“It turns out we’ve been holidaying in the Caribbean all wrong,” says Chris Haslam in The Sunday Times. Check into a hotel, and you end up looking at the same view all week; board a cruise ship, and chances are you’ll rarely see beyond the most crowded spots on shore. The yachties have had it right all along – especially the Dutch, who repurposed many old wooden sailing ships as tourist vessels decades ago. Licensed to carry up to 36 passengers, they offer all the comforts of cruising (guests needn’t lift a finger), but are nimble enough to access the smallest islands and the most remote coves. Now the UK tour operator VentureSail has got on board, with its 54-metre steel-masted ketch Chronos: built in 2013, it “offers modern design without compromising tradition”.
Sailing it from Grenada to St Lucia via St Vincent and the Grenadines is “an irresistible proposition”. The ship’s laid-back captain might opt to stop in Bequia, Mustique, Mayreau, or wherever else takes his fancy, anchoring in “jungle-wrapped bays of deep water so clear that swimming feels like flying”, close to villages where lobster meals can be had for a tenner. And running up the leeward side of the larger islands, just 500 yards from the shore, gives the opportunity to marvel at “some of the most dramatic tropical scenery on Earth”.
It feels no less “adventurous” than sailing your own boat (indeed, many guests are experienced yachtsmen), but it’s more relaxing, with good food (including breakfasts that “can run to five courses”) and an “attentive” crew who “pamper” guests with iced coffee and fresh lemonade throughout the day. Indeed, it’s a pleasure simply to laze in a hammock on deck, keeping an eye out for passing whales and flying fish, with nothing to disturb the peace but the creaking of ropes and the “slap and hiss of the swell on the hull”.
A seven-day voyage costs from £2,260pp, excluding flights (venturesailholidays.com).