We decided on this cruise because of several factors - mainly for the islands they would be visiting and the Panama Canal passage. And, we like Star Clippers cruises, as you always meet other great people who love to cruise and have a great time. This was an opportunity to be on the ship for two full weeks, as the one week cruises go way too fast.
Our cabin was fine, typical of most of the cabins, although being near the back of the ship we had the constant noise of the engines - something you do get used to. Meals were fine, but as always, breakfast seems to be the weakest meal with the buffet, although the omelets are cooked to order and good. The dinners to us are special times, to enjoy an hour or so of conversation and good food and wine, and make lifelong friends. We often met in the piano lounge and enjoyed a glass of wine and the music before dinner, and this became a popular spot for many. Casual, but no jeans or shorts for dinner, which seemed to suit everyone. And, limited after dinner activities, but they were usually fun and seemed to please everyone.
Hurricane Tomas tried to put a damper on things, but we were only slightly impacted by the large swells in the ocean. The crew and cruise director were great as always, and good to see familiar faces from past cruises. Only limited water sports activities, as the majority of this crew had not visited any of the islands in the itenerary, and was not aware of good snorkeling or diving locations for the snorkelers/divers. And, limited excursions also, but there was always plenty to do where we docked (with the exception of Aruba that was mainly closed since it was on a Sunday).
The three days at sea the same week were fairly boring, and you had to get your deck chair early as people would hog them and not show up. We really enjoyed Cartagena, San Blas Islands, the Panama Canal passage, and most of the islands, and highly recommend the itenerary (except for the 3 days at sea).
Main complaint was around the smokers on the ship, as they seemed to not care about what anyone thought about non-smokers, and pushed the limits on where they smoked. There was one morning I got up early and enjoyed the beautiful morning and the clear air and coming into port, and then there was smoke in the air, which pretty much ruined the moment. And, there were people that smoked cigars and had no respect for those that it affected. I believe it would be nice if Star Clippers could have non-smoking cruises every month, or at least have a better policy, but as long as there are smokers, this could be difficult. In fact, this along with the current economy, may be why the percentage of Americans on these may be dwindling over the years. This cruise was about 65-75% Europeans, 15% Americans and 10-20% others, when 10 years ago it was about 50% Americans.
As mentioned above, this seemed more like a reposition cruise, than a regular cruise, since the main objective was to get the ship to Panama for their Costa Rica/Panama/Nicaragua cruises that go through March 2011. We seemed to arrive late and leave way early from islands that were only 35 miles apart, and the fact that there was limited knowledge on excursions and water sports. But, as always, we thoroughly enjoyed the total cruise experience and the great people we met from all over the world. Where else can you go on a cruise with only 150 great passengers, see some of the best spots in the world, and really sail on a great ship.
Would we recommend to others, and will we go again? - you bet!! But, it would be so much better if there were a few improvements.