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Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

New England
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Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Just returned as a solo traveler from the Tradewinds Tortola catamaran trip as an RCI trade. Had a fantastic time. I’ll definitely do it again. We had Capt’n Jack and first mate Jaime and I can’t begin to sing their praises.

As noted by others who have taken these cruises, the food is outstanding in uniqueness, taste and presentation and the happy hour drinks are irresistible. In spite of continuous water sports, the average weight gain for the week is ~5 pounds. I was no exception. On another post, somebody suggested bringing personal snacks. That is an absurd suggestion. There’s always something to eat. If you get an urge, you can stop off for a Dove bar or a bag of M&M’s while on shore excursions.

Shipmates definitely make the difference. On my boat there were two couples (50’s and 60’s) and another solo traveler (lady in her sixties). Kudos to Tradewinds for doing a great job of matching people up. Our boat had folks of a similar nature-- we were all active water-lovers. The sister boat that went out the same time as us had a full complement of 30-somethings that wanted to maximize their consumption of food and alcohol. Needless to say, both boats enjoyed their cruises to the max!

As noted by other reviewers, you definitely will bond with your shipmates. The intimacy of living in tight quarters guarantees it. For solo travelers this is a big plus. Attitude and physical shape count for a lot. If you’re young and 65, this is a great trip. If you’re old and (fill in the age here), you might have more fun trying something else.

The cabins are pretty compact so you want to make sure you bring as little as possible. I’m a light packer and always carry-on for flights. Since I carry my own personal dive gear (mask, fins, snorkel, dive skin, computer, light, de-fog), it’s a tight squeeze to get everything in. As the equipment provided by Tradewinds is top notch, you can save some suitcase space by bringing just your mask.

Diving: $75/tank (includes BC/Reg). With all the other activities going on, one tank a day is more than enough. Each of my three dives exceeded 75 minutes bottom time. I used a dive skin rather than a wetsuit and was plenty warm (water temp. was 80 degrees). Dove the Rhone, the Indians and the Coral Gardens / Airplane Wreck off Great Dog Island (tropicalwelcome.com/virgingordascubadiving.p…). They were fantastic dives! The first mate was the dive master/guide so no worries about being a solo diver. Very safe and professional but relaxed and you could go at your own pace and maximize your bottom times.

What I overpacked -------------------------------------------

Underwear –wake up, jump in the ocean and swim before breakfast. Shower. Eat breakfast. Swim after breakfast before the boat takes off. Shower. Wear your swimsuit all day or board shorts as you sail from bay to bay. Jump in the water, snorkel. Shower. Scuba dive, shower. Wear your swimsuit or board shorts for happy hour and dinner. Jump in the ocean, do a night snorkel or just swim. Shower. Wear your swimsuit or board shorts while you play games and drink Bailey’s. Go to bed. Sleep with as little on as possible, perhaps nothing. As you can imagine, I came home with a lot of clean underwear.

Beach towel – Tradewinds provides beach towels and switches them out on Wednesday. Don’t bring one and save a lot of space in your suitcase.

Power adapter – our boat had regular USA 110 volt plugs. Didn’t need an adapter.

Cables to connect up iPod – didn’t need to bring these as the boat had them

What I underpacked --------------------------------------------------------

* Sunscreen – one 3 oz. tube isn’t quite enough. Next time I’ll bring two.

* I didn’t bring any games. Fortunately our shipmates did. We had a LOT of fun!

What I packed just right -----------------------------------------------

* Rash guard – great to prevent sunburn while snorkeling

* Small dive light – for night snorkeling (I recommend the UK Q40 eLED PLUS, ~$50)

* Laptop – although I never used it on the boat, it was great to have on the flight back so I could catch up on a week’s worth of email.

* Paperback – Very nice to kick back and read while lying in the sun or sitting in the shade.

* Sunglasses & hat – duh!

* Cash – other than the tip for the crew and the taxi fares, I was able to my VISA card. AMEX is rarely accepted so leave it home. The restaurant for our two onshore meals was great at doing individual checks.

Final Practical Notes ----------------------------------------------

There’s little privacy on a small boat and the skylight to your cabin is you main source of cooling breezes so everyone leaves them wide open at night. If you’re looking for intimacy with your significant other and you don’t want to share it with others, I advise getting a hotel room for the night before the trip and another night at the end.

There will be a sales pitch to buy into the timeshare. Grin and bear it. For the right people, it’s a great deal and I was sorely tempted…

Tipping: As an RCI trade, it is difficult to figure out the tipping thing so I left an envelope with $160 in it. I’ve heard tip advice that ranges from $100 per person and up to $240 per cabin. The crew really does a great job so the more, the better.

Hope this helps!

Warm regards,

Tom

Raleigh, NC
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1. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Very useful information. Thank you for taking the time for the report. Sounds like fun.

Roanoke, VA
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2. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

We are headed to Tradewinds Tortola Sat this week 11/12/11!!! Your review was huge... I will leave most of my underwear which makes sense not to bring! Tipping info is what we figured $100pp. Our first overnighter on cat.... can't wait. Did you go out of Hodges Creek or the new base near Nanny Cay? Was power (110v) available all day w/o generator running? Huge for pic edit on laptop and my music player re-charge. We are mid-50s and water lovers.... sounds like we've hit the jackpot! Stay safe and keep traveling....

slicktraveler

New England
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3. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

In July we went out of Hodges Creek. And I wouldn't worry about keeping your iPod or laptop charged. The generator is only turned off at when you go to bed and there are plenty of 110v plugs available throughout the day.

Enjoy your time in paradise!!

Auckland, New...
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4. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Tom, thanks so much for all that. It really was exactly what I wanted to hear. I was actually going to post a message asking whether we should go on a Tradewinds or Festiva cruise around the Virgin Islands. There are a couple of Tradewinds to choose from and also one of Festiva's which goes around the Virgin Islands also. I guess there's not much I can ask you since your trip report was so good. My other half is a besotted yachtie and spends all his spare time on the water and I thought that since I always sort out all our holidays and we end up going where I want to go - this time I would surprise him with a holiday on the water around some far away islands. The only thing I would ask is do you think the Virgin Islands are the better ones out of the Carribbean. I suppose it doesn't really matter does it, anywhere in the Caribbean sounds pretty amazing really. Did you stay in Tortola on your way. Also what currency did you use, presumably $US.

New England
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5. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Victoria, I haven’t sailed with Festiva (yet) so can’t compare. On an aside, I hope to sail with Festiva next year just to see the difference…

As far as your comment: "…surprise him with a holiday on the water around some far away islands"…

Given that you're from Auckland, Tortola certainly qualifies as a “far away” island. If your heart is set on the Caribbean, I think that you’ll find the BVI’s a very nice blend of inhabited and less-inhabited islands. I love the pristine feeling of waking up as the sun is rising and swimming in to an uninhabited islet before breakfast, I also like spending the morning sailing and then swimming in to a bevy of lively touristas/sailors at lunchtime at the Soggy Dollar Bar or Foxy’s. BTW, the reason they call it the “Soggy Dollar” is because the only way to get to the bar is to swim in from the boat. With your cash in the pocket of your swimsuit, there’s no way you can plink a dry dollar down for your liquid refreshment (grin).

With a good attitude and a taste for adventure, you won’t be disappointed.

Final note: Yes, the currency in the BVI’s is $US. And no, I didn’t overnight in Tortola on this trip although it would be lovely to spend an extra day or two at Cane Garden Bay. Remember, unlike you, I can wake up at 6 am on the east coast of the USA and make it easily to Tortola by the mid-afternoon.

I wish I could say the same thing about Auckland or Cairns.

Auckland, New...
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6. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Tom we have decided to go with Festiva, after pouring through all the comments online about both companies. We will be able to compare notes although we aren't going until next July. I'm wondering if you can tell me the best way to get from L.A. to Beef Island - which airline is the cheapest, I've just had a look and ít looks expensive!

If you ever make it to Auckland we will take you sailing on the Waitemata Harbour!

New England
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7. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Flights to Tortola are definitely expensive. Two things I’d suggest. First, I’d consider flying from Los Angeles to San Juan, Puerto Rico and taking a puddle jumper from SJU to EIS. The San Juan route is pretty popular so you might find something on sale. The second option is to try LAX to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Again, St. Thomas is a popular destination and the competition keeps the prices down.

From St. Thomas you can take the ferry to Tortola. There are two ferries; one goes to the West End, the other to Road Town. If Festiva is sailing out of Hodges Creek you’ll want to take the Road Town ferry.

Which week in July will you be sailing?

Laguna Beach
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8. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Please post a trip review. We too are trying to decide between Festiva or Tradewind. Have a fantastic trip

Auckland, New...
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9. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Thanks so much for that info - a great help, it has given me something to go on. There's a lot to look into re airlines and prices but at least I've got a bit of time. We are going the week 7-14 July.

Charlotte,NC
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10. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

We went with Festiva this past June-had a wonderful time! No worries at all & no timeshare sales pitch! Good advice from the original post-you don't need to pack very much at all!

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