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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
It has been a many-decades long dream of mine to sail the Caribbean. I never quite got around to it when I was young enough to captain my own sailboat. As we are all aware, such fantasies are rarely matched by the reality of the eventual ... Read More
It has been a many-decades long dream of mine to sail the Caribbean. I never quite got around to it when I was young enough to captain my own sailboat. As we are all aware, such fantasies are rarely matched by the reality of the eventual trip. So as a 70 year old, reasonably fit traveler, off I went, and I can report that this trip, in all ways, exceeded my long help tropical sail dream. Some opinions on few important general items: -This is not a cruise ship, and will likely not appeal to those who love the big cruise ship experience. The crowds and lines and glitz and glimmer of large ships have never appealed to me, so this was really my cup of tea (or glass of rum). -This is a sailing vessel. There is considerable rocking and rolling during transit. The weather and seas were fairly tame as open-water sailing goes. Four of the 16 guests developed mild seasickness early in the voyage. None had to miss any meals or activities. Do bring sea sickness meds that you have tried out before the trip if you think you might be prone, and plan on exercising some caution as you walk about the ship during transit, especially for the first day or two. The captain always anchors the ship in protected harbors or leeward locations, so most of the time things are pretty calm and stable. -As an older somewhat overweight guy with 2 knee replacements, I had no difficulties with any of the activities. You do need a degree of flexibility and fitness to navigate the fairly steep stairway down to your cabin, to get on and off the dingy (excellent assistance from the crew with this maneuver), and to enjoy the hikes and snorkeling. -I loved the activities on this trip, but other reviewers seem to have expected more of a cruise ship experience. Expect time on gorgeous beaches, time swimming and snorkeling in amazingly clear and warm water, lounging on deck, and visiting small towns at your various island anchorages. The only "optional tour" on our passage was an island tour of Bequia, where we rode in the covered back bed of a small truck and visited small local attractions (model ship builder, turtle sanctuary, whaling museum. Our driver and guide was one of the last members of an extant whaling family, and his whaling history talk was fascinating). At $30, this was a great experience and a great value. The other notable activity was the optional after dinner dingy rides ashore to visit local bars. These trips were as much about the local culture as about drinking, and quite a rich experience. Just don't expect casinos, floor shows, spas, and tour busses. As others have noted, you will likely become good friends with your fellow passengers, and the crowd that chooses this kind of vacation tends to be a pretty unique and interesting group. That being said, we had a couple of passengers who preferred to spend more alone time, and there was plenty of space and support for that experience also. Some reviewers have mentioned the small cabins. Having sailed before on a smaller boat, I found my solo cabin to be quite adequate and comfortable. It was actually charming and cozy. The bathroom with combined sink/toilet/shower was very functional. Pack everything in a soft-sided carry-on and you will be fine. As others have mentioned, the food is remarkable for such a small ship. Portion sizes are just right, and you are always offered seconds. In addition to the three meals, excellent appetizers and rum punch were served every afternoon during "cocktail hour." The vinophiles on our trip described the house wine as fairly decent, and there were opportunities to buy premium wines along the route of sail. I'm a beer snob, and found the local lager (Piton), stocked on the ship, to be excellent. On one occasion, the crew prepared and delivered an excellent "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" feast to the beach where we were spending the day. When anchored, dinner on deck was a real treat. One of the keys to this cruise being so outstanding is the crew. We had 16 passengers and 10 crew. Each crew member was always busy tending to their duties, which often centered around the comfort and enjoyment of the passengers. They were personable, fun, yet professional. Our activities director was great, and gave us full briefings of the day's activities. She also accompanied us on most of our onshore adventures. I have never done a mega-cruise, and have only heard of the hassles on embarkation and disembarkation days. Getting on and off Vela was quick, simple, and well organized. Oh, and did I mention that this truly is a barefoot cruise? Except for the one island tour, I did not wear shoes from the time I boarded Vela until the time I got ready to leave for the airport. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We had an amazing time aboard the Vela! My wife and I traveled down to Saint Lucia the day before and stayed in the quaint town of Marigot Bay, where Vela was located. We met the crew the day of the sail and I knew we were in good hands ... Read More
We had an amazing time aboard the Vela! My wife and I traveled down to Saint Lucia the day before and stayed in the quaint town of Marigot Bay, where Vela was located. We met the crew the day of the sail and I knew we were in good hands right away. Our bags were taken to the ship and we followed shortly behind. The first thing you received when you boarded the ship was a rum drink- perfect! Vela was the largest sailing vessel in the Bay, which made me feel special ;) The crew raised the sails the first day and we headed into the sunset. Our cabin had all the amenities that we needed. The bed was comfortable and there was adequate storage. Yes it was small but we weren't in there long enough to care. The food was one of the best parts of the trip. Every meal was prepared onboard with fresh and local ingredients. I honestly did not eat a bad meal. I was never hungry and I was never thirsty. Most meals, other than breakfast, were outside on the deck with the wind in your hair. You could get water, tea, beer, wine, etc anytime of the day. There was also a rum punch happy hour every night! There were plenty of activities to do on the ship- paddle boarding, snorkeling, rope swinging, games and just plain lounging. In addition, every day there were offshore activities planned that you could partake in. One day there was horseback riding, another was hiking to a waterfall. We even had a BBQ on the beach one night! You also had a tour of a rum distillery and some people were even accommodated to have a scuba diving experience. That leads me to the crew. They were absolutely phenomenal. Every single crew member was always smiling and willing to bend over backwards to make sure you were happy. I was amazed at how truly caring and friendly everyone was to all passengers. It was like we were family at the end. The entire experience was more than I could have imagined. From the sails to the cabins to the service/crew, everything was amazing. Plus you meet some amazing guests while aboard! I will definitely be coming back, hopefully to sail on another Island Windjammers ship! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Great time aboard Sagitta. The crew was tremendously helpful and pleasant. Captain Matt was extremely cordial and pleasant. The cabin, although small, was comfortable and adequate. I would not hesitate to go again. Although the company has ... Read More
Great time aboard Sagitta. The crew was tremendously helpful and pleasant. Captain Matt was extremely cordial and pleasant. The cabin, although small, was comfortable and adequate. I would not hesitate to go again. Although the company has three ships, I really would find it hard not to travel with Sagitta again. Andrew, the operations manager did a wonderful job, always pleasant and cheerful. Chief mate Bryan was always pleasant and very knowledgeable. Chief Engineer Aubrey gave a tour of the engine room that made everyone appreciate the skill and hard work required to make the ship operate in an efficient manner. The food was prepared by chef Philbert and George. It was both varied and delicious. The chief deckhand was Aubrey King, known as King, was both our tender driver and the comedian of the ship. He did a one man show that was both entertaining and creative. The other deckhand was Lennox , who was both pleasant and helpful. There were two stewards Stephen and Dennis. They kept the cabins very clean and were available to help the passengers whenever asked. All in all a good time was had by all. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
Fantastic crew performance. Absolutely stellar captain. He was funny and entertaining, as well as professional/knowledgable. None could be better.World class crew, that caters to your every need.The owner cabin was very spacious and clean. ... Read More
Fantastic crew performance. Absolutely stellar captain. He was funny and entertaining, as well as professional/knowledgable. None could be better.World class crew, that caters to your every need.The owner cabin was very spacious and clean. They even had a bottle of champagne waiting when you first enter. Truly incredible food and drinks.Could not have imagined a better onboard experience. Stellar. Extraordinary job done by the chef and crew for dining experience. The islands were beautiful. We were able to snorkel everyday and paddle board. The captain made scuba diving arrangement possible for those interested. They even have a rope swing. The diamant caters to its guest as well with a crew to passenger ratio 1:2 Thus you are not left wanting. Also, the smaller passenger size lead to more bonding and less clichy groups that could form from larger cruises. I would hands down recommend this company because they truly care about your experience and happiness. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
Friday, 06Aug2010: Travel Day (RDU-MIA-SJU-GND): Finally time to head to the Caribbean again to sail on a Tall Ship!! Traveled to Grenada (all day 6am to 9:03pm) and was met by the Island Windjammers driver at the airport. He took us to ... Read More
Friday, 06Aug2010: Travel Day (RDU-MIA-SJU-GND): Finally time to head to the Caribbean again to sail on a Tall Ship!! Traveled to Grenada (all day 6am to 9:03pm) and was met by the Island Windjammers driver at the airport. He took us to the Allamanda hotel in St George's. Checked in and meet up with friends, visited for awhile, took a quick walk on the beach, and then headed to room for sleep just after midnight. Saturday, 07Aug2010: Grenada: Awoke at 7am ready to start my vacation!! Headed to breakfast near hotel then went to grocery store to buy booze. A few went deep sea fishing. Just as we got back to the hotel it started to rain. By 10:30am we were ready to leave the hotel and decided to walk down to Garfield's Beach Bar. We made it to Garfield's just as the rain continued so we were forced to drink Carib and entertain Chester the bartender. Weather finally cleared so we headed to the beach (Grand Anse Beach) and floated in the water, enjoying the Caribbean Sea. At 7:30pm we headed to town to have dinner at the Nutmeg Restaurant. Alison our final team member had arrived while we were at dinner. We visited with her for awhile and then headed to bed about 11:30pm. Sunday, 08Aug2010: Grenada - Board S/V Diamant: What a way to spend my birthday, in the Grenadines getting ready to finally board the S/V Diamant. Woke up about 7:30am and went to Gibson's (again across the street) for a nice breakfast. Bruce and Maryse headed out for an Island tour and the rest of us headed to the beach. About 11am we decided to walk down to Garfield's Beach Bar for a few drinks and a few birthday shots! We headed to Port Louis about 1pm and got our first look at the Diamant. What a beautiful small ship, she is a 101 ft schooner with tons of character. About 4:45pm we headed over to the Diamant. The check in procedure was a breeze and we were all shown our Cabins within an hour of boarding. The cabins were great; each different with their own little touches. There is decent storage space in each but don't bring a lot and don't bring hard sided suitcases (there is no place for them); duffle bags or backpacks are the way to go. You're on a boat so the cabin and bathrooms are small but the layout is great in each. The ship has its own water purification system and the cabins have water bottles for each passenger (that stay with the ship). Near the back of the ship were two coolers that were kept stocked with sodas and BEER (we had Heineken, Carib and Stag) plus you had access to a house red and white wine at all times. Once we all settled in we just walked around the ship, chatted and soaked in the fact that we were back on a Tall Ship. We had dinner around 7:30pm and the crew even had a birthday cake for me! We spend the evening relaxing, talking and drinking beer and cocktails. Monday, 09Aug2010: Grenada - Carriacou - Union Island: Ship set sail about 5am; it was great sleeping to the sway of the ship! Made it to Carriacou about 10am and had our safety drill. We stayed on the ship for the morning, had lunch, and then headed to Anse La Roche Beach for the day. No one else around and no beach bars so the crew brought us a cooler with beer (and other drinks). There was lots of Technical Diving and we drank an insane amount of beer (between all 9 of us). I think by the end of the afternoon there were concerns on beer and ice stock ? Once we were all feeling pretty "happy" a game was created by John - "Redneck Bowling"; this provided us hours of entertainment! And yes we did take all the empties back to the ship, left only footprints. Back to ship around 5pm; we were all tipsy, a little sun burned, and ready for Rum Swizzles and Snacks. Eventually we all cleaned up and had dinner on the ship. We relocated to Chatum Bay near Union Island for the night. Stayed on ship for evening, there were tons of stars out, so amazing. Fell asleep on deck just staring at the stars. Tuesday 10Aug2010: Union Island - Bequia: Woke up at 7am and made my way to the deck for the morning sail. Was wonderful hearing Amazing Grace played while the sails were raised, has been way to long. As we made our way to Bequia we passed Moon Hole. Once we got to the main harbor in Bequia had a nice hot breakfast and then into town around 10am. We went into a few shops, bought t-shirts, and Kim got a really cool map of the Caribbean in one of the book stores, also visited the ATM. Headed over to the Whaleboner bar but they were closed so we had a few beers at the Magnolia bar to cool off. Back to ship around noon for lunch (it is amazing what Boston created in that tiny kitchen). We all stayed on the ship for the afternoon. There was reading, relaxing, journal writing and some drinking of adult beverages. Bruce and John fished off the ship. The ship's entertainment system has a connection for MP3 players so you can play your music thru the ship speakers; we had a Jimmy Buffett type of afternoon. Broke out the rope swing and jumped off the ship for some swimming/floating next to the ship. The Diamant has an awesome ladder for getting back on the ship after swimming, very easy to navigate and. We had a great relaxing afternoon with no agenda which was so nice. After swim we had Rum Swizzles, Wine, and Cheese; Boston also cooked up the Tuna that Bruce brought on board. We cleaned up, watched an awesome sunset, and then headed to Mac's Pizzeria for Dinner. Back to ship about 9:30pm. Some to bed early, others up front star gazing. Wednesday, 11Aug2010: Bequia - Tobago Cays - Mayreau: Early sail to Tobago Cays for a day on the beach. Another beautiful, sunny day and the Tobago Cays are breathtaking. We ended up anchoring near one of the many beautiful small islands and then took the dingy to a great little beach with picnic tables. Spent morning walking beach, taking pictures, laying out to perfect the tan, and working on our "technical diving" skills with our well stocked cooler. The crew brought us a picnic lunch ashore that was delicious. About 1:30pm we headed back to ship and then several of us headed over to Turtle Island to swim/snorkel with the Turtles (the ship provides snorkel gear for use at the beginning of the week, no extra charge). Some did a walk on the island and saw several big iguanas and land turtles. Headed back to ship for Rum Swizzles and Snacks and a few headed to "Johnny Depp" island which is where one of the scenes from the first movies was filmed. Once everyone back on ship we sailed to Mayreau. Had dinner and then we all changed into our "TGDT" shirts that Ester made and Kim provided glow-stick necklaces and bracelets. This was so we could keep track of the group during our "cultural walk" of Mayrue. Headed into town about 8:30pm and walked up the long steep hill to the top. Our plan was to "drink" our way down. We ended up visiting 3 bars with the final one being "Dennis's Hideaway". Back to ship about 11:30pm. Another great day!! Thursday, 12Aug2010: Mayreau- Salt Whistle Bay - Union Island - Happy Island - Carriacou: After breakfast picked up anchor and moved to other side of island to visit Salt Whistle Bay, which is a beautiful beach. We spent the morning on the beach just relaxing and floating on the blue rafts. Some hiked around and a few passengers walked over the hill to town. Back to ship for lunch then we sailed to Union Island. We went into town for quick look around and to visit the ATM. The entire group ended up at the dock at the same time to catch the dingy around 2pm. Instead of heading back to the ship we went straight to "Happy Island". They serve food if his wife is around, otherwise you just receive drinks. The rum punch on Happy Island is AWESOME and will make you very happy! Around 4:30pm we were not ready to leave, so the crew brought snacks to us and we continued to party on the island. We had so much fun! Rain clouds were around and there were a few rainbows (it could not get any more perfect). Somewhere around 6pm we all decided to head back to the ship as it looked like serious rain was coming. We packed the passengers and crew on the dingy for the very short ride back to the ship and wouldn't you know it, the heavens opened up and it started to rain in earnest. Once back on the ship we headed into the indoor saloon area, Kim attached her iPod to the stereo and became our DJ for the night. Eventually all the passengers and all the crew were on deck dancing to disco music. I can't tell you how much fun we had joking around and dancing in the rain. We eventually dressed for our "tacky Hawaiian shirt" night which we planned ahead of time. At some point (time blurs some) we did a quick move to Carriacou to anchor for the nigh. All through dinner (and after) the music, singing and dancing continued. Eventually people headed to bed but there may have been some late night swimming off the side of the ship ? What an absolutely wonderful day and night. Friday, 13Aug2010: Carriacou - Sandy Island - Grenada: Up around 8am. Most of us stayed on the ship to recover and napped through the morning. I believe Bruce and Maryse were the only ones who went over to Sandy Island. After lunch we started the trip back to Grenada. On the way back the Capt. shut off the engines and we truly sailed for about 2 hours. It was absolutely amazing. Bruch continued to fish and we just hung on the back on the ship just enjoying the sail. Brandon made his special "drink" for Snacks (think pina colada). Just to let you know how much fun we had, we were planning our next trip before we even docked and were e-mailing Island Windjammers about available dates. We ended up docking in Grenada about 5:30-6pm. Once docked, we cleaned up and proceeded with our "Pirate themed" night; which included eye patches, bandanas and tattoos. We did a quick check out with Natalie to settle our ship accounts and they provided us with a map of our weeks sail with the route plotted and signatures from all the crew. We had a nice Captains' dinner and all the crew came out so we could take pictures with them. We eventually ended up drinking (trying to finish off the booze we brought aboard) and playing stupid drinking games Saturday, 14Aug2010: Grenada: Awoke around 7:15am to see Kim off as she had an early flight. After breakfast, packed and slowly got ready to leave the ship (you have until noon). Spent the morning on the ship and explored the marina. Bentley picked us up at noon and took us to the Allamanda. Checked in then headed across the street for pizza. We headed to Garfield's Beach Bar around 5pm for a few final beers and then meet at 7pm for Dinner. We had a nice time chatting about the week and re-living all the wonderful times we had. Many Rum Swizzles were consumed (again). Left around 11pm but don't think I ended up in bed until 2am. Sunday, 15Aug2010: Travel Day: Up at 4:30am for Taxi came at 5AM for a 6:55 am flight. GND to SNJ to MIA to RDU. All I can say is WOW, what an absolutely fantastic vacation and I can't wait to be back on the Diamant. I am 99% certain that this will be a "yearly" pilgrimage for me and many of my friends. I cannot say enough positive things about Island Windjammers. If you are looking for a truly relaxing, unique, no frills vacation to small ports that those big "foo foo" ships could never get to, this is the trip for you. It does not matter if your single, a couple, going with friends, or going by yourself - you will have a wonderful time. Just be open to adventure and making your own fun! If there is something you want to do ask and the crew will do their best to accommodate you. When I got back home I made a positive vs. negative list and the positive list had about 12 items and there was only 1 suggestion (not really a negative). The ship is beautiful, well maintained, with a great crew. The individual room air conditioning is a bonus as well as the provided cabin water bottles. Ice was always available along with fresh water. Snorkel gear is included along with unlimited filtered water, sodas, juices, select beers and a house red and white wine. Fare also included crew tip (but I left more because they so deserved it), the night on board prior to sailing, and all port charges. This was a great intimate experience with a small passenger group for an amazing price. The captain was very flexible and willing to change plans (within reason if all agreed). It was very nice being docked on arrival and departure. I heard rumors that more sails were going to be added and that air conditioning was being considered for the indoor saloon area (this was my one suggestion). I would not hesitate in recommending this vacation to anyone with an adventurous, laid back soul. Get a couple of friends (or family) together and book tomorrow at www.islandwindjammers.com. Read Less
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