Royal Clipper Entertainment
Instead of traditional production numbers, think along the lines of crab races, passenger talent shows and local guest performers (a steel band in the Caribbean) held in the Tropical or Piano Bar. Most passengers find the real entertainment on the top deck -- billowing sails, starry skies and moonlit seas. The day's highlight comes at sail away, a dramatic, not-to-be-missed event.
Shore excursions are limited to two or three per port. In Antigua, the ship anchored in Falmouth Harbour, and the choices were a kayak tour (60 Euros) and an island/shopping excursion (40 Euros).
The ship generally anchors out, and tender service is erratic. In St. Lucia, for example, one tender was scheduled to go to the beach and one to the marina in town. After a few runs, the two (different colors) switched positions, causing confusion. In the end, both tenders stopped at both docks, doubling the ship-to-shore time.
Royal Clipper Public Rooms
The Tropical Bar on Main Deck is the epicenter of the ship. It's a happening place from the very moment you board and enjoy a welcome cocktail. The Tropical Bar is always lively, day or night, and it's where the evening entertainment takes place -- outdoors, on the teak deck. And just in case the magnificent design, snappy blue-and-white paint job, plus five towering masts haven't registered the fact that you're embarking on a one-of-a-kind sailing adventure, a moody green parrot named Murphy calls the Tropical Bar home. When not riding on the Hotel Manager's shoulder, his perch of choice, Murphy likes to sit in his birdhouse and meow like a cat. One of the crew told me Murphy knows a number of words, but when I tried to get him to talk, he always answered "ha, ha, ha." I guess he had the last laugh -- I'm home and he's still sailing.
Next door is the Piano Bar, complete with a white baby grand. The room opens to the three deck high atrium, rare for a sailing ship. In the sunny Caribbean, this room is little used, as everyone hangs out on deck. It sees more action during cool weather in the Mediterranean. The port side is a designated smoking area and the enclosed space can become quite smoky.
Aft of the Tropical Bar is the library. It's a cozy, air-conditioned place to read or play board games as it has comfy chairs and a faux fireplace. Bring your own reading material if you want to tackle anything heavier than secondhand novels in English, French and German.
An Observation Lounge located forward of the Deluxe balcony suites rounds out the Main Deck public rooms. While offering a great view of the sea, it is filled with chairs in meeting room fashion and rarely used. If the ship is rocking, the chairs slide over the polished wood floor. I know, because my chair wouldn't stay put when I tried to use the one computer for Internet access (12 Euros per hour).
Another under-used hideaway, this one below the water line, is the Captain Nemo Lounge. The room, which shares space with the gym and spa, is fitted with thick glass portholes so you can observe sea life when the ship is anchored -- if any happens to swim by at close range. You can relax on a comfortable sofa and hope for fishy action (I didn't see any), or just read. It's very cool and quiet. Despite the gym equipment, the lounge has a nautical flavor with lots of brass, wood and leather. The low, mirrored ceiling enhances the feel of being in a submarine. There is no bar service.
The top Sun Deck is a vast open space with three dip pools. The Bridge is on this deck, and passengers can wander in and chat with the Captain most of the time.
Royal Clipper Spa & Fitness
The spa, beauty salon and gym share the Captain Nemo Lounge's underwater setting. Gym equipment consists of four treadmills, five exercycles (three types) and six weight machines. Spa treatments include a 60-minute relaxation or Thai massage priced at 62 Euros. Use of the sauna is by appointment and costs 3 Euros per day. The facilities are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In reality, passengers get most of their exercise on the staircases, as the vessel does not have a passenger elevator.
Royal Clipper has three fresh water pools located on the teak Sun Deck. Two are only knee deep. They're round and look like hot tubs, but the water is chilly, not heated. The third pool is about four feet deep and not really large enough for more than a cooling dip. This is the glass-bottom pool that's above the dining room.
On port days, a marina platform is sometimes lowered from the stern. The array of complimentary water sports equipment includes sunfish, a banana boat, water skis, windsurfs and kayaks. Snorkeling gear is available for use at the beach, as swimming off the platform is not allowed. On our cruise, the water toys were taken to the beach for part of the day in St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts and Dominica (four of our six ports).
The ship's most unusual and thrilling exercise is climbing the rigging. Supervised "mast climbing" takes place several times a cruise, depending on weather conditions. If you don't like heights, climb out in the bow netting while the ship is under sail. We did and loved every minute.
Next: Royal Clipper Family
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