A Better Alternative To Traditional Cruise Excursions
One Love Charters Gave Us A Perfect Day

Cruising provides many excellent alternatives for an escape regardless of where you cruise, when you cruise and on which ship you cruise. After more than a dozen cruises, I still believe that time spent on-board a ship and visiting the many ports of call it offers provides the perfect vacation.

After all, my “hotel” is the ship and it has every amenity one would seek on a vacation in walking distance every day. Where else can you vacation and find 20 or more restaurants in your hotel? Another advantage: a complete theater with live show performances in your hotel every evening! In the mood for some retail therapy, visit the duty free shops  offering fine jewelry, watches from $20 to $10,000, clothing, liquor and many other types of merchandise. Where else can you find a hotel that moves from country to country every day, offering you a completely new adventure? And, all of this for as low as a couple hundred bucks per person!

I could spend hours and hundreds of words going over a number of additional “where else’s,” but by now you get the point. There are a lot of things to do on any cruise, and they are almost all interesting. Among the many things one must consider when taking a cruise is what shore excursions to take at each port of call. You can spend thousands of dollars exploring the port or you can simply spend nothing and go ashore, choosing to walk through the streets and attractions of that particular city or country.

Norwegian Dawn St Thomas Excursion

During this year’s spring break, the family booked a cruise on the Norwegian Dawn to a number of southern Caribbean islands. The cruise left from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and stopped at a new island almost every day for an entire week. An added benefit was that NCL provided free airfare from DFW to San Juan for the cruise and well as kids cruise for free, even though it was on Spring Break. While we had never been to St. Lucia, Barbados, or Antigua, we’d previously visited St. Thomas and Tortola without the kids.

My wife Kristin is a perfect “investigator.” She is able to seek out the best places to go and the best ways to get there at a reasonable price. On our previous visit to Tortola, she found the most intriguing place to visit was Jost Van Dyke and its great beach. We fell in love with Jost Van Dyke on the NCL Ultimate Adventure & Jost Van Dyke excursion a few years ago. So while planning this trip we knew we wanted to return to visit Soggy Dollar Bar and Hendo’s Hideout.

Man enjoying painkiller at Hendo's Hideout
Hendo’s Hideout Jost Van Dyke

This time, we were bringing the kids rather than going by ourselves and Kristin noted that the shore excursion for four people would be nearly $800. That was more than we really wanted to pay, even though we really wanted to treat McKenzie and Hunter to the fantastic beach there. Plus, the Painkillers at Soggy Dollar Bar were calling our name.

Family Fun In St. Thomas

She found the perfect alternative for our St Thomas excursion. Charter your own private boat! We could take the entire family, spend less money, and have a day-long excursion rather than the three hours NCL was offering. Looking into the best charter operations, she found One Love Charters, owned and operated by Joe and Amanda Trattner. The only catch was that it was based in St. Thomas, rather than Tortola. Messaging with Amanda online, Kristin found that this was no problem because St. Thomas is not that far from Tortola. We could snorkel, visit Jost Van Dyke, and see a whole lot more than we could have by booking the cruise ship excursion.

Catamarans anchored in Jost Van Dyke
Boats in the water at Jost Van Dyke Photo by Kristin Barclay

Charter Your Day With One Love Charters

Amanda took care of everything, including booking a cab for us from the ship pier to the private boat pier, where we met Joe. With the sun shining, we headed out on about a 30 minute private tour of the waterways between St. Thomas, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke. After checking us in with customs, we anchored at Jost Van Dyke and spent the day playing in the surf and sand. Pros: the beach wasn’t crowded, we were in control of our itinerary, our own boat for sunning, jumping, lounging. Cons: because it’s not booked with the cruise line, you are at risk for missing the boat. Overall, I can’t think of a better way to spend less money and have a better day than booking a trip with Joe, Amanda and One Love Tours.

We did not receive any compensation or discounts or other benefits from One Love, so this is a completely unbiased report. And, One Love was not aware we are journalists that often review our travel experiences. Joe and Amanda can be contacted at info@onelovecharters.com or (340) 227-5229.

Kristin has found a number of other fantastic things to do when traveling, such as Resort for a Day, which is available in numerous places. Having participated in as many adventures as we have, I will endeavor to detail some of our experiences in future Focus Lifestyle sections as my time permits with the goal of saving readers money as well as time and aggravation.