Each year, hundreds of thousands of people make the decision to visit the Caribbean for the first time aboard a cruise ship. In places like St. Thomas in the the US Virgin Islands, there are days during high season when mega ships inundate the ports so completely, that the cruise ship passengers outnumber the island’s population! Crowds, traffic, stress and noise…isn’t that what you want to take a vacation from? We think that a charter yacht vacation is a far superior alternative and the best way to really experience the magical beauty and charm of the Caribbean. So, we came up with our top 10 reasons for you to break away from the cruise ship herd, stop taking mediocre vacations and start planning the trip of a lifetime…

10.  Crowds

Cruise ships are being built bigger and bigger these days. The latest mega ship can carry over 6,000 passengers! The result is everywhere you go on board a cruise ship  you are surrounded by other people, usually while you are waiting in a long line to dine, to get off or on the ship or to view entertainment. On a crewed charter yacht, it’s just you and your friends or family, floating to secluded anchorages and beaches, far from the maddening crowds.

9.  Sick Boats

It seems that every time you turn on the news there is another story of a cruise ship with a gastrointestinal out-break due to norovirus and stranded at sea or quarantined at port. Cruise ships are vulnerable because of the large number of people confined to a limited space while dining and mingling together, experts say. Guests boarding a crewed charter yacht will find a spotlessly clean, well ventilated vessel awaiting them, one that has not had thousands of people aboard previous to their trip.

8.  Mediocre Food

Although cruise ship food is plentiful, it is also mediocre and mass produced. The menus are created to feed large crowds, not individuals. Guests aboard charter yachts receive preference sheets before their sail begins and the opportunity to express their exact food likes and dislikes as well as their individual preferences for particular brands and labels of soda, beer, liquor and wine. The chefs aboard iYachtClub’s featured Caribbean charter yachts are some of the best in the industry and produce the sort of award-winning gourmet cuisine that rival the top restaurants in the world.

7.   Announcements

All day long, from morning till night, announcements are broadcast to every corner of the cruise ship. There are fire drills, too! If you are looking for uninterrupted peace and quiet during your Caribbean cruise vacation then you will need to get off the ship each day and take an excursion -at an additional cost. Hmmm…perhaps there’s a method to their madness! On your crewed charter yacht, you can play your own iPod music on the sound system, or you can just sit and listen to the wind in the sails as you head to the next amazing Caribbean destination.

6.  Excursion Costs

Every stop along the cruise ship’s itinerary offers many choices for excursions, all at an additional cost. A trip to a beach, a snorkel tour, a whale watching trip, a scuba diving expedition, a kayaking or paddle boarding activity…these tend to cost from $65 to $100 per/person. On a crewed charter yacht all of these excursions are offered aboard, are included and are available anytime you want – right off the back of the boat! Most charter yachts carry a vast assortment of fun water toys to keep everyone entertained.

5.  Floating Skyscrapers

A cruise ship passenger can spend their entire time aboard and never see the ocean up close or swim in it. With decks 4 to 6 stories and hundreds of feet above the waterline there is little sense of being close to the surrounding natural beauty. Aboard a charter yacht, guests have the opportunity for a far more intimate relationship with the Caribbean.The decks are only a few feet from the water – great for photographing the dolphins that often swim in the bow wakes. iYachtClub’s featured charter yachts also have swim platforms designed to give guests the freedom to dive into the water whenever they want. Midnight swim anyone?

4.  Tourist Traps

The cruise ships and the excursions that they sell and promote on board typically go to the most popular places, crowded with other cruise ships and tourists. The restaurants, bars and shops tend to be very generic and homogenized in order to attract the most tourist dollars. Charter yachts, on the other hand, can sail to little cays with secluded beaches and bring guests to explore areas where bus loads of tourists will never arrive. Charter yacht guests will find will find that their crews really know where to find the coolest places, and that they love to introduce their guests to unique experiences that capture the true spirit of the Caribbean.

3.  Back to the Ship

Time ashore is limited for every port of call on a cruise ship vacation. So there is a sense of being rushed: rushed to get off the ship in time to catch an early morning excursion (most day excursions leave at 8:30 am) and then rushed to get back to the ship on time before it leaves! On a crewed charter yacht vacation, every day moves along at your own pace. You wake up when you want, go ashore when you want, return to your yacht when you want. You can do as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.

2.  Nightlife

At day’s end, (usually 5 or 6 pm) the cruise ship leaves the port of call and heads out into the ocean to open the gambling tables and drift to the next destination. Exploring the nightlife offered on the different islands in the Caribbean is not an option. Instead, cruise ship passengers must choose from the programmed entertainment offered by the ship. Guests aboard a charter yacht will find that each of the islands in the US and British Virgin Islands offers its own brand of unique fun after dark. Whether it’s music and dancing at the “Willy T”( a floating ship that is a restaurant/bar) in The Bight, Norman Island, or pirate music and shenanigans at the Michael Bean Show in Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, or a Full Moon Fire Ball party at Aragorn in Trellis Bay, Tortola, the fun does not end when the sun goes down…in fact, it just begins!

1.  Bar Bill

Cruise ship passengers are often extremely dismayed to discover that their drinks are not included in the all-inclusive rate…and the drinks are extremely expensive, even soft drinks and water! Most soft drinks start at $5 and beer and alcohol are $7 to $15. This adds up! On a crewed charter yacht “all inclusive” means just that! All meals, beverages, beer, wine and standard ship’s bar are included in the rate. So enjoy the cocktail of the day aboard your charter yacht, and don’t be afraid to ask for a refill!

So, next time you are thinking about taking a cruise ship vacation, consider chartering your own private yacht instead. Leave the masses behind and discover the true Caribbean at your own pace. We have the perfect Caribbean sailing vacation waiting for you, so grab your flip flops…we’ll meet you at the dock!