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We have cruised about a dozen times before, on the large cruise ships of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian, and Celebrity. We were intrigued with taking a cruise on a smaller-sized, real sailing ship (no big entertainment, ... Read More
We have cruised about a dozen times before, on the large cruise ships of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian, and Celebrity. We were intrigued with taking a cruise on a smaller-sized, real sailing ship (no big entertainment, no casino, no long lines). The Royal Clipper is a beautiful new sailing ship of the Star Clippers cruise line. Friday Judy and I flew out of Minneapolis on American Airlines on a Friday morning. We had decided to fly a day early to our cruise that started in Barbados, and spend one night in a hotel to ensure we wouldn't miss the boat. It was a long day of traveling. Our first plane was to Chicago. Second to Miami. Third to Barbados. We arrived in Barbados late, about 9:30 p.m., and got a ride over to our hotel for the night. It was raining - the hotel staff told us December is usually their driest month, but they had been having a lot of rain this year (it figures). They have had some trouble with Dengue fever on the island, so our room had a mosquito coil slowly burning on the floor (nice touch). The cruise line was supposed to pick us up at 3:30 the following day (Saturday) to take us to the ship, which was supposed to dock at 6:00 a.m., unloaded the passengers, then let us new passengers on the ship by 5:00 p.m. for a 10:00 sailing. Saturday We checked out of our hotel at noon, and sat around the pool and read our books and relaxed until 3:30 p.m. I had a funny feeling that nobody would actually come get us as promised. Then a taxi driver looking for someone else asked us who we were waiting for, and when we told him we were waiting for a taxi to take us to the Royal Clipper, he said he had overheard some bad news - it wasn't coming back until the NEXT day because of problems! I asked him if this happened often, and he said, no. So I called the agent for the cruise company and found out that indeed, the ship was very late getting back from Martinique to Barbados (the longest leg of the cruise) they had run into very strong head winds (were probably relying on their engine), and were due in about 8 or 9 p.m. They said we could stay at the hotel until they were ready to take us to the ship, or they could pick us up now and take us to a bar/restaurant/beach area downtown (Bridgetown) where the other passengers would be arriving. They would take us to a restaurant for dinner (a pretty forgettable meal), and then when it was time to board the ship, they would take us to the ship. We opted for the second option - we did not want to hang around the hotel anymore. While we were waiting in Bridgetown, we met some of our fellow passengers on the voyage, including a nice older couple from Florida, whom we spent a lot of time with on the trip, as well as couples from England, Germany, and Virginia. It turned out there were only 97 passengers on our trip, on a boat that accommodated over 200. September 11th definitely had something to do with it. There were many English and German people on the cruise, so all announcements were made in three languages. On the menus in the dining room, French came first, then English, and then German. I also met an Austrian man who had cruised more exotic, adventurous places, such as the high arctic and Antarctica, and was looking forward next year to a voyage on a Russian icebreaker to reach the North Pole. We finally were taken to the ship at 10:00 p.m., and the captain got us underway a little before midnight. Once we got out of the harbor (at each port) by engine power, the crew would start hoisting the 33 sails (give or take a couple) to the theme music from the movie, "Christopher Columbus: 1492." It was all very interesting and moving. The passengers were never made to feel they were in the crew's way. This was a beautiful 2-year old ship, not an old Windjammer, and the passengers WERE NOT asked to help with the sails. Once we got underway, we had to cross the Atlantic from Barbados to the first destination, Carriacou, an island north of Grenada. The rocking and tossing of the boat made me feel a little nauseous, so I decided to just lie down on my bed (wishing I hadn't eaten dinner). It was not that bad, and apparently did not affect Judy much. I was happy to discover the next morning I had fallen asleep, and we were now on calm seas. Sunday Some drizzling on and off, but we took the tender boat that landed on Carriacou, and then went on to a tiny island called Sandy Island, where we did some snorkeling before it rained again. It was not much more than a sand bar with about 5 palm trees on it, but somebody later told me the island had a lot more trees before the most recent hurricane decreased their number. Breakfasts and lunches on the ship were always buffets (breakfast also featured a chef making omelets to order), and you sat anywhere and with whom you wanted. The food was good, but I thought the quality (and variety) was a little bit below what I've usually experienced on Princess. Dinner was a choice of two entrees, as well as salad, soup, appetizer, and dessert. Because they put out an afternoon snack at 5:00, we never went to dinner before 8:00. Dinner also was come when you want and sit with whom you want. We met some other nice people this way, including a travel writer from Manhattan who was on board with her mother, and a schoolteacher from England. One night we ate with three of the four young Swedish people who were the water sports staff. We met some other English couples on the trip who were also very charming. One of them had been on the ship the previous week (a different island itinerary) and told us it was so rough sailing back to Barbados the previous Saturday that two women fell off their chairs in the dining room, and the silverware and glasses were falling off the tables. I was glad we missed that voyage. Monday We took the tender from the ship to Grenada. The taxi drivers here were VERY aggressive trying to engage you in conversation so they could take you on an island tour in their taxis. I do not think they believed us when we told them we had been to and seen much of the island before (we had). We walked around the markets, but did not find much to buy except for the usual spices. We did find a store that sold some exotic flavors of ice cream, and after we bought two cones, the owner gave us a golden-foil wrapped nutmeg, which is the leading export of Grenada (without the gold foil), and even appears on their flag. We bought some real cinnamon bark and some locally made vanilla extract for presents to friends back home. We had been told that our ship would be moved at 4:00 p.m. to dock at the pier, so we would not need the tender boats to get back to the ship later. We got back to the pier at 2:30 and waited and waited but no tender ever came. I was starting to become annoyed, as we were running out of time left in Grenada to get to a beach. There was a huge container cargo ship blocking our view, which it turned out, prevented us from seeing that our ship had moved EARLY, and was around the corner from where we were waiting. I finally asked a woman in an information booth if she had heard of anything, and a man talking to her told us our ship was docked around the corner! So we went back to the ship and got changed into our swimsuits and got our snorkeling gear together, and took a taxi to Grenada's probably best-known beach, Grand Anse. It is supposed to have good snorkeling, but it is a very long beach, and apparently where the taxi dropped us off there were no fish. Tuesday This was the highlight day of the cruise for most people. We were now in the Grenadines, which included many small islands, some of which had beautiful beaches and coral reefs but no inhabitants. We first took an excursion that showed us Palm and Union Islands, then we stopped at a beautiful beach (Salt Whistle) on Maryeau for a swim, where the water was nice and warm, and different shades of aquamarine and blue and teal. Then we went snorkeling on the famous Horseshoe Reef circling the Tobago Cays (four uninhabited islets), and then were let off on another small island, I believe named Petite Bateau, where the rest of the ship's passengers were enjoying a very tasty beach barbeque lunch. Just when we got our food, the skies opened up and everyone got wet. But it didn't spoil what had been a terrific day. One of the few disappointments on the cruise was that the cruise/excursion director did not appear to be very familiar with some of the islands, where to go, etc., but only knew about the excursions he was selling. In fairness to him, I think he had only been in the islands for a few weeks. But it was frustrating that, unlike the large cruise ships, this did not supply us with any island or city maps except for St. Lucia, and we never knew where exactly the ship would be stationed if it took people to a beach. In fact, because of the low passenger level, several of the shore excursions had to be cancelled because they didn't get the minimum amount of people needed. The more we cruise, the more independent we seem to have become, especially if we have been to an island before. It is usually a lot cheaper to hire a taxi to take you where you want to go or see by yourselves, instead of paying for a tour through the ship. The only drawback is that you have got to make it back to the ship before it sails - they won't wait for you if you are late and are not on one of the ship's shore excursions. Wednesday We were supposed to be in St. Vincent in the morning, and the small yet quaint island of Bequia in the afternoon. The whole day it rained. The only washed-out day of the cruise. Judy and I walked around the markets in Kingstown in the morning, but didn't find any place that sold any kind of tee shirts or souvenirs; but we did find an Internet Cafe, which was very reasonable - $2 for 15 minutes (the ship's PC available to send an e-mail for $35 did not work, and I had to argue a little to get a refund). I sent an e-mail to our younger son at college, to tell him that if our voyage was delayed getting back to Barbados (as the last week's one was), when he got to the airport the day AFTER we were supposed to come home (Sunday), and called us to pick him up, if we didn't answer the phone, to take a taxi home. I had been planning on getting a taxi driver to show us around the small island of Bequia in the afternoon, as well as let us off for an hour at one of the beautiful beaches on the island to swim and snorkel, but the rain changed all of that. We decided to walk around the small main street of the harbor (Port Elizabeth) anyhow, and bought a couple of souvenirs. There is a famous wooden boat shop in Bequia (the models sell for $200-$300), but the place was closed. But at least we weren't disappointed about the excursion to the very exclusive island of Mustique (homes owned by Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, etc.) being cancelled (because of the bad weather). Because we were only going to be in Bequia for a few hours, we had to decide before today between taking the Mustique excursion or spending the time on Bequia, and we had chosen Bequia. Thursday Nice weather today in St. Lucia. We did not think we had enough time to take a taxi down to the southern end of the island where the snorkeling was (Anse Chastanet) as well as a beautiful view of the Pitons (two green mountains rising out of the sea), so we took a taxi north to Pigeon Island, where the Hyatt Hotel (which was pretty empty) had a beautiful swimming beach. This brings up one minor disappointment with the cruise: in several places the ship left at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, unlike the usual 5:00 or 6:00 on the large cruise ships. So our time on any one island was more limited. However, the second highlight of the trip took place in the afternoon. Since the weather was nice, the captain let people get onto a tender with their cameras, and after we sailed away from the ship, put up all the sails so we could take pictures of the ship in all of its glory. It was really something to see. Our tender even briefly maneuvered in front of the path of the ship, where it became very obvious how fast the sailing ship was really moving through the water, right at us! The evenings on the ship were pretty quiet. One night they had a Caribbean party with a local steel drum band on board, another night a passenger talent show that turned out to be an all- CREW talent show, except for one older woman who belted out some aria from some opera we weren't familiar with. There were two channels on the in-room television showing year-old movies, one in English, one in German or French with the other language in subtitles. So I ended up rewatching some movies I had already seen, but were pretty good (like "Billy Elliot, Christopher Columbus: 1492," etc.) They showed "Columbus" because that's the movie whose music they played when the sails went up leaving port. The movie was over two hours long, but when it hit the two-hour mark, the movie stopped! Several of us at dinner shared our disappointment, and none of us (without the end of the movie) could remember if Columbus ended up being killed on his fourth voyage, or how his story ended. I found the answer on the web: "Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, on May 20, 1506, at the age of 54. He had suffered through a long terminal illness that first showed symptoms on his third voyage eight years before." According to his son Fernando, the cause of death was "gout." But in those days, gout was a catchall diagnosis for anything that caused joint pain. Recent research by Gerald Weissmann indicates that the most likely cause of death was Reiter's Syndrome, a rare tropical disease. Friday Last island of the trip, Martinique. We signed up for our only other ship's excursion - a morning catamaran ride down to a black sand beach that had snorkeling. When we got down there, they took us in a Zodiac boat to see the only two bat caves on the island. For some reason I could not get a picture of the hundreds of bats in the dark in the caves. Then we spent an hour snorkeling before it was time to sail back to the Royal Clipper for the last time. On one side of the bay I watched thousands of small, silver fish circle around and around, a fish river in the sea. We had little over an hour left when we got back to the ship, and we walked into Fort du France, Martinque - it was a long walk, but all we found were restaurants, grocery stores, and shops for the locals. Martinique is much more cosmopolitan, white collar, and upscale than some of the other nearby islands like St. Lucia. We almost got lost trying to find our way back to the streets we needed to take back to the ship but fortunately found our way back. In the afternoon, I went up on deck to attend a knot-tying class conducted by a member of the crew from Trinidad. His English was a little hard to understand, and of the six or seven students, I had the most trouble with one or two of the knots. He went through about seven different knots, all of which sounded like they had the same name, yet a different specific purpose. He would check each student's knot, and say, "Very good, excellent, or sometimes in my case, "I've never seen THAT one before!" I would have been happy if he had stopped after the first couple of knots so that I would remember something. In fact, after the class was finished, I realized I had become so confused about tying knots, that I temporarily forgot how to tie a simple bow or shoelace! Fortunately this knowledge returned later on that day. We had our last dinner, and Judy started packing. Our bags had to be out in the hallway by 4:30 a.m. (the big cruise ships have a midnight deadline). Thankfully the seas were not too rough, although we had some bad vibrations shaking the doors in the room all the way back to Barbados on Friday night/early Saturday morning. Saturday We had our early bird breakfast and left for the airport to catch our 9:00 flight from Barbados back to Miami. When we got to the airport, there was a really long line with just one security agent working on our flight. She had on plastic gloves and was opening up EVERY piece of to-be-checked luggage, and going through everything, including lots of dirty laundry. It went so slow, I do not know how our flight was ONLY 30 minutes late. When we got to Miami, going through customs was awful - the place was a madhouse of hundreds and hundreds of people dashing one way or the other, or standing in very long lines. When we went to the baggage carrousels to claim our luggage, they changed the carrousel number (1 to 8) THREE times without posting it on the electronic signs. Then, after we rechecked our luggage and went to catch our next flight, when we went through security, I was taken aside, padded down and "wanded," and also asked to show the soles of my shoes (something new and odd). We did not know until we got home that night about the incident that day on another American Airlines flight with the "shoe bomber" who had plastic explosive in his shoe and was trying to ignite it. Some Additional Thoughts The ship had three tiny saltwater pools, but we didn't use any of them. The rear of the ship on the first level had a marina platform that went opened down over the water, where they offered scuba, sailboating, wind surfing, water skiing, etc. on a couple of the islands, but we didn't have the chance to use it. The cabins themselves had nice wood paneling, and the bathrooms had marble floors (but also a tiny shower with a curtain that tended to want to stick to your rear and become more intimate with you than you desired). The captain and entire crew of the ship were warm and gracious. With only 97 people on our voyage, we got to meet a lot of people and sometimes it felt like one big family. Indeed, there were about 23 people on board having a family reunion, complete with some children. One evening the captain of the ship gave a basic navigation lesson, and passed around a real sextant, which would be useful if the global positioning satellite system went down. I was disappointed the lesson did not get into actual information about how they use the sails to propel the ship, or what the different 33 sails were for. Another afternoon Louis, the chief engineer, gave us a quick tour through the engine rooms of the ship. Some of the engine rooms were very hot and very noisy. Below the waterline on the lowest level of the ship was a small gym/health spa. I used the treadmills there several afternoons. One wall had portholes that were underwater, but I never saw any fish swim by. All of the ports we visited accepted American currency. The other islands, except Barbados and Martinique, also took EC (Eastern Caribbean) currency. Many of the people on the ship had only been on one or none of the large cruise ships before, yet were pretty negative about them. I found myself a minority of one saying I have enjoyed both types of sailing experiences. But understand that this type of cruise on a real sailing vessel is NOT for everyone. All in all, it was a real fun week and cruise, and we were all saddened to have to leave the ship and the people whose company we enjoyed during the week. philminn@spacestar.netJanuary 2002 Read Less
My wife and I have cruised four times previously, three times with Celebrity, which we really enjoyed and once with Princess on the Grand, which we also enjoyed but found the ship to be too large and impersonal. So, we were looking for ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised four times previously, three times with Celebrity, which we really enjoyed and once with Princess on the Grand, which we also enjoyed but found the ship to be too large and impersonal. So, we were looking for something different and smaller and, after much research, decided on the Royal Clipper with its maximum complement of 228 passengers and an interesting itinerary. We chose the February 15th , 2003 Windward Islands itinerary, leaving from Barbados and visiting five islands which we had never before visited. From the time we embarked in Barbados to the time we disembarked back in Barbados a week later, we had the best cruise and vacation of our lives. There were only 125 passengers on this cruise, which I am sure contributed somewhat to the feeling of never feeling crowded. We were the only two Canadians on board as the main mix of passengers was British, German, American and French. Age mix was probably on average, between forty and sixty-five, with some passengers being below or above both ends of this scale. The ship is amazing and its officers and crew were outstanding, all being very approachable with a positive, can-do attitude. Following are various points of reference concerning the ship and our overall cruise experience on the Royal Clipper. The Ship: Truly magnificent. Five masts, 42 sails and over 50,000 square feet of sail. It is a true sailing ship and we spent most afternoons and evenings under full sail. Take note though, that there is a lot of ship movement, depending on the strength of the wind. Our entire week, the wind was strong but perfect for sailing, resulting in quite a bit of "rocking and rolling". However, you soon get your sail legs and become used to the movement. During the dinner hour, the Captain does lower the sails each night and proceeds under engine power to reduce the ship's movement. The most movement was felt on the first and last nights, leaving from and going back to Barbados as the ship is sailing in the Atlantic Ocean on these two legs of the journey. The Royal Clipper is beautifully appointed, with all decks being finished in teak and the interior rooms and cabins sporting loads of wood. Cabins are very comfortable, with marble bathrooms. We were in cabin 315, which was one of two cabins located at the ship's stern on the main deck, with the entrance directly off the rear of the deck. We even had a real key. Our bed was a true queen and had two thick duvets on it. My wife and I both agreed that the bed was the most comfortable we had ever had, including hotels and other cruise ships. The bathroom was also the best of any cruise ship we had been on to date. It had a full size Jacuzzi tub with a great shower (tons of pressure) and never, ever any shortage of hot water. The room was well kept over the week by our cabin steward. The heart of the ship is the Tropic Bar area, amidships on the main deck. It is a large, open-air area (but covered overhead with wood and canvas) where all activities take place. It's where you arrive, where all the entertainment takes place and is the meeting place for all excursions or other activities that take place. It is also where you meet a lot of the passengers as it is the social center of the ship as well. The atrium area consists of the piano bar on the uppermost level, a mid level walk around and the dining room on the lower level. The piano bar is a comfortable lounge area, perfect for before dinner drinks and chats. Each of the dinner selections are set out here on plates each night before dinner, so you can see exactly what the dishes are (a very good innovation). Light snacks are also served here later at night for an hour from 11:30 pm. The dining room is also very comfortable and well appointed. Both outside walls have portholes, which, when going through large swells, fill with water and look like front-loading washing machines. There is also a small purser's desk and store on the mid-level, which sells a nice line of various types of sportswear with the Royal Clipper logo. A reasonably well-equipped gym and spa area is located on the lowest level and it has underwater portholes on the walls. Finally, there is a forward Observation Lounge where lectures can be given but this room was not used once during our cruise. Every night around 11:30 pm, myself and a regular group of passengers went up to the Bridge deck and stood under an incredible starry night, with the wind in our faces and the ship under full sail, cutting through the large swells. It was a great experience. I also went into the bridge a few times (the Royal has an open bridge policy) to talk with the Watch Officer to find out exactly where we were and how fast we were travelling. They are very accommodating on the bridge and will patiently explain how all the bridge equipment works and what it does as well as answer any questions you may have. Try doing that on one of the mainstream cruise liners! The Food: Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style and the food was very good at both these meals. Breakfast has all the items you may want as well as a chef cooking you custom eggs and omelettes. Lunches had lots of selections and had a very fresh and varied salad fixings bar as well as a number of just cooked hot items. The sweet trays at lunch were to die for! Dinner was served "a la carte" from a menu that usually had three different entrees to choose from as well as a vegetarian dish. Not the full selection available on the large ships but more than sufficient for most people. My wife and I and the other three couples we ate with each night never had a problem finding something that appealed to us. The food was well prepared and nicely presented and portions were more the "European" style (smaller) but were very sufficient. Again, desserts (usually three choices) were delicious. Dinner is open seating and served from 7:30 to 10:00. Our group sat at the same table each night and had top class service from our waiter, Romeo. The other waiters seemed to also be providing very good service as well and I didn't hear one complaint all week about the food or service. Drinks and wine were very fairly priced. A can of soda pop was $1.50 and bottles of wine ran around $22 to $30, a very reasonable price, although wine selection was somewhat limited. It was also interesting to note that gratuities on the drink bills were 12.5%, as opposed to the 15% universally charged on the large ships. Never, ever were drinks pushed anywhere on the ship, and, in fact, a lot of the time you had to just go to the bar and get your own. Officers and Crew: The Royal is captained by Captain Sergey Patchenko, Ukrainian born, who appears to love his job. He is always around and gives talks and lectures throughout the week. He is extremely approachable and will stop to talk with you at any time. He gave a very interesting talk one morning on the different types of sailing ships and how you identify them. My wife and I were standing near the bridge one morning and he just came over and started talking to us. A very amenable person with great knowledge of the sea and sailing. The Cruise Director / Social Convenor / Excursion Manager (and a number of other jobs) is a wonderful lady from Sweden, Jenny. Without a doubt, she is the best and most personable CD we have ever come across. By the second day she seemed to know almost every passenger by name. Each day as we arrived in a new location, she would give a talk about the island port and what we should look for. No pushing of stores or shopping or anything like that. She would also hold talks each night in the Piano Bar to describe upcoming excursions, complete with pictures and personal insight and was always able to answer any questions. Again, she was not pushing any excursions but was just giving great descriptions of what to expect. Jenny fluently spoke at least five languages and had no problem switching from one to another, sometimes in midstream of a sentence. She is an absolutely lovely lady (her current contract expires in May and she is going home to Sweden for a while and hopefully she will return to the Royal after her time off). The rest of the Officers and crew were also extremely personable and were a lot of fun to be around. We also noticed that the crew were very friendly with each other, which only added to the great atmosphere on the ship. All the officers eat in the dining room as well and will sometimes sit with passengers during meals as space and time permits. Atmosphere: The whole atmosphere is very casual and laid-back. No rules, no "you can't do that" attitudes and no fancy dressing up, the only thing they ask is that long pants and shirts with collars be worn for dinner. A few people did dress for the Captain's dinner one night but they were very much in the minority. During the day, shorts or bathing suits were the "dress of the day". The passengers mostly seemed to be well-traveled people and were very friendly. Nobody was trying to impress anybody else and there didn't appear to be any pretentious passengers among us. Also, no complainers in this group. Some 60% were repeat customers, so this should tell you how people feel about this ship and cruise line. You should note also that there are no late nights, as everything pretty well finishes up each night after midnight. Shipboard Activities: No theater or casino on board. Entertainment was mostly organized and provided by the staff and crew and we really enjoyed it. One night was a crew talent show, which was very entertaining, another night was a fashion show of the Royal Clipper sportswear line, which was also a blast. There was also a night where live crab races were run, with people betting on individual crabs and the eventual winner walking away with some $300 in prize money. The entertainment really was a lot of fun and everybody seemed to have a good time in the evenings. The ship has a fold down dock marina at the aft and the watersports team uses it as a center for offering free sailing, banana boat rides, scuba and snorkeling excursions and some zodiac tours. When there is a beach day, all the equipment is located to the beach, where the same activities are offered. We were interested in snorkeling and managed to get in three different excursions, two of which were okay and one which was incredible, off of the beach near St. Kitts. We did have to press the watersports team (who I think were both relatively new to their jobs and were still learning it) somewhat regarding snorkeling as they didn't seem to be overly interested in providing snorkeling opportunities (this was the only minor complaint we could find all week). We took our own snorkel equipment but the ship offers you all the equipment you need free for the week. Three times during the week, you are offered the opportunity to climb the main mast up to the crow's nest (in a safety harness), weather permitting. My wife did it and said the climb was a little hair-raising (the ship was rolling at the time) but said the view was amazing and she loved the experience. You can also go out onto the netting around the bowsprit and laze around in it, high above the water as the ship cuts through the waves (it is like a huge hammock). Other interesting things, such as an engine-room tour and a knot-tying course were offered through the week. The Captain also makes "sailaway" from each port a big event. The hoisting of the sails while music is played is very soul stirring, especially on the night sailaways. We never missed this event and you have to experience it to understand it. Once during the week, the Captain offers a "photo tender" opportunity. All interested people are taken out in a tender, while the ship hoists all sails and begins sailing away. The tender then circles the ship for about 15 minutes allowing everyone to get incredible pictures of the ship from all different angles. Getting back on the ship is also a bit of an adventure as the tender pulls up to the ship while it is fully underway. Not dangerous but exciting. One of the highlights for us was the night we were sailing around the tip of Montserrat at around midnight. This is the island that has a very active volcano and just as we rounded the tip, it began spewing lava. One burst absolutely covered the mountainside with red-hot lava and fireballs. Better than any fireworks show we've seen and almost all the passengers were on deck, cheering and clapping at each eruption. Great fun and an awesome spectacle. Ports and Excursions: We enjoyed the different islands we visited. One thing we noticed was that there were never any "immigration" problems at any of the islands. No early morning lineups waiting for the immigration officials to come on board. In fact, it seemed that the ship was cleared each time within about 15 minutes of arrival. In one port, the officials even joined everybody for lunch after they had done their business. We anchored in every port except Martinique and had to tender in. However, there was never a problem with the tenders, never any line-up, no "take a number and wait to be called" scenarios or anything like that. You merely used your card to sign out and jumped on the next tender. There was also never any problem coming back on board with any purchases (such as soft drinks or liquor) as there are no scanners and no one is checking your bags. The crew simply swipes your card so they know you've returned and always had a word of welcome as you returned. We took three excursions and found them to be excellent value for the money (in fact, one was a bit too long and offered too much). The costs ranged between $40 and $52 per person, which, for the good quality they offered, seemed to be very reasonable. The one excursion we really recommend is the Eco Kayak Adventure in Antigua. This was one of the best excursions we have ever taken. Embarkation and Disembarkation: We could not believe how simple and easy both these procedures were. We arrived on Saturday afternoon at the Barbados terminal at 4:00 pm and were checked in within 5 minutes. The ship's Officers handle the check-in procedure and make it a very pleasant procedure. We then proceeded down the dock to the ship, were handed free welcome aboard drinks at the top of the gangway and then we were shown to our cabin. Our bags arrived within another 5 minutes. Incredible! Disembarkation was much the same. No rules or colour tags handed out, the only thing they ask is that you have your bags outside your room by 4:30 am and then be off the ship by 10:00 am as Barbados customs closes then. A full breakfast buffet is served all morning. We left at 9:30, had various crewmembers give us hugs and wish us goodbye and a safe journey home, picked up our passports (they were taken at embarkation) as we left, went into the terminal where our bags were waiting, took thirty seconds to get through customs and were on our way to our friend's house within a few minutes of leaving the ship. General Thoughts: You can tell, we really loved this whole experience. However, it is definitely not for people who are looking to be constantly told what to do, where to do it and who want to be constantly entertained. It is also not for people who are prone to motion or seasickness, as there is a lot of movement to the ship. There are no elevators on the ship and a lot of stairs so anyone with a mobility problem might find the ship to be a bit of a challenge as well. This is a ship for people who want to experience a great sailing ship that has a very friendly and casual atmosphere. We met more people on the first night of this cruise than we would normally meet during a whole cruise. We made some great new friends and will keep in touch with them going forward (we all had a small tear in our eyes as we all said our good-byes on departure day). When I was telling my daughter of the new friendships we made, the way the crew interacted with everyone and all the positive experiences we had, she said that it sounded like we at a "great summer camp for adults". And you know what, that is a perfectly simple way to describe our overall cruise experience on the Royal Clipper and we are already planning next year's cruise on the Royal Clipper to the Leeward Islands. rspratt@rogers.com May 2003 Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2010
Our expectations were high as we left our comfortable Barbados hotel after four nights to join the Royal Clipper. We should have stayed in Barbados. Something seemed odd that we could only board a ship which had docked at 7am after 4pm, ... Read More
Our expectations were high as we left our comfortable Barbados hotel after four nights to join the Royal Clipper. We should have stayed in Barbados. Something seemed odd that we could only board a ship which had docked at 7am after 4pm, but of course that relieved the cruise line of serving lunch. We then had to fill out a health form and have our temperature taken, a perfectly reasonable request. What was not reasonable was another paper from we had to sign, limiting the liability of the cruise line and making passengers agree that if they were going to sue Star Clippers, the suit would be filed only in Monaco. Now that was kind of strange. I signed. They would not have let me board if I didn't. But there is a family, I am sure, who wishes they had not. My wife is partially disabled. She can walk slowly but long distances are difficult for her. We asked for a wheelchair for boarding. None was available. When we boarded, we found that there was no elevator. This was never mentioned. We were in for a week of enforced climbing of 4 flights of stairs, many of which led to narrow and difficult doors. This ship is completely unsuitable for disabled people. We could barely manage. Those more disabled than we would have had to have been left on the shore. With no refund, I am sure, although there is certainly nothing in any large print in their literature which indicates this. But I guess you were supposed to scrutinize the deck plan to find this out. Let's say this at the beginning: The ship is beautiful, the interior spaces are lovely, and the service crew (waiters, cabin stewards and deckhands) are friendly, efficient and personable. The Cruise Director was not to my liking and the Hotel Director turned out to be a baloney artist. The Captain seemed nice, but his Ukrainian accent prevented all but the most basic communication. The sailing bit is almost a gimmick. The sails are raised with great pomp and piped in music from "The Hunt for Red October. Then, as soon as everyone is at dinner or in bed, the sails are furled and the ship proceeds under power. It is too bad, the experience of proceeding on a large ship under sail is truly delightful. You get it about 25% of the time. The food is no better and no worse than many cruise ships Mostly frozen ingredients dressed up in fancily named sauces. You would think that sailing in some of the most fertile fishing waters and tropical fruit growing areas that they would make some effort to add fresh food. You would think that with Royal Caribbean and Holland America as well. The ship offers water sports equipment to the passengers. The equipment is old, dirty and disgusting it belongs at the Salvation Army. So do the books in the beautiful library. They didn't bother to got to the Salvation Army for these. They are just the left behinds from past passengers. The real problem was the port policy. It was designed to save the cruise line many dollars. It cost a life. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
It was our hearts desire to sail on the Royal Clipper after seeing her come into view at Rodney Bay when we were staying in St Lucia some years ago. We love cruising and the luxury of visiting interesting and beautiful destinations. Not so ... Read More
It was our hearts desire to sail on the Royal Clipper after seeing her come into view at Rodney Bay when we were staying in St Lucia some years ago. We love cruising and the luxury of visiting interesting and beautiful destinations. Not so with this sailing vessel. Embarkation was a nightmare. No one to greet you at the terminal. Once boarding the ship the we had to queue for over forty minutes in the lounge/piano bar to be registered and assigned keys. It was an awful experience as the Crewe admitted the air conditioning had been turned off. The sweat was pouring off the couple in front of us and a gentleman behind us had to leave the queue to go outside for fresh air. No apology was given - the explanation was that they were short staffed!! We booked the deluxe cabin with balcony Sadly it had seen better days - clean yes as our steward was wonderful - upholstery was tired and worn - woodwork also. Bathroom needed regrouting . The outside table had chipped edges and stained. Not what you would expect from their so called top accommodation. You would think being under sail is a soothing experience then think again. The noise from the whinches turning the sails and constant noisy hmmming from generators etc meant interrupted sleep every night. If you like to dine at a reasonable time then be prepared to share a table with strangers. We had to wait until after 9.30pm to eat to ensure a table for two - albeit we were invariably sat on tables for 6 or more as there were only two tables for 2 and unfortunately they were positioned directly at the bottom of the staircase into the dining room - therefore on full view to diners entering and leaving the restaurant - not ideal. The Tropical Bar should have been paradise on the sea however. to enjoy cocktails propped up on high wooden stools all evening is neither comfort or luxury. Tables with comfortable chairs were nowhere to be found. On deck and around the pool areas there were sun beds dating back to the 80’s. Steamers with padded cushions did not exist. Wooden benches facing inwards were the only seating. We have enjoyed many cruises over the years from the mighty Queen Mary to the smaller Seabourn’s and the ports of call have been fabulous. Not so with the Royal Clipper. Unless you were a dedicated excursionist you would be sorely disappointed with where tendered. Martinique beaches where we we dropped off to were severely below par as was St Lucia - dirty and unlike beaches we had seen and enjoyed on many trips to the Caribbean before therefore knowing these islands to have fabulous beaches this was unacceptable. The cruise director even warned us the night before that we probably wouldn’t want to spend time at the ‘beach’ thus promoting an excursion! Star Clippers really must be honest when arranging bookings and take out the words luxury comfort and relaxation. A big plus was that the cabin and waiter staff were excellent - friendly , accommodating, fun and our steward Angel was as his name implies an angel.... nothing was too much trouble. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I booked this cruise one year ahead for our special anniversary, I told the UK agents and my own travel agent told them that it was a special time, yet it was forgotten about. No mention of it in spite of others having the waiters sing ... Read More
I booked this cruise one year ahead for our special anniversary, I told the UK agents and my own travel agent told them that it was a special time, yet it was forgotten about. No mention of it in spite of others having the waiters sing happy birthday and such. Also we do not eat meat and ordered vegetarian food. On arrival the restaurant had no idea of our request and could only offer frozen items of poor quality. They did try their best but did not understand any menu that was not pre planned. Your passports are withheld until you pay any extra's although they have your credit card and landing in France without ID was very risky as everyone was asking for ID prior to entry. Beware they take your money and promise a lot yet deliver very little. The ship really sails by motor and the sails are for effect, when they go up they offer Champagne at €7.50 per glass. Everything was for the ships benefit and very little customer comfort. The cabin air condition does not turn off and the air is very stale, I was told that the whole ship was like that and nothing could be done. The towels were so small it would not cover your embarrassment. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
good: - excellent service of the stuarts and very friendly service people - very friendly and urbanity Capt'n and Officers poor to absolutely inaceptable: Ship & interieur & equipment is 15 years old with year ... Read More
good: - excellent service of the stuarts and very friendly service people - very friendly and urbanity Capt'n and Officers poor to absolutely inaceptable: Ship & interieur & equipment is 15 years old with year round refurbishing during the cruises! -> means: lots of noise the whole day and you get much more of it when you paid much more = for a luxury cabin. So be sure that you won't get anny rest. At least once a day is the toilet not working (on the whole ship). Pool was (except the last day) the whole cruise under construction. Restaurant manager is unfriendly. Backslapper cruise manager is unprofessional and telling more private stories than informative stuff. Hotel Manager ist super rude without any acceptable manners and not helpful at all (just two examples: our toilet was leaking, over night the half cabin/ carpet was wet and after a while stinky but we had to stay in this cabin for 2 more nights even there was another free luxury cabin; 8h before an excursion he wasn't able to tell us if that will take place or nit but was asling on the next morning to the money and so on) Seemt like cruise and hotel manager are low budget stuff - you get what you paid for. We did not get any apology - not for the noise, not for the stinky cabin ... Everything there is third rate but the price is higher than for any other cruise. Incredible! Equipment at the gym is old enough to open up a musem. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
First the good stuff: The service staff (waiters and barmen) were consistently excellent. The sailing experience was great especially when you could see the spectacular stars at night. The food was surprisingly good given the galley ... Read More
First the good stuff: The service staff (waiters and barmen) were consistently excellent. The sailing experience was great especially when you could see the spectacular stars at night. The food was surprisingly good given the galley conditions and a difficult dining room but the second week was a repeat of the first and while the quality was the same it got a little repetitive, on balance no more than adequate. It is obvious that The Royal Clipper is in the throes of extensive cost cutting the general condition of the ship showed signs of lack of maintenance, staff uniforms often tatty, the sun loungers were dirty, paint stained and often broken and just to show how bad it was they frequently reused cardboard beer coasters. Staff member comments confirmed this. Apparently the ship is going into dry dock soon and the planning for important repairs has been cut back extensively. Either the Star Clipper company is in deep financial trouble or they are attempting to dress up the P&L accounts for a sale. More seriously standards of customer service have declined considerably. When things are going well all is sweetness and light. Try and complain and the management's first tactic is to tell you that you are wrong as others have not complained. The second tactic is to ignore you from then on, hardly an adequate customer management strategy. The first instance was on the second half of the cruise when a Snorkelling trip was planned. At the Marina because of the sea state we asked the skipper of the catamaran Shadowfax was he going to go ahead with the trip. The answer was yes and we would see what the reef was like when we got there. Towards the end of a rough and wet trip, but before we got to the reef, it was announced that the snorkelling was off due to adverse conditions. When we got to the beach where the post snorkelling BBQ was to be held 14 of us requested to get back to the Royal Clipper as we had had enough. After a bit of wrangling this was organised and we did get home. When my wife tried to complain to the cruise director she was told that there had no other complaints with the strong implication that we were in the wrong. During the night we received a form letter that despite the inclement weather only the snorkelling was not possible and the rest of the trip was satisfactorily completed. Given that the primary reason to go on the trip was to snorkel this seemed extremely disingenuous. We were told that we would be refunded 50% of the cost. What is so galling is that had the issue been handled competently it could have been a win for Star Clippers. In disgust I wrote to the Captain with my issues but got no reply. I did get a note from the Hotel Manager letting me know he would investigate and get back to me. After 2 days I found him at the bar and I had to initiate the discussion which gave no satisfaction. Another customer service issue was when we were on a tender to return to the ship from the marina at Bequia and over the open radio we heard the cruise director and captain tell the tender crew to wait for a ferry bringing a tour back. the tender was scheduled to run every 30 minutes. we complained but, as is obvious above, customer service is not a priority. Had they taken us back on schedule the arriving tour group would have had to wait 4 minutes for the next scheduled tender while we had to cool our heels for almost half an hour. Perhaps more upsetting was an incident the day after the failed attempt to snorkel. We were scheduled on another tour and taken to the catamaran taking us to a reef. The sea state was poor and it proved impossible to effect the tender to catamaran transfer safely and the tour was called off. However while we heaved around the catamaran an extremely obese and unsteady couple, who had missed the tender, were placed in a Zodiac to get them out to join us. Well the crew of the Zodiac were literally in tears and the whole effort was botched as the passengers in the Zodiac were completely incapable of getting from the Zodiac to the tender. We later heard that one of them fell badly trying to get back on board the ship. Apparently the two passengers desperately wanted to come on the trip but no one would stop them even though it was so obviously dangerous. If this callous disregard for what were very real dangers for these folk are repeated there will be a serious accident or death at the door of Star Clipper . It is all so disappointing. We chose the Royal Clipper for our first visit to the Caribbean because of a previous fabulous experience on the Star Flyer around Tahiti and the Society Islands. Had we have known how we were to be treated and the general lack of care we would have given up on the romance of a tall ship and gone to an alternative. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
The best part of the cruise was the fabulous staff. The food and the staff were wonderful. I thought we were in trouble when check was a terrible experience. All other ships had signs and staff to organize the incoming passengers. Star ... Read More
The best part of the cruise was the fabulous staff. The food and the staff were wonderful. I thought we were in trouble when check was a terrible experience. All other ships had signs and staff to organize the incoming passengers. Star Clippers...nothing. Several stops at ports the tender left us at a sport and we had to figure out how to get to town. Taxis took full advantage and we were told it would be perhaps 5 euros a person and it would be 10-15. Also disappointing was most of the off shore excursions. For about half of them the review by the passengers was that they were very expensive and not quite what was advertised. I will note that one of the biggest disappointments was that we only sailed twice (while I was awake) After several days I asked when we would sail and I was told that perfect conditions were required. Not TOO windy and windy enough. For a sailing experience I recommend a MUCH smaller ship. Looking at other reviews I see others had a different experience; however, I would not go again and would not recommend them. For the money, I would look elsewhere. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2010
We flew to Barbados a day early so as not to miss the departure, had a reservation with the Pirates Cove Inn. That was a glorious experience. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.We were not able to board the ship until 4PM even tho' ... Read More
We flew to Barbados a day early so as not to miss the departure, had a reservation with the Pirates Cove Inn. That was a glorious experience. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.We were not able to board the ship until 4PM even tho' it docked at 7AM, so we had a lot of time to kill with our bags. It is an expensive cab ride from the hotel to Bridgetown and the pier. Pre-boarding we had to sign a health waiver and submit to a temperature test. We were also required to sign a form agreeing the line could only be sued from Monaco. OK we submit and sign because we are after all here to take the cruise. At 10PM we are underway with much pomp and ceremony for the raising of the sails. The music is very theatrical 1492 Conquest of the Caribbean. We actually made 8 ports in the 7 days. Only 2 were docked all the others were tendered. The sea was rough and getting off the ship and into the tender boats was difficult for able bodied folks. We had a number of older guests, some with limited dexterity so they were always presented with the dilemma of staying on board and missing the port or daring the transfer. Shopping was an absolute "nothing"...our day in Grenada was a national holiday...our day in Martinique was the beginning of Carnival. All the other stops were for snorkelling or scuba. Wrong cruise if you are not into water sports and raw beaches. The food is buffet style breakfast and lunch, full service dinner. The service good, not excellent but OK...same with the food. Our cabin steward kept us tidy, but had the flu. So if the guests have to submit to a health check, what about the crew. The Islands are beautiful, and are regardless of how you get there. My favorite stop was in Barbados where we had a great driver take us to the northernmost point of the Island to Flower Cave, and a great waterside restaurant for lunch before the trip to the airport. The staff on the ship especially the deck hands were eager to explain the tasks they were assigned to. As for the climbing of the mast...available for 2 hours one morning and one hour another...not quite like described in the brochures. Many who wanted to climb to the crows nest were not able to because they could not be accomodated. Entertainment was of the amateur variety, but since smoking is allowed in the Tropic Bar where the entertainment took place , those who choose not to inhale other peoples smoke could not participate. The currency on board is the Euro...makes drinks bloody expensive..... The captain on this vessel was very friendly and available to anyone who wished to speak with him...one could not say the same for the Hotel Manager who never got back to any guest about anything as near as I could tell. When all was said and done, spending the week in Barbados would have been more enjoyable. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2008
I sailed on Royal Clipper on her New Year's cruise with my partner and another couple. We are in our early 40's and this was our 46th cruise. Embarkation involved standing in line for an excruciating hour and a 10 minute walk to ... Read More
I sailed on Royal Clipper on her New Year's cruise with my partner and another couple. We are in our early 40's and this was our 46th cruise. Embarkation involved standing in line for an excruciating hour and a 10 minute walk to the ship as we didn't feel like waiting in another long line for the shuttle. The cabin was compact but well-appointed. The low shower-floor lip and lack of enclosure walls except for a curtain all but guaranteed flooding of the bathroom with each use. The ship was beautifully decorated in an Edwardian yachting motif. The gym was minimally equipped with two treadmills limited by a low ceiling and two ancient recumbent bicycles. The open-seating dinners were fine with good service and reasonably priced wines but the seating could be extremely tight depending on location. Breakfast and lunch buffets were of variable quality but a beach barbecue was terrific. Those accustomed to large ships were shocked by the ship's extreme movements in all directions but this was to be expected. The sails were magnificent but generally used more as a display than as an active means of propulsion. The ship primarily sails under diesel power and usually engine noise and cooking exhaust smells were present on the open decks. Activities are minimal to nonexistent. The Cruise Director is a glorified shore-excursion salesman and a font of misinformation. He lead no activities and showed no leadership or entertaining skills. There are few onboard activities, no daily summaries or navigational information and a surprising lack of sailing-related information or exercises. Entertainment consists of a solo piano player generally playing 70's melodies backed up by preprogrammed disco beats. New Year's Eve was particularly poorly planned. We were told to go on deck at 11:30, were served warm "bubbly" and looked at each other until 12:05 when some passengers counted down to artificially start the year. No music, no horn, no sign of the Captain or officers and no Cruise Director. When questioned the next day, the Cruise Director said the Captain was "ill" and that he himself was "elsewhere". When we returned to the cabin after the New Year's Eve "celebrations", the annoying nightly noise (I had previously used ear plugs and sleeping pills) of the Crew Mess located directly under our cabin became intolerable with loud singing, yelling and music. There was no-one on duty at the front desk and when I brought the matter to the Hotel Manager the next day, he basically "blamed" me for only complaining on the fifth day. When I said that I hadn't complained earlier as the ship was full and there was likely no recourse, he agreed and offered me a complimentary downgrade (he actually used the expression "downgrade") where we could sleep in a smaller cabin while occupying our original cabin. Uh, right. He acknowledged the noise problem, showed no particular concern and offered no apology. Other passengers expressed numerous concerns about the senior officers and their ill-treatment of the general staff and the overall unhappiness of the crew. It was also extremely concerning to hear passengers commenting on how they observed heavy alcohol consumption of officers at some of our beach stops. Disembarkation was extremely relaxed and their was no hurry to get us off the ship although our requested wake-up call was never delivered. While Royal Clipper is a first-rate ship, she offers an overall disappointing cruise experience, generally omitting any and all of the sailing-themed activities and ambiance that attracted us to her in the first place. Her poor onboard atmosphere, absence of "joie de vivre" and lack of understanding of what makes passengers happy will ensure that I avoid Star Clippers in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We were so looking forward to being on a real clipper and sailing around Italy. The Royal Clipper was a beautiful ship, meticulously maintained and our deluxe suite was very adequate with a balcony. BUT, the service was quite bad- no ... Read More
We were so looking forward to being on a real clipper and sailing around Italy. The Royal Clipper was a beautiful ship, meticulously maintained and our deluxe suite was very adequate with a balcony. BUT, the service was quite bad- no bartenders to be found on the pool deck except the last day so you had to go downstairs to get even a coke or water. Most of the waiters can hardly speak english and the meals were just okay. Nothing spectacular and most times the food came out luke warm, (must have been all pre-prepared). And if you ask for seconds of anything, they are a little surly about it. The dining room maitre-d just catered to people from his country. Wine stewards were just bartenders brought to the dining room. It was hard to get a drink at dinner as you had to chase them down. I will say the dining room was spectacular. The sloop shop has nothing really, movie selection for the room is extremely limited and old. The spa is in the fitness room and you cannot relax due to the high power music coming through the door.Our cabin steward was the best thing on on the ship- he got us whatever we wanted. The security to get on the ship is virtually non-existent. They just tell you to put your luggage thru the machine and no one marks them or anything. Most people did not even bother to do this as on one is watching. A little scary. I'll go back to the Windstar ships as they are spectacular all around. Read Less
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
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I have been on Star Flyer twice and when the no solo supplement was offered last year I decided to try this larger ship knowing that the routine would be familiar. I am not a sailor but I think we all tire of the large cruise ships and ... Read More
I have been on Star Flyer twice and when the no solo supplement was offered last year I decided to try this larger ship knowing that the routine would be familiar. I am not a sailor but I think we all tire of the large cruise ships and the usual ports so getting in private small towns and beaches appealed to me. Once on board I found the large expanse of upper deck appealing with more shade available and more room to relax compared to the Star Flyer. I had inside cabin (216) and it is small with only one closet with another drawer under the bed but for one person adequate. Ship is beautiful with brass, beautiful wood work and library has fireplace that glows for ambiance altho few people go into library. Food is very good to my tastes and I am no food critic but the fish they offer is excellent, only tip I have is to avoid 2 hour meals asked to be seated at smaller table than 8 to avoid this altho some enjoy their wine and the ambiance of the dining experience. Breakfast and lunch are buffet with different theme and one day they did a beach BBQ on Tobago cay which was amazing. Only negative is the buffet is in smaller area than on Star Flyer which makes for a traffic jam between the hot dishes and salads and fruit. They also set out some snacks at 5-6 PM which is welcome since dinner does not start until 7:30 PM. Joanna and Jerry provided music in afternoon and at night and were great, I really enjoyed them and listened a lot to their music. Crew is wonderful and ready to help at all times. Bar prices are reasonable and I am a beer drinker and was surprised to find they had Carib as the last two Flyer cruises I was on in the Caribbean did not have any island beers and altho they ran out half way thru the cruise I was hoping this will be a change on their cruises in Caribbean next year. Most days we made two stops in morning and afternoon it seems to let excursions go out and then a beach type stop in the afternoon. I found the morning stops less than exciting as I did no excursions but truly loved each afternoon stop and wanted to stay longer. The ship does move but I guess I am getting used to the motion and only two nights did I notice more movement. Passengers were a mix of UK, Canada, US, and others but most were very friendly and welcomed me at dinner as a solo which is appreciated. I was asked which ship I prefer since I had now sailed both and that is truly hard to say, I guess my first experience is important and think if I was on a 7 day trip I prefer Star Flyer and if I was on 14 day trip I would prefer Royal Clipper especially is you had days at sea like the Panama Canal trip. I enjoyed this cruise again and I finally saw the Green Flash which makes this a special cruise to me. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this ship as we are avid sailors, and if you want to sail in a tall ship, this is probably the best. However, this comes with some compromises that have to be accepted. The ship is small, at 4400 gross tonnes. It is a sailing ... Read More
We chose this ship as we are avid sailors, and if you want to sail in a tall ship, this is probably the best. However, this comes with some compromises that have to be accepted. The ship is small, at 4400 gross tonnes. It is a sailing ship so will heel gently to the wind and have a genteel motion. There are no elevators, no climbing walls, no casino, One restaurant and no constant tannoy announcements. The cabins are small (it's a tall ship). What you do get is some special sailing on a beautiful ship with traditional mahogany and brass interiors, all scrupulously clean and maintained. A library and piano bar, a high crew to passenger ratio, an open bridge policy, good food and helpful crew. There are only c200 guests and 105 crew. The bar staff will know you by name in the first day. The ship uses the sails for about 60% of the time, using the engine only to make the eta at next port or when the wind is in the wrong direction. It was never noticeable in our cabin which was ver quiet. The prices for extras such as wine and cocktails, laundry etc are not outrageous. Entertainment is very much passenger led, costume evenings, quizzes and the like. It all hails from a previous age and is very stress free and relaxing. This is not a high octane thrill seekers trip, if you want that then you're on the wrong ship. It's not suitable for people with reduced mobility as there are no lifts and access doors have large cills and are very heavy. There would not be much for young children to do. The paid shore excursions are uniformly poor. We took three and they were all very bad with late pick ups, dirty venues and it was obvious nobody from the company has tested them for years. We loved it. Some passengers complained about the ships motion, small cabins and lack of elevators? Did they read the brochure? 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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