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Royal Clipper
A Sailing Diary

Going Ashore

Water sports marina

Star Clippers cruises offer several itineraries in the Caribbean--mine was the Grenadine Islands, but Royal Clipper currently also sails the Windward Islands from Barbados and her smaller fleetmate Star Clipper sails the Leeward Islands and Treasure Islands from St. Marteen. With alternating itineraries, it's possible to sail back-to-back and spend two weeks on board without repeating ports.

All voyages focus on the outdoors--the sea, pristine beaches, and island adventures. Scuba diving excursions were available every day, sometimes in the morning and afternoon. When at anchor, the water sports platform was often the busiest spot on Royal Clipper with passengers sailing the sunfish and having a blast riding on the banana boat.

While the diving was reportedly great--there were many scuba divers on my cruise--you didn't have to be a diver to enjoy the itinerary. Most days we divided our time between mornings in the small island towns and afternoons at the beach. The water sports team provided beach fun via zodiac, pulling the banana boat offshore and providing other water toys.

Idyllic beach at Mayreau

Excursions were varied and included cultural and natural attractions (whale watching, botanical gardens, plantations, hot springs), off road treks (jeep safari), and water adventures (snorkeling and swimming). Passengers are free to explore independently, but must be back on board when Royal Clipper sets sail from her morning anchorage near town to reposition near a beach for the afternoon.

I love to snorkel, but I am admittedly a poor swimmer. That didn't stop me from joining the "Southern Grenadines by Speedboat" tour, though. We met at the gangway and embarked on a catamaran headed for a snorkeling spot amid the coral reefs that dot the Tobago Cays Islands. The boat had excellent gear, including snorkel vests for floatation--a necessity for me. Unfortunately, the current was pretty strong and my time in the water was limited. The variety of fish and coral I saw was amazing. After an hour we motored past the exclusive conclave on Palm Island and headed for Mayreau, one of the top ten beaches in the Caribbean, where the water was calm for swimming. 

Our tour ended at Petit Bateau, where the crew from Royal Clipper had set up an elaborate barbeque on a private stretch of beach. The ship's sports team was geared up for water sports activities and a session of water gymnastics.

Bequia, where the sea is as important to life as is breathing.

A highlight of cruising on Royal Clipper is her ability to visit off-the-beaten-track islands, of which Bequia is a gem. Nine miles off the coast of St. Vincent and only seven square miles in size, it is the largest of the Grenadines.

Bequia's appeal is its utter serenity... charming buildings set amid riotous flowers and uncrowded nearby beaches. The island's main source of income is still fishing and much hasn't changed in centuries; however, it's possible to check your email at an internet cafe with high-speed connections and then relax at a beach bar with Jimmy Buffett tunes playing in the background. Try the local Hairoun beer and chill out in paradise. Life doesn't get any better than this!

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The Royal Clipper Experience

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