Sailing in the Caribbean on board the Star Clipper

May 27, 2016

From 28 January until 6 February this year I sailed for the first time on an actual Sailing Ship - named the Star Clipper - owned by the Star Clippers company who also have two other sailing ships - The Royal Clipper and the Star Flyer. A fourth vessel is currently under construction in Croatia.

 Click here to see video 

 

The vessel (the Star Clipper) is a 4 masted, 16 sail ship. It was built in Ghent, Belgium in 1992 - and was the first Clipper built since the year 1912.

Naturally it must comply with current international maritime laws - so it has Radar and all the other bits and pieces - including stabilisers and lifeboats.

All the sails can be raised and lowered either manually or by electric power - but on some days we, the guests, were invited to pull up the sails - which was such a laugh!

A first for me was to steer the ship out of a port for 15 minutes using the big wheel - although obviously obeying orders! 

 

Our voyage took us from St Martin to Nevis (pronounced Neevis) to Dominica (where they film the Pirates of the Caribbean films) to Iles De Saintes to Guadeloupe (where they film Death in Paradise) to Antigua to St Barthelemy (St Barts) and back to St Martin.

 

As it’s an access all areas vessel - it broadens the mind to be able go where guests are not normally permitted to go - such as the (standby) Engine Room and galley etc.

 

Another first for me was to climb the rigging up to the Crows Nest - not a particularly easy task with the ship under full sail but well worth it when up there as my pictures and clips will hopefully illustrate.

My legs were like jelly after I came down - but I was quite chuffed to have done it in my 68th year!

I never thought I’d ever do that in my life - but am so glad I did.

Click here to see video from the top of a mast

 

In terms of standards on board - informality is the way. No dressing up for dinner etc.

Then as the maximum guest capacity is only 180 - it makes for a great family atmosphere on board.

If I were only to do one more cruise in my life it would be on a sailing ship.

 

For me - the good thing about these smaller sea-going vessels is the fact that they are able go to the smaller islands - some of which I’d never even heard of.

I guess I could write forever on that wonderful experience but had better summarise and then stop.

So just a quick word on each of the islands.

 

St Martin. I stayed there for 2 nights pre-cruise in the Grand Case Beach Club which was fabulous.

I walked to the town main street for local food - which was out of this world.

It was here when I realised just how friendly are the Caribbean people on these smaller islands.

 

Nevis - lots of evidence of slavery - with decommissioned and ruined Sugar Cane plants everywhere.

No Sugar Cane grown there anymore.

It was the island where Alexander Hamilton was born. He was a Founding Father of the United States, chief staff aide to General George Washington, one of the most influential interpreters and promoters of the U.S. Constitution, the founder of the nation's financial system, the founder of the Federalist Party, the world's first voter-based political party, the Father of the United States Coast Guard, and the founder of The New York Post.

We visited his home now a museum.

 

Dominica - where the Pirates of the Caribbean films were made - and we went on a Jungle Trip by rowing boat (no - we did not row!) to one of the film sets - ending up in a Jungle bar to partake of the customary Rum Punch!

 

Iles De Saintes - just a nice and quiet little French Island with a small port town and easy to walk over to the other side of the island  which I did.

 

Guadeloupe - where they film the British TV series Death in Paradise. Here we rented a taxi for the day and asked to be taken to the various locations. It turned out that thedriver, Louis, was involved in the making of the series and rented out his Jeep and horses for use during filming.

He very kindly took us to his home to meet his lovely family and see all his horses - and where he gave us all a Rum Punch - surprise surprise!

He told us that his home will feature in an episode of the next series.

So that was a real stroke of luck!

 

Antigua - where Lord Nelson had his Dockyard. This is open to the public and extremely interesting.

In the afternoon I went by fast boat out into the Caribbean to swim with and feed Stingrays.

These are not captive Stingrays and can swim away any time they want.

However - they are attracted by the sound of the outboard motor when they know that food is on its way.

We fed them Squid by hand. They are such gentle creatures and love all the attention - so much so that you can do almost anything with them as they see it as fun.

We stood on a sand bar for this with the water only chest high. I had a Snorkel and Goggles with me (supplied by the ship) and was able to swim underwater to really see the Stingrays swim around.

That was another first for me - so this old guy was really doing well!

 

St Barthelemy - very posh! A French island that makes Nice and Cannes look like slums – quite a contrast to most of the other islands. If I had one pound sterling for every large and luxurious yacht there I’d be able to retire there!

It was here where we went on a semi-submersible vessel which give the feeling of being on a real submarine.

There is so much to see down there - more different types of fish than you could ever imagine.

Needless to say I took many pictures and movie clips as it’s not a part of the world we get the chance to see every day.

 

Then back to St Martin  where we had a half-day tour after disembarkation before we were transferred to the airport.

The highlight of this tour was when we were taken to a particular bay to see where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean - at 90 degrees (ish).

When the incoming seas from each meet they produce such wonderful wave formations.

 

So that’s about it.

Would I do it again – yes - definitely.

Would I recommend it – yes - definitely.

 

In fact I have already booked up for the same vessel again in 2017.

It has now sailed to South Asia  where it will be permanently based.

The voyage I’ve booked takes us to many small Thai islands none of which I’ve ever heard of before - and Penang - so I’m looking forward to that.

 

I honestly think it is such a different experience that everyone should at least give it a try. 



Category: Ocean Cruises