from 3 reviews
3rd July 2012 by mbling42
Good value. GREAT operation!
Visit Date: June 2012
When I plan a dive vacation, I prefer to book on a liveaboard dive boat. I don’t easily get seasick, I’m not into a big party scene, and I love the convenience of waking up, eating, diving, & sleeping all within a few steps of each other. I’ve been on several different liveaboards and they all have their pros and cons, but the Juliet is the one I keep coming back to for a consistently great diving experience.
If you’re not interested in details, feel free to stop reading here and rest assured that you will have a great diving vacation if you book with the Juliet. For those interested in more details, here’s my full write up:
The Boat – Juliet is a very large steel sailboat. It’s around 100 feet long and has 3 masts and 4 sails. If you’re lucky, part of your trip will be spent sailing between dive sites – it’s absolutely stunning when all the sails are up and the captain cuts the engine. It’s great having a boat this big with a maximum of 12 passengers. There is plenty of space for everyone and you never really feel crowded. I’ve been on smaller boats (like, Blackbeards) that take twice as many passengers and cram everyone into every available nook on the boat, including curtain-drawn bunks in the main salon. You definitely don’t get that problem on the Juliet – there’s lots of space and areas where you can ‘hide out’ if you feel the urge. The Juliet is a ‘working boat’, and while it’s kept clean and well-maintained, you won’t see crew members spending time wiping each fingerprint off every piece of brass on the boat (I’ve been on some that do that – and paid for it accordingly) there are unavoidable rust spots here and there, but nothing that would be cause for concern or safety. The dive deck is spacious (although sometimes a bit slippery) and every diver gets a bin to store their gear. Tanks are filled on the spot, so you (or the crew) only setup your gear once for the whole week. Getting in and out of the water is very easy, there are entry points on both sides of the boat – but I prefer the side with the platform and ladder, it’s just easier. The ladder is well designed with steps that are spaced close together – a big plus when you’re all geared up. There is plenty of room to lounge between dives and the boat has games, cards and snacks to keep you occupied during surface intervals. There once was a kayak, but I’ve seen reports where it’s been replaced with a stand-up paddleboard. The main salon is a nice place to hang out and the food is great (more on that later). The boat also offers you the opportunity to go fishing if that’s your thing. On my last trip fellow passengers caught some dolphin fish (Mahi) that was cooked up and served later that night. Talk about fresh! The addition of a new table on the deck makes it easier than ever to work on your camera and spread out a bit. In the summer time it gets hot, but the crew is quick to deploy some sun shades that cover the majority of the deck and provide some much welcome relief.
The accommodations – The Juliet has 6 nice staterooms. The two up front are single bunks only and don’t have much storage space. This is made up for by the fact that you have a semi-private toilet, sink, and shower (shared only by the other set of bunks). 3 of the cabins are setup as either double beds (for couples) or can be converted to a double with a single bunk above. These cabins have more storage and private sinks – The main heads & shower are shared by the remaining passengers and crew. There is one stateroom – I think they call it the ‘honeymoon suite’ – that is a double only and is bigger with a reading chair and more space than the others. All the staterooms are beautifully done in teak and kept clean and fresh. All cabins have fans and plenty of outlets for recharging all our gizmos & toys. :-)
The diving - Depending on which charter you book dictates your diving locale. Most of the diving is in the Bahamas - Bimini and south. Occasionally they will do a ‘wreck alley’ week up and down the Florida keys exploring all the best shipwrecks between Miami and Key west – but that’s usually only for experienced divers and/or if weather gets ugly in the western Bahamas. The boat is moved down south to the Turks & Caicos and the Virgin Islands during the winter and they book a ‘repositioning trip’ (that I would really like to book sometime). I’ve heard great things about this repositioning trip like VERY remote and pristine dive sites, but also long days of traveling - probably not something for those prone to seasickness. Personally, I’ve been on the Bahamas trip and the Virgin Islands trip - I prefer the Bahamas, not sure why, it just seemed the diving was better there. I’ve done diving in The Keys as well, just not on the Juliet. Now before you say “Been there, done that” to the Bahamas, let me tell you - some of the locations the Juliet goes will blow you away. Especially if weather and conditions allow you to go far south, that’s where some of the best diving is (like “Space Mountain”, “Dead Grouper” & “Longbow”). This is not the Exumas, where every site has been picked over and you’re fighting with 3 or 4 other boats for a mooring. By the second or third day, the Juliet is usually the only boat anywhere on the horizon. If conditions are favorable we’ve done the same site 2 or even 3 times – it’s that good! Safety is a big concern with the crew and they have everything available to ensure a safe operation. Someone is always standing watch on the deck and they will go along and guide the dives if you wish - although most of the time you get to dive your own profile, which is really nice if you don’t like being lead around like a pack of sheep. The one exception is drift dives, where everybody stays together and comes up when the first person hits 1000psi (bad for slow breathers but good for new divers). The boat has an impressive amount of oxygen, first aid supplies, and an AED. With the current lionfish problem in the Caribbean, the Juliet is taking a very active role in eradicating them. The crew gives lionfish hunting lessons and encourages divers to take as many as possible on every dive. Best of all, the fish don’t go to waste. They are VERY delicious and end up on the snack & dinner table regularly.
The Crew – Every time I’ve been on board the crew has been exceptional. Everyone on board is very courteous, helpful and professional. The Juliet crew consists of the captain, engineer, divemaster, a marine biologist (which is really great between dives when you’re trying to identify a strange fish) and a cook. The captain oversees the whole operation, sets the itinerary, and keeps everything/everyone running smoothly. The engineer is there to keep all the internal workings of the boat in order and is a great resource when something breaks or comes loose. The divemaster performs dive briefings, fills tanks, and generally runs the diving operation. The marine biologist gives presentations every day about relevant topics (lionfish, sharks, coral, etc.). The cook obviously keeps everyone fed, and on the Juliet that can be a big job. The whole crew helps out with general operations of the boat like setting off, mooring, sailing, and docking. Every crew is different and they all have their own personalities. John is the main captain and owner of the business. He’s a pretty quiet guy, but if you get a chance to charter with him, you’ll have a great trip. Make sure to get in a game of ‘Vampire’ with him on board. Jimmy has been engineer most every time I’ve been on board. He’s a great story teller from somewhere down south. Emily & Trevor are both great divemasters (& instructors) with a key interest in safety and protecting the reefs. They can do some specialty classes onboard too - like Nitrox. I think Jessica is the only marine biologist left, but Emily fills in with presentations when she’s gone. Jess is a valuable resource when it comes to educating you about fish & corals, (she really likes to talk about sea urchins & lionfish too). Will & Johnny are both great cooks. Will was trained in culinary school and his meals are fabulous! Another highlight is when Johnny makes the grand entrance with his cape to present dessert.
The Food – The Juliet always has really good food – and usually* has lots of it. (*I have been on board once when they must have missed an order because I felt like there wouldn’t be anything left for the crew by the time we finished – but this is the exception, NOT the rule. Happened once out of many charters.) You’re fed a big breakfast when you get up before the first dive (breakfast items include pancakes, French toast, grits, yogurts, cereals, fritatas, hash browns, country potatoes, muffins, the list goes on…) Fruits and lights snacks are left out between breakfast and lunch. Normally lunch follows the second dive of the day and is most often ‘comfort food’ like pulled pork sandwiches, grilled cheese, tomato soup, gyros, potato salad, (lion)fish tacos, etc.etc. An Afternoon snack is put out and is frequently something like civiche, guacamole & chips, or occasionally lionfish sashimi. Depending on the time of year, dinner can be either before or after the night dive and always includes a salad, and a hearty meal like pasta, chicken, seafood, pork and always a steak dinner on the last night of your trip. Dessert is always a big draw and includes things like cakes, puddings, meringue, and even key lime pie.
One word on the meals, if you have a food allergy or are a vegetarian, make sure to communicate that well ahead of time. There’s a lot of meat and gluten on this boat. ;-)
In summary - The Juliet is a great diving vessel and a wonderful way to spend your diving holiday or vacation. The crew is passionate about what they do and it shows. As mentioned before, I’ve been on other liveaboard dive boats (Aggressor, Dancer, Mike Hall’s, Explorer Ventures, Blackbeards (& Aquacat) Raja Ampat, etc.) and I keep coming back to the Juliet. Between the accommodations, the diving operation, the dive sites, the professionalism of the crew, the food, etc - it is by far the best value for my dollar. Some of the other operators might have fancier this or that, but not fancy enough to justify the cost difference. Best of all the Juliet (usually) leaves from Miami, so getting there is a breeze - some people even drive down (my preferred method) and park right near the dock for a VERY reasonable fee.
I would (and often do) HIGHLY recommend the Juliet for your next dive trip. I hope you’ve found this review helpful! Happy bubbles!!
7th May 2012 by Jodrezin
Best Diving in my world...
Visit Date: January 2012
This crew cares about the ocean environment, and the ways they can be good stewards of the seas. the Captain, Dive master, engineer, marine biologist and cook have always done the best at pleasing the customer and making the trip enjoyable and exciting. we did things that most dive ops don't do, and with more than 20 trips on this wonderful sail boat, I will continue to bank on them taking great care to please its divers, I just love the Juliet and all it does to make divers better at what we love to do.
4th May 2012 by diverdeb
Experience Juliet Live aboard diving
Visit Date: January 2012
You will not find a better boat, better crew, or all around live aboard experience than Juliet. Well, you may find a nicer one as far as accommodations are concerned, but who wants to worry about cabins when you are on a dive trip? After four dives per day, and scrumptious food, all you want to do is crash until the smell of the coffee wakes you the next morning.
I had been diving for some time before I ventured into the live aboard realm as I thought I would be bored. Absolutely NOT!. I have done trips to Bimini, Keys, Turks and Caicos, and the Virgin Islands on this boat, and plan on doing plenty more. Where else can you find a female Captain, engineer, dive master and marine biologist? I have had the pleasure of meeting the owner, John Beltramo, who has Captained on numerous trips. If you want 6 days of diving, eating and sleeping, with a lot of great conversations during SIT, book yourself a cabin on Juliet. You won't regret it.