Flying Cloud

Jim Bowden

Ports: Tortola, Salt Island, George Dog, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke,
       Norman Island, BVI
Dates: Sunday, September 28, 1997 - Saturday, October 4, 1997
Agent: Skyscraper Tours, Inc. Sherwood, AR

My last cruise was limited just to the trip down to Aruba, the seven day
Seawind cruise and then the return flight back to the U.S.  This trip was
a bit more lengthy and included a hotel stay in St. Thomas, USVI before
the cruise and a hotel stay in Tortola, BVI when the cruise ended.   I
will first cover aspects of the cruise and then include information on the
other aspects of the trip.


Sunday, September 28:  Tortola (Stowaway night, ship stays in port)
Monday, September 29:  Departs at 1200p from Tortola sail to Salt Island
Tuesday, September 30: Sail to George Dog, then to west tip of Virgin
                       Gorda - for the night
Wednesday, October 1:  Sail to Virgin Gorda
Thursday, October 2:   Sail to Jost Van Dyke
Friday, October 3:     Sail to Norman Island at 500p to Tortola
Saturday, October 4:   Tortola Disembark no later then 1200p


The Windjammer Flying Cloud has an option to 'Stowaway' on the ship the day
before departure (ships sails at 100p on Monday) - we decided to take this
option to get comfortable with the ship before sailing.

After taking a ferry from St. Thomas we arrived at West End, Tortola then
we took a taxi from West End to Road Town, Tortola.  We dropped off our
luggage to a Windjammer launch that was just heading for Flying Cloud -
it relieved us of taking our luggage as we looked around Tortola and waited
for the launches to start taking people to the Flying Cloud at 500p.

We found a store open just across from the Road Town Ferry Dock and bought
some postcards and walked around a small area of the downtown - but since
it was Sunday there were very few shops that were open.   After walking
around we sat at the Road Town Ferry Dock writing postcards and waiting
for the launches to start taking those of us on Stowaway to the ship.  A
small crowd of Windjammer passengers had started to congregate and we were
able to spot who were our shipmates!

The launches held about 15 - 20 people or so and the first launch finally
brought us to the Flying Cloud!  The ship got big! as we approached it on
the launches - it looked like a tiny ship when we saw it from the Ferry
Dock.  We were greeted by the crew as everyone CAREFULLY got off the
launches and boarded the ship.  Our first step was to head into the dining
room and accept rum swizzles from the crew and get everything signed
(liability releases, credit card slips, contract of passage forms, etc.)
and then head for our cabin.

Check in went fast and then our very helpful cabin Steward Randy showed
us to Cabin #27.

When you go through the check in process they also supply you with two
booklets - Wind Jammit guide and the Windjammer Survival book.


The cabin was very small!  Warning - don't bring many clothes - there is
very, very little room for storage in the cabin (plus on a Windjammer all
you need is T-shirts and shorts!). We had two bunks bed and a porthole
(let you wake up and check the weather) in our cabin (#27).   The bathroom
has a toilet and the shower is built into the ceiling so that the entire
bathroom serves as your shower stall!  Remember the button on the wall
next to the toilet is NOT the flush - it turns on the shower!    The
ship's clean water supply is one temperature - luke warm - there is no
cold/hot water knob when you take a shower - it is just one temperature -
the same temperature that comes out when you use the sink - results in
quick showers!

Every day we had clean/dry towels (shower towels, not beach towels)
supplied to our cabin and our cabin Steward would make the bunks and
clean up the room - doing a great job.  Our cabin got considerably
cluttered towards the end of the trip as we purchased items on some
of the islands along with our snorkeling gear taking up valuable floor
space.   A nice storage place was under the bottom bunk - we were able
to stuff my suitcase in that spot and use the small storage area on the
wall for storing backpacks, etc.

Our cabin was next to the Captain's cabin.  It is located on the Main
Deck and is considered  a Standard cabin.

Ship Facilities:

General:  It is a well maintained ship with just the right amount of
passengers to have a diverse group and also permit you to meet everyone.
The top deck is where the bar is located, a large amount of deck space
for the buffets, parties and places to meet your fellow sailmates.
Surrounding the top deck are storage holds that also serve as places
to sit or lay out and relax.   In the bow of the ship is the widow's
net which passengers can climb out and stay or even to sleep on!  It
is scary the first time out but by the end of the cruise I think almost
everyone had been on the Widow's Net.

Dining Room: The dining room has four large tables and with our cruise
we could almost fit everyone in for a single dinner seating.  Also in
the dining room is the coffee maker which is running 24 hours and available
for anyone to use and also has hot chocolate and teas available.   The
dining room is where the day's activities are listed on a whiteboard
along with the signup sheet for the next day's SCUBA trip.  Around the
window sills in the dining room people have donated books for passengers
to read during the cruise.  I picked up "The Scarlet Letter" at a
bookstore in Virgin Gorda and made a donation to the collection. I
also read an alternative history book by Turtledove that was in the

Shop:  The shop on the Flying Cloud is called the Sea Chest and is
located in the dining room area.  The only complaint I have about it
was there were no posted hours - it was never clear to me whether there
were set hours when it was open.  When we did find it open we purchased
a bunch of T-shirts, key chains, more postcards, etc.

Islands:  Since the islands in the British Virgin Islands are close to
one another the common rule is to sail in daylight in the BVI.

Monday, September 29:  Salt Island

On Monday morning while still in Tortola we were offered the opportunity
to tour Tortola (we passed since we were going to be on the island post
cruise).  The ship sailed off to Salt Island at 1200p. When we arrived
at this small island we were allowed to jump off the ship and snorkel
around the ship.   We saw quite a few fish and about 5 to 6 jellyfish
swimming around.  Those of us who had masks warned the swimmers where
to move to when the jellyfish would drift into our paths.

Dive meeting 400p to review the procedures for how the diving operation
works on the ship.

Story time - This is where the Captain would discuss events on the island
             that we were going to visit.  On this day he reviewed safety
             precautions and introduced the rest of the staff.

After dinner the activities staff had us play Naughty Nautical Games.

Tuesday, September 30: Sail to George Dog

Blue Water Divers was the SCUBA outfit that Windjammer uses for its SCUBA
diving throughout the Flying Cloud cruise.  They did a fantastic job -
professionals who knew the area, conducted safe dives, and conducted a
good SCUBA Resort Dive course.

Divers were back to the ship by 230p.

Lunch waiting for us divers.

I took a launch to the island we were visiting and built a sand castle.

Around 415p the ship headed for the next island: Virgin Gorda.

Buffet Dinner was served.

PPP Party held tonight!

Wednesday, October 1:  Sail to Virgin Gorda

Story time started at 900a by the Captain.

Island tour - great views from Virgin Gorda Peak which is the second highest
point in BVI.  The Baths - which are huge boulders that have trails you can
walk between the boulders or go snorkeling in the clear waters surrounding
the area.   We also shopped a little in the Little Dix Bay area.  We took
the last bus back from The Baths and spent some time walking around Spanish
Town and waited for a launch to take us back to the ship at 600p.

Dinner in dining room.


Thursday, October 2:   Sail to Jost Van Dyke

We had two dives - first 50 feet for 40 mins. 1 hour break.  ~50 feet for
40 minutes.  Another great time and the water continued to be very clear.

Returned from dive around 230p.

For dinner most of the ship went to Rudy's on Jost Van Dyke and had a
lobster buffet! Lots of great food and the price was very reasonable.

Friday, October 3:     Norman Island and then sail to just off of Tortola
at 500p

On this day the ship was tied to a rock just off a small island (George
Dog was very near, to the right of us).  Our dive boat came and got those
of our group heading for scuba diving again.  There was a larger group for
this dive and in addition to the group from Flying Cloud there were people
who were vacationing on BVI.

The trip from the ship to the dive site of the RMS Rhone was a bit rough
and some people had gotten nervous on the ride over.   A few passed on
the first dive and decided they weren't comfortable with this diving
spot.  We were more in the true ocean then some of the other protected
areas we had been previously diving.

On this dive I went with the certified divers instead of with the new
resort divers - this allowed me to see a greater area of the dive.   The
dive operation sells a $50.00 video of the dive and we ordered the tape.
The company doing the video does a good job and I would highly recommend it.

Our first dive was to 76 feet for about 35 minutes and the second dive after
a break was to about 65 feet for 35 minutes.  Both dives featured many fish
and clear water once again.

After return from the wreck dive there were people still snorkeling off the
side of the ship and soon we had dinner.

One of the crew members offered a knot tying class.

We then moved to just off of Tortola and anchored until Saturday morning.

For Friday night I decided to sleep on the deck - which was fun!
Thankfully there was no rain that night and I awoke on Saturday at around
sunrise as the crew prepared to bring us to the dock in Road Town, Tortola,

Saturday, October 4:   Tortola Disembark no later then 1200p

Breakfast buffet in the morning before everyone headed off the ship.

The ship was fortunate in that we were able to dock right in the port and
not have to take any launches.   We disembarked around 1100a and spent a
few hours checking out Tortola since most shops were open.  I purchased
some spices at Sunny Caribbee Spice Co as a gift and had them ship it to
the USA.  We also found an interesting book about diving in the BVI and
also got some souvenirs.

We had lunch at Pusser's Company Store and saw many of our shipmates there.
We then hailed a taxi and headed to the other side of the island to stay at
the Long Bay Beach Resort.  The taxi driver gave us a good narration as he
drove around the island.

Food:  Food certainly was not gourmet but it was good.  Late night buffets
tended to happen around 1030p.

Cruise passengers:  We weren't sure about what the passengers profile would
be - it turned out there was a wide range of ages.   There were singles,
newlyweds, repeat cruisers,  Check out Jeff Schloss' web page at for pictures along with my web page at



Captain: Adrian Cockcroft.  He was good during his morning chats where he
                            would discuss the next stop for the ship.
                            Unfortunately for us divers we would usually
                            miss his talk since we would leave the ship on
                            the way to a dive.

Randy:   He was our cabin steward and did an extremely good job.

Lori Beth:  Was always more in the background and I only talked to her once.
            She was helping organize everything and kind of the right hand for

Alysson: From Canada?

Allysia: From England.  Very active person - could get people really



We participated in some activities and others we didn't.   Some that I can

      Crab race.
      Games held on deck.
      Pimps, prostitutes, and pirates costume contest (see the pictures!!)
      Knot tying class
      Sailing lessons
      Navigational introduction
      Naughty nautical games.

Also worth mentioning is the playing of Amazing Grace when the sails are
lifted and we start sailing.  Blocker, a passenger who is deaf,  would sign
the words as the song played.  It was a truly great moment during the cruise.

By Tuesday I had giving up on shoes or sandals and was going barefoot
virtually the entire time!

Virtually the entire time we were on the ship was water was absolutely
calm.   Only one time did I really notice the movement of the ship and
that was when we were under sail and I had just awaken.

During a storm towards the end of the cruise lightning struck the ship
and knocked out some of our electronic equipment!

Pre Cruise

Friday, September 26, 1997 - Sunday, September 28, 1997

We left Philadelphia to St. Thomas on US Airways 905a - 1250p #2134.  I
had upgraded us to First Class and we had breakfast served on the flight.
When the flight attendants opened the aircraft door - the blast of hot,
humid air was incredible!

We caught a cab to the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort and were taken to
a few other resorts dropping people off.

We spent the day snorkeling at the beach (it was cloudy and with some
infrequent showers) this hotel had just about everything:  work out
facility (weights, bicycles, treadmills, massage, and sauna) well
protected beach (not great if you like waves), gift shop, jetski,
sailboat, paddle boat rentals, Baywinds restaurant, Palm Cafe Snack
Bar, Palm Bar, Smuggler's and High Tide snack bar, swimming pool,
tennis courts.

The room was large and had a very large bathroom and had a patio.  

We ate at the hotel Friday night and at the Palm Cafe on Saturday for
lunch and headed to West End for Italian food Saturday night.  Ordered
late night snack room service Saturday night. Breakfast was room service -
great food!

Ferry from Red Hook to Tortola. Nice ride about 45 minutes or so.  Left
at 130p arrived at Road Town, Tortola, BVI between 300p and 330p.

Post Cruise

Saturday, October 4, 1997 - Monday, October 6, 1997

Ferry from West End, Tortola - STT - walk around with our luggage which
was a mistake since we had quite a bit of heavy items at this point and
the city was crowded with two huge cruise ships that were in town.  Not
a good time.

Long Bay Beach Resort - This was a great disappointment. The resort has
some great things but the beach is extremely: long and narrow!  The beach
maybe a mile long but due to rocks - at times only ten feet from where
the water breaks - I went into the water once and felt very uncomfortable -
even with a very low wave height.  Another couple of from our ship stayed
at the hotel and also felt the beach was a great disappointment.

We built another sand castle - at least the beach was good for that.  It
was a pretty tough battle since it was a narrow beach and a couple of
times we thought the sand castle was going to get swamped.

The hotel has a brand new pool which is the largest in BVI and was going
to be opening in the next few weeks (see pictures on web site). The
disappointment for me was the beach - most people go for the nice
looking beach - unfortunately the beach does look nice but in reality
it isn't great to swim in.  There is another smaller pool at the resort
but it was swamped with kids and we didn't try it out.

We had dinner at the hotel Saturday night and it was very good but very
expensive. Our dinner Sunday night was at the Treasure Island Hotel
where we met some other Windjammer cruisemates who were staying at
that hotel after the cruise.  Dinner was once again very good and they
had a wider selection of vegetarian choices then the Long Bay Beach Resort.

The resort also has a tennis complex and onsite car rentals. 

Our room (#506) was very nice and had an open air design along with a patio
overlooking the ocean.   The nicest thing was the nice HOT shower!  The
room also had a small semi-furnished kitchen area and the television
featured the usual selection of hotel channels.

Although the room was a bit of a distance from the main buildings it was
close to the area of the beach that was wider then some areas of the
hotel beach.

We had a visitor in our room - there were alot of tropical plants around
the building and a little salamander shared the room with us but was too
shy to have a closer look at him.



1.    Pre Cruise:       Renaissance Grand Beach Resort - great hotel on
                        St. Thomas.

2.    Cruise:           Windjammer is the way to go if you are into a
                        completely casual cruise and a surprisingly
                        diverse age for the passengers.

3.    Post Cruise:      Long Bay Beach Resort - avoid it - the beach is
                        nothing as is advertised.   Although if you are
                        a pool person then newly opened pool is excellent.
                        We had dinner at a hotel in Road Town and the
                        Treasure Island hotel seemed very nice and a
                        greater value.

Any questions are welcome - send me an email message.

This review is being post to: on Thursday, December 18,
1997 and also any Windjammer or Cruise review web page I can locate.
If you have a web page on cruise reviews permission is granted to copy
this review to your site.

Jim Bowden
Indianapolis, IN