‘Never start a voyage on a Friday. It will have a bad ending’
An earring is said to give sailors good eyesight while an old sea dog’s tattoo of a cross, an anchor and a heart protects against dangers at sea and at port. Many an earring and tattoos were visible on the Concierge Travel sponsored Star Clippers Royal Clipper cruise out of Bridgetown, Barbados on a 7-day excursion of the Western Caribbean in early March.
Concierge is generally known for booking larger party boats but this was a chance for my husband and I to check off one of those proverbial bucket list items, ditch the suits and experience some warm Caribbean waters on a smaller, more intimate five-masted. We were quickly fuelled by thoughts of romantic barefoot and sun-kissed visions of gliding into a sun-setting undiscovered bay, sails up, dropping anchor listening to the gentle lapping of the sea against the hull of the ship. We signed up a contingent of Canadians and booked our passage for our Royal Clipper cruise.
In 1902, the Preussen became the world’s first five-masted full-rigger and it’s reported that “those who saw it were rendered speechless.” Almost 100 years would sail by before another was built—the Royal Clipper, the world’s second five-masted full-rigger. The Preussen inspired Swedish-born Mikael Krafft, owner of Star Clippers, to have the Royal Clipper built. She carries 5,050 metres (aprox. 54,300 square feet) of sail and I happily admit this sun-setting, daily hoisting of the sails, set to the dramatic strains of Vangellis’ ‘1492′ brought a tear to my eye each and every evening. My father’s salty stories as a Merchant Marine, manning the telegraph in the choppy North Atlantic and the warm South Pacific have always resonated with me. I must have had a prior life as a seaman or a pirate as I have a romantic vision of sailing the seven seas, clipping along with a full wind, tilting and rolling with the pitch, the whining wind whipping and flapping the hoisted sails, the wires whistling and calling their siren song of the sea to me.
Bucket List, Check.
Indeed, that bucket list item is now checked-off. During our 7-day sea-bourne adventures, we tendered into some of the smaller islands and cays: Isla Margarita, Venezuela; St Georges, Grenada; Tobago Cays and Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Marigot Bay and Soufrière, Saint Lucia. We enjoyed beach days with a full BBQ lunch, diving, sailing, kayaking and other water sports. We were fêted with great food, multi-themed tea dances, a Rocky Horror Picture night and of course, the Captain’s (oddly Russian in this case) Drag Dinner. After-hours activities like line dancing, leather and underwear parties, morning yoga and costume contests make this a typical Gay old time, but allow you the more intimate opportunity to strike up new friendships while reacquainting yourself with old ones. On-board entertainment was provided by the multi-talented Amy Armstrong and her BFF and musical cohort in arms Freddy Allen, welcome regulars in the LGBT community. An obviously proud crew sails the Royal Clipper as I spend many a star-lit, sea sprayed evening talking navigation and the position of the stars with the very knowledgeable and passionate Andrew from Poland, all part of the ship’s international and highly likeable crew. Concierge has, in the past, booked two of the smaller Royal Clipper ships for their Greece and Costa Rica cruises. This is the first time the bigger, more luxe Royal Clipper has welcomed the LGBT community on board and judging by the positive response, it won’t be the last!
Cruise and #TravelWell, my friends!
‘Black Bags or suitcases: Taboo’. No need for checked luggage of any colour on this cruise. Unless you are planning on full Drag 5 of the 6 nights, consider packing lightly and casually for the entire week.
‘Never start a voyage on a Friday. It will have a bad ending’. Air Canada has 2 daily direct flights to Barbados and they recently added wide bodied jets to their fleet for this ever-popular spring break destination. WestJet offers limited flights to Bridgetown from Toronto. If you are flying via the US, there are connecting flights to Barbados via Miami with American Airlines, US Air and British Airways.
Phone: Toll free 877-775-9616
Please note: An earlier version of this article was originally published on www.FollowSummer.com