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Feb. 15, 2014, Royal Clipper

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We are booked for this cruise! This will be our first trip on the Royal Clipper, although we have been on the Star Clipper 3 times. Hoping there are others on CC to plan and chat with!

 

Pam

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Our next holiday on the Royal Clipper is about a month before you. We are on the Grenadines itinerary but I see that you are on the Windward Islands itinerary. On a previous holiday on the Royal Clipper we did the Windwards so I may be able to help with any questions you have. We have also been on the Star Clipper and the Star Flyer - it is more spacious on the Royal.

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Hi Jobake!

 

So glad you posted! Sometimes these roll calls are a bit lonely:-) I will have questions! I did look at your itinerary and it looks fantastic! I will be excited to see what your experience is with your new ports too!

 

Our Star Clippers cruises have all been in Europe, so we are looking forward to getting to try it out in the Caribbean. How often, on your Windward Islands cruise, did they open up the water sports deck?

 

And can I ask if you stayed in Barbados for any pre- or post- cruise days and where you stayed?

 

We will not fly in until late at night on the night before we sail. We are staying at the Accra Beach Hotel. It looks like there is such a nice beach area there, so it should be a lovely first day of vacation.

 

Pam

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Our last RC Windwards trip was in February 2010 and I have kept the daily programmes which, as you know, are delivered to your cabin the previous afternoon / evening. The water sports on the RC operate from a platform at the stern of the ship. The platform is lowered down to sea level. The programmes show that there is an active programme with the sports team (3 or 4 of them usually) every day except Friday (Martinique). In 2010 there was an information get together for diving and water sports activities at 6.45 p.m. on the day of boarding. However they may have changed that now as the compulsory lifeboat drill may now take place at 6.00 p.m. on the day of boarding. Suggest that when you board you pop to your cabin to get the programme so that you can see the timings for that day.

 

We usually do a pre-cruise stay of a few days in one or other of the hotels on the west coast of Barbados. This time, unusually, we will have a few days both before and after our RC trip. We know a couple who have stayed at the Accra Beach and they reported favourably on that.

 

One or two other thoughts:-

 

It is a fairly short transfer from the Accra Beach to the Port. We tend to arrive at the Port at about 3.30 (boarding usually commences at 4.00 p.m.), have a chat with other early arrivers and then be one of the first to board. Dinner usually starts at 7.30 p.m. and we go in promptly so that we can be out and up to the bridge area by, say, 9.45 p.m. ready for sailaway at, usually, 10.00 p.m. With the benefit of the trade winds, and all those square sails going up as you leave the Port, sailaway on the RC from Barbados is about as good as it gets.

 

In the Iles des Saintes (in effect part of France) where you are tendered ashore we usually walk over to the other side of the island. To do that turn right (as if facing the land from the sea) when you get off the tender. A short distance along take the road to the left (check with the locals that you have the correct road). Takes about half an hour to walk to the other side. There is a very nice beach on the other side with lots of shade under the palm trees. You can snorkel there. (it is where the locals go). Suggest you take your camera as, looking back from the road, you can get some good photos of the RC at anchor. There are also one or two other photo opportunities along the road as well as at the beach.

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Hi Jobake!

 

Thanks so much for the advice about Iles des Saintes! That beach sounds like a perfect day for us! I will be writing that down!

 

It will be so nice to you to get to spend some time before and after the cruise! Have you ever used a particular taxi/tour service on your previous trips? Or just random taxis?

 

We only have time for 1 day post-cruise, due to my job, but are heading over to the east coast to stay for a night. I am anxious to see and hear the wild surf over there:-) We found a lovely hotel there that I am so excited to experience!!! We will try to do an island tour that morning and am hoping to get to check on the west coast then! Too much to see and do and not enough time!!!

 

I keep checking the Star Clipper website hoping they will publish their new shore excursion booklet soon:-) It is fun to see what they offer, though I am guessing we could be very happy just finding a beach on all these islands:-) Dominica is the only repeat island for us, so the rest are all new to us. Any other tips for the islands would be appreciated!

 

Pam

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Jobake,

 

On the beach on the other side of Iles des Saintes - are there any places to eat/have a drink on that beach?

 

Pam

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Iles des Saintes. As I recall - no cafes on the beach the other side of the island. MIGHT be a van serving snacks. The RC arrives about 9.30 a.m. We tend to get off soon after arrival for our walk to the other side - have a swim / snorkel then walk back and have a snack / light lunch in one of the cafes / restaurants in the main area. We always carry some water with us when we are ashore in the Caribbean.

 

Barbados. We use random taxis and the local bus services and sometimes hire a car for a couple of days. You will not have time for the buses / car hire. Two possibilities for you perhaps:- 1. Hire a taxi at the Port when you disembark and, in conjunction with the taxi driver, work out your "itinerary" which could, perhaps, finish at your east coast hotel. 2. An alternative, which we have done a few times and found to be a good way of seeing some of Barbados, is to book the post cruise tour offerred by the Royal Clipper. This usually departs the Port at about 8.30 a.m. and finishes at the Airport at about 3.00 p.m. from where you can get a taxi to your hotel so you would be there by about 3.30 p.m.. The tour includes a stop (there are also other stops) for a light buffet lunch at an historic plantation house where there is also a small interesting museum. If you go on to the internet and type in - barbados taxi fares - several sites come up. Well worth a look as it will give you the picture about the taxi services in Barbados which are mostly regulated by the Government. We have always found the taxi drivers courteous and helpful. When discussing fares establish which currency you are talking in - Barbados dollars or U.S. Dollars. The exchange rate between those two currencies is fixed at 2 Barbados $ - 1 U.S. $

 

St. Lucia. As you have not been to St Lucia before an organised trip offerred by the RC to the rain forest area will give you the chance to see the most scenic part of the island. You have to book the evening before and the booking sheet is usually on the table in the open area in front of the Purser's desk - something else to do before dinner on the day you board!

 

Martinique - also, in effect, part of France. The ship docks alongside here and you can walk in to town just by following the coloured (blue, I think) pathway. If you are interested in "shops" that will probably be your best opportunity on that holiday.

 

Caribbean sunset. Yes - great, but what about sunrise? The Caribbean sunrise at sea is also very much worth a look, so to speak. Also sunrise / daybreak is the best (but not only) opportunity to see (if they are around) the dolphins swimming under the bow of the ship. Another camera job. The RC, when approaching Rodney Bay in St. Lucia usually, but not always, goes up the west coast. As ever the sun rises in the east! You need a couple of timings to come together but on the approach to St. Lucia / Rodney Bay you have a sporting chance of seeing the sun rise over the Pitons - now that is something! I can see from the RC programmes that I have kept that sunrise on the day you are approaching St. Lucia will be about 6.28 a.m. Up to the bridge area / bow of the ship for all that.

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Hi Jobake!

 

Thanks so much for all the information and tips!!! Catching sunrise over the Pitons would be amazing!!! And I am sure we will follow your plan for the day in Iles des Saintes! Sounds perfect for us! And good to know where to go to sign up for excursions! Of course, reading this just makes it harder to wait for February:-)

 

Our airline just sent me flight changes to all 6 of our flights (3 out and 3 back). The changes were in our favor coming home, but not so good for the trip out. But I called them and things are better. Are you able to fly direct from London to Barbados or do you have to connect somewhere on this side of the ocean?

 

Pam

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We are just over an hours drive from the London Gatwick Airport and have the choice of non stop direct flights to Barbados by either British Airways or Virgin - takes about eight and a half hours that way and a bit less on the return journey.

 

We have met and have enjoyed the company of quite a lot of your fellow countrymen (and Canadians) on our Clipper holidays and, as an observer, are familiar with the type of connecting flights, like yours, that many of you have to make but, it seems to us, they do work.

 

Despite the fact that, so far, no others have joined your thread I am sure that you will not have the ship to yourselves!!!

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How nice that you can have a direct flight! The less times you have to connect, the better:-)

 

It is fun to have a few people on a roll call, but due to the small numbers on the ship, it is not often the roll call is very active here. Of course, this is not the type of cruise where I am trying to set up private shore excursions, so that is not so much of a concern. But it is still nice to chat about cruise things:-)

 

I see that on Dominica, we have 2 stops: Cabrits and Rouseau. We have never been to the Cabrits area. Did you do a ship excursion or just get off on your own? And what is available there. It appears to be a national park area? And then I see we are in Rouseau for the evening? Did you have dinner in town there? Any recommendations?

 

Pam

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In the daily programme that I have for Dominica (February 2010) it shows that Roseau was only a dropping off point for people going on some of the tours and then the ship moved on to Cabrits (Cabrits National Park.) with no further stop at Roseau. Things may have changed since then when they were, perhaps, influenced by Starclippers having a Marine Biologist on board - see below.

 

I cannot now recall what we did in Dominica. The programme shows several possibilities. Excursions shown:-

 

- Trafalgar Falls and Champagne Snorkel

- Middleham Falls Hike and Sulphur Spa

- Whale watching and Party

- River Tubing

- Sindicate Natural Trail

 

There are also various activities with the Sports Team.

When we went on that itinerary the Marine Biologist was on board as a Member of the Crew and there were a number of activities with him throughout the holiday including in Dominica. He was excellent. We have met him since then - once, incredibly, by chance - but I do not know if he is still with Star Clippers. I only wish I could relate to you a most wonderful story that involves him but his (very nice) privacy should be protected, in my view.

 

Dominica on the Royal Clipper - looks like spoilt for choice for activities.

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Thanks for all that info! It looks like we will have lots of choices of things to do:-) Now we just need Star Clippers to post the new shore excursion book for our cruises!!! I noticed today that they finally updated their website! It looks very nice and is much easier to use.

 

Pam

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I am just moving this roll call up the page hoping that since the cruise is closer there may be others joining in:-)

 

Pam

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Looking at past reviews of St Vincent it seems not many people liked the town so is it worth doing one of the ship's excursions? Do royal Clipper provide any beach and snorkel stops here?

Also Martinique has very few reviews both on here and trip advisor. Has anyone done the 4x4 jeep adventure and again was it enjoyable or am I better off saving my euros and just shopping in Fort de France.

Again is any snorkelling or activity offered in the beach drop in the afternoon?

Bearing in mind I have booked a day trip in St Lucia and afternoon trip in Grenada so I would not want to be doing anything too repetitive,

Many thanks

Shilu

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Shilu,

 

I see you are sailing before us! Our itinerary is the Leeward Islands - but we also stop in Martinique. I also wonder about the excursions and if they are a good use of money or if the beaches they run you to would be best to take advantage of.

 

Based on our past Star Clipper cruises - I would guess there are beach/water sports/snorkeling opportunities at each of our stops - but can't speak specifically about your or our cruise.

 

Pam

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Hi Pam,

Yes, our itinerary is in 2 parts, so the morning is in Fort de France and the afternoon on a beach. It's just you hear so much about their lush mainland, that I want to see as much as possible. Also, we are not regular visitors to the Caribbean so it could be quite a while before we are back again.

 

I still have not had any advice regarding St Vincent and not heard from the tour operators I have emailed either. Lots of advice ref Bequia, just strange that St Vincent hardly gets a mention.

 

Anyway, have a great holiday!

Shilu

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Hi Pam,

Have decided to do the Balata gardens on our own. You can catch a bus (no25) from Fort de France approx 6 euros return for 2 people, and runs every 1/2 hr.

It has great views and the bus journey is scenic also. Entrance is 12.8 euros per person and they come highly recommended, so it's something different and a bit of an adventure without breaking the bank, if you know what I mean.

Hope that helps,

Shilu

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Shilu,

 

Thanks for that tip! I will check that out. And I do certainly know what you mean about "breaking the bank":-) Those ship excursions can be so pricey - especially when they are in Euros.

 

Can I ask who you are booking your trip with in St. Lucia? Is your cruise using Rodney Bay for the port stop there?

 

Pam

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Hi Pam,

We have decided to do a private taxi tour, as the ship docks in Marigot Bay but leaves Souffriere.

Seems there are lots of taxis available, so if you manage to get 4 to a group it works out cheaper than ship's tour, just make sure you know what you want to see,

Hope that helps,

Shilu

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Hi Shilu,

 

Yes, it does help. It's hard to beat doing any tour privately! It's too bad we don't have others on our roll calls to plan for sharing tours/taxis!

 

We did final payment this week. That always makes the cruise seem more real:-)

 

Pam

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Looks like we get the ship right after you. We're on a private charter on Royal Clipper starting Feb 22.

 

Looking at pre and post hotels now. Lots of return flights available at 7am the day we arrive back at 8am of course - so we will fly in a day early and leave a day or two later.

 

First time on Royal Clipper - really looking forward to it.

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We are very excited too! We have been on the smaller Star Clipper before, but never on the Royal. We are doing the same thing and coming in a day early and staying a day later. Wish we had more time though:-)

 

We have been booked for a very long time - so have the hotels all taken care of. There are plenty to choose from, but some are very expensive!!!

 

I see you have a Christmas cruise to look forward to, also!

 

Pam

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Just returned from a great royal clipper trip over Christmas..Included a race with star clipper for a couple of hours...

We stayed self catering for 4 nights in St Lawrence Gap prior to the trip.

We chose the beach day (tour)on disembarkation.It was good value but if you go on daypass.com for Barbados, you can do it ourself.Taxis are cheap to the beach clubs.little mini buses in Barbados are only $2 ( Barbadian) and great but not luxury..

We did both jeep tours on St.Lucia and Martinique. The jeep trip in Martinique is in a range rover and not a jeep.Its ok-ish.Wouldn't recommend.

The St.Lucia one was a bit better.Would do again.

Should have done river tubing in Dominica but was cancelled last minute ( too late for us to book something else) due to heavy rain and floods.

St.Kitts was unexpectedly dirty and everyone who went to the beach, came back quickly.Some of that was the problem of too many people on beach due to 2 large cruises ships arriving.Also there were men with monkeys in nappies( diapers) having photos taken with tourists.Quite distressing the way they were handled.

Iles de Saintes was by far the best drop off. As recommended go to other side of island, various beaches or walk to the fort.Great little friendly,warm island.

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Couple of tips:

Take hair conditioner if you use it.

If you have OBC,ask for the amount and where it can be spent, in writing, as we had 3 different answers and have just started to try and get a refund.

Get a good watch,lots of clock watching for tenders and general daily meetings.

If you drink mojitos, make sure only Joey at the tropical bar makes them.The 2nd best mojito maker in the world.

Any questions just ask.

You will have a great time.;)

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Thanks for the info Janecambridge!

 

I appreciate the tips on the shore excursions! Based on what you and others have said, I am really looking forward to Iles de Saintes!

 

Sorry to hear that about St. Kitts. Did you hear any info about shore excursions from other passengers for that island?

 

Pam

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