FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
“I can only speak in superlatives for a well planned and executed trip”
We offer you the answers here to the questions and concerns our charterers have had year after year. Can’t find the answers to your questions? Simply send us a message using the form below.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why book through a Charter Broker like Blu Charters?
Choosing the right charter yacht and crew is essential to ensuring that you get the most out of your charter vacation. Consulting a charter brokerage that knows the boats and the crews personally gives you access to accurate and un-biased information on all the options that are available to you. When you book through Blu Charters the charter cost is the same as when you deal directly with yacht owners, however, the benefits are priceless. Here are a few: Help arranging for all the services you need to make the most of your charter experience, both on board and on shore. Help managing your relationship with your crew. You don’t know what you don’t know. We know the Virgin Islands inside and out. We make sure you know the right questions to ask and where to go to have all your needs met. In the event the yacht you booked is unable to accommodate your charter we are here to assist you. We’ll work together to resolve the issue or refund you in full.
How do I reserve a yacht and what are the payment terms?
Blu Charters works with clients to ensure they understand how customizable yacht charter vacations can be. Once we clarify your vision and expectations, we help you narrow your options. Then Blu Charters gets to work negotiating with the yacht managers to place a hold on your desired dates while you make your final decisions. You confirm your reservation with a signed agreement and a 50% deposit. The remaining balance is due 60 days prior to the charter. Once the agreement is signed, your dates and rates are confirmed, and not subject to change Timing is important to consider. End of the year holidays and school holidays often book one year or more in advance. The most sought after yachts and crew also book early. The earlier you can plan, the better. Remember we know the crew and boats personally, so we will work with you to find the best alternatives if your top choices are unavailable.
What airport should we fly into?
Your broker will let you know where your boat is flagged, or based out of. Some boats are available to pick up in either the USVI or the BVI. Others are restricted to one location or the other. Most people find the most affordable options into St. Thomas (airport code STT). Taxis are available from there to marinas and hotels throughout the island. Many ferries are available from St. Thomas to the BVIs. There is also a small international airport on Tortola (airport code EIS). While flights may be more expensive, you have the advantage of basically stepping off of the plane onto your yacht. The airport is right across the road from a small dock at Trellis Bay, where your crew can pick you up and drop you off by tender. This option may also allow you to avoid spending a night on land before and after your charter. For those chartering in the Spanish VIs, flying into Puerto Rico is your best option.
Where should we stay before/after charter?
This depends entirely on your preferences. Some yachts offer sleep-aboard options the night before or after charter for a surcharge. Many guests enjoy a night or a few on land before and or after their charter. Others have time constraints, or simply want to maximise their time on the water. We have suggestions for lodging that accommodates all budgets. As part of our integrative travel planning process, we are delighted to assist you selecting the best accommodations for your group.
What's included in the Charter Fee?
All Inclusive Catamarans and Yachts: Most crewed yachts offer all-inclusive charter rates. The charter fee typically includes the Captain & Chef/Hostess, three meals aboard each day with wine, snacks, full ships bar (including cocktails, beer, wine and sodas), water toys, cruising permits, fuel and all on-deck amenities. Insurance for the yacht for marine risk and third party claims and the crew for employer’s liability insurance is also typically included. Additional charges for all-inclusive yachts can include optional communications, optional marina berthing, crew gratuities, activities and any meals taken ashore, optional hire costs of special equipment and activities such as scuba diving. ½ Board Catamarans and Yachts: Some crew offer what’s referred to as a “½ Board” option. This option allows more time to explore the islands and invest in local economies and culture. It can also free up more time for activities, as the crew will spend less time on food and beverage service. If you choose this option, be sure to negotiate which meals will be offered on board and ashore before finalizing the contract, as it varies according to crew and time aboard Plus Expenses for Power & Mega Yachts/Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA): The larger power yachts are plus expenses (we will notify you if the yacht is plus expenses in our quote). This means that addition to the charter fee you will also be asked to pay an Advance Provisioning Allowance of 25-30% of the charter fee. This is given to the yacht in cash prior to your charter to allow the Captain to buy fuel and provision the yacht with food and drinks per your preferences. At the end of the charter, the captain will produce full accounts of all expenditure. You will either be refunded excess money not used or asked to pay any additional costs which exceeded the Advance Provisioning Allowance.
What is on the menu?
Anything and everything. Charter yachts do not include all you can eat buffets or scheduled meal plans. The menus are what you would like, when you would like it. From simple meals like pizza or pasta to extravagant culinary creations prepared for two, served under the vast Caribbean night sky, your menu is yours to create. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered at your pace and made for your palette. During trip planning, you can brainstorm choices and options and alert the chef to any food allergies or dietary restrictions. Remember that your chef is a professional and we always recommend their input on what is freshest or in season at the time. Again, simply let us know what you have in mind and your trip’s menu will take shape well before the appetizers arrive
What's the Caribbean Vacation Islands dress code?
Dress is casual in the islands. Resort casual clothing is only needed for dining ashore at the fancier resort restaurants. Its barefoot time and you will not need shoes on board, unless you have a specific pair of shoes (with white soles) you intend to wear only on your yacht. We suggest you pack one pair of sandals or flip-flops for your shore visits and perhaps a pair of water shoes for climbing over the rocks and in the water. During the winter season it’s a good idea to pack an additional light sweater or a windbreaker.
Are Credit Cards Widely Accepted?
There are only a few ATM’s around the BVI’s.It is recommended that you bring along some cash (the BVI uses US currency). The same applies for the Windward Islands, where some islands use the EURO or EAST CARIBBEAN DOLLAR, but US DOLLAR is widely accepted in shops. All extra costs made on board can typically be paid in cash on board.
Should I worry about seasickness during my sailing holidays?
Prevention is the best medicine. Your physician or pharmacist can prescribe an ear patch or medication, which many people find useful. Sea bands and or dramamine are other inexpensive alternatives. Naturopathic remedies such as fresh ginger, ginger gum or candies are also recommended. Be sure to stay outside, gaze at the horizon, and jump in the water to curb symptoms.
Is Fishing permitted in the Islands?
Yes it is as long you order a BVI waters fishing license online. Please note that due to a common toxic algae (Ciguatera) in the coral reefs, fishing is catch and-release, unless your captain approves it!
What do I need to pack for my Catamaran Sailing Caribbean Vacation Package?
Storage space is sometimes limited on yachts. SOFT COLLAPSIBLE LUGGAGE is preferred, best without wheels and hard bottoms. Suitcases cannot always be stored! At the end of charters we hear our sailing guests telling us, that they packed twice as much as they needed and that next time they will know better! We recommend 2-3 swimsuits and 2 pairs of shorts, 3-4 T-shirts, as you probably will buy some in the local art craft shops. Bring a 30-45 SPF sunscreen, higher SPF for children, NO spray types please, as the deck can get very slippery with it when wet. No tanning oil, PABA or Bronzers at all as they stain the white fiberglass of the yachts.
If you decide to cancel your reservation all payments are forfeited. You are typically entitled to a partial refund if the yacht you reserved is re-hired for the same term; or a pro rata refund if re-hired for part of the same term. In the unlikely event that the yacht cancels due to unforeseen circumstances we will strive to find a suitable replacement that meets your approval, or you will be refunded in full. If the captain or owner must cancel the charter due to Force Majeure no funds will be refunded to charterer. Trip insurance should enable you to claim from your insurer. Full terms and conditions can be found in our charter agreement contract. We can help you with trip cancellation insurance which, depending on circumstance, would cover penalties.
Passports & Visas
Passports are required for all visitors in the Caribbean. The United States Government will require a valid passport to regain entry into the US. Please remember to bring passports for each member of your group. US Citizens: For information on renewing your US passport or obtaining your first passport please click here. Non-US Citizens may require a visa to enter the US and / or British Virgin Islands. For a list of countries that qualify for the US visa waiver program please see: US Visa Requirements. For more information on Visa requirements for the British Virgin Islands please see: BVI Visa Requirements. Many other Caribbean nations offer tourist visas, some of which must be applied for in advance. Contact us if you have any questions.
What time of year is best to travel to the Caribbean?
Mid-December through April is “high season” in the Caribbean as wise travelers escape from the northern chill and take advantage of the endless Caribbean summer. For the peak periods of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and the Spring Break months of March and April, be sure to reserve your yacht charter as far in advance as possible. December through May is the typical dry season. June through November is typically more humid. The weather is unpredictable, especially during El Niño years. Come prepared with a raincoat and plenty of biodegradable sunscreen. Rain passes quickly, often leaving rainbows in its wake. The sun shines most days of the year. Average air temperatures in coastal areas range from 72º to 86º F. The warm coastal water temperatures range between 68º and 80º F. The northern summer is usually low(er) season in the Caribbean, however, more and more people are catching on to the benefits of traveling in off peak months. May, June, early July and late November are great times to visit the islands, offering discounted travel rates and less tourists to share paradise with. Atlantic Hurricanes can occur any time from August through October. You can purchase travel insurance to cover force majeure once you confirm your travel plans.
Do I Need Insurance
We hope nothing gets in the way of your vacation. The reality is, sometimes things happen that are beyond anyone’s control. Travel insurance may cover cancellation due to extreme weather, acts of God, flight delays, emergency medical expenses, operator financial default, lost baggage, etc., though policies do vary. Blu Charters recommends Travel Guard’s “Vacation Protection Plan Deluxe” as it is customized for yacht charter guests and offers a range of additional travel support and services. You can generate and compare insurance coverage from a range of providers like: Access America, CSA Travel Protection or HTH Worldwide.
How can I be reached in an emergency?
All vessels have VHF radios and cell phones. You can access cellular reception in some areas. Please check with your provider regarding roaming charges in the area you are exploring. Many yachts have wireless internet available on-board for guests’ use. It is best to confirm whether boats have wifi access prior to booking
Is scuba diving equipment and air included in the charter fee?
This varies from yacht to yacht. Some boats are equipped with SCUBA equipment and a dive master or dive instructor as part of the crew. Others only accommodate rendezvous diving (where a local dive shop’s dive boat will meet you at a specified dive site). Please contact us for your preferred yacht’s dive policies.
Should We Bring the Kids?
Kids are seldom bored on charter. They really get into the sailing, snorkeling and playing on the beach. The yacht’s crew is employed to maximize the enjoyment and safety of your vacation, however, they can not take responsibility for over-seeing the welfare of children at all times. It is best to inquire directly with the crew for their policies regarding children prior to making your yacht and crew selection.
Gratuities of 15% – 20% of the charter fee are the expected norm in this industry. This may seem like a significant amount on top of the charter cost. Keep in mind, it is a major part of a crew’s income and it reflects a job well done or very well done. Please remember that your crew work hard to ensure your vacation is a great one that will be remembered for many years to come. They are your gourmet chef, diving instructor, island guide, story teller, friend and when you sleep, they mostly are up cleaning and preparing the yacht or meals for you. Most crew accept gratuities in cash, traveler’s checks or personal checks, however, it is best to inquire upon booking.The best way to handle the gratuity is to place the amount into an envelope addressed to the crew and either hand it to the captain or leave it on the saloon table before your departure from the yacht. A letter to them with a personal note is more than welcome and appreciated.
Who do I contact if I can't find the answer to my question?
If we have not addressed any of your questions, please contact us. We will be happy to assist you further.