Planning Your Vacation:
Destination Unknown…Our travel experiences allow us to give you first-hand knowledge about many of the Caribbean destinations. We will talk with you to find out if you want a vacation filled with secluded beaches, hoppin’ nightspots, or a combination of both. If you are interested in windsurfing, fishing, or snorkeling and diving, we will suggest some of the best destinations. We will also let you know how the various locations compare by cost, if that is a factor for you. After taking all of these factors into account, you will decide on your destination.
Our boat is Aristo-Cat II, which is an Island Spirit 40 Catamaran. She has 4 cabins and 2 heads. This is great for 6 guests, and provides for a much more affordable vacation. Aristo-Cat II is extremely well designed, and has sailed over from Capetown, South Africa. The aft deck is nearly 20 feet wide, and is designed to accommodate a lot of people. Surprisingly at 40 feet she has more space than many catamarans larger in size. Lots of space is one advantage to catamarans. Cats provide a much more flat sailing experience, so they are a good choice for groups that include non-sailors. So, based upon the number of people vacationing, the level of flatness desired while sailing, the budget, and boat availability, you will choose which boat is best for your vacation. See our specials on Aristo-Cat II.
Aristo-Cat II is also available for Bareboat Charter, contact us for details.
About the Vacation:
After having determined your destination, activities (snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, etc.) or the lack of activity (laying on the beach drinking boat drinks) you want to enjoy on your vacation, we use your food likes and dislikes to plan the menus for your trip. Once all that is set, you make your flight arrangements and let us know when to expect your arrival.
We will pick you up at the airport and take you to the boat, which is ready to go, loaded with your food and beverage choices, and ready to get underway. We will then spend the night in an anchorage, and let you begin to relax as the slower pace of life in the islands begins to have an effect on you.
By day 2, most people have relaxed completely, forgetting the stock market, e-mail, and cell phones. They are enjoying the fun, sun, incredible water, beaches, sailing, and underwater life. Again, you set the agenda. If you want to go diving, we will have that arranged for you. If you want to relax on a secluded beach, we know exactly where to take you. If you want to go for a hike with breathtaking views from the top, we know the spot. If a 5-course romantic, candlelit meal is up your alley, we’ll take you to the best place, which has an incredible beach to go along with it. After all, it is your vacation
About the costs:
Prices in the Caribbean fluctuate greatly with the time of year. The highest prices are found in the US winter months, and the most reasonable prices during the US summer months. There are a couple of 1-2 week exceptions to these rules, so ask us about specific dates.
Our price per person includes:
7 nights on the boat, plus…
•Cruising Fees…government fees charged per person per day
•Fuel …one of those “hidden” charge we take care of
•Water…something you may not think about as an expense, but freshwater is an item to purchase in the Caribbean…take as many showers as you want, we’ll buy more water
•Mooring Fees …at night the boat can be attached to a mooring ball as an anchor for the night, and the boat is charged for its use
•Food…two meals per day on the boat are included…generally breakfast and either lunch/dinner
…this can be adjusted as necessary, depending on your food preferences and budget
•Captain…as previously mentioned, Mike is a licensed Coast Guard captain
•Cook…Jennifer will do all the cooking on the boat, and will clean-up after each meal
•Snorkeling lessons…we will be glad to teach you how to snorkel and will tell you as much as you want to know about the underwater life
•Sailing lessons…we will teach you as much or as little about sailing as you like. If you want to know enough to sail the vessel before you leave or just watch us do all the work while you sip a boat drink, we will accommodate you.
• Photography …Mike has top of the line professional digital camera gear, and we will do our best to document your vacation and even provide you with that “perfect” Christmas Card shot. At the end of the week, Mike will burn a CD of all the photos he has shot (good and bad) for you to take home, at no additional cost. We will even burn your digital photos to the same CD if you would like. We know all the perfect spots to showcase you with the beautiful Caribbean sunset and our anchored sailboat in the background. Look at our photo section for examples.
Our price per person doesn’t include:
•Adult beverages…if you want to order cases of beer, wine, or other alcohol from the grocery store, beer averages about $19-24/case. We will send you the selection and price list to take your order in advance, then add the grocery store price to your charges. By not including adult beverages, those clients that are non-drinkers or have children are not spending more than they should.
•Airfare…please see the “Getting There” section
•Departure tax…this government fee varies by country, and is usually about US$20 per person
•Watersports…we do not include diving, windsurfing, or fishing equipment rental fees, but can arrange those activities for you
•Snorkel gear… experience has told us that you are better off buying your own mask and “dry” snorkel before you arrive. The quality will be much better and it will fit. We recommend this purchase to be done at a dive shop to insure fit. We also have a dive shop at the marina that rents fins for $15/week. These are better quality than snorkel fins.
For a range on pricing on Aristo-Cat II, Winter is about $7500, Summer $6500 for the entire boat. Again there is some variance so contact us for a specific quote. If you compare price to other crewed yachts we are much lower priced, not for lack of quality, but for several reasons:
we are owners and crew.
we only factor in 2 meals per day since dining out is part of the experience
adult beverages are not included as stated above.
we do direct booking, saving 15% broker commission
About Saving $$$
People…The more the merrier!! (and cheaper) The most inexpensive trip per person includes six guests. This works out well as three couples, or 1 family of 4. We have also done trips where we have six single people who are willing to share cabins. In most cases, if you can find a total of four guests and aren’t opposed to sharing your vacation, we can likely find two additional people to go with you. We have had great success with these vacations involving two different groups of people.
Timing…trips that occur during June, July, and August tend to be the most inexpensive. The temperature in the Caribbean remains fairly constant during the year due to its proximity to the equator, but the difference comes in weather patterns. The summer months tend to have more rain, but usually just for an occasional short shower each day, much like you experience in Hawaii. There is also the threat of hurricanes from June 1 – November 30, but that threat also varies with which part of the Caribbean you are visiting. We have done a large number of trips to the Caribbean in the summer months, with only a few days completely lost to a tropical depression. One those days, we went into town and did some shopping. It rained and was windy, but not enough to keep us from enjoying a day of shopping. The next day, the tropical wave had passed, and it was back to beautiful Caribbean sailing. BVI in the Summer is definitely cooler than the Summer’s in the Midwest.
About Getting There
We don’t include airfare in our price because it varies greatly based upon the departure city. Plus many people use their accumulated frequent flier miles to get to the Caribbean. We do have access to a travel agent who purchases blocks of Caribbean tickets on American Airlines who offers substantial savings from the prices quotes both on the internet and with American over the phone. There are also many smaller airlines, such as Air Sunshine, Caribbean Star, and Liat that fly to many destinations in the Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico. So, if you have frequent flier miles on another airline, it may be cheaper to get to San Juan using your miles and purchasing a short connecting flight on one of the smaller carriers. back to top
About the Destinations
British Virgin Islands
Unspoiled is the best adjective we have to describe BVI. You won’t find any American chain restaurants or hotels. You can dine each night in a locally owned and operated restaurant located right on the beach. We will actually take the dinghy in for dinner each night. BVI is designed for tourism by boat. Most of the neatest places in BVI are accessible only by boat. Those staying on land usually only get to see 1 or 2 other places during their week’s stay. On a sailboat, we can take you to see several different places each day. If your previous beach experiences involve crowds, BVI will be a very welcome change. There are places we can take you where you are likely to enjoy the sand and surf with no one else around…your own “private” beach or even island! This is where we have chosen to base our boat at this time.
Enjoy French culture and cuisine without the stereotypical French attitude! Martinique is a quaint, picturesque country with extremely friendly people. Inability to speak French is little hindrance for the tourist in Martinique. Just ask us about our rent-a-car story!! The little bays with their beautiful churches and architecture offer interesting afternoon walks. In Martinique, you won’t want to miss the rainforest located inland. Again, even in the inland villages, the people are eager to make your acquaintance, and are extremely patient in waiting for you to look up the proper word in your English-French dictionary! Martinique offers an extremely scenic, cultural, and sophisticated sailing vacation.
St. Vincent and The Grenadines
For those interested in a little more time spent sailing each day, sailing from St. Vincent down through the Grenadines may best meet your needs. Each of the islands offers a unique personality and terrain. You will be amazed at the tiny villages that are the “hub” of some of these islands. You get to step back to a simpler day and time, with a very slow pace. However, what St. Vincent and the Grenadines lack in modern technology is made up for in its pristine natural beauty. The Tobago Cays are a must see. A large horseshoe shaped reef protects several small, uninhabited islands. The result is constant sea breezes, but a very smooth anchorage, due to the protection of the reef. The views from the tops of the trails on the islands are magnificent! The snorkeling there is also unique, as the water depth is relatively constant everywhere inside the protection of the reef. Bequia and Mustique are two of the most famous Grenadines, boasting vacation homes for many American celebrities who go to the Grenadines to “get away from it all”. When on Bequia, be sure to visit the Sea Turtle sanctuary. It is a unique chance to learn about turtle preservation, and to see turtles up close in all stages of development.
Scenic volcanoes are the most prominent feature in St. Lucia. Touring the active volcano and nearby warm waterfall provide once in a lifetime pictures! Photos taken of your boat anchored under skyscraping volcanoes in the port of Soufrierre are worthy of framing. There is a very organized tour-guide and taxi industry, so get ready to be approached with a “package” deal for all your needs ashore.
St. Maarten/St. Martin
Enjoy two distinct cultural experiences in one trip, all while taking in the beauty of the Caribbean. The French side offers fashions straight from the runways in Paris, and has become very Americanized in recent times. Enjoy the sophistication of French cuisine and culture without the long airplane ride! The Dutch side boasts lots of sandy beaches, with the bonus of much duty-free shopping and casinos by night. You can choose to enjoy the excellent beaches of fine white sand with snorkeling and diving by day, and a have great dinner at a fancy restaurant. For the divers in your group, there are several wreck dives available off the coast of the Dutch side.
It has been said, “They do things their own way on this quirky Caribbean island. The place may be hard to figure out, but with the dazzling beaches, great restaurants, and luxury resorts, it is easy to love Anguilla.” Unspoiled beaches are plentiful on this oft-unknown island. Enjoy huge a lobster for dinner, or have a candle-lit feast on the boat while taking in the Milky Way galaxy. While exploring the island, have some bar-b-que from a roadside vendor, if you like. Anguilla offers some of the most scenic vistas found anywhere in the Caribbean.
Named St. Barthelemy, after Christopher Columbus’ brother, St. Bart’s is known as a playground for the rich and famous. During the summer months, female sea turtles are known to use the shores of St. Bart’s to lay their eggs. Good diving and snorkeling are plentiful here, too. If you like, we can also arrange deep-sea fishing for marlin, tuna, wahoo and dorado. The most beautiful beach on St. Barts, Colombier, cannot be reached by car, which makes it just perfect for us! Enjoy an afternoon on a secluded beach with good swimming and snorkeling. What could be better?
We have also done trips in Cuba. However sailing in Cuba is not for the faint of heart.