Royal Clipper TA Oct/Nov 2010: Royal Clipper Cruise Review by cluso

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Royal Clipper TA Oct/Nov 2010

Sail Date: October 2010
Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation: Lisbon
Air--Normally we do our own, however cruise air with Star Clippers (SC) was MUCH better even with the $100 pp custom air (3 days before and after cruise). Saved over a $1000 from what I was seeing.

Official taxi voucher from Lisbon airport to old town was more than expected--total 21E-but included tip and luggage, and didn't have to hassle with driver. Not bad after a long overnight airline trip.

Stayed at ZuzaBed B&B--only 4 rooms. Great! Luis was an awesome host. Check reviews on Trip Advisor. He gave us excellent local information for our Lisbon adventure. Recommended.

Lisbon is very walkable if you are in good shape. Lots to do and see in compact area. Did take the tram to Belem--recommended. The trams going up to the Castle were very crowded-I can see how people get pick-pocketed. We walked--no problem. Ate a lot in Bairro Alto--lots of small local restaurants. We liked the Alfaia Wine Bar. The Napoleao Wine market had a great selection of wines. More Took the ferry across the bay for lunch at Porto Final--a neat OLD place on the water.

Royal Clipper was docked about 5 minutes from Zuzabed. Boarding started at 4 PM. Went smoothly, greeted by Captain and some crew, drinks and appetizers in Tropical Bar. We have been on the Royal before, so no surprises. Ship was in great condition and they constantly worked on it. The crew was always attentive and friendly. After dinner when we returned to our cabin that first night, the leeboards were up and the portholes closed. We did some rolling the next couple of days due to the remnants of Atlantic hurricanes—on the way to Morocco and then on to Tenerife. Not bad, some people fell over in their chairs during meals, and some glasses/plates fell off tables. A couple of people did get some bruises, but I think that is all. We felt fine. In port, we talked to some people on the BIG ships and they had the same issues with the rollers. The rest of the time at sea was pretty calm.

Casablanca was the first port. Two tours offered, one of Casablanca and the big mosque, and one to Rabat. Or, you could do it on your own. We chose Rabat (the political capital) at 35E pp, based on my research and our likes. Drove through the countryside, went to the Royal Palace, Mohammed V Mausoleum, Hassan Tour, drove by the Chellah, and walked the Kasbah des Oudayas. Very nice a/c bus, tour guides, and info. Clean city. Less than 4 hours. Recommended!

That night we sailed for Safi. The main point of going there was to get people on the tour buses for Marrakesh-- about a 3 hour drive each way. We elected not to go on the tour. We walked around Safi with another couple—not impressive, and fairly dirty. The flies were awful in port, and those flies stayed with the ship for DAYS!! Safi is known for its pottery, but I was not impressed. For some reason, we did not go to the port of Essaouira that afternoon (which was scheduled). Apparently, that had been known by the crew at the start of the sailing, but they never let us know that. Last year's TA also skipped that port. That was my one major disappointment of the trip. I had done a lot of research on the town and some of my friends who have been there said it was really great. Just wish they had let us know in advance. Oh well, I got over it. The Marrakesh buses arrived about dinner time after a 12 hour trip. Most of the people I talked to were not too excited about the trip and said it was too long and the market was too much of a zoo.

Tenerife was the last port before all the days at sea. We elected to stay in town, no tour. Had plenty to do. We really liked it. Very clean. Walked all over, visited an internet cafe (our last fix for 11 days), the old town was very nice, had lunch at Mojos y Mojitos which had an outdoor area on the street. About 6-7 cafes lined up here on a walking street. The promenade along the waterfront is a nice stroll, and there is a vertical garden. The ship is docked right there at the bottom of town by the promenade. Easy. Nice day! Recommended.

At sea was relaxing, a lot of reading to catch up on. We saw plenty of Kindles, etc, and the library had quite a few books. We did not get bored. The crew had plenty of activities—Spanish lessons, a marine biologist, other lectures, ship tours, Captain talks, films, contests, talent shows, exercise classes, mast climbing, and some other wild and crazy stuff. Food was fine, no water sports (of course!) except the pool. We used the treadmills in the gym quite a bit. Germans, Brits, Americans, Canadians, French, and Spanish were the major passengers (in that order, I believe) with other countries represented. I did not have a problem with smokers and I am sensitive to that. As this was our 5th SC cruise, it reconfirmed the guests are very interesting, intelligent, and well travelled. We met a bunch of cool people!! We sailed, but mostly motor sailed due to the light winds—remember, the Captain has to keep to a fairly tight schedule. Most people understood this. Light layering of clothes with jeans worked well in Lisbon, Morocco, and Tenerife. Bring a light windbreaker, also. After Tenerife it was shorts and swim suits! One rainy day at sea, it was in the middle of the trip and we needed it for a change. The only currency we used during the whole trip was USD and Euros, but also charged a few things.

Arrival in Barbados was fun as they tucked us between other huge ships in port. Make sure you are on deck for this (actually for all arrivals and departures)! We have been to Barbados before, but we still stayed for three days. Had to rest from the cruise! Taxi was 30 BD ($15) to our hotel the Peach and Quiet. Car rental was $70 inclusive per day from Courtesy Car Rental (we just did one day). Eat flying fish while you are there--great—no bones and not too fishy tasting!!

It was a wonderful trip. RECOMMENDED! Less

Published 12/31/10
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