2015 Caribbean V.I.P FAM trip
Thursday 3rd December
As with Cuba last year, I made the decision to travel down to London the day before and spend the night at the Hilton at Gatwick Airport. This morning I got myself ready and arranged to meet Danielle Dudley at Jamie Oliver’s coffee shop.
A few of us met at the coffee shop before proceeding to make our way to the check in desks to meet the rest of the group. After checking in we went to a bar where Dani bought everyone prosecco’s and gave us a copy of the itinerary. Seeing the itinerary brought back a lot of memories for me as the first sailing I ever did with Tony (co-owner of The Vacation Company) was a Caribbean sailing!
At the gate we were given the news that we had been upgraded, 4 of us to club and the rest to premium economy, very exciting! As soon as we got on board we were presented with a glass of champagne. There was a 2 hour delay in taking off (due to a problem in the hold) but having a chair that converts into a fully flat bed made the delay bearable!
On arrival in Barbados we were fast tracked through passport control and taken straight to Turtle Beach, an all-inclusive, all-suite resort on the south coast of the island. Dinner this evening was hosted by the general manager of the hotel and took place on the beach, a beautiful way to end the first day.
Friday 4th December
Today we were up early for a Catamaran tour of the Island. It was very hot on deck so Walter and I sat inside together near the bar and people watched. During the tour there were two stops for swimming – one with turtles and one diving at wrecks. The coastline of Barbados is truly amazing and the hospitality on board the Catamaran was wonderful.
Saturday 5th December
Up early this morning as the coach is picking us up at 8 for some hotel inspections. Throughout the morning we visited Oceans Two, Mango Bay, The Colony Club, The House, Tamarind (where lunch, hosted by the general manager, was provided), and Crystal Cove. A very warm welcome was given by all the hotels.
During lunch the Barbados Tourist Board presented us all with two lovely gifts, the first was a bottle opener and bottle stopper gift set, and the second was a bottle of Mount Gay XO Reserve Cask Rum, presented in a wooden box on the front of which our names had been carved. I know three men who will appreciate the rum!
After lunch we headed to the port to board the Royal Clipper. Once aboard we were offered a welcome drink before being shown to our cabins. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces including Captain Mariusz Szalek who was our Captain when we sailed last year from Palma on the Star Flyer.
Went in for dinner with the rest of the group although after our wonderful lunch at the Tamarind I wasn’t particularly hungry. Every evening as well as the a la carte menu there is always the option of steak or pasta, this evening I therefore opted for the pasta.
After dinner we headed back up on deck for sail away, an experience I will never tire of!
Sunday 6th December
This morning I missed breakfast but made sure I attended the compulsory life boat drill at 10.00. The safety drill was followed by the captain’s presentation of the officers and crew.
Today the Royal Clipper anchored off Rodney Bay, St. Lucia and we had the choice of getting a tender to the marina or a tender to the beach. Most of the group decided to head to the beach however I decided to accompany Walter to the marina.
As it was Sunday most of the shops were closed nevertheless it was still lovely walking around and there were plenty of little stalls around the marina selling souvenirs.
Monday 7th December
This morning was very exciting as the Royal Clipper was joined in Dominica by its sister ship the ‘Star Clipper’ and so the two ships spent the morning racing each other, a delightful spectacle!
After the RC had anchored off Cabrits we made our way ashore to partake in an Indian River Boat Cruise. Our guide for the tour, Albert, was very informative and told us all about the fauna and flora we were seeing, some of which was only to be found in this particular area of Dominica.
On the tour we were also shown places where scenes from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ were filmed. I’m not a huge film fan but even I know ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’!
Overall it was a very relaxing and enjoyable afternoon, even heavy rain couldn’t dampen the experience!
Tuesday 8th December
Today the Royal Clipper anchored off Falmouth Harbour, Antigua and the group got a tender to the marina where we had a wander around before stopping for a drink.
This afternoon a BBQ was provided on ‘Pigeon Beach’ for all the guests and so we decided to walk from the marina to the beach (although taxis were readily available). This morning staff on the Royal Clipper had provided instructions for those wishing to walk and although there was a hill it was a pleasant journey that took approximately 15 minutes.
The scenery at the beach was amazing and trees provided shade for when the heat got too much.
This evening a traditional Steel Band were brought aboard as tonight was Caribbean night.
Wednesday 9th December
This morning we embarked on a safari tour of St. Kitts in a comfortable open-top jeep. After starting in the town of Basseterre some of the memorable stops we were taken to include a historical 18th century plantation, Old Road Village (where the British first landed), Gibbon’s Hill – from where visitors can see the Atlantic meet the Caribbean, and Black Rocks – a notable rock formation on the northeast coast of the Island formed by volcanic activity.
Our guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable, providing plenty of information on the stops and the Island of St. Kitts.
Back onboard one of this afternoons activities was the photo-tender, a perfect opportunity for guests to get the perfect picture of the Royal Clipper under full sails! I highly recommend everyone takes advantage of this opportunity when they are onboard.
Thursday 10th December
Today the Royal Clipper was anchored off Iles des Saintes, a cluster of eight small islands located just six miles of the southern coast of Guadeloupe. Only two of the islands, Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas, attract any tourists as the other six are no more than rocky outcrops.
The Royal Clipper had laid on two separate tender services, one taking guests to the beach for sunbathing and water sports, and one taking guests to the marina for sightseeing and shopping. I opted to visit the marina which was lovely, a good choice of bars and restaurants and some nice little souvenir shops, in one of which I bought a postcard of the Royal Clipper!
This evening it was the Captain’s Dinner followed by the guest and crew talent show, as always a wonderful, entertaining night!
Friday 11th December
This morning the Royal Clipper arrived into Fort de France, Martinique. The port itself isn’t the prettiest (it’s the busiest port we visited) but once you move away from the ships there is plenty to discover. There are lots of tourist guides to help you and point you in the right direction.
Back on board ship early in the afternoon for a 2pm sail away, the last of the voyage L, although I must admit I was looking forward to seeing my men again! After we had set sail for Barbados the more adventurous members of the group were afforded the opportunity of climbing the mast, not for me! Although everyone brave enough to do it always enthuses about the spectacular views you get from the top!
This evening it was the traditional sea chart raffle, a chance for one of the guests to win a unique souvenir of their wonderful voyage, a beautiful chart showing the itinerary signed by the captain.
Follow us on Facebook to see some of the wonderful photographs taken by Joan.