The economic breezes are beginning to blow again. Yes, they’re still a bit fluky, but don’t let that keep you in port. Because swirling with them are deals and bargains, making this one of the best times to sign on for a Caribbean charter. Keeping a tropical sail-away simple and affordable can be a piece of Johnny cake if you stick to a plan and a few price-cutting principals.
Let your fingers do the walking:
Research the internet to compare the latest and greatest price cuts. The economy might be confused, but the charter companies aren’t. They want your business and they’ve devised some generous ways to get it.
A tab on the Moorings website titled “Special Offers” recently took visitors to money saving discounts as deep as 30%. The BVI’s Voyage Charters’ theme, “Let us pick your dates to lower your rates,” sent a clear message; if you charter, you will save. A bit of digging on the Sunsail site unearthed several money-saving treasures along with their steadfast price guarantee to match all bargains better than their own. On a different tack, CYOA offered guests ten nights for the price of seven. Special deals are, of course, subject to availability and will change frequently—so check often and grab fast.
By passing up optional full-meal provisioning packages usually offered, you can eliminate waste for items you won’t use and definitely don’t need. Convenient, pre-packaged plans will fill your lockers but might leave you with leftovers you never even opened.
We met a couple recently who ended their week long voyage with bags of untouchables that included ketchup, canned vegetables, instant coffee and perennially preserved cheese. They had managed to consume all the fresh items and beer which, obviously, was all they really needed.
Others cruisers we met ended with enough juice and soft drinks to quench the thirst of a cricket team. And another crew finished up with a cooler of mis-matched remains that included ten packs of hotdogs but not one bun.
You won’t have to shop till you drop, but a few hours spent in the pursuit of groceries can net big savings. Ask around for local knowledge. Try islanders’ favorite stores, where you’ll find affordable, local products like plantain and mangoes, island-raised chicken and beef, today’s catch and baked goods. Do-it-yourself shopping will take a bit more time but you’ll meet friendly faces and you just might learn the secrets of cooking goat and ground provisions.
Guide your own tour:
Get to know your destination before you leave home. Study cruising guides, travel books and websites to find the hotspots, events, natural wonders and beaches you won’t want to miss. Armed with ample information you can be your own tour director, making your adventure remarkable and affordable. Yes, local knowledge can be invaluable or even mandatory, and using a pro is sometimes smart. But often doing-it-yourself can be even better.
Catch a ride:
Taxis are uber-convenient but they can drive up the tab of your trip so consider taking the bus. Most islands have efficient public transportation, usually in the form of mini-vans. Antigua’s system allows riders to explore the island with stops anywhere and everywhere, all for just a few bucks. Riding with the locals can be informative, entertaining and downright humorous. Best of all, you’ll hear some great music.
The islands are renowned for fine cuisine that’ll leave you satisfied—but your wallet will be starving. To avoid the drain, go in search of small wooden buildings emitting jump-up music and enticing smells. Barbeque stands, shacks and funky snackettes offer grilled fish, chicken, ribs, roti and other Caribbean favorites. Our favorites are the Lolo’s at St. Marten’s Grand Case where, for $10, you’ll get a plate of real island food as big as any appetite.
Host your happy hours:
The best bargain in the islands is booze, but only if you buy and pour it yourself. Consider hosting sundowners on your own yacht rather than running to shore. Invite the neighbors, if you dare, and you might just meet your new best friends. It’s a great venue for swapping anchorage tips, shopping finds and a chest full of sea stories every sailor loves to tell.
Thankfully, there’s a silver lining to this economic cloud and it’s one you can keep in your pockets. If your plans to charter have been in dry storage, break them loose and sign up now for an affordable trip you won’t want to miss.
Jan Hein divides her time between Washington State and a small wooden boat in the Caribbean.
How to Charter a Boat!
Congratulations! You’re on your way to one of the BEST adventures you will ever have in your life!
We’ve taken some time and spoken to many experts to bring you a collection of Tips and Tricks on “How to Charter a Boat.” We’ve spoken to Bareboat Charter Experts as well as the Crewed Charter Companies.
The focus for this series is on “Boats” which we would categorize as anything UNDER 80′ or roughly 25 meters. When you are chartering a Yacht (Over 80 feet or > 25 Meters) the game changes.
These tips and tricks apply no matter where in the world you intend to Charter. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in the Caribbean or Washington, North Carolina. Hey – let’s face it… It’s “five o’clock somewhere.” (Thanks Jimmy Buffett)
Now… I have to warn you… Once you start chartering, it’s hard to stop! There’s just too many wonderful memories and too many amazing places to visit.
Of course, we’d love to hear from some of your adventures. Please share your story with All At Sea! Send us your Images and send us the story of YOUR charter adventure. Please help others learn how to charter a boat.
How to Charter a Boat – TIPS and TRICKS
- What to Charter? Power OR Sail? Monohull OR Catamaran?
- Chartering WithOUT Blowing the Budget
- Where to Charter a Boat to St. Somewhere
- What to Take on a Charter Boat
- Set Your Expectations to “Go With the Flow”
- FIVE Tips for a SAFER Charter Vacation
- Here’s a Handy List of Bareboat Charter Companies
- Here’s a Handy List of CREWED Charter Companies
- Here’s a Handy List of Fishing Charter Companies
- Even a Handy List of Day Boat Charter Companies (if you want to try it out…)
Comments and Questions are always appreciated! We’ll be looking for new ideas to bring to you!