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A trip on Star Clippers was on our bucket list but this just did not meet our expectations. Sailing on a clipper ship requires compromises. This is not a 90,000 ton behemoth and you have to accept the space limitations that are to be expected on a 164 passenger 360 foot Barquentine. The cabins are tiny, the dining room feels cramped. There are not many public rooms. Shaded deck space is at a premium. If the sailing experience is poor, those compromises become sacrifices. The captain did say that the winds had not been favourable and that they had to motor 60% of the time but apart from engine noise I really could not feel much of a difference between sail and power. It mostly felt like a slow cruise ship. No heeling, no real ship's motion as you ride the waves. They made a big deal of raising the sails while playing Vangelis's Conquest of Paradise on the ship's speakers. But without wind, it's just some washing hanging out to dry and the whole shtick gets tiresome very fast. It felt like they'd put up the sails and sit there until it was time to turn on the engines to make it to the next port on schedule. Our first impression of the ship was very positive. Teak decks, 4 elegant masts and plenty of brightwork but taking a closer look, there is a lot of rust covered in white paint. There were missing and broken lights. Various parts of the hull has been painted at different times with slightly different shades of white paint. It looked splotchy. The cabin showed signs of hard use with damage to the ceiling and the whole space looking tired. The single porthole was tiny and had paint on the glass from a sloppy paint job. The noise from the engine was loud enough to wake us in the night and there was a distinct smell of diesel fuel in the cabin when the engine was running. There was no temperature control for the air conditioning that I could find, just a lever to control the amount of air that blows into the cabin. The flat screen TV sits in a corner of the room near the ceiling and is partially blocked by a post. The bathroom was not bad but the shower area was very small and the water that came out of the tap was rusty. It actually discoloured the white face cloths that we used. They provided a bottle of water on the first day but you have to purchase additional water for the rest of the cruise. Given what came out of the taps, you'd have thought that a daily litre of water would be provided. The dining room mostly consists of banquettes for 6 and tables for 8 with not much room between the seats. By 8:00 PM, when all of the passengers are seated, the noise is deafening and the room is very warm. One of our fellow passengers was on the ship the previous week with fewer passengers and said it was much more comfortable. The food quality is variable. Some is very good but I found a lot of the fish dishes were overdone and their vegetarian options uninteresting. They were more successful with their meat dishes. Nice lamb, good pepper steak. Their desserts were quite good but there was never a sugar-free option available. Service was a bit slap-dash with orders occasionally getting confused and presented to the wrong guest. Entertainment consisted of a pianist making an appearance during the cocktail hour and in the evening as well as the occasional enrichment lectures and a crew talent show. You don't take a Star Clipper cruise for their production values or for the casino. There were a couple of shore excursions to port cities which were fine but the stops at various beaches were a bit of a fiasco. With one exception, the beaches were crowded and dirty with difficult access through the surf. Not exactly a south-east Asia tropical paradise. My favourite part of the cruise and the best entertainment was the walk around the deck after dinner looking at the full moon over the Strait of Malacca. Given the high cost, the mediocre facilities and the lack of any real "sailing" experience, I can't see trying this again.

Less than magical

Star Clipper Cruise Review by marcc

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Asia
A trip on Star Clippers was on our bucket list but this just did not meet our expectations.

Sailing on a clipper ship requires compromises. This is not a 90,000 ton behemoth and you have to accept the space limitations that are to be expected on a 164 passenger 360 foot Barquentine.

The cabins are tiny, the dining room feels cramped. There are not many public rooms. Shaded deck space is at a premium.

If the sailing experience is poor, those compromises become sacrifices.

The captain did say that the winds had not been favourable and that they had to motor 60% of the time but apart from engine noise I really could not feel much of a difference between sail and power. It mostly felt like a slow cruise ship. No heeling, no real ship's motion as you ride the waves.

They made a big deal of raising the sails while playing Vangelis's Conquest of Paradise on the ship's speakers. But without wind, it's just some washing hanging out to dry and the whole shtick gets tiresome very fast. It felt like they'd put up the sails and sit there until it was time to turn on the engines to make it to the next port on schedule.

Our first impression of the ship was very positive. Teak decks, 4 elegant masts and plenty of brightwork but taking a closer look, there is a lot of rust covered in white paint. There were missing and broken lights. Various parts of the hull has been painted at different times with slightly different shades of white paint. It looked splotchy.

The cabin showed signs of hard use with damage to the ceiling and the whole space looking tired. The single porthole was tiny and had paint on the glass from a sloppy paint job.

The noise from the engine was loud enough to wake us in the night and there was a distinct smell of diesel fuel in the cabin when the engine was running. There was no temperature control for the air conditioning that I could find, just a lever to control the amount of air that blows into the cabin. The flat screen TV sits in a corner of the room near the ceiling and is partially blocked by a post.

The bathroom was not bad but the shower area was very small and the water that came out of the tap was rusty. It actually discoloured the white face cloths that we used.

They provided a bottle of water on the first day but you have to purchase additional water for the rest of the cruise. Given what came out of the taps, you'd have thought that a daily litre of water would be provided.

The dining room mostly consists of banquettes for 6 and tables for 8 with not much room between the seats. By 8:00 PM, when all of the passengers are seated, the noise is deafening and the room is very warm. One of our fellow passengers was on the ship the previous week with fewer passengers and said it was much more comfortable.

The food quality is variable. Some is very good but I found a lot of the fish dishes were overdone and their vegetarian options uninteresting. They were more successful with their meat dishes. Nice lamb, good pepper steak.

Their desserts were quite good but there was never a sugar-free option available.

Service was a bit slap-dash with orders occasionally getting confused and presented to the wrong guest.

Entertainment consisted of a pianist making an appearance during the cocktail hour and in the evening as well as the occasional enrichment lectures and a crew talent show. You don't take a Star Clipper cruise for their production values or for the casino.

There were a couple of shore excursions to port cities which were fine but the stops at various beaches were a bit of a fiasco. With one exception, the beaches were crowded and dirty with difficult access through the surf. Not exactly a south-east Asia tropical paradise.

My favourite part of the cruise and the best entertainment was the walk around the deck after dinner looking at the full moon over the Strait of Malacca.

Given the high cost, the mediocre facilities and the lack of any real "sailing" experience, I can't see trying this again.
marcc’s Full Rating Summary
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