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.