Star Clipper Entertainment & Activities
Organized entertainment is kept to a bare minimum. There is a solo musician, who sings and plays piano (in the piano bar/lounge) and electronic keyboards (at the outside Tropical Bar). Participating in the sailing (as well as knot-tying classes) is considered a form of enrichment and is strongly encouraged by the captain. Other than that, there are virtually no onboard daytime organized activities, though the old standbys of cooking and vegetable- and ice-carving demonstrations take place at cocktail hour a couple of times during a one-week cruise. Additional daytime activities are added for trans-oceanic repositioning cruises which stretch for weeks on end (remember this is a sailing ship!). In the evening there is more from the musician, and outdoor dancing is very popular. There are also a handful of cruise-line-standard passenger participation events such as a passenger talent show and wacky couples' game competitions (passing a spoon in and out of clothing, breaking balloons through body contact, etc.).
According to Star Clipper's master, Captain Sergey Utitsyn, shore excursions are de-emphasized since most passengers choose Star Clipper for the sailing and the water sports. However, there are enough passengers remaining who do desire shore excursions that they are available in most ports, but in limited numbers.
Star Clipper Public Rooms
Star Clipper has only two public rooms, the interior lounge/piano bar and a small library, which holds two desktop computers that serve as the ship's Internet Cafe. The cost is $12.50/hour, and the machines tend to be a bit slow. Service can also be spotty. The library is also the venue of choice for staff and crew meetings, especially in the mornings, and becomes unavailable from time to time.
The inside lounge centers around a white baby grand piano which sits on a mezzanine midway between decks; the dining room is situated at the bottom of the stairs. The bar servicing the lounge is an inside/outside affair, with two horseshoe-shaped segments arranged open end to open end. Most passengers gravitate to the outside area, which is sheltered by a canvas canopy stretched overhead. (This canopy is the largest outdoor deck area providing shade, and is popular for that reason as well.)
Star Clipper Spa & Fitness
Star Clipper carries two sports teams of two staffers each, one team for sports activities aboard, ashore and atop the water, the other for the wonders found beneath it. Since Star Clipper has no gym, the open decks serve as venues for exercise and fitness activities. Despite all the open deck space there is no single open stretch forming an unbroken circle around the ship, so jogging is off the agenda as a workout option. There are daily morning gymnastics and aerobics classes conducted on deck and the once-a-day routine of raising the sails can provide a surprisingly decent workout as well. Also on a nearly daily basis, there is the experience of supervised mast-climbing -- up to the first yardarm -- from which perspective one is afforded a magnificent view of ship and sea and islands in reward for completing the scramble up the ratlines. Waterskiing, small sailboat sailing and banana boat rides are also offered, either around the ship's anchorage or from the beach at those times when the ship is anchored in more crowded harbors.
The dive operation is extensive, with daily guided dive and snorkel trips conducted by Zodiac inflatables right from the ship's gangway. The onboard divemasters also teach diving, offering one-day "Discover Scuba" courses which allow non-divers to try out the sport that Jacques built (Cousteau, that is), complete courses for those wishing to get full Open Water certifications (requires two one-week trips back to back), and advanced-level ratings for those who already have Open Water certifications. There are a few caveats for both experienced and neophyte divers considering diving in the Star Clipper program. First of all, the ship uses European steel tanks, much heavier than the aluminum tanks Americans are used to. These are difficult to lug around above water, and more so because the dive gear storage area is on the very top deck, requiring carrying one's gear a sizeable distance, over steep ladders. Additionally, air pressure gauges read in "Bar" (the European standard), rather than our more commonplace "PSI." This will take getting used to for capable American divers, and those Americans who get certified aboard Star Clipper will have an adjustment process to go through once they return to the United States. Finally, unlike other cruise lines which have onboard dive operations -- Windstar, for one -- where, at change of dive staff contract, the outgoing dive team overlaps the incoming team by a week or two to introduce them to the itinerary and dive sites, Star Clipper did not do so, and, on our cruise, the staff struggled with unfamiliarity with the region.
There are two small onboard pools and plenty of lounge chairs. One nice attribute is that there are portholes in the bottoms of both pools, which make a nice design accent for the ship's areas beneath them, providing views of either the water's soft aquamarine hues, or flailing legs therein.
As there is no space for a fitness facility, neither is there room for a spa. But Star Clipper does include a masseuse in its crew complement, although the only space for her to ply her trade is on the very top deck under a small, stretched canopy, but basically in a space open to the public, which does present a problem for those with privacy issues.
Star Clipper For Kids
For all practical purposes this is one of the least kid-appropriate ships on the water. Star Clipper has neither staff nor facilities nor programs geared to youngsters -- though, to be fair, they will piece something together if there are enough children aboard for a particular sailing. The handful of kids onboard our sailing -- all of whom were veterans of the mainstream ships and lines -- were very displeased. Though it is hard to conceive of any kids through age 10 or 12 who would relate to the Star Clipper experience, there may be a handful of self-entertaining adolescents who have a passion for on-, under- or near-the-water sports (Scuba, snorkeling, small boat sailing, beach volleyball, waterskiing, etc.) who would find the cruise to their liking, but that's about it. There are no children's menus or special dining options. Pregnant guests may not sail in their third trimester.