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Star Clippers Christmas in the Caribbean

clock 14th January 2014 | comment0 Comments

At the end of last year Marketing Manager, Laura Forward spent a week in the Caribbean with Star Clippers Cruises, here's what she had to say about this unique cruise experience

December in the UK. A time when we succumb to the gradual onset of winter. When soft grey mornings descend into stony afternoons and the joyful colours of autumn are buried under tightly drawn coats and frozen earth. With hunched shoulders and the instinctive resolve to carry on, we trudge into the isolation of winter, deaf to the rumbling heat that beckons across the Atlantic - for while we slumber in winters grasp, the radiant heat of the Caribbean endures.

Answering the call, with a mere 8.5 hour flight from London, seven pale, overdressed, excited travel agents stepped, blinking into the golden sunshine of Barbados, shrugging off the icy drizzle for flip flops, shorts and shades. We were here to join the largest sailing ship in the world, Star Clipper’s, Royal Clipper but we also took the opportunity to make the most of the beautiful island of Barbados with 2 nights pre cruise stay at Tamarind. The Tamarind Hotel is located on the sparkling West Coast of Barbados, locally known as ‘The Gold Coast’ for its premium properties and celebrity guests.

We were welcomed with rum cocktails and friendly staff just as the sun slipped into ocean on the horizon. Local fishing boats and drooping palm trees were silhouetted against a streaked crimson sky as we sat down to a spectacular a la carte meal on the beach. The meal was as exquisite as the setting and was a sign of things to come. Elegant Hotels, of which Tamarind is a part of, also boast Colony Club, Crystal Cove and The House, all situated on this illustrious coast line. Tamarind and Colony Club are perfect for couples and families’ alike, balancing friendly public spaces with idyllic hideaways for private relaxation. The rooms are all recently renovated to a very high standard with water sports and available across all the resorts. Crystal Cove and Turtle beach (located on the south coast) also offers all inclusive packages which are great for families and groups. For the ultimate romantic getaway there is, The House, an adult-only sanctuary of exceptional elegance with the acclaimed ‘Daphne’s restaurant just next door.  All luxury properties are highly recommended and the perfect way to start a holiday.

 

You could easily enjoy a week here hopping from sun chair, to bar stool, kayak to dance floor but a must for any stay in Barbados is a day on a catamaran.  Sailing up the West Coast of Barbados, rum cocktail in hand, we lay across the open sea hammocks, waved to cruise ships in port and I crossed another thing off my bucket list, snorkelling through the turquoise waters with seas turtles. The bleak grind of London seemed but a distant memory, in this paradise there was only crystal calm waters, smiling locals, the best rum in the world and the remarkable Royal Clipper who greeted us in spectacular fashion.


Launched in 2000 she is the largest ‘true sailing ship’ in the world with 5202 square metres of sails, carrying just 227 guests. Offering a completely unique opportunity you would be mistaken to compare the Star Clipper experience with any other cruise although full modern facilities are featured onboard. Celebrating our relationship with the sea and wind, there is a resounding feeling onboard that we are to be a part of something very special and there is a fantastic sense of camaraderie between guests and crew. Guests vary from young couples and families trying their first voyage to retired friends and family on their 5th sailing with Star Clippers. The tropical bar, headed up by the flamboyant Manalita, offers the perfect location to make new friends with a spread of canapés laid out each afternoon before the day climaxes with a dramatic sail away ceremony. Gathered on deck with a flute of champagne, under a sea of stars (or against crimson sunsets) the sails are lowered to the haunting soundtrack of Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise each evening – the ultimate tribute to the power and majesty of this vessel. Once sailing the ship confidently powers through the ocean with stability and speed allowing guests to wander freely around the spacious ship with ease. The main atrium hosts an elegant tiered dining room where buffet lunches and a la carte dinners are served. The food is exquisite as it is varied with new menus every day and hospitable, familiar crew attending to every need.

On the second day, sailing from St Lucia we were treated to a spectacular experience as we met sister ship, Star Clipper off the coast of Dominica. This rare opportunity saw both ships pulling out all the stops for a race across the Caribbean Sea. Sails full and keen, Royal Clipper tore through the ocean, her sister proudly shadowing at our side. With everyone on deck, staff waved and cheered to their friends on the sister ship as ‘We will rock you’ blared across the speakers, egging on the friendly competition. With Royal Clipper charging forward Star Clipper made a last ditch campaign, nimbly falling back and tacking into the sunshine portside, but the sheer size of the Royal Clipper was in the end no match for the smaller vessel. As the coast of Dominica approached and Star Clipper faded husky into the horizon, we returned to enjoying the sunshine onboard with warm conditions inviting us to stretch out in the sea hammocks, take a dip in the deck pools or even test our nerves climbing to the crow’s nest.

With just 227 people onboard it can feel like your own private ship. From sunrise breakfasts on deck to evenings drifting off, under the stars to the gentle lap of the ocean, there are unique moments of bliss to be captured throughout the journey.  Smaller than standard cruise ships, the ports visited are local and authentic with unique shore excursions and complimentary water sports offered at each idyllic location. If it were not for the tinsel laden cocktail huts and twinkling fairy lights you would think we were in the height of summer.

There really is no excuse for begrudgingly hibernating all winter when the Caribbean awaits all year round. So while the wind and rain whips around the UK, seek solace in the sun and climb aboard a Star Clipper ship for an escape like no other.  With Royal Clipper gracing the Caribbean waters year round and her smaller sister, Star Flyer, heading to Cuba there has never been a better time to enjoy a traditional luxury sailing experience. Short sampler cruises can also be book on Star Clipper as she sails in the Mediterranean this summer/autumn. I cannot recommend this enough and am eagerly anticipating my next voyage with Star Clippers.



Five Essentials You Need on ANY Cruise

clock 4th February 2011 | comment0 Comments
The necessities you need for your cruise holiday can often depend on the cruise ship you’ve chosen, the itinerary and the destinations you’ll visit. With so many varied options it can feel daunting to know where to begin when it comes to packing, so we’ve put together the top five cruise essentials for any cruise holiday! [More]


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