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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2011
I'm so pleased that Cruise Critic is now allowing Arabella passengers to submit reviews about this wonderful ship that offers the perfect sailing cruise yacht experience.

We sailed Arabella for the first time in Sept/Oct ... Read More

I'm so pleased that Cruise Critic is now allowing Arabella passengers to submit reviews about this wonderful ship that offers the perfect sailing cruise yacht experience.

We sailed Arabella for the first time in Sept/Oct 2010, for a New England cruise, and again in Feb 2011 for what the Arabella team calls "the Spanish Virgin Islands," out of St. Thomas.

The ship herself is gorgeous, with beautiful woods throughout, a comfortable lounge area with a beautiful polished wood bar and tables, plus large picture windows, while on the deck are many places to go to enjoy the sailing experience, by yourself or with your new friends (both passengers and crew).

Arabella has what you'd call "cozy" cabins. While they are small, they're not too small if you heed the request to pack lightly. Those sailing on Arabella don't spend much time in the cabin anyway! You're either out on deck, savoring the experience, sharing time with new friends, even learning some sailing techniques and lore, or you're enjoying the crystal clear waters or exploring the smaller ports not available to the large cruise lines. Arabella's A and B cabins (the only ones I have experience with) are designed very well, with four large and deep drawers beneath the large (and comfortable) beds (queen sized in A cabins), a rack that holds a few hanging clothes (but who needs something that must hang?), and a bathroom with shower and toilet, with the sink just outside the bathroom, in your cabin. This actually is an excellent arrangement, so that while one in the couple is showering, the other can be using the sink/mirror comfortably.

You really only need casual clothes: swimwear, shorts, tees, tank tops, lightweight pants and maybe a casual jacket and/or sweatshirt. On board, most, including the crew, go barefoot. But I suggest you bring a pair of sandals and/or water shoes, as well as a pair of walking shoes for exploring in port.

Arabella focuses on the sailing and water experiences. She sails each morning, and drops anchor mid-day. When she is underway, her sails are up unless there just simply is no wind. After lunch on board, tenders run into/from port every hour, usually until midnight. Kayaking, snorkeling, beaching, exploring the port, sampling the local brews and cuisine are what most everyone will be doing, or maybe just continuing to relax onboard. An amazing New England lobster bake on the beach is included on that cruise! An abundance of lobster, chicken, corn, potatos, shrimp....yum!

Food on board is plentiful, varied, enticing and delicious! Served buffet style and all-you-can-eat. It's amazing what Chef John can do out of a small galley. That small galley is why most of Arabella's dinners are on shore. On the New England cruise, your cruise fee includes one dinner, the lobster bake. You're on your own for the rest, but that's because the Arabella crew discovered that most passengers wanted to sample the cuisine of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, etc. For Caribbean itineraries, all but one dinner is included...and those dinners are in port, where the crew has made arrangements with restaurants or at popular local beach all-you-can-eat buffet barbecues. The restaurants were excellent with great options, and the barbecues were bountiful and delicious, with passengers and crew enjoying them together.

Arabella's crew is fantastic: both the onshore and onboard crew members! Personable, professional, attentive, knowledgeable, helpful, fun! We had Captn Sandy for our NE cruise and Captn John for our Caribbean sailing. You couldn't do better than these two! Especially loved Captn Sandy's salty tales!

Fellow passengers: on both of our cruises, they ranged in age from 30s to 80s...all active folks who love sailing and exploring...and enjoying meeting new people. Age was of no matter...everyone just had a great time together. We were all new friends within the first 30 minutes of boarding, as we shared rum punch plentifully provided by our crew.

Those who want entertainers, climbing walls, swimming pools, multiple restaurants offering assorted cuisines, extensive shore excursions, crew members in white jackets, luxury cabins and don't enjoy mingling probably won't enjoy this type of cruise/ship. My husband and I are the opposite: small, well-appointed intimate ships with sails (and preferably wooden hulls) is what we look for. We've sailed Windstar, Star Clipper and Windjammer Barefoot Cruises and discovered Arabella when Windjammer went outta biz. We especially loved "barefoot sailing" on the Windjammers and once in awhile enjoy sailing the more upscale and little larger Windstar and Star Clipper ships. But Arabella's size, yachting experience and itineraries suit us best....we've booked her again for Feb. 2012!

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Sail Date: January 2011
We boarded The Arabella on Sunday, Jan 30, 2011 at Red Hook on ST. Boarding the ship we were greeted by the crew and a frothy rum punch. Debbie the First Mate and Jack of all trades was ther to ease the sign in process. Debbie is the ... Read More
We boarded The Arabella on Sunday, Jan 30, 2011 at Red Hook on ST. Boarding the ship we were greeted by the crew and a frothy rum punch. Debbie the First Mate and Jack of all trades was ther to ease the sign in process. Debbie is the person that every organization is lucky to have. After check in we motored to SJ and dined at the tonyCaneel Bay. It is a swanky place and had a great meal there.

Monday :Vieques

We motor/sailed to Viequesand arrived there at noon. After a great lunch, we headed into town and checked out Esperanza.Our mates went snorkelling and enjoyed it. After 3 Viequensees we head back to the ship for cocktails and apps.After dinner, we went to The Bio Bay which was amazing.We hopped on a bus which brought us to a pontoon boat for our trip to Bio Bay.We educated on plankton that reacted to our body and lit up. Upon entering the water,we were all astounded. Lifting my arm out of the water and watched what appeared to be diamonds rolling down my arm. These were drops of water. This was a ball and I slept like a baby.

Tuesday:Culabrita and Culebra

At 0600 we motor sail to Culabrita. Arriving at Culabrita, I pack 3 Caribs in a ziplock bag with ice.After a vigorous 20 minute hike to the Lighthouse, I climb to the top and enjoy a breeze and great view.Here, I pop a cold Carib and enjoy the heck out of it.After a great afternoon, we head to Club Seabourne on Culebra for a great meal at a beautiful hotel.

Wednesday:Christmas Cove on ST and Saint John.

Leaving Culebra, we sail to Christmas Cove for lunch an good snorkelling. Arabella is a great sailboat and sails at 10 knots in a proper wind.We head to SJ for the night and anchor off two great beaches; Salomon and Honeymoon. After a relaxing afternoon we head to Zozos for chilled bottle of white and and the best sunsetview on SJ. Il Tapa lived up to its rep and was superb. We split five great apps. Plenty of food. There was an open mic at Morgan's Mango which was great fun. The local talent was amazing.

Thursday:Norman Island and Willy T

This was the best snorkelling on the trip. We took the RIB to The Caves and it was like descending into a fish bowl. The water was as clear as drinking water and the color of the fish was amazing. 75 minutes flew by and it was time to jump into the RIB and get squared away for the BBQ at Pirates Bight. After dinner a few of us headed to the infamous Willy T which lived up to its name. Something about half naked women, whipped cream and Baileys. What a hoot. This boy could only handle one hour of those antics. As always Caleb picked us up in RIB and returned us to our orderly home, Arabella.

Friday: Jost van Dyke

We arrived at noon off White Bay on JVD. After lunch, I checked into my favorite bar in the world, Ivans.Although, Kenny Chesney wasn't there, great folks were. You can't help but have a ball at Ivans. It has sand floors, superb bushwackers and icy cold beer.This side of the beach is uncrowded and as beautiful beach as you will ever see. I genuflected to Ivan as he was holding court in the bar. Ivan is a Vietnam Veteran. After 4 hours, we unfortunately had to leave. We motored around the point to Great Harbor. At sunset we headed into town and enjoyed the sunset and a cocktail or two at Corsairs which is a great place. Iam told Vinny's Pizza is the best. We moved onto Foxy's for the BBQ. It was really good, we wee invited first and there was a large crowd at Foxys. They had a great live band and everyone enjoyed themselves. Sadly, I caught the 10 oclock boat back to the ship and the dreaded packing for departure.

Day 6:Saint John, Saint Thomas and Departure

At 6:30 we motored to SJ to clear customs. Subsequent to this we motored to Charlotte Amalie and departure. This was all well handled and painless. We left the boat at 10:30 and headed for the airport.


Breakfast and lunch is served everyday on the boat. John Hawkins ,the ship's cook is talented and does a great job. All dinners save one is provided onshore. This gives an opportunity to enjoy local culture.

The rooms are small but comfortable. You control the AC and the hot water is plentiful in the shower.

Arabella is as clean as a whistle and the boat gleams. Public spaces are numerous and comfortable as you never feel crowded.The crew is attentive as can be. The bar is manned at all times and the BLOODYS are the Best.From all aspects this a high value experience which I can't wait to repeat.Captain John is very approachable at all times and loves to share the tech and sailing with all. Debbie is the glue that makes Arrabella a great experience. The entire crew will help you at all times. My hat is off to them

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Arabella Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 5.0
Entertainment 1.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 5.0
Fitness Recreation 1.0 5.0
Family 1.0 5.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.5
Enrichment 1.0 4.0
Service 5.0 5.0
Value For Money 5.0 5.0
Rates 5.0 5.0

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