Star Clippers have been taking guests on their tall ships for over 40 years now, and this was to be my third experience with each cruise bringing not only new experiences of the varied islands, but also some new appreciation of the ship itself; and so it was on this occasion that I particularly appreciated the food on board, and especially the lunches.
Breakfast is a large buffet experience with plenty of variety ranging from fresh fruits, breads and cold cuts through to cooked breakfast and omelettes – it’s all there waiting for you each morning from 8am until 10am – there is also an ‘early riser’ breakfast of croissants and fruit from 6.30am which is perfect for collecting a cup of tea to accompany a daily appointment on deck with the sun rise.
Dinner is a 4-5 course menu served from 7.30pm – 9.30pm from which you can choose as many courses as you wish, with fish, meat, vegetarian and gluten-free options including a Chef’s Special each day and a fallback steak and chips available every day in case nothing else takes your fancy.
However for me, this latest trip became all about lunch. Not meaning to sound blasé about breakfast and dinner, I have to confess I started to have a lighter dinner in favour of the lunch. That and of course trying to make sure I walked a few miles each day so that I could justify indulging.
The excursions from the ship are timed to allow guests to either take lunch before departure or to lunch upon their return from a morning on shore. Combined with the frequent tender services or in harbour moorings, this means there is always a chance to come back for lunch. The cruises are fully-inclusive of all the meals, and this also includes an afternoon tea at 5.00pm each day (accompanied by Benjo’s melodies on piano) and a late-night snack serving from 23.30pm. You’ll never go hungry!
Lunch is served buffet style, with one centrepiece served by a chef. Lunches are themed, but every day there is a range of fresh salads, fruit, soup, fabulous desserts (more about that in a minute) as well as 4 or 5 main dishes. There is something for everyone, or in my case I took to sampling several dishes, rather like a tasting menu.
For example, upon arrival in Nevis, having visited the interesting Alexander Hamilton museum and seen where Lord Nelson got married, we were treated to a ‘Neptune’ themed lunch buffet, with fresh mussels, smoked fish and cold cuts, as well as sautéed fish, prawns and calamari accompanied by fresh salads and appropriate garnishes. Meat and vegetarian dishes were also available.
The next day in Cabrits, Dominica, we enjoyed lunch out on deck; a great experience for those new to the ship and a chance to chat with wider groups of guests should you wish. This was followed by an Italian lunch buffet in Guadeloupe, a Caribbean lunch buffet in Iles des Saintes, and an Oriental theme in Gustavia, St Barthelemy, not to forget to mention the beach barbeque on Pigeon beach in Antigua. Variety in serving location and style as well as number and range of dishes.
Some days it would be something so simple as spaghetti Bolognese or a freshly baked ham that hit the spot, on others a chance to experience local cuisine or to just have a little of everything (almost!)
But it was the lunch desserts that always caught my eye. Each day there is a baked ‘pudding’. This is a tray bake of some sort and is always served with vanilla custard. Plum and apple crumble, bread and butter pudding, chocolate and cheese sponge cake or chocolate cake – did I mention the vanilla custard? Glorious.
Alongside, local fresh fruit platters, fruit salad, chocolate coconut brownies, orange crème brule, coffee Panna Cota, Oreo meringue, rice pudding, cheesecake … now you understand why a little sacrifice at dinner was worthwhile. A mouth-watering reason to return.