We organized 5 couples for the trip of a lifetime aboard the Royal Clipper, the largest of the Star Clipper Cruise Line. When we first stepped onto this boat, we knew we were in for a treat. Everything about it was perfect - the entire staff made us feel welcome from the first bellini to the final goodbye. Food could not have been better, and was more than plentiful, and the cabins (we were in Category 2 staterooms on the clipper deck) were more spacious than one on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise. Storage galore, as well - we had cabinets we did not even use. There were plenty of hangers in the closet for all of our clothes, and the best part is that there are no dress-up evenings!
We sailed from Civitavecchia (port of Rome) to the Amalfi Coast, and most port stops were spectacular. Weather was rough on day one at Ponza, so we could not take the tender, but enjoyed beautiful views from the boat.
Please see the individual port descriptions below, other than Ponza, Amalfi, and Lipari (not included in Cruise Critic's master list).
We were in a Category 2 outside cabin on the Clipper Deck. We were right at the top of the stairs coming up from the dining room, so a convenient spot. Not noisy. Storage was perfect, even in the bathroom, and we liked the fact that the shower had a curtain instead of an enclosure. Seemed roomier.
Wonderful views as we near the port of Sorrento - get on deck for some good photos. Sorrento was gorgeous, and some of our group enjoyed the side trip to Pompeii. If you have never been to Pompeii, this is a good option, and you still have some time to explore Sorrento before the ship sails. We just chose to wander the town on our own - a delightful day, wrapped up with a stop at a cute sidewalk cafe to sample some local wine and lemoncello. It's a long walk (20 minutes or so) from the dock up to the main part of town, but you have several options. You can take the steep stairs if you are very fit, or walk the winding path with only a few steps. Either way, stop along the way to enjoy the view back to the harbor. If you don't want to walk, there is a bus. Sorrento has some cute shops and a fun, narrow shopping street, Via San Cesareo, that takes you to the Sedile Dominova, an ancient open air site of civic meetings. The loggia is decorated with beautiful 3-D frescoes that look like columns, vases, and coats of arms, but are all done with just paint! Beautiful. Generally, you will find a group of older gentleman drinking coffee, solving the problems of the day - great photo ops. Linens are a specialty here, as is some very pretty stoneware.
Mid afternoon, the boat sailed for Capri, where we just wandered the town for a few hours. It was too late in the day to be able to do the Blue Grotto, an unfortunate fact. Many passengers suggested that a better option would be to have eliminated Ponza from the schedule and allowed a day at Capri so that the grotto might be included. Capri is beautiful, but expensive and full of tourists. Be sure to take the funicular (tram) up to the top to enjoy the breathtaking views.
Taormina, Sicily is the next to last port, a lovely town, high on the hill. You dock at Giardini Naxos, and it is difficult to find the bus to Taormina on your own. Best take a shore excursion or get a cab, even though both are expensive. The view from Taormina is wonderful and the Greek Theater there very interesting. We had a lovely lunch back in Giardini Naxos, a very authentic Sicilian appetizer tray and a seafood antipasto tray. With a cold beer to top it off, it was a great way to enjoy the view of the beach and back to the boat in the harbor.
Some of our group took the shore excursion to Mt. Etna, but the weather was not good - very cold, so take a jacket if you plan on this. Views are great if it is clear, but this particular day it was overcast on the mountain.