When the Marine Group editorial team from Active Interest Media headed down to the British Virgin Islands this past December a unique partnership developed. Both Marine Max and The Moorings helped us secure charter boats for touring the British Virgin Islands. Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria had big impacts on both The Moorings and Marine Max. We asked Josie Tucci of The Moorings and Raul Bermudez of Marine Max Vacations for their impressions of the impact that this past hurricane season had on their businesses.
What impact did the 2017 Hurricane Season have on your company and your charter operations?
It was heartbreaking for us all to see the devastation in the days after Irma, and then Maria passed through. For the first
time in our company’s 50-year history, we had to close our British Virgin Island base for three months, until our reopening on December 9. Likewise our St. Martin and Puerto Rico locations were closed and will be celebrating reopening on February 1st. We refunded or rebooked all of our customers impacted by these closures. During this challenging time we received overwhelming offers of support from our friends and family in the boating community, and as a result, have raised over $125k to help our team members directly affected by the storms. – Josie Tucci
After the hurricanes MarineMax Vacations was not operating charters. Our first charter guests returned in late November— thanks to our dedicated team preparing the fleet and to those guests who were so excited to visit. Our fleet was affected with eight boats being severely damaged and the remaining receiving minor to moderate damage. Overall we were very impressed with how well our boats held up and how strong they were.— Raul Bermudez
What has the comeback trail been like?
It’s been a lot of work and credit goes to our operations teams on the ground who have worked tirelessly in tough conditions to get us ready to welcome guests again. We lost over a third of our fleet and have many yachts under repair. In addition, we are in the process of bringing over 130 new yachts into the BVI in 2018, so there is still a lot of effort going into the recovery efforts. – Josie Tucci
The MarineMax Vacations team was and is outstanding. Prior to the hurricane they did a great job preparing the fleet and then afterwards, really came together to assess the damage and prepare the fleet for the charter season. – Raul Bermudez
What is your impression of BVI cruising right now?
I was personally amazed and encouraged to see the pace at which the local hotspots, bars, and restaurants are recovering. We had the chance to visit some of my favorite haunts and share high fives and fist bumps at the news that we, too, were reopening. Foxy’s, the Soggy Dollar, and Hendo’s Hideout on Jost Van Dyke, Coco Maya and Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda, as well as Pirates Bight, Cow Wreck on Anegada, were already open for business as usual! – Josie Tucci
I was impressed by the spirit of the people I met. Everyone was very friendly, happy to see people visiting the islands, and positive about the outlook of the upcoming season. While there were signs of the hurricane, I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly vegetation had grown back and how beautiful the islands were. The water is as beautiful as ever; the snorkeling and national parks are ready for tourists to enjoy. – Raul Bermudez
What is your one piece of advice for charters and cruisers for this coming season?
Bring plenty of cash if you’re coming down now, and book early if you’re looking at next season—it will be busy but the charter fleet will still be limited! – Josie Tucci
Hurry up and go! This is a great time to really explore the British Virgin Islands, talk to people in the community, see your favorite places in a more secluded setting, and take in the natural surroundings. The beauty found in the British Virgin Islands, with their combination of beaches, cliffs, mountains, boulders, caves and sea is so different from anywhere else. This season is really the perfect opportunity to experience the British Virgin Islands and take it all in. – Raul Bermudez
Josie Tucci, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The Moorings and Sunsail.
Raul Bermudez, Vice President of Marine Max Vacations.