TradeWinds Cruise Club - St. Maarten
Marigot, Sint Maarten & Saint Martin
Reviews of TradeWinds Cruise Club - St. Maarten
Marigot, Sint Maarten & Saint Martin
In Jan-16 we sailed with Tradewinds Cruise Club in BVI. We've always wanted to do this so when it came up on Redweek, I grabbed it. We've been boaters for years and knew what to expect from a boating overnight. We've always done a one day giant cat sail when we go to the islands, but never a full week trip. The Captain (Bex) and Crew (Janine) were amazing. They had to entertain 5 couples that didn't know each other for an entire week, do all of the cooking and cleaning, take us on snorkel adventures and diving for those that wanted to. They really were amazing. There was, of course, the eventual sales pitch at the end of the week. This is a time share after all. It was well presented, not pushy. The trip was so good though everyone else on board bought in. We didn't but I am renting another week for next year in St Maarten. Not like any other trip you will ever go on. The food was amazing, the company was fun and mostly liked minded with regard to boating excursions, waking up on a boat in clear blue water was breathtaking as was the snorkeling. Just hanging out on a 46 - 50 ft cat every day is wonderful. There are a couple of on shore visits when they had to replenish food ingredients or clean up. We did one night on shore at a pirate show. During that time the crew changed linens and cleaned bathrooms. And yes, everyone has their own bedroom and bathroom. Meals are family style. We had a blast.
We sailed out of St. Maarten last week 7/24-7/30/2010. Just got back. Here is what we encountered as "non-members".
We understand that a lot of people LIKE Tradewinds, it just wasn't for us, or not what we had hoped for exactly. I think we need to do some more cruises in order to make a "comparison" and we probably will. And before you read any further, we didn't HATE our trip, we enjoyed it for the most part, it just wasn't what we were expecting. I must say that for JULY the weather was about 10-15 degrees cooler than the southern state that we came from. It was PERFECT weather, not too hot as I expected! Loved the tradewinds weather. I'd definitely go back in the summer months it wasn't bad at ALL!
We were sailing with 3 other couples who didn't know each other. That was great. We were surprised at how well we all got along on the boat. Each guest was accommodating, hospitable and friendly towards the others. We truly enjoyed the time that we shared getting to know them. I can see why the tradewinds members enjoy each other so much. At times, we never laughed so hard at some of the downright silliness that the Carribbean atmoshpere along with the rum stirred up in us.:hysterical: Some went skinny dipping, others told relentlessly funny stories, entertained us with card tricks and of course drinking games. We are not big drinkers, I couldn't get enough water to be honest! But the all inclusive could definitely make you drink as the beverages were endless all day from breakfast till the time you passed out! If you like to drink or drink freely, you will!
The other guests were also "non-members" so this cruise was booked as a "sales cruise". The boat sat for hours on end at convenient places where you couldn't do anything BUT snorkel or kayak, I mean, you could play chess, read a book, or drink. I dare say that we were all over St. maarten/St. martin, and St. Barths beautiful islands, but barely got to see anything other than select beaches, and snorkeling sites, where the one-on-one sales presentations with each of the 4 couples took place. In hindsite, I wish I had asked the captain to take us sailing, I just thought this is the way it's supposed to take place. Not sure if they can alter their schedule or not...good question to ask before you book. We would absolutely hate that if there was an "Upgrade your membership" sales pitch every time we sailed! Like a timeshare pitch.
On one hand we really wanted to be alone with absolute quiet, and on the other hand wanted time to go ashore, so we're not really sure if a group cruise is our ticket in the end!
The one day that I tried to get the other guests to go ashore early, the captain offered to drop us off in the dingy. I did appreciate that, but really, I wanted to sail and if we were just going to SIT THERE :deadhorse: , I didn't see any point snorkeling to yet another random rock wall. The only time we sailed was to get to St. Barths from St. Maarten and back, otherwise, it was short sails to the next snorkeling site. That is not a SAILING Trip. I was very disappointed in that.
On a positive note, some of the group did get to go on a diving trip with a local school (which we chose to pass on) and we did a taxi tour drive around st. Barths. Two of the better highlights to be sure. We were also dropped of in Marigot for a short time (my husband and I went in early) We got to see a bit more, talk with more local business owners and other catamaran companies as well.
The boat we were on was nearly 20 years old. (The Motu Iti). It may have been maintained mechanically, but sometimes smelled like the toilets had backed up (not the whole boat, but you'd definitely get a good whiff at various times). It was satisfactory, I wouldn't rate it a luxury vessel. The captain had to run ashore to get a new pump (bilge pump?), replacing it. Seemed to help with the odor after that. I know boats are expensive to maintain and with sea air disintigrate quickly.
The best part was the crew. Kerri is an excellent cook and hostess and Yehudeh is an excellent captain (sailing since he was 5), diver and all around good guy. A young fun couple.
Some things to pay attention to: You are expected to tip the crew $50-$150 pp ($100-$300/couple)-(10-18% of the All-Incl) and it is a customary across the board to tip tour guides, this is not unreasonable. On the first ashore dinner, the waiter suggested that if we liked the captain and first mate that the group could buy the dinner, which caught us totally off guard. Now, this is not customary! When a tour guide takes a group to a restaurant on a regular basis providing repeat customers for the restaurant (Tradewinds boats go there weekly), the tour guide is usually treated to dinner by the RESTAURANT not the guests.
We did address this issue with office at the end of the cruise and they said that the restaurants in the islands don't participate in free meals, (which we have no way to verify) yet they seemed aware of the "Free captains dinner" practice. So we're not sure what is actually happening here, but be aware. The way that it transpired made some of our group uncomfortable, yet we all chipped in regardless, however sadly, I think it affected their tip in the end.
My husband and I have enjoyed several wonderful vacations sailing on TradeWinds in The British Virgin Islands and St Maarten. Additionally several of our friends have sailed on all of the TradeWinds, Caribbean itineraries. Having read the other reviewers comments about the towels on TradeWinds in Antigua, I can honestly say that we have had a very different experience. Our friends and my husband and I have been on a different Yacht with a different crew on each TradeWinds adventure. TradeWinds has always provided a midweek towels (bathroom and beach) change as well as fresh sheets.
TradeWinds is a very unique experience, a semi-private Yacht with 4 or 5 guest cabins (depending on boat) and 2 crew. We have met the most wonderful people on these trips. The crew takes you to several different places to swim snorkel or dive each day followed by beach adventures and exploring.
Food is always freshly prepared - 3 meals a day - using local fresh fruit and vegetables and breads as well as mouth watering divine desserts. The Captain mixes up a pitcher of sunset cocktails to enjoy topside every evening. Bar is self serve if you wish or the crew can get something for you if you are relaxing comfortably in the sun. There is wine and beer (as well as soft drinks) available with lunch and diner meals, as well as hard liquor on board in the bar cabinet.
The Crew can't do enough for you to make your vacation a leisurely one, memorable, and truly a vacation from all things domestic and at the office. My recommendation is to try TradeWinds!
We spent our 36th wedding anniversary sailing with Trade Winds out of St. Martin. This was our 3rd Trade Winds sail. Our vacations with Trade Winds are the best ones we take. We love Trade Winds and plan to spend our anniversary each year on a Trade Winds sail from now on.
My girlfriend and I are well traveled. We tend to spend our vacation time engaging in various physical activities with tennis and mounting skiing being our favorite. So when the opportunity to go on a cruise arose, we have been a little skeptical. In our imagination, spending a week on a boat would be too static and, in all likelihood, boring. On the other hand, the memories of our recent trip to Hawaii suggested that there would be at least some enjoyable moments since we both like swimming and snorkeling for hours in a southern sea. So we decided to take a risk and swapped our time share for a week on a catamaran at Trade Winds Club.
From the very beginning we realized that we had done the right thing. The weather was in St. Maarten comfortable, with a temperature around 85F. We thought we got lucky, but learned later that the weather stays more or less the same year round in that area. So we embarked on the boat, took our shoes off and the week after was the first time we needed them again.
Our boat, like other Trade Winds boats, was a small catamaran, but it had everything to accommodate eight people plus the captain and his wife. The boat in fact is sufficiently large so you can have enough privacy.
We took off the next morning and the rest of the week traveled from one island to another enjoying various picturesque scenes, swimming and snorkeling with turtles and exotic fish. On one of the days we got to water ski, and that was very good we could happily do a couple more days. We also had a kayak on board and used it very often to exercise or to reach an uninhabited island we had plentiful on our way. We spent on average three hours a day in the water, mostly snorkeling, and you do not get bored doing this.
Our companions were very nice people, and I suspect nasty people do not go on such trips. All of them had different interests, but everybody seemed happy and able to do what they enjoyed. The food preferences were also different, but the captains wife who cooked for us has done her best to accommodate everybody.
When we returned back, the island looked the same, but we did not. We got a healthy tan, and generally felt more optimistic about this life than a week ago. And this feeling is probably the best indicator to make a judgment about how good the vacation was. And if asked, I would definitely recommend this trip to anybody.