommend this online company that is approved by the Bahamas.  This test can be ordered by visiting https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/covid-19.   It is very easy to use and is delivered results the next day after delivery back to the lab. 

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Packing last minute items:

Blackbeards FAQ and Packing page.

Overnight lows right now lower 70’s upper 60’s. Daytime high almost 80. Bring clothes for evenings to stay warm. Pack a 3mil full wetsuit or a shorty for sure. This time of year, you won’t want to be without a wetsuit! Personally, I just decided to buy a 3mil whole body to be safe instead of sorry. I’m gunna bring that and my shorty. 🙂

A full wetsuit is cheap! Better than renting:

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Other piece, if you’d like to stay up with evolving Bahamian requirements for entry into the country, keep an eye on that here.

Tourism Reopening | The Official Site of The Baha…

Right now, it all boils down to them having a special form you’ll have to pre-fill out and pay for directly to the Bahamian govt, as well as the covid test required within 5 days of landing there. (The covid test we’ve already talked about on here).

See you all who’d like on the 10th!

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BOARDING PASS! Here’s the boarding pass from Blackbeards. Also final important info from them. Please read fully!

When you did your trip app, did you arrange ground transfers from airport to dock, and back? if not, HERES A LINK just to that.

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THIS IS IT! The trip of a lifetime, every time I go! This year is like no other (seems like that’s true of everything in 2020 right?). So since we won’t be doing a big potluck gathering to update you on all I can think you might want to know about the trip, this page is where I’ll post anything people ask or want to know about this years trip. Any questions, just give me a call or reach out!

FLIGHTS

Just booked flights- a hair under 500 round trip, and I’m loving how the trip is shaping up! Room for 4 more folks to join us if you care to send them my way. Here’s my flights I just booked:

I booked on expedia, and booking my flights took me about 5 minutes 🙂

Once you’ve booked flights, you can go fill out the trip app- We ALL have to fill this out, and it’s where you would let them know any dietary needs, etc. You don’t request certain bunks through them, that’s me. But please fill that out once you’ve got all the info.

COVID TESTING!

A quote from a blackbeards employee from florida who just took the trip so she could give quality advice about what it’s like right now- in regards to covid:

Here is the latest instructions:

I highly recommend getting the pixelab test mailed well ahead of time.  You will have to say you had contact and mild symptoms to get it.  with all the massive testing, it’s now required to get them with all the madness. 

I had it waiting.  Registered it on Monday to fly on Saturday.  You can’t do it on Sunday so if flying on Friday, still do it on Monday.  Take to FEDEX.  They have it Tuesday. I got results back Thursday and had health visa within an hour.  They don’t ever take 48 hours to process the health visa.  Even if you got negative result late on Friday, they process them all night and you would wake up Saturday with a health visa.  That would be stressful but it’s only happened a few times that tests were back that late.  If you have a PCR lab clinic that can get it back fast, then do it.  I actually did one on Wednesday locally to be safe and had results on Friday.  Stressful?  A wee bit but having gone thru it now, I can say that we haven’t lost anyone to not getting results back this way yet!

Your diving vacation will be on our private liveaboard.  We have safe transfers from the airport to the dock available with prior arrangements. 

For trip departing after November 1st:  Prior to traveling, you must test negative for the COVID-19 virus.  Travelers can schedule their PCR COVID test no more than 5 days prior to arrival. The test must be a PCR test.  This means if you are flying on Saturday of boarding, you must test no earlier than Monday that week.  We highly recommend you test on MONDAY to give you sufficient time to complete this process. 

First you will create a health visa account.  Once you get your negative results, you can add a trip to your profile.  Once your trip is approved, you will need to pay for COVID health insurance to cover the duration of your stay in the Bahamas.  The cost is $60 and you pay online once you get the green approval check mark. 

When adding a trip to the health application:

Port of Embarkation is your origin country.

Your final port is NASSAU, New Providence. 

Destination address line 1 is the marina address. 

             For Aqua Cat the marina address is Bay Street Marina, East Bay Street

             For Cat Ppalu and Blackbeard, the marina address is Nassau Harbour Club Marina, East Bay Street

Destination address line 2 is the boat name. 

Bring both the test results and the “approved to travel” QR code form from the Bahamas with you and your passport!   Note- you will get an approved email.  That is NOT your visa.  You must log in to your profile and click on the approved trip box and then download the PDF with the QR code.  It looks like this:

You will not be required to antigen test in the Bahamas unless you extend your stay beyond the length of the cruise.  Then an antigen test will be administered upon departing the vessel.  Prior arrangements are required to insure testing is available. 

If you have a hard time finding a local test site that can get your test results back quickly, we recommend this online company that is approved by the Bahamas.  This test can be ordered by visiting https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/covid-19.   It is very easy to use and is delivered results the next day after delivery back to the lab. 

This cut has a full price value (if no insurance) of 119.

THINGS TO KNOW

  • Tips– a 15% tip (150) is considered standard. Divemasters work for tips, and the base pay is nearly non existent. They’ll work hard all week to keep our trip perfect, so please make sure you budget accordingly for properly tipping the crew.
  • Trip insurance– If blackbeards cancels the trip for any reason, they’ll give a voucher to be used at any time of year. If you cancel, there are no refunds (and please remember that the deposits are non refundable as well). If you’d like to cover that risk, please look into travel insurance- I recommend DAN, but currently with the pandemic, they are not offering travel insurance at the moment.
  • Covid- Don’t forget that we are required to come with a COVID test within 5 days of travelling. So plan accordingly so you have results in time to give them when asked as we enter the country. The customs agents letting you into the country isn’t the best place to disappoint someone. 🙂
  • Dive insurance– DAN offers an amazing diver insurance that covers medical costs, getting you home, etc in case of dive accident. If that’s a thing you’d like, feel free to check them out here.
  • Trip app- we all have to fill out the trip app- This is very important for a few reasons- if you’ll be renting gear from the boat, you need to let them know that here, or they likely won’t have gear for you available. If you have special dietary needs, definitely let them know that here. The cooks each year have been some of the most loved people on the boat- unless you’ve got any special eating needs and don’t let them know till we get there. 🙂 Lastly on that, but BIG important- to get a ride from the airport to the dock, and then from dock to airport costs money. Cab rides in the Bahamas aren’t cheap. IF you pay through the trip app site, blackbeards will arrange a cab to be waiting for you at the dock and airport with your name. This HAS to be done well before the trip in order to work, so do that trip app sooner instead of later, and I highly recommend doing cab fare through here, the cars are cleaner and it’s easier to just have someone already waiting for you.
  • Passports– make sure you’ve got your passport ready- never thought I needed to say it till a few years ago, but the Bahamas are not part of America, and if you don’t bring a current valid passport, they won’t let you in.
  • Currency– the Bahamas is a 1 to 1 conversion rate for money. You can bring and spend American dollars interchangeable with Bahamian dollars.
  • The boat takes air consumption seriously, if you’re the sort to run under 500, just do be aware they and I won’t be ok with it. We’ve benched divers or moved the boat to 20 foot deep dives only till everyone got it under control, so please know that 500 emergency reserve is really for emergencies only when you’re miles out to sea with no medical care within a days ride.
  • Drinking on the boat– the boat has beer, wine and rum provided all within our paid price. They make the best pirate rum punch each night that makes me love everything. I’ll be partaking right along with all of us, but do know we follow the first drink/last dive policy, which means if you’ve had your first drink, then you’ve had your last dive for the day! and please keep in mind personal limits, and if you’re not a fun drunk, you better be a good swimmer. 🙂
  • If while on the boat, you’d like to do advanced, I’m happy to do all the advanced dives other than navigation. Because you’re already going around the world with me, I do it for 150- the price of the book, the card, and a very few bucks for me. If that’s something you’d like, just let me know so we can get you the book! (no pressure, I’m 100% happy to just go and dive)
  • GEAR– I recommend renting from your local shop and paying the baggage fees. The ship does have gear to rent, but it gets dove all week every week, and if you’re used to Salem Scuba and a constantly nearly-new fleet of rental gear, this aint that. The boat requires all divers to have a computer- we’ll be riding ndl’s all week. If you do a night dive they require a tank light and regular light. Tank glow sticks can be had on the boat for a couple of dollars, but if you bring a tank light you won’t incur any extra costs on boat. I recommend bringing a shorty wetsuit- if you bring and don’t use, you won’t mind. If you don’t bring and then wish you had one, it’s sad. They provide aluminum 80’s and lead on the boat, so obviously don’t pack the heavy stuff. If you have any gear questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
  • PACK LIGHT– this is a boat, not a cruise. You’ve got a bunk, not a cabin. Think old time pirate ship. It’s communal living, camping well on the water. So pack light, basically anything you bring you will be sleeping with, if it’s not scuba gear. Scuba gear will reside in some cubbies on deck, but all clothes and non waterproof items will be in your bunk. You’ve got a notch that they kindly call a shelf, but really you’ll be spooning your luggage. Anything you bring that you don’t want to bring on the boat (airport clothes etc). They will store duffell bags and island clothes in a locker at their unit at the dock, so you can leave items on the dock to be awaiting for you when we get back. (gear bags don’t stay on boat, because space is at a premium).
  • We’ll have 18 of us on the boat, and by the end you’ll have new best friends and amazing memories. To keep it that way, a couple of asks- be kind. People are trapped at sea with you- if you can’t be kind in paradise, we’ll never be. So be kind. Secondly, no politics. No matter where you fall, the easiest way to not enjoy someone’s company is to start a politics debate when no one can get more than 65 foot of boat away from you. So let’s leave America in America. 🙂
  • If you come up with any questions as you pack, or want to know about certain things to expect, just reach out! I live to serve.