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.)


What qualifications are required to charter a VIP bareboat? Can we hire a Skipper and just relax?
The sailing conditions in the Virgin Islands are nearly always perfect. Overnight moorings are available in most harbors. Navigation is easy — so it is a good area for less-experienced sailors to hone their chops. VIP's skipper qualification for bareboat chartering is based on your previous boating experience. On the other hand, VIP will be happy to arrange a skipper for you if you want to relax, or do not feel you have enough experience to bareboat. Click here for more details.
How do we get there?
St. Thomas enjoys direct service from most east coast airports with the major carriers. Internet sites such as Expedia and Travelocity provide ample selections for your travel planning.  You will come in to Cyril E. King airport (STT).
What do we eat?
Provisioning service is available — ask your charter coordinators for details. Most overnight mooring destinations have great restaurants and bars on the islands if you don't want to cook aboard each night.
What do we need to bring for the trip?
Just the basics: Shorts, t-shirts, hats, swim wear, sunscreen and rain gear are all needed for a hassle-free vacation. See the packing section below for more details. To see charter equipment details, click here.
My flight leaves later in the afternoon.  Can we sleep aboard the yacht?
No problem. If you're scheduled to arrive after 2 p.m., there probably won't be enough time for you to complete your briefings and make your way to your first anchorage. So, we may be able to offer arrival day sleep-aboard privileges at one-half the daily charter rate. Enjoy a restful evening aboard your yacht, then begin your charter the following day. The sleep aboard option could depend on the schedule of the charter that immediately precedes your charter start.  VIP normally needs 24 to 48 hours to prepare a yacht for your use.
How long is the charter week?
With VIP, a charter week is seven full sailing days, noon to noon, beginning on the day of the week you choose. Don't settle for anything less! Of course, you may cruise for longer or shorter charters, but a charter day is a full 24 hours, always!
Can we keep in touch with home?
Your stateside cellphone will work in the US Virgin Islands and most likely in the BVI also, but additional charges may apply. You should contact your provider in advance to check and arrange for best calling plan.
How should we pack?
Pack lightly, in soft luggage that can be easily stowed aboard your yacht. Life is simple in paradise. If you've packed more than a carry-on per person, you've packed too much. You'll need bathing suits, cotton shorts and shirts, and casual eveningwear. Jackets and ties are definitely not required! Shoes should be soft-soled sandals or boat shoes. Most important is sun protection: a broad-brimmed hat, baseball caps, loose cotton cover ups, plenty of sunscreen. Bring a windbreaker or cotton sweater for cool evenings. And don't forget your camera and favorite music!
What about scuba and snorkel gear?
We'll provide snorkel gear for your crew. We can also help with tank rentals and arrange for lessons, certification, or rendezvous dives.  Just ask!
Can I use my hair dryer or charge my batteries?
All VIP yachts have a generator which will operate a blender or microwave, power your hair dryer and charge your phone/camera battery. You'll look wonderful on camera!
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Credit cards and travelers checks are accepted at most shops and restaurants. You should carry some cash for smaller restaurants and beach bars. The US dollar is the accepted currency throughout the Virgin Islands. There are ATMs in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Cruz Bay, St.John and Road Town, Tortola.
Do we need passports?
Although the United States Virgin Islands are exempt from the new laws regarding reentry from the Caribbean, it is still a good idea to obtain a passport.  And, if you plan to go anywhere in the BVIs, a passport is a must.
What if we have a problem with our yacht?
We want you to have an absolutely trouble-free vacation. If a problem should arise, contact the base immediately, and we'll assist you quickly. With chase boats and tech crews in both the BVI and USVI, we are never far away.
How should we reserve our yacht?  What if we have to cancel?
Booking your yacht is easy - please see our booking instructions section for details about how to book and our reservations policies.

Helpful Hints:

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.

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