The heart of the sailing area is in the British Virgin Islands, and we think there are a lot of good reasons to begin the program there. Here are some things to consider:
Greater capacity in the BVI: Coast Guard regulations in the U.S. Virgin Islands only allow us to carry six guests per yacht. Since most of our yachts are 8-passenger yachts, placing only six guests aboard increases the per person cost. Additionally, many of our yachts are solely based in the BVI and do not pick up in St. Thomas. Therefore, in order to offer large group capacity, most programs begin in Tortola. One caveat - this does not apply to the Mega Yacht Fleet.
No Customs/Immigration once you're onboard: Whether you embark from St. Thomas or Tortola, you'll spend most of your time in the BVI. We think it's easier to avoid all of the Customs clearance that a St. Thomas departure requires. When embarking from St. Thomas, there are two Customs clearances once aboard the yachts, entering the BVI (which the captain handles) and re-entering the USVI (where guests must go through Customs/Immigration).
You fly right into island time: Although flying to Tortola is an extra "air leg", once you land, you know you are someplace different. No McDonald's, no traffic jams, no throngs of people. Plus once you're out of the airport, the boarding location can be as little as 5 minutes away.
What if we are doing a Land and Sea Getaway and the resort is in St. Thomas? That's easy. We can arrange for private water taxis or a private ferry to bring you to West End, Tortola to board the yachts. The travel time is 30 minutes. If your group is less than 50 people, we might be able to arrange for a St. Thomas pick-up.
Are the flights to Tortola more expensive than St. Thomas? Our experience is that Tortola flights may only be $30-100 more pp. Private ferries from St. Thomas are more than that. Consider the convenience of getting off the plane and having the yachts be less than a 5-minute transfer.