frequently asked questions
& helpful hints
Whether this is your first Caribbean power cruise, or you're an old salt... sometimes there are questions you have. We have collected our most-asked questions here so you can get your answers as soon as you can. (Of course, you can contact us at any time, should you have a question that is not covered here.)
Location, Location, Location
The U.S. and British Virgin Islands lie between the Atlantic and the Caribbean (18° north latitude, 65° west latitude) and are one of the most beautiful geographical areas in the world, blessed with powdery beaches and sun-drenched weather. They are part of the Lesser Antilles and are 1600 miles SSE of New York City.
Weather in the Virgin Islands
Average temperatures range from 80ºF to 88ºF (26ºC to 31ºC), winter to summer. All year 'round, the water temperature is delicious — "just right" for swimming and snorkeling. The islands are in the path of trade winds blowing directly from Portugal (which accounts for Columbus' sighting of St. Croix on his second voyage westward in 1493). These winds, ranging in strength from 10 to 20 knots keep you comfortable on even the warmest days (strongest winds are during the winter months).
While a rain shower is possible at any time, these do pass quickly — leaving behind beautiful rainbows. Bringing a light rain jacket is advisable as they are not provided with the yacht.
Getting to the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas enjoys direct service from the U.S. mainland. There are numerous non-stop flights from major U.S. Gateway Cities. Links for Travel to the Virgin Islands can be found here.
Language, Currency & Time Zone
English is the main language spoken in the USVI and BVIs. Atlantic Standard Time (one hour ahead of Eastern) is used, Daylight Savings is not.
The U.S. dollar is the local currency throughout BOTH THE US AND BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS. Major credit cards are widely accepted but do not expect to use them at the smaller establishments. As you will be visiting several small islands, it is a good idea to carry traveler's checks or cash in smaller denominations. Personal checks are not accepted anywhere.
Customs & Immigration
For visitors entering the U.S. Virgin Islands from the United States, there are no customs or immigration requirements, since you are still in U.S. territory. However, when you leave the St. Thomas free port area by air for the U.S. mainland on your return home, give yourself at least 2 hours to go through customs and immigration checkpoints. U.S. citizens are allowed to return to the US with $1,200/person (including children) of duty-free merchandise every thirty days. US residents over the age of 21 may also return with 5 liters of liquor duty free.
We will brief you on the morning of your arrival at the base, on the procedures for clearing in and out of Customs when cruising between the U.S. and British territories. Since 2008, a passport is now required for reentry to the USVI from the BVI.
Getting Around on Land
Your transportation between the airport and the base can be pre-arranged by your Charter Coordinator (the charge is $18/person, or a minimum of $80, which you pay directly to the driver). Taxi service is available on the main populated islands. Although taxi fares are not metered, there are official taxi rates. The prudent traveler should inquire of the rate beforehand to avoid misunderstandings.
Both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands offer a variety of car rental agencies, should you decide to spend some time touring on land. Advance reservations are advisable during peak travel seasons. But remember to drive on the left-hand side throughout the Virgin Islands!
Both the US and the British Virgin Islands can be accessed by dialing 1, plus the area code, plus the number. USVI area code is 340, the BVIs are 284 and Puerto Rico is 787. Your personal cell phone will most likely work - if this is an essential requirement, you should check with your cellphone provider ahead of time and purchase an international calling option.
WIFI is often available in the anchorages, there will be an additional daily charge levied by the WIFI provider, follow the instructions on the web-page for payment All VIP yachts are equipped with a VHF radio. Channel 16 is used as a calling frequency, but the user must switch to a second channel once contact has been established to keep CH16 open.
Diving & Snorkeling
The Virgin Islands are recognized as one of the world's top dive destinations. Superb reefs for both snorkeling and diving are found in and around most of the anchorages. The U.S. Virgin Islands have underwater parks at Coki Beach on St. Thomas and Trunk Bay on St. John. In the British Virgin Islands you will find the wreck of the R.M.S. Rhone, regarded by many as the best wreck dive in the Western Hemisphere, as well as over 300 documented wrecks surrounding the island of Anegada.
Professional dive shops and dive tour operators are located throughout the islands, providing complete services from equipment rental and air tank refills to tours and instruction. There is a dive shop at our docks which will rent tanks and arrange for lessons, certification or rendezvous dives, check with your Charter Coordinator. You will need to bring your certification card as proof of qualification (for most services). Adult masks, snorkels and fins are included with your charter. However, if you require a prescription mask or have kids under 13 years old, you should bring your own equipment.
Life Vests & Safety Equipment
All yachts are equipped with sufficient USCG approved Type II buoyancy aids for all passengers. Should you require that your crew wear jackets routinely while on board, you may wish to bring "vest type" jackets which are more comfortable for prolonged use. Again, for kids under 13, you should bring properly fitting jackets with you.
Fishing in the Virgin Islands
The fishing is excellent in the Virgin Islands. If you are an avid angler you'll find a wide variety of game fish looking for a fight. SHOULD YOU WISH TO FISH IN BVI WATERS YOU MUST OBTAIN A BVI FISHING LICENCE IN ADVANCE, CONTACT BVI FISHERIES DIRECTLY. Bring your own tackle or rent it locally.