ROYAL CLIPPER To The Grenadines, Part Three

Knego concludes his seven night trek aboard Star Clipper Cruises’ five masted ROYAL CLIPPER with visits to Martinique and St. Lucia.

Star Clipper Cruises

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

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L’Imperatrice frontage.

A double port day began with a morning call at Fort de France, Martinique, another deep Caribbean destination that I had not been to in many years. After a short walk from the pier to the city center, I settled in with friends at the Art Deco L’Imperatrice Hotel, where we ordered a batch of cappuccinos.

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Cappuccino L’Imperatrice.

Although our welcome was far from warm, the cappuccinos were piping hot and powdered with a pungent cinnamon that must have been grown locally.

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Library at Fort de France.

We paid a quick visit to the beautiful Library and walked around the port area before returning to the ship. Maybe it was the 27 Euro bottle of sun block that quelled any pressing pangs to return.

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Dangling cameras through the net…

With so much port time in our short week, there were precious few opportunities to exploit some of the ROYAL CLIPPER’s most unique features, such as hanging in the bowsprit or climbing the mast (guests can sign up to scale the ropes on a safety harness to one of the lower mast platforms for a spectacular view). However, on the short passage from Fort de France to Anse D’Arlet on the other side of the island, I had my moments in the net. And an absolutely exhilarating experience it was, expecially trying to dangle the cameras safely through the net to capture that long clipper prow cutting those pristine seas.

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CLIPPER face.

I had to leave my favorite place when it was time for ROYAL CLIPPER to drop anchor off the resort beach of Anse D’Arlet.

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PSY ROYAL CLIPPER water sports platform.

ROYAL CLIPPER unfolded her platform but unfortunately, the currents were too strong for us to swim in the anchorage.

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Counter encounters.

Nonetheless, one of the marina staff was kind enough to provide a ride around the ship in one of the zodiacs.

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Anse D’Arlet tender sign.
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Afternoon delights.

We left the cameras behind for another gorgeous swim at Anse D’Arlet and returned to the ship in time for afternoon snacks in the Tropical Bar.

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Moon astern.
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Celestial rigging.

After dinner, as the ROYAL CLIPPER made her way towards St. Lucia, we took in yet another balmy night under the mast.

Friday, December 18, 2015

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Marigot Morning.

Rain drizzled down upon us as we buzzed along in the tender to tiny Marigot on St. Lucia.

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In the shelter of Marigot.

As the downpour subsided, I enjoyed a Greek yogurt topped with locally made granola and a drizzling of honey along with a tall cappuccino. There wasn’t a lot to see and do in Marigot, so it was back to the ROYAL CLIPPER.

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PSY ROYAL CLIPPER Lounge, facing forward.
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ROYAL CLIPPER Lounge, facing aft.

In the Lounge, several guests were chatting over coffee. I very much like how the mahogany-toned room is broken up into terraces that overlook the Atrium and a main sitting area that is reminiscent of a smoking room on a long since vanished liner of yore.

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ROYAL CLIPPER totally random carpet shot.

There is a pleasing uniformity to ROYAL CLIPPER’s décor, which is thankfully devoid of the more garish soft fittings found on many larger ships.

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PSY ROYAL CLIPPER Library, facing starboard.

The Library is a wonderful space boasting a faux fireplace, plush leather settees and tufted chairs directly aft of the Tropical Bar. Its shelves are filled with books and DVDs in English, German and French. Alas, with the port-intensive itinerary, it was largely unused during our cruise.

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ROYAL CLIPPER Reception.

Located aft of the Atrium on Clipper Deck, the Reception area is set in a gallery surrounded by boutiques offering Star Clippers’ logo wear and other souvenirs.

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Compass to Piton.

Up on deck, as we approached our second port of call, Soufriere, the rain was coming down in buckets. The mighty Pitons lurked in the backdrop.

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PSY ROYAL CLIPPER Wheelhouse, facing starboard.

Instead of venturing ashore, I enjoyed our final day aboard the ship, beginning with one last visit to the open bridge.

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ROYAL CLIPPER Caterpillar diesels.

Once per cruise, engine room tours are offered to guests who sign up at the excursion desk. ROYAL CLIPPER has a pair of Caterpillar diesels that can driver her variable pitch screw at a top speed of 16 knots. Of course, she can also operate under sail but the engines are required for her to keep on schedule.

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Full arch rainbow over Soufriere.

As a reward for the earlier drenching, a full arc rainbow appeared over Soufriere, just as it was announced we would have another go at the photo tender.

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Unfurling off Soufiere.

As most of ROYAL CLIPPER’s guests offloaded into no less than three boats, our mighty ship began to unfurl most of her 42 sails.

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More sails in the works.

It was like watching a newly hatched butterfly unfold its wings…

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ROYAL CLIPPER versus the Piton.

Or a giant peacock unveiling its plume.

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Full square ahead.

Our tender driver was clearly a veteran of such encounters, buzzing alongside the ROYAL CLIPPER and then spinning around for the other side of the tender to get optimal views.

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Royally rigged.

How perfect it was to have the ROYAL CLIPPER fully unfurled and moving through her element with the soaring Pitons lurking behind her.

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High spirited sprit.

And then, if the show wasn’t dazzling enough with the glow of the setting sun, the majestic pitons towering above, members of the crew assembled on the bowsprit.

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Once more under the sprit.

We chased our mother ship out past the Pitons as the sun dimmed behind her.

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Royal encounter.

Once our cameras were sated, the tenders had to maneuvered us into the pitching ship’s lee.

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Final view.

It was a perfect way to begin our final evening on the ROYAL CLIPPER. After dinner, it was time to pack and say goodbye to friends old and new.

End Of ROYAL CLIPPER To The Grenadines

Special thanks: Cindy Tanenbaum

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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