With winter upon us here in North America, our minds always drift toward warmer destinations. One of our very favorite regions for a sun-splashed and highly active getaways is the islands and countries throughout the Caribbean.
This sunny and warm region is among the most-visited cruise destinations in the world, attracting large numbers of travelers for plenty of good reasons: the pristine beaches, diverse culture, and proximity to the United States make the Caribbean islands a year-round vacation spot. For many though, a Caribbean cruise means megaships bringing thousands of passengers at a time into ports -- which can lead to a less-than-ideal way to explore what should be a tranquil and idyllic destination.
Not so for a Star Clippers tall sailing ship. With sailings departing from Barbados and St. Maarten, Star Clippers offers a small-ship experience that is perfect for adventurous travelers who crave intimate exploration among like-minded people who want to get a real feel for a destination's culture, history and natural wonders.
Star Clippers sailing allows for a truly authentic and unique Caribbean getaway, and we've got a roundup of just a few ways journeys on the boutique cruise line's ships Star Clipper, Star Flyer and Royal Clipper stand out from mass-market cruises.
Small and Intimate: Star Clippers' largest vessel, the Royal Clipper, carries a maximum of 227 passengers. And with 19,000 square feet of open deck (featuring three pools), you will have no trouble finding a private spot to relax with a good book, watch the crew lower and raise the sails or simply enjoy quite time in your secluded haven. The bow sprit net -- located at the front of the ship -- is a prime spot to crawl out and float above the ocean while watching the splashing seas and dolphins frolicking below.
On these daily excursions, it's not unusual to be one of just a handful of snorkelers or sunbathers taking advantage of Star Clippers' complimentary water sports activities. This is how Star Clippers helps you to soak up the true flavor of each island, sampling the cuisine and getting to know residents through authentic encounters.
Let the Wind Carry You: These ships are true sailing vessels, using wind power whenever possible to navigate between islands. In fact, all Star Clippers itineraries are created using tide charts and wind maps to ensure the ships can sail under wind power as much as possible -- up to 80 percent of the time in the Caribbean. Gliding into port under full sail is a thrilling experience, and one that allows passengers to imagine what it must have been like for the early explorers who arrived in this exotic region while on board similar vessels. The primary difference for today's cruiser vs. the long-ago seafaring pirate, for example: You get onboard luxuries like a full-service spa, gourmet meals and multiple swimming pools.
Learn the Ways of the Sea: These cruise vacations with Star Clippers give you the chance to spend your days just the way you like. Do it all! Or do nothing at all.
If you want to embrace your inner sailor on a spectacular tall ship, you can assist the crew with hoisting and setting sail, bracing, folding and knot tying. Want to experience what it was like to be on watch duty on a clipper ship of yore? You can climb the mast to the crow's nest, some 100 feet above the water.
It's a fun challenge with a special reward: incredible views and thrilling feeling of accomplishment.
For more than 25 years, Star Clippers has been introducing travelers to the thrill of modern tall ship sailing to remote ports in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indonesia and the Far East. The line operates three of the world's largest and tallest sailing vessels: Star Clipper and Star Flyer are traditional clipper ships with modern amenities carrying up to 170 passengers, while the 227-passenger Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record as the largest and only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship in service today. All three ships feature expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, convivial tropical bars and piano lounges.
Is this your kind of sailing experience? We thought so. Hope to see you onboard soon, and we'll have a race to the crow's nest.
Thanks for reading, and always travel happy.