in general and who isn't even a very strong swimmer. But by the end of day 1, they had me. From the professional crew and the comfortable quarters, I knew this was going to be a great week.
The Diamant is a wonderful little ship for exploring the Grenadine Islands. Island Windjammers does a bang-up job from start to finish. Reservations are easy and questions are promptly answered. Transfers went without a hitch. They really go out of their way to ensure a care-free vacation.
Seemed small to me at first glance, but once I settled in, I could see that there would be plenty of room for the 12 passengers and crew of 6. The ship is immaculate and very well taken care of. It's old school with gleaming wood everywhere. Right off the kitchen is the breakfast room/library. We had breakfast there each day and it was a good place to sit and relax if you wanted out of the elements. Also comfortable in the evenings to play games (dominoes were big on our trip) and just hang out. The front of the ship was where most of the crew activity took place; putting up and taking down the sails, etc. With plenty of places to sit and watch, it was a good place to take in the sights and catch some sun or to have that first cup of coffee in the morning. Perfect for star gazing at night. There's a nifty rope swing for those brave enough to try it. Some did on our trip. The back of the ship was my favorite place. Open, but covered during the day to keep you out of the sun, this is where we had dinner. Comfortable padded seats. A perfect spot for reading a book and watching the world go by. Unlike large cruise ships, you feel this ship move all of the time and it is wonderful to be lulled to sleep by the rocking of the boat.
Once again, at first glance small, but realized soon enough it was not small, just compact. There was plenty of space for storing things. In fact we didn't even use all the little cubbies and hooks. The bathrooms were private with plenty of space for storage. Bottom line- air conditioned, comfy bunks and plenty of hot water for showers. What more could you ask for?
Food and Drink
Lots of variety. There was usually only one entree offered at dinner, but plenty of sides to choose from and always lots of fresh fruit and salad. Yummy desserts too! Philbert was a pro when it came to presentation and abundance, creating all of this in his little tiny kitchen. Every day we had a happy hour with snacks and swizzles (rum punch) and it was all delicious. One day we had a wine and cheese party which was especially good. The Captain had hand-picked the cheese earlier that day on the island. There was also a little breadbox stocked with treats if you were an early riser or got hungry anytime during the day. Drinks were included; rum swizzles, beer, house wine, soda, mixers and ice tea. You're allowed to bring your own alcohol on board, and some passengers did, but I was completely happy with their offerings. The crew actually brought lunch out to us one day on the beach. They also brought snacks for us out to Happy Island and always delivered cold drinks to us at whatever beach we might be. It must have been lots of extra work for the crew, but was greatly appreciated.
I won't go into detail on this. All I can say is new and wonderful places each day. Gorgeous beaches, quaint little villages and great snorkeling. The ship did arrange an excursion on Bequia which was well worth the $30.00 per person. 4 of us went and we got to see much of the island and visit the turtle sanctuary. Check out Island Windjammers website for details on their itineraries. These are places the big cruise ships never get to.
Captain and Crew
We had Captain Nervo. He was professional, but quite personable and very approachable. He was never too busy to answer questions and always encouraged our input. Since he was the one who originally brought the Diamant from the Galapagos Islands, he had wonderful stories about the ship and its history. He was fun to be around and I liked that he had dinner with the group each night. Each day he would tell us something about where we were and what the options were for the day and then asked us what we wanted to do. This is a hardworking crew. Very friendly and accommodating but they all had jobs to do and they were busy! I don't know how the crew manages to stay so fresh for each new group of passengers asking the same old questions over and over, but they do! They were a fun group and we got to know all of them pretty well as the week went on. A special thanks to Crystal for getting us on and off the ship with ease and taking care of our on-board accounts and all the passport stuff.
The ship was full with 12 passengers, all from different states in the US. One couple was young, one couple was retired and everyone else was in between. Only one couple had taken this trip before and they were actually staying on the ship for a second week. We were all very jealous of them! What we all had in common was the love of travel and a spirit of adventure. One of my concerns going in was with such a small group, we might feel pressured, or at least obligated to along with group activities. That never happened. This was truly our own adventure. There were times that some of the people went to town while others went snorkeling. Some people wanted to swim while others were happy to stay on board and read a book. One couple had the ship arrange a diving expedition. Some people went out in the evening while others did not. You could do whatever you felt like and the crew was most accommodating. The atmosphere was laid back and casual. For the most part, the week was spent barefoot, in shorts and tee. Meals were communal and it was fun to get to know such a lively group and make new friends. We all exchanged email addresses and have passed around our pictures.
Motion Sickness and Sun
Yes, I got sick. Once. I was fine the first few days but on day 3 it seemed a little rough in the morning. Remember, I have no sailing experience and I'm sure I have no idea what "rough" really is. I think the crew was amused when I described it as rough. I was feeling a little queasy and got sick. Felt bad for about an hour. After that I took the medication and never had another problem. There is no need to test yourselves people! Just take the medication! The sun can be another problem. Do not forget the sunscreen! The sun is hot, hot, hot and will burn you so quickly. Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than a nasty sunburn.
Grenada is an interesting island. We went in two days early and stayed 2 nights after the cruise. We stayed at the Grenada Grand Resort on beautiful Grand Anse Beach. The resort property is gorgeous with wonderful facilities. The rooms are better than ok but not great. Small things like closet doors that won't open or coffeemakers with no coffee available. Little things, but enough to make you notice. And when you try to get things corrected, service is very, very slow. You wait- and wait some more. None of this affected our trip though, and the good part is, this resort is so centrally located and on such a beautiful beach, we would not hesitate to stay there again. Right across the street is a supermarket for stocking up on supplies. In the mall there is also a place to get a nice pizza. We went to Coconut Grove one night for dinner and it was excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed the rum punch at Garfield's too. Do not miss the downtown main market on Saturdays. One of the crew members has an aunt that has a booth there and we were lucky enough to find her and purchase all of our spices to take home. There is a bus stop right outside the resort. The bus will take you downtown and it is a wild experience to ride the bus. The island is full of friendly people and we always felt perfectly safe venturing out on our own.
Hands down this was definitely one of my favorite trips. We travel a lot but have never done anything quite like this. For me, the best part was the ship. There is just nothing that can compare with the exhilaration of sitting on the top of the Diamant, on the open sea under full sail. I could have stayed there forever. And there lies my only complaint! Too short! With only 6 nights, and 2 of those nights being in port in Grenada, you're really only "out there" for 4 nights. By the time you get your sea legs and become accustomed to island time, it's time to go home. I understand Island Windjammers has taken care of that though. Apparently they now offer longer trips and are adding new ports to their itineraries.
If you like ships and the sea, and beaches and islands, you will love this. If you like traveling with a small group, with people of a similar mindset, in a casual, laid back atmosphere, you will love this! Hopefully we'll be back next year to do it all over again.