2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Island Windjammer had been on my bucket list for quite a few years, and we finally had the opportunity to join the Vela and cruise the windward islands from St. Lucia. Admittedly, we have cruised the mega ships about a dozen times in ... Read More
Island Windjammer had been on my bucket list for quite a few years, and we finally had the opportunity to join the Vela and cruise the windward islands from St. Lucia. Admittedly, we have cruised the mega ships about a dozen times in the past, and when I saw the sign onboard “If you’re not barefoot, you’re overdressed” I felt at home immediately. Boarding was seamless. The staff met us at the designated spot and took our luggage in one raft while we followed on another. Once boarding the ship we had the obligatory safety talk and then had the chance to explore the ship, chat with your mates for the next week or unpack your bag, which by this time had been delivered to our cabin. The first night on the open seas was rocky, and as someone who has never been seasick before, I felt a bit queasy myself. Once I got use to the rocking of the ship it was quite peaceful, and after 24 hours I found my “sea legs”. Cabins: OK, we were warned that the cabins were “cozy”, and I now know what they meant! We had a Deluxe Cabin, which had a double lower and single bunk. We also had our own bathroom & shower, but considering the minimal amount of time you spend in your cabin we made it work. (although one of us had to leave the room to make room for the other to unpack!). When they state storage is minimal and to bring soft sided luggage they mean it. Travel mates: Interesting make-up of travel mates - 2 Canadians, 2 Brits and the rest American. At 53 & 55 years of age, we were the youngest on board. Nevertheless we made fast friends and there was always great discussions going on. Activities: Not sure whether it was the makeup of this particular date, but the activities on the ship were quite low-key. I looked forward to doing some of the things I heard of from other reviews, such as using the paddle boards, night snorkeling and the rope swing, but none of those materialized. Luckily the itinerary was fantastic. Itinerary: After 10 mega-ship cruises around various Caribbean islands, we were most looking forward to experiencing different ports of call, and the Vela did not disappoint. The crew was excellent in offering us a variety of options at each port when possible, and at some stops we partook in multiple activities. It seems the zodiac was always on the go, dropping us off or picking us up at multiple locations. For example, at St Vincent we had the option to hike up Fort Duvrnette, lounging at a resort, strolling the boardwalk or all three. The trip was full of little surprises also, optional hikes at some stops, a night-time bonfire on a beach, a visit to Happy Island, and keeping us guessing with what our final stop would be. Crew: Tanya, our Operations Manager was excellent. Each day she would fill the whiteboard with the following days activities and options, and though it must be like herding cats, she did a great job of keeping us mostly on schedule. Our stewards Stephen and Jermaine were always smiling and ready to provide top-notch service, whether it was while dining or tending to our cabins. Captain Nervo was very hospitable, and you could tell he was proud of the Vela and ready to show it off or talk sailing anytime. Food: I wasn’t sure what to expect as a somewhat fussy eater, but cook Robert did a fantastic job of offering a wide variety of excellent meals and snacks, and I never went hungry. Considering the small size of his galley he worked wonders in there. All in all, this was an excellent trip and I’m left with wonderful memories and pictures to remind me of the Vela - Beautiful rainbows, stunning sunsets, uncrowded beaches, our cultural tour in Mayreau (aka Pub Crawl!), cool little beach bars, great rum and new friends. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because of the ship and the destinations. Vela is a very beautiful, three masted tall-ship. She takes a maximum of 26 passengers with a crew of 10. We had very personal service from the booking process onwards, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ship and the destinations. Vela is a very beautiful, three masted tall-ship. She takes a maximum of 26 passengers with a crew of 10. We had very personal service from the booking process onwards, nothing was difficult. We joined the ship in Rodney Bay, St Lucia. We were taken out to the ship on dinghies. We had up-graded to the Owners Cabin which was absolutely lovely, a huge bed, space all around, an excellent shower room and even a DVD player - not that we ever bothered with that, the views outside were far better night or day! This was our second week on Vela. We had a "deluxe" cabin the first week which was fairly "cosy"! However, as you only sleep or change in the cabins, it was perfectly adequate if you are fairly mobile and agile! The Staysail, Compass and obviously the OC do give you a bit more space. We sailed south to Union Island and then back to Tobago Cays which are my favourite place on earth! The colours in the seas are just exquisite and we swam with sea turtles and rays among many other fish. Then on to Bequia and back to Rodney Bay. There was an excellent variety of fresh food for each meal, each day. We were served breakfasts in the saloon area, with lunch and dinners being outside as weather and sailing conditions allowed. Almost each day we had shore excursions, sometimes island tours, sometimes just shopping trips and in the evening we sometimes sampled the local bars in the ports. Our Ops Manager Tanya, handled all the admin behind the scenes and organised our excursions and games etc on board, always professional and friendly at the same time. In fact, the whole crew managed that difficult balance of being professional but also being friendly and sociable with the passengers as well. Our Captain was great fun and he had our safety at heart at all times, we had utter confidence in them all. We would definitely go again if time and finance permits! But there are so many other destinations we still need to see. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
This was my 2nd cruise with Island Windjammers. I'll be going on my third in a couple of months. The crew was absolutely amazing, Captain Alexis, Luis, Leah, Romaine, Stephen, Robert, Ponchoo, Frederick, Lennox and last but by no ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise with Island Windjammers. I'll be going on my third in a couple of months. The crew was absolutely amazing, Captain Alexis, Luis, Leah, Romaine, Stephen, Robert, Ponchoo, Frederick, Lennox and last but by no means least, Steelo! Getting to know your crew the way you can on Island Windjammer ships is a unique and brilliant opportunity. The passengers were the nicest group and like on the first cruise I took I have made many more friends. It is an experience that everyone should seek to enjoy. The sign in the dining area says it best, If You Are Not Barefoot you are Overdressed. Casual, peaceful, fun, relaxing are only some of the words to describe the cruise. The food is amazing and there is always more than enough. The opportunity to go to the smaller beaches is fantastic and truly a representation of the beautiful islands that you will be able to sail to and enjoy. Read Less
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: June 2018
This week's holiday began in St Lucia and Rodney Bay where I would meet up with the ship, cruise mates and crew of Vela of Island Windjammer. I had the opportunity to spend a day and night in the Rodney Bay area before the cruise ... Read More
This week's holiday began in St Lucia and Rodney Bay where I would meet up with the ship, cruise mates and crew of Vela of Island Windjammer. I had the opportunity to spend a day and night in the Rodney Bay area before the cruise began and wondered about the area exploring restaurants, bars and the Coco Palm hotel meeting the friendly and helpful people of St. Lucia along the way. The following day marked the beginning of a great experience on Vela and 6 days of island sailing that was only out matched by the gracious attention and service provided by all of the crew of this wonderful ship. The dining and beverage service was the best and the expertise of Chef Robert was truly amazing. I often travel solo and this trip was no different so I was a bit concerned given the low number of passengers (10) but everyone was friendly and helped make for a vacation that I will remember for many years to come. The cabins are small but very adequate and comfortable and the stewards freshen the room every day to maintain a constant level of comfort. Jess (Ops Manager), Alexis (Captain), Romaine (Steward) and Troy (Designated Dingy Driver) to only name a few all went out of their way to make for a wonderful experience. The sights, sounds, smells and adventure of experiencing an island sailing adventure is without equal. Every activity, every dingy ride, every tour, every meal and all of the service, conversation and attention provided by this crew was exemplary and should you decide to book a cruise on this ship be prepared to be delighted and amazed! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
For my 60th birthday I decided I would go on a trip I had always wanted to try - I decided one week before that birthday and the support staff of IW could not have been more helpful. The trip itself was just truly amazing - the ship is ... Read More
For my 60th birthday I decided I would go on a trip I had always wanted to try - I decided one week before that birthday and the support staff of IW could not have been more helpful. The trip itself was just truly amazing - the ship is a perfect size - we had 16 guests and yet it felt at times you were all alone and then there were times when you had many new friends. The cabins were small as expected but honestly, I spent so little time there it didn't matter - they were cleaned every day and I slept like a baby every night. I cannot stay enough about all the crew and I know I will be leaving people out- the Captain, Alexis - such a nice man and I felt 100% safe and secure in his hands - very personable and you could tell his mission was to make sure we all were enjoying ourselves. Jess our activities director was fun, funny, and knowledgeable even though she only recently took on this position after being a guest on several cruises. Lenny's meals were amazing - how he did it in such a small space, I'll never know. Bernard another hilarious and helpful guy along with several others who I sadly cannot remember their names right now - everyone was just amazing. The tours offered were great but if you didn't feel like doing anything you could - just do nothing - that was the best part of the entire vacation. The ports of Martinique, Isle de Saints, Guadelope and St. Lucia were just beautiful and it was so great being able to sail right into their harbors. The ferry to land was always available. I traveled solo on this cruise and was a bit nervous for about 10 seconds! Waiting for the dinghy to come and get us, I met fellow cruise members and we became instant friends - I'm hoping lifelong friends! I just returned yesterday and will have next year's booked by the end of this week! My birthdays from now until ........ will be spend with Island Windjammers! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose the cruise because of the more intimate nature of a smaller ship. The Vela is a beautiful sailing ship and is approximately 156 feet long. We were able to access ports that larger ships could not. Chef Lenny prepared excellent ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the more intimate nature of a smaller ship. The Vela is a beautiful sailing ship and is approximately 156 feet long. We were able to access ports that larger ships could not. Chef Lenny prepared excellent meals and the service on board was outstanding. Chef Lenny took particular pride in going to local markets to provide the freshest fish, fruits and vegetables for our meals. The staff was very helpful and knowledgeable when it came to setting up tours and were very familiar with the port towns. The ship had a rope swing that was a lot of fun. Opportunities to relax and to snorkel were abundant. Snorkeling in a few of the spots was quite good. Horse back riding, hikes to forts, a visit to a rum distillery and a tour that included a trip to waterfalls were among the highlights. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone looking to be treated like royalty on the ship and to anyone looking for a closeup look at the islands with a small group of guests. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
My husband and I just returned from our 2nd trip with Island Windjammers. We enjoyed our sail on the beautiful Vela, but the cabins were a bit smaller than those on sister ship, Sagitta. The crew on Vela worked so hard to make us ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from our 2nd trip with Island Windjammers. We enjoyed our sail on the beautiful Vela, but the cabins were a bit smaller than those on sister ship, Sagitta. The crew on Vela worked so hard to make us comfortable, safe, and happy. We were particularly impressed with Captain Alexis and Ops Man, Andrew. The food was delicious, and the drinks were plenty. We enjoyed our island stops as well. Unfortunately, we were sad to see how bad things still look in Dominica since the hurricane. We embarked in St. Lucia from Marigot Bay and stayed their a few days prior to sailing. That bay was small but beautiful and bustling with activity. We liked St. Lucia, and later in the sail week, we actually anchored in Rodney Bay. It was quite a bit larger than Marigot Bay, and we enjoyed a wonderful beach day, snorkeling and hanging out with shipmates in the clear water. There was a character entrepreneur who scooted around in a small boat decorated with international flags. He was hawking drinks he made right there on his boat out of whole fresh pineapples and coconuts! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I have only great things to say about my 1st experience with Island Windjammers and I will certainly be back! I have not stopped smiling since I have been home. I have been to many different places and on many vacations and I can safely ... Read More
I have only great things to say about my 1st experience with Island Windjammers and I will certainly be back! I have not stopped smiling since I have been home. I have been to many different places and on many vacations and I can safely say this vacation has been my favorite of all. We cruised on the Vela from Saint Lucia (Marigot Bay) to Dominica to Isle De Saintes to Marie Galante to Martinique to Saint Lucia (Rodney Bay and then to Marigot Bay). The food is absolutely amazing and it is included. All meals were made with fresh ingredients from the island. I have never eaten so well for a week straight in my life. Lenny the chef a.k.a. Big Sexy made healthy food taste delicious! At 5pm everyday a snack and velacoladas are served. When we went to Isle De Saintes, we had wine, cheese, and meat as the snack to go with the French flair. There was a very diverse group of 12 passengers on the boat ranging from kids to seniors. One of my favorite parts of this adventure was getting to know all of the other passengers and also the crew members. Everyone was so nice, helpful, and interesting. It was really neat to learn about everyone's lives. By the end of the trip, I almost felt like crying leaving everyone! You really become close very quickly throughout the duration of the trip! There was something for everyone on this vacation and there were always a lot of options for things to do at each stop. We hiked, snorkeled, sunbathed, relaxed, went on excursions, checked out the nightlife on the different islands, visited stores/boutiques, swam, jumped off the rope swing of the boat, watched fish at night swim through the fish light off the boat, visited a rum factory, danced on the deck at night, told stories, listened to stories, used the paddleboard, learned how to tie sailing knots and relaxed in paradise. I felt very safe and knew that the crew was very knowledgeable about sailing and safety. Unlike other cruises that I have been on, I never felt crunched for time or on a schedule. PLENTY of time was given at each island and Andrew, our operations manager, knew the best things to do on each island. He really helped make sure we hit all the best things on the island. The dingy brought you back and forth between the boat and island. If you wanted to stay on the island instead of going back for a meal, that was perfectly fine and they would come back and get you whenever you wanted! Everything on the boat was spic and span and very clean. I was worried about getting seasick so before I went, I got a prescription for the seasickness patch that goes behind your ear and I did not feel sick at all the whole cruise. It was very casual and there was no need for any fancy clothes. I wore a bathing suit and comfy clothes the entire trip! The bed was comfortable and the cabins had a shower and toilet in them. We spent most of our time on the upper part of the boat. We saw a lot of cool fish, dolphins, turtles, birds, iguanas, and lizards. If you are a food and nature lover, you will love this trip. My only complaint is that the cruise ended. :( I left with wonderful memories and new friends that I will never forget. This was the trip of a lifetime and the passengers needs are put first from beginning to end. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This was our 4th cruise on Island Windjammers. We absolutely loved them all and plan to do another next year. We've done 2 on the "Diamant" and now 2 on the "Vela". This review is posted for the "Vela" ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise on Island Windjammers. We absolutely loved them all and plan to do another next year. We've done 2 on the "Diamant" and now 2 on the "Vela". This review is posted for the "Vela" northern route for our recent Feb. 2018 sail. We sailed out of Marigot Bay on beautiful St. Lucia. During the trip we anchored twice on St. Lucia; three times on Martinique; once on Dominica; Once on Ile de Sants, part of Guadeloupe.We boarded on a Sunday afternoon and sailed until we disembarked the following Saturday. We snorkeled several times; did some great ground guided excursions; walked through several towns to absorb some of the local culture. The driving tour through Dominica was one of the first since the major hurricane devastation - very eye opening. The other guests were great and got into the sailing adventure mode quickly. The crew was as always very efficient, friendly, competent and helpful. The food was superb, and plenty of it.Chef Robert and Pancho work miracles on this boat! Jess, the on-board operations manager, made sure every thing went smoothly for tours, customs, etc The weather was generally good for us - some scattered rain here and there but not enough to impact us much. The winds were some what higher than normal and made for some fast sailing and adventure on the high seas. Captain Alex sailed whenever we changed anchorages. Some of the longer sails across the channels between major islands was at night. One could sleep or stay up and enjoy the late sail. The cabins are cozy and yet once you get a bit used to them they are more than adequate for your needs.It is , after all, a replica of an old sailing vessel where space is limited.. The air conditioning worked very well and the shower was good too. One suggestion is to pack light - you don't need a lot of clothes for this cruise. We used duffel bags that folded up to pretty small size once empty. Overall it was every thing we had expected based on our previous three trips.We will be planning another windjammer adventure soon. Read Less
Vela Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 2.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 2.0 0.0
Family 3.5 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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