Non-leisurely Virgin Islands cruises

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 25-August 1, 1996
Non-leisurely Virgin Islands cruises
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Adventure Grants for lucky teens
Northwestern Ontario sights and sounds
Visiting Apostle Islands by kayak

Non-leisurely Virgin Islands cruises
Question: I am very interested in going on a Windjammer cruise to the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands next spring. Can you give me a suggestion for a reputable cruise company to deal with? I am not interested in the leisurely, all-you-can-eat cruises but one that focuses on physical activities such as snorkeling and beach parties, etc. Thanks.

Robin Strelow
Fort Collins, CO
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Well, Robin, it's really just a matter of personal preference. If you want a more laid-back, off-the-beaten track sailing vacation, consider Yankee Schooner Cruises' seven-day trips aboard their 112-foot, 30-passenger Roseway through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The focus here is on keeping things simple and low-key. If you're the salty-dog type who wants to brush up on your sailing terms and fundamentals, there's ample opportunity.

Or, if you'd rather leave the wheel to the captain, opt to spend your time relaxing or, when anchored, swimming or snorkeling. Usually you're sailing for about half the day, with the other half spent in ports. They carry a sailboard and snorkel equipment on board and can arrange for dive trips if you're interested. Bottom line: With only 30 passengers, the Roseway is the next best thing to chartering your own boat--and the food's pretty darn good, too. Evenings are spent relaxing with a good book, playing Scrabble with the other passengers, or singing along with a guitar-playing crew member. For more details on their $995-per-person cruises, as well as a 1997 trip schedule, call 800-255-4449.

If, on the other hand, you're serious about the beach party element, you may want to consider the decidedly more mainstream Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, Ltd. The boats are bigger--anywhere from 70 to 130 passengers--and the emphasis is definitely on group festivities and island activities rather than sailing. Most of the actual sailing is done after midnight, so you'll have all day to explore the various islands and ports, sign on to local dive operations, or just lie around like a big lazy coconut in the sun.

There are theme events every night on deck, everything from toga parties to costume parties to dance-a-thons. They also offer "Singles Only" cruises, with a 50-50 men-to-women ratio; these apparently book up way in advance, so act fast if that interests you. Basic rates for a week-long British Virgin Islands cruise is $825 per person, not including airfare to Tortola. For more details, call them at 800-327-2601.

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