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Old September 11th, 2003, 12:29 PM
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Default Warning: Buck Island Sailing & Snorkeling Tour - Avoid &

This is an excerpt from the review I am writing for my Navigator journey last week. Will post full review shortly.

This is a wonderful excursion. Probably my favorite ever! The trouble is that the boats are independent contractors so the experience may vary. The last time we did it was one of the best afternoons of my life. We relaxed on the deck with cool music and helped the crew with the sails. The capatain even let me drive for a little while. Then we snorkled in a secluded cove and drank a few cocktails while floating on mats or lounging on the deck. On the way back we enjoyed the spray from the caribbean crashing over the sides and through the netting while crashing through the waves.

This time was also very nice but not the same. Zora is home to the people who run it. By that I mean the couple and their daughter live on the boat. They were not shy about telling us this repeatedly throughout the journey. "Don't drag your bags on the deck", "Please stay up front", "Don't sit on the netting", "Don't stand, the deck gets very slippery". Get the idea? These are the most uptight people I have ever met living in the caribbean. You would think after 14 years of living there, they might be a bit more relaxed. My friend likened it a bit to getting punished since we were confined to sitting in place on the front deck.

The trip this time went as follows:

We were taken out to the boat with a dingy and instructed to have a seat up front. After leaving, we were offered crackers and cheese or apples. Beverages were available but we had to ask for them and they would not let us go to the back to get them. We were not allowed to lay on net in front (first time I ever heard this request). Upon arriving at a cove (same place as several other boats - the last tour took us to a more secluded spot), we were given instructions of how to use the snorkel gear and were instructed to follow their daughter closely around the reef. Their daughter was an excellent guide and very nice but I prefer to go on my own. Punch was offered on our return to the boat. Beer was not offered but when I asked for one they were happy to give it to me. Usually, the trip includes a portion where the waves crash over the sides in the front and through the net. This guy kept it so slow that not a hint of moisture was felt on deck. The boat was in beautiful condition. Emaculate. The people were polite enough but way too uptight. When I have guests in my home, I like to think I make them feel more comfortable.

I would still wholeheartedly reccomend this excursion to everyone . It is much better than some of the other tours that pack people in like sardines. Just pick another boat if you can. My advice to these people is that if they don't want strangers walking around their home, don't rent it out! By the way, this is not just my opinion, the six of us talked afterwards and all felt very awkward. The other strange thing was that when he dropped us back of in the dingy afterward, he did not even ask for a tip (a common request and something I am usually happy to do). I don't know if that has anything to do with the fact that he was French or not but I found it odd.



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Old September 11th, 2003, 05:16 PM
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Default Re: Warning: Buck Island Sailing & Snorkeling Tour - Avo

Having taken this tour not once but twice I can understand you comments. However, you don't know what boat you are going to be offerd until you walk off the ship. With many ships in town and virtually all offering the Buck Island Sail and Snorkel, you are never going to know what boat they will hire.
As for the destination there are two coves that are snorkelled on the island. One is a little more "intimate" and has somewhat better coral and fish, a sandy bottom and an occaisional turtle. The other has a deeper , less interesting bottom but contains the wreck of an old ferry at about 150 feet offshore and in about 25 feet of water.
If the anchorages are filled up at one , the boats have no choice but to go to the other.
Obviously your folks were a bit up tight and were also not generous with the refreshments. Address your complaint to Carnival (I hope you did onboard). With enough complaints you will either see a change in the attitude of the provider or
they will be dropped. Actually there are places on St Thomas you can take a cab to and do "walkin" snorkeling that are as good as Buck Island . Saphire Beach and Coki Beach are both better. Almost any Bay on St John is better.
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Old September 15th, 2003, 11:28 AM
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Default Re: Warning: Buck Island Sailing & Snorkeling Tour - Avo

I took the tour through RCL and told them about it. You are correct about not knowing until you get off the ship but when they dole out the tickets on shore you can ask for another one if you see zora written on it.

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Old September 15th, 2003, 02:36 PM
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Default Re: Warning: Buck Island Sailing & Snorkeling Tour - Avo

I took this tour a few years ago and had a wonderful exprience...there were only five of us on the boat. And the owners of the ship were wonderful, I guess we got lucky.

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Old September 15th, 2003, 03:36 PM
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Default Re: Re: Warning: Buck Island Sailing & Snorkeling Tour -

Like I said... I would still heartily reccommend the tour but if they hand out the tickets and you get one that says Zora, politely request another boat.


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