A cruise on a tall mast ship was on my bucket list for some time. I tried to get a friend to go with me but they either were afraid of being seasick or didn't want to spend the money. I am SO glad I went solo - it really was a trip of a lifetime. Islands on this trip (St. Maarten, Nevis, Dominica, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Barts)
I flew to St. Maarten and stayed one night at the Holland House Hotel on Front Street. This will put you close to the pier, right on the beach and on Front Street (the main commercial street in Philipsburg).
Check in was smooth and organized. There were refreshments/fresh fruit and tents were set up to provide shelter from the sun. It was a short walk to the Star Clipper from check-in. Once welcomed onboard I received my room key. I was in room 325 right off the dining room and across from the gift shop. My room was a Category 2 stateroom with the beds pushed together. The stateroom was very nice with a flat screen TV (which I never turn on) and a safe. I didn't pay a single supplement which was a major incentive for me to go on this cruise. I honestly wasn't in my stateroom that much. I took advantage of the adventure of being on a sailing ship and of the excursions.
I was very pleased with the food. There was early bird breakfast (juices and danishes), full breakfast, lunch, 5 pm hors d'oeuvre, dinner and midnight snack. Breakfast and lunch were buffets with a large selection. Dinner had appetizer, soup, sorbet, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert. Considering that the food was prepared for 150 people that often in a small galley kitchen - I was very impressed with the quality.
Nevis - Hiking: this was a pretty challenging hike made more challenging my rain, but I loved it.
Dominica - Rowing on the Indian River: 8 person row boat manned by a local guide.
Iles des Saintes (no excursions) I explored the island on my own. Hiked up to Fort Napoleon in the morning and then took the tender to Cabrits and hiked up to the ruins of Fort Josephine. I fell in love with Iles des Saintes - this is why you go on a Star Clipper ship. An island off the tourist radar.
Guadeloupe - Solar Power Boat Tour of the Mangrove and Lunch - It poured but we still had a great time.
Antigua - Zip Lining - So much fun.
St. Barts - ATVing around the island. My favorite.
I made sure to get up at 6 am every morning for sunrise and I wasn't disappointed. The sunrise and sunsets were breathtaking. I was in bed most nights between 10 and 11. There really isn't much entertainment on the ship beyond your shipmates and some tunes on a piano. For me that was perfect.
I have three minor complaints: one has been mentioned before - there isn't a lot of shade on the top deck. This didn't turn out to be a big issue for me because I was exploring each island so much that I was off the ship in port. This might be an issue if you want to stay onboard.
The staff are very reserved to the point of being distant. I'm not sure if this is something to accommodate the large amount of European onboard or if this is a company policy. It did feel at times cold and indifferent. I never could figure out if out. I've been on several cruises and the staff are always so friendly. I missed this very much.
Finally there seemed to be tension on my cruise between some of the Europeans and the Americans. Americans are loud. I actually never realized how loud we were until this trip - add alcohol to the mix and we are louder yet. This really seemed to upset some of our European companions.
THIS IS NOT A TRIP FOR ANYONE WITH LIMITED MOBILITY. I can't reiterate this enough. I saw people struggling to get in and out of the tenders. The water was quite rough off St. Barts and the tender was really bouncing in the water. If you have any mobility issues - this will be a problem.
This was a magical trip: I climbed the mast, I relaxed in the net, I was up for sunrise, I got to sail the Caribbean and I was able to explore new destinations. I would definitely go on another Star Clipper cruise. For solo travelers - go! Take advantage of the lack of a single supplement. I'm 46 so I was at the lower end of the age range and I knew that in advance. Being solo wasn't an issue at all. I met many nice people who included me in their group.
Very nice cabin with a single porthole, two beds pushed together, chair, vanity, flat screen TV, plenty of storage, and a safe. They provided toiletries should you forget anything.
Great for shopping otherwise Philipsburg has a run-down feel to it.
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