We participated in a two-tank dive with the Stuart Cove's Dive Center on New Providence Island, (Nassau) Bahamas on November 4, 2016. This was done as a shore excursion from the Norwegian Escape cruise ship. The lousy service and shoddy professionalism exhibited by this company from the moment we were met at ship side until we were returned to the ship with 10 minutes to spare before departure, prompted me to write the following letter to Guest Relations at Norwegian.
I have arrived in the Bahamas 58 times since my first time there in June 1984. In all that time the Bahamas Tourist Board has used the slogan "It's Better in the Bahamas" as its marketing slogan. The tourist board needs to take a look at Stuart Cove's because it sure as hell isn't better than anything.
My advice to you is to find an alternative. Sit around drinking cold Kalik beers all day long rather than waste your time and your money on these clowns.
Norwegian Cruise Line
7655 Corporate Center Drive
Miami, Florida 33126
Re: Two-Tank Dive Provided by Stuart Cove in Nassau, November 4 2016
My partner Catherine Hayslett and I participated in a two-tank SCUBA dive in Nassau as a shore excursion from the Norwegian Escape. We are writing to vigorously complain about the lousy experience we had with your vendor Stuart Cove. This is especially important in comparison to the absolutely wonderful experiences we had earlier in the cruise with Underwater Safaris in St. Thomas and especially with Sail Caribbean Divers in Tortola.
Our experience with Stuart Cove began with the one-hour long drive from the cruise ship to the dive shop way at the western end of New Providence Island. Curiously as our ship was docking in Nassau we saw a boat for Bahamas Divers sail past us in the harbor. Why couldn’t you use a company that is right there by the cruise terminal instead of one an hour away? Right now I think you should rename your excursion “View the Sights of Nassau on the Long Drive to the 2-Tank Dive” – it would be more appropriate.
Once at the dive center we sat on board the dive boat for ONE HOUR waiting for divers from other cruise lines and some private individuals to show up. Each minute that slipped by put us closer to our ship return time and gave us less time to enjoy the dives we paid for. As we sat there twiddling our thumbs waiting for people to show up, we received ZERO assistance from any of the staff in assembling our dive gear or in helping with safety checks. One individual testing the air in his tank found that it was leaking air. When he pointed this out to the dive boat captain he was told “It’s no problem, mon, they do that occasionally.” Really? Not on any other dive boats I’ve been on!
When all 19 divers were onboard (too many for a comfortable dive) we departed for the first dive site about 25 minutes from the dive center. Once there we were given a cursory briefing and then all 19 of us jumped in the water. When we did so we went in with ONE dive master. You probably don’t dive but take it from me one dive master for 19 divers of various skill levels is not only stupid it’s dangerous. We dove to 80 feet with the dive master seeming to be hell bent on covering as much ground as possible in the least amount of time as possible. In other words, keeping up with him was nearly impossible. How on earth can anyone expect one dive master to keep track of the location of 19 divers when he was trying to set a land speed record for gliding through the ocean? Again, this was stupid and dangerous.
For our second dive we were in about 28 feet of water and for this dive all 19 of us dove in but the dive master chose to stay on the dive boat because, in his words, he was “too cold.” You have to be kidding me! You can’t make this stuff up. So with a cold dive master safely on the dive boat, 19 of us, again with various skill levels (two participants were taking part in their first dives after being certified so they were at a real disadvantage), we swam around under the sea surface for about 55 minutes with no direction, no guidance, and nobody who has sufficient survival skills to help anyone who might become entangled, have an air issue, have a gear failure, or any of about 100 other things that can go wrong under water.
On our late return to the dive shop (the last dive participants boarded the dive boat 1 hour 45 minutes before our cruise ship was scheduled to leave) we were herded onto a bus for the trip back to Nassau. The bus driver assured us there was “no problem, mon” in returning us on time. However our bus driver forgot to fill the bus with fuel and had to turn around and waste about 15 minutes when he returned to a gas station where his company had an account so he could fill up with fuel. “You don’t want to coast back to the ship on no fuel do you mon?” he asked. We know the bus driver was not a diver (he told us so). Thus during the time we were on our dive he could have been filling up the bus with fuel. Instead he chose not to and his incompetence almost resulted in us missing the ship. What is Norwegian’s responsibility to its passengers if an incompetent vendor returns your passengers after the ship departs? I would like to know for future reference.
With fuel onboard we departed for the cruise ship dock but before arriving there we diverted to Cable Beach to drop off three passengers who wanted to attend a fish fry. That was bad enough but making matters worse, rather than simply letting people off the bus, the driver saw fit to escort the three people to one of his favorite restaurants thereby wasting an additional 10 minutes. From this vantage point we could see the Norwegian Escape; it was now 30 minutes from departure. Unfortunately we were not on the ship. When we finally returned to the cruise terminal we raced past security and ran to the ship and boarded it TEN MINUTES before scheduled departure. This of course meant that we were afforded no opportunity whatsoever to see any of Nassau – well other than what we saw during the two hours wasted driving to and from the dive shop.
Our dives on Nassau were the most expensive, least safe, and least enjoyable of the three dives we took part in on this cruise. Norwegian should be ashamed of itself for foisting a company like Stuart Cove on your passengers! In addition to this letter I will be writing to PADI, the Professional Association of Dive Instructors, who certify Stuart Cove to take people out diving, and inform them of the shoddy professionalism demonstrated by these clowns.
For future guests of Norwegian who land in Nassau with you and who have an interest in SCUBA diving, Norwegian should do itself a favor and contract with a reputable company concerned about your passengers. Stuart Cove obviously is not. If you refuse to change vendors then I recommend that you do not offer SCUBA as an excursion in Nassau.
For the record, the next time we are in Nassau on a Norwegian cruise the LAST thing we are going to do is shell out $179 each for a lousy dive with an incompetent dive company.
Cc: Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI)