Our day on the water with the Aristocat and her crew was, without a doubt, definitely the highlight of our recent Caribbean cruise. The boat was skippered by Gilbo and Emily and their experience, gracious hospitality and friendly demeanor definitely helped to make the experience a memorable one.
We were on a somewhat limited schedule as our cruise ship docked at 8 AM and was departing at 3:30 PM so we had to make the best of our time. The Aristocat and crew picked us promptly at the tender dock at 9 AM and we headed out with 17 passengers. Captain Wooster likes to limit his trips to around 20 folks for a relaxed and uncrowded experience, exactly what I was looking for.
The first snorkel site was at "The Indians" close to Norman Island. What an incredible and amazing snorkeling experience! Aristocat provides you with the snorkel, mask and fins you'll need, plus flotation "noodles" and a sea kayak if you should so desire to use them. The gear was in relatively good condition. After we finished the first snorkel site we moved a bit closer to Norman Island and moored aways off from "The Caves" for the second snorkel. Not three minutes into it we spotted a 4 foot sea turtle swimming about 10 feet below us - wow! Amazing.
After the snorkel we returned to the Aristocat where Gilbo and Emily had their legendary buffet lunch and rum punch ready for us. Chicken dogs, bean salad, potato salad, fresh fruit, curried devil eggs, cold cuts, breads, cole slaw, etc. All freshly prepared aboard the boat while we snorkeled and built up our appetite. Of note, many charters or tours hold off on letting you drink alcoholic beverages until the tour is over and you're returning to the home site. Not so with Aristocat where you are treated like a responsible adult - beer, along with sodas and water, was available from the start and no one abused it.
We had hoped to hit a third snorkel site after lunch but due to our time constraint and a long lunch we had to return to Road Town in order to board our cruise ship. No matter, the day was incredible as it was. Everyone aboard agreed that the Aristocat charter had been an awesome and fun filled day and one of the best Caribbean excursions they had ever done. We will definitely do this again on our next visit.
What I liked best: the casual and very friendly atmosphere. Limited passenger capacity (tops out at twenty) to provide an uncrowded and relaxing atmosphere as an alternative to many other charters where they're packing in 40+ people on a loud party atmosphere boat. Great food and limitless cold beverages.
What I liked least: that we had to return for our 3:30 PM cruise ship departure.
Bring: cameras (underwater), sun block, sunglasses, hat and your sense of adventure and fun. Cash or check only. No credit/debit cards.
When we began planning our October 2013 visit to Tortola back in April of 2013, I knew that I wanted to do something incredibly fun on the water, preferably having to do with sailing and snorkeling and without a lot of people making noise. I began researching the options and Aristocats kept appearing as one of the best options. I contacted Captain Steve Wooster via email and told him that myself and two friends would be arriving in October and wanted to book. Steve informed me that we needed a minimum of ten to sail and suggested that I post an ad on CruiseCritic and on Facebook (cruise specific group) I did so and within one week we had the maximum twenty people. Several months later Steve offered up his second boat, The Lionheart, as we had received several more inquiries about sailing. Long story / short, I worked with Captain Wooster over the seven months prior to our cruise to arrange two groups of approximately 18 passengers, all from our Carnival Breeze ship. It was a real pleasure working with him on this.
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