Cruising on The Silver Spirit

The Ports of call? The islands of the Caribbean, by land and by sea. Irma Bay sets sail

As there is no land mass between Barbados and Africa to interrupt the roiling Atlantic, drinks cliffside at The Crane hotel on the easternmost side of the island is as good a place as any to contemplate our upcoming cruise, sailing the next day from the capital, Bridgetown. But fears of high seas are for naught, as we will be traversing the far gentler Caribbean through which the tropical island chain from Jamaica in the north down to Trinidad and Tobago due south are strewn like emeralds.

The thought of a Caribbean visit may call to mind a monolithic fly-and-fry all-inclusive set to a reggae soundtrack but, as a result of their diverse indigenous populations and centuries-old histories as pawns in the battle for New World domination by European powers, each of these micro-countries has, in fact, a unique social and cultural footprint. Island hopping is an ideal way to experience their diversity, but doing so by air – what with a gauntlet of airports and nail-biting puddle-jumper landings – does not make for a tranquil vacation. Voyage 5307 on Silversea’s Silver Spirit cruise ship is just the answer.

RELATED POST: St. Lucia: A tropical paradise

For one thing, there’s a tropical languor built into the seven-day itinerary: two full days at sea, dropping anchor at only four ports. For another, the intimate and hyper-luxurious approach on the Silver Spirit. The ship accommodates a maximum of only 540 guests, the cabins are chic and most come with private balconies and canapé- and champagne-laden butlers, who are happy to unpack and pack you, have the run of the place. A smorgasbord of cuisine from classic French to Japanese is available in a slew of beautifully appointed restaurants, and the mostly mature crowd is happy to dress up for the occasion after a day of A-list level spa-ing.

It all harks back to another time, when the word travel was synonymous with glamour, elegance and a genteel remove.

And while there are the ABBA impersonations, Motown reviews and enough entertainment of that ilk to put the kitsch in cruise, the place to be sans dinner is the Stars Supper Club, a gorgeous art deco enclave where the incomparable vocalist Mickki Brown delivered Grammy-worthy performances of jazz standards, beguiling us back every night of the voyage.
It was a wonder one ever left the boat at all, but the trade winds, excursions curated by Silversea and personal adventures beckoned us ashore.

 

stluciaIn St. Lucia, an English-speaking island with a french heritage, a must-see; the dramatic twin volcanic mountains, the Pitons, a World Heritage Site.

originalhotel_300dpiKickoff point at The Crane Residential Resort in Barbados. This historical locale has been updated with a shopping village and new restaurants.

HR-Nikki-Beach-StSex and French St. Barts boasts the Caribbean outpost of the famed St. Tropez restaurant and bar, Nikki Beach, where we mingled with surfers, fashionistas and Euros.

HR-Img_19_lg-2Creole cuisine at its best; lunch at Dasheene at Ladera Resort high in the mountains – to get a bird’s-eye view of the Pitons

ocean_club_bahamas_resort_27_01_2012_3957hrCaribbean luxury and old world charm collide at the One & Only Ocean Club Resort in the Bahamas.

stateroomverandaStateroom with a view: a veranda off the cabin’s living area makes a breakfast nook when at sea

anchoragehotelPoolside at the Anchorage Hotel, Whale Watch and Dive Center in Roseau the capital of Dominica, another English speaking island with a French heritage.

dominicaDominica has 365 rivers, one for every day of the year. One of the most famous is the Layou where guests could choose to go river tubing

 

Zoomer magazine, Dec/Jan 2014 issue