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7 Nights cruising the Caribbean with Star Clippers

30th December 2015

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.




Unwind at Sea with a Yoga Cruise

16th July 2015

Taking a yoga or wellbeing cruise is an ideal way to relax and escape the stresses of busy modern life. Explore exciting new destinations whilst working on your mind, body and soul during a dedicated yoga cruising experience. Star Clippers run yoga cruises whilst popular cruise lines such as Princess and Royal Caribbean provide devoted yoga programs. [More]

Live From Star Clippers - Dubrovnik to Venice

12th August 2014

One of our trade partners, Rosanna has embarked on an adventure of a lifetime onboard Star Clippers, Royal Clipper. The only tall sailing ship experience of its kind, this is an experience for those thirsty for adventure and we are lucky enough to hear about it live.

Rosanna has kindly agreed to send me a daily update of her unique experience, here is how she is getting on...

Day 1

To my absolute sheer delight I am currently laying in the heat of the blazing Croatian sun, sipping a chilled Pia Colada whilst the gentle breeze makes an effort to lazily comb my hair. I am nestled amongst ropes, sails and masts as a small accessory of the stunning and grand Royal Clipper. The coastline of Dubrovnik's Old Town has been painted onto the horizon, except this masterpiece is real- there are people walking in and out of the variety of restaurants and bars as if they have do not have anywhere else to be. There is no rush, no hurry, no hustle and bustle of the life we are all so accustomed to. This is exactly the Star Clippers experience I was hoping for...

My day started at 3:30am when I met my colleague, Emma, who then drove us to Gatwick's South Terminal for the first phase of our adventure. After initially arriving at the wrong car park (blame excitement and lack of sleep!) we were soon at the front of the queue to board Easyjet's 7:30 flight to Dubrovnik. Literally at the front of the queue, how eager are we?! After a slightly turbulent flight we were soon descending into the city, squealing like excited school children when we caught a glimpse of Royal Clipper sailing with pride into the port as we were landing. 'She looks so sailor-y' was one comment made soon after by Emma! We hopped into our taxi that would transfer us to the ship, at which point I had to try to subtly change my English rainy day jumper into a cooler top. It was 30 degrees plus and after the torrential rain of the cold British morning this sort of climate seemed a distant dream.

As we approached Royal Clipper on the tender boat, I could almost hear a choir singing out a jubilant and regal tune. Similar to when you see a movie scene where someone finds just what they have been looking for. Just as her name suggests, Royal Clipper oozes regality and royal charm. The five masts stand tall and proud like guardsmen keeping watch over something very precious, yet perfectly able to hold itself.

After a delicious buffet lunch (the seafood linguine was divine) a dip in the sea from the Marina Platform and a kayaking adventure with Emma here I find myself... Soaking it all in (the sun and the sea!) and eager for the late sailaway. I have heard a lot about this unique experience, so will report back tomorrow on how this goes…

Day 2

As I lay here in the sun listening to the distant drones of Bob Marley coming from the poolside bar, I feel extremely lucky that in the last 17 hours I have experienced two unique sail aways on board Her Majesty the Royal Clipper. One in the darkness of midnight and the other under the gleaming afternoon rays. Let me first tell you about last night…

After a delicious steak dinner and a glass of chilled Prosecco in the main restaurant myself and Emma made our way to the outside decks where the lovely Cruise Director, Anna, was hosting a Ship's Quiz. All the guests gathered round and rang the bell when they knew the answer. The atmosphere was great- laughter, fun and spontaneity. The DJ then put some classic tunes on and the deck was soon scattered with guests dancing and enjoying themselves. Most guests then gradually made their way to the upper decks to experience us sailing out of Dubrovnik.

The stars in the sky and the fairy lights around the masts merged into one twinkling light display as crowds gathered to watch us leave. All of a sudden Conquest Of Paradise, a piece by Vangelis, draped the air as the clock approached midnight. The sound was haunting yet enchanting, and we both found ourselves totally speechless. Couples were holding hands, people were filming, and I felt like I finally understood the stories I had been hearing about this moment. The lights were soon turned off and we were left sailing invisibly into the distant ocean, with the music still making our presence subtly known to the fading coastline.

With this circling my mind like a dream, I slept soundly and we were ready to explore Hvart. After a short tender ride we headed up the town's steep and windy streets (we both admitted we were slightly defeated by the heat and the sheer number of steps, so wandered slowly back down to the flat main square). The neutral brickwork and crystal clear waters make Hvar an idyllic destination, a picture postcard sight around every corner. We found ourselves watching the world go by in a beautiful local bar- absolute bliss.

So here we are now- 5:30pm on a Sunday afternoon, tucking into afternoon tea and still reeling from the buzz of the 4pm sailaway out of Hvar. Guests helped the crew pull the ropes to raise the sails, and the experience was made even more memorable for us because we spent the time laying on the bowsprit nets at the front of the ship. I felt like I was somewhere I shouldn't be, that we surely aren't allowed on the nets, but we were welcomed and waved at by the friendly crew. We layed there as the breeze whistled past us, although I don't think I have ever kept such a tight hold on my sunglasses!

I have to go...we have an appointment with the ship's Crow's Nest now, a harness and camera are the ingredients of the next adventure! Time to get a bird's eye view of the ship, another thing to add to the list of totally unique moments onboard.

Day 3

Royal Clipper has anchored herself proudly off the coastline of Rovinj today, a small Croatian town unspoilt by masses of tourists and thriving with culture. After a leisurely morning onboard spent chatting to a lovely couple, Liz and Terry from the UK we were on the first tender to the shore just after midday. We spent a few hours exploring the town and soaking in the atmosphere. Local children, families and teens go about their everyday life as if we ourselves are one of them and blended in, so much so that I very nearly became a victim to a very fast teen on a very fast bike on the path! Yes I did let out a yelp!

After my close-encounter (really, it was!) we headed back onboard in time for a swim in the sea from the Marina Platform. There is something so invigorating about being in the open water, so close to the ship yet totally free. I felt so small but totally protected and safe. A number of yachts, dinghies and tour boats circled around us and slowed down, eager to get a closer view of Royal Clipper in all her glory.

Tonight we sail away at 7pm, just before the open dining restaurant opens. I think I will be avoiding the scales when I get home- the food is absolutely divine onboard and I find myself easily eating 3 courses out of the 6 on offer. Last night was the Captain's night, so we were presented with a glass of champagne upon arrival at the restaurant and we all toasted the Master of this beautiful ship. The cheers and applause from the guests were solid proof that this experience has been exceptional. The Hotel Manager, Carlos, spent time chatting with us and ensuring we were enjoying ourselves and we then joined everyone else at 10pm for the talent show up on deck. Guests and crew alike shared their various hidden talents, some hilarious and some truly outstanding. Seeing the Cruise Director put aside her role for 3 minutes and put on her dancing shoes for a Charleston was amazing! We then spent the rest of the evening dancing with the guests and showcasing some of our 'moves' (one guest commented today on how good we were at dancing, not sure he could remember rightly!)

So here we are now, catching the last of the afternoon rays. Almost every guest that walks past us stops to say hello and asks about our day, there is a unique family feel that is special to Star Clippers. Tomorrow we will arrive into Slovenia, a country I have never been to, so no doubt I will sleep well (the beds are so comfortable) ready for the next adventure tomorrow...

Day 4

As I say 'Day 4', I find myself saddened in the knowledge that this means it's nearly home time. Don't get me wrong, I love to be at home, but the solace and tranquillity I have found on here will be hard to find in 'normal' life.. If I could bottle up the Star Clippers experience and create The Royal Clipper Remedy potion, I would be in for a great future! Next business idea, maybe?

Aside from my desire to stay onboard (still planning the best place for us to stow away!) I find myself reflecting on yesterday evening. If possible, last night's sail away out of Rovinj topped all the others. This was a 7pm sailaway, which meant it coincided perfectly with the sun setting on the horizon. To make it more special, we were able to sail solely by the wind. For the first time, we saw the full sails being raised, the air silent apart from the music that will forever give me goosebumps. Without the power of the engines, we glided through the water gracefully, the whole time under the watchful eye of Captain Sergey and Chief Officer Arrigo. To my surprise, neither of these two were maneuvering the ship out of the harbour. A 9 year old boy was...

It was at this moment I realised how Mikael Krafft felt when his dream of making experiences like this became a reality to adults and children alike. I later found out that child has steered the ship almost every day and that he now wants to become a Captain himself. In 50 years time I have full confidence he will still be telling people about the time he steered a fully rigged tall ship out into the open sea. Fully embracing the ship's hands-on approach, we asked if we could have a look around the Bridge, something very unlikely to happen on most other cruise ships. We were welcomed in by Arrigo who explained how they navigate the ship and how they plan the course we will take. We were truly fascinated by the equipment and technology in there, I couldn't take it all in! Arrigo later joined us, Liz and Terry for the evening's Music Quiz where we chatted to him for 2 hours about his career and life at sea (yes we weren't very good at the quiz!).

We are in Piran in Slovenia, a country neither myself nor Emma had been to before. It's a very quaint place with shops and streets meandering off a main square, and a castle overlooking the town from the highest point. After buying a magnet (I make sure to get one everywhere I go) we settled ourselves down in a cafe where a local band were playing. Once they finished they sat down and tinkered away on their guitars, working our arrangements for their next set. They were laughing and truly enjoying themselves and the music, so much so that when we saw them again I made sure to put some change in their hat.

We have spent the remainder of the day enjoying the delicious open air lunch buffet and chatting to Liz and Terry. They booked this trip on a whim at a cruise show in London back in April, and have enjoyed it so much they are already planning to book again. Tomorrow we arrive into Venice, our final port of call, so we will be up bright and early to witness us sail in to such an iconic destination. My final blog installment tomorrow will most probably be written from Venice airport departure lounge after a day of exploring the beautiful city…

Day 5

They call it pathetic fallacy when the weather reflects how you feel. I'm sitting in the departure lounge of Venice's Marco Polo airport looking out at cloudy and overcast skies. It's the first time in 5 days we have not had weather that could be described as absolutely perfect. The absence of the gleaming sun makes us think Italy doesn't really want us to leave?

When fully dressed in all her sails, Royal Clipper looks magnificent. I imagine it like how a groom feels when he first sees a bride on their wedding day- still as beautiful as ever, yet more divine than ever before. As we were snapping away, the crew shuffled along the front of the ship and gave us all a big wave. We spent 20 minutes capturing the ship from every angle possible, the result being photographs we will all treasure forever.

We were joined for our farewell dinner by Chief Officer Arrigo and a lovely lady from the UK called Margaret. She was travelling alone so we had a great evening chatting and sharing stories from the trip. The crew then came out singing and waving flags, ready for their final bow before rapturous applause and cheers. The smiles on everyone's faces (crew and guests) showed us just how well enjoyed the cruise really was.

After dinner and a spot of packing (cue sad face) Emma and I decided it would be lovely to spend some time under the stars before our early arrival into Venice. We laid on the sunbeds, looking up at the clear night sky. At one point Emma said 'wow, that's a really bright star'- it was the light on top of the mast!

Before I knew it, the alarm was going off at 5:50am. Still under the mask of sleep, and for the first time armed with a thick cardigan, I headed up on deck to see a sight I will probably never get a chance to witness again. I think I can count on one hand the amount of people I know that have had the opportunity to sail in to Venice at sunrise on a tall ship. Surrounded be equally intrigued guests, we watched out as we glided past St Mark's Basilica as the bright red sun began to appear on the horizon. Joggers were scattered along the paths, running with ease over the many bridges that connect the famous canals. An army boat went past us and stopped to match our speed so that the fully uniformed servicemen could get pictures with our ship behind them. People weren't really talking much, just taking it all in. I'm not sure I can even find the words to fully describe being up on deck for that hour this morning...

We came back down to earth once we were alongside and being told to collect our passports ready for disembarkation. We were fortunate enough to be offered a tour of various cabins once all other guests had disembarked, so we spent some time with Muslim, the Head Steward, viewing the different categories on offer. There are so many wonderful features in the different cabins, from the private verandah of the Deluxe Suite, to the privacy and luxury of the Owner's Suite. All cabins are spacious enough to suit the needs of the guest, and finished to the highest quality.

We were lucky enough to be on an evening flight to Gatwick, so we had time to explore Venice for a few hours today. I was last here in 2007, and Emma had never visited before so it was a lovely morning of reminiscing and making new discoveries. Normally I despise pigeons, but the feeling of having them perch on your hand at St Mark's Square is wonderful, it reminds me of the little old lady feeding them on Mary Poppins! You can't buy seeds for them now but many people were throwing remnants of crisps and bread for them to scramble over. We then headed over the Rialto Bridge for spectacular views over the Grand Canal, before enjoying authentic gelato in one of the cafes alongside the water. A truly wonderful, Italian day!

Flight EZY5268 is delayed and the rain is pouring down outside...a bit of a reality check for us both after such a blissful time away. The tans will soon fade but the memories from our time on board Royal Clipper will last a long time I'm sure.


Star Clippers Christmas in the Caribbean

14th January 2014

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.


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