Margaret and I have a couple of friends who seem to be on cruises all the time, so we had become curious about the experience. However, having sat on Riva deli Schiavoni in Venice with a cold glass of something white and Italian, watching packs of tourists from one of the large cruise ships being dragged towards Plazza San Marco by a brolly wielding guide, we had decided it probably wasn’t for us.
So when we stumbled across the Star Clipper cruises, we realised there might be a way we could cruise and have a relaxing time, and the icing on the cake (at least for me) was that this was a ship with sails….and it actually sailed. Margaret was perhaps not so keen on this latter characteristic of the cruise, since I had taken her sailing a couple of years ago and I’m not sure she has yet forgiven me for the competitive nature of my “requests” to haul in the jib during the charity regatta we found ourselves in!
But it was the Caribbean, it was warm and it looked beautiful, so the Treasure Island cruise was duly booked.
It’s hard to summarise the trip in a few words, but from the first moment we saw the Star Clipper to the moment we left her (were those tears in our eyes…?) we both had a great time and a holiday with memories we will cherish. The staff were always on hand and nothing seemed too much trouble, the food was delicious and plentiful and the sailing was impressive indeed (Vangelis will always invoke a recollection of those sails being hauled high into the rigging).
The highlights for us, well, that first sailaway, the beach BBQ, the Soggy Dollar on Josh Van Dyke, laying in the Widow’s net with the wind in our hair, the view from the Crow’s nest and not least the new friends we made….with only 130 passengers onboard I guess we spoke with just about everyone and all of them were friendly and having a good time.
In all of this, I learnt a few things too, the largest sail on a Barquetine (which is what the Star Clipper is so I believe) is a Fisherman, the Lake District is in Cumbria (how did I not know that), and even after a 20 year break, I can still get up on a pair of waterskis!
Would we do it again, absolutely. As has been said elsewhere, this is not something to do 3 times a year, but it is a definite repeat, and now I come to think of it given the relaxed intimate nature of the cruise, I have no doubt sailing along the Grande Canal would be quite an experience and we would almost certainly have the time to visit our little Tratorria for a glass or two of something white and cold.
Oh, and one last thing, the Skipper really was a sailing nut, on the last day he anchored us close to the finish line for the St Barts Regatta. To say we had goose bumps watching a billion dollars of huge yachts gunning for the line inches from the bowsprit would be a bit of an understatement!
There are some photos here http://www.dd1961.com/StarClipper - Enjoy
Take Care and Happy Sailing