Star Clipper's meals are served in the dining room (Deck 2), in a single, open seating. It's an attractive setting, including dark-blue carpet patterned with ropes and knots, white walls with mahogany trim, and brass hardware accents. Elegant, light-gold upholstered booths seating up to six diners line the two outside walls, below curtained portholes overlooking the room. The remaining seating is at substantial, dark-wooden oval tables for six to eight. Here, diners perch on refined Louis XVI-style chairs in light wood with caned backs.
Sadly, the cuisine was rarely as elegant as the setting. Star Clipper's food is generally good and plentiful, but not great or memorable -- and the plating, notably at dinner, often lacked artistry or imagination. Options often are European inspired, with heavy or creamy sauces. For example, on our sailing, pasta was offered every day at lunch, and it always was covered in white sauce or cheese.
Breakfast is served buffet-style, except for an egg and omelet station, with a single chef manning two skillets. Hot option typically includes items like scrambled eggs, bacon cooked to two different levels (crispy or limp), sausages, hash browns, oatmeal, pancakes or French toast. Cold options cater include yogurts, muesli, fresh fruits and a European-style cold cuts, charcuterie, smoked fish, cheeses and crudites.
Lunch, probably the weakest meal of the day in terms of options and quality, is also a buffet. Here the kitchen mixes it up with some theme lunches (Italian, Asian), an alfresco meal on the deck and a beach barbecue. In most instances, there's a carving station, which might be dishing out whole salmon, roast beef or suckling pig and a couple of self-serve proteins in chafing dishes. There's a daily salad bar, with four or five toppings, plus goodies like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and cornichons, in addition to several prepared salad choices. And, of course, cold cuts, breads and a cheese platter. The dessert selection might include cake, fruit crisp, strudel and panna cotta choices, as well as plentiful fresh fruit.
In addition to the three standard meals, there's an early-bird continental breakfast in the lounge; a substantial cocktail hour snack, with hors d'oeuvres, finger sandwiches, pastries, fresh fruit and a hot item, like chicken wings or a taco bar, served at the outdoor Tropical Bar; and a midnight snack (bread and cheeses, for example) in the lounge. Coffee and tea are always at hand at the self-serve station in the lounge. Room service is not available.
Vegetarian options are marked on the menus at dinner, and the choice is usually solid, with veggie burgers, cheesy lasagna and the like being offered each night. Guests with allergies or sensitivities should talk with the maitre d the first day onboard to ensure their needs are met, and they have options. Follow up with your waiter is best as well. When in doubt about ingredients, ask, as the ship isn't necessarily equipped to accommodate specific needs unless the guest identifies them.