Hoist the 42 sails, Climb the Mast, Tie a knot, Dive in off a marine platform………Get carried away in the fresh air and open seas of the Caribbean while “sailing” among the off-the-beaten-track Windward Islands on one of Star Clipper’s tall ships. This is just what 25 STI guests did for their winter respite from cold, snowy, dreary days……what a way to escape, relax and rejuvenate. Personal attention began when we boarded the docked Royal Clipper and over 100 diligent crew served up individual attention, beginning with a Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party at the outside Tropical Bar. The cocktail of the day was “Bon Voyage!”
With only four decks, your nicely appointed sailing cabin is not many steps or stairs away from any point on the ship. Luggage was quickly delivered while we met each other at the STI Welcome Meeting in the Forward Lounge then endured the lifeboat drill in 3 languages. Unpacking and dressing for dinner was stress free as the Royal Clipper atmosphere is smart casual. The Clipper Dining Room offered white linen dining at special STI tables. To close out our first evening, Captain Borowka summoned us to the bow Sundeck for a Champagne Sail Away as the sails were raised and we headed out of Barbados for St Lucia. Dancing with Bela in the Tropical Bar closed out our first night under sail and stars.
Waking up to a sunset and/or buffet breakfast on a listing sailboat under full sail makes you smile and breathe in the salt air while beginning to feel blissfully relaxed. Only one dining room with STI tables always reserved means leisurely meals with your new STI friends. A second lifeboat drill, Captain’s Welcome, free Snorkel gear sign-out and Italian buffet l unch quickly leads to many boarding tenders in Rodney Bay, St Lucia. Some enjoyed views of St. Lucia by 4×4, minivans, Segway or underwater inside a Sea Trek helmet! Others climbed into a kayak or paddleboard on the Rodney Bay beach or stayed on the ship and sailed, windsurfed or dove off the marina platform onto foam floats. Back on board, we hit the Sundeck for our nightly sail-away music, Conquest of Paradise, as the crew hoisted the sails for Dominica and we headed to dinner. A fashion show with sporty, Star Clipper clothes and accessories modeled by three of our own STI guests and the activities staff brought many chuckles. Dancing to YMCA and the Macarena ended our evening on deck.
The next morning saw us experiencing the thrill of climbing the mast and discovering Cabrits, Dominica from the crow’s nest……..quite a sight! After a seafood lunch buffet, we again had the opportunity to choose between a shore excursion, a beach stop and/or a marina stop – all via tender of course. River tubing the Layou River or rowing the Indian River kept many of us spinning and swirling in currents. An STI happy hour in the Tropical Bar with piano melodies by Bela cajoled us as we sailed away for Antigua. It is so nice to experience a gourmet meal in nice casual attire after a full day of water sports. The STI team then tried a mind meld to guess the musicals associated with soundtrack tunes played by Bela……..we did much better at closing down the Tropical Bar dance floor.
We were all chomping at the bit for our beach BBQ stop the next day in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua and it lived up to our expectations. The marina platform was closed and the Sports team brought ashore guests, lunch, kayaks, paddle boards, sailboats and windsurfers in tenders to a wet landing at Pigeon Beach. Everyone enjoyed R&R on the beach…….whether that meant collapsing on a towel, hiking the beach or into town, tandem kayaking or sailing the harbor, trying out our snorkels and masks, or attempting to stand, paddle and turn on a paddleboard. After the beach BBQ, an adventurous group set out to discover Antigua in kayaks or jeeps, on zip lines or reef riders or snorkeling with stingrays! Others opted to enjoy the three pools, lounge chairs and knot tying on board. We dressed up for Caribbean Night to flash our colorful, flower shirts in the Clipper Dining room before drumming away to the Hell’s Gate Steel Band.
We anchored early off Basseterre, St Kitts so some guests could enjoy island tours by mini-van, safari vehicles or train from Basseterre to South Friar’s Bay. The rest of us enjoyed a late breakfast, mast climbing or lounging before taking tenders ashore to Carambola Beach Club in Friar’s Bay. Snorkeling in this area was the best so far with many fish and some coral. Water sports were also an option at both the beach (kayak, paddle board) and off the marina platform (water skiing, sailing, windsurfing). We all thought we would have a leisurely late afternoon on the ship……until a surprise was announced! The seas were dead calm…..and the captain sent out all the tenders on a sail raising photo opportunity. Everyone, either on board or in tenders, got to experience the magnificent sight of raising and lowering the 42 sails on the Royal Clipper…..speechless. With STI guests blissfully enjoying this sailing adventure, what a perfect time for an STI exclusive Pirate’s Night Happy Hour on the sundeck……great new friends dressed as pirates, free drinks, delicious hors d’oeuvres….all under sail to Iles des Saintes. The ship crew and guests dressed to impress for dinner as pirates and closed out the night with pirate games, dancing and late night star gazing on the bridge.
The next morning found us anchored at Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes. With no planned excursions, we were free to shop and explore the charm of this unspoiled, enchanted island. It is an island like this that the Star Clipper ships are meant to explore……far from the beaten path! Most guests sandwiched a bridge tour and deck luncheon buffet between two tender rides….one to the tiny capital village of Le Bourg and one to the beach where all water sports were located. The beach stop again offered one of the best snorkeling spots, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and hiking to Le Fort Josephine. Our sail away Happy Hour celebrated St Patrick’s Day before some changed out of green into the fanciest clothes they packed for the Captain’s Dinner ending with flaming Baked Alaska. This charming day ended with the Guest and Crew Talent Show followed by a packed dance floor after a few guests got the ship dancing with their talent acts.
A beautiful sunrise was seen by a few of our guests from the bow cargo netting (widow’s maker) under full sail while pulling into our last stop at Fort de France, Martinique. Watching the bow of the ship cut through the water from the holes in the cargo netting is an experience not to be missed…..and not for the faint at heart! Oh no – our life aboard what appears to be our own private tall ship is coming to an end. But not before our first gangway (no tenders!) since Barbados, 4×4 safari rides deep into Martinique, visits to Botanical Gardens of Balata, or shopping in Fort de France. As we set sail for Barbados, we enjoyed our final afternoon on the sundeck, mast climbing and an engine room visit. We were all keenly aware we would be saying seen you soon to our new STI friends at our Farewell Happy Hour and Dinner. A Tall Ship Memories Night reminded us of all the unique places we had visited and friendships formed. One last night sailing under the stars back to Barbados………. as we toasted to our next sailing adventure on a Star Clipper tall ship.
Saturday morning brought Lord Nelson’s Naval Toast: “To An Absent Friend……The gods do not deduct from men allotted life span those hours spent sailing!” Because absent friends never say goodbye, we finally had to say “See You Soon” at our last STI Breakfast Club and Farwell Meet Up to disembark by our favorite mode …..a gangway! We had sailed 825 nautical miles on what felt like our own tall ship. Alas, we left warmed with fond memories, new friends, several firsts, and dreams about our next phenomenal STI sailing adventure together.
Join us in 2017! Singles Sailing Adventure ~ Caribbean
See all the great pictures of our trip i our Facebook Album: SSA Windward Clipper Caribbean.
Contributed by Georgia F, STI Travel Concierge