Pictured left to right outside the new store are: Paul Hardwick, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Director of Retail; Emma Bailey, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Tutti Taylor, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Councillor Candy Vaughan, Mayor of Eastbourne; Trevor Ridler, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Business Development Manager; and Shirley Waters, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents..
We flew out to Saint Maarten from London Heathrow, via Paris, with Air France.
We arrived into Saint Maarten, the world's smallest inhabited island shared by two nations, France and the Netherlands, has 37 white-sand beaches across the island all completely accessible for you to enjoy. The French side of the island has a more relaxed atmosphere, whereas the Dutch side has more activities and seems livelier. There is a wide range of visitors who come from all over the world to see this wonderful island, with the majority of tourism coming from America and Europe.
Our first night was spent at the Holland House Hotel, a small boutique hotel based in the busy town of Phillipsburg, with only 55 rooms split between city and sea views. Located on the board walk, this hotel is a great location for those who want to be close to all the shopping and great eateries.
It has a beautiful little beachside restaurant where we had a delicious dinner. This hotel is a great pre- or post-cruise option offered by Star Clippers, ideal for this short stay due to its location close to the cruise port.
On this morning we took a discovery walk around the Dutch side of the town, discovering the historical sites such as their famous colonial court house, Walter Plantz Square and Philipsburg mural, all amongst the pretty colourful side streets, incredible beach bars, fantastic restaurants and much more. We had a look around Oyster Bay Beach, located on the amicable French Dutch divide and is a hotel as well as time share property. It has a heavy Caribbean influenced with its intricate furnishings and stunning colour scheme. The infinity pool has spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean. Their sister property, Coral Beach Club, comprises of 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom villas with private pools and full kitchen dining facilities so would be perfect for large families or groups of friends.
We travelled across to Kay Bay where we had lunch at this lovely spot based above the ocean called Indigo Beach Restaurant. I had a wonderful dish of Mahi Mahi skewers with a coconut curry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes, it was authentic to the Caribbean and truly delicious!
Our next stop was to enjoy the Topper’s Rhum Distillery Tour. Topper’s Rhum Distillery produce over a hundred different flavours of rum and are a family business that’s been operating in St Martin for years and years, whilst also being the biggest export. We were given a short presentation by one of the co-owners and we were lucky enough to enjoy several samples of their most popular flavoured rums. They tasted amazing!
We arrived for our second night stay at the Grand Case Beach Resort, located on the French side of the island. This is a very typical Caribbean style property with various room types available. This is another favourite option used by Star Clippers and very popular due to its location, close to a lively hub of restaurants and bars. We then got to experience dinner at a local specialty fish restaurant called Ocean 82. This restaurant is often susceptive to stunning ocean views and dreamy sunsets. Being infamous for their locally sourced lobster, I had to experience this and it was divine.
Today we were lucky enough to view some of the stunning hotels available on the island. We reached the Karibuni Boutique Hotel with only six suites and two villas. It’s a beautiful little property in a wonderful location overlooking an idyllic little bay, this is perfect for that adults-only getaway or for that special occasion. The suites comprise of two deluxe and three exclusive with private pools.
Moving on to our next property, we then visited the La Playa in Orient Bay with its fifty six rooms. It has a laid back atmosphere with a great beachside restaurant and contemporary style decor. Coco Beach Club is close by which has a cool vibe and is a great place to spend the day catching up with friends.
We had the wonderful opportunity of experiencing Loterie Farm, courtesy of the French tourist board. Loterie Farm is the only example on St. Martin of a private nature reserve, all 54 hectares of this beautiful countryside is set deep in the interior of the island. It has a Beach Club environment and beautiful free form pool in lush gardens which you can have access to all day until 5pm. They can provide private cabanas with a personal host who will be at your service all day with food and drink.
We’ve already seen and experienced so many fascinating sights by this point, and that’s before we even stepped foot aboard our ship. We transferred to the dock to embark on our cruise on board Star Flyer. When arriving at the dock, Star Flyer stands tall and proud with its beautiful sails, ready for us to experience this iconic and unique journey. We had a smooth check in process with no hanging around and before we knew it, we were sailing away into the sunset heading towards our first port of Nevis.
Dinner this evening was an enjoyable experience, with a pianist to greet us as we arrive. We enjoyed a warm welcome from all the staff being very friendly and attentive. Star Clippers is all about the experience on board. The entertainment is understated in the evening, but still provides a programme of various activities for those who do want to get involved.
We arrive early into this beautiful island, anchored off Charlestown located among the Leeward Islands and twinned with St Kitts. There’s a daily programme offering various shore excursions or regular tenders to either the town or beach. We were lucky to get a site visit to the Four Seasons Nevis, in its stunning colonial property with buildings like plantation houses. It sits on the most stunning grounds which includes a pristine golf course. The hotel has many rooms and suites available, eighty of which are villas with up to six bedrooms so perfect for families. When you walk into the lobby, it is beautiful and you instantly get the feeling that it’s not like any other normal Four Seasons hotel. The furnishings are dusky pinks with subtle contrasts of colour. It has a beautiful spa which didn’t disappoint - this brand overall exudes refined luxury.
We woke up to a beautiful sight this morning, as it’s where we meet Royal Clipper, docked side by side with us. This is a magical moment for everyone to see. I was lucky enough to experience climbing the crow’s nest, if you can conquer your nerves this gives you the most amazing views over this beautiful island, as long as you can handle the heights.
Later that day we had the opportunity to see one Dominica’s most luxurious properties, the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski which has a multitude of rooms and suites, comprising of several buildings, four beautiful pools and lush green gardens with endless facilities, including a jungle stay treehouse spa elevated above the pretty gardens.
We then headed back to the beach where we got to enjoy various water-sports laid on by Star Clippers, before catching the tender back to the Star Flyer, ready for sail away alongside the equally as beautiful Royal Clipper. The sail away this evening was such a memorable experience, with Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis playing in the background and all of the sails lit up adjacent to each other, it actually was a very moving and emotional moment, and surely something we will never forget.
This morning we reach this beautiful quaint little island, nestled amongst various lush green islands neighbouring off of Guadeloupe, again very much a French Riviera feel. We tender into the town to discover the various shops whilst passing local life here. In the afternoon, Star Flyer serve two tenders which transport us to a beach which offered good snorkelling opportunities, as well as other water sports available from the Star Clippers water sports team.
Today we visited another beautiful French Island with tropical rainforests and La Grande Soufrière volcano. It’s within an archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea comprising of several distinct islands. We got to see the quaint little town with its various shops and restaurants to explore.
We reach the historical port of Falmouth Harbour, with its staggering huge private yachts and sun seekers lining the docks. Today we discovered the area of the famous Nelson’s Dockyard seeped in history which was fascinating. Later in the afternoon we transfer by tender to a pretty little beach nearby for a BBQ picnic which was a lovely treat for us and the guests, arranged by Star Clippers.
This is the “St Tropez” of the Caribbean, with the most expensive private yachts alongside other cruise ships and private charters. This island is full of exquisite tastes, stunning designer shops alongside the marina and has a real luxe feel. We spent the afternoon here discovering this gorgeous island before heading back for our last evening on board Star Clipper.
We arrived early this morning back to where we started, we disembarked after breakfast and transferred across to Pinel Island by boat for a day relaxing by the beach. This is an idyllic little island with a beach club feel. We had a wonderful Caribbean style lunch with lots of fresh fish on offer, it was a great way to relax and unwind with the fantastic people I had met on board.
Our final night in the Caribbean was at La Vista, close to Simpson Bay, it’s a small hotel with Caribbean flare located above the sea. It was simple but spacious, rooms included full kitchen facilities for those wanting a self-catering holiday, and all the staff at the hotel were very friendly. I really loved the pool area here as it’s very elevated and has great views across the ocean.
Our last morning in Saint Maarten before heading back to the airport was the most grand finale, as we experienced a nail-biting zipline which is the steepest in the world; The Flying Dutchman at the Rainforest Adventure park. It was exhilarating and thrilling with the most spectacular three hundred and sixty degree views across the island, allowing you to see as far as Anguilla. Would highly recommend this activity for any adrenaline junkies! This completed our trip on a high before we said goodbye to this beautiful Island and flew back to the UK.
Overall I would say this cruise experience is great for those of you seeking a more authentic sailing holiday, but still including great activities throughout at each destination and maintaining that young at heart mind-set. It was an iconic voyage and very different to the typical ocean cruise we’ve all come to know...