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Jewels of the Windward Islands

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Trip Length: 8 Days/ 7 Nights

Prices from: $4,799 pp/do*

Ships: Wind Star

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Barbados

This is the Caribbean of days gone by – deep blue waters, quiet coves and tropical islands dotted with powdery beaches and lush green hillsides. Sail from the rugged natural beauty of St. Lucia to little-known isles that are off the tourist radar. From colorful Bequia and Mayreau in St. Vincent & the Grenadines to the open-air markets of exotic St. George’s, you’ll discover a part of the Caribbean that remains authentic and unspoiled. This is everything that makes the Caribbean synonymous with paradise.

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Day 1: Bridgetown, Barbados: With a consistency uncommon in the Caribbean, the Union Jack flew over “Little England” for more than 300 years until it gained independence in 1966. This means that the historic city and its garrison offer an unusually unsullied look at British colonial architecture in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries—a circumstance that has earned them UNESCO designation. Stop by Queen’s Park with its gigantic 175-year-old Baobab Tree. Visit the George Washington House at the top of Bush Hill where the first president really did sleep in 1751. Beyond the town, plantation houses, rum distilleries, and colorful chattel houses dot the landscape, along with natural wonders such as Harrison’s Cave, a fairyland of stalactites, stalagmites, and even underground rivers cascading into underground lakes.

Day 2: Pigeon Island, St. Lucia: The dramatic approach to St. Lucia, with its iconic twin Pitons rising from the sea, hints at the wonders ahead. The rain forest is home to giant primeval ferns, wild orchids, and birds of paradise, while flamboyantly colored birds like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot fly overhead. Along the coast, you’ll find the remains of old fortresses, warm and welcoming villages, and open-air markets brimming with locally made batik fabrics and woven hats. Offshore is a treasure trove of pristine coral reefs, peacock fish, parrotfish, and other species. We’ll dock at Rodney Bay Village rather than the more developed cruise ship port of Castries, giving you the choice of whether to head for civilization or focus on a blissful escape from it.

Day 2: Soufriere, St. Lucia: The rich, volcanic soil of Soufriere lured French colonists with the promise of fertile plantations, and Soufriere delivered that and more. The landmark that overshadows Soufriere, literally, is the twin Pitons, Petit Piton and Gros Piton. These green volcanic spires—worshipped as gods by the Arawaks—are visible from miles at sea and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. They lend a touch of the exotic to the scenery here, which has guest-starred in a number of motion pictures. Take a walk on a luscious black-sand beach. Discover St. Lucia’s agricultural past at La Sikwe Historical Sugar Mill and Plantation. Visit the world’s only drive-in volcano and Diamond Waterfall, which competes with the glorious sunsets by changing color several times each day.

Day 3: At Sea: This is your invitation to a day of indulgence. Treat yourself to a luxurious spa experience. Stretch out by the pool with your favorite beverage. Grab a great book or your favorite movie from the library. Stretch your muscles with our state-of-the-art fitness equipment. Dine in sumptuous casual style, or wrap yourself in that comfy waffle-weave robe and enjoy your meal in the privacy of your beautiful stateroom. Your delight is our single priority for your day at sea.

Day 4: St. George’s, Grenada: With a consistency uncommon in the Caribbean, the Union Jack flew over “Little England” for more than 300 years until it gained independence in 1966. This means that the historic city and its garrison offer an unusually unsullied look at British colonial architecture in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries—a circumstance that has earned them UNESCO designation. Stop by Queen’s Park with its gigantic 175-year-old Baobab Tree. Visit the George Washington House at the top of Bush Hill where the first president really did sleep in 1751. Beyond the town, plantation houses, rum distilleries, and colorful chattel houses dot the landscape, along with natural wonders such as Harrison’s Cave, a fairyland of stalactites, stalagmites, and even underground rivers cascading into underground lakes.

Day 5: Tobago Cays, St. Vincent, Grenadines: A highlight of our cruise is the port that’s not a port: Tobago Cays. This marine park includes uninhabited islands perfect for your Robinson Crusoe fantasies, a wealth of marine life, and pristine beaches with shallow water perfect for beginners learning to snorkel. Green and Hawksbill turtles frequent these waters, especially around Baradal Island, a turtle sanctuary. With visibility of up to 120 feet, you have a good chance of seeing them both from above and below the water. The coral reefs are home to colorful hard and soft corals, fans, whips, sponges, and a profusion of fish. And when you tire of exploring the world below the surface, there’s plenty of room on deck for you to pull up a chair, order a rum punch, and toast another perfect day.

Day 6: Mayreau, St. Vincent Grenadines: At one and a half square miles, Mayreau has room for just one small village, one road, a population of about 300, and far more than its share of spectacular beaches. It’s only reachable by boat, and electricity was just introduced in 2002, so it’s free of many of the usual “distractions” you find in the Caribbean. In their place, you’ll find time to appreciate the perfect half-moon beach at Saltwhistle Bay, the hourglass isthmus that separates it from its doppelganger on the Atlantic side, and the kind of quirky establishments that materialize in a place so far off the beaten path that there is no path, just a trail of luminescence across the bay.

Day 7: Bequia, St. Vincent Grenadines: Life moves slowly in Bequia (pronounced BEKway), and the only ships in port are those small enough to anchor alongside the yachts and fishing boats in Admiralty Bay. The island was once an active whaling station, and virtually every family has some connection to the sea. There’s just one town, Port Elizabeth, with goods that run more towards pottery, meticulously crafted model sailboats, and scrimshaw than duty-free items. Gen up on the island’s whaling tradition at the Whaling Museum. Stop by the turtle sanctuary where a retired fisherman nurtures baby Hawksbills through their most vulnerable years before releasing them in the sea. You’ll find the locals exceptionally cheerful and friendly. Living in a paradise like this, why wouldn’t they be?

Day 8: Bridgetown, Barbados: With a consistency uncommon in the Caribbean, the Union Jack flew over “Little England” for more than 300 years until it gained independence in 1966. This means that the historic city and its garrison offer an unusually unsullied look at British colonial architecture in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries—a circumstance that has earned them UNESCO designation. Stop by Queen’s Park with its gigantic 175-year-old Baobab Tree. Visit the George Washington House at the top of Bush Hill where the first president really did sleep in 1751. Beyond the town, plantation houses, rum distilleries, and colorful chattel houses dot the landscape, along with natural wonders such as Harrison’s Cave, a fairyland of stalactites, stalagmites, and even underground rivers cascading into underground lakes.

Photo Credit: Windstar Cruises