Day 3 – St. George’s, Grenada

Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice in Grenada

Royal Clipper at anchor off St. George's, Grenada on a stormy afternoon. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Royal Clipper at anchor off St. George’s, Grenada on a stormy afternoon. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Monday, December 14, 2015

It’s official: I’m having excellent sleeps here aboard Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper, which gently rocks me to sleep each and every night. Our sea conditions were not nearly as heavy last night as they were upon our departure from Barbados, which meant far less rolling and much calmer seas. From conversations with the crew, it seems that on these runs sea conditions are heaviest on the first and last evenings of the cruise, as the ship makes her way to and from Bridgetown.

Today, we have another relaxing morning of sailing the warm Caribbean Sea before our arrival in St. George’s, Grenada at Noon. And that seems like the perfect opportunity for us to take a virtual stroll around the decks of the beautiful Royal Clipper!

Captain Nemo’s Spa & Gym

Under The Sea! Captain Nemo's Spa & Gym are located below the waterline. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Under The Sea! Captain Nemo’s Spa & Gym are located below the waterline. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Have you ever wondered if you’re below the waterline of your ship? Wonder no more: Captain Nemo’s Spa and Gym aboard the Royal Clipper is most definitely below the waterline – and Star Clippers isn’t shy about letting you know. The room, which is accessible via the forward spiral staircase that spans Commodore and Clipper Decks, is located one deck below Commodore Deck and is lit via a series of portholes mounted deep beneath the hull of the ship. These look out onto – you guessed it – the sea.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

So how does the sea not get in? Well, layers of tempered marine glass keep the sea out. Plus, the pressure at this depth (perhaps five to ten feet below the waterline) isn’t terribly great. But it sure is cool to look out on the aquamarine coloured waters while you work out on the treadmill.

Even the stairway to Captain Nemo's is elaborate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Even the stairway to Captain Nemo’s is elaborate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In addition to a surprisingly full-featured gym, the Spa aboard Royal Clipper features a series of small but well-appointed treatment rooms, along with a marble-clad steam room that’s perfect for relaxing after a long day at the beach – or a long day climbing the ship’s mast, which guests can do on certain days.

Clipper Dining Room

The gorgeous Clipper Dining Room is the main dining venue aboard Royal Clipper. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The gorgeous Clipper Dining Room is the main dining venue aboard Royal Clipper. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Clipper Dining Room is the main dining venue aboard Royal Clipper. Situated on Commodore Deck – the lowest full passenger deck – this two-tiered room recalls the grand dining saloons aboard the great transatlantic sailing ships of days gone by. It’s also bright and airy, thanks to a number of oversized portholes that frequently get washed by high waves and sea water, which gives the room a decidedly nautical feel.

The Clipper Dining Room is nice and airy thanks to a three-story atrium positioned in the center of the room. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Clipper Dining Room is nice and airy thanks to a three-story atrium positioned in the center of the room. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The room would probably feel dark and cramped, but Star Clippers ingeniously placed a three-story atrium directly in the center of the room, topped by a skylight placed at the bottom of the midships swimming pool – once again solidifying the theme of light and water. The Clipper Dining Room exists as one of the most beautiful dining rooms I’ve seen on any ship.

The Gallery & Reception

The Gallery gives way to the small Reception Area aboard Royal Clipper. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Gallery gives way to the small Reception Area aboard Royal Clipper. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

One deck up on Clipper Deck is a small corridor situated along the centerline of the ship. Running between the atrium and the aft stair towers, this Gallery serves as Royal Clipper’s onboard logo gift shop, terminating with the Reception Desk at the aft end. All the way forward on the same deck, just past the atrium, is the Shore Excursion desk. Keeping these two areas separated spatially by the Gallery and the atrium helps to reduce potential crowding.

It is worth noting that while the ship sells a wide variety of logo-brand items, the ship does not stock any sundries or toiletries. Bring your own, or buy them in port.

The Piano Bar

The cozy and inviting Piano Bar aboard Royal Clipper. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The cozy and inviting Piano Bar aboard Royal Clipper. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Without a doubt my favorite public room onboard, the Piano Bar is situated up on Main Deck, and is bordered by a near-wraparound Promenade Deck. Overlooking the uppermost level of the atrium, the glass skylight of the swimming pool adds to the nautical ambiance of this room, which features gorgeous faux wood panelling, brass wall sconce lighting, maritime paintings, and plenty of other nautical touches.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Curiously, there is no live music in the Piano Bar, save for a computer-controlled piano that kicks in every evening around 7:00 p.m as a bit of an early-warning that dinner is approaching. Most of the live music takes place just outside, at the Tropical Bar.

Still, with a full coffee and tea station, a full bar, and light snacks served during the morning and the evening, this is my favorite place onboard Royal Clipper.

The Library

Grab your smoking jacket and head on in to the Library; a wood-panelled bastion of literary wonder. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Grab your smoking jacket and head on in to the Library; a wood-panelled bastion of literary wonder. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

If I had to pick a second “favorite place” onboard Royal Clipper, it would be The Library. Situated in its own deck house, you can’t get to The Library without first going outside and crossing over the Tropical Bar and entering via two doors at the forward end of the Library’s bulkhead. That’s a very old-world maritime touch, where certain public rooms were separated spatially from the rest of the ship. More often than not, these rooms were the Gentlemen’s Smoking Rooms, which were typically placed at the aft end of the ship.

The Library is a cozy, book-clad enclave that offers guests a relaxing place to sit, but which is still within earshot and sight of the Tropical Bar, which exists as Royal Clipper’s de-facto social hub. Books can be borrowed free of charge for the duration of the voyage, and are typically available in Deutsche and English.

The Tropical Bar

Grab the Drink of the Day at the Tropical Bar out on deck. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Grab the Drink of the Day at the Tropical Bar out on deck. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

It’s your average deck-based bar, but the Tropical Bar functions as the main social gathering point for most guests here onboard Royal Clipper. As with all onboard expenses, drinks are priced in Euros (€), but are quite reasonable. A pint of Flensburger draught (0.30 ltr) goes for €3, while more exotic mixed drinks like Whisky Sours and Singapore Slings go for €5.50. Curiously, non-alcoholic drinks aren’t much of a bargain, priced just 50 Euro cents less than their boozed-up counterparts.

The Tropical Bar also offers a cocktail of the day, priced at €4.50. Pours are generous, and Star Clippers isn’t skimping on the alcohol.

My only disappointment: no local Caribbean beers, and very few local rums. If you’re looking for the flavors of the islands, you’ll have to go for an “adult beverage” ashore.

Observation Lounge

The Observation Lounge: deserted and under-utilised. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Observation Lounge: deserted and under-utilised. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

On every ship, there seems to be one public area that time – and guests – forgot. That area aboard Royal Clipper is the Observation Lounge, which is located all the way forward on Main Deck in a separate deck house that is accessible via the forward stateroom corridor.

Unfortunately, it’s a depressing affair with cheap banquet-style seating. The lights are always off, the drapes are always shut, and usually it seems to be used by crew members calling home on their cell phones. Hey, Star Clippers – why not spruce up the décor and open up the blinds? This would be an amazing forward-facing bar, or a great place to put the disco late at night. Or, dare I say, divvy it up and carve out two luxury staterooms for guests who like their views “before the mast.”

Right now, there’s not much reason to go there. And that’s a shame. It could be one of the great public spaces onboard.

At Noon, as promised, we arrived in the beautiful port of St. George’s, Grenada.

Welcome to St. George's, Grenada on an unusually wet afternoon! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Welcome to St. George’s, Grenada on an unusually wet afternoon! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

At just 33 kilometres in length, Grenada isn’t a terribly big island, but it’s one of my favorite locales in the Caribbean; one that I rarely get to come to. In fact, I was last here – and first here – five years ago almost to the day, on December 12, 2010. This is the land of spice; you can practically smell the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves when you come ashore.

The harbour in St. George’s is widely regarded as one of the prettiest in the Caribbean, and I’d have to agree; it looks more like a sun-drenched port in the Mediterranean than a Caribbean port of call. This is the quintessential Caribbean; the kind of Caribbean everyone pictures before they sail into the manufactured jungles of Nassau and St. Thomas.

Welcome to The Carenage, one of St. George's most picturesque spots. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Welcome to The Carenage, one of St. George’s most picturesque spots. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
To get to The Carneage...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
To get to The Carneage…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...simply walk through this sketchy, dual traffic-pedestrian tunnel! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…simply walk through this sketchy, dual traffic-pedestrian tunnel! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In town, there’s plenty of shopping opportunities, as well as the chance to sample the local food and beverages. Streets still have an attractive, Colonial-era flair to them, and St. George’s generally doesn’t suffer from the same touristy excesses that plague ports like St. Thomas. There’s more of an original island feel here, and locals have worked hard to preserve that.

If you’re a beach lover, you’ll want to take a taxi to Grand Anse Beach, which is reportedly one of the most beautiful in the entire Caribbean. I’m not a big beach guy so I didn’t partake, but every guidebook I’ve ever read mentions Grand Anse. Fodor’s tells me it’s about a $15 taxi ride away, or $8 by water taxi.

The colonial architecture in this part of St. George's is well worth your while. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The colonial architecture in this part of St. George’s is well worth your while. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

While I loaded up on spices and road-tested the local beer, I noticed the rather gorgeous statue in the middle of The Carenage, which is confusingly pronounced as “car-a-naz”. Known as The Christ of the Deep, this statue was donated by Costa Cruises after their Bianca C burned and sank in St. George’s Harbour in 1961.

In fact, you might never make it to The Carenage if you don’t know about it – and that’s a shame, because I wouldn’t have known about it had our cruise director not told us about a cool restaurant called Sails that has good food, great local drinks and – most importantly for writers – free Wi-Fi.

The Christ of the Deep statue, donated by Costa Cruises after the sinking of the Bianca C in the harbour in 1961. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Christ of the Deep statue, donated by Costa Cruises after the sinking of the Bianca C in the harbour in 1961. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

To get to The Carenage, leave the cruise terminal and turn sharply to your right. You’ll see a nice, long tunnel – the 340-foot long Sendall Tunnel that was constructed in 1895 and named for a Mr. Walter Sendall, one of the island’s early governors. Stay on the right side and walk through the tunnel, being mindful of the oncoming traffic. The tunnel is shared by both cars and pedestrians, though there is no clearly marked pedestrian walkway. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Once you’re through the tunnel, a selection of quaint, colonial buildings greet you. Walk through them to the harbour. This is The Carenage. To get to the statue, hang a left and loop around the harbour. The statue is located almost directly across from a Pizza Hut location.

Torrential rain was something of a theme this afternoon! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Torrential rain was something of a theme this afternoon! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

This evening, we returned to the beautiful Royal Clipper, looking resplendent at her anchorage in the harbour. This gave way to cocktails, dinner, and more cocktails – including a local steel drum band that was brought onboard to entertain guests.

Even though our departure from St. George’s was at 23:45, the sails were still hoisted to the Vangelis theme from 1492: Conquest of Paradise. The party was still in full swing on deck, and the sounds of laughter and billowing sails echoed through the night air as we slowly sailed away from Grenada and into the darkness of the Caribbean Sea.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Star Clippers, Royal Clipper, Caribbean

Day 1Embarkation in Bridgetown, Barbados
Day 2Captain’s Choice: Union Island, Grenadines
Day 3St. George’s, Grenada
Day 4Tobago Cays, Grenada
Day 5Bequia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Day 6Fort-de-France, Martinique
Day 7Soufriere, St. Lucia
Voyage Recap
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