What a wonderful experience: Royal Clipper Cruise Review by mike@sea

Royal Clipper 5
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What a wonderful experience

Sail Date: May 2009
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
My May 9 - 16th sailing on the beautiful Royal Clipper was a dream vacation from start to finish. The ship, now 10 years old, looks as it was just being built. She shines and sparkles and ist one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen, with or without sails being out. Lot´s of wood and brass. Very classy! Crew and officers very friendly and always mingling with the passengers. Captain Vlad from the Ukraine a very nice, approachable and sympathetic person! Cruise director Petra from Germany, fluent in English, German and French very lively, always around, equally sympathetic and on duty 24 hours ( her words! ). They did a fantastic job keeping everybody happy. As did a marine biologist, Mariano from Italy. Passenger came from many different countries, such as US, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, UK, Denmark, many over 50, quite a few under, during our cruise. The ship sailed below capacity which was nice. However there is enough deck space and it is More unlikely that one feels cramped even when full. Cabin was very compact and storage space limited but since noone needs to dress up ( dress shirt for dinner is fine ) it is sufficient. Meals were wonderful and pleased most passengers. Breakfast and lunch were open seating buffet style ( very good and always varied! ), whereas dinner is open seating a la carte. Dinner options are displayed on plates early evening, which makes it easy to pick the right choice when seated. Very good and reasonable wines available. Staff ( mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia) was very quick and efficient, always smiling, sometimes a bit too quick for the European taste though. Entertainment at nighttime not really existing ( with a few nice exceptions), but due to ports of call and their hours, no deal and not necessary at all. Everybody seemed happy with what was available and seemed to have a good time.

Ports of call were all exceptional, very well selected and downright beautiful. Ponza on the Pontine Islands a beautiful hideaway for Romans on their weekends. Very picturesque. Hopped on a local bus and drove around the island up and down the hills to see some of the most beautiful sights from high above onto the dark blue mediterranean sea. Fantastic. Next stop Sorrent. Another beautiful place on this planet. Went on a great ship excursion to Pompeii. Later in the afternoon we set sail fo Capri, my favourite stop where we anchored around 5.00 p.m. Very wise to do so because most other tourists leave this beautiful island and so you have its beauty (almost) to yourself. It was really really beautiful with the sun later going down, putting everything into magical light, the wonderful smells of spring and its flowers in the air. Truely magic!

Around 11:00 p.m. we set sail again for our next port of call. Amalfi. Optioned for a lovely ships tour to Positano. Again a good choice and a wonderful day at a place one has to see to believe it, as pictures and words cannot describe its beauty!

Next stop was Taormina, Sicily. A beautiful tourist village high on top of a hill with a snow covered Mount Etna (vulcano) in sight. Another day in paradise, full of surprises for all senses ! We did not set sail again till 11:00 p.m. in order to be able to experience this wonderful place at day and night. Great! Next stop was Lipari, a beautiful harbour in the Lipari islands. Opted for a ships tour to Vulcano, another vulcanic island nearby. Great day. That night, after setting sail again on our way back to Civitavecchia again we were all in for a treat. We closely passed by the island of Stromboli, an active vulcano, around 11:00 p.m. We were able to see the vulcano erupting several times spitting out yellow lava. It was magical, very special and something I will never forget!

Last day was a seaday. We passed Capri again, this time on the other side of the island. Captain gave some interesting information about the island in his daily captains´storytime.

We sailed most of the day with winds finally strong enough to keep us going. Movement of the ship was noticeable but definitely tolerable and no big deal.

It was a wonderful week, hard to top. I´d do it again in a heartbeat, even the same routing. Will I do Star Clippers again? Most definitely! No wonder 60 percent of their passengers are repeaters. Staff and crew did a great job and I met some of the nicest people from around the globe. The sports team on board fulfilled every wish, if you had one, from diving to mast climbing. Thank you Star Clippers for this exceptional week!

Published 07/27/09

Cabin review: 4

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