By Matthew Breen
At left: The Royal Clipper under
the cliffs of Soufrière, St. Lucia.
All I needed to know before making the decision to take a Caribbean cruise was one look at the ship. The SPV Royal Clipper is a dramatic, showy vessel, with a blue-and-white hull and cream-colored sails that catch the gold of a sunset in picture postcard-perfect fashion. And this voyage, through an island off the coast of Venezuela, Grenada, and Tobago, was a gay cruise organized by Concierge Travel, a boutique, gay-owned travel agency and tour operator. If I skipped this trip I knew I’d regret it for years.
Built in 2000, the Royal Clipper spends its winters in the Caribbean and summers in the Mediterranean, and can do transatlantic crossings. It’s the largest fully rigged sailing ship in the world, has 42 sails on five masts, and was designed based on Preussen, a German vessel built in 1902, one of those ships sailing enthusiasts know by name.
My arm was twisted rather easily, especially in January, looking out my office window onto polar vortex-driven wind and snow and imagining dipping my feet in warm, glass-clear waters, with a fruity rum drink in my hand. Maybe a rum drink in each hand.
My husband, Andreas, and I flew from New York to Bridgetown, Barbados, the day before we set sail, and in ten seconds’ time were in tank tops, shorts, and flip-flops, checking out the beach. We met some of the other passengers at a pre-cruise cocktail party down the boardwalk from the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa (AccraBeachHotel.com) in Christchurch Parish. Many of those sailing had met on previous Concierge trips, so their hugs and kisses over hors d’oeuvres and—hooray! — fruity rum drinks had the air of a reunion.