Jim Bottoms is a travel consultant based out of Annapolis, Maryland, who recently sailed on Royal Clipper’s Windward Islands itinerary. Along the way he took some fabulous photos. In this edition of Jim’s photo journal we take a look at the the Sea Trek Helmet shore excursion at St. Lucia.
From the surface they might just look like buoys bobbing along but look closely and you might see that those are guests exploring the under water in the bay of St. Lucia. The Sea Trek Helmet excursion is a fun chance to take a look under the sea. The training is not extensive as it would be with scuba diving but the helmets allow guests to stay submerged longer than they could with a traditional snorkel experience. Read on for underwater shots!
Guests discover underwater treasures ...
... including sea urchin!
Even the relatively shallow bay is teeming with life!
Does the Sea Trek Helmet excursion interest you? What other types of shore activities would you like to do in the Caribbean? Let us know in the comments below!
The Travel Channel has named a cruise on Royal Clipper the best in the Caribbean!
[caption id="attachment_15760" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper sailing by the pitons of St. Lucia.
The Travel Channel just published their list of Travel's Best Cruises 2014 and Star Clippers took the cake for Best Caribbean Cruise!
The article cited Star Clippers sophisticated travelers, fine wine, fabulous destinations and laid back beach barbecues among the reasons that a cruise on Royal Clipper topped all others:
Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper
You'll find a very different tropical seagoing experience aboard Star Clippers' 227-passenger Royal Clipper, the world's largest and only 5-mast, full-rigged sailing ship.
The elegant tall ship frequents small exclusive ports like Bequia, Tobago Cays and Iles des Saintes. “Attracting sophisticated travelers (roughly half are European), Royal Clipper offers open-seating, dining on sumptuous fare and fine wine. After dinner, guests gather around the grand piano or on deck to watch the enormous sails unfurl in the wind,” adds Anne Campbell. Don’t miss the beach-side barbecue on a deserted beach.
[caption id="attachment_15763" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper's Windward Islands itinerary.
Royal Clipper -- along with 4-masted sister ships Star Clipper and Star Flyer -- will return to the Caribbean Nov. 2014 where the ship will resume the popular Windward Islands and Grenadine Islands itineraries. The Windward Islands itinerary departs Bridgetown, Barbados and calls include Rodney Bay, St. Lucia; Cabrits & Roseau, Dominica; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes; Fort de France, Martinique;
[caption id="attachment_15764" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper's Grenadine Islands itinerary.
The Grenadine Islands itinerary also departs Bridgetown, Barbados, but follows an alternate route first calling at the Captain's choice, Grenadines, followed by calls at St. George's, Granada; Tobago Cay, Grenadines; St. Vincent, St. Vincent and Bequia; Fort de France, Martinique; and Marigot Bay, St. Lucia.
Both itineraries are fabulous and life at sea on a tall ship brings the beauty of sails to these already stunning destinations. To learn more about departure dates as well as Star Clipper's Caribbean itineraries and Star Flyer's Panama Canal Crossing visit the website.
Have you sailed on one of these Royal Clipper itinearies before? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!
Chis Owen of the popular blog Chris Cruises boarded Royal Clipper in Barbados. Chris is a travel-writer who focuses primarily on the cruise industry and he began live-tweeting, instagramming and blogging his experience aboard the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world. Follow along with Chris' journey here, or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, or his own blog, www.chriscruises.com.
Sailing Star Clippers, it did not take long to notice that smaller ocean-going ships offer some distinct advantages not possible with larger vessels. Our first port of call on Royal Clipper took us to the lovely island of St Lucia, a tender port as most are on our itinerary. Normally not a big fan of tender ports, there is a huge difference between moving a couple hundred people on our ship with sails and thousands off a larger ship. The process is rather easy. But moving a comparatively miniscule number of passengers is far from the only difference.
Smaller Ships At Smaller Ports
That Star Clipper ships stop at ports rarely visited by large ships is unique. Cruise travelers who have become a bit bored with big ship-capable ports will like the change in scenery. A bonus is that the ports are not overwhelmed by a massive surge in visitors as multiple ships deposit legions of passengers ashore for the day.
In St Lucia’s Rodney Bay, we found a more relaxed scene with less crowded beaches, shops and restaurants. At the end of the pier were tour operators waiting for those on excursions but also local guides willing and able to take us on a leisurely, custom tour. Charles from Charles In Charge tours was happy to talk to me for about a half hour about the island, what it had to offer and what he would charge, even after I told him I was not interested. The difference was that Charles was conveying his love of his island and was happy to talk about it with no sales pitch pressure.
Nemo would love this
Dining is a big part of any cruise travel experience it seems and doing so with Star Clippers is no exception. An early riser continental buffet starts the day, followed by a breakfast and lunch buffet. At breakfast an omelet station prepares made to order creations and lunch brings a pasta station with a variety of choices also.
Royal Clipper has one dining room with porthole views of the ocean that are very much like what the crew members might see on a big ship. Gazing out of the window at lunch on the way to St Lucia we were right at water level. Passing through a wave brought an underwater view that, in the crystal clear Caribbean, is something we just don’t see on other ships.
Able Bodied Seniors With A Passion For Life
Sailing in moderately heavy seas the first night, Royal Clipper was rocking and rolling but cabin stewards are prepared, raising sideboards on bed to keep passengers off the floor. To those who enjoy that motion, it was very much like being rocked to sleep, perhaps as a baby in a cradle. Interestingly, the largely senior passenger mix navigated hallways, stairs and open decks with ease on well-traveled sea legs. Veteran hotel manager Steven Adamson told me that is usually the case as passengers who book Star Clipper ships are comfortable with the elements of ocean travel on a ship with sails.
Indeed, it seems every one of them has a story. Ronald from Maryland built model sailing ships as a boy and later worked for the Smithsonian doing the same. Freda from the UK was looking forward to climbing the mast to get an idea of what her father might have seen as a wiry young man who did the same in the Royal Navy.
The People Element Presents Itself Early In The Voyage
Regular readers here know this is not our first mention of how meeting others along the way can make for a rich travel experience. We have found that on the biggest of big ships too. Many of our friends were met on a big cruise ship. Still, it seems that the smaller the ship is, the more apt we are to meet and engage other passengers. We found that on Azamara Club Cruises smaller Azamara Journey. On Viking River Cruise longships we enjoyed meeting many of the 190 people on board. From the biggest to the tiniest ships, each offers a unique cruise vacation experience.
One of the distinct advantages of sailing Royal Clipper is that those on board share a love of the sea unlike we have experienced before.
How interested in ships with sails are the passengers on board? Nearly half of the passenger group were invited to the past guest party after our departure from St Lucia. Held on deck, Captain Tunikov told stories from the sea to the appreciative audience, most of whom had sailed with him before.
Frankly, it would be easy to be embarrassed about our entire cruise history in this environment. I can’t help but think of our friend Peter Knego, a maritime history authority who would be right at home on this ship and could probably swap stories with the best of them.
That said, just a couple days into our Windward Islands sailing, we have learned more about ships, made more new friends who have a passion for travel and gained more of a perspective on the cruise industry than on any dozen other sailings. As this experience unfolds, we are clearly in an entirely different world, that of ships with sails and one we hope to share with you, every step of the way.
To visit Chris' blog click here: www.chriscruises.com
Gouache artist Matthias Wunsch shared his gorgeous Star Clippers-inspired painting with us.
In April 2011, I did a cruise on Royal Clipper which inspired me to the painting "Royal Clipper and Petit Piton of St. Lucia"...This picture belongs to the series "Monuments of Man and Nature" which is dedicated to great work of architecture and technics as well as to great wonders of nature.
I have displayed it in several places like Berlin, Vienna and the famous "Schloss Montfort" at the Lake of Constance.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Talented artist John D. Benson was so kind to share his watercolors inspired by a Caribbean sailing on Royal Clipper.
Prints can be purchased on his website, john-d-benson.artistwebsites.com.
[caption id="attachment_13456" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper Leaving St. Lucia
[caption id="attachment_13457" align="aligncenter" width="550"] St. Lucia
[caption id="attachment_13455" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Rawlins Plantation Inn
[caption id="attachment_13454" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Nelson Dockyard Antigua
[caption id="attachment_13453" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Iles Des Saints
[caption id="attachment_13452" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Barbados Promenade
[caption id="attachment_13451" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Barbados Bathsheba
[caption id="attachment_13450" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Balata, Matinique
[caption id="attachment_13458" align="aligncenter" width="345"] Ship's Tackel
To visit John's website click here.
We asked our Star Clippers Facebook fans to send us photos of themselves taking part in our Watersports program, from snorkeling and kayaking to sailing, and we received lots of fun photos. Here's the first batch. Enjoy!
Here's a photo of Garrett and Eric on the sailboat at the beach in St. Lucia. - Dave and Nancy Porter