I am not big on boats. I have a sibling who loves such things–come about, man the rigging, walk the plank–I am less Jerome K Jerome and more Enid Blyton. Eschewing the sea in general, I am a confirmed landlubber. So upon discovering that I was to be sent on a cruise, my feelings were ambivalent at best.
On the other hand, I reasoned, the proposed journey was to take me around the Caribbean–from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, to Puerto Rico, St Kitts, St Barts and St Maarten–it couldn’t be that bad. Also, upon enquiring with more-seasoned sea-dogs, I learned that cruise ships are in a different league to the Wayfarers and Lasers that I was encouraged to navigate around the Cornish coastline as a child. The main selling points as far as I was concerned, were that they don’t have a boom–ready to knock you out at any given moment–or rock about in heavy weather, so there’s none of that seasickness malarkey.
Having overcome my apprehensions I sipped champagne by the pool on my first evening onboard the Seabourn Sojourn. Quite blissful. My suite had enough room to swing a brace of cats, with a walk-in wardrobe and private balcony, and the gentle bobbing of the cabin was actually rather relaxing, as it lulled me to sleep. What a lot of needless worrying.
Fast forward to day two–the lapping waves had mutated into something that wouldn’t look out of place in Jason and the Argonauts. Poseidon was angry. To clarify, it wasn’t fear–I didn’t actually entertain the idea that Davy Jones might be about to drag me to his locker for an eternity of scrubbing the decks. But I felt sick. Not so much ‘I may have over-indulged on the canapés’, but more, ‘lie very still in a dark room and don’t move’, sick.
Our captain, Hamish Elliott, assured me that the conditions were extremely unusual, but this didn’t change the fact that I was struggling to stand up. Cue the angels in neat-clothing–the Seabourn staff. To say that they went the extra mile would be an understatement.
To name but a few of the lengths that they went to on my behalf, I had hourly flat ginger-beers and Sturgeron (seasickness remedies), delivered to my room, the former having been flattened by hand with vigorous stirring. Cold flannels were refreshed regularly for my feverish brow, and I was even aided in my choice of in-suite entertainment, namely, in my case, musicals on loop–to avoid any unnecessary movement. They were incredibly attentive, but never intrusive. Thankfully, the medicine soon started to weave its magic, and I was up on-deck sipping homemade milkshakes before too long. The encroaching sea-spray aside, I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
St Kitts is a popular stop-off point for the cruise
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During a trip to the bridge, Captain Elliott was keen to put some of my boating assumptions to rest. There is no giant wooden wheel à la Pirates of the Caribbean, or in fact any pirates. I am told that this is a frequently asked question. And it’s a ship, not a boat…a ship has an engine room and a bridge, I now know.
Offering 225 ocean view, luxury suites, six bars and lounges, a spa, and four dining venues, the newest of Seabourn’s ships is quite something. I was told by the company’s UK MD, Andrew Magowan, that one lady is so fond of the Yachts of Seabourn, that she lives on them, and has done for seven years: quite an endorsement.
It will not be news to anyone that the Caribbean is breathtaking, though of all the islands that we visited, my personal favourite was St Barts. On some, you are greeted by reams of novelty t-shirts, and men thrusting monkeys at you while they offer to take a photo (terrifying). On St Barts you alight the tender on an empty jetty. After a short walk you reach a cluster of boutique shops, beyond which lie extremely beautiful beaches, which are largely quiet thanks to the plentiful choice of stunning spots available. The restaurants serve an amazing selection of fresh fish, which doesn’t necessarily cost the earth, and the harbour is a spectacle in itself, thanks to the unbelievable selection of boats moored there. In short, an incredible place.
St Barts has a wonderfully wide choice of beaches
With on-shore activities ranging from pony riding in Puerto Rico, to scuba diving in St Barts, Seabourn’s Caribbean cruise is not just for those who like to take a gentle perambulation about the ship and consider it their daily exercise. But that’s not to say that there’s a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed rep forcing you into hourly excursions. This is not that kind of ship. Seabourn Sojourn describes itself as luxury, and means it.
Seabourn’s ships travel worldwide, on a vast array of journeys. Prices start from £1539.55 (www.seabourn.com)