Star Clippers Caribbean Cruise - Part 1 - Barbados

22nd December 2015

Barbados

Taking a cruise in the Caribbean is a popular choice for British holiday makers, especially as the nights draw in at home and we are forced to de- ice our cars early every morning! It's no wonder people choose to hop on a transatlantic flight from London, as only a short 8 hours away the white sands, balmy seas and clear blue sky's play background to the ultimate winter sun destination - the Caribbean.

Star Clippers operate several Caribbean itineraries throughout the UK winter months, and, this time, we were about to experience the Royal Clipper sailing from Barbados, a 7-night cruise around the Windward Islands.

Barbados

Making for an excellent home-port, it would be a shame not to extend your cruise on the beautiful island of Barbados, with all the diversity it has to offer. Glamorous hotels on the sought after west coast are scattered between some of the finest restaurants in the world, let alone the Caribbean, with friendly local events such as the famous Oistins fish fry on a Friday night down on the South coast, there's something for everyone.

We began with a 2-night pre-cruise stay at Turtle Beach, an all-inclusive property on the South Coast. We were greeted on arrival with a private dinner on the beach and hosted by the General Manager. To sit only yards from the calm waves crashing gently on the shore with our toes in the sand was the best way to start our Caribbean adventure! After a long flight, we hungrily enjoyed our dinner (and a few rum punches of course) before retiring to our spacious ocean view suite for a good night’s sleep.

Waking up to the sound of the sea is probably one of my favourite parts of being on holiday. Pulling back the curtains and stepping out on to my private balcony taking in the outstanding beauty of Turtle Beach's pristine white sands, many palm trees and deep blue waters was incredible. I highly recommend upgrading your hotel room to an Ocean View suite, as for me, this is what the Caribbean is all about.

The next 48 hours saw us experiencing some highlights of Barbados, including a catamaran up and down the west coast, offering guests the chance to swim with turtles, snorkel over shipwrecks or simply relax on the catamaran, complete with open bar, great music and a delicious lunch! We were on board Jammin today, whose crew were faultless and very good fun. I would really encourage you to add this to your itinerary when spending a few days in Barbados. All of the Catamaran tours can be booked locally and will include pick up/drop off at your hotel. They are excellent value for money and offer a very memorable day.

On our second evening on the island, we were lucky enough to dine at 'Champers', a premium restaurant on the South Coast, with an enviable location over the sea looking back at the beach; the setting is like no other, with mouth-watering food to accompany and exemplary service, this is a great place to toast a special occasion. Bookings are advised, especially if you want an ocean front table, your concierge can arrange this from your hotel.

Before we embarked the Royal Clipper we visited several hotels that we often sell to our guests for their pre/post cruise stays, which was really useful. I've included a short fact file below for each one...

Hotel Visits - Barbados

Oceans 2: This trendy south coast hotel offers a beach front location with rooms equipped with kitchenettes. There are two bedroom suites, sleeping 6 adults or 4 adults and 3 small children, so this is ideal for families. Only a short stroll from St Lawrence Gap where there are several restaurants/bars/shops to choose from, this is a well-located hotel if you want to be on the south of the Island.

Board basis: Room only or B&B

Recommended for: Families and couples

Colony Club: The classic, colonial decor oozes sophistication in every aspect of this hotel. The four poster beds, the rooms with step down lagoon pools, the stunning gardens and swim up bar are just a few key attributes the Colony Club brings. Daily yoga sessions followed by specially selected healthy eating menus are available for those that are health conscious or complimentary watersports and rum cocktails on the beach make for a great alternative. The Colony Club is on the west coast, where the sea is considerably calmer than the south; however you're probably a short taxi ride away from the closest restaurants and town (Holetown).

Board basis: B&B or half board

Recommended for: Couples

Mango Bay: In the heart of Holetown this all-inclusive hotel is right in the action, but steps away from the entrance and all the hustle and bustle is a beautiful pool area and a stretch of white sandy west coast beach to enjoy. The rooms are basic in style but fresh and clean with ocean view or pool view available. I wouldn't recommend the 'classic' rooms as these back on to the town and can be quite noisy.

Board Basis: All inclusive

Recommended for: Young families and couples

The House: A 36 all-suite, adult only boutique hotel on the pristine west coast, this contemporary yet classic property boasts understated elegance with decking out to the beach, memory foam mattresses on the sun beds and ambassador service, a unique haven and a real piece of 'home'. Check in is done in your room or at the bar, at your leisure and by your personal ambassador. Everything about 'The House' is unconventional, which is why it works so beautifully. Champagne breakfasts, fresh fruit and bottled water on the beach and afternoon tea is all included in the B&B rate as well as a 30-minute jet lag massage!

Board Basis: B&B

Recommended for: Adults only

Tamarind: Situated next door to The House and famous Italian eatery ‘Daphne’s’, The Tamarind also takes residence on the sought after west coast, just a few minutes from Holetown on the local reggae bus but also within walking distance of a couple of restaurants and rum shacks. The bright and fresh décor fits well in the Caribbean, with the deck dining and many watersports also complimenting the destination perfectly. There is one adult only ‘spa pool’ and two other pool areas for use by all, with comfortable sun loungers dotted around all of them, there is plenty of space to unwind and relax here, always just a few steps from a bar, ‘Happy Hour’ is easily accessible!

Board Basis: B&B or Half Board

Recommended for: Families and couples

Crystal Cove: A boutique alternative to the Mango Bay, offering a second all-inclusive property on the West Coast, in a much quieter location. Crystal Cove belongs to the same group of hotels as; Colony Club, The House, Tamarind and Turtle Beach. Similarly to Tamarind, the hotel has taken inspiration for its interiors from the Caribbean itself making for a light and colourful atmosphere. Highlights here include a swim up cave style pool bar with dramatic waterfall entrance, a choice of two fantastic restaurants to dine at for lunch and/or dinner and champagne cocktails (all included!)

Board Basis: All Inclusive

Recommended for: Families and couples

Read Part 2: Climbing aboard the Royal Clipper

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