Frequently Asked Questions
Who would like a yacht charter vacation?
What additional expenses might I incur on a yacht charter vacation?
Why a crewed charter?
Is it safe in the Virgin Islands?
Virgin Islands Airlines and Airports
How do we get to our charter?
How reliable are the ferries between the US and British Virgin Islands?
Do we need passports to enter the Virgin Islands?
What do we do all day we have an active family?
Do you offer Special or Themed Charters?
Scuba Diving Charters
Learn To Sail
Honeymoon and Wedding Charters
Clothing Optional Charters and Nude Charters
Gay and Lesbian Charters
Captain Only Crew
What if we prefer to enjoy dining on land at night?
What to bring (i.e. clothing type, gear, shoes, cameras)
What is the cost of a crewed charter?
What are the Payment Procedures?
Do we need Trip Insurance?
Cell phones in the Virgin Islands
We’ve had honeymooners, wedding groups, corporate incentive groups, families, divers, family reunions – and all walks of life, young and old. Family vacations are transformed into a magical experience for all ages when on a boat charter. Sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, beach-combing, anything goes!
You might want to plan your visit during a special island event such as Full Moon Parties, Festivals, Regattas, or a special Holiday like Easter, Spring Break, Christmas and New Year’s (both very busy times, please book early).
Many motor yachts might not include certain additional expenses such as fuel etc. but most do in the Virgin Islands. Down island, or in other areas like the Med, Greece etc. most request an APA (Advance Provisioning Allowance) of around 30% or so. What is not used is returned to the charter client at the close of the trip.
Here in the Virgin Islands, your crewed yacht charter will include all food and beverages with almost no exceptions. Even so, most charter clients prefer to have a meal or two on land and most yachts accommodate this wish. After all, it is nice to sample island foods as the islanders prepare them. See our Half Board Dining options offered by many boats now. Or just ask…we can usually negotiate it for you.
Crewed charter visitors often have the skills and ability to “bareboat”. That is, charter a boat and be fully responsible for it and all that goes with this kind of vacation due to possessing a boating history. This responsibility would include but not be limited to things such as provisioning, doing the cooking (or paying to dine out), anchoring or mooring properly every night by sundown, paying the check in and cruising fees for the BVI (most Crewed Charter yachts absorb this expense as part of the charter), be responsible for navigating unfamiliar waters and being prepared to accept the possibility of having to “fix something”. Often, too, there are certain areas you might not be permitted to visit due to the company’s restrictions.
A charter yacht with professional crew tends to all of the above and can take you anywhere the captain thinks is appropriate for the vessel, current weather conditions and the time of year. And don’t forget, there is a whole lot of information not found in the cruising guides which you might miss by not having a “local guide”. All crews love these waters and will share their many secrets with you!
If you do some homework as I have, when you total up all the bareboating costs and time lost out of your precious week of charter, you’ll find the pricing is about equal with no muss, no fuss!
The US Virgin Islands enjoys the protection of the Department of Homeland Security just like the mainland. And the BVI, overseen by the British Government, is one of the most secure destinations in the World. As to Pirates, though this area’s history is rich with their stories for the 30 years or so they flourished here, now you might only find them behind a sales counter (smile).
Many major airlines such as American Airlines, American Eagle, Continental, Delta, Spirit Air and US Air have flights to St. Thomas (STT) and many fly direct from large US metro areas.
If you prefer to fly directly to Tortola, you will connect in Puerto Rico (SJU) for the short 20 minute flight to Tortola’s Beef Island Airport (EIS) which is not open to long-range jets. Puerto Rico (SJU) has numerous carriers providing service. Short hop service is also provided now from St Thomas as well. And there are private water taxis you can hire to take you directly to the boat waiting for you in the BVI.
It is best that we discuss this during the planning stages for your charter. However, below, you will find thumbnail sketches of some options:
· The Virgin Islands is one of the most easily accessed destinations in the World. Completing the Charter Inquire Form ensures that we have this information.
· US citizens, arriving to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI are simply arriving to another spot of US soil. The airport is located towards the west end of the 13 mile long island.
· If your charter is originating from the US Virgin Islands, from the airport, you can easily taxi to the marina where your charter yacht waits to welcome you aboard. There is no Customs or Immigration on your way in, thereby eliminating the waste of valuable vacation time. Once you leave US waters soon into your charter week, your captain will take care of all the British Virgin Islands check in details without you having to be present. Normally, if you do not choose to “decompress” at a hotel on your way in, you can meet your yacht on the same day you arrive. All recommendations can best be discussed with Slip Aweigh Yacht Charters to assure a smooth transition to your tropical dream vacation. NOTE: All travelers from the USVI to the BVI must have current and valid passports.
· For non-US visitors, please refer to the current regulations at the US Entry Requirements site. This should be done frequently before your charter as changes can occur at any time.
If you choose a charter originating in the British Virgin Islands, you might want to fly into Tortola (the airport is actually located on Beef Island). BVI Customs and Immigration is located at the airport. Then take a taxi to the yacht at one of several possible starting points on Tortola.
NOTE: You also have the option of using a ferry from Downtown Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook Ferry terminal on the East End, St. Thomas to arrive in Tortola, your schedule permitting. Slip Aweigh Yacht Charters can help you to coordinate this.
Very reliable, unless something breaks on that day, you are normally assured that the ferry schedules are very good generally. HOWEVER, it is essential that you or I check the operations a day or two prior to your arrival. Seasonal changes are routine, and it’s best to stay informed.
If your charter extends into the BVI, and almost all do, all persons on board must have valid passports from their country of origin. We recommend you stay informed of updated passport information for latest rules and regulations. Go to www.travel.state.gov for the most current information. http://travel.state.gov.
Note: When checking into the BVI, the Captain of your charter yacht performs the check in for your whole party at the entry point of your choosing. However, when reentering the USVI, all passengers must accompany the Captain to the reentry site.
Reentry to the US Virgin Islands is easy but does take a little time from your schedule. You and your crew choose where you want to check in -maybe Cruz Bay, St. John for some excellent shopping after your charter, flight time permitting, or you can check in in Downtown Charlotte Amalie on your way to the airport. There is no Customs/Immigration check in at the East End Ferry Terminal in Red Hook, St. Thomas.
It, too, is advised if arriving from a foreign country (other than the U.S.) that you check into the most current requirements for tourist Visas. Two good web sites are the BVI Tourism Site, www.bvitourism.com and the US State Department Site.
No—Slip Aweigh can arrange a longer term for you. The costs would be prorated against the daily cost of the yacht in most cases. Just ask! Also, Slip Aweigh can negotiate with most yachts for a shorter term for you…..but you could incur a 10-15% surcharge. It does cost a lot to get the yacht ready for you regardless of how long you’ll be aboard.
Hike as high or as low as you wish one of many islands where you might see no other people, maybe just goats and donkeys who might become your newest “best friends”. Look out over the whole of both great seas, the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Swim, snorkel, scuba dive. Kayak, windsurf, water ski. Crawl up, over and under house sized boulders at The Baths on Virgin Gorda; swim into the caves on Robert Lewis Stevens’ Treasure Island—(ok, really the BVI’s Norman Island).
See all the tropical fish up close, in your face. Sail out to Anegada, the Drowned Island, comb the miles of virtually empty white sand beaches, look for the flamingos…then gorge on the freshest lobster known under a brilliant canopy of stars. Or, sit on a beach and read a book all day. The choice is yours.
Join the party at some of the most famous places to celebrate the Full Moon Bomba Shack or at Aragorn’s place in Trellis Bay, Tortola. Kids and adults love the long, calm beach at Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, and Ivan’s on White Bay is a favorite spot of other Virgin Islanders, (Kenny Chesney wrote a song about it!) Also, Foxy’s on Great Harbour is always a lot of fun for all ages, especially when he’s playing his guitar .
Plan your trip to coincide with one of the numerous Carnivals or Festivals. There, you can march in the Parade, join the Tramp, or dance the night away to a Calypso band.
Yes, there are cruises to meet almost every need. Please see below:
Many programs are available for diving from Discover SCUBA, beginner up to Advanced Diver. The variety of diving and the beauty is unmatched in the Caribbean and includes reef, night, cave and wreck dives.
Most sailing charter captains and crews are happy to share their knowledge of sailing, and there will be opportunities to steer the boat and adjust the sails if you want. There are, however, captains that are qualified sailing instructors offering both ASA and US Sailing Courses. If you are interested in learning more about how to sail, Slip Aweigh, will coordinate the boat and course that best suits your needs. After all, we taught ASA sailing courses on our own Charteryacht, S/V Southwind.
There are many weddings aboard yachts (Some of our charter skippers are ordained Ministers!), even some on the white sand beach where the Bride and Groom were delivered by the yacht tender (dinghy)! More commonly though is the honeymoon cruise. Our private yacht charters provide one of the most romantic honeymoons to begin your new life together without any worries after all you’ve gone through with the preparation and the ceremony. What luxury! And what about those private beach picnics for just the two of you, lovingly packed by your charter chef!
More than 50% of the charter yachts offer nude charters or clothing optional charters. Just inquire; the rates would not change if you decided on this option… After all, it’s a “natural”. Some yacht crews do not mind their guests ‘expressing themselves’, and the seclusion possibility on your own yacht ensures you privacy. Although clothing optional is not acceptable on the public beaches or on land, when you’re on the water, it’s just “you and the breeze” out on the water!
Several yachts offer this option. Please include this in your special notes on our Questionnaire or give us a call for more information.
A few charter yachts are available with the captain only. The yacht is available with the captain at a lower rate than fully crewed and the charter guest pays all the expenses. Expenses would include provisions (including enough for the Captain), fuel, water, taxes, mooring fees etc. Also, you prepare the meals and look after your cabins. This might be a good choice for those that want to eat ashore frequently and don’t need the personal service that a fully crewed charter includes.
Most of our yachts will do everything to accommodate your special dietary requirements. Many can do vegetarian menus that will delight everyone, not just the vegetarians. Kosher is available on some boats, though often in ‘modified’ form due to the constraints of a yacht’s galley. Most all charter chefs are up to date on special menus catering to allergies such as Tree Nuts, or lactose-intolerant. The most important thing is to CALL US as soon as you know you have special needs so we can plan accordingly and complete the inquiry Form. With enough advance communication, most diets are possible, even here in the islands!
Dining “off the boat” is just about always at the guests’ expense and when you make this choice, your Captain and crew can recommend many dining options on each of the inhabited islands. Don’t forget, they are your guides to your Best Vacation Ever. If this concept appeals to you, ask about our Half Board Dining Charters.
First, only bring soft sided luggage since space is limited and storage is easier. Hard luggage can damage woodwork and paint.
For those wearing clothing (joke!), bring casual wear, mostly shorts, Tshirts, and swimsuits. A few of the more formal restaurants, mostly limited to the high-end restaurants of the BVI, require long pants and collared shirts and occasionally a jacket, but “smart casual” is always accepted.
A large brimmed hat is very useful to keep off the sun. The tropical sun can be very damaging to your skin, so bring a protective lotion that does not stain towels, sheets, cockpit cushions and decks. Greasy preparations and oils in general are forbidden on board. Most charter yachts will provide sunscreen on board. And don’t forget the big shirt cover-up. Just great for reducing the red look of the Peeling Tourist or Tourist Nose Tree!
Shoes of choice are the type of sandals with heel straps. These will take you from the dinghy, to the rocks, to the sandy beach, to the shops and anywhere else. Flip-flops or tie shoes can be bothersome for daily routine. However, if you plan on doing any serious hiking, you might opt for more substantial footwear but we love the strapped sandals for just about anything.
Your own mask and snorkel if you’re inclined, but all yachts carry an assortment of sizes. If you are expecting to scuba dive, check with your broker to make sure of the available equipment on board the yacht. Pre arrangements can be made for what is called “Rendezvous Diving” where the yacht does not offer diving facilities on board. The chosen dive operator will meet you in a particular cove and whisk you away to a great diving experience!
Cameras: Most everyone will have their digital camera with them. But it is a good idea to bring some waterproof disposable cameras for those unforgettable underwater shots of that Turtle! Buy them at home—they are expensive here. It is rare for the charter yacht not to have underwater cameras and even video cameras which they will use to record your fun times on board and give this to you as a keepsake at the close of your charter adventure. Now, the rage is Drones!! Now this is one wonderful memory-maker.
The cost of crewed charters varies depending on the season chartering, the size of vessel, whether motor yacht or sail, number of people on board, etc. The duration of the charter is usually a week, but can be any length. Generally, all food, beverages and water activities are included. When compared to other vacations, the bottom line represents a real value. Diving is usually extra. Please inquire.
The price per person starts around $1250 per person but that is based on the number of people on board. The more people, up to the yacht’s capacity, the less each pays.
Motor yachts usually cost more than sail boats. Groups on larger yachts can often be less expensive per person than a couple on a small yacht but the majority of the yachts are available for parties from only two. Large groups may prefer to charter more than one yacht and travel as a “flotilla”. This is very common, especially for corporate groups or family reunions.
The summer season will be less expensive than winter in the Caribbean.
Summer season is May 1st to December 14th. Winter season is December 15th to April 30th. Xmas and New Years usually have an additional fee.
Dockage and shore excursions are extra.
Gratuities (generally between 10 and 20% of the cost of the charter) are the norm when the service merits it. Remember that your crew work hard to ensure your Caribbean chartering vacation is a great one. They are your chef, bartender, tour guide, teacher, sharer of natural and cultural history…etc. Once I even performed the services of a barber!
Questions about payment are best handled by Slip Aweigh Yacht Charters over the phone or by email.
However, generally, for charters starting less than six (6) months out, a deposit representing 50% of the charter fee is required to confirm your charter and secure the dates for your chosen yacht.
For more than six (6) months out, a smaller deposit, 25% will confirm the charter with the next 25% due around six (6) months prior to the charter date. Final payments in either case must be made by 60 days in advance of the charter start.
For last minute bookings (or those within 30 days of the charter date) full payment may be required. Ask Slip Aweigh.
Various forms of payment can be acceptable including wire transfers, cashier and personal checks (with no processing fees), and Visa or Mastercard (with processing fees where taken).
Though no one can make this decision for you, Trip Insurance is always a good thing to consider and strongly recommended by Slip Aweigh Professional Yacht Charters. Insure My Trip www.insuremytrip.com has an array of options to choose from. Most offer instant quotes online for yacht charter vacations. Understand that your charter and you will be protected by a standard charter agreement fully executed by you and the yacht’s owner/representative. Slip Aweigh Charters Inc. is a long time member of CYBA International www.cyba.net, our professional organization which sets the standards by which we operate. We choose to use the sanctioned Charter Agreement provided by this organization. Once the charter is confirmed by payment and this signed agreement, the terms of the agreement take full force. In the event of a calamity, or something stopping you from coming, your coverage of trip insurance will be a welcome relief. It is not extremely expensive.
For the busy executive who can’t quite leave business behind or to stay in touch with family and friends, Most charteryachts offer free WiFi service on board your boat. Also, your cell phone might work in certain places here. We recommend checking with your service provider prior to be sure you have access to International service. In this day and age of wireless computer access, you will find that it is very common in all the islands now. What is NOT common is consistency of service. And some simple things are simply NOT simple. High, mountainous terrain can block signals during your cruise, but you will be re-entering clear air soon enough. But, it is slow……..A friend wanted to download one song from iTunes the other day on her wireless connection in the BVI to discover a 68 minute wait for it to finish…!! It is the nature of the islands, mon.
We look forward to saying Welcome Aboard to you, your family, friends and colleagues to the most wonderful vacation ever!