17 January 2017
You are in for so many treats on this great cruise around Cuba and the Cayman Islands on board the luxurious Star Flyer. This true clipper ship is as fleet as the wind and as graceful as a swan reflecting its proud heritage in every inch of polished brass and gleaming paintwork. As soon as you step aboard this unique vessel you discover an age of sail, where traditions of the past are happily married to the comforts and amenities of the present - a modern cruise ship created for comfort-loving passengers who relish the romance of the legendary sailing ships.
Before your cruise you have time to appreciate the delights of this Cuban city. When you gaze at the lovely neo-classical homes and elegant public buildings lining the Prado, the city's mile-long main boulevard, you can see the Empire origins of this gracious city on the Bahia de Cienfuegos. Founded in 1819 by French immigrants, Cienfuegos is a World Heritage Site which, because of the relative isolation of Cuba, has escaped the ravages of many modern cities.
Today you set sail on your wonderful cruise, but not before spending more time ashore either on your own or on an organised tour which can be booked on board. There are so may architectural highlights in Cienfuegos and at nearby Punta Gorda including the fanciful Palacio de Valle, the Jagua Fortress, the luxuriant Jardin Botanico, the Cathedral and the Victorian-era yacht club. Return to the ship at the end of the day and set sail for the Cayman Islands.
The first of two full days at sea on the cruise and a great time to get to know the Star Flyer. The ship is 360 feet long and carries only 170 pampered passengers. The accommodation is luxurious and spacious and there are expansive teak decks with ample room for relaxation and play. In fact the Star Flyer offers more outdoor space per guest than most conventional cruise ships. The design and particularly the decor is reminiscent of the grand age of sail.
Christopher Columbus discovered your first port of call, Cayman Brac, in 1503. He named it and departed, little knowing what wonders lay beneath the island’s shores. In Bloody Bay,1,000 feet of nearly vertical cliff wall descend to the ocean floor, making it one of world’s premier diving sites which was first explored and made famous by Jacques Cousteau. Today even novice divers can marvel at the amazing variety of fish, corals and other marine life. Cayman Brac also boasts a huge rookery of red-footed boobies.
It's amazing to realise that this once unknown small Caribbean island is now the centre of one of the world's largest banking economies and the home of uncounted billions in offshore assets. Tax-free, duty-free and largely restriction-free, Grand Cayman is a magnet for money. Shopping is a full-time occupation here. The island also has endless beaches, quiet lagoons and laid-back beach bars. This was the first island to offer close encounters with tame sting-rays, and is home of the famous Atlantis submarine tour.
Lots more to see and do today when the Star Flyer arrives at the Cuban island of Cayo Rico. You have two days and nights in this stunning spot with its endless diving and watersport options and tomorrow you will be able to explore nearby Cayo Lago. There are a whole host of optional tours to take each day the cruise ship is in port or you can simply go ashore on your own and explore or just relax on one of the wonderful beaches and soak up the tropical sunshine.
With 25 miles of white sand beach, only two miles wide and containing just a few small resorts, Cayo Largo recalls the Caribbean that used to be. The second largest island of the Canarreos Archipelago is a marine wildlife sanctuary for many species. You’ll find turtle kraals where palm-sized hatchlings are raised to adults and released to the sea, visit an island where iguanas roam freely and then bask in a natural ocean swimming pool, surrounded by dunes of flour-fine sand.
Oddly enough, there are both black sand and white sand beaches on Isla de la Juventud, once named Isle of Pines, because of the lumber that is harvested here. Punta Francis’ beach is the most famous, especially for diving and snorkeling and the island was at one time a favourite haven for pirates and adventurers - Francis Drake, John Hawkins and Henry Morgan found refuge on these shores - prompting Robert Louis Stevenson to base his Treasure Island here. There are also fascinating cave systems to explore.
Your final full day at sea on this clipper cruise so make the very most of it. There are so many things to do and activities to try on board that you will be spoilt for choice. Enjoy the convivial indoor-outdoor tropical bar and piano bar or relax in the Edwardian style library where a Belle Epoque fireplace glows with a warmth that reflects the friendliness and hospitality of the ship's crew. And tonight try a different dining option as the ship sails to your final destination, Cuba's historic capital city Havana.
Today you sail into Havana, Cuba's colourful capital city, where your Star Flyer cruise comes to an end. But first you have a full day to go out and explore this fantastic city. History and Havana go hand in hand. The name conjures up images of Spanish conquistadors, revolutionary heroes, and the literati and glitterati who once basked on its sun-splashed shores. Today you will see all the beautiful Baroque buildings, the historic forts, museums. legendary restaurants and bars and be able to relax and enjoy the lively public squares.
Today your wonderful cruise around Cuba and the Cayman Islands comes to an end. Say farewell to the crew and new found friends and spend some time in Havana seeing more of the iconic sites, watching the fabulous old American cars gliding along the Malecon, and having a drink in one of Hemingway's favourite bars. Now would also be a good time to extend your holiday in Cuba by staying at one of the luxurious hotels at Varadero before flying home.
Category 6 fr £1734pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated