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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We are experienced cruisers in our late 60's and decided to try something different. We loved the itinerary of this particular cruise, going to ports that are not usually visited by big cruise ships, apart from Portofino. Royal ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers in our late 60's and decided to try something different. We loved the itinerary of this particular cruise, going to ports that are not usually visited by big cruise ships, apart from Portofino. Royal Clipper is a beautiful vessel and is kept spotlessly clean and well maintained. We knew ahead of time that the cabin would be smaller than what we are used to and that we would not be having a balcony but only two portholes. Storage was adequate but very limited and the bathroom small. The bed was pushed against the wall, which made getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night very awkward. Sail way, when the sails are raised, music playing and champagne served, is quite magical. The final evening, with the under the stars disco and the sails lit up was breathtaking. Food is quite good. Not as extensive a menu as a larger cruise of course, but quite adequate. Breakfast and lunch are buffets and dinner, waiter service. Service is excellent by both dining room staff and bar staff. All crew are exceptionally friendly but it is unfortunate that the same cannot be said about some of the officers, who appeared standoffish. Room stewards were friendly and our cabin was kept spotless. He even made towel animals. Embarkation in Cannes was clumsy due to the ship being anchored rather than docked. Disembarkation in Rome went a lot more smoothly. Safety drill on the first evening took an hour and then a second drill on the first morning also took an hour. This seemed excessive and disorganized. The dining room itself seems to have too many tables and chairs for comfort and the buffet is poorly designed, so that only a few passengers can access it at once. Up on deck, the sun beds are far too close together so that it is impossible to alter the reclining position without pulling it out of the line. There is very little shade on deck. Although a small area has an awning. The atmosphere on the ship was very different to other cruises we have enjoyed. A large contingent of German doctors on a 'conference' were on board. It did not seem to make for a particularly friendly atmosphere on the ship. We understand that many such 'conferences' are a staple on Star Clipper lines. A beach stop was offered on Corsica. I understand that this is at the discretion of the harbour master and that no choice is made by the Captain. The beach offered could not accommodate the tenders, so Zodiacs were used. The sea was choppy and entry onto the Zodiac difficult. When we saw the state of the beach as we approached it, we were not impressed. The sea was full of weed, and the beach strewn with debris. There were no facilities whatsoever. Passengers were expected to get out of the Zodiac with waves going up to their waists. We decided not to get off and returned to the ship. Upon disembarking from the Zodiac, my husband slipped against the metal edge of the dock, injuring his shin and requiring stitches. This was promptly dealt with by the ship's nurse. I made a complaint to the Hotel Manager that the beach was not of the standard we would have expected and that the sea was too choppy to get on and off the Zodiacs safely. No phone call to our cabin was received to answer my complaint. In fact the Hotel Manager approached me at the bottom of the staircase as I was going to dinner. In a curt manner she told me that the beach had nothing to do with the Captain and that the seas were of acceptable limits. My husband was right behind me. She did not speak to him but merely asked me how he was. I said he was not good and I was unimpressed with her handling of the situation and how on other lines, it would have been dealt with differently. No concern or follow up was made by her for the rest of the cruise. The only people who appeared to care were the waiters and the bar staff. This left a bitter taste in our mouths about the level of concern shown when one of the passengers was injured. Very little entertainment was offered apart from talent show, fashion show, quiz evening and Mr. and Mrs. Contest. For a line that prides itself on being a cut above the average cruise line, these entertainments seemed to me to be childish and banal. The only talks given were Captain's stories and a talk on pirates. Napkin folding and knot tying class were given. A visit to the Bridge was advertised but the officers had forgotten until they were reminded twenty minutes late ....An engine room visit was also included. Mast climbing was offered but was so poorly organized that many of the passengers were disappointed they did not get a chance to climb. Water sports were often cancelled but some people enjoyed swimming off the marina platform. Excursions were few but were reasonably priced. Drinks were reasonably priced. My husband found the fitness room had exercise bikes which were old and in poor condition, the ceiling is low above the treadmill making it difficult for someone of any height to use. In summary we were glad to have experienced this cruise line, but would be unlikely to again. These cruises are not cheap and many compromises are made, for the sake of seeing sails go up and down. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Overall, this voyage was disappointing relative to our expectations. Pros: - The cabin, with a small balcony was very pleasant, and had excellent service. - Sleeping on a sailing vessel was marvelous - ... Read More
Overall, this voyage was disappointing relative to our expectations. Pros: - The cabin, with a small balcony was very pleasant, and had excellent service. - Sleeping on a sailing vessel was marvelous - just enough pitch to be soothing. - Desserts were truly exceptional. - The ship’s officers were pleasant, and accessible. - Spa services were excellent. Cons: - Breakfast and lunch were buffets, and underwhelming. Dinners varied greatly in quality. Overall, we had expected better cuisine. - Ports chosen by the ship were oft secondary ones, & distant from attractions, despite “name” ports being near. The rationale for this apparently was visiting beaches rather than population centers. Be sure this is your goal. - Very little to do onboard. Glad we had a balcony to use up the hours. - Gym was disappointing, with some equipment not being usable given low ceilings. - Enrichment lectures and entertainment were minimal. In short, boredom became a factor for us — the first time I have experienced this to any significant degree in 20 plus years of cruising. Many folks seemed to really enjoy this style of cruising, but it was not for us. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Star Clippers has many repeat customers including ourselves. That said, there are still many things that they could easily fix that would much improve the passenger experience. Boarding was a chaotic event. We arrived about an hour ... Read More
Star Clippers has many repeat customers including ourselves. That said, there are still many things that they could easily fix that would much improve the passenger experience. Boarding was a chaotic event. We arrived about an hour before boarding time (4 PM), and saw empty tables in the terminal and people waiting on the few seats. There was a pile of luggage blocking about half of the tables with two chairs behind them. My husband decided to sit in one of the seats behind the tables and I chose to stand, because I correctly anticipated a chaotic boarding process. At 4 PM, they began the boarding by issuing a temporary card to the ship. Then we went on the ship and got a permanent card and gave a credit card. For us it was a smooth process, because we were second in line, but for others, it meant standing in line a long time. Another example of organizational deficiency (and lack of organizational memory) was getting the snorkeling equipment the next morning. Snorkeling gear was to be given out from 11 AM to noon. I paused to ask the tour director a question and got in the queue right at 11 AM. It snaked around the room at the stern of the ship and down a stair and out of sight. Much of the time, I was standing in the sun. By noon, I was in the stairwell in the queue and saw one of the sports team that was distributing the equipment leave. When I finally made it to the desk, I realized that the Swedish woman at the counter didn't understand the conversions between US, English and metric shoe sizes. I was given fins that were meant to be used with booties and asked for others. They were out of mediums and fortunately, I got the last size small that was the correct size and type for me. The woman two place in line behind me said that they shut down operations right after her and told the remaining people to come back the next day!!! In all, I stood in line to get the fins for an hour and 20 minutes. The excuse was that the sports team had just joined the boat, but obviously Star Clippers doesn't provide the team with adequate information to do their job. That said, the sports team did a good job of offering kayaks and standup paddleboards on the beach. When I was getting set to try paddleboarding for the first time, the Swedish woman alerted me to the fact that I still had my waist pouch on (which contained my cell phone). The process for returning the snorkeling equipment was also flawed. The time listed in the program to do so was in the middle of our time on an excursion. When my husband returned the fins for me the prior day, he gave them to the tour director, who didn't give us a receipt, even though I had been required to sign for the fins and told that there would be an 80 Euro charge if they were not returned. A sane way to handle the snorkeling equipment would have been to ask people prior to sailing what equipment they wanted and have it waiting in their cabin. Then only those who needed to exchange the equipment would have had to go to the sports team pickup counter. The tour director was hard to find outside of announced meetings (to which she was often quite late). The process for signing up for the excursions was also last century and uncomputerized. On prior Star Clippers Cruises, I think the tour director posted a list of excursion participants the night prior after the sign-up sheets had been collected. In this case, no lists were posted and we were told that we had to make note of which excursion we picked and the time (which often changed). Again, there should have been an option to prebook excursions. The tour director's talks on the port stops were erratic. I didn't discern a pattern as to when a port talk was provided and when one wasn't. However, since she was so hard to find, I found it ironic that she kept the English-language passengers waiting for 15 to 20 minutes, because she was elsewhere answering some passenger's question, when she was scheduled to be giving the disembarkation talk. The daily program often had unused space that could have been employed to provide useful information. Also, many of us were unaware that the Captain's dinner was that night, because it was listed on the front page with a dark picture of the ship on top of it making it very difficult to see the word "Captain's". The last night when we were eager to pack and get to sleep, we were kept waiting 70 minutes after we were seated at dinner before we were served our first course. In hindsight, they were trying to keep everyone there and in their seats until the hotel captain gave his infomercial. With no alternative place to eat, we were unhappy hungry and tired captives. In general, the table service at dinner was erratic with long waits to order wine and/or to get the remains of a bottle of wine. In some cases, we were eating our second course before we got the wine. Even though the excursions were booked right up to the evening before, the tour descriptions had significant errors and omissions. On one tour, we should have been warned that besides the main guide and driver, there were guides at several stops, who were working solely for tips. On another tour, one of the prime attractions was going to the sulfur springs and taking a mud bath. We were given 25 minutes, which with the queue to get to the mud was much too short. Then we were driven for 20 minutes each way to a crafts village that the entire tour group refused to visit. It we have been given an hour at the sulfur springs, the group would have been much happier. Internet access for 1 hour was offered for 6 euros and 4 hours for 18 euros. If you went on and off the internet much of the time was taken up by getting in and out. Also, except at odd hours (early morning, late night, meal times), the internet speed was painfully slow. I'm accustomed to ships offering a news summary daily. Star Clippers offered news summaries in English, German and French, but the English version was so European-centric that no news was reported on the attempted bombing of the NY Port Authority and only one mention was made of the huge wildfires in California. At least one day, the news files were not updated. On many ships, English news is provided both for the US and for the UK. Between meals there was a nice selection of teas and brewed coffee, but no decaffinated coffee. Except for two mornings, when I was told they were out of decaf coffee, I was able to get it at breakfast. Bathroom toiletries included shower caps, and narrow vials of shampoo, bath gel, and hand lotion and small round bars of soap. The vials tended to fall out of the soap dish in the shower and had to be shaken hard to get the contents. Large refillable containers on the wall would have been preferable and more ecological. Also, with numerous beach stops, I really, really wanted hair conditioner. None was available at the ship store, so two of the staff volunteered to let me have some of theirs. The star clippers people who decide on the toiletries for a tropical cruise with numerous beach stops, must be bald! This was our 4th time to use Star Clippers and our 5th week on one of their cruises. It always takes a while for the memories of the deficiencies to fade before we are enticed to try them again. This crusie was much better than two of the others that we took. Notably, when we were in the Mediterranean, I picked a cruise, because I wanted to see Stromboli. I had to skip the Captains dinner (and dinner itself), because the sail-by was scheduled during that dinner. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
You travel on these ships for the romance of sailing child-free, and the barque Royal Clipper is indeed a beautiful ship. You don't choose these cruises if you are someone who needs constant professional entertainment or you want to ... Read More
You travel on these ships for the romance of sailing child-free, and the barque Royal Clipper is indeed a beautiful ship. You don't choose these cruises if you are someone who needs constant professional entertainment or you want to be chatting continuously on 'anti-social' media. In 2001 we sailed the Greek Islands on the same cruise line's barquentine Star Flyer and had a wonderful trip. We wanted to try to recapture that experience on the Clipper, a larger fully square-rigged tall ship. Unfortunately that didn't quite happen. At the beginning we were caught for two days in a violent Mediterranean storm (force 10) and some people were injured. Broken glass and crockery everywhere. This took the edge off the cruise for some fair weather sailors like us. The crew did their best but passengers should have been told to remain in their cabins until it passed. They weren't, hence some injuries, a couple of them quite nasty. There was a skilled professional nurse on board but no doctor. The rest of the 12 day cruise was uneventful weather-wise. However, except for the last night the ship had to motor to maintain schedule. There was precious little sailing. Some officers seemed to take passenger comments offered in a spirit of co-operation as criticism. There was an edge of defensiveness. This was explained by repeat travellers who suggested the owners are very tough on staff about passenger complaints. If so that would certainly affect crew morale. The stewards, waiters and staff with whom we had regular contact were all very kind and attentive. The food, which is all important, was the key disappointment on the Clipper. I was reminded of an upmarket version of the plant canteen buffet lunches experienced during my career. Breakfast and lunch were the best meals. The exception was the Captain's Dinner. The main courses offered that night were lobster and a fillet steak. Those at our table ate the lobster as a starter and the steak as our main. A steak on any other night was of the 'minute' variety. (Pronounce that as you will.) Another passenger, a chef who owned restaurants in Europe, gave his spin on this circumstance. He said the food problem was not the skill of those in the galley but that they had an insufficient budget to prepare anything really first class other than on the night of the Captain's Dinner. That made sense, but if it is so it represents a dramatic change of policy from the experience we had enjoyed previously on the Star Flyer, where every meal was a culinary delight. It seems the management is cutting corners on a key item. For the money we expected Captain's Dinner quality every night. We thought the house wines were low-end, and costly for their quality. Let's face it, eating and drinking are still mankinds' second greatest pleasures. That said, the highlight of the on-board cruise for us was definitely the many nice people we met and the kindness of the staff with whom we had direct contact. We were satisfied with the excursions we took. They fulfilled our expectations. There was no opportunity on this cruise for water sports, a function of the weather and the itinerary. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Vacation date: November 26, 2016-December 3, 2016 St. Maarten - Barbados The Royal Clipper is a beautiful sailing ship. What excited us the most was the chance to see the five masted fully rigged ship from one of our excursions. ... Read More
Vacation date: November 26, 2016-December 3, 2016 St. Maarten - Barbados The Royal Clipper is a beautiful sailing ship. What excited us the most was the chance to see the five masted fully rigged ship from one of our excursions. Unfortunately, Captain Mariusz Szalek sailed the tall ship using mostly the engine during the entire seven days in the Caribbean. We motored our way from Saint Maarten's to Barbados sometimes navigating in bad weather. Unfortunately, we succumbed to a lot of rain. When we took the tender to an island beach, either it was Antigua or Dominica, the beach was narrow and the water was murky. We were expecting white sands with turquoise beaches. Perhaps our expectation was a bit unrealistic. We don't fault the captain or the cruise director for the 4 days of bad weather. However, the cruise director, Gabor did not offer us opportunities to learn about the islands that we could not visit on those rainy days. We think it would have been very educational if they had films about the islands in the lounge. We could have learned about the culture, economy, history and what influenced The Royal Clipper to choose these islands to visit. Upon many occasions as we motored in the rain, clear skies and sunshine were only a few miles away, If weather reports showed socked-in conditions at the next port-of-call, a leisurely sail under sunny skies would be monumentally favorable to hovering under the rain tarps provided. When this alliterative was put to the captain, the response was that he was strictly prohibited from deviating his course. Is it more important to stay on a rainy track or to make the passengers happy and comfortable? One of the islands that we did visit was called Saint Barts. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and most of the stores were closed. It would have been great if we had some kind of tour guide to direct us to different landmarks on this island to see. To make matters worse, the captain on the ship wasn't very accessible to many of the guests when asked questions. We would think some public relations officer would be at hand here. Towards the end of the cruise, there was a gentleman walking around with a petition to sign complaining about the excursions and the poor communications between the captain and the guests. We found that very troubling. Overall, the food was very good. The dining room waiters and the cabin stewards worked very hard to help make our trip comfortable. They are the backbone of the Royal Clipper. There is always a possibility on any cruise, that inclement weather will put a damper on the journey. We think it's in the ship owner's interests to anticipate the possibility of inclement weather and provide alternatives to make the trip more enjoyable. After all, we are cooped up on a ship with no alternate activities. Most of the passengers like ourselves were bored and the only highlight of our trip was eating. You could go on any big ship for that! We did not feel we got our moneys worth. Lastly, the intercom system was very poor. Some of the speakers were inaudible, because the intercom system is only in the hallways. Having an effective intercom system allows the passengers to hear important information. Perhaps a closed caption line could be added to the TV to facilitate hearing announcement while in the room. I would give this particular trip a 5 out of 10. UPDATE: We did receive a response back from the manager of passenger services. Unfortunately, the answers provided were unsatisfactory. Here it is for your information.: I am sorry the cruise didn’t meet your expectation. We try to use wind power as much as possible but when the wind is not sufficient or the Captains feels we need to use the engines to get to the next port of call, it is ultimately his decision to make sure we arrive on time. You mentioned why we didn’t veer off course to encounter more favorable weather, I know the Captain has his orders and he will do what he can in his means but at times he will need to stay the course. When it rains in the Caribbean and depending on how rough the seas are in that area it can stir up the silt and other marine material at the bottom of the sea which will make the water cloudy at the different ports. Usually these places have blue seas with white sandy beaches but weather can disrupt this and we do not have control over that. We have a small staff onboard so we do not have any type of elaborate production like the larger lines. I know you were not looking for much but more than what was offered. I have forwarded your comments to my director regarding activities onboard the ship, especially on rainy days, and to include more information about the different ports of call. In regards to the stores closed in St. Barts on Sunday, this is the norm in most Caribbean islands to close shops on Sundays. Unfortunately it was St. Barts but I can assure you since our sailings are 7 days or longer regardless of which sailing we do in the Caribbean the port we call on on a Sunday is usually slow. You will also find this to be true in Europe especially when you are in Spain or the Balearic islands. I have forwarded your comments about the intercom system and will have the ship look into this. By any chance did you mention the intercom issues with any staff member? I am glad you enjoyed the food but I understand you didn’t come for the food, you came for the sailing experience. The weather didn’t help and the lack of activities due to the weather really dampened your vacation. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Embarkation was fairly smooth. We managed to get an upgrade to a deluxe cabin, which was lucky as we were late bookers. We found the welcome tedious as the girl repeated everything in four languages. The cabin was fine with a shower ... Read More
Embarkation was fairly smooth. We managed to get an upgrade to a deluxe cabin, which was lucky as we were late bookers. We found the welcome tedious as the girl repeated everything in four languages. The cabin was fine with a shower and a balcony. The steward was good. We met some interesting people from various countries. Most of the excursions we went on were good, particularly the first one in Montenegro, which was a gastronomy trip to a lovely lady's house, where we had a choice of aperitifs, made by her husband. The wine was also produced by him. The lady was a well known cook locally and produced a feast for us to sample the local food. The description said the evening meal time was from 7.30 to 10.30 and to arrive when you want to and sit where you want. However the reality was far from this relaxed attitude. We arrive some time after 8.30 to be greeted by a disgruntled head waiter, telling us off for being late and saying we had to sit in an overspill area with the other sinners!! Breakfast was as bad, we arrived a quarter of an hour before finishing time, as we only wanted cereal and coffee, to be greeted again by this awful man, saying "last in dinner, last in breakfast, WHY???" We have sailed on the QE2, the Canberra and the Norway and never had such rudeness. If late sittings aren't allowed then it should be stated in the brochure or two sittings arranged. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
As this was our fourth cruise with Star Clippers it would seem obvious we were fans of this line. Unfortunately this latest experience will not encourage us to return. Yes Royal Clipper is starting to show her age but the actual sailing ... Read More
As this was our fourth cruise with Star Clippers it would seem obvious we were fans of this line. Unfortunately this latest experience will not encourage us to return. Yes Royal Clipper is starting to show her age but the actual sailing is still a special event. However with a cruise priced at something around £3000 per head for a grade 2 cabin the overall experience was disappointing. The food and dining room service was still very good as was the cabin stewards attention to detail in the tired cabin but the real problem was the attitude of the senior personnel. From the cruise director, hotel manager, restaurant manager and other ranking officers, passengers were basically ignored or treated as if they were a nuisance for any kind of request or help on different issues which were small but escalated as the cruise progressed. Unable to guarantee a table for our family of 7 people for dinner unless we were first in queue at the start of service. In fact these people were more interested in telling us to observe the rules and their own importance than trying to ensure people were happy. Having taken the trouble to write to Star Clippers - Mr. M. Krafft Owner - to try and explain some of the shortcomings - and without the courtesy of a reply I can only presume the line does not care about return bookings. Great Pity! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, ... Read More
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess) and not-so-typical types of ships (Delta Queen river boat on the Mississippi, river boat for 7 nights on the Amazon, another on the Nile), so we certainly had many points of reference. After reading their brochure and website and many reviews, we were excited and looking forward to sailing on a clipper ship. It promised to visit the smaller ports and towns which were otherwise not accessible to the larger cruise ships. Well, it was a funny outcome in some ways. We were not disappointed, yet we found the trip lacking in many important ways. First the positives: The dinner food was one of the best we had on any trip. It was always delicious. Even the daily soup garnered rave reviews from our two older children (age 15 & 16) who usually do not like too many soups. For breakfast and lunch there were buffets daily. Unfortunately, the breakfast, while consistently good, lacked variety and each day very little was changed, leaving one a bit bored at the end of the week. Ordering for example, an “eggs benedict”, or even a “boiled egg”, was not available and never appeared on the buffet. The ship itself was lovely and majestic when in full sale. The setting of the sails were, in itself, an inspiring event. Rooms were small yet comfortable with enough room for two people to move about without consistently bumping into themselves. The itinerary was great with often two ports per day, so you were always busy. Getting into some smaller ports of call was also something to enjoy. As well, the on-shore excursions were terrific. Note that if you are prone to getting sea-sick, give this one a pass or at the least, use the sea-sick ear tab or Gravol. The smaller size of the ship, when compared to the typical cruise ships, often makes for rocky times while eating dinner or getting to sleep. We all used the tab as insurance and that neutralized the sea’s effects. That being said, it is a great experience to find yourself on such a vessel and really experience what it is like to be at sea. You can let your imagination run wild and pretend, like our toddler son did, that you are on a pirate ship! Now, unfortunately, while the ship was positioned as being a “high-end” cruise with correspondingly high-end service, etc., it failed to measure up in several ways. I am listing them all below because there were many areas which needed improvement. Keep in-mind, while these seem like many points, none-the-less, the trip was enjoyed by all and would still be an experience which would be appreciated by most travellers. 1. You would have expected that on such a small ship, the crew would be extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. This was definitely not the case. While the crew hands were always smiling, the ship’s mid-level officers, (with the exception of its “hotel manager” and “captain”) were usually without smiles or greetings, and when questioned about some ship timings or activities failed to know the answer (e.g. What are the lunch buffet times? What time do we get in port tomorrow?). Even at the information desk on-board, the junior office could not answer these simple questions. The ships tour director would not often be able to provide information about tours and excursions, or details about debarking. Once our toddler dropped some pasta on the floor en-route to his table. Three crew passed by stepping over the spill without any offer to help, or to clean it up; but instead we did. 2. This trip is really not recommended for young children. Prior to leaving we spoke to the “Star Clipper booking agent” about taking this with our almost 3-year old. She said it was welcomed and, while there would be no child facilities on board, there would be no issues. We were surprised to learn upon arrival that we could not even get a booster seat or high-chair for dining. We spoke to a senior officer about this and were told, “the owner board are old and conservative, and do not like to change things they have been doing for years.” He had offered to go ashore on a previous trip to buy a toddler chair for $40, and was told by the owners, “definitely not because we do not cater to young children”. He admitted they had no interest in targeting a “family” clientele. On that previous trip there were 3 young toddlers. On the positive side they did prepare special meals for our son at dinner … after the third night. 3. While still on the ship situation, this would not be a ship recommended to anyone with a physical disability. The stairs are long, very steep and narrow. There are no elevators. With the frequent rocking, this would make for a dangerous situation for handicapped or frail travellers. 4. While the cabins were cleaned daily, and there was a nightly turn-down service, no cleaning or refreshing was done throughout the day. So, if you came back from a tour in the morning and took a shower, you would be left with damp towels for your pre-dinner shower. The same lack of daily cleaning was evident when we noticed some dirty plates outside someone’s cabin early morning. They stayed there for TWO days. Not what you would consider first-class service. 5. There is an odd practice on this ship which allows crew officers to eat at the same time and place as the clients. Now by itself this would not seem to be a problem if not for the fact we experienced them jumping in-line to get their food, or eating the last portions of some foods, leaving passengers who paid significant amounts lacking their food. When this point was observed frequently, we brought it up to another senior officer who said again it was the policy of the “older owners”. Even the First Mate just shrugged his shoulders and said “that is the way it is on this ship”! 6. The Clipper should introduce a practice of having some food available to its passengers all throughout the day. The current practice is only to have the three meal times and midnight food available. There is also a small snack laid out at 5pm for one hour. That 5pm snack is very small and usually is taken quickly as passengers are hungry by then. So, if you are not there quickly you may find all the food gone and you have to wait until 7:30 for dinner. (This issue is further compounded as crew usually come and get their “snack” as well even though there is usually not enough for the passengers!) Even having some cookies or pound cake laid out in the lounge would work to take the edge of your appetite. 7. The above practice often sees passengers very hungry by the time dinner comes around – which is at 7:30pm. Normally such a late time for dinner is not an issue but given it is somewhat late to eat dinner for many people, the firm should change the policy and begin dinner a bit earlier, say at 6:30pm. Those who wish to eat later can still arrive at 7:30pm. 8. The ship does not have a “wine” package whereby you can buy bottles at a discount if you agree to purchase 8, 9, etc. This is common practice among other cruise ships and one which we find very client focused. Having to pay top dollar for wine with dinner can add up very fast. Similarly, there is not a soft-drink package for teens, and we know how much they can drink pop (at the price charged by the Clipper, that too adds up quickly). 9. When the Ship sails out on the first night, all passengers are invited on deck to see the opening of the sails. This is a great event to see. However, they invite you there to have a glass of champagne to celebrate this event. The word “invite” is misleading as they charge you 10 euros for that glass. It should be free as part of their welcome. 10. While this ship is relatively new, you can see signs that a retrofit is needed. In our washroom much of the marble on the floor has yellowed. Other areas you can see carpet showing wear. It is just starting to look a bid “old”. Perhaps this is intended by the owners to add character. 11. There is a “safety” speech given on the first day. Such a practice is also done on other cruise lines. However, it was longer than should be and was repeated the second evening. The tone was also very condescending as passengers were, for over 5-10 minutes, reminded there was unique plumbing on the ship and only the ship’s toilet paper should go in the toilet otherwise the entire system could block. This point seemed to go on forever on both evenings. Added to the length of this briefing is the fact it was given in three languages (English, German, French) so it took seemingly forever. I believe one such safety briefing to be sufficient. Now, you may think some of these points are too critical or trivial, perhaps so, but we did expect a 5-star trip and we feel we received a 3-star one. If the Star Clipper firm is to measure up to 5-stars, or even 4, none of the above should be evident in our opinion. We had the luck of meeting a couple who had just returned from a similar “sailing ship” with Oceania Cruises. They raved about it, the ship, and crew. Similarly none of our above issues were noticed by them. They did consider it 5-star. We would suggest anyone considering a clipper ship trip to consider that cruise line. We picked Star Clipper above them based on the fact they did take children (Oceania Cruises does not take children but does state that up-front). Little did we know those were just words and did not reflect anything on the ship. Too bad they are missing on a large market of family clients. Overall, let me restate we all had a terrific time for the week and would recommend it to others (and also to consider the other sail line options), however keeping in-mind the above limitations. We heard they are launching a new ship next year. You may be advised to wait for that one.   Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, ... Read More
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess) and not-so-typical types of ships (Delta Queen river boat on the Mississippi, river boat for 7 nights on the Amazon, another on the Nile), so we certainly had many points of reference. After reading their brochure and website and many reviews, we were excited and looking forward to sailing on a clipper ship. It promised to visit the smaller ports and towns which were otherwise not accessible to the larger cruise ships. Well, it was a funny outcome in some ways. We were not disappointed, yet we found the trip lacking in many important ways. First the positives: The dinner food was one of the best we had on any trip. It was always delicious. Even the daily soup garnered rave reviews from our two older children (age 15 & 16) who usually do not like too many soups. For breakfast and lunch there were buffets daily. Unfortunately, the breakfast, while consistently good, lacked variety and each day very little was changed, leaving one a bit bored at the end of the week. Ordering for example, an “eggs benedict”, or even a “boiled egg”, was not available and never appeared on the buffet. The ship itself was lovely and majestic when in full sale. The setting of the sails were, in itself, an inspiring event. Rooms were small yet comfortable with enough room for two people to move about without consistently bumping into themselves. The itinerary was great with often two ports per day, so you were always busy. Getting into some smaller ports of call was also something to enjoy. As well, the on-shore excursions were terrific. Note that if you are prone to getting sea-sick, give this one a pass or at the least, use the sea-sick ear tab or Gravol. The smaller size of the ship, when compared to the typical cruise ships, often makes for rocky times while eating dinner or getting to sleep. We all used the tab as insurance and that neutralized the sea’s effects. That being said, it is a great experience to find yourself on such a vessel and really experience what it is like to be at sea. You can let your imagination run wild and pretend, like our toddler son did, that you are on a pirate ship! Now, unfortunately, while the ship was positioned as being a “high-end” cruise with correspondingly high-end service, etc., it failed to measure up in several ways. I am listing them all below because there were many areas which needed improvement. Keep in-mind, while these seem like many points, none-the-less, the trip was enjoyed by all and would still be an experience which would be appreciated by most travellers. 1. You would have expected that on such a small ship, the crew would be extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. This was definitely not the case. While the crew hands were always smiling, the ship’s mid-level officers, (with the exception of its “hotel manager” and “captain”) were usually without smiles or greetings, and when questioned about some ship timings or activities failed to know the answer (e.g. What are the lunch buffet times? What time do we get in port tomorrow?). Even at the information desk on-board, the junior office could not answer these simple questions. The ships tour director would not often be able to provide information about tours and excursions, or details about debarking. Once our toddler dropped some pasta on the floor en-route to his table. Three crew passed by stepping over the spill without any offer to help, or to clean it up; but instead we did. 2. This trip is really not recommended for young children. Prior to leaving we spoke to the “Star Clipper booking agent” about taking this with our almost 3-year old. She said it was welcomed and, while there would be no child facilities on board, there would be no issues. We were surprised to learn upon arrival that we could not even get a booster seat or high-chair for dining. We spoke to a senior officer about this and were told, “the owner board are old and conservative, and do not like to change things they have been doing for years.” He had offered to go ashore on a previous trip to buy a toddler chair for $40, and was told by the owners, “definitely not because we do not cater to young children”. He admitted they had no interest in targeting a “family” clientele. On that previous trip there were 3 young toddlers. On the positive side they did prepare special meals for our son at dinner … after the third night. 3. While still on the ship situation, this would not be a ship recommended to anyone with a physical disability. The stairs are long, very steep and narrow. There are no elevators. With the frequent rocking, this would make for a dangerous situation for handicapped or frail travellers. 4. While the cabins were cleaned daily, and there was a nightly turn-down service, no cleaning or refreshing was done throughout the day. So, if you came back from a tour in the morning and took a shower, you would be left with damp towels for your pre-dinner shower. The same lack of daily cleaning was evident when we noticed some dirty plates outside someone’s cabin early morning. They stayed there for TWO days. Not what you would consider first-class service. 5. There is an odd practice on this ship which allows crew officers to eat at the same time and place as the clients. Now by itself this would not seem to be a problem if not for the fact we experienced them jumping in-line to get their food, or eating the last portions of some foods, leaving passengers who paid significant amounts lacking their food. When this point was observed frequently, we brought it up to another senior officer who said again it was the policy of the “older owners”. Even the First Mate just shrugged his shoulders and said “that is the way it is on this ship”! 6. The Clipper should introduce a practice of having some food available to its passengers all throughout the day. The current practice is only to have the three meal times and midnight food available. There is also a small snack laid out at 5pm for one hour. That 5pm snack is very small and usually is taken quickly as passengers are hungry by then. So, if you are not there quickly you may find all the food gone and you have to wait until 7:30 for dinner. (This issue is further compounded as crew usually come and get their “snack” as well even though there is usually not enough for the passengers!) Even having some cookies or pound cake laid out in the lounge would work to take the edge of your appetite. 7. The above practice often sees passengers very hungry by the time dinner comes around – which is at 7:30pm. Normally such a late time for dinner is not an issue but given it is somewhat late to eat dinner for many people, the firm should change the policy and begin dinner a bit earlier, say at 6:30pm. Those who wish to eat later can still arrive at 7:30pm. 8. The ship does not have a “wine” package whereby you can buy bottles at a discount if you agree to purchase 8, 9, etc. This is common practice among other cruise ships and one which we find very client focused. Having to pay top dollar for wine with dinner can add up very fast. Similarly, there is not a soft-drink package for teens, and we know how much they can drink pop (at the price charged by the Clipper, that too adds up quickly). 9. When the Ship sails out on the first night, all passengers are invited on deck to see the opening of the sails. This is a great event to see. However, they invite you there to have a glass of champagne to celebrate this event. The word “invite” is misleading as they charge you 10 euros for that glass. It should be free as part of their welcome. 10. While this ship is relatively new, you can see signs that a retrofit is needed. In our washroom much of the marble on the floor has yellowed. Other areas you can see carpet showing wear. It is just starting to look a bid “old”. Perhaps this is intended by the owners to add character. 11. There is a “safety” speech given on the first day. Such a practice is also done on other cruise lines. However, it was longer than should be and was repeated the second evening. The tone was also very condescending as passengers were, for over 5-10 minutes, reminded there was unique plumbing on the ship and only the ship’s toilet paper should go in the toilet otherwise the entire system could block. This point seemed to go on forever on both evenings. Added to the length of this briefing is the fact it was given in three languages (English, German, French) so it took seemingly forever. I believe one such safety briefing to be sufficient. Now, you may think some of these points are too critical or trivial, perhaps so, but we did expect a 5-star trip and we feel we received a 3-star one. If the Star Clipper firm is to measure up to 5-stars, or even 4, none of the above should be evident in our opinion. We had the luck of meeting a couple who had just returned from a similar “sailing ship” with Oceania Cruises. They raved about it, the ship, and crew. Similarly none of our above issues were noticed by them. They did consider it 5-star. We would suggest anyone considering a clipper ship trip to consider that cruise line. We picked Star Clipper above them based on the fact they did take children (Oceania Cruises does not take children but does state that up-front). Little did we know those were just words and did not reflect anything on the ship. Too bad they are missing on a large market of family clients. Overall, let me restate we all had a terrific time for the week and would recommend it to others (and also to consider the other sail line options), however keeping in-mind the above limitations. We heard they are launching a new ship next year. You may be advised to wait for that one.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
There is no doubt that the ship is beautiful with gleaming wood everywhere. our category 3 cabin was very attractive. The main flaw in the bathroom design is that the shower curtain is too short, so that the floor of the bathroom is ... Read More
There is no doubt that the ship is beautiful with gleaming wood everywhere. our category 3 cabin was very attractive. The main flaw in the bathroom design is that the shower curtain is too short, so that the floor of the bathroom is flooded whenever the shower is used unless extreme care is taken to keep the water from the shower nozzle from pushing the curtain outside the metal lip that encloses the shower. The air conditioning in our cabin did not appear to be working when we arrived (not much air from the vents and the air flow itself was not very cool). We inquired about this and a crew person appeared quickly, equipped with a laptop computer, who made a series of adjustments that produced plenty of cool air. We picked this cruise for the itinerary. We enjoyed all the ports except Capri and the evening cruising of Stromboli(featured in the literature) was very poorly handled. The stop in Capri is in the evening, so there is no time to visit the Blue Grotto or to take a tour. There is time to take a bus or taxi from Capri to Anacapri, but both are excessively touristy with expensive shops. The evening cruising by Stromboli conflicted with the Captain's dinner. Few passengers saw any lava, because to see the best lava you had to leave before the dinner was over and stay past the long past the end to the posted time. I had thought that we sailed around Stromboli, but we merely motored (as opposed to sailed) past. If we had hung around for a while, we could have seen more lava. I skipped desert and saw some lava before the viewing window and stayed long past the 30 minute viewing window and saw 4 more small eruptions as Stromboli faded into the distance. The evening of the Captain's Dinner was also when we encountered the most amazingly bad service. Recognizing that the time for viewing Stromboli would be tight, we showed up at dinner just as the dining room opened. We told the Maitre D' that we had come early because we wanted to finish in time to see Stromboli and explained that was why I brought my binoculars and polar fleece to the dinner. We asked to be seated with other English speaking passengers. Forty minutes later we were still sitting alone at a table for 6 at the entrance to the dining room. The waiters serving other tables that had been filled, three times swiped wine glasses from the unused places at our table. The third time, I got up and complained to the nurse, who served as the assistant Maitre D', telling her that I had never had such humiliating service. The wine glasses on our table were replaced and a solo German (but with good English) woman was seated at our table. The wine glasses from our table were soon being swiped by the waiters again even though I had stopped one and explained to him, why that was disturbing to us. Finally, they seated the Italian marine biology lecturer, Mariano with us (We had met him at the start of the cruise, and he turned out to be the most interesting and entertaining member of the crew/expedition staff) . When the main course still had not arrived after 75 minutes, I went back to the assistant Maitre D' (since the Maitre D' had vanished after my prior complaint and never apologized) to request if my food did not arrive in the next 15 minutes that it be sent to my cabin (since there was no alternative source of food). We were finally served about 5 minutes later. I quickly ate, so that I could go out and watch Stromboli and indeed I saw the first and best of the small eruptions prior to the end of the Captain's Dinner. The next day, several of the waiters apologized to us, but the Maitre D' never spoke to us again. Our favorite stop was Lipari, where we took the optional excursion to Vulcano. The cruise around Lipari on the way to Vulcano was very beautiful, as well as the cruise around Vulcano itself. On Vulcano, a visit to the mud baths was included. It is a natural mud bath, so you need to watch out for occasional spurts of scalding water. You wash off in the adjacent area of the ocean, which is warmed by the volcanic activity to a comfortable, but not hot temperature. You can see bubbles rising through the ocean water. Our second favorite stop was Taormina, Sicily, where we took the optional tour to Mt. Etna, which did not leave time to visit Taormina. It was a beautiful drive up the mountain with a long cable car ride to close to the summit. (The cable car was replaced after an eruption destroyed the previous one two years ago.) We walked around a steaming crater and saw the roof of a two story building that was buried in the last eruption just barely above the surface. Two Italian fighter aircraft did a high speed flyby just over the summit while we were on top. There appears to be a culture of not being honest with the passengers. In Amalfi we took a wonderful, optional excursion to Ravello and decided to return to the Royal Clipper for the offered local rides (in the printed program sheet for that day)on the ship's Zodiacs. When we got back to the the Royal Clipper, we were told that we needed to check after lunch to see when the rides would be given. When we followed up, as instructed, after lunch, we were told that the boat rides could not be done because of water traffic. We later heard from fellow passengers that the motors of both Zodiacs had broken. In Lipari, after the excursion we were explicitly told by the Cruise Director that the tenders would run on demand. When we showed up to go back to Lipari after cleaning up from the mud bath, we were told that the tender was running on a schedule and we had to wait 25 minutes. The switch cost us a third of the time we had on our own in Lipari. The Cruise Director later denied that she had said the tenders would run on demand, but there was no mistaking what we had been told earlier. There appeared to be a conflict on this issue between the Cruise Director and the Second Officer, the officer in charge of the tenders that day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2009
Our 08 cruise to the Black Sea was not as much fun as previous trips and so when our niece announced he wedding in Croatia, we decided to see if we could cruise before the ceremony. We selected the cruise because the last port was close to ... Read More
Our 08 cruise to the Black Sea was not as much fun as previous trips and so when our niece announced he wedding in Croatia, we decided to see if we could cruise before the ceremony. We selected the cruise because the last port was close to our destination and we had never done the "sailing vessel" thing before. We liked the idea of only 200 guests. My observations are possibly tainted as I have cruised NCL, Celebrity and HAL, I am always amazed at the star ratings that certain lines and ships receive but these are my observations and I recognize that not everyone grew up in my house, I just hope my review is helpful cause a vacation is a terrible thing to waste. We had calm seas, except for the first night, my wife was sick, there is much more motion on these smaller ships, caveat emptor. We upgraded to a first class cabin, classes 2-5 were basically large closets with port holes, this basically doubled the cost of the cruise, it was nice and the cabin steward was excellent. The lunch buffets were excellent, breakfast got a little boring and dinner was good, but just not the overall quality and depth of selection I have enjoyed with Holland America. We made some great friends, there were several ugly americans about however and unfortunately we were paired with them for one meal which was not pleasant. An interesting trip, I did not think the "sailing" was that big a deal and I think there are much better values out there, but then Star Clippers does not tell you they are about value, but there virtual tour of there cabins is a little misleading, Bon Voyage, Veindoc Read Less
Royal Clipper Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.4
Family 1.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.9
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 3.6

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