Frequently Asked Questions

Why Choose the British Virgin Islands?
The British Virgin Islands feature the best of two worlds. The sailing is beyond comparison, with constant trade winds to make for exciting sailing, along with calm, protected waters to make for smooth sailing. The underwater world is rich and spectacular, with five large shipwrecks, and many pristine and colorful reefs, walls, sea mounts, and grottoes teeming with life. The islands themselves have beautiful rain forests, tall mountain peaks, and rich British and Dutch history.
Why small groups?
At Odyssey Expeditions, we purposely keep our group size limited to approximately 12 people. Unlike other programs which travel in much larger groups, Odyssey Expeditions feels such groups detract from the individual student's experience. As a result, an Odyssey Expeditions participant, and their own goals, issues and concerns are not lost in the shuffle of a mass of bodies and boats.

Our group size also allows us to be flexible with our time. Odyssey Expeditions groups are not locked into a rigid, minute-by-minute timetable for the duration of the adventure. Although Odyssey Expeditions trips follow a planned itinerary, the group size allows us enough flexibility to explore a new dive site, spend extra time playing on the beach or take that much appreciated ice cream break.
What are full participatory trips?
Odyssey Expeditions voyages are designed with the philosophy of bringing together motivated adults who are eager to share their areas of expertise with students who are ready to join in on every aspect of a voyage. Staff are always available for instruction and to ensure safety, but this is not a pleasure cruise or a summer camp. Participants work together as a team in the operation of the vessel, with a daily rotation of positions ranging from skipper of the day, navigator, sail trimmer, chef, divemaster, historian, scientist, to dishwasher. The teamwork required to operate the vessel greatly expands your areas of exposure, allowing you to gain insight into how things work, learn new skills, build leadership abilities, and forge lasting friendships.
Will the other participants be my age?
Odyssey Expeditions strongly believes in placing students of comparable age together on a trip. We will not group 13 year-olds with 18 year-olds simply to fill out a program. We spend a great deal of time balancing trips by age, grade and maturity to ensure that the mix is appropriate.
Do I need any experience?
No prior sailing or marine science experience is necessary for any of the voyages. For the Discovery Voyages, no prior diving experience is necessary. Participants must be Open Water certified by any national certifying agency in order to participate in Adventure Voyages. For students who are unable to complete their open water certification prior to participating in an Adventure Voyage, the final open water check-out certification dives may be completed upon arrival by bringing a referral letter from your PADI instructor stating that classroom and pool sessions have been completed. Most participants have never sailed a large yacht or participated in marine research, all we ask is that you come with an open mind, ready to try new things and have fun.
What type of equipment do you use?
We use high quality Sherwood Equipment for our dive training programs. This equipment is available for purchase at the end of the summer at incredible discounts from retail prices. For instance, a BC, Regulator, Octopus, Computer, and Gauge combination, with a retail value of over $1500 can be purchased for $580! In addition, we have a full supply of safety equipment, compressors, a well-equipped science research lab, and fun accessories including sea kayaks and water-ski boats.
Where do we sleep?
There are four cabins on the yachts, but sleeping outside under the twinkling stars is the preferred location. Each yacht has waterproof hammocks that we string in the rigging and the front trampoline is very comfortable and cool. You will generally use the cabins for storage of your personal belongings.
Do I need to worry about seasickness?
The yachts we sail are very stable with twin hulls that provide a very smooth ride. The BVI's are known as a sailors paradise because of the smooth seas in the Sir Francis Drake Channel. At night we anchor in protected bays. In the event that you are prone to sea sickness, you still shouldn't have any problems as our First Aid kits have appropriate medication. After a few days aboard you will get your "sea legs" and have no problems what so ever.
Are the voyages safe?
Yes. Safety is at our forefront. Activities are carefully planned and professionally overseen. Having three staff and no more than eleven shipmates to a vessel aids in supervision and leads to a safe, flexible, and fun voyage.
What if there is a storm?
The weather in the Caribbean is usually very beautiful in the summer. We keep in close contact with our bases and have several days warning of severe weather coming our way. In the event of a tropical storm we return to the base and take the necessary precautions. Under no circumstances would we attempt to weather out inclement conditions at sea.
Who gets to sail the yacht?
You do! Our sailing masters teach you hands on all you need to know. You will be part of the "Crew in Training" sharing the responsibilities of running the vessel. A daily rotation of positions include skipper, navigator, sail trimmer and boson. When you are skipper, you have the helm.
What if I already know how to sail?
Our sailing masters are always ready to teach the more advanced aspects of navigation, sail trim and marlin spikemanship. Not to mention that you will be aboard a beautiful yacht sailing among some of the most pristine waters.
How long do we sail each day?
Sailing is our means of transport and we will sail between two to four hours a day, with lots of diving, science activities, and water sports to round out the schedule. We do not sail at night and are always within sight of land, but the winds are great and the sailing exciting. The protected waters of the British Virgin Islands minimizes the risk of developing sea-sickness.
Why do you use catamarans instead of monohulls?
Catamarans provide several advantages over monohulls. The major advantage is space. Odyssey Expeditions voyages are conducted aboard the award-winning Moorings 4700 Leopard catamarans. These elegantly designed and precision built vessels incorporate safety features, large deck space (for storage of water sport toys), a roomy cockpit, light and ergonomic galley, and an enormous transom (for easy entry and exit from the water while wearing scuba gear). They also are also easier to sail and because they have two hulls they provide a smoother ride.
What is the food like?
The food is awesome, by far the best of any of the summer programs- as testimonial by those who have worked or participated in the others. The students are the chefs, and we provide high quality fresh ingredients and simple to follow recipes. Servings are plentiful and fruits are always available. Bon appetit.
Do you accommodate special diets?
It depends on what 'special' means. Our meals always include the four basic food groups. If you are a vegetarian, we respect your beliefs and will do our best to prepare any meat dishes separate from the veggies. Please tell us in advance of your special needs to insure that we can accommodate them.
Are there any additional expenses?
No. Tuition is all-inclusive and covers program activities and equipment needs. The fun is included, but personal spending money and airfare are not part of the tuition and are not included. Only a wet-suit and dive booties need to be purchased. Participants also must carry diving medical insurance such as Divers Alert Network (DAN) or Dive Assure. Applications/brochures will be included in sign up packet. Trip Insurance is recommended, but not required.
Do we ever get to go on land?
What good are your 'sea legs' if you don't try them back on terra firma. There are so many cool little islands and beaches that we are surrounded by that of course we have to explore them. Then there is the Baths, with their humongous granite boulders to climb around and jump off of into the turquoise pools. We also return to civilization every few days to restock our fresh water and acquire fresh meats and vegetables.
Do we go ashore at night?
Not every night, but there are many places that we do. We will get 'Irie' with the reggae tunes, have a beach campfire at Sandy Spit and eat the famous mud pie offered at Marina Cay to mention a few.
What kind of educational emphasis is there?
On all our voyages, basic marine science and ecology, SCUBA certification and sail training skills are taught. We provide a wide range of resources, including a knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff, a complete nature library on each yacht, stops at sites of historical, educational, or cultural significance. In short, the educational opportunities are limitless for the individual who wishes to take advantage of them, and most students usually do.
Can I earn college credit?
Yes. Our SEA Voyages offer two hours of credit recommendation. We supply the full course syllabus and your performance evaluation to your registrar or advisor. Most schools will accept credit on this basis, but you will usually have to pay for the credit with your host institution. Please check with your advisor beforehand if credit is essential as we are unable to change things after a voyage has happened. Sea Voyages education programs are designed as extensions to your formal education, NOT as replacements for any required general biology or general marine biology course. Information can be found here CURRICULUM. The dive training courses provide transfer credit transcripts for up to five semester hours in physical education, with a transcript coming from the American Council on Education. Most colleges accept these credits directly for transfer without having to pay for additional credit registration.
Will I like it?
Can you leave home, friends, relationship, car, job and family? YES! Everything at home will be there when you return. Compare any 3 weeks of your life to the 3 weeks spent on Odyssey Expeditions and you will know that joining Odyssey Expeditions was the sweetest decision of your life. Talk to the people who have done Odyssey Expeditions, ask them if it was worth the risk. You can only soar when you try to fly.
Where can I find out more?
You can check out the rest of the website, call us at 800-929-7749, and/or e-mail us at
What is the male/female ratio?
We have 3.5 cabins for students, 1.5 for one gender and two for another, so the final ratio is about 65% one gender.
Will the other participants be my age?
Students range in age from 13-20 and we strive to have a tight age range. We have multiple vessels on each voyage and will group students such that they are on a vessel with students near their own age by a couple years.
Will I be able to contact other students in my group before the summer?
You will receive a roster of students on your trips in the middle of May. At that point, you will be able to call, write, e-mail, and possibly meet other participants before the summer begins! You can also post a message on our Forum.
Who will be my shipmates?
Participants arrive from near and far, mostly the USA, but also from many other points of the globe. Your shipmates will be a co-ed group. While most arrive alone, enduring friendships are built ups4on mutual experiences and cultural appreciation.
What if something happens and I need to contact my child?
Our yachts are equipped with cellular phones as well as radio communication equipment. Our trip leaders are in contact with the office regularly. Parents should call the Odyssey Expeditions office to relay any emergency information. Shore visits at selected points allow participants to call home.
How much diving will I do?
On our Discovery voyages you will do around 25 open water dives plus five confined water dives for certification. On the Adventure and Field Studies voyages you will do around 30 dives. The number of dives that you do will vary as some of them are optional and if your group is pumped for diving you can do even more.
Is it hard to learn how to scuba dive?
No, in fact, it's probably easier than you imagine -- especially if you're already comfortable in the water. Odyssey Expeditions teaches PADI's entry-level diver course. The course is split into knowledge development, confined water (pool) skill training and four scuba training dives. The course is "performance based," which means that you progress as you learn and demonstrate knowledge and skill. Our small group size allows for more personal instruction and less time waiting for others.
What is PADI?
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world's largest recreational diving membership organization. Professional PADI Members teach the vast majority of the world?s recreational divers, issuing nearly 946,000 certifications each year. PADI Professionals make underwater exploration and adventure accessible to the public while maintaining the highest industry standards for dive training, safety and customer service.
Do I have to meet any special qualifications or considerations before I can participate in a scuba class?
No. Generally speaking, anyone in good average health can participate. As a precaution, you'll be asked to complete a routine medical questionnaire. If anything on the questionnaire indicates something to be cautious about, you'll check with your physician to make sure it's acceptable to dive.
Do I have to be a great swimmer to learn to scuba dive?
No. All you need to be is a reasonably proficient swimmer who is comfortable and relaxed in the water. The swimming requirement for certification is an easy 183 metre/200 yard nonstop swim (with no time or specific stroke requirement) or a 300 metre/yard snorkel with mask, fins and snorkel followed by a 10 minute tread/float.
My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool. Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?
Your ears hurt because water pressure pushes in on your ear drum. In your scuba course, you'll learn a simple technique to equalize your ears to the surrounding pressure, much like you do when you land in an airplane, and they won't hurt at all.
Is scuba diving dangerous?
Not really. Statistics show that recreational scuba diving is about as safe as swimming or bowling. Certainly there are potential hazards -- which is why you need training and certification -- but like driving a car, as long as you follow the rules and use common sense, it's pretty safe.
I'm a certified through another training organization. Can I still attend?
Yes, Odyssey Expeditions recognizes certifications of other training organizations. Generally speaking, to enroll in a PADI Advanced Open Water or most PADI Specialty courses, one must have; an entry level scuba certification and documentation of at least four open water scuba training dives as part of the certification course completed. To enroll in a PADI Divemaster course, one must provide; a certification specific to scuba rescue and a CPR certification and a first aid certification from a recognized organization.
What is a "referral"?
The PADI SCUBA certification course has three main sections: academic, pool training and open water certification dives. If you complete the academic and pool training at your PADI dive store and are unable to complete the open water certification dives, then that store can issue you a "referral" form for the completion of the open water dives with another PADI store or instructor. Odyssey Expeditions is able to complete your "referral" certification during the initial part of your Adventure or S.E.A. voyage.
Do I need to buy dive gear to participate?
Odyssey Expeditions provides quality Sherwood SCUBA equipment. The only necessary gear not supplied are dive booties (neoprene type shoes), a dive watch ($25) and a dive log($7). We recommend that you also have a thin wet suit or shorty (less than $100) to keep you warm while you're gliding over the reef.
If I have my own gear, should I bring it?
It is your choice. Odyssey Expeditions provides quality Sherwood SCUBA equipment. If you are more comfortable using your own equipment, then definitely bring it.
Do you have dive computers?
Yes. All of our dive gear includes the most up-to the minute technology and the most user-friendly dive computers available today. In our Discovery voyages we begin by learning dive theory and the use of dive tables, but as you progress in your diving, the other safety features of computer use becomes apparent. A computer's ascent rate monitor helps you perform controlled, slow ascents and safety stops, which help prevent a number of diving maladies, not just DCS. Other programs will make excuses for not providing this safety feature, but we at Odyssey Expeditions will spare no expense with providing the safest equipment available.
Do I need an expensive dive watch?
No, there are very affordable watches available starting at about $25. You will want a watch that is water-resistant to 100 meters.
I need vision correction. Is that a problem?
Not at all. If you wear soft contact lenses, you shouldn't have problems wearing them when you dive. If you wear hard lenses, you'll want the gas permeable type for diving. See your eye doctor about these if you don't have them now. Another option is to have prescription lenses put into your mask. Contact your local dive store for more information.
I have asthma, can I dive?
The Topic of asthma and diving has long been a controversial subject in the recreational diving community. Traditionally, divers with asthma have been excluded from diving, although those with certain kinds of mild asthma can dive with a doctors approval. There are several good articles on this subject at the Divers Alert Network web site and Sport Diver
Can I get College Credit for Diving?
The American Council of Education (ACE) recommends college credit for many of the PADI scuba courses that Odyssey Expeditions teaches. ACE represents all colleges and universities before the U.S. federal government and as such is the unified voice of higher education. The ACE credit recommendations for PADI courses may help you in receiving college credit at an American university or college - even if the courses aren't conducted on a university or college campus. The institution may apply the credit to your major replacing a required course. They may also use the credit as a general elective to possibly waive a prerequisite course.
Will we see sharks during the voyage? Are they dangerous?
Chances are we will see sharks in more than one place. The majority are Nurse Sharks and Reef Sharks and these sharks are quite docile.
Will we see any turtles during our trip?
We see turtles quite frequently during our dives and sailing. The turtles come closer to shore during the summer for nesting. Many of the shallow bays where we anchor have turtle grass beds.
Is there any dangerous marine life we should be aware of?
No. If you refrain from touching, feeding or chasing marine life, use good buoyancy control and respect the environment you are in, then there is nothing to be afraid of.
What kind of visibility can we expect?
Visibility is generally between 60 to 100 feet. The visibility varies around the Islands and we have found that the northern islands have lower visibility due to sea snow. But this is not something to fret about. The snow is rich in nutrients and the coral formations in these areas are extraordinary.
Do I need diving accident insurance?
YES, in the event of a diving accident, insurance payouts can be very expensive. Not carrying an insurance program means that you will be at the mercy of the local medical system and your credit card and bank. Medical treatment in some destinations and specifically diving related medical treatment can be very expensive. You may be required to pay out of pocket, sometimes upfront, and that could be a problem. Additionally, carrying a specific diving accident policy will allow you to have the expertise and experience needed to handle such a case, which a non-diving policy simply can’t offer. We suggest either Divers Alert Network DAN or Dive Assure.
Do I also need dive-travel insurance?
While your diving accident policy will pay the diving related medical costs such as hyperbaric chamber treatments, you may incur many other expenses or lose some or all of your trip investment through scenarios such as: non-diving medical situations, cancellation and interruption due to many reasons like inclement weather, personal or family issues, airlines delay and many other reasons. A travel insurance policy will protect you against such unforeseen scenarios.
When did this all begin?
Program founder Jason Buchheim's intense interest in marine life led him to earn his scuba instructor rating at the early age of 18 and to study marine biology at Oregon State University. Addicted to the excitement of marine ecology research and intimately familiar with the dive industry, Jason combined his avocations in 1993 to share his passions with others. This season will begin Odyssey Expeditions 89th voyage.
Who are the trip leaders on the yachts?
Every yacht has to three staff members. On each there is a US Coast Guard licensed captain, a PADI scuba instructor and a biologist. At least one of the staff members is a certified Wilderness First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician. Staff are selected personally by us for their ability to prevent and solve problems in the field, their capacity to relate to and enjoy our travelers, and their knowledge and love of the places we visit. They take care of every detail, but more importantly, they take good care of you. Best of all, they're the kind of people with whom you'd like to spend your summer.
How old are the program leaders?
Our leaders are intelligent, well-educated, genuine and mature adults ranging in age from 21-35. They are spirited, friendly, athletic, and well-traveled experts in wilderness adventure. Our leaders are professionals.
What is the trip leader-to-student ratio?
Odyssey Expeditions has a leader-to-student ratio of 1 to 4. This ratio means that our trip leaders have more personal involvement in your activities. This lets you learn at your own pace. Whether it is learning how to free dive, identification of wildlife, or water-skiing, our leaders are there to make sure that the voyage beats all your expectations.
What is PADI?
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world?s largest recreational diving membership organization. The membership includes dive businesses, resort facilities, academic institutions, instructor trainers, dive educators, divers, snorkelers and other water sports enthusiasts. Professional PADI Members teach the vast majority of the world?s recreational divers, issuing nearly 946,000 certifications each year. PADI Professionals make underwater exploration and adventure accessible to the public while maintaining the highest industry standards for dive training, safety and customer service.
How are behavioral and disciplinary problems handled?
Odyssey Expedition's leaders offer positive reinforcement, assertive role-modeling and a sense of fair play. Rules are necessary in any organization and our disciplines are reasonable and well communicated at the start of the voyage. If penalties are involved for violations, they are applied quickly, fairly, calmly, and without undue criticism to students. Participants are expected to maintain an atmosphere of respect and consideration. Action or attitudes detrimental to group cohesion and spirit or to the healthy and pleasant environment aboard will not be tolerated. Students must follow PADI safe diving standards and the safety rules created by Odyssey Expeditions and its directors.
What is our Zero Tolerance Policy?
The yachts are 'Dry' and 'Zero Tolerance' is strictly enforced. No alcohol, illegal drugs, smoking or inappropriate sexual behavior is allowed aboard. The Program Director reserves the right to dismiss anyone who in his judgment is detrimental to the program.
What is your safety record?
Safety of our participants is the PRIMARY concern of our leaders. As a result, we have an outstanding safety record. We believe this is a result of the level of training, the experience and the maturity of our staff and their constant supervision during a trip. We are extremely proud of this safety record.
Although Odyssey Expeditions takes the necessary steps to provide a safe outdoor experience, anyone participating in an Odyssey Expeditions adventure must understand that there are risks associated with the activities of our programs. While on the sea, almost any activity is potentially dangerous, whether it is cooking dinner for the group or simply taking a day hike. The unpredictability of life at at sea is something our groups contend with each day of the trip.
How do I know which Voyage is best for me?
Odyssey Expeditions offers several different types of voyages to fit your individual skill level. Our Discovery Voyages are for students who have no previous scuba diving experience. The Adventure and S.E.A. Voyages are for students who already have their Open Water certifications. The Divemaster challenge is for those students who are looking to join the leaders of the pack. The PADI Divemaster program is your first step leadership level in the PADI professional system of diver education. Our staff would be happy to discuss which trip is right for you. Call us and we would be pleased to answer your questions and guide you to the appropriate Odyssey Expeditions Voyage.
How soon do trips fill?
Enrollment is limited on all Odyssey Expeditions voyages. Many families make summer plans early in the winter, and some trips fill by the middle of January! We encourage you to call our office when you have decided on a trip and dates. We can notify you of trip availability and even save you a spot on a trip while your application and deposit are being sent in the mail.
What if my first choice adventure is not available?
Since many trips fill by mid-January, there is a chance that your first choice will already be full. We have a wait list for all trips, dates, and age groups. Many students sign up for their second choice trip and put their name on a wait list for their first choice trip. The trip deposit and balance are transferable between trips. There is a surprising amount of movement among students throughout the spring, and it is not uncommon for participant to enroll in a trip in January, only to learn in April that they need to attend summer school, or that the dates of the adventure conflict with a family vacation. If you are on a wait list, we will notify you as soon as a spot on a voyage opens. It is often difficult to predict if and when a spot will become available, so you'll have to be patient!
I've picked a voyage. How do I enroll?
Once you've picked an voyage, it's a good idea to call our office and double-check that there is availability. We will hold a spot for you for a few days while you send in your application and deposit. You can find an application in the back of our catalog, as well as on this web site. Fill out the application and send it in with a $1000 deposit. Upon receipt of your application and deposit, you will be sent an enrollment package, containing more detailed information about your specific adventure, as well as several forms for you to fill out and return to our office.
Do you have any family discounts?
Yes we do. If two or more family members attend during the summer a 5% discount will apply. Discounts are not cumulative, only the largest will apply.
Can I do more than one voyage in a summer?
Yes! Almost all of our trips have several start dates, making it easy to accommodate students who would like to take more than one trip. You can combine a Discovery Voyage with an Adventure Voyage for a six-week odyssey that would allow a person with no scuba experience to earn their Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, and six specialty certifications. A certified diver can combine an Adventure Voyage with our Divemaster Challenge and earn their Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster and eight specialty certifications. There will be some overlap in activities, but you would be welcome to share your new expertise as your second voyage unfolds. The North and South S.E.A. Voyages can be combined so that you can experience all that the Windward Islands have to offer. If you would like to discuss possible double-trip combinations, please call our office and we'd be happy to assist you. We offer a 5% discount on the second program tuition for double enrollment.
When is the balance of the tuition due?
A $1000 deposit should accompany your application. The balance of your tuition is due April 1st. Applications are accepted after April 1st where space is available and remainder of the tuition is due three weeks from deposit. Berth deposits may be paid by check, Mastercard or Visa. Published tuition prices reflect a 3% cash discount. Final Tuition is payable by check or money order; if paid by credit card, the cash discount is not applicable. Payment Plans are available to spread the cost over the year.
What is your cancellation policy?
The deposit is refundable until February 1st in the year of your voyage minus banking fees; after that date the deposit and all subsequent tuition payments are non-refundable so we strongly suggest participants select the trip cancellation insurance coverage. Voyages are transferable to another eligible participant. Once enrolled, any request to switch programs in the same summer will be considered on a case-by-case basis. It should be understood that it is not our policy to allow program switches within 30 days of the program start date.
Can I come with a friend?
You may come on an Odyssey Expeditions voyage with a friend, although we strongly encourage students to come alone. A major component of Odyssey Expeditions voyages is the group experience. If you do decide to attend with a friend, the leaders will encourage you both to interact more with the entire group than with each other.
What about references?
Our past participants are our best testimony to a quality program, and we encourage you to call them. Please contact Odyssey Expeditions at any time for references. To protect each family's privacy, we do not publish their names here, but are happy to supply them upon request.
Does Odyssey Expeditions offer financial aid?
No, but we do offer a Payment Plan.
I have misplaced the PADI release forms. Can I get more?
Yes, the forms from your sign up packet are available here FORMS.
Does the price of the voyage include airfare?
No. Odyssey Expeditions students come from 50 states and many foreign countries, and it is therefore not possible to include airfare in the prices of our programs.
Who makes my travel Arrangements?
We suggest the TUI Moorings Travel Service (from North America) but you are not required to use them.
They may be reached at 800.535.7289, or Soun Saysonvang, our Tui Air Agent, direct number 866.649.2003.
The TUI Moorings Travel service works exclusively with charter boat guests and they are happy to give you a quote and can help arrange for students to travel together.
Do I need a passport?
Valid passports are required now to any travel outside the US, a birth certificate will not suffice! . If you want to get a passport, applications are available at the post office. US citizens can find downloadable passport applications and other helpful information on the State Department website. It normally takes six weeks to process a passport application.
Do I need a visa to travel abroad with Odyssey Expeditions?
No visas are required for US or Canadian citizens participating in the British Virgin Islands and Windward Islands. If you are not a US or Canadian citizen, please refer to VISA INFO for the British Virgin Islands requirements and or VisaHQ or contact our office for more information. Passports are required for all voyages.
What if I have never traveled alone before?
For many Odyssey Expeditions students, this is the first time they have taken flights without friends or family. Airlines can arrange for students to be met in the connecting city and to be escorted to their connecting flight. Fees vary for this service, but generally the airlines charge around $35 for "Unescorted Minor". As well, it is possible that there will be another Odyssey Expeditions student on your flight, especially if you are coming from a major city. If you would like to co-ordinate travel plans with another Odyssey Expeditions student, please call our office and we can let you know if there are other students coming from your area on travel day.
What is a "Travel Day"?
Your travel days are the first and last days of your program. You should arrive on the first day of your program and you will depart on the last day. For example, if your trip dates are June18 to July 08, you will fly to program on June 18th and home on July 8th.
What time I should I arrive?
You can arrive from early in the morning until late at night. We recommend that you book the earliest flights available to ensure that any flight delays allow for rebooking on later flights that day. On your return home you should also depart early in the morning to avoid overnight delays.
  • Can I use frequent-flier miles?
    Yes, you can make travel arrangements using your frequent-flier miles. Make sure to check that they are valid for international travel.
    Unaccompanied Minors (UM)
    Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) are young travellers, defined by the airline as being too young to travel without direct supervision. The airlines designed these programs to help provide additional security to your student while they travel. If your student is originating from points outside of the US, this may not apply.

    Airliness have various rules and policies and they can vary widely. Even within the United States, fees range from $50 to $150, some airlines don’t accept unaccompanied minors at all, some require the service until a child reaches 15 years old, while others will not offer it at all once a child reaches 12 years old. Some airlines let you connect on international itineraries to other airlines and some only permit nonstop domestic flights. The rules and fees for unaccompanied minors are truly all over the place.

    The following is a general overview of (UM) requiremets:

    • Your child must take (UM) status if they are defined as such. It is mandatory based on age unless the student is flying with a family member who is older than the designated (UM) age, or a non-family member over the age of 18.
    • You must pay for (UM) status for BOTH the outbound and return flights while checking in for the outbound leg. If your student becomes “of age” during the program then this will not apply for the return leg.
    • You will need to provide the name and contact details of Odyssey's Representative in the arrival airport during the check-in process. We will email this to you a few days prior to the program start date.
    • You must ensure that the entire trip uses a single airline carrier on both the outbound and the return itineraries.
    • You must confirm with the airlines that your student is not flying on the last flight of the day. Airlines will not take responsibility for an Unaccompanied Minor overnight.
    • If joining a BVI program, understand we can only accept (UM)s flying to St. Thomas because we will not have a staff representative in the San Juan airport.
    • (UM)s flying from St. Thomas must have flights that depart before 3:30pm.

    Links to specific airline policies:


    If you have any questions regarding UM status, please feel free to give our office a call at +1.352.400.4076.

    Flight Arrangements General

    We suggest the TUI Moorings Travel Service (from North America) but you are not required to use them.
    They may be reached at 800.535.7289, or Soun Saysonvang, our Tui Air Agent, direct number 866.649.2003.
    The TUI Moorings Travel service works exclusively with charter boat guests and they are happy to give you a quote and can help arrange for students to travel together.

    Click Here to see detailed Flight information in our For Parents section

  • Do I need any special inoculations for trips abroad?
    It is not necessity to obtain any special inoculations or vaccinations.
    How can I be reached en route?
    Our yachts are equipped with cellular phones as well as radio communication equipment. Parents can call Odyssey Expeditions office throughout the summer to relay any emergency information. Shore visits at selected points allow participants to call home.
    What should I bring?
    All non-personal necessary equipment is provided, including scuba gear, safety supplies, and sporting equipment, science equipment and other items required for program activities. Only a wet-suit and dive booties need to be purchased. Upon signing up, you will receive a list for packing your Sea bag. You probably already have most of the personal equipment needed, such as clothing, a rain jacket, hiking boots, and wet suit booties, but you may wish to get a wet suit. You are welcome to bring your own SCUBA equipment.
    Can I bring a Phone card?
    The phone system in the BVI's is operated by a monopoly, Caribbean Cable & Wireless. The pre-paid calling cards available in the US do NOT work in the BVI's. There are pre-paid Caribbean Cable & Wireless cards available at most of the ports we visit. Phones in the Windward Islands are owned by different companies, but phone cards are available at ports for those phones.
    Can I bring my personal entertainment electronics (iPhones, etc)?
    We ask that you TRY to leave behind electronic equipment and tune into the wilderness and the group. You can bring these items, although charging them is difficult. No earphones are allowed.
    Can I do laundry?
    Yes, the preferred method is to hand wash your dirty clothes before we come into port, then rinse them with fresh water at the port and hang them out to dry. There are some locations with laundry machines, but do you really want to watch a laundry machine while in port?
    How much spending money should I bring?
    We suggest approximately $50-100 per week for personal items, stamps, postcards, souvenirs, etc.
    Do I need to bring any money other than spending money?
    Participants are required to bring $100 (travelers checks or cash) that will be deposited with the Trip Leader to be used in the unlikely event of an emergency. The money is returned on the last day of the voyage. There is also a departure tax at the airport of $20
    What is a "Travel Day"?
    Your travel days are the first and last days of your program. You should arrive on the first day of your program and you will depart on the last day. For example, if your trip dates are June18 to July 08, you will fly to program on June 18th and home on July 8th.
    Will someone be at the airport to meet me on the first day of the trip?
    Absolutely! When you sign up for a voyage, you will be sent information which outlines when we would like you to arrive and depart. Once your family has made your travel plans, we ask you to send all of your flight information back to our office. This information is then given to your Odyssey Expeditions leaders who will be sure to meet you at the airport when you arrive.
    How will my parents know that I have arrived safely and met my group on travel day?
    When you get off the plane at your final destination, you will be met by one of your Odyssey Expeditions leaders. After you have claimed your luggage, you will call your parents to let them know that you arrived safely and met your Odyssey Expeditors group.
    What about Immigration and Customs?
    If you are traveling from the United States you will go through immigration when you arrive in the British Virgin Islands. Then you will claim your bags and go through customs. The BVI government welcomes your visit to their islands and this is just a minor informality. On the way home you will go through immigration and customs most likely in Puerto Rico or St Thomas whether it's your connection city or your final destination.
    What if I have a problem on travel day?
    The Odyssey Expeditions office will assist you and keep your parents informed. You will have a printed travel information card with our toll-free number that you should carry with you during the travel day.

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