Updated August 2019

 

Walter from our well-travelled commercial team spent seven sunny nights on a Caribbean cruise with tall ship sailing experts Star Clippers. Read all about his sunlit adventure below!  




Ship: Royal Clipper
Cruise: Windward Islands
Dates: 5th -12th December 

 

We begin with a fabulous 2 night stay in Barbados at the paradisiacal Turtle Beach Hotel.

Catamaran excursion

On our first day we set off on an excursion via catamaran along the western coastline. We sailed from Bridgetown past the main cruise line port and beyond to spot endangered green turtles. Our excursion continued on to visit a one hundred year old ship wreck. Snorkelling is ideal on these excursions and highly recommended. The catamaran then anchored close to shore for a leisurely lunch and swim.

Barbados hotel visits

The elegant hotels that we visited in Barbados include five lavish and luxury hotels; Colony Club, Crystal Cove, Tamarind, Turtle Beach and The House. Each offering its own unique range of luxury options for family, romance, water sports activities and culinary experiences. If you want a change of scenery when staying at one of these hotels, you can dine at any of the other elegant hotels at no extra charge. We also visited Two Oceans Hotel, offering luxury service with a contemporary look catering for couples and families and located within walking distance to the nightlife at St. Lawrence Gap. Location should be key when you chose as the waters in this southern coastline are less calm than the west coast beaches.

 

caribbean beaches

Barbados

Boarding commencing from 16:00 onboard Royal Clipper in Bridgetown was a totally different experience from boarding a ship like say Britannia which just so happened to be docked next to us. Captain Mariusz Szalek was at the top of the gangway welcoming each and every guest onboard, with the hotel director Mary Zelenka offering a refreshing fruit cocktail before heading into the lounge for the embarkation process. Afternoon snacks were available in the Tropical bar which is a covered open deck area where guests can convene throughout the cruise, especially after dinner.

We were escorted to our cabins and assisted with hand luggage and kindly shown how everything works in the cabin. Awaiting in my cabin was a bottle of French champagne in an ice bucket with flutes – a wonderful touch all returning guests to Star Clippers can expect. The luggage was delivered shortly afterwards with plenty of time to unpack and take a refreshing shower in a luxurious marble en-suite.

Compulsory Muster Drill conducted by the Cruise Director Cathleen Donath took place at 18:45 with plenty of forewarning over the public address system. The importance of this maritime mandatory drill cannot be underestimated, a good opportunity to advise us on the do’s and dont's onboard for the comfort and safety of all passengers and crew.

 



The meal times are set with appropriate intervals, for example early bird continental breakfast is served from 6:00 – 10:30am in the Piano Bar. Breakfast is in the Clipper dining room from 8:00 – 10:00am. Lunch is usually served in the Clipper dining room from 12:00 – 14:00 , afternoon snacks from 17:00 – 18:00 in the Tropical bar and dinner is served in the Clipper dining room from 19:30 – 22:00. Midnight snacks are served in the Piano Bar from 23:45 – 01:00.

The welcome dinner was served in the dining room open seating style a la carte from 19:30 – 22:00 after which the legendary sail away took place at 22:00. Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis soundtrack saw us on our way as we set sail with the sails lowered for Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.

Sailing away from the Atlantic facing coastline overnight, we were reminded of the ocean’s swells which subsided once we took refuge in the calmer waters of the Caribbean. The induction of the contrasting temperament of the waters gave us a true sailing experience. A reminder and renewed respect for navigators like Christopher Columbus who discovered most of these islands we are about to visit on this itinerary.

St. Lucia – Rodney Bay

What sets St. Lucia apart from most of the Caribbean islands is the mountainous topography. The tenders take guests to a choice of the beach or the marina where an array of well organised stalls selling typical local produce like rum, chocolate and crafts. For the beach enthusiasts, the sports team offer watersports activities for the Star Clipper guests.

 

st lucia pitons



Royal Clipper sets sail at 18:00, everyone is on deck to experience the spectacular sail away. Soon after, before dinner at 18:30, an opportunity for fellow single travellers to meet & mingle is organised in the library.

After dinner, a great way to end the day is the music quiz held at 22:00. It doesn’t take long for guests to engage competitively - for a moment it feels like the guests are entertaining the crew.

Dominica – Cabrits & Roseau

Arriving in Dominica is the most exciting maritime tall ship race setting in the Caribbean with sister ship ‘Star Clipper’. Starting from 9:30 – 10:30am, mast climbing to the Crow’s Nest was the best view for the sailing parade. Royal Clipper anchored off in the beautiful Cabrits Bay whilst Star Clipper docked at the small pier. This port of call is a must for the eco tourist who can enjoy a largely unspoilt and natural island. An excursion along the Indian River boat cruise takes you along mangroves into the rainforest where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Our boat guide was very informative and passionate about the fauna & flora of this unique setting culminating to a refreshment stop where we were offered a potent yet refreshing passion fruit rum punch.

 

royal clipper

 



The rich volcanic soil of the island of Dominica with its 365 rivers allows for just about every fruit & vegetable imaginable is cultivated, with the exception of apples needing a much cooler climate.

Royal Clipper then sailed onto Roseau, the capital of Dominica, to pick up those guests that did the half day excursions to the Middelham Falls & Sulphur Spa, Trafalgar Falls and champagne snorkel as well as those that chose the river tubing adventure.

After dinner, the evening entertainment was hosted by the sports staff and some guests participating in a fashion show promoting the Sloop Shop’s fashion collection and logo accessories.

Antigua – Falmouth Harbour

The Yacht Club Marina in Falmouth Harbour looks like the Monte Carlo of the Caribbean with mega yachts of the rich and famous. A short walk past the villas and boutique hotels take you to Pigeon Beach where the sports team have set up watersport activities like kayaking, snorkelling and sailing. Captain Nemo Spa has beach massages available to the sound of waves. A delicious beach barbecue awaits guests with bar staff on hand taking drinks orders quenching a hot & sunny afternoon’s thirst.

The tender boats take guests from the ship to either the marina or the beach and back to the ship throughout the day.

In the evening, guests are encouraged to wear a colourful flower print shirt if they have one to add to the lively atmosphere of the evening entertainment onboard where a live steel band concert takes place after dinner in the Tropical bar.

St Kitts, Basseterre & South Friars Bay

The arrival into Basseterre has the Royal Clipper disembarking passengers for excursions and after 2 hours, she repositions to South Friars Bay, only an hour away. During this repositioning, mast climbing is organised by the sports team for guests remaining onboard.

 

st kitts view



A train tour taking you sightseeing around the island utilises the same train tracks used in an era long gone to transport the sugar production of the island. We were fortunate to go on a safari island drive taking us around the coastline with a rather picturesque guide who was very informative and entertaining. A stop at Romney Manor to see the Indonesian production of Batik fabrics, old sugar mills and oldest ruin of a rum distillery in the Caribbean. Another stop for refreshments was along the Atlantic ocean coastline where a spectacular view of rugged rock formations at the water’s edge were created 500 years ago from a lava flow from a volcanic eruption.

The last stretch of the safari was past a golf course and biggest hotel on the island in close proximity to the international airport. Guests wishing to swim and sunbathe for the afternoon may utilise the Carambola Beach Club or take the tender back to the ship now anchored in South Friars Bay.

At 16:30, a fantastic photo opportunity is organised where guests can go out on the tender where the Royal Clipper under full sails prepares for departure for Iles des Saintes. The sun is low & the light is perfect for taking pictures worthy of being postcards. Once back onboard, the evenings theme is Pirate Night, its not mandatory to dress up for the theme night, but some guests have come prepared.

Terre de Haut – Iles des Saintes

A picturesque French island part of Guadeloupe where the Marina is dotted with quaint colourful fashion boutiques, souvenir stores and great restaurants. A good tip is to get your shopping done early, as the afternoon siesta closure is very much adhered to. Lunch was served on deck in the Tropical bar. A tender to the beach located on a separate island is ideal for snorkelling with the sports team on hand with snorkelling equipment and also offering water gymnastics on the beach.

We set sail at 16:30 in the most spectacular manner with full sails. How envious the guests on Windstar and Seadream must have been waving to us as we elegantly sailed away onto Martinique.

Captain’s dinner served in the dining room was an opportunity for the captain to raise a glass of champagne in honour of the high number of returning loyal guests who cannot get enough of the true sailing experience. The guests in turn toasted to the coming of the fourth tall ship to the fleet. The dress code is smart but not formal as would be required on most other cruise lines for captains dinner.

 

star clippers captain



Most evenings 10:00pm is when the entertainment takes place in the Tropical. This time it’s the guest and crew talent show - an opportunity for guests to showcase their talents whether it be singing, dancing or playing the guitar.

Fort de France , Martinique

The arrival was early to the most developed of the French islands on this itinerary. Worth visiting is the market with exotic fruits and vegetables seen as curiosities to most of the tourists. The wonderful smells of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla pods lure the casual passer-by to this colourful market. The Schoelcher Library is a beautiful steel super structured building designed and built in Paris then shipped to Martinique. Free Wi-Fi is available here as advised by the well placed & helpful tourist information marshals around the bay area where the cruise ships dock. The focal point of the town is St. Louis Cathedral, a magnificent iron structure designed by Mr Eiffel to withstand hurricanes. This island shows much signs of prosperity with its own Galleries Lafayette for the discerning shopper.

Fort de France historically boasts the birthplace of Josephine de Beauharnais to a wealthy Creole family that owned a sugar plantation. Josephine suffered imprisonment in France during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror and the execution of her first husband by the guillotine. This legendary socialite went on to become wife of Napoleon Bonaparte and was crowned Empress of France.

The sail away is at 14:00, last chance to climb the mast to the Crow’s Nest or visit the Engine Room with Chief Engineer Vitaliy.

After dinner we all gather in the Tropical bar where the sea chart raffle takes place. This is an important event where money raised from the raffle goes towards the crew fund, to help crew members and their families in a crisis situation where their lives may have been disrupted because of hurricanes or earthquakes back home.

Making the most of the last evening onboard has the bar staff working late into the night as we sail back to Barbados.

See yourself on a unique tall ship adventure? Browse our tall ship sailings with Star Clippers.