Q: Why the British Virgin Islands?
A: Primarily the answer is safety. Nowhere else in the world can you find such pristine sailing grounds, numerous deepwater safe havens to anchor or moor in, line of sight navigation with a true blue water sailing feel, consistent winds and very predictable weather. Add to that clear water, fabulous snorkeling, multiple island destinations, all under the umbrella of the US Coast Guard and Virgin Island Search and Rescue and you have an unbeatable place to sail and develop a lifelong love of the sea.
Q: Why do I need a travel insurance policy for medical insurance? I already have medical insurance.
A: Many policies that are carried in the States do not work well overseas. And even if you confirm that it will work in the areas you will be traveling on your LeaderSail voyage, there are still a few limitations. We like to have the additional policy in case of any major incident that would cause a need for an air ambulance to transfer a student back to the mainland US. While we never expect to use such a provision and most medical care is very good in the Virgin Islands, we like to be prepared for any situation. The knowledge that comes from knowing we can get any student back to the US, under any condition, at no additional cost is part of our safety plan. Without a recognizable insurance that covers emergency medical transportation or emergency evacuation, not only could it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the medical transport companies would likely refuse transportation altogether. It is for these reasons that we like for all of our students to have the additional policy regardless of their primary insurance.
Q: Why can’t we arrive after 3:00 pm in St. Thomas?
A: Once students land in St. Thomas, they have to catch the ferry to Tortola. The last ferry sometimes leaves by 1630, and we have to catch that ferry or work with one of two options. We can stay on St. Thomas for a night in a hotel, or we can take a smaller after hours ferry service. Planes landing after 1500 really push our ability to transport the students safely to the ferry docks in time to make the ferry. Staying on island costs around $150 to $200 more per student when hotel, transportation to hotel, dinner, cost of dinner, and other incidental expenses are considered. Transport after regular ferry hours can run as high as $175 depending on the number of travelers, but that is limited to a maximum of 12. Fees must be paid to keep customs and immigration in the BVI after hours, and transport to Red Hook (our point of embarkation) and from West End (our destination) is also more expensive. If at all possible, please make every effort to schedule an arrival on a flight arriving prior to 1500.
Q: Why do we need emergency cash or extra spending money?
A: As with any air travel, delays sometimes happen. If a plane is late arriving, students may have to spend the night in St. Thomas with a LeaderSail chaperone at one of the hotels. If a plane is delayed or a flight cancelled on departure, (rare but it can happen) the students must be prepared to spend a night again with a LeaderSail Chaperone present. Contingencies such as these are rare, but it is best to be prepared.
Q: Is the price all-inclusive, or should I send extra spending money?
A: The cost of the trip is all inclusive of ground transportation, ferry costs, meals, snacks, departure taxes, and all fees associated with the trip. Additional spending money for time ashore, souvenirs, and personal snacks or drinks is recommended. An additional $20 is recommended to be put aside as travel home money, so that students have that in reserve for the long trip home through airports where even a bottle of water may cost $4.
Q: Will my son or daughter be able to call to confirm arrival?
A: The students will be met as they come off the plane in St. Thomas. Some cell providers have reasonable rates in the US Virgin Islands. But once in the British Virgin Islands you will be roaming at almost $2.00 per minute, with text messages cost $0.50 each. Upon arriving at the LeaderSail base, we have arranged for students to be able to let family or friends know they have arrived safely and are doing well through the LeaderSail Base phone system. Students will also touch base with parents to confirm departure schedules prior to leaving Tortola. Emergency contact information will be made available to parents prior to student’s departure, so that if a need arises they can get a message to their son or daughter at almost any time.