Sailboat Charter FAQs

Q: There are so many boats to choose from! How do we pick the best boat for our group?

A: Some things to consider:

  • What makes each boat special? 

While each boat and charter has its own special qualities, we believe there are some things that set us apart from our competitors. On Rumbaba, our exceptional gourmet food and open bar differentiate us from others. We are the only charter boat that grills your choice of entree — see our menu — right on the boat. We also offer the most extensive drink menu of any charter boat on the water (all day)! 

  • Which location is the boat traveling from ?

Boats leaving from Charlotte Amalie (where the cruise ships dock) usually visit the same, heavily traveled anchorage. Many boats leaving from Red Hook sail in the Virgin Islands National Park, where the reefs are protected — the scenery is vast and breathtaking — and we choose from many anchorages to make the best day.

  • Which service is the boat booked through?

Boats booked through a hotel or cruise ship can be overcrowded and impersonal. Rumbaba takes a maximum of 6 guests, and we feel that we get to make new friends — every day. If you are interested in a private sail, a birthday party, a memorial sail, or any other special occasion, we would love to make Rumbaba yours for the day. Or, you can join a mixed-group sail with other people already booked, and make more new friends!

  • How does each boat charge? 

Different types of boats charge different rates. Tours on privately-owned sailboats, like Rumbaba, tend to cost slightly more than the larger, corporate-power and sailboat fleets. Compare the maximum number of guests, the food and drinks menu, itineraries, and reviews from past guests when deciding how to spend your day.

Check out our TripAdvisor Reviews for reviews from previous Rumbaba guests. 

Q: Where do you sail?

A: Leaving from Vessup Bay, on St. Thomas’ east end, we sail in Pillsbury Sound — between St. Thomas, St. John, and surrounding cays.

For snorkeling, we have a variety of amazing anchorages to choose from. We let the wind, water, and crowd conditions determine which is best for the day. A few of our favorite stops are: Congo/Lovango Cut, Christmas Cove, Little St. James Island, and Mingo Cay.

We stay away from anchorages that are frequented by cruise ship excursions and the most popular tourist beaches, as we prefer to visit anchorages that require a private boat to reach.

We do not sail into the British Virgin Islands.

Q: What should I bring?

A: Travel light! Bring only the essentials including a towel, camera, sunglasses, and LOTION sunscreen (for safety, save your spray and oil for the beach). We have a changing area, but we recommend wearing your swimwear, for your convenience and comfort. If you prefer to use your own snorkel gear, bring it — or use our clean, professional-grade snorkel gear. Consider bringing additional cash for souvenirs, customary 20% gratuity for the crew, and taxi fare.

Q: How do we get to Rumbaba?

A: Plan for a 30-minute ride, which can take a few minutes longer in the morning.

Taxis are often 15-passenger vans or open-air shuttle trucks (called “safaris”) and charge per person, each way ($5-$15, depending on where on island you start). Most will attempt to fill up with passengers before leaving a cruise ship dock.

If you choose to drive, there are three paid parking lots in Red Hook, all east of the marina complex. Parking is limited and it can take a few minutes to locate a spot. If you find a spot in the (1) American Yacht Harbor marina complex, you must get a day parking permit for a fee in the marina office under the blue awning on the docks located next to the Coke machines. Have your vehicle make/model/color/tag info with you. (2) Sunshine Parking lot behind the “Moe’s Fresh Market/Galleria Shopping Plaza” is located across the street and 50 yards east of the marina complex. (3) The Passenger Ferry Terminal is on the waterfront east of the marina.

Parking is $8-12/day. Parking anywhere other than a paid lot is likely to result in your car being booted or towed, at a cost of $150. Ouch!

Q: What forms of payment do you accept?

A: We prefer cash, as  it is the easiest! Please visit an ATM before boarding. If you would rather use your credit card, it is best to use our online booking calendar. We can accept your card on the boat, but it will take extra time to process.

Q: Do we need passports?

A: No, we do not sail to the British Virgin Islands (B.V.I.), so you will not need a passport while on board Rumbaba. 

Q: What is the minimum number of guests required to book?

A: We usually need four (4) guests for a full-day sail. If there are fewer than four in your group, we request that you contact us, as we will put together a mixed-group sail with others who might be waiting on standby. Or, you can check out our private charter options. Half-day and sunset sails are offered as private sails.

We reserve the right to reschedule or cancel a sail with fewer than 4 guests. If we must cancel for this reason, we will attempt to secure your spots with one of our colleagues with a similar sailboat tour. The rate, basic itinerary, amenities, and 6-guest maximum will be the same, but the lunch menu will be different. You can choose not to sail with the other boat without penalty.

Q: What if I can’t swim or I am worried about getting sea sick?

A: For those who can’t swim, we have life jackets and other flotation options for you. The captain and crew are expert snorkel instructors and guides, but we also have shade if you choose to stay dry.

If sea sickness is a concern for you, an over-the-counter preventive medicine like Dramamine might be effective if you follow the label instructions — for some, it works best when taking it the night before —  or talk to your doctor about other methods, like the Scopalamine patch. We also stock ginger candy and soda on board. If all else fails, we can always drop sails and motor to a calm anchorage, where a cool dive in the water will surely make you feel better!

Q: Is getting on and off the boat difficult?

A: Climbing a ladder is required to board the dinghy and Rumbaba. We have the option of docking the boat for walk-on boarding. The marina charges a $70 fee for pick-up/drop-off, which you can pay directly to the marina with credit card or cash.

Q: How many people can you take?

A: A maximum of six (6). Children and infants count, per U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

Q: Will my kids enjoy a Rumbaba day?

A: Most kids love the sailing and snorkeling experience. If the kids have never been in the ocean or can’t swim, that is okay. We have excellent snorkel gear in children’s sizes, floats, a window-raft, sea creature books, pirate history, and more.

For kids who are scared of the water or marine life, sailing and snorkeling might not be the best choice for your day on St. Thomas.

Q: Do you take special requests?

A: On Rumbaba, it is YOUR day. We can accommodate most special requests. We are happy to bring a birthday cake, or even stock certain cocktail ingredients on board for you. You are also welcome to bring your favorite; a certain wine, specialty liquor, or even cigars.

Q: What if some of our party doesn’t show or we are late?

A: If you give us advance notice, we will try to work with you so we can all sail. Keep in mind, unless you have booked a private charter, there may be others waiting or have time constraints.

A “no show,” will be charged the full rate of the tour as booked. For a cancellation, time limits do apply. The cancellation fee is 100% of the tour rate, as booked, unless we can re-book the tour.

For travel delays, changes in your cruise ship itinerary, or if the captain cancels due to weather conditions, there is no cancellation charge.

Q: What if there is bad weather on the day of our charter?

A: If the weather and ocean conditions are forecast to be safe for sailing, the captain usually chooses to sail. If the captain chooses to cancel the sail, you will not be charged for the tour. In case of rain while sailing, we have foul-weather gear or you can sit below deck to wait out rain showers. We make the final decision on the weather by 8AM on the day of charter. Be sure to provide the best contact number for you so we can call or text, in case of changes or cancellations.

Q: What about gratuities (tipping)?

A: All service staff and tour guides on island greatly appreciate and depend on gratuities as part of their income. Rumbaba, the business, and her crew support and invest in the local economy, making St. Thomas a better place to visit every time you sail with us.

The customary gratuity on a sailing tour is 20% of the tour cost. For a full day sail on Rumbaba, we hope to earn $30 from each guest.

Q: We had a great day on Rumbaba! We tipped the crew 20%; what else can we do to show Rumbaba some love?

A: Thanks for the great tip! You can also share your favorite pictures from your day on our Facebook page. Spread the love by sharing your awesome experience with future Rumbaba guests on TripAdvisor.

Email us your other questions at [email protected]!

Join Rumbaba Charters for an unforgettable St. Thomas day sail full of fun and adventure. Our sailing excursions offer breathtaking views, world-class snorkeling, and delicious food. Rumbaba will be the highlight of your trip to the US Virgin Islands!