We organized 5 couples for the trip of a lifetime aboard the Royal Clipper, the largest of the Star Clipper Cruise Line. When we first stepped onto this boat, we knew we were in for a treat. Everything about it was perfect - the entire staff made us feel welcome from the first bellini to the final goodbye. Food could not have been better, and was more than plentiful, and the cabins (we were in Category 2 staterooms on the clipper deck) were more spacious than one on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise. Storage galore, as well - we had cabinets we did not even use. There were plenty of hangers in the closet for all of our clothes, and the best part is that there are no dress-up evenings!
We sailed from Civitavecchia (port of Rome) to the Amalfi Coast, and most port stops were spectacular. Weather was rough on day one at Ponza, so we could not take the tender, but enjoyed beautiful views from the boat.
Please see the individual port descriptions below, other than Ponza, Amalfi, and Lipari (not included in Cruise Critic's master list).
Amalfi was our fourth stop - a charming place, where we chose a side trip to Positano, clearly Italy's most beautiful town. We took the hair-raising bus ride around twists and turns to Positano, then a boat back to Amalfi. This was worth the price of the entire cruise, as the views from the water looking back up the steep cliffs is magnificent. The Amalfi coast is truly beautiful, and June is a perfect time, as everything is in full bloom. We wandered some side streets in Positano, then found a little cafe for a drink before heading back to Amalfi. Many pretty linens and cottons here as well, and more of the pretty stoneware we saw in Sorrento. Amalfi was fun to wander as well - be sure to explore the bustling piazza around Sant' Andrea, the duomo mid town. We highly recommend this shore excursion, as it provides the best of both worlds with the bus trip and boat return, as well as visits to two top destinations.
The last port of call was my favorite. Lipari is a little known island just north of Sicily. It is quaint and very "old Italy", not yet tarnished by the many tourists of places like Capri. Cute shops, good food, and some interesting ruins at the top of the hill, highlighted by another fabulous view. There is a beautiful church at the top, interesting to trace its many phases of construction through the ages. It closes at noon, but worth the visit if you time it right.
The boat itself is a treat - at every port, the sails are raised with great ceremony, with Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis playing on loudspeakers. Something we will not forget. After the last port stop, we were able to board the tenders with cameras, as the sails were raised for some great photo ops. Everything about this cruise provides their "guests" top notch service and hospitality.
The only thing I would do differently in the future is that I would book my own transfer from Rome to the boat. We look their arranged bus from the Airport Hilton, and were told to be there by 3pm. Bus did not leave until 5, and we just sat in a very hot room for 2 hours. Food and drinks were provided, but it was not a comfortable place to wait. It's an hour to the port, and when we got on board (boarding process very easy), they were just finishing up a free happy hour with appetizers and bellinis. We totally missed that! Perhaps this was a good option for folks flying in that day, but could have had almost a full day in Rome day rather than getting to and from the airport hotel and waiting. Other than that, all was perfect and I would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to anyone.