Perhaps your biggest adjustment to clipper ship life will be your cabin -- which indeed will seem to have been "clipped." In other words, these cabins are small. We devised a system with our cabin-mate to shout, "Switch!" every time one of us needed to get past the other to navigate through the space.
The nautical decor includes royal-blue carpet; brass hardware, reading lamps and sconces; varnished mahogany trim and dark-wood laminates. Outside cabins (aside from the eight premium cabins on Decks 3 and 4) have portholes, and all are decorated with seafaring prints. (The print in our cabin had obviously seen a bit too much bracing sea air and had developed some mold beneath its glass.)
Most of the 85 cabins have the option for a double bed or two narrow twins, although 23 cabins have fixed double beds, and the four smallest accommodations have one upper and one lower berth. Due to the ship's structure, six cabins (category 5, outside) have beds raised 4 feet off the floor, accessible using a small ladder. Twelve cabins have a pull-down third bed, although no cabins in the top class can accommodate a third person. Beds are firm, with lightweight duvet-style covers and two pillows. During the day, a gold and royal-blue bed scarf and throw pillow decorate them, but these are tucked away during the evening turn-down service, when a very sweet chocolate takes their place. There's room to stow luggage under the beds, which definitely helps the space-crunch.
Cabins are generally fitted with a desk/vanity with a large mirror above, two shelves below (where you'll find an ice bucket, tongs and glasses) and two brass "corrals" to collect items on its surface; a bedside table with a drawer and rather funky-looking, two-channel music system; and a blue upholstered built-in seat. The mirrored closets include one section with shelves, another with shelves and space for hanging short items, and a third section for long, hanging items. You'll also find a small safe (too petite for most laptops) in one of the closet sections.
A flat-screen TV and DVD player are tucked high in one corner of the cabin; however, on our voyage, only local, Thai-language programs were available. Fortunately, you can borrow DVDs from the purser's office. There's also a telephone with an automatic wake-up option.
Air conditioning generally did a good job of beating back the fierce Thai heat on our cruise. If you're looking for the thermostat, however, direct your eyes to the ceiling vent, where adjusting the opening is the only way to control the temperature.
There are two 110-volt electrical outlets beneath the desk, and both 110-volt and 220-volt outlets in the bathroom for shavers. If you have a lot of electronics, consider bringing splitters or extension bars.
Yes, we're going to say it: Bathrooms are small. Most are clad in light-colored marble and dark wood laminate, with a beige sink and shallow vanity. A shelf stashed with towels runs below the vanity; the majority also has two additional small shelves in a wall recess holding drinking glasses. There is no separate shower stall in all but the top cabin class; instead, you pull a shower curtain across a section of the bathroom. This makes it pretty much inevitable that the entire bathroom floor will get wet, despite all towel dams you might construct.
Toiletries are branded with the Star Clippers logo, and include bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, a sewing kit and shower cap. You'll find a rather wimpy wall-mounted hair dryer, as well as a more powerful, plug-in hair dryer. There's also a retractable clothesline, which definitely comes in handy.
One thing to be aware of is potential noise. Past passengers in the top cabin category (located on the upper two decks) have complained that they were disturbed when sails were raised or re-set. In other cabins, you can hear engine or generator noise; category 4 cabins are particularly prone. And, a few cabins abut the dining room, which might not be a great choice for late-sleepers.
Cabins are showing a bit of wear, including dings in furniture. It looks like the light fixtures are the only decor recently updated. Admittedly, beach vacationers are hard on cabins, what with sand, dripping swimsuits and snorkel gear.
You access your cabin the old-fashioned way -- with a key, attached to a fob with a Turk's-head knot. You're meant to keep your key with you, even at the beach, and there's a stiff €50 fee if you lose it. That can cause some anxiety among the absent-minded.
There are no accessible cabins, as Star Clipper is not equipped for accessible passengers.
Interior: Star Clipper has only six inside staterooms. The four tiniest (category 6, Deck 1), at 90 square feet have upper and lower berths and lack TVs. The two larger ones (category 5, Deck 2) are similar in size (120 square feet) and configuration to the ocean-view cabins. The bathrooms are equipped with showers. However, the shower floor isn't delineated from the rest of the bathroom floor, so expect things to get swampy.
Oceanview: These shipshape staterooms are located on Decks 1 and 2 and average 120 square feet. They have a single porthole and provide more elbow room than most insides -- though the bathroom shower setup has the same issue.
Eight cabins on Decks 3 and 4 average 150 square feet and are definitely a step up in style and amenities. Rather than having portholes, they're fitted with several larger, mullioned windows, due to the fact that they're on open decks, set back from the ship's rails (one-way finish on the windows foils prying eyes). The decor is fancier, with wooden, rather than metal or laminate furniture. You've got a mini-fridge, an honor mini-bar and robes. Bathroom fixtures are more stylish and updated. Best of all, there's a jetted tub, with a shower.
Beware if you book cabins 533 or 532: They are right next to the pool. That can be great for an early morning dip, but potentially noisy if you're opting for an afternoon nap. On the plus side, those same cabins have larger bathrooms.
Suite: The Owner's Cabin, on Deck 2, aft, is the largest stateroom onboard, at 211 square feet. Its curved rear wall is paneled in mahogany, lined with four portholes and fitted with blue banquette seating. The bed is centered in the room, with two small oval tables at either side. Elegant cabinetry and woodwork finish off the look, with a similar bathroom to the mini-suites.