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“A family vacation you will never forget!”
Review of Sunsail

Sunsail
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“A family vacation you will never forget!”
Reviewed July 30, 2013

Chartered a 39' monohull sailboat from Sunsail in Roadtown, Tortola BVI for a week. Traveling with my wife, our 2 children (19 and 21 yrs old) and two 'stowaways' (friends of the kids), we arrived late on a Friday night after having flight issues. The staff was ready and waiting for us to check in. A little disorganized and no one available to help with luggage, but we were just happy to have a place to lay our heads for the night. Next morning, I went back to the main desk and had all my questions quickly and politely answered. There was an organized 'briefing' for all boat Captains and First Mates that was quick but informative.

We contacted Bobby's Market in Roadtown (via Web) to provision our boat. All groceries arrived promptly at 8AM Saturday morning as requested. They did a fine job of filling our requirements and we (mostly) did a good job estimating how much food we would need. Recommendation: get more bottled water than you think you will need! We supplemented our groceries along the way and had to get ice every day.

We rented a blender from Renport (on the dock at Sunsail). It was a 12v model that just did not have the high speed and strength necessary to make frozen drink concoctions properly. It just ground up the ice into small pieces. Pretty much a waste of $$.

Also paid for a fishing license and rented spinning equipment from 'Last Stop Sports' (also on the dock at Sunsail). Another waste of $$ since it was difficult to fish while sailing and not much around (for fish) at mooring sites. This is only worth it if you are serious about fishing.

The boat was approx 5 years old and in great condition. A few minor problems, but nothing that impacted the trip. The return process was easy and painless. Sunsail arranged for transport back to the airport and allowed us to use the spa facilities to shower before our flight home.

My son was the only experienced sailor in our group, and we were a little nervous about piloting a large sailboat with our limited skills, so we hired a Captain (from Sunsail) for a few hours to show us the ropes (no pun intended!). Derek was patient, instructive and confidence building as he helped us navigate out of the marina and showed us the correct procedures to pick up a mooring, anchor the boat and navigate from island to island. We were able to drop him off at Peter Island where he could catch a ferry back to Roadtown. Cost was very reasonable ($175 for the day plus ferry fare and gratuity).

Navigation is 'line of sight' and weather was beautiful, so our biggest problem was just deciding which beautiful spot to visit next! We (like most people) did a counter-clockwise circle around Tortola, visiting Peter Island, Cooper Island, Virgin Gorda, Beef Island (full moon party was fun!), Jost Van Dyke, Norman Island and back to Peter Island for the night before our charter ended. We had no problem finding mooring balls and had quiet comfortable nights for all except one. A large catamaran moored nearby at Norman Island decided to party until 3AM, blasting loud music for every boat in the bay to enjoy (not).

The only surprise on the trip was the high cost of everything you purchase in BVI. Groceries, Ice, Water, restaurant meals, drinks, souvenirs, etc are all double (or more) what you would pay for them in the US.

The best part of the trip was after we settled in and got our sea legs... spending time with our children disconnected from the world was worth every penny! Go and enjoy!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank BostonGuy99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
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English first
Garstang, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
352 reviews
117 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
“First cruise in the BVI's”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

We'd cruised the Grenadines a couple of times and had been put off going to the BVI's by stories of crowded ancorages etc. Going at the start of the season maybe helped but we had no issues finding moorings, even when rocking up quite late. It is a great sailing area with good winds, although fairly short passages (which meant we could get plenty of diving in as well).

Our connecting flight from Antigua was delayed (a common occurence I'm led to believe) and when we arrived at Tortola airport it was late and pouring with rain. There wasn't really enough room in the transport laid on some many people got wet as did baggage. That was the worst, from there on in it was very good. The base was pretty well organised, given the number of people turning up at the same time and all briefings were good. Pre ordering provisions is definately a good idea. The yacht was fairly well maintained (it was a premier though) - we did have a minor problem with wind instruments that the maintenance crew didn't want to fix and also the tender leaked badly. It was supposed to be replaced at Scrub Island but the engineer obviously didn't want to swap it for his so he tried a running repair which didn't hold. Neither of these caused any serious issues. In summary great sailing, a good boat and good enough base crew. Were going back so it must have been OK!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank DickBurton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Nice holiday once you finally get out of the base”
Reviewed April 11, 2013

When you arrive at the base, you will be greeted by two rude women who will keep telling you that your boat is not ready. In our case, we had pushed the start date back two days at a cost of £285, so the boat should have been sitting waiting for us. First were told that there had been a switch so our boat had only just come in and was not the one sitting empty next to the bar, then we were told that the decks needed cleaning and they did not want us to slip, then finally we got the key, only to discover it was indeed the boat we had been staring at next to the bar for 6 hours that no-one had touched. Oh and someone admitted the decks were cleaned yesterday! I know you want to make money out of the drinks, but please don't lie to us so blatantly. Ok, all good. Well, no. Turns out port head blocked. Stove not working. So ready to go next morning. Erm, no. Someone starts working on the port engine - hang on, that was not even on the snagging list? 2.30pm, still working on port engine. Finally we can go (only lost half a day of our £1k a day boat). All good. Well, no. So no-one actually fixed the port head after all, oh and the stove did not work, so we have to eat out. Wait, they gave us the wrong key so we can't lock the boat. What a complete shambles. We will come to you in the morning sir. Sit around for a few hours, get bored. Sorry sir, where are you going next? Arrive at next destination, sit around for a few hours, get bored, go to bar. Eventually they turn up. Head fixed on day 3. Don't worry sir, on this occasion we will not charge you as a one off gesture. Doh! At least the engines must be in top shape. Well, no. Port side under revving so that wait in the marina was not worth it either. Since booking, I admit that all reviews told me to go to Moorings and avoid Sunsail. Probably ok for flotilla (have used Neilson before who were excellent but not Sunsail so can't comment) but if you want a bareboat cat, there are a host of companies to choose from so worth shopping around and checking on the various forums. I did that a little too late. That said, I have always found the Sunsail head office in Port Solent very good so will probably drop them a line and post an update if I hear back :)

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank Richard24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greenville, SC
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great Experience - Second Time Around”
Reviewed April 4, 2013

I regret not sharing this sooner.

We chartered with a Sunsail flotilla for the second time around last year. First - if you're provisioning yourself, make sure you shop the day of your charter and TAKE the stuff with you directly to the boat, if possible. Otherwise, have Sunsail help you with the provisioning. We didn't and had a bad experience with one of the grocery stores.

Our boat was a Jeneau 36i, specially outfitted for charter service. The electronics were very nice, the galley spotless. We felt the holding tank was a bit stinky, but it was easily solved with a chemically-perfume. Our previous charter was in 2009 and we had a Beneteau Oceanis 343. It felt like a bigger boat but wasn't rigged as nice. The Beneteau offered some features we missed on the 36i.

The lead crew on Gambas was great. There was a punch party the first night on Marina Cay where we all got to know each other. As the week went by (way too quickly), we relied on the engineer, hostess and skipper to help us pick up mooring balls. They were always available to assist, many times without question. THIS is why we like the Sunsail Flotillas.

A word about flights: We fly into St. Thomas the day before the flotilla starts. We stay at Maria's By the Sea that night (I encourage you to check out Pusser's Restaurant in Road Town). We do some shopping and relaxing the day we go to pick up the boat.

On departure day, I suggest transferring to a hotel again (you have to leave the boat fairly early in the morning). This way, you can chill with a beer, reflect and do laundry before you fly out the next day.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank FlyTheBug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“2 week BVI Flotilla”
Reviewed March 9, 2013

Just returned from a 2 week BVI flotilla. Fantastic sailing, excellent lead boat/ team. Very professional sailing lead skipper and helpful engineer. Helpful engineer needed as there were significant unsorted boat maintenance issues. Tui additionally, need to sort out 1 significant aspect of their "holiday experience" for me to return any time soon:
Need to organise better flights to and from Tortola. They offer one flight only from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic. Any other flights need to be booked independently and they explicitly will not guarantee arrivals etc if not booked through themselves. As I live in Manchester and Tui aka Thomson offer a direct Manchester - Barbados flight, I cannot understand why this was not forthcoming? Instead, their only option was: get from Manchester to London Gatwick on your own, fly London Gatwick to Antigua ( worst airport I have ever travelled through and I have travelled extensively. Had to go through Immigration and then immediately exit through Emigration, where four separate families (some with infants) were sent to the back of a very long queue, in the steamy heat for missing one line of a repetitive entry and then exit document!). then it was a Liat flight to Tortola. Wait for the return nightmare: Tortola to Antigua. Same ridiculous form filling in duplicate, surly, rude immigration/ emigration staff, followed by a Virgin flight that left Antigua, to touch down in Barbados ( 3 hours extra added, collecting more passengers and refueling, changed to this deviation after booking!) and then on to Gatwick etc. For a holiday costing, on average £6000 per couple, Tui and Virgin this is just not good enough. the BVI however is filled with charming, polite people, happy to be alive and very welcoming. the sailing was great as was the company. Tui, in future, please sort: Thomson Manchester - Barbados, Liat Barbados - Tortola or we'll be choosing Greece and Turkey for sailing in future.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
9 Thank 222Traveller222
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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