In addition to this Know Before You Go page, please visit our FAQs page to find out all the nitty-gritty details about your SeaTrek voyage.
Connecting With Home
“Hi Mom! I’m here, safe!”
These are words every parent is waiting to hear once they’ve left their camper at the airport. We know it is exciting to arrive at camp and meet your new crewmates and staff but everyone is required to call home upon their arrival at the boat. A staff member will have a boat phone and roster keeping tabs on everyone. He/she will wait with you while you make your call. You must speak to a live person or you will be required to call again until you do. Mom and dad, if you feel comfortable with your young person just leaving a message then please send a signed note along with them.
Please know that the phones in Tortola are not like the phones at home. All cellular towers are owned by Her Majesty, The Queen of England not AT&T, Verizon or any of the other big US phone companies. No matter what your local cellular provider tells you, chances are you will pay as much as $4 per minute to make a call. This is not a joke. We once had a young man run up a $1300 phone bill before his parents saw it. His dad was not happy.
We have set up a calling card system using our boat phones. Basically it cost us $1.25/minute to call the US but we offer our students calling cards that they can purchase that will cost them $1 a minute (10 minutes for $10). This system works well.
While we’re on the topic of the cost of phone calls, please note that after June 1st if you call the SeaTrek office number it will forward to Captain Monk’s cell phone on the boat (284-543-6719). Not to seem insensitive but it costs SeaTrek over $4 a minute to talk to parents using that phone number. For this reason, should you call on it he will ask for your number and call you back from the boat phone which, as mentioned before, costs us only $1.25/minute.
As for internet/wifi access, there are hotspots in almost every port that we visit but we hope that our students don’t plan to spend all of their free time on their mobile device. There’s so much more to experience!
Money Matters $$
The US dollar is the currency of the islands and many places accept MasterCard or Visa, but cash is often preferred when spending less than $20.
Every student is required to bring $100 emergency funds for the BVI voyages and $200 emergency funds for the Explorer voyages that will be held by their captain until the day before departure. At that time it will be given back to the student to do with as he/she pleases. Please have this money ready in an envelope with your name on it when you arrive. You must also have $20 for departure tax to get out of the country. This is a tax that YOU pay at the airport or ferry dock.
We recommend that students bring $50 to $75 spending money per week. Students are always wanting to get a coke ($2) or an ice cream ($6) when we go to port and of course everyone wants to buy souvenirs. Students will also have the opportunity to eat out on occasion if they so wish. Keep in mind however, that dining out can be very, very expensive. A cheeseburger/coke and fries is $15 to $20 including tip. Trust us on this – you will rarely see your captains eating at any of the local places.
Students have the option of their captain serving as their bank. You must tell the staff person checking you in on the boat that you would like this free service. They will collect your funds, document what you give them and keep your money in a lock box. You will be given notice that we are heading into port so you can ask to access your funds.
Unescorted Minor Travel Information
For SeaTrek students traveling as unescorted minors, please email or call (877-467-2454) Captain Monk for further instructions.
Parents, if for some reason you need or want to send something to us during a voyage, you must contact Captain Monk first. Do not try to send anything through the US Mail. We kid you not, it can take years to get to us. The only reliable way to send anything to the BVI is by FedEx, and it is very expensive. In order for Captain Monk to be able to arrange to pick it up, you will need to supply him with a tracking number so please keep it handy and include it in an email.
Photos and Online/Social Media Updates
We do our best to post photos and updates on our SeaTrek Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts as often as possible, but please understand that we are living on boats with limited internet access and the connection can be very slow. We try to include group shots so everyone can see his/her child at some point, but everything depends on what activity a student is doing and how many images we can load in an evening. Please be patient.
You can also follow us on all of our social media sites by using these links:
Please make note of these numbers in the BVI, as they are our local BVI phone numbers:
Captain Monk: 284-543-6719 (text and voicemail)
Captain Kat: 284-540-7266 (text and voicemail)
Unless it is an emergency, email is the best and most effective way to communicate with the staff while they are in the BVI.
Cell Phones, Tablets and iPods/MP3 players
Students can bring cell phones but please keep in mind that while in the BVI we are not on the US phone system and cell phone bills get really costly, really fast. Plan to turn them off and save your battery and bank account!
On the subject of cell phones, tablets and iPods/MP3 players: When students board their vessel these electronic devices will be collected and held by the captain. Students may check them out while we are in port, otherwise they are kept locked away. This is not only for safety’s sake (hard to stay safe on deck if you can’t hear your crewmates or captain) but because we want our students interacting on program not disappearing into a mobile device.
There are laundry facilities available in some of the ports we visit, but we don’t always have time to use them. You can, however, do a limited amount of laundry by hand on the boat so you may bring a small bottle of Woolite. This of course is only possible on days we are going into port and there is fresh water available. Ask your captain. As much as is possible, our staff will wash your towels and change the linens once per week.
Soap and Sunscreen
Bring liquid bath soap (shower gel) instead of bar soap. It’s not nearly as messy. Metal cans of shave/shower gel are not allowed, as they leave rust all over the boat. Speaking of slippery decks, bring sunscreen in the form of lotion, not spray. The wind catches it and covers the boat with slippery sunscreen. Remember, these rules are in place for your safety.
Being wet is a common occurrence while living on a boat and getting in and out of the water all day. It is really important, however, to stay dry as much as you can when you are not diving or swimming. Our staff will remind you of this, but you will need to take responsibility for keeping dry by doing the following:
- Bring enough swimsuits so you can put a dry one on each time you get out of the water. Over the years we have found that it is best to choose a couple suits that you will only wear when you are in the water doing things such as swimming, diving and water sports.
- Bring some powder (Goldbond, Baby Powder) to put on every time you get out of the water.
- Bring two towels – one you use for drying off saltwater and one for drying off after your nightly freshwater shower.
For the Ladies
Here’s a special note from Kat for our female students – Guys you don’t need to read this…which means we know you probably will. :):)
I just wanted to touch base with you about a couple of things such as what not to pack for your voyage. Keeping in mind that we do not have electricity on the boat, bringing things like hair dryers, curling irons, etc. is a moot point. You won’t be able to use them. You also don’t need to bring a lot of make up, if any at all. We are in and out of the water all day. Pack light because you’ll be in your swimsuit 90% of the time.
You must keep yourself dry. Gold Bond Medicated Powder works wonders! Change your swimsuit every time you get out of the water – do not walk around in a wet swimsuit. We have female staff on every boat so don’t hesitate to take them aside and ask questions. If you find that you have forgotten anything or run out of anything that you might need, just ask. We keep extra feminine products aboard for emergencies.
See you soon and if you have any other questions about what to pack (or not to pack) just drop me an email.