My boyfriend and I traveled on the Liberty Clipper tall ship sailing cruise of the Bahamas departing Nassau on December 1, 2013. It turns out that the trip we selected was exactly what we were looking for and what we needed. Neither of us have ever had any desire to participate in a traditional cruise with the very rigid itineraries. However, this was not a traditional cruise. Both my boyfriend and I spend a lot of our free time in the summers around the ocean and on boats. We love being on the water and this trip allowed us to combine our love of the water and boats with the relaxation of a Caribbean vacation.
The trip on the Liberty Clipper is not luxurious. The cabins are small and hot. There is no air conditioning in the rooms, but there is a hatch that opens for air circulation and we were provided with two small fans. We paid extra for a double bed and for one of the two en-suites. The en-suite was very small, but nice to have. The rest of the cabins have shared gender neutral washroom/shower facilities which required some love and attention from the crew (like most boats) to maintain. Like most boats the general washrooms and the en-suites are a shower/toilet combination. The double bed would be better called a large single. My boyfriend and I could just lie on the bed shoulder to shoulder. There was a second, single bunk above the double. Therefore, we spent most nights sleeping apart. The storage in the cabins was also limited. There were six hooks without a lot of room to hang items and a very small amount of shelving for toiletries. The rest of the available storage was the space under the bunks. We took Adventure Life’s and the Liberty Clipper’s recommendations to pack lightly seriously, packing only a large day pack and a carry-on sized duffle bag for the two of us, and were glad that we did. We had sufficient storage room but a large suitcase would not have fit easily and it would have been difficult to retrieve items from it without restricting movement in an already tight space or limiting sleeping space in the bunks.
However, the main attraction of the Liberty Clipper is not the cabins but the experience of sailing on a tall ship and the destinations that you visit. There is no set itinerary or destinations that the ship visits. It all depends on the weather, the direction of the wind, and the desires of the crew/guests. We sailed to the Exumas chain of islands, but the week before the ship sailed to various ports on Eleuthera Island. The boat also sails to the Abacos chain of islands. During our week of sailing we visited five different ports in the Exumas, only one of which had significant public services with restaurants and limited shopping. However, all of the ports had ample experiences with nature. We were able to experience rock iguanas on Allan’s Cay, swimming pigs and fantastic snorkeling in the Grotto at Staniel’s Cay, a chance to explore the drug smuggling history of Norman’s Cay, and explore the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park from Warderick Wells. And due to the wind and tides we returned to the vicinity of Nassau early, exploring and snorkeling off one of the smaller islands near Rose Island and Sandy Cay to ensure we were able to achieve the planned departure time from the ship.
There are no planned activities aboard the boat. The days are spent sailing (motoring if the wind is not favorable), exploring destinations, or making use of the water equipment on board the ship. We made use of the stand-up paddle board and the plentiful snorkeling gear. There were also two available inflatable double kayaks and a small sailing vessel for use by anyone. More often than not part of the day would be spent sailing to a new destination, the remainder of the day exploring the destination, and the boat would anchor overnight at the destination before moving on after breakfast. Guests are HIGHLY encouraged to help pull up the sails and are welcome to assist in any of the other crew activities. Time on board the ship is highly relaxed with most time spent reading, napping, or socializing with the other guests and crew on deck.
The crew was wonderful. Most of the crew were young, but had a wide variety of sailing experiences both with Liberty Fleet (owner of the Liberty Clipper) and other tall ships. They were willing to talk about their past experiences and teach you anything you wanted to know about sailing a tall ship. They prepared all of the meals on board, arranged transportation from the boat to shore, and made recommendations about how to spend time at each of the destinations. I would definitely repeat this experience again and would recommend it to anyone who would like to experience the smaller ports of the Bahamas without the hassles of having to sail yourself.