Buck Island excursion?

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#1
Colorado
502 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I've read reviews on this thread suggesting that Captain Mike's Jolly Roger is a good excursion, however I have tried calling him (twice and left a message) and sent an email and have not heard back - over a week ago. Date is coming fast, Nov 20 and was hoping I would have heard back from him by now . I want to avoid the cattle car experience that we could get by going with Big Beards. Has anyone had luck lately with contacting Captain Mike? Is he still in business? And does the full day include lunch/drinks?
#2
Rehoboth Beach,De
1,016 Posts
Joined May 2009
I dunno who told you Big Beards was a cattle call . We went with Big Beards
and there were 15 of us (including the crew) and our day was fantastic . Just as we were leaving the "cattle call" tours from the ship showed up , now they had a ton of people . I think it would be a good idea to call Big Beards and ask them how many folks they take , when we went the limit was 24 on a 40 some pax Catamaran . Wonderful people in the office and the crew , just great ! Good Luck !! Ted
#3
Boston, MA
66 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by tjschwalm
I dunno who told you Big Beards was a cattle call . We went with Big Beards
and there were 15 of us (including the crew) and our day was fantastic . Just as we were leaving the "cattle call" tours from the ship showed up , now they had a ton of people . I think it would be a good idea to call Big Beards and ask them how many folks they take , when we went the limit was 24 on a 40 some pax Catamaran . Wonderful people in the office and the crew , just great ! Good Luck !! Ted

I'm going on Big Beard's for my upcoming cruise. I've heard good things and they were great getting back to me as soon as I requested a reservation. They provided detailed information about where to get picked up, etc. there are other strong reviews about Big Beards on here somewhere.
#4
Colorado
502 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Hi All - thanks so much on the feedback on Big Beards as we may have to go with them since I have been unable to get in touch with Captain Mike. I should not have used "cattle call" as I'm sure that is more of what I would see on one of the cruiseline sponsered excursion, however 20 or more people on a 40 foot sailboat is still a lot of people. With the Jolly Roger, the sailboat is smaller but they limit it to 6. If anyone has had success with Captain Mike/Jolly Roger lately, please let me know. Happy sailings to all!
#5
Tulsa
1,363 Posts
Joined May 2005
Just back from St Croix and sailed with Big Beards.. absolutely FANTASTIC.... DON'T MISS IT
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Babysis

Spending our sons' inheritance, one cruise at a time
#6
Colorado
502 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by BabySis
Just back from St Croix and sailed with Big Beards.. absolutely FANTASTIC.... DON'T MISS IT
Did you do their full day or half day tour?
#8
Los Angeles, CA USA
104 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
I called and he returned my call the next day. He is only offering half day trips for our day in port. He said that he will have 20 people max on his boat. Looking forward to our day!
#9
Colorado
502 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by jgordon
I called and he returned my call the next day. He is only offering half day trips for our day in port. He said that he will have 20 people max on his boat. Looking forward to our day!
Thanks for the feedback! I guess I will try calling him again.
#10
West Virginia
544 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
but not sure about the times. He says that we should leave the dock around 8-8:15am in order to be there for registration and boarding by 9-9:15am. But our ship doesn't dock until 8am. Has anyone done this tour with this time schedule? How quickly can we expect to get off the ship and through customs? St. Croix is our last stop before we head home and we don't want to miss our tour.
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#11
Tulsa
1,363 Posts
Joined May 2005
We took the full day tour and there was plenty of time to get to Big Beards and plenty of time to get back to the ship before sailing. When you make your reservation, they will give you instructions on where to meet outside the port building. They shuttle you to Big Beards in Christiansted and shuttle you back. Many many ship passengers take the shuttle to Christiansted for shopping.... not to worry.

On our full day sail & snorkel, there were 8 passengers!!! It was absolutely DEVINE!!! Lunch was grilled on the beach and we had a fun feeding the mongoose!!
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Babysis

Spending our sons' inheritance, one cruise at a time
#12
Tulsa
1,363 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by morecruise4me
but not sure about the times. He says that we should leave the dock around 8-8:15am in order to be there for registration and boarding by 9-9:15am. But our ship doesn't dock until 8am. Has anyone done this tour with this time schedule? How quickly can we expect to get off the ship and through customs? St. Croix is our last stop before we head home and we don't want to miss our tour.
Morecruise4me..... you do not go through customs when you are in port for the day. Get off the ship as soon as you can, Big Beards will be expecting you. We had to wait about 15 minutes or so for a couple of ship passengers who were late to the shuttle.... Big Beards waited for them!!

The half day sail was way more crowded than our full day sail.
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Babysis

Spending our sons' inheritance, one cruise at a time
#14
Sacramento, CA
16 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
We just did this excursion last week. (Sigh, hard to be back). The taxi price is not included and was $16/pp round trip. It's 30-45 min so seemed reasonable. You walk down the pier to a plaza area. There is a taxi federation tent (easy-up) where you pay your fees and are given tickets for each person. Keep the ticket as you need it for the return. The busses go and come back often (wait til full) so we spent the day on the other side where Big Beard's was, Christiansted. There was more shopping over there, a cool fort to explore and great restaurants. Rum Runner's on the boardwalk overlooking the bay - beautiful!

The bus dropped us off right in front of Big Beard's. It was all very easy.

Our 1/2 day group was only about 8 people, more for the full day. I'm glad we did the half as we had such a great time exploring the city. All very walkable. Great excursion!
#15
Rehoboth Beach,De
1,016 Posts
Joined May 2009
Darn! Now you got me wantin' to go back and explore as we did BB's full day then rushed back ! But thanks for the post , I do really have to go back now! lol
Good weekend ! Ted
#16
18,440 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
We are signed up for a ship's excursion for Buck Island Snorkel in April-- a recent post on the Celebrity Board said Big Beard's was great but the sea was very rough with strong currents.. and felt they could not follow the trail

I would like to get some opinions on sea conditions & the snorkel experience in general at this location.

We loved the trail at Trunk bay & Buck island snorkel comes highly rec...however if it is too rough we might not enjoy it...
#17
Colorado
502 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by hcat
We are signed up for a ship's excursion for Buck Island Snorkel in April-- a recent post on the Celebrity Board said Big Beard's was great but the sea was very rough with strong currents.. and felt they could not follow the trail

I would like to get some opinions on sea conditions & the snorkel experience in general at this location.

We loved the trail at Trunk bay & Buck island snorkel comes highly rec...however if it is too rough we might not enjoy it...
We ended up doing Big Beard's half day in late November. The seas were rough and I did not snorkel due to recent surgery, however my husband did. He is a very strong swimmer and said the currents were strong, but he had no issues. Some of the people on the excursion were pulled along the trail by one of Big Beard's fantastic crew members while hanging on to a ring. I thought that was very nice of them to do this given the conditions which made it even tougher for the crew member - but this was done for some of the weaker swimmers or swimmers who were a bit nervous. Otherwise, I think everyone else did fine and had no issues. Not sure if the company that the cruise line uses does that (ie pulling/towing people around), but sure thought that was nice of them to do.
#18
Carmel, Indiana
1,258 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Can someone who has done the 1/2 day BB tour answer some questions for me please?

We are experienced snorkelers and want to spend as much time snorkeling the reef as possible. With that in mind, we understand that BB first goes to Turtle Beach for snorkel instructions. Is there snorkeling off the beach? Or is it beach & swim time, if you don't need instructions? How far away is the reef from the beach? It is within swimming distance? After the instruction/beach time, BB moves the boat to deeper water, correct? We heard it was in 30 ft. of water. Doesn't sound like you're too close to the reef? At that point how far away from the reef are you and what do you see? About how long were you actually snorkeling? Did they allow anyone to snorkel at the reef while the instructions were being given on the beach?

We appreciate any info you can give us. Thanks.
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#19
Sacramento, CA
16 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
We did the half day with Big Beards in early January. At Turtle Beach (very pretty) we were given the option for the lesson and then free swim after that. Experienced types took off immediately. There was a set amount of time, probably 1/2 hour or more. We were cautioned against not "using up all of our energy" which I'm glad to have heeded as I'm not a strong swimmer. My sister did cruise around during this turtle beach part, but I didn't get the sense that there was tons to see. Your mileage may vary.

It is a small island and the turtle beach side is opposite the reef area where the "trail" is. We had to travel by boat to the other side, so it's not THAT small of an island.

The boat moves to the other side and you are given instructions about the nature preserve aspects of the place. There are permanent mooring bouys that each boat hooked up to, so you are cautioned to watch swimming near those lines. There were two other boats there when we arrived. The ocean current was coming toward the island and where we were moored, and we were shown the outer boundaries of the reef.

There is a "trail" with plaques buried in the sea floor describing different natural things, coral, fish etc. The point of the trail (I think) is to get you used to the different types of underwater terrain down there. There are big wide open parts and there are parts where you have a pretty narrow "tunnel"/"canyon" of coral you need to navigate through. The coral goes all the way to the surface! So it's a good idea to start out in the easy area and get acclimated to the area. Our guide was on the surface in a life ring, and then dragged one for whomever might need it.

This was the best snorkelling my sister and I had ever seen, but I will qualify by saying we are not pro's. All the other guest of varied experience agreed that it was the best snorkeling they had ever seen.

HOWEVER. The water was very rough. My ten year old stayed on the boat because the water was cold, and thank god he did. Those canyons of coral? No way. He would have been pushed into them by the current. He's a skinny minny and I could kick myself for not bringing his wetsuit, but this was no place for kids. I don't know if the water is always that way, it's seasonal or what.

We saw tons of different types of coral, barracudas, some squid things and all kinds of diffrent kinds of fish. I don't know if we had an hour out there, but again the water was rough and it was tiring. After the guide took us along the trail, we had free swimming time. I took lots of video. My sister and I retraced the trail and were ready to head in by then.

It was a great trip with a great crew. The "mate" works for tips, he was our guide, taught the snorkel lesson and did a lot of work. We weren't prepared for that aspect and I wish we had more cash to tip him. Ahh women and cash...
#20
Carmel, Indiana
1,258 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
I appreciate your detailed answer. You said "After the guide took us along the trail, we had free swimming time" By "free swimming time" do you mean you were able to snorkel at the reef wherever you wanted to? Or did you have to paddle around in the water just waiting for the all aboard to leave.

When the boat moored on the other side of the island, how deep was the water, and how far were you from the reef? I assume 'the trail' is a short section of the reef, but the reef itself is larger and you can snorkel over other areas of the reef?

I very much appreciate your answers. What you have described sounds wonderful. Thanks for your time!
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