4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } elseif (preg_match("/MSIE (\d)/i",$HTTP_USER_AGENT,$v)) { $browser="msie"; if (($version=$v[1])>4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } elseif (preg_match("/Mozilla(?:\/|\s)(\d)/i",$HTTP_USER_AGENT,$v)) { $browser="navigator"; if (($version=$v[1])>4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } else { $browser="other"; $version="unknown"; $PLATFORM=2; } } ?> HONEYMOONING ABOARD A CHARTERED YACHT

Honeymooning Aboard a Chartered Yacht
by Paris Permenter and John Bigley

Hoist the sails and gather way. Grip the wheel in your hands and cut a feather through aquamarine waters to a quiet Caribbean cove. Drop anchor and motor a small launch to an empty beach for a gourmet picnic on the white sand.

Sound like a boating fantasy? It is, but in the Caribbean, it is also reality. For some honeymooners, romance means setting their own course for island bliss aboard a chartered yacht. While this may sound like a tale from the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," many honeymooners find that it's comparable in price to a stay at an island resort.

"It is one of the least known vacations out here," says Captain Don Chandler who, with his wife and chef Susan, has operated several charter yachts out of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. "It's an all-inclusive but basically the client is in charge. Or look at it as a bed-and-breakfast with a different view every morning."

Throughout the islands, honeymooners can charter yachts and spend a week anchored off secluded beaches accessible only by boat. With experienced crews that provide everything from gourmet meals to getaway gear, honeymooners are free to focus on each other and the scenic beauty that surrounds them. Companies like The Moorings, headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, offer couples the option of chartering the entire yacht or opting for a stateroom at a fraction of the cost.

Like traditional cruises, charter yacht vacations offer a variety of experiences -- plus personalized service and plenty of opportunities for custom crafted itineraries. Lovers can opt for sail or motor yachts (generally a more expensive option). Some vessels accommodate a couple and crew only; others can contain a small wedding party.

When couples charter a yacht, they'll find all the amenities they'd expect to see in a fine hotel: bar, maid service, air conditioning, cellular telephone, TV/VCR and stereo with CD player, and more. Plus there are plenty of watersports toys like snorkeling equipment, kneeboards, and even scuba gear to help you enjoy the aquamarine waters together.

And, since this is a charter, you're the boss, free to set your own course and itinerary. The experienced crew can recommend hideaway bays, remote beaches, and bustling beach bars to suit your tastes. You'll be in touch with the crew before your journey to pass along information on your favorite foods, drinks, and itinerary ideas.

Now the tough decision: where should you start? The Caribbean is a huge area, but for charter yachting you'll find that three top regions offer several small islands and good sailing conditions.

One of the top yachting areas is the Virgin Islands. Both the US Virgin Islands and their British neighbors are capitals of the yachting world. The Caribbean spirit combined with comfortable familiarity helps make the US Virgin Islands one of the most popular island destinations, as does its terrific duty-free shopping. St. Thomas's bustling Charlotte Amalie tempts the two of you with store after store offering gold, gems, fine china, and more. Ready for something more tranquil? Then set sail for St. John, home of Honeymoon Beach, where the two of you can feel like Robinson Crusoe and his Girl Friday.

Nearby lie the islands nicknamed "Nature's Little Secrets," the British Virgin Islands. Thanks to countless secluded beaches and coves, here honeymooners feel like they've stumbled upon a secret hideaway. From the largest, 21-square-mile island of Tortola to tiny islands accessible only by boat, the British Virgin Islands offers couples some of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches.

If you're not ready to commit your entire honeymoon to charter yachting but you'd like to give it a try, you'll find several resorts in the Virgin Islands offer the best of both worlds. Properties like Bitter End Yacht Club, Peter Island Resort, and Biras Creek offer couples the chance to divide their honeymoon days between a luxury resort and an elegant yacht.

Another top yachting destination are the Leeward Islands, including both St. Martin and Antigua. From Dutch Sint Maarten or French St. Martin (they share the same cozy island), the two of you can set sail for St. Barts, tres French and perfect for an afternoon tryst over a bottle of fine French wine. Antigua is another yachting capital, where the two of you stroll hand-in-hand among the historic buildings of Nelson's Dockyard then weigh anchor and set sail from the site as mariners have for over two centuries.

In the southern reaches of the Caribbean, the Windward Islands offer yet more options. Set sail from St. Lucia, a fertile utopia where love blooms as readily as bougainvillea and hibiscus. Your captain can drop anchor in a quiet bay for a view of the island's trademark twin Piton mountains that rise from the sea. From St. Lucia, it's a quick sail to the Grenadines, small islands little touched by tourism and filled with quiet beaches where the only footprints are the ones you and your new husband leave.

Related Pages:

> more on cruise honeymoons
> more on Caribbean honeymoons


For Additional Information
The Moorings
800-368-9991

Peter Island Resort
800-346-4451

Biras Creek Resort
800-223-1108

Bitter End Yacht Club
800-872-2392

USVI Tourist Board
800-372-USVI

British Virgin Islands Tourist Board
800-835-8530
St. Lucia Tourist Board
800-456-3984

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourist Board
972-239-6451

Antigua Tourist Board
212- 541-4117

French St. Martin Tourist Board
877-956-1234

Dutch Sint Maarten Tourist Board
800-786-2278

St. Barts Tourism Office
877-956-1234