Just returned from a 12 day charter to USVI and thought to share, may be it will help somebody.
We had a booked trip to BVI with BVIYC in January, as we do most every year. This year, you can guess was different. We watched the news with horror. Confusing quarantine rules... that our charter company struggled to explain (I guess they guessed 99% of the time). Then having to spend considerable part of vacation with ankle bracelet like a criminal... And pay $$$$ for that. Even though half of our crew already went through the COVID and have antibody test on hands... We were ready to risk it all, but when they didn't start the Ferry, we literally run out of options and said - screw it. Buying $$$$ flight from STT to Tortola for 8 ppl is not the expense we were ready to take.
I'm now kind of glad. Having tickets all paid to STT, and with clear and simple covid rules - I decided to look at USVI instead. Quickly found a charter with DreamYC on a 40 ft Bali cat. 2 families, 4 adults and 4 9-11y.o. kids.
Short verdict - it was a fabulous trip and we would do it again without hesitation.
Airport. After submitting our tests 5 days in advance and getting approved in 24-48 hours, getting through STT was quick as usual. They took the temp and looked at papers, but all very fast and effective... May be 5 extra minutes. Rum shots were in a different place in duty free store. Oh well.
Compass marina. nothing to write home about. Toilet with a key. No shower. Looong walk to the boat. Boat can't hookup to electricity because boat just got transferred from some french island. There is a very small store with ice and sodas. The bar across from office is a great place to start vacation. The owner is kinda paranoid about masks when standing, and groups more than 6... So 4 our children coming to look at the menu to our table of 4 adults - almost got us expelled... But I'm sure she had her reasons. Like government watchers everywhere. And spicy chicken is a killer.
The DreamYC. Extremely nice and easy going people. Nothing much to tell. We asked for a bigger dinghy and after some arguing got it. The tech briefing was brief, as (I guessed) the boat was not familiar to them, transferred from other islands. Not much help with planning the route. So do you homework well.
Provisioning. We brought all our steaks and meats and whatever else we can freeze with us. There is a pretty good grocery/liquor store about mile from the marina. Prices are usual island prices. Alcohol prices are not as nice as BVI. You can walk there (20 min) and taxi back.
The 2018-ish 40 Bali cat. Awesome boat. The open cockpit/deck concept works great. There is only one table and it's half inside half outside and it makes sense a lot on a smaller boat. The seating space in front instead of nets - is also great. Full size fridge will spoil you for life. And water maker. It has water maker, and you can't really charter without water maker on USVI. There is no water (or any marinas at all we could find on St.John!!!!)
The mooring fees - $26. There are pay stations in almost every bay, and you have to stick exactly $26 into the envelope, and drop the envelope into the metal pole-looking container. They were all full, and very difficult to stick envelope in. I would guess nobody emptied them for a week or more.
The mooring were all taken by I say 3-4pm. Charter guy told us they transfered a lot of boats into USVI, as many people switched from BVI this year. We basically sailed from 11 to noon. Most of sailing was 1-2 hours at most.
The route. After researching a lot - we completely skipped the St.Thomas for St. John and St. Croix. I was expecting the company to be finiky about St. Croix, but they didn't care at all. GRRRREAT!
So went around St.John first - and everything is soo close there. Caneel bay is less than an hour from marina. There is awesome Zozo resort there. Need reservation for dinner and no reservation for drinks. Drinks are pricy but atmosphere and the view well worth it.
Not many other restaurants or bars on the island. There is bar in Trunk bay, and some restaurants in Coral bay and Cruz bay and that's about it.
Caneel bay, Maho bay, Lemishur bay - all are great for multi day stay. There is some food during the day in Maho bay, just one stand, but it's just hod-dogs and such, terrible quality, and at 5* prices. Take a taxi to Cruz bay instead. $7pp. See the island (the drive is absolutely stunning) and fine dine and drink in Cruz bay for half of what you'll spend in Maho. There are couple of awesome beach bars there also.
You can also dinghy to Cruz bay from Caneel bay.
You can dinghy to Trunk bay from Maho bay. Trunk bay is fine, but I would never guess it's "the best in western hemisphere". I guess it's just a trap for tourists... I've seen a dozen of prettier beaches in VI.
Stingrays are guaranteed to see in Francis/Maho, near the boats in front of the Zozo. Including huge black with white dots one I've never seen before.
Don't miss Anaberg mill ruins from Maho or the next bay (the one facing Tortola).
Take in the view from Anaberg ruins with not a single boat on BVI side you can see (JVD, Tortola, Norman...). Did not see a single sailing BVI boat in an hour we've been there.
Coral bay is strange. I think they moved Lime out floating bar from were it was promised in the book. It's now right near the village. We opted for trip ashore instead. Dolphin market is a crowded little store with pretty good selection. BUT NO DINGHY DOCK. We just couldn't believe it. No dinghy dock. Like they didn't know about charter thing at all.... And then on top of that - they only have paper bags. Add those two facts together and you have a great chance of spilling your groceries all over the ocean Truly bizzare choices by shop owner.
We went to Skinny Legs for dinner. Burgers were great, but not much else on the menu.
The mooring/anchoring situation near the village is strange. Basically no moorings we could identify as available for us. We ended up on the moorings by the hurricane hole, with a healthy 20+ min ride from the village. With the waves. And paper grocery bags.
We went to St.Croix from Coral bay. Took us about 6 hours under sails, pretty calm seas, 15-18knts wind exactly from port side. Bali did 6 to 8 knts with some extensive trimming.
St. Croix is cool to visit. There is town made for tourists and mostly empty of tourists now. Boardwalk and town has many restaurants and bars. The Fort is closed. There is a marina with fuel, not sure about water. Marina is in bad shape, like Irma was ysterday. Or, and ship wrecks everywhere in the port.
We took a taxi and went to the Domino club, where you feed cans of beer to the pigs. Yes to the pigs, and you pay for it. And they have simple but great food - ribs and smoked pork. It was a great trip to the middle of the island. Which is much bigger than all other VIs. We went through Fredireksted on the way back, and I'm not sure why go there. It's like one street, not that great looking, and everything closed now, when cruise ships don't go there. It's not the same as St.THomas/little switzerland district at all.
We stayed two nights on St. Croix/Christiansted. And that's all it needs. I suspect one CAN sail around the island, just like around St.John. There are plenty of nice bays on the map. But I could not find any guides for charters, and decided to not risk it.
Sail back to St.John Lemishur bay was also 6 hours with wind on starboard side.
Lookup petroglyphs near Lemishur bay/Genti bay. They are from 900AC, and the spot and pond there is absolutely fabulous and worth the hike. There is also pretty cool ruins in Genti bay. But there is only two moorings there, and lots of coral. So you can stay in Lemishur bay and walk (pretty steep hike, not unlike high route in Cinquaterra in Italy), or dinghy into Genti bay, and from there it's easy walk.
Conclusion. It was a great trip, and all our crew glad we were pushed by circumstances to try this new route. BVI was great and comfortable and familiar, but with extra hustle of ferry, and fees, and controls, and usually need for hotel on STT the night of arrival... We will absolutely do BVI/USVI 50/50 now. As I'm sure most of the people who tried USVI this year.
BVI government really shoot their businesses in the foot with all the confusing rules, and treating tourists as convicts, and not being able to build a second testing station for the ferry, having about 8 month to do so.... I'm afraid to think how many businesses will go bust there.
That looks amazing!! At least we don't have to print out the cruise schedule, so we know what times to travel in and out of Beachside villa's from Beacon Hill!!! To Orient2runner, how's this photo for ya????
After so many years with one guy, who we liked a lot. We tried SAX car rental. Three years ago, we're booked with them again for this March/April trip. The service was better and the rates, well most of the rates are close to each other! You can also use your MOTC card for a discount!! We love the service from Cindy and Anil Puran! OH, another thing, all there cars have GPS, should your car get stolen!! Again, service made us change!!
We didn't do this, but I have heard from others that if you don't submit a test with your initial application you will at some point receive an email with a link that lets you upload the test to your existing application.
How do you read this, Scubaman? I've been searching various government, CDC, and travel websites and I can't find anything that requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine for U.S. citizens who return to the states, unless they knowingly have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. The President's executive order from 1/21/21 gives the new Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Transportation 14 days to assess the order and determine if further steps are necessary. It may hinge on where someone is traveling from (such as a Level '4' COVID country). But, a negative 'viral' test within the 72 hour window of their return looks like a lock. The executive order reverts back to the enhanced CDC guidelines on January 12th and from that I could not find any mandatory quarantine requirements. Of course, with all of this going on personally I would wait before I travel internationally.
The last thing I want to be is negative - for sure - especially as an owner of a Charter PowerCat in the BVI - like, the BVI NEEDS to open, from a business stance!
But - let's think about this. IMHO - I think that the US would need to reach "heard immunity" level before other countries relax covid guidelines - same would go for non US citizens visiting the US.
When would that happen? Great Question
Vaccines are a cluster in the US. I personally don't think this will be completed until maybe Q4 of 2021 - maybe - and this needs to a "global" accomplishment before you see restrictions at the borders start to diminish.
With all that context - I don't think the restrictions will diminish any time soon in the BVIs
We are going down to BVIs arriving on 2/11, departing on 2/22. It's just my family that will be going.
But - let's think about this from a cup half full stance. You have to 4 day quarantine upon arrival, which can be done in 12 different areas of the BVIs. You can't go ashore, stay close to the boat. But - you are in the BVIs, with a beverage of your choice, books, games and the opportunity to ask family/friends - how are they doing and be able to actually talk about it. Let's be real. That doesn't suck.
Then on day 4 with negative test - make the most out of it! Even if you need to leave on day 7 guess what? Your day 4 test checks the box to get back into the US.
Again - I really need the BVI's to get back to where folks can do a 1 week charter/vacation and it make sense logistically. Big time!
AGAIN, as I said, NO organized parties for Heineken. That's the difference, versus limiting crowds to "only" 4,000 people. And while they say they are not going to allow jump-ups at Carnival, you can bet they will happen anyway.
Starting Thursday, January 28, Divi Little Bay will be providing testing at the resort on Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. in the hospitality room for $125 per person, which will be billed to your room to be paid at the end of your stay. Guests can sign up for testing upon arrival to the resort by providing their name, date of birth, and e-mail address. Once the tests are completed, they will be taken to the laboratory for testing, and results will be available within 24 hours. For assistance with on-site testing on alternate days, please contact the Front Desk.
J..how is the Indigo House bar? Hoping they might consider bringing Kapeye back to play there..
It's great. Very quaint, nicely decorated, and best bartender in CGB! Actually, there are 2 great bartenders there but one has been out from behind the bar for a long time! I'll let you guess who but to find out, you'll have to travel!
We spent the past three weeks at Belair and confirm that the facility did all the things mentioned in the article. Sadly, occupancy was less than 25%. Many days we had the beach almost to ourselves. Felt safer in SXM than in the USA. All employees wore masks all the time. Found the same thing in the restaurants, grocery stores, and shops.
The building next to Belair is an expansion of Divi. We watched amazing progress daily during our time in SXM. Can't imagine being an owner of a house or property now facing the back of that building rather than Little Bay.
That is interesting. They've hired the man, Geoffrey Cox - former UK Attorney General, who stood up to Boris Johnson by telling him that what he was trying to do as part of leaving the European Union was illegal. So the BVI Government has hired someone sacked for upholding the law while under enormous pressure. One of the most principled people around!