Windward Islands and the Grenadines on the Royal Clipper
Perhaps I should start by stating what this ship is not and who it's not for. It's not glitzy and full of neon, It does not have a casino or show lounge , no resident comedian or dancing girls,It's not Las vegas on the ocean in other words. It's not suitable for the weight or physically challenged, and perhaps not for those easily prone to seasickness This is a small classy sailing vessel, which does move with the waves and not plow through them as the mega cruise ships. Mahogany and brass is the decor which together with the colors of the carpeting and soft furnishings give the impression of a private yacht. This is also a vessel for the active passenger as the ship is without an elevator, climbing somewhat narrow stairs is a necessity. Also the Royal Clipper anchors off most islands and ports, so climbing up and down the gangway onto the tender to shore is the only way you'll get off the ship!
We embarked from Barbados and boarding the ship was not the easiest we had experienced. Check in is 4pm and took way too long in the terminal, at least the ship did not leave until 10pm. However from then on the cruise exceeded our expectations. Our cabin while not large by some standards was comfortable, accommodating a double bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, writing desk and small but adequate bathroom with shower. Keeping the water from shloshing out of the shower when the ship rolled was a challenge! The public areas were excellent, plenty of room on deck. chairs/loungers were always available, unlike on some cruises we did not need to "reserve" with a towel. The "swimming pools" (3) were mere "dipping" pools but with a beach stop every day and plenty of watersports activities provided who needs the pool? Snorkeling gear is loaned for the duration of the cruise although only two or three of the islands had good Snorkeling off the beach. The ship carries two lasers and a windsurfer and water skiing from the zodiac is available at no charge.
The food on our cruise was excellent and the service first class, I had read some other reviews prior to our sailing and was somewhat concerned with some of the comments, but we had no complaints. The open seating dining arrangements helped us meet new people every night and we made many new friends during our two weeks.
Approx one third of our passengers were German, one third Brits and the rest of us were from Canada, U.S. France, Eastern Europe, the rest of the world in fact. When you arrive for dinner, The maitre'd asks if you would like a small or large table and "international" or English, unless you are multi-lingual I suggest you sit with people with whom you can communicate easily! The downsides to having a large European contingent are two. 1) All public announcements are in three languages, English, German and French, so can go on for a while 2) The Europeans have not yet grasped the no smoking attitude that is so prevalent in N.America, although no smoking in the dining room is strictly enforced, in other areas it can be a problem (for a reformed smoker)
The entertainment onboard is limited. A singer and guitar player in the tropical bar performed nightly and a steel band was brought on board one night, the crew and some guests "entertained" us another night, but the highlight was the crab race night!. As this is a small ship it visits locations not generally frequented by the large cruise lines. You can see the true Island lifestyle which can be good and bad. Cleanliness depends upon the islands heritage, garbage can be an eyesore in some spots. We did not go on any of the organized excursions offered by Star Clipper lines so cannot comment, we prefer to do our own thing, which meant some days just laying on the beach, swimming or sailing was the order of the day. When we ventured into the local town or hopped a taxi for a tour we felt at ease and were not concerned with our safety, A great two weeks aboard a very friendly ship