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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

Sacramento...
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21. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

We are going July 13-20 how do you find out which boat you will be on? Also wasn't expecting to spend the $ to do the exchange than the point and another $925 ea when we board... But reading the reviews I guess it will be worth it...

I booked flights through the amex travel & i got our flights from Sacramento to Tortola we are flying first class on American total cost $2787.78 for both of us (well we are on cape air from San Juan to Tortola) but booked all on the Amex website...

Also we are staying at the Sebastian's hotel the 12 th than again after the cruise on the 20th...

Little concerned about hurricane season, every year is different so we are just gonna be hoping for the best! Its for my hubby's 55th birthday & he says now that we have additional cost it my 41st bday gift lol

I say ya right we shall see when my bday comes .... his is July 9th so this is his gift... ;)

Portland, Oregon
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22. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

As a solo Did you have to pay a double occupancy fee?

Jacksonville Beach...
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23. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Did you have a wonderful trip? Any suggestions? We leave in just under two weeks with one week in the USVI before going out with Tradewinds.

Anchorage, Alaska
1 post
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24. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

I read in Tom's 2011 trip report that Tradewinds attempts to match the guests for the trip. The way Tom describes it, that would be awesome. I'm a solo traveler and would prefer to not be the only solo traveler amongst couples. Any idea if Tradewinds still does matching?

Jacksonville Beach...
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25. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

We are heading on our first Tradewinds trip in the BVI on Saturday. I'll try to let you know when we return. They didn't ask our ages though so I don't know how they'd know.

Jacksonville Beach...
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26. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

We just got back from our Tradewinds trip in the BVI two days ago. Apparently they match travellers when they are members so that those who prefer to dive have a more extensive dive trip, big time snorkelers are with others of like mind etc. Our boat had three couples who had traded via RCI (we were one of those) and one couple who bought outright. We were on the original cat, Turquiose Dreams, and had a great time. Even though we didn't know the other couples when we started, the group (mostly) bonded quickly and are now fast friends. One couple had some issues (not sure what they were as we tried to distance oursleves from them when things got nasty) and were asked to leave the boat mid cruise (I think they had threatened our captain). Certainly not the fault of the captain or her first mate. Finnoula and Kiernan are fabulous! They handled the situation well and the rest of us had a wonderful trip. Turquiose Dreams and Coral Dreams are older boats and did not have a/c. Turquiose is headed to St. Marteen where they haven't decided what to do with it. They have replaced it with a beautiful new cruising class boat that looks so much more comfortable! We had a forward cabin which had drawbacks in the "v'" shaped bed which was tight but we could leave our bathroom hatch open when it rained where others could not...which was a blessing. I think the new boats all have "walk around" beds. Pack VERY lightly but include lots of sunblock, face block, lip stuff and a bit of bug repelant! Space is limited and you wear bathing suits and t-shirt type stuff most of the time. You have two meals ashore and food on the islands is pricey...dinner for two of us (no alcohol) was $80 at Sydney's Peace and Love (had we known what we got was the same price as the lobster we would have gotten the lobster which all had to be at least 3 lbs!) and was a more reasonable $30 at the Gennaker our last night back at the marina. It is certainly a trip of a lifetime! Finn even took us for a night snorkel and the water was bioluminescent which was AMAZING!!!! I suggest flying in to St. Thomas and taking the fast ferry to Tortola (come at least a day ahead to make the connections smothly). The sales pitch was a bit trying though we were tempted....we just have so many other vacation options that we passed on it.

Ottawa
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27. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

We had Jack and Jamie as crew when we sailed with Tradewinds in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I can attest to their skill and their enthusiasm. We loved the experience so much that we did buy into the membership and went to Belize last year. We are now planning our third trip and are looking at the BVIs. Thanks for the report. It would be great if Jack and Jamie were still there in 2015!!

Los angeles
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28. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

November is touted as the rainiest month.....if no hurricane, does that just mean a short downpour and then good weather ???or full days of rain

Cullman, Alabama...
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29. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

Tom

Great report!!! Thank you. We (4 couples) were in the BVI the same time as this report doing bareboat trip on a 50' voyager. My wife and I have decided to do the trip again. The couple that was with us last time had the sailing certificate but are unable to go this time. Thus the crewed charter. If you think of anything else that may be helpful, I would enjoy hearing from you.

Thanks

David

Palatine, Illinois
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30. Re: Tradewinds Cruise Club, Tortola - trip report

I am curious- we are going on a cruise in early November- and what is the standard tip? Not planning on carrying much cash...

Thanks!