‘Never Start a Voyage on a Friday. It Will Have a Bad Ending’
An earring is said to give sailors good eyesight
and an old sea dog’s tattoo of a cross, an anchor, and a heart protects against dangers at sea and at port. There was many an earring and tattoo evident on the Concierge Travel sponsored Star Clippers Royal Clipper cruise out of Bridgetown, Barbados on a 7-day excursion to the Western Caribbean. Concierge is generally known for booking bigger party boats but this was a chance for my husband and me to check off one of those proverbial bucket list items, ditch the tuxes and experience the warm Caribbean Sea on a smaller, more intimate 5-Master. Fueled by its romantic barefoot and sun-kissed visions of gliding into a sun-setting, undiscovered bay, sails up, dropping anchor and listening to the gentle lapping of the Caribbean against the hull of the ship, we quickly signed up a contingent of Canadians and booked our passage.
In 1902, the Preussen became the world’s first five-masted full-rigger and ‘Those who saw it were rendered speechless”. Almost 100 years would sail by before another five-master was built–the Royal Clipper, the world’s second five-masted full-rigger. The earlier Preussen inspired Swedish-born Mikael Krafft, owner of Star Clippers, to have the Royal Clipper built. She carries 5,050 metres (approx. 54,300 square feet) of sail and I happily admit that this daily hoisting of the sails, set to the dramatic strains of Vangellis’ ’1492′ , brought a tear to my sea dog eye each and every sunset. My father’s salty stories as a Merchant Marine, manning the telegraph operations in a choppy North Atlantic Sea have always resonated with me. I have a romantic vision of sailing the seven seas, clipping along with a full wind, titling 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, Checked Off!
And indeed, that bucket list is now ‘checked-off’! During our 7 day sea-bourne adventures, we tendered into some of the smaller islands and cays: Isla Margarita, in Venezuela; St Georges, in Grenada; Tobago Cays and Bequia, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Marigot Bay and Soufrière, in Saint Lucia; enjoyed beach days with a full-on BBQ lunches, diving, sailing, kayaking and other water sports. We were feted 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 include line dancing, leather and underwear parties, morning yoga and costume contests and make this a typical Gay old time, but also allow you the more intimate opportunity to strike up new friendships and reacquaint yourself with old ones. Onboard 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 is sailing the Royal Clipper as I spend many a star-lit, sea-sprayed evening talking ships navigation and the position of the stars with the very knowledgeable and passionate Andrew from Poland, all part of the ships international and like-able 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 beginning every March, add 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.
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