If you have ever felt that being part of the "herd" trying to find a chair by the Lido pool is no longer as much fun as it once was then maybe it is time to look at Island Windjammers .
This award winning company (Sherman's Travel Magazine, Best Small Ship Debut) was founded by a diverse group of former Windjammer Barefoot passengers who, after the shameful demise of the original Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, were left without the means to fulfill their passion for tall ship sailing in the Caribbean. Not only has this new company succeeded in recreating the old magic, they have emerged as the clear leader in providing this special vacation experience. Island Windjammers' friendly and highly professional staff has taken the extremely popular Windjammer Barefoot style of cruising and improved it, keeping only the best of the old traditions. "Amazing Grace" is still played as the sails are raised. The mornings still start with a Bloody Mary and Captain's story time to hear the activities planned for the day. Of course, there are snacks and the famous rum swizzles each evening for sunset. Gone are some of the less desirable activities such as the rowdy drinking games and associated debauchery being replaced by a more intimate setting leaving you with the feeling that you are on a private yacht with a small group of your closest friends. Tradition still dictates that you can help raise the sails or steer the ship under the watchful supervision of the crew.
Island Windjammers offers six night cruises on the beautiful S/V Diamant, a 101 foot brigantine schooner, home ported at one of the newest hotspots in the Caribbean, the sparkling new Port Louis Marina in St George's, Grenada. Marina amenities include an open air bar and grill, store, showers, laundry, pool, and Wi-Fi which are available to IWJ passengers before and after the cruise. Passengers board on Sunday at 5PM and are treated to snacks and rum swizzles as they meet the Captain and crew followed by an evening of food and fun. Dining is always casual seating so you get the chance to meet and mingle with everyone on board during the week. Early the next morning the sails are raised and you are off on a flexible itinerary taking you to places that passengers on the cruise ships can only dream of. Tobago Cays, Bequia, Mustique, Carriacou, Union Island, and several other less traveled gems that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, enjoying the local beach bars, or just limin' (island speak for relaxing) are possible destinations. You might see whales, dolphin, sea turtles, lobster, or eat dinner at the famous Mac's Pizza on Bequia. Dinner might be the fresh fish caught earlier that day. No two trips are exactly the same and that is part of the Windjammer mystique. Friday night finds you back in Grenada for the Captain's farewell dinner and a night of celebration and camaraderie with stories of the past week's happenings. Saturday morning is debarkation for passengers with early flights. Passengers extending their stay on Grenada are welcome until noon.
See a Photo Gallery of the Diamant here.
Accommodations: Just out of dry dock, Diamant is sparkling with a new paint job, new rigging, galley improvements, and a new super sized ice machine to ensure those drinks remain cold. There is a cozy main salon with ample seating, rich wood paneling, a small library, and of course a self service bar with complementary beer, house wine, sodas, and water. Topside aft is an outdoor eating area and forward the huge teak deck is an inviting place for sunbathing, reading, or sleeping under the stars. The six individual passenger cabins, while compact, offer all of the comforts of home. Each cabin is equipped with a double bed or two singles, a private head with shower, 110 volt outlets, hairdryer, porthole, individual A/C controls and rich wood paneling. As with any sailing vessel, storage is limited so packing in soft sided duffle bags is recommended.
Fellow Passengers: Your fellow passengers are likely to be an eclectic group of individuals from all walks of life. The person next to you might be a doctor, lawyer, or cashier at the local grocery store and nobody really knows or cares. For this one week you are all Jammers. Dress is extremely casual with swim suits or shorts and T shirts being the norm for the entire week. Shoes are not required.
Food: Food is authentically Caribbean with quality, variety, and presentation sure to please the most discriminating palate. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided aboard ship using savory local ingredients and freshly caught seafood. Meals are served indoors or can be enjoyed outside in comfortable seating where the salt air is sure to increase one's appetite. Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated and tasty alternatives are always available. Make any special needs or request known at time of reservation. Bringing alcohol on board is permitted.
Bringing the Kids: Children 12 years and older are allowed. Blackout dates and restrictions apply. Check with Island Windjammers reservations.
Solo Travelers: Island Windjammers will attempt to match you with a same gender cabin mate or if you prefer, a private cabin is available at 175% of the standard rate.
Physically Challenged: Passengers are required to navigate steep stairs and have the ability to get in and out of the launch. This trip may not be suited for persons with extreme mobility issues.
Smoking: Smoking is allowed on the aft open deck area only. Smoking in cabins or below deck is strictly prohibited.
Shore Excursions: Island tours and scuba diving are available thru Island Windjammers .
Entertainment: Snorkel equipment and float mats are included. Special events such as culture walks or wine tastings are sometimes arranged by the captain.
Theme Cruise and Special Activities examples: 1. Rum Cruise 2. Singles Cruise 3. Amazing Life Cruise for self discovery featuring a professional certified life coach.
What is included: Cruise fare is inclusive of accommodations, all on board meals, snacks, beverages (water, juice, soda, beer, house wine, and rum punch), port charges, and taxes. A very minimal crew tip is included. Additional crew tips are at your discretion.
Getting There: Air service to Grenada is available on several major airlines from hubs in Miami or San Juan. There are several recommended hotels if you choose to extend your stay on Grenada. Transportation and island tours while on Grenada can be arranged thru Island Windjammers .
EC is the local currency. However, the US dollar is widely accepted.
You can follow Island Windjammers on Facebook or at www.islandwindjammers.com
Here is a day by day account of our Island Windjammers s Cruise:
Friday 5/21/2010 Left Atlanta on American Eagle 2 hours late. In flight entertainment was provided by a very senior Flight Attendant serving drinks while wearing yellow rubber kitchen gloves that came up to the elbow. I got the feeling that the gloves were not for my protection. After a three hour layover in Miami the American Airlines flight to Grenada was uneventful. Flight was only about 40% full. The Island Windjammers airport pickup service was right there waiting for us and we were transported to the Allamanda Resort. Found a couple of cold Caribs at the public park next door and settled in for a good night's sleep.
Saturday 5/22/2010 Slept in and then went across the street to Spiceland Market. For $100 EC we got beer, water, chips, and several other snacks. Ate lunch at Gibson's which was just OK. Headed for the beach and the two giant almond trees growing there that provide excellent shade. Beach was busier and noisier than I expected. Lots of locals and kids playing ball probably due to the public park next door.
Allamanda was just OK. A/C did not work properly. Had KFC on the balcony for dinner followed by a night time walk on the beach.
Sunday 5/23/10 Morning beach time then packing for Island Windjammers pickup. Allamanda gave us late checkout at 4:45 PM. Pickup was right on time and we were taken to the ship. Rum swizzles and snacks were served at orientation while boarding paperwork was completed. Later that evening Chef Philbert served a dinner of shrimp, pork, black beans and rice, salad, and fruit that was outstanding. Drinks and conversation with our newfound friends.
Monday 5/24/2010 Cast off at 05:30 AM. As soon as we were out of the harbor the sails went up to the sounds of Amazing Grace. I had thought I would never be able to experience that again and it was awesome. We had a five hour sail to Carriacou. Lunch on board and then we were taken to a deserted beach. It was wonderful not having a thousand other people there. At 4PM we raised the anchor and headed for Union Island for happy hour. That evening we had another excellent dinner of linguini and grilled tuna and were anchored there for the night.
Tuesday 5/25/2010 Cast off at 05:30AM for a 3 hour sail to Bequia. Very rough seas. After story time, off to The Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary. Very interesting. Afternoon beach time and then a wine and cheese event for happy hour. All passengers elected to dine at Mac's Pizza for dinner where we had a reserved table. Excellent food and fun. Anchor for the night in the harbor at Bequia.
Wednesday 5/26/2010 After breakfast left Bequia at 8:30AM heading for Tobago Cays. We were at full sail for about 2 hours and then lost the Jib. There was a hardware failure that caused it to come loose at the bottom. That combined with rough seas made for an exciting sail. We had lunch on board and then beach time at Tobago. The water was too rough for snorkeling, so there was plenty of "standing in the water talking time". In the late afternoon it was on to Mayreau. Had an excellent swordfish dinner on board and then it was off for an evening culture walk (bar hop tour).
Thursday 5/27/2010 Still at Mayreau. Excellent morning snorkel after breakfast and then on to the other side of Union Island to clear Customs. Saw the famous Happy Island which is basically a bar in the center of the harbor surrounded by water. Explored town and had a few beers and of course bought the t shirt. Sails up and off to Sandy Island. We remained anchored off Sandy Island and elected to have the Captain's Dinner one day early in order to be able to go to the Gouyave Friday night Fish Fry when we returned to Grenada. Dinner was an excellent steak with several side dishes and champagne. YUM
Friday 5/28/10 Spent the morning on the beach at Sandy Island for swimming and for the very best snorkeling of the trip. Had lunch and then a 5 hour sail back to Grenada. Docked about 4PM. Had a dinner of spaghetti and salad before heading to Gouyave for the fish fry. Stopped at a place called Pappy's for a wine tasting of locally made wines. The fish fry was interesting to say the least. Tried some of the local food and then went to a bar owned by the Chef's brother. Again, interesting to say the least. This evening was all about experiencing the local culture. Back on board by 11:00PM.
Saturday 5/29/10 Had an excellent breakfast on board. Pickup was scheduled for noon but Bentley got us an early check in at the Allamanda so we decided to head back over there for some beach time under the almond trees. During our absence the ice machine had died but all was well after they filled it up with bagged ice. Went back to Spiceland Mall for beer and snacks and had a great beach day.
Sunday 5/30/2010 By now we are tired so it is just a day to relax on the beach and pack for the trip home. We met a couple from our hometown that was getting on the boat so we spent time with them before their pickup. Dinner was at an Italian place across the street. Good Pizza!
Monday 5/31/10 Island Windjammers was there for our 8AM pickup. Did some last minute shopping at the airport and boarded our flight back to reality.
Bits & Pieces The crew is outstanding. Friendly, interactive and professional all rolled up in wonderful people. How in the world Philbert puts out gourmet meals in the tiny galley is amazing to say the least. While US dollars are accepted, it is much easier to deal in EC. Local banks can make the exchange for you.