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19 Star Clippers Royal Clipper Luxury Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise on the recommendation of friends. With only 200+ passengers, it was an exceptionally friendly/personal cruise among the passengers. Since there’s no elevators, there was no worry about being hit by electric ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the recommendation of friends. With only 200+ passengers, it was an exceptionally friendly/personal cruise among the passengers. Since there’s no elevators, there was no worry about being hit by electric wheelchairs or walkers. The food is outstanding and served 5 times each day Service by the waiters, cabin stewards, etc., was of highest quality The ports visited often required anchorage due to visiting less frequented places that offered excellent water sports, beaches and shopping opportunities in areas of shallow waters. It is a square rigged sailing ship with the majority of its passengers returning from previous experiences on the same Royal Clipper. The staff is available, personable, and very professional. The cabins are well decorated with mahogany and brass with more than adequate storage. The beds are comfortable and well dressed. The dress code is relaxed and only in the evening is “business casual” the standard. Snorkeling, scuba, kayaking, swimming are offered from a sports platform with equipment supplied ate no cost. Evening entertainment often provided by local performers, no faux broadway type. Selecting this cruise is reserved for able bodied adventurous passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We stayed 3 nights at the Radisson Aquatica in Bridgetown before we boarded the Royal Clipper. This was a good way to acclimatized to the lovely warn weather as we have had a long cold winter in southern Ontario. The hotel was old and in ... Read More
We stayed 3 nights at the Radisson Aquatica in Bridgetown before we boarded the Royal Clipper. This was a good way to acclimatized to the lovely warn weather as we have had a long cold winter in southern Ontario. The hotel was old and in need of some updates but the staff was wonderful. On Mar 2nd we boarded the Royal Clipper and were amazed by the efficient and quick check in procedure. we took a walk around the vessel and discovered that the ship is in pristine condition, extensive use of brass and teak really gives it the old sailing vessel aura. We found even the deckhands polite and friendly. The best part is that the ship actually sails without engine for most of the voyage. The raising of the sails is a spectacle not to be missed. It never got old. The cabins were roomy and spotless. Our cabin steward Diana was discreet, yet attentive and the room was always tidy. The food was at a five star hotel level. There was always a good choice of entrees for dinner and the breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent. The service on board was second to none. The servers in the elegant dining room were also first class. Our server Marko was always friendly and very efficient. The bar staff was equally as good and Leandre the Tropical Bar tender always had a ready smile and knew my name after the first day. (Could be a bad sign??). The shore excursions were primarily by the ships tender. This ship had a very nice pair of tenders with open sides to let the ocean breeze in, not like the enclosed life boats on other vessels. That was a nice addition. There were never large lines and crowds to deal with as there wee only 200 passengers on the ship. The only criticism was a major mix up with pre ordered wine. It took the head bartender 3 days to sort that out. Our problem did not seem to be a priority to him. Despite that glitch I would not only go again but highly recommend this ship to anyone who appreciates sailing vessels. This one is the ultimate. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
First of all - the trip was on 5/5/18 French Riviera - Portofino & Monaco Timing & destinations were reason for the choice. Also size - though we prefer small yachts - this was a whole different adventure & great! We ... Read More
First of all - the trip was on 5/5/18 French Riviera - Portofino & Monaco Timing & destinations were reason for the choice. Also size - though we prefer small yachts - this was a whole different adventure & great! We did not plan on doing any of the excursions and researched adventure type days for ourselves.The ship itself, as the size of room and patio were awesome. The ports were awesome, as were the crew and events. Here are the downsides -- for your future reference The beds were uncomfortable & comparable to the mattress at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the grand canyon. The pillows were lumpy and the shades did not provide protection from light coming in. Additionally - anchor was pulled every night between midnight & 1am -- and it was impossible to think about sleeping thru that. Therefore, my sleep experience was awful - I slept between 3 & 5 hours every night. Paying close to $8k for our cruise - I would have expected at least comfortable sleep arrangements & they were not. On a plus side of the room - the cabin steward was great - the room was huge - the bath had a jacuzzi, medicine cabinet and was large -- plenty of storage everywhere. The choice of ports was phenomenal. Changes I'd recommend for the ship - new mattresses and shades for the rooms. Since all of our sails were short - they should be pulling anchor at 10:30 or 11PM latest - as everyone was on the ship & there was no reason not to. Or in the morning - as we didn't get into port until between 10-12PM most days -- so they could have easily been sensitive to sleep time. The dinners were mediocre - the desserts or veges were the highlight. Everywhere that we ate outside of the boat was excellent -- so they most definitely could have done a better job with their chef. The smaller yachts I've been on were sensitive to sleep and also the food was a 10. Plus the price was less. Harmony V (Greece) & Integrity (Galapagos) Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Having been fortunate enough to sail on the Royal Clipper several times both in the Mediterranean and Caribbean we felt it would be fun to do the Atlantic Crossing. Utterly brilliant from boarding to disembarkation. On arriving everyone ... Read More
Having been fortunate enough to sail on the Royal Clipper several times both in the Mediterranean and Caribbean we felt it would be fun to do the Atlantic Crossing. Utterly brilliant from boarding to disembarkation. On arriving everyone was made so welcome and with only 108 of us there was no queuing. The air of expectation on leaving Barbados was tangible and there was lots of laughter as we got to know each other. With a wonderful mix of nationalities there was always lots to talk about and learn from others. This was added to by some fascinating talks about the history of sailing and navigation. Some may want more 'laid-on' entertainment but everyone was on this ship because of what it offered - something completely different and so incredibly special. We have crossed the Atlantic on the QM2, which was wonderful and all the pomp and dressing for dinner was special but it couldn't compare to this. 16 days without seeing land - we were supposed to call in at the Azores but a storm meant we couldn't so sailed some 300 south. The storm was enjoyed by all of us as even our wine was served in short tumblers. You soon learnt to always have one hand for the rail! The cabins are not huge but it is a sailing ship for a few not a giant for thousands. Having said that they are extremely comfortable and the beds are as good as you will find on any ship and better than many we've been on. Within no time at all the crew know us all by name and what drinks we prefer and the officers come and join different tables each evening for dinner, which is fantastic as we can hear their stories. There is open seating so you can have fun enjoying the company of different people from across the world and we have never heard an argument - only fun! Thank goodness there are ships and cruises for all tastes but if you enjoy good company, good food and laughter then you will never do better than a Clipper Cruise - can't wait for the new Flying Clipper to come into service later this year. Enjoy yourselves whatever you do. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Recommended by family contact who works in the travel industry . We hate the idea of those monster cruise ships and the Royal Clipper with around 200 passengers was the biggest we had ever been on . It suited us very well although we are ... Read More
Recommended by family contact who works in the travel industry . We hate the idea of those monster cruise ships and the Royal Clipper with around 200 passengers was the biggest we had ever been on . It suited us very well although we are not fanatical sea and sand people and there were plenty of beach stops . We had no difficulty finding compatible fellow passengers , mostly Americans who don't like Trump ! The ship is something unique ; for the less ambulant there are a lot of stairs which can cause problems when there is a lot of 'rock and roll ' .The ship has a pleasant lounge , a library , a so -called tropical bar which is the main gathering place , a spa and gym , massages and Turkish bath on offer , and a capacious dining room ,( a bit cramped ; some tables were difficult to access . The food was excellent ; quality rather than quantity was the name of the game and the head chef , from the Philippines , did us proud . The quality was excellent , sourced in USA apparently , Three meals a day were supplemented by snacks at 5 pm and just before midnight . Coffee , tea and fruit were available all day ; wine was not part of the deal but was reasonably priced .Entertainment was a bit homespun ; the talent evening was mostly provided by the crew , plenty of water sport on offer for those who wanted it . The ship has 3 young people on board whose job it is to provide this . You can even climb the rigging up to the crows nest if you fancy it , and learn how to tie nautical knots , visit the bridge and the engine room if you like . The crew are lovely , officers and other ranks alike . Maybe it all starts with the charming captain , a Russian from Estonia , who learnt his skill with tall ships in the Soviet navy . Service is excellent and always with a smile . Our ship could access smaller ports than the monster liners and the few excursions we did were all very enjoyable , in particular the train trip round St Kitts . A voyage to remember ! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because we were kind of "burnt out" on the big ship cruises. The idea of sailing - really sailing - as well as a smaller group of passengers (175) was really appealing to us. The food was fantastic. The crew ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were kind of "burnt out" on the big ship cruises. The idea of sailing - really sailing - as well as a smaller group of passengers (175) was really appealing to us. The food was fantastic. The crew members were attentive without being smothering and the service was impeccable. I was amazed that the crew knew us by face/name by the second day. We were not constantly hounded to purchase something which was our experience on the big ships. There was definitely more of a family feel to this trip. There are no elevators so this is not a ship for those with mobility issues. The public rooms are beautifully appointed and comfortable. It was so easy to lose track of time and really disconnect from the world. WiFi onboard is a bit spotty but that was OK with us. When we were in port, there was generally free WiFi available to send quick updates to families and friends. The evening meal is an opportunity to get together with new friends and also to be placed at a table with people you haven't met yet. There were several "singles" taking the cruise and because this is such a small group of passengers, they didn't seem to feel left out or lonely at all. Just about all of the tables are 6-8 seats so this makes for nice mixing of new people. If you need a casino or lots of shopping on board, this is not the cruise for you. The last day almost felt like the last day of a really fun summer camp, everyone exchanging emails with new friends, many people taking the same cruises each year and meeting up. This was without a doubt the most fun I've ever had on a vacation. We will be back! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
My second Clipper cruise...first was Star Clipper and that was so unique and amazing that I wanted to spend Christmas on the Royal Clipper out of Barbados and tour the Grenadine islands. As I was alone I booked a smaller stateroom and ... Read More
My second Clipper cruise...first was Star Clipper and that was so unique and amazing that I wanted to spend Christmas on the Royal Clipper out of Barbados and tour the Grenadine islands. As I was alone I booked a smaller stateroom and while they do sell it for two I found it perfect for one ... well designed with wood paneling, great bed, lots of mirrors and quite a large bathroom...all marble. I was very forward so I did hear the anchor but I didn't care much. There is a lot of stairs going up and then down a bit and up some more but you get used to it. The grand dinning room, at the lowest deck was a touch of Paris with an Atrium up to the top deck and the sky light is actually the bottom of the pool. A white grand piano sits like Juliet on a special balcony so it can be heard at all levels and he had another on deck for the after noon buffet. There is a piano bar, a shop, a library, top deck bar and plenty of sun beds....no need to HOG and reserve them. The tenders to shore are great and the back of the Royal drops down to the ocean like a draw bridge and you can swim off it and they have lots of fun water toys. They feed you four times a day and I mean really feed you. Great buffet breakfast with Egg station...Buffet Lunch...both in main dinning room and then the on deck Buffet they set up everyday on deck at 5 p.m. The bars are great on deck and inside the Piano Bar. The Christmas decor was wonderful with trees and garlands...music and ginger bread houses and Yule logs....l ate so much I felt like ballast. There are a lot of shore excursions to choose from but I felt those on excursions were always at the foreground...we would stop at, not very nice ports so they could board a bus while we had nothing to see in port....I didn't like the split days...a stop in the morning and then move to someplace else in the after noon. Too rushed....some stops you could do without (except to board a bus) others Like Martinique we had too little time and had to rush to see anything. One fabulous beach day they dragged everything from the ship and had a huge BBQ on shore while we swam and sunned...all delicious...they even bring the desert. Each time we leave port and they start raising the sail they play the most magnificent music...classical with a Male choir ... WOW...it is so moving and makes you feel like a Viking off to war...I wanted to throw a spear at somebody. The mail pool of three where bar patrons can see you through under water windows was very nice. We could even climb the mast for the most amazing photo Op. Then there are nets at the front figure head you can just lay there like a fish in a net with the water rushing below. Now for the best feature....THE CREW...I have never seen such a hard working group and always pleasant, smiling and helpful, and remember everything has to be lugged up and down countless flights of stairs...from the kitchen which is somewhere underwater and all the way to the top deck...up and down...My room attendant was fabulous and I felt very pampered...everything perfect always. As the tips are based on Per Person they get a bit cheated when there was so many solo travelers it literally cuts they tips in half...so as I was alone I doubled my tip (not much ) and ensured he would earn the same as if it were two. The sing songs, the talent show, the Christmas Carols, the Steel Band who came aboard for a couple of hours...the Campaign party...the Lobster, the Turkey, and all the specialties to eat...you can't go wrong and as I said....This is NOT Disney Land at sea. This is a fabulous, luxurious, unique cruise under sail and you need this in your memory for every. Thanks to all on the Royal. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
You travel on these ships for the romance of sailing child-free, and the barque Royal Clipper is indeed a beautiful ship. You don't choose these cruises if you are someone who needs constant professional entertainment or you want to ... Read More
You travel on these ships for the romance of sailing child-free, and the barque Royal Clipper is indeed a beautiful ship. You don't choose these cruises if you are someone who needs constant professional entertainment or you want to be chatting continuously on 'anti-social' media. In 2001 we sailed the Greek Islands on the same cruise line's barquentine Star Flyer and had a wonderful trip. We wanted to try to recapture that experience on the Clipper, a larger fully square-rigged tall ship. Unfortunately that didn't quite happen. At the beginning we were caught for two days in a violent Mediterranean storm (force 10) and some people were injured. Broken glass and crockery everywhere. This took the edge off the cruise for some fair weather sailors like us. The crew did their best but passengers should have been told to remain in their cabins until it passed. They weren't, hence some injuries, a couple of them quite nasty. There was a skilled professional nurse on board but no doctor. The rest of the 12 day cruise was uneventful weather-wise. However, except for the last night the ship had to motor to maintain schedule. There was precious little sailing. Some officers seemed to take passenger comments offered in a spirit of co-operation as criticism. There was an edge of defensiveness. This was explained by repeat travellers who suggested the owners are very tough on staff about passenger complaints. If so that would certainly affect crew morale. The stewards, waiters and staff with whom we had regular contact were all very kind and attentive. The food, which is all important, was the key disappointment on the Clipper. I was reminded of an upmarket version of the plant canteen buffet lunches experienced during my career. Breakfast and lunch were the best meals. The exception was the Captain's Dinner. The main courses offered that night were lobster and a fillet steak. Those at our table ate the lobster as a starter and the steak as our main. A steak on any other night was of the 'minute' variety. (Pronounce that as you will.) Another passenger, a chef who owned restaurants in Europe, gave his spin on this circumstance. He said the food problem was not the skill of those in the galley but that they had an insufficient budget to prepare anything really first class other than on the night of the Captain's Dinner. That made sense, but if it is so it represents a dramatic change of policy from the experience we had enjoyed previously on the Star Flyer, where every meal was a culinary delight. It seems the management is cutting corners on a key item. For the money we expected Captain's Dinner quality every night. We thought the house wines were low-end, and costly for their quality. Let's face it, eating and drinking are still mankinds' second greatest pleasures. That said, the highlight of the on-board cruise for us was definitely the many nice people we met and the kindness of the staff with whom we had direct contact. We were satisfied with the excursions we took. They fulfilled our expectations. There was no opportunity on this cruise for water sports, a function of the weather and the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Our Cruise was the Windward Islands. We had never been cruising before. It was a very different experience. We were some of the youngest passengers in our late 50s and early 60s and many of the passengers were over 80! The evening ... Read More
Our Cruise was the Windward Islands. We had never been cruising before. It was a very different experience. We were some of the youngest passengers in our late 50s and early 60s and many of the passengers were over 80! The evening entertainment was limited and over most nights by 11, after that most went to bed. However, do not be put off the food and attention to detail will stay with us for ever. The cabins, ship, dining, ports and excursions were amazing. The majority of staff could not do enough to help you. Standards were very high. You may be seasick, where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet, it can be rocky. Please take your seasick tablets and bands. The first morning we could not wait to arrive at St Lucia, but after that most of the time we seemed to get "sea legs." Many people looked green around the gills! The unfurling of the sail as we left port will stay with me for ever. There is so much space. Do not forget she is an ocean going vessel and you can really feel her move. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We have never been on a Cruise before and I don't think we would go on the big ships but we would go on one of the star clippers again as we were captivated by the experience. I can't compare it to other cruises in terms of cabin ... Read More
We have never been on a Cruise before and I don't think we would go on the big ships but we would go on one of the star clippers again as we were captivated by the experience. I can't compare it to other cruises in terms of cabin or food or condition of the boat but somehow I think these are immaterial when compared to the elegance and romanticism of being under sail on such a lovely boat. However, to my mine the cabins were great, comfortable and rather elegant, the food and general dining experience was wonderfully classy without being stuffy and formal and we loved it. The ports of call were well thought out. One issue would be that there was little or no information about most of the ports of call. If you planned a trip that would be fine but if just going ashore a simple information sheet with that small map would have been useful. We are thinking of another cruise shortly but no more than 200 passengers and the gentle swaying of the ship under the starlit sky is just about right so it will have to be one of the star clippers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The Royal Clipper is a beautiful sailing ship. What excited us the most was the chance to see the five masted fully rigged ship from one of our excursions. Unfortunately, Captain Mariusz Szalek sailed the tall ship using mostly the ... Read More
The Royal Clipper is a beautiful sailing ship. What excited us the most was the chance to see the five masted fully rigged ship from one of our excursions. Unfortunately, Captain Mariusz Szalek sailed the tall ship using mostly the engine during the entire seven days in the Caribbean. We motored our way from Saint Maarten's to Barbados sometimes navigating in bad weather. Unfortunately, we succumbed to a lot of rain. When we took the tender to an island beach, either it was Antigua or Dominica, the beach was narrow and the water was murky. We were expecting white sands with turquoise beaches. Perhaps our expectation was a bit unrealistic. We don't fault the captain or the cruise director for the 4 days of bad weather. However, the cruise director, Gabor did not offer us opportunities to learn about the islands that we could not visit on those rainy days. We think it would have been very educational if they had films about the islands in the lounge. We could have learned about the culture, economy, history and what influenced The Royal Clipper to choose these islands to visit. Upon many occasions as we motored in the rain, clear skies and sunshine were only a few miles away, If weather reports showed socked-in conditions at the next port-of-call, a leisurely sail under sunny skies would be monumentally favorable to hovering under the rain tarps provided. When this alliterative was put to the captain, the response was that he was strictly prohibited from deviating his course. Is it more important to stay on a rainy track or to make the passengers happy and comfortable? One of the islands that we did visit was called Saint Barts. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and most of the stores were closed. It would have been great if we had some kind of tour guide to direct us to different landmarks on this island to see. To make matters worse, the captain on the ship wasn't very accessible to many of the guests when asked questions. We would think some public relations officer would be at hand here. Towards the end of the cruise, there was a gentleman walking around with a petition to sign complaining about the excursions and the poor communications between the captain and the guests. We found that very troubling. Overall, the food was very good. The dining room waiters and the cabin stewards worked very hard to help make our trip comfortable. They are the backbone of the Royal Clipper. There is always a possibility on any cruise, that inclement weather will put a damper on the journey. We think it's in the ship owner's interests to anticipate the possibility of inclement weather and provide alternatives to make the trip more enjoyable. After all, we are cooped up on a ship with no alternate activities. Most of the passengers like ourselves were bored and the only highlight of our trip was eating. You could go on any big ship for that! We did not feel we got our moneys worth. Lastly, the intercom system was very poor. Some of the speakers were inaudible, because the intercom system is only in the hallways. Having an effective intercom system allows the passengers to hear important information. Perhaps a closed caption line could be added to the TV to facilitate hearing announcement while in the room. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Looking for a unusual island hopping experience in the Aegean and stumbled across the stunningly beautiful Royal Clipper. The holiday was arranged through travel who arranged flights to Athens and from Istanbul. Because of the situation ... Read More
Looking for a unusual island hopping experience in the Aegean and stumbled across the stunningly beautiful Royal Clipper. The holiday was arranged through travel who arranged flights to Athens and from Istanbul. Because of the situation in Syria/Turkey the boat was uncrowded, in fact more staff than passengers so we were looked after with great efficiency. The Sail Away each evening as we moved to our next destination was memorable - sometimes enjoyed with a sunset and always with the cocktail of the day. The boat was incredibly quiet especially when under sail when all you can hear are the waves and lapping water. The tour trips were, on the whole, well managed but were not up to the luxurious feeling of being spoilt on board the Royal Clipper. Not a cruise if you are looking for endless restaurants, dressing up and entertainment. But if you want to spend time visiting exotic places, enjoying good food in a relaxed and informal atmosphere then this will be right up your street. Not for children, not for the infirm or those unable to cope with stairs or coils of loose ropes, not for teenagers or those looking for a riotous time. But for the rest of us... pure heaven. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Ship was contracted out so majority of passengers were from UK. The embarkation could have been a better experience as it was very hot and we didn't see the drinks on offer in tent until it was too late. Once om board the queuing and ... Read More
Ship was contracted out so majority of passengers were from UK. The embarkation could have been a better experience as it was very hot and we didn't see the drinks on offer in tent until it was too late. Once om board the queuing and processing of cards meant we stood in line for a long time and when they tried to take photos the uSB wouldn't work. We helped them reboot the laptop. cant fault the service and as always the ship was sparkling clean. Lots of choice for breakfast, lunches and main meals. All were well cooked and presented. good choice of desserts as well at lunch, but those involving pastry or cake I felt lacked a good flavour - perhaps they had used cheaper margarine. Lovely touch of the late afternoon food on the deck. Great to swim off the platform when we were moored and the chance to kayak. good aquarobics class at the swimming pool - shame they have cut down on the number of qualified sports crew, but they did their best. I even joined the 0700 yogalates class run by the excellent cruise director. Climbing the crows nest was great fun, but the booking process was a bit chaotic. Cabins are compact but have everything you need and air conditioning relatively quiet. Tours arranged by ship were a bit overpriced but well organised. All in all still a great cruise- just felt standards had slipped - you don't hose down a zodiac above the route for passengers going ashore! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Hello every one, We are a couple of 33 and 34years and we've done our first cruise on the Royal Clipper, the 26th January to 2nd february in the Grenadines islands. We do not regret the expensive ticket because the cruise has been ... Read More
Hello every one, We are a couple of 33 and 34years and we've done our first cruise on the Royal Clipper, the 26th January to 2nd february in the Grenadines islands. We do not regret the expensive ticket because the cruise has been wonderfull. FOOD : ++ The food quality is excellent and various. You will find something new for every breakfast first example. We can tell that the food is a concern for Star Clipper by the number of time that you can eat on board : 6 time per day!! * Early breakfast on the piano bar * Breakfast buffet on the dinning room (fruit, sweets, eggs, bacon, pancakes, vegetable,... and a egg bar where the chef will make for you the eggs you want) * Lunch buffet at the dinning room with one thematic per day. Wonderful desserts and a meal "a la decoupe" (a full salmon, sucking pig, ...) * Cocktail and Collation at Tropical Bar around 5PM. Again sweets and salty thing, different every day. * Dinner at the dinning room. You are placed by the "Maitre d'hotel" and you can change your table every night if you want. The menu have 2 appetisers and 1 soup; 2 main dishes (one fish one meat) and a vege dish and a more local suggestion; salad and cheese and 2 dessert. * Midnight lunch at the Piano Bar Food are more european/french style than really local. Very good and nice presentation but I would like the local suggestion to be more "local". You will not really taste the local products like grilled fishes, sweet potatoes, yam, colombo, plantain and all the wonderful fruits of the Caribbean. If you want to taste local food you will have to go in ports but, for dinner, you will have time only at Grenada. Wines and cocktails are at reasonable price, count 5.50euro for a cocktail. The cocktail of the day is a little bit cheaper. EXCURSIONS : + One of my biggest fear was the excursions. Previous review were pretty bad about the cruise director. I have to say that the new one, Renata, is more than efficient and friendly. Inside documentation we get by mail before the cruise we've found all the excursions proposed with hours, description, prices, ... And during the week Renata stick to the programm. she even add one more trips due to passenger demand as snorkeling in Santa Lucia. She's speaking English, German, french and also Spanish. You will see her everywhere, at the boat tender to check departure of people for excursions, at evening to animation the shows, explaining the disembarkation or giving more information about the excursions, ... When is she sleeping?? So she's doing a very good job. Excursion themselves are more oriented to 60s people with 4x4 travel. No big hiking or physical activities. Also on many island we stay 4 hours (morning or afternoon). that is a small amount of time if you want to do something by yourself except beach or shopping on the touristic front beach. SHIP : +++ It is a real sailing ship and the captain does not miss any occasion to remind you that. So yes, the boat is rocking (and yes I can confirm that I'm seasick). The Royal Clipper is a pretty lady and you will always seen crew member painting, cleaning, repairing,... every beat of it. It is really something to sail in this ship and to see other cruise ship passenger looking at the Royal Clipper! The dinner room is just amazing. Look at the Titanic, shrink it a little bit and you get it. For a ship of this size it is really impressive To be honest it has been one of our criteria to select the royal Clipper over Star Flyer. *Sun Deck, you will find 2 small pools (hot-tub size) and one big enough for 5 people. A lot of sun chair and roof for the shadow. There are also 2 steering wheel (real ones, you can drive the ship with them if the bridge decide so) and all the sails and rope. Note that thanks to electrical helping plots one sailor is able to rise a sail (he wind the rope around it at that help him to pull). There is also the bridge and the forward nest where you can go, except the night. Very good place to see the sunshine! * Main Deck, the heart of the ship : the Tropical Bar, open both side to the sea in the middle of the ship. It is the real meeting point for everyone. Inside you have also the Piano Bar and the impressive light shaft to the dinning room. There is also the library, the cabins with balcony and the forward lounge used for conferences. * clipper Deck is the cabin deck with the continuation of the light shaft, the reception and sloo shop. * Commodore Deck is again the cabins and the luxurious Dinning room. There is also a well equipped gym room and the spa (used none of them as we were to busy!!) PASSANGERS : ++ We were the youngest. 2 or 3 other couples in the 30s-40s but majority of passenger are couples of 50s and more. A lot of american, german, some canadien also. Usually people are repeaters of the Star Clipper and are seasoned travelers. English is the main language. However all official communication were made in english, german and french. Don't except to have party every night with dance after midnight! In the other hand, if you prefer to enjoy the stars/moon at the sun deck and discuss with crew members it is perfect. SATURDAY, Embarkation at Barbados arrived at 1pm, it is a little bit too early but we've been part of the first to get inside the boat. 1 or 2 hours to explore the ship and wonder if we are inside a dream or not. Followed by the drill exercise then the diner. We skipped the desert to assist to the sail and departure at 10PM. SUNDAY, Captain's choice Union Island Quiet day at the beach, a little bit raining. It was one of my favorite place for the beach background : forest, not to many people, 1 or 2 bars made from wood and really local. MONDAY, Grenada Muddy and slippery hiking to the Seven sister falls. It is not very difficult or long... for young people. The waterfalls are very nice and it stay as one of my favorite place of the cruise. Imagine to swim in the water-pool in the middle of the rain forest... Never think I will be able to do that one day! We've also see some monkeys very quickly. If you want to eat local that's the day because the boat leave at 11PM. TUESDAY, Tobago Cay An other post card place. Very nice beach and good snorkeling place. For the lunch it a a BBQ on the beach. The only problem : maybe too many people (almost all the boat) on the beach... WEDNESDAY, St Vincent The morning at Kingston, the capital. It is a NOT touristic place. Then I will not say beautiful but interesting to see what can be the real world behind the post card of touristic pace. Afternoon at Bequia, this one is a real touristic place in front of the beach. Lot of gift shops (twice the price compare to Kingston). The boat tender can also bring you to the beach, seem to be nice. THIRSDAY, MARTINIQUE Morning at Fort de France. It is a little bit of France in the middle of Caribbean, very surprising. Bring euros here to buy something! The rum is excellent and cheap. :-) Afternon at Anse d'Arlet. Many people love this place but it was my less favorite one. First there is no shadow at all and we've already get sun burned from the previous days, second the beach is narrow and full of constructions. The worse of "Cote d'Azur"! FRIDAY, St Lucia Again, one place in the morning (Marigo Bay) and one the afternoon (Soufriere). The bay is funny to see all the expensive yachts. The Soufriere is a beautiful place. The zip-line excursion is good but the highlight of the day is the photo-tender : at the sunset the 2 boat tender will turn around the ship, all sails out, and you can do amazing picture of the Royal Clipper. SATURDAY, Barbados The end of the cruise, sadly. You can have some excursion (beach or island tour) that will bring you at the airport. As usual the organization is serious and efficient! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
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 ... Read More
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). Amalfi was our fourth stop - a charming place, where we chose a side trip to Positano, clearly Italy's most beautiful town. We took the hair-raising bus ride around twists and turns to Positano, then a boat back to Amalfi. This was worth the price of the entire cruise, as the views from the water looking back up the steep cliffs is magnificent. The Amalfi coast is truly beautiful, and June is a perfect time, as everything is in full bloom. We wandered some side streets in Positano, then found a little cafe for a drink before heading back to Amalfi. Many pretty linens and cottons here as well, and more of the pretty stoneware we saw in Sorrento. Amalfi was fun to wander as well - be sure to explore the bustling piazza around Sant' Andrea, the duomo mid town. We highly recommend this shore excursion, as it provides the best of both worlds with the bus trip and boat return, as well as visits to two top destinations. The last port of call was my favorite. Lipari is a little known island just north of Sicily. It is quaint and very "old Italy", not yet tarnished by the many tourists of places like Capri. Cute shops, good food, and some interesting ruins at the top of the hill, highlighted by another fabulous view. There is a beautiful church at the top, interesting to trace its many phases of construction through the ages. It closes at noon, but worth the visit if you time it right. The boat itself is a treat - at every port, the sails are raised with great ceremony, with Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis playing on loudspeakers. Something we will not forget. After the last port stop, we were able to board the tenders with cameras, as the sails were raised for some great photo ops. Everything about this cruise provides their "guests" top notch service and hospitality. The only thing I would do differently in the future is that I would book my own transfer from Rome to the boat. We look their arranged bus from the Airport Hilton, and were told to be there by 3pm. Bus did not leave until 5, and we just sat in a very hot room for 2 hours. Food and drinks were provided, but it was not a comfortable place to wait. It's an hour to the port, and when we got on board (boarding process very easy), they were just finishing up a free happy hour with appetizers and bellinis. We totally missed that! Perhaps this was a good option for folks flying in that day, but could have had almost a full day in Rome day rather than getting to and from the airport hotel and waiting. Other than that, all was perfect and I would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
REVIEW - MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE ABOARD THE ROYAL CLIPPER ROME TO VENICE A Little Information about Star Clippers Let me say right from the start that I am a big fan of the Star Clippers sailing experience. This cruise is our 5th on ... Read More
REVIEW - MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE ABOARD THE ROYAL CLIPPER ROME TO VENICE A Little Information about Star Clippers Let me say right from the start that I am a big fan of the Star Clippers sailing experience. This cruise is our 5th on Star Clippers and the second time we have sailed on the Royal Clipper. We have also sailed on the sister ships Star Flyer and Star Clipper and have cruised with them in Thailand, Tahiti, Greece & Turkey and the Caribbean out of Barbados. My husband and I own our own sailboat in Florida and have chartered sailboats around the world for bareboat experiences. I wanted to write a review of our latest sailing experience aboard the Royal Clipper, and share some of my observations and comparisons with the other ships of the line and with other types of cruises. When deciding to go on a cruise, one of the major decisions a person has to make, other than the destination, is if you want a traditional cruise ship or a sailing vessel. There are pros and cons of both options which I will not go into here, but if you are not absolutely certain that being on a real sailboat is of the upmost importance, you may want to think twice about sailing with Star Clippers. On any of the ships in the Star Clipper line, you will find the cabins are not as big or luxurious as a traditional cruise ship, the food is not as good or as plentiful and are no formal dress up functions. There is also no bingo, casino or glitzy entertainment. If you have any mobility problems, there are stairs everywhere and there is no elevator. With this said, it is interesting to note that the Star Clippers has a very loyal and dedicated clientele, with over 60% of passengers on any given cruise being repeat customers. My husband and I would not consider going on any other commercial cruise line than Star Clippers. I am pointing this out at the beginning of my review to alert readers that this may not be the cruise for you, depending on your priorities and expectations. On this last cruise, I met several passengers who were very unhappy and complained about the food, entertainment, nightlife, accommodations, foreigners, layout of the ship and anything else they could think about. They thought they were going on another Carnival Cruise and never came to appreciate the unique and wonderful experience that being on a tall ship can bring. If, however, you are active and healthy, adventurous and friendly, if food is not your priority on a cruise and you can live without a balcony cabin, than you should consider taking a cruise on one of the Star Clipper ships. Rome - Civitavecchia port - Day 1 On our 11-day cruise, the Royal Clipper departed from Civitavecchia - the port of Rome. Civitavecchia is about an hour outside the city of Rome. The best and most inexpensive way to reach Civitavecchia is to take the train. From the Rome airport, take the Leonardo express train into Rome (14 Euros). The train drops you off at the Termini station (Track 29) and is right next to the Piza train (on Track 27) that takes you to Civitavecchia (4 Euros). Buy both tickets at once at the airport and just get off one train and hop on the other...it could not be easier. If you want to spend some time in Rome, I believe there is a place to store your bags at the train station. Be aware that both Track 29 and 27 are at the absolute furthest parts of the Termini train station, so be prepared for a long walk to get to the main terminal and leave plenty of time. There is also the option of transfers with the cruise line. Those passengers that decide to do that option (it is about $85 per person) walk from the airport to the adjacent Hilton Airport Hotel (10 minute walk with covered walkways). They store your luggage and provide a meeting room with chairs to hang out in. You have the option to take the train into the city on your own or use the hotel's free shuttle bus into Rome (which is an hour away). At 5:00 these passengers must be back at the hotel to take a bus out to the port. If you take the train from Rome out to Civitavecchia, you will arrive at the train station, which is not right on the water. From the station, you can take a short taxi ride to the ship for around 7 Euros. I believe there also may be a shuttle bus but I am not sure about its schedule. Boarding the ship is from 4:00pm - 10:00pm, and the ship departs at 11:00pm or as soon as everyone is onboard. At the port of Civitavecchia, the ship will be docked alongside pier no 11, 12, 13 or 14. It is very obvious there it is, as you can spot it from miles away, so it is not hard to find. At the port terminal, we went through a security scanner and got on the ship after a quick check-in where they took our photo and issued us a ship ID card. This card, which we call our MULTIPASS (like in the movie 5th Element), is also your room key, ID for boarding and credit card for all ships purchases. At this point, you also surrender your passport, which you will not get back again until the end of the cruise. To get on the ship, one must climb the steep boarding stairway - a wobbly but secure contraption attached to the outside of the ship. This is one reason why this ship is not recommended for anyone with mobility problems. Once on the ship, we were welcomed with a tropical drink and shown to our cabin. Unfortunately for us, our luggage was lost by Delta Airlines, and did not make it to the Rome airport with us (I guess our luggage had always wanted to visit Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris). We reported this to the ships purser, who then contacted the ships port agent. The port agent was hopeful that we might be reunited with our lost luggage in 3 days in Sicily, where he would send it when found. Our stops before then were too small to have an airport, so I guess we would be wearing our current attire a lot in the next few days. At this point I must say that the staff on the ship went out of their way to help and accommodate us with clothing and supplies. The ships store opened and gave us toiletries. They also offered us any clothing in the store for a 50% discount and gave us free laundry service. Our room steward took our cloths when we went to bed at night and returned them to us in the morning clean and fresh. The purser kept in contact with the port agent and kept us posted on the status of our luggage. I guess this kind of thing happens frequently - so it you are going on a cruise take an emergency bag with you on the plane with underwear, shorts, sandals and toiletries! The ship left port at around 9:30 when all of the passengers were onboard. One of the most magical experiences on any Star Clipper sailing is leaving port. Everyone gathers up on deck while the crew hoists some of the sails (most are automatically unfurled), while the beautiful and haunting musical theme from the film 1492 plays. I must confess that I never tire of this experience no matter how many times I sail out of port on one of their ships. Ponza - Day 2 We had a leisurely sail and anchored off the small island of Ponza at around noon. As it was a Sunday, and we were very jet lagged and had no sport cloths to wear, so we decided to take it easy on the ship. The people who did go ashore said it was a beautiful little town and some of the shops were open. No shore excursions were available at Ponza, which was a very small and isolated island. There were lots of huge yachts anchored in the bay. Around sunset we set sail for Capri. The evening entertainment was a fashion show put on by the ship's store. The Star Clipper Fleet The Royal Clipper is the largest of the Star Clipper fleet, with 5 masts and about 225 passengers at full capacity. The cabins on the Royal are a little bit larger and nicer than those on the smaller ships. The dining room is multi level, with a small inner ring that is used for the breakfast and lunch buffets. The two identical sister ships, the Star Flyer and the Star Clipper have 4 masts and a maximum of 170 passengers. Even though there is only a difference of about 50 passengers, the Royal feels much larger than the other two ships. Unique to the Royal is a cool spa that is located at the bottom of the ship, with porthole windows looking out underwater. The Royal also has 3 saltwater pools and a water sport platform that opens up at the stern. The Flyer and Clipper have 2 saltwater pools. All ships have dive masters, snorkeling equipment (provided free), kayaks and sailboards. There is also a Learn To Dive program on the ships available to passengers who want to try it out before committing to a longer program on shore or on the ship. The largest gathering area on the ship is the Tropical Bar, which is at the center of the ship and open to the elements, although they put up a shade canvas. Even though I love the elegance of the Royal, I think I prefer the smaller and more intimate ambience of the Flyer and the Clipper. I think the biggest advantage of the Royal is the stern water sport platform, which is much easier for diving and snorkeling. Capri - Day 3 We arrive in Capri around 11:00 and after a quick lunch on the ship embark on an Island Tour (53 Euros) at 1:00. This was the only tour offered. On Capri, there is no ship tender service, only local boats because the port is too small and crowded. We are picked up at the ship in a boat by the tour operator, who takes us to the Coral Grotto and White Virgin Grotto (which we back into). We see the famous Faraglioni rock formations surrounding the island and take the boat through a rock arch. The boat drops us off at Marina Grande, where we take a small tour bus up to Anacapri. From here we have the option of looking around the town and shopping, visiting Villa San Michele which is built on the ruins of Tiberius's palaces or taking the chair lift up to Monte Solaro. We decide on the chair lift, which is like an individual ski lift that takes you up to the top of the mountain and incredible views of Capri and the Bay of Naples. We meet back at the drop off area and take another bus down to Capri. Here we have time to shop and look around, and are given tickets to take the Funicolare back down to the port. There is a long line for the Funicolare and it drops you off a short distance from the dock, where we take a shuttle boat back to the ship. We spoke with other passengers that did most of this stuff by themselves (except the boat tour) for a much cheaper price than we paid on the tour, and while we could have done it ourselves I think the tour was a good value. We were discouraged from trying to go to the Blue Grotto (which Capri is most famous for), but we could have done it from a tourist office at the harbor. Those that did try to see the Blue Grotto paid to be taken there only to not be allowed in because the seas were too rough (and no refund...you take your chances). We set sail at around 7:00 to a beautiful sunset and rough seas. Entertainment tonight was a Music Trivia contest. Food on the Royal Clipper The most common question people ask about a cruise is, "How was the food?" As food is often a very subjective area, it is sometimes a difficult question to answer. Unfortunately, on this particular cruise the answer is simple...the food was not very good. As I have stated at the beginning of this review, this was not my first Star Clipper cruise and not my first experience aboard the Royal Clipper. We had sailed on the Star Flyer 8 months previously in Tahiti, so we had fairly recent exposure to the culinary offerings on that ship - where the food was outstanding. Unless the parent company had instigated a drastic reduction in food quality, which I seriously doubt, I would blame it on the chef. Our chef on the Star Flyer in Tahiti was from the Philippines and his food was well prepared, interesting and had delicious seasonings. The chef on the Royal Clipper was from Jamaica, and his menu was uninspired, the food poorly prepared, bland and downright boring. It is the only cruise in memory where I lost weight and tried to eat off the ship whenever possible. The main topic of conversation among the passengers was how bad the food was. One German passenger commented to me that he liked to get the cheese course for dessert, but they gave him the exact same cheeses every night. He observed that at lunch they have different cheeses every day, and so he asked the waiter to give him those different cheeses at dinner. They complied with his request...but why didn't they offer that to everyone? I think it shows a lack of leadership in the kitchen, people doing as little as possible instead of trying for excellence. Every day is the same breakfast buffet on the Royal. There are made to order omelets and a selection of fruits, breads and cereals. Also offered was underdone bacon, sausages that looked like cut up hot dogs and some other hot items such as crepes or pancakes. On the 7th day (of an 11 day cruise), the fresh mushrooms ran out - so my husband stopped eating the omelets (what's the point without mushrooms?). Someone should have planned that better. Lunch was also a buffet, the layout of the dining room on the Royal making for a traffic jam. (The buffet layout is better on the Flyer and Clipper because the dining room is all one level and more open.) The lunch was often the best meal of the day, with different themes such as Asian or Italian. The crew decorated the room with festive flags and banners and there was often a carving station with a ham or turkey. Also offered was a dessert buffet and many cheese and salad options. Dinner was served at table, the maitre d' seating people together and doing a great job of remembering who liked to sit together. I found most people preferred to sit with others that spoke the same language, so there were the German tables, the French tables and the English tables. Star Clipper cruises are always an international mix of people, and our cruise had passengers from 38 different countries. Meeting and talking with passengers from all over the world is one of the most enjoyable things about traveling on a Star Clipper cruise. The food is served in courses and the ship has a good selection of wine offerings. If you don't finish a bottle, they will label it and save it for you for the next night. It is a shame that the food was so disappointing on this cruise and I hope that they take steps to improve it on the Royal Clipper soon. If they read their comment cards from passengers, they should be aware of the problem. Giardini Naxos, Sicily - Day 4 Sometime during the very early pre-dawn morning, the ship sailed by the active volcanic island of Stromboli - a smoking cone rising straight out of the ocean. I failed to wake up in time to see it, but a fellow passenger who did said she saw a fiery lava plume amid the smoke. I saw it at a distance, and even then it was a magnificent sight. We arrived at the Straits of Messina at around 9:30 and were entertained by a talk by Captain Sergey about piracy and how it is affecting passenger ships. I had previously sailed on the Star Flyer in Thailand, but they have discontinued that route because of increased safety concerns in the area. Captain Sergey, originally from Russia, is one of a select few tall ship captains in the world, and is very good at what he does. He also lectured us later in the week about the different designs and configurations of sailing ships and told us about the new ship that the Star Clipper line plans to add in 2014. We arrived at the port of Naxos at around 2:00 and we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our luggage. I had been very fortunate to meet an absolutely wonderful fellow passenger from Ohio named Marcy. After hearing that I had no cloths, and observing that she was about the same size as me, she sent me an whole bag of cloths to wear until my own arrived. She even had new underwear, still in the Wal-Mart bag. She said she had taken along extra cloths, not knowing why. I believe she was a guardian angel sent to rescue me. She was traveling with her husband and two other couples (the Ohio gang), who became our friends and made our trip delightful. In Sicily, the ship offered several excursion options; a transfer to Taormina and tour of Greek theater (39 Euros), a brunch and wine tasting tour (89 Euros), or a tour of Mt Etna (94 Euros). There is not much to do at the port of Naxos, but the beautiful town of Taormina is just down the coast, perched on a cliff. When a passenger asked our cruise director Angela why the ship went to Naxos instead of Taormina, she answered that they had not yet figured out how to sail up a mountain. We decided not to take a tour but to share a taxi with our friends (the Ohio gang). We negotiated a fare of 40 Euros for 6 (I think we could have done better if we would have haggled more), and our driver took us up to the town of Taormina, arranging to pick us up again in 3 hours. We walked a couple of blocks up to the ancient (3rd century BC) Greek theater. The theater is still in use and has beautiful views of the coast and Mt. Etna, looming in the background. We walked back down through the streets of Taormina, stopping for wonderful gelato at Gelatomania. There were lots of touristy shops in town, also lots of tourists. I purchased a beautiful red pottery platter, glazed with the "Fire of Etna" pattern. After having a drink in a cafe, we return to the ship. Our luggage had arrived...thank you purser Yula! Some of our friends did the Mt. Etna tour and had a great time and brought back a whole backpack of rocks. In Hawaii, Pele doesn't like you to take home any lava, but I guess things are different in Sicily, where it is considered good luck. Our ship departs at almost midnight, but before we leave some local entertainers come on board for a Sicilian folklore performance. Also, a local fashion designer shows some of her over-the-top fashions with young local models. At Sea - Day 5 There were very rough seas during the night and throughout the next day making any people seasick. I personally like it when it is rough...it rocks me to sleep and makes me feel like we are on the ocean. This sentiment was not shared by most of the other passengers. The mast climbing was cancelled and swimming pool drained. Marcy and I spent the day in the ships library where we painted some watercolor scenes of the ship. A great day at sea. Electrical and Internet Connections The electrical system on the Royal Clipper is the European plug system - 2 round holes. On the Star Clipper and the Star Flyer the electrical system is the American plug system. There is a hair dryer in the cabin, but if you need to charge your phone, camera or computer, you need to bring an adapter. Most computer and camera chargers these days operate on a dual voltage system...you can use anything between 120volt-240volt. Check your device to see if it is dual voltage. If it is not a dual voltage device, you need to bring a converter adapter (more expensive and larger). All of the Star Clipper ships have computer and wireless service available. You purchase a wireless card (good for 1 hour) for about 11 Euros. You can either use their computers (very slow ones) or use your own wireless device. I used my iPad and it worked great. Their signal comes from a satellite, so very slow to use. I usually typed my emails before signing on to system account, then copied and pasted them into my email. It is amazing how fast you can use up 1 hour of connection time on a slow satellite connection. Corfu, Greece - Day 6 We arrived at the Greek Island of Corfu at around 8:00 and docked at the pier. This was the only port between Rome and Venice that we were at a dock; the other ports involved anchoring and a tender. The ship offered 3 shore excursions in Corfu; a bus ride to the Achilleion (a neoclassical palace outside of town built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria) and a walking tour of the Old Town near the port (38 Euros), a cycling tour through olive groves that included some uphill riding (84 Euros) and a boat tour of the island including a beach swim (75 Euros). We decided to explore the island on our own and rent a car. After docking, a free shuttle bus picked us up at the pier and took us to the terminal. Just outside the terminal were a string of taxis and a Royal Car Rental lot. We negotiated down from 70 Euros to 60 Euros (cash no credit cards) for a small manual transmission car - which was very comfortable even though we are tall people. It was easy to drive around the island as the roads are well marked in both Greek and English. We drove to Paleokastritsa, a beach town on the other side of the island, after a stop in Lakones. Lakones is perched high on top of a mountain and has a fabulous view. We stopped at a great restaurant in Lakones and had fresh squeezed juice and cappuccino while eating the delicious homemade baklava. The streets in town are very narrow, so cars stop at the light on one edge of town and wait for the cars coming in the opposite direction to pass. The driving in Corfu was beautiful, going from beautiful turquoise beaches to ancient olive groves and mountains. Where the other islands were dry, Corfu was green and lush in many places. Driving down to Paleokastritsa, a nice beachfront community with 3 bays and lots of tourists. We went up to a monastery and walked around then left town and drove to Glifada, another beach community, where we ate grilled fish on the beach. Next we drove up to the mountaintop village of Pelekas (which had some better looking eating places) and on to the Achillion Palace. The tragic beauty Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the Princess Diana of her day, built the Achillion Palace. The palace and gardens were beautiful, with a giant statue of Achilles looking out over the ocean from the cliffside gardens. Inside, the house is filled with assorted items with little or no connection to Elisabeth. We drove back to the ship and departed from Corfu at around 4:00. Our friends that took the bike tour had a great time and highly recommended the tour, although an older gentleman broke his leg on the tour and spent the rest of the trip in a cast. During the evening, we began playing bridge in the library with a German couple we met on the ship. He was now retired, but as a career he had been the German ambassador to Cuba and several South American countries. It was fun getting to know him and his wife, both good bridge players. Kotor, Montenegro - Day 7 Around 10:00am the Royal entered the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. The bay is a large, windy fjord, with Cyprus covered mountains towering over the ship. After several twists and turns we finally arrived at the end of the fjord and the walled city of Kotor. The ship offered 2 excursions in Kotor; a walking tour of Kotor (20 Euros) or a bus and boat tour to the island near Perast (59 Euros). We signed up for the Perast excursion and after taking the tender into Kotor boarded a bus to drive us to the small town of Perast about 6 miles away. At Perast, we boarded a small boat to take us to the Lady of the Rocks, a small church built on a man-made island in the bay. The shrine has wonderful paintings on the walls and ceilings and displays silver medallions given by grateful sea captains for safe voyages. There is also a small museum. Back in Perast, nothing much to see except gypsy women selling linen tablecloths along the waterfront. These tablecloths were obviously made in China, not locally. We headed back to Kotor and the guide took us to the city gates, handed us a free map from the local tourist office and left us. We felt this tour was a complete rip-off. We could have taken a taxi to Perast for 10 Euros and a boat trip to the island for 5 Euros. We walked around the walled city of Kotor on our own. Kotor is a beautiful city, with a huge ziz-zag wall built behind it up the mountains. Several people hiked up the wall, and said it was a spectacular, but hard, climb (without safety rails). We found Kotor delightful, uncrowded (I don't think big cruise ships can get in there), and authentic, with local people still living in the walled city. It was like a town that was poised on the precipice between living city and tourist destination. None of the shops were touristy - it was like they had no idea of what to sell, what tourists would want to buy. Most of the shops were grocery stores and shoe stores selling usable items to the locals. After being in so many towns that had been transformed from real city to Disney tourist fantasy town, it was refreshing to walk the noncommercial streets of Kotor. I predict it will not stay this way for long because Kotor has everything it takes to become a major tourist destination. As it was my birthday, we met with up with our Ohio friends from the ship and took a couple of taxis to a local restaurant I had heard about - Star Mlili. It was about a 15-minute taxi ride (7 Euro) away, on the water in an old olive mill. The gardens were beautifully landscaped, with a stream and waterfall set next to the diners and lanterns hung from the trees. We dined on the local specialty of black mussels, squid and "Mama's Eggplant" - delicious. The local wine was superb as was the almond cake. Getting back to the ship, we could hear the music from the waterfront bars echo across the water while we gazed up at the illuminated city wall, which lit up the entire hillside. Dubrovnik, Croatia - Day 8 We sailed into Dubrovnik, Croatia at around noon and were soon joined at anchor by a huge cruise ship with over 3,000 passengers. Dubrovnik is an ancient walled city (UNESCO World Heritage list), and the best thing to do there is to walk the top of the city wall - which is almost 3 miles long. There were 2 tours offered by the ship; a bus tour of surrounding villages ending at the Old Town (40 Euros - which was cancelled because of lack of interest) or a walking tour of Dubrovnik (33 Euros). We decided to explore by ourselves and took the tender ashore, which dropped us off right at the city gates. Because of the other huge ship in port, the city was crowded with tourists. We waited until the crowds thinned and then climbed up to the city wall walk. The wall completely circled the city and involved lots of steps. There were occasional towers and rest areas with small cafes offering cold drinks. The view was amazing - the sea on 3 sides and the mountains climbing up on the other. Dubrovnik was recently involved in a war, and the most obvious evidence of that were the new roof tiles covering the city. While we were up on the wall, we watched the huge cruise ship pull up anchor and sail away through a narrow pass - dwarfing the city as it passed. Back down in the Old Town, we had gelato and explored the narrow streets and grand promenade of the Stradun. Dubrovnik is known for its fine gold and silver filigree jewelry, unique and handmade. I purchased some in a small shop, where the owner makes the items during the long winters and sells to tourists in the busy summers. Several times a day, costumed guards run through the streets for tourists to take blurry photos of. We also saw some weddings at many of the churches. Even though Dubrovnik is a tourist city, it still has local character. At sunset, we sat at a bar that was literally perched on the cliffs outside the city wall - spectacular! Some of our friends took the cable car up to the top of the mountain from just outside the city gates. They said there was an interesting war museum and a great view up there. Other friends who took the ships walking tour were disappointed in it, so we were glad we did our own thing. The ship left port at almost midnight; so many passengers went into town for dinner. Korcula, Croatia - Day 9 We arrived at the quaint town and island of Korcula at about 10:30. We took the tender to shore and had a quick look around the town, which was easy to do because is very small and compact. We climbed the tower for a great view and had gelato at a cafe on the water. The ship offered several excursions; a walking tour of the city (20 Euros), a Buggy Adventure (98 Euros) or an island bus tour that included lunch (65 Euros). We had signed up for the Buggy tour immediately when we got on the ship in Rome. It sounded like a great tour and had only spots for 7 couples. This turned out to be one of our best tours on the cruise and was totally fun. We were picked up at the tender dock by a small boat, which took us to the other side of the island. We got off and were assigned our "buggies". The buggies were like a go-cart and sat 2 people side by side. We were given a helmet to wear that had goggles, which came in very handy on our dusty off-road travels. It was fun driving through the hills, olive groves and vineyards, climbing higher up the mountain on rough trails. We stopped at a winery and sampled the local wine - good stuff. We then drove down to a nice sand beach were we went for a swim with the local kids that were enjoying their last day of summer vacation before school started. The tour captain brought out fresh fruit and local cheese on the short trip back to the ship on his small boat. A great adventure! Friends that took the walking tour were not happy and thought it was boring. Others spent the day in kayaks and small sailboats off the sport platform at the rear of the ship. Many had trouble getting back to the ship because of the strong currents and had to be rescued by the sports team. That afternoon, just before sunset, the ship had its Photo Excursion. Passengers departed the ship in 2 tenders and circled the ship as it raised its sails. I got some beautiful photos with the spectacular sunset in the background. That night was Pirate Night in the dining room, with passengers encouraged to dress up as a pirate with whatever they had on had. There were some very creative and enthusiastic costumes. The entertainment that night was a crab race, where you can bet $5 on which crab will cross the deck racetrack first. It is pretty funny, as the crabs are very unpredictable. Crew on the Royal Clipper There are about 100 crewmembers on the Royal Clipper (about 70 crew on the other ships). The main divisions seem to be the Bridge staff (the Captain and those that sail the ship, including the seamen), the Purser and Hotel staff (including all those wonderful room stewards), the Engineering and Maintenance staff (they are always painting and varnishing the ship - nonstop), and the Food staff (including the chef and all the bar and restaurant staff). There is also the Cruise Director, who organizes all of the tours at port and orchestrates the activities on board and the Gift Shop manager who stocks the ships store. Our sailing also included a Marine Biologist, who gave lectures and had dolphin-watching sessions in the mornings. For this cruise (and our last cruise in Tahiti), our cruise director was Angela. Angela does a remarkable job keeping everyone informed with what is going on aboard ship (she does a daily newsletter delivered to the cabin), scheduling and organizing the tours. She also is the ships translator, which is a crucial job when you consider the international clientele aboard ship. All information is recited in English, German and French, and I would imagine they would also do Spanish if it were called for. Angela was completely fluent in all of those languages and did a remarkable job. She also plans and hosts the evening entertainments such as the talent show. Unfortunately for the passengers, Angela is leaving the ship in the spring to get married - we wish her luck in her new life in Turkey. One of the gems of the Star Clipper cruise line is the cruise director Peter. We had the good fortune of getting to know him aboard the Star Flyer in Thailand (I believe he is currently on the Star Clipper). Peter, besides being fluent in a multitude of languages, is a nautical historian. He gives informal lectures and sailing with him is like taking a graduate class in naval history. Tipping is done at the end of the cruise and can be paid by cash or added to your bill. I think that we tipped about 160 Euros for the entire 11-day cruise. All ships accounting is done in Euros and the charges will show up on your credit card as coming from Monaco. There is usually not a medical doctor on the Star Clipper sailings, although we did have a doctor on our cruise. Hvar, Croatia - Day 10 We sailed into Hvar (silent H) at around 10:00. Hvar is a beautiful town with lots of islands and sailboats. There were several excursions offered in Hvar; a bus island tour (58 Euros), a jeep safari (80 Euros), a new sailing adventure (57 Euros) and a new Hiking tour. We decided to go on the new sailing adventure tour. We went over to town in the tender and met up with the sailboat tour, which was a small 38' racing sailboat with one guy on it. There were only 6 people from the ship signed up for the tour, which was lucky because the boat did not have a lot of comfortable seating. We jumped on the boat and immediately went out into the busy harbor. As there was only one guy operating the boat, he looked at the passengers, zeroed in on my husband as the most likely candidate, and asked him if he wanted to take the helm while he handled the sails. This ended up to be a good call because my husband jumped at the chance and ended up sailing the boat for the entire cruise. Bora winds from the mountains enabled up to get up to speed of 10 knots. The area was dotted with small islands and filled with all types of sailboats. We had a great time sailing around the many islands - a great excursion and my husband's favorite! We stopped by a swimming beach, but as it was a bit cool and breezy no one wanted to swim. After a couple of hours of some of the best sailing in our life, we were dropped off at the dock, which was adjacent to the large town square. We had a great lunch at a cafe in the square and then walked around the town, filled with jewelry shops selling chunky necklaces made from semi-precious stones from elsewhere. The pier was lined with stalls selling lavender, which the island is known for. We even had lavender flavored gelato before returning to the ship. Some of our friends took the hiking tour, which they loved and felt was the best of the trip. They took a small van to a scenic area and then hiked through olive groves and lavender fields. They stopped at a ghost town, which had a small private restaurant that was open only for them. They feasted on grilled chicken and potatoes, washed down with great local wine. Other friends walked around town, and down the long promenade to the left of the harbor. They purchased a beautiful watercolor painting from a local artist and sat at a fancy hotel on the water and drank very expensive lemonade while watching swimmers on the beach. The ship departed at around 5:00 and that evening was the Captains dinner of lobster, steak and Baked Alaska. There was a crew and passenger talent show in the tropical bar, which was the best entertainment of the week, with some very talented performers and lots of enthusiasm. Rovinj, Croatia - Day 11 It was raining when we arrived at Rovinj at around noon. There were 2 tours offered; a cycling tour that went to a nearby park for a swim (40 Euros) or an island tour by bus (49 Euros). We were signed up for the cycling tour, but it was cancelled because of rain. The town of Rovinj is built on a hilly peninsula with the pinnacle of the town being St. Euphemia's church and tower. It was part of the Venetian empire and the architecture shows that influence. Legend has it that it was the birthplace of Marco Polo, who left town as a baby for Venice and then on to Asia as a teenager. One difference between Rovinj and other walled towns in Croatia is that Rovinj had always been relatively poor and consequentially had no big mansions or elegant squares. The town had small twisted streets winding up to the church, the centerpiece of the community. The crypt of St. Euphemia is on display in the church (she is a martyr famous for not being eaten by lions) and they open it once a year at their festival. There is also a large tower adjacent to the church with a wooden stairway right out of the Hitchcock movie Vertigo. It is a "climb at your own risk" kind of place, with big gaps and holes between the slats. The German couple we played bridge with were very unhappy about the stop at Rovinj and thought there was nothing there worth seeing. As Americans, we were kind of intrigued by the small claustrophobic kind of setting and enjoyed walking through the maze, although I admit it was not the best stop. Our cruise director Angela had told us at the beginning of the cruise that we should, "Get Kuna (currency of Croatia) in Korcula and spend it all in Rovinj at the art galleries." I was expecting to do just that, but it turned out that the town was full of bad and awful art galleries filled with kitschy tourist stuff. As far as I could tell, the only thing worth buying in Rovinj was a gelato. We were not sad to sail away at sunset, which looked very pretty setting over the town. It is always sad to end a cruise, and you know the fun is over when you have to have your bags outside your cabin before you go to bed on your last night. A copy of the bill had been left under the door, and if everything was correct you could sign it and pick up your passport from the pursers desk. Venice, Italy - departure We arrived at the San Marco Straits at around 6:30 and sailed by an empty St. Marks square. After breakfast we waited in the lounge for the rain to subside a little before leaving the ship at around 9:30. A small shuttle took us the short way to the port terminal, although we would have walked it if it had not been raining so hard. After claiming our luggage, we took the nearby vaporetto (6 Euros), which took us right into the town center. We got off at the Rialto stop and hired a waiting porter (20 Euros) to take our bags to our hotel - the Hotel Aqua Palace. The Hotel Aqua Palace turned out to be a great place to stay in Venice, midway between the Rialto Bridge and St. Marks Square on a small canal. I plan on writing a separate review of the hotel - but that is another story. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Our expectations were high as we left our comfortable Barbados hotel after four nights to join the Royal Clipper. We should have stayed in Barbados. Something seemed odd that we could only board a ship which had docked at 7am after 4pm, ... Read More
Our expectations were high as we left our comfortable Barbados hotel after four nights to join the Royal Clipper. We should have stayed in Barbados. Something seemed odd that we could only board a ship which had docked at 7am after 4pm, but of course that relieved the cruise line of serving lunch. We then had to fill out a health form and have our temperature taken, a perfectly reasonable request. What was not reasonable was another paper from we had to sign, limiting the liability of the cruise line and making passengers agree that if they were going to sue Star Clippers, the suit would be filed only in Monaco. Now that was kind of strange. I signed. They would not have let me board if I didn't. But there is a family, I am sure, who wishes they had not. My wife is partially disabled. She can walk slowly but long distances are difficult for her. We asked for a wheelchair for boarding. None was available. When we boarded, we found that there was no elevator. This was never mentioned. We were in for a week of enforced climbing of 4 flights of stairs, many of which led to narrow and difficult doors. This ship is completely unsuitable for disabled people. We could barely manage. Those more disabled than we would have had to have been left on the shore. With no refund, I am sure, although there is certainly nothing in any large print in their literature which indicates this. But I guess you were supposed to scrutinize the deck plan to find this out. Let's say this at the beginning: The ship is beautiful, the interior spaces are lovely, and the service crew (waiters, cabin stewards and deckhands) are friendly, efficient and personable. The Cruise Director was not to my liking and the Hotel Director turned out to be a baloney artist. The Captain seemed nice, but his Ukrainian accent prevented all but the most basic communication. The sailing bit is almost a gimmick. The sails are raised with great pomp and piped in music from "The Hunt for Red October. Then, as soon as everyone is at dinner or in bed, the sails are furled and the ship proceeds under power. It is too bad, the experience of proceeding on a large ship under sail is truly delightful. You get it about 25% of the time. The food is no better and no worse than many cruise ships Mostly frozen ingredients dressed up in fancily named sauces. You would think that sailing in some of the most fertile fishing waters and tropical fruit growing areas that they would make some effort to add fresh food. You would think that with Royal Caribbean and Holland America as well. The ship offers water sports equipment to the passengers. The equipment is old, dirty and disgusting it belongs at the Salvation Army. So do the books in the beautiful library. They didn't bother to got to the Salvation Army for these. They are just the left behinds from past passengers. The real problem was the port policy. It was designed to save the cruise line many dollars. It cost a life. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Our March 2009 cruise on the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER was a delightful experience that exceeded our expectations. The ship is beautiful, the crew extremely friendly, professional, and helpful, and our fellow passengers were great and interesting ... Read More
Our March 2009 cruise on the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER was a delightful experience that exceeded our expectations. The ship is beautiful, the crew extremely friendly, professional, and helpful, and our fellow passengers were great and interesting cruise companions. We had the good fortune of fair weather with plenty of sun and only the briefest of rain, and, considering the sailing nature of this ship, we had plenty of wind all week to make our way under sail.We picked the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER primarily for propulsion by sail and for the smaller passenger complement. We have owned boats and done a lot of boating in the past 25 years, including living aboard and cruising for several weeks at a time on our own boats, principally in the northern Great Lakes. Our previous cruising experience is limited. We spent a week aboard the NORWAY (formerly the SS FRANCE) in the eastern Caribbean in 2002. FOOD The food was excellent, served in elegant fashion, and in great variety. There was a bit of a European style to the cooking and some of the dishes. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets. Dinner is a grand meal, often stretching to almost ten o'clock at night. The main dining room is wonderful, filled with mahogany and brass, very nautical, with large port holes just above the waterline which are often filled with white foam from waves as you enjoy dinner under sail. The dinner menu offered fish, meat, and vegetarian choices each night. Wine can be bought by the bottle, and if you don't finish the bottle, you can have it stored and brought out the next night. The waitstaff is very congenial. Don't expect to eat and run. With our permission the Maitre d'Hotel seated us each evening at a different table with an interesting variety of dinner companions. He seemed to have a knack for mixing up congenial groups at each table. For the reclusive, there were a few tables for two available. Most people dined in parties of four, six, or eight. CABIN Our cabin was large, comfortable, and beautifully appointed. It was one of the better cabins on the ship, but we discovered that other than a bit more room and the luxury of a tub with a jacuzzi, there really was not much difference between our cabin and the less expensive ones. They are all quite elegantly furnished. We were in Cabin 316, an aft cabin on the main deck, somewhat removed from most of the other passenger accommodations. We could walk out our cabin door directly to the open deck and railings. Most of the time there were no other passengers in our deck area, so it was almost like being aboard a private yacht. Although we were near the Tropical Bar area, the sounds of its music or other activities were never intrusive. Being near the stern there was a bit more vertical motion from the ship. Cabins located amidships and lower will have less movement. ACTIVITIES ON BOARD Being a smaller ship, there are not a great deal of on-board activities, which was fine for us. Each evening around ten o'clock the Tropical Bar (on-deck but under canvas) hosts some entertainment or dancing. Passengers have free run of the ship and its decks. You can climb 60-feet to the first crow's nest on the main mast under supervision of the crew, or you can scramble out on the bow sprit's netting whenever you feel like it. The Chief Engineer gives a tour of the engine room. There are water sport activities each day, and you can go to the beach to swim, snorkel, sail small boats, or kayak for no additional charge. There are also diving activities almost daily, but at added cost. The snorkeling was conducted by a marine biologist, and it was every informative and pleasant. The marine biologist also presented one or two lectures during the cruise. The principal on-board daily activity is the sail-away each evening. This usually brings all passengers on deck to watch the sails being hoisted and set, done to the accompaniment of music by Vagelis, "CONQUEST OF PARADISE" (from the sound track of the cinematic feature "1492"). This literally puts a tear into everyone's eye as it is a very moving experience. The process of hauling the anchor, raising the sails, and gently gliding under sail from the many cozy anchorages we visited was universally enjoyed by all passengers. The Captain is an excellent ship handler and often sailed us into or out of crowded harbors without resorting to any assistance from the engine or bow thrusters. Every day is a new port and there typically are multiple shore activities available. We only went on one excursion, snorkeling at Dominica, which was billed as being some of the best available in the Caribbean. The snorkeling was good, but the overall excursion was not quite what we expected. It was too long, included a luncheon, and too much bus riding. We were very glad to get back to the ship. THE SHIP The most impressive element of the trip was the ship itself and the amount of time it spent under sail. The captain truly likes to sail, and the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER moves from port to port under sail power as much as possible. As a result, there is more motion to the ship than might be comfortable for those accustomed to very large and very stable ships. My wife and I are both experienced sailers and have spent a lot of time underway and living aboard moderately sized sailboats boats. For a 430-foot ship, the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER surprised me with how nimble it was. It has a rather quick roll period, must faster than I expected for a big sailing ship. I got a chance to take the helm on afternoon while under full press of sails and at 11-knots. The ROYAL CLIPPER is very responsive to the helm and responds quickly to any rudder input. We embarked at Barbados, which is quite separate from the other islands. You have at least 125-miles of open water sailing to the closest island, and the trip from and to Barbados generally brings higher seas than any other portion of the cruise. On our week the winds were unusually strong. We left Barbados on Saturday evening with a Force-6 (25- to 30-knot) wind on our starboard bow. Once we cleared the lee of Barbados, we were in open seas with significant waves, their tops being blown off into spray by the wind. There was considerable motion on the ship. The Captain had the cabin stewards deploy the lee boards on all berths as a precaution. With large seas and the wind well forward, the ship was put under motor propulsion, although several staysails were up for steadying. Quite a few passengers did not fare well on this first night at sea, including me. I used to be able to say I had never been sea sick, but I can no longer make that claim. I would recommend taking Dramamine or similar anti-motion sickness medication for this first night unless you are truly immune to sea sickness. Compared to the rough first night, we sailed comfortably after that, and with our sea legs regained, we never had any problem with sleeping or discomfort again. The run back to Barbados was again in rougher seas, but the wind was just far enough aft we could sail all the way. In general, sailing gives a more pleasant motion to the ship, in my opinion, and although we were rolling down the seas, the last night was not a problem. The ship is a thing of beauty and it is maintained in tip-top condition. If you arise early you will see the crew washing down the teak deck every morning, wiping down all the varnish and brightwork, and polishing the brass. They even re-painted the huge anchors during the trip so that they looked perfect. While you are ashore during the day, the crew goes over the side and touches up any little blemish on the hull. The mast and rigging all appear to be in perfect order, and the sails themselves are mainly new and without stains or patches. Even when you are ashore, your gaze will be drawn back to the ship as it rides at anchor in the harbor. It dominates every setting and attracts attention wherever it goes. It is beautiful. The other passengers were an interesting mix of Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and South Americans. On our trip there was a large German contingent, so all announcements were conducted in English and repeated in German. The several French speaking passengers were comfortable with English, so we avoided a third language in the public announcements. Menus and other ship information are printed in English, German, and French. Americans were probably about 40-percent of the passengers. The rest were mainly European, with a few Canadians and South Americans in the mix. The crew is composed of men and women from many countries. The Captain, Chief Engineer, and one of the senior Officers were Russian, which is probably due to the necessity of having proper licenses and ratings for a very large sailing ship. Russia had or has a fleet of large sailing ships, so there are more officers qualified on large sailing ships from Russia than anywhere else these days. Every one of the ship's crew with whom we came in contact was very pleasant and friendly, and we never lacked for service or assistance. Our weather was wonderful, with sunny skies and warm temperatures, made even more comfortable by a constant sea breeze. The many shades of blue of the Caribbean Sea sparkled at us day and night. We enjoyed several sun sets from the aft deck, including a rare Green Flash sunset one delightful evening while at sea. The rhythm of the cruise puts you into a new port each day, generally arriving in the late morning. The ship sets anchor, and tenders are deployed. You can go ashore to explore, swim from the beach, or just remain onboard and enjoy the expansive deck. The last gangway is typically in the late afternoon. The anchor is then hauled and the ship sails away. After sunset, everyone retires to their cabin to prepare for dinner. After dinner the ship sails into the night to the next port. Repeat this six times. A delightful week of cruising. We were told that Star Clippers has a very high repeat business rate, and I am not surprised. After this trip we are very likely to cruise with Star Clippers again. Most of the people we met aboard were veteran Star Clipper cruisers and were on their second, third, fourth or even tenth trip with the line. Most other passengers had more cruising experience than us, and they expressed a strong preference for the Star Clipper style of ship and cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
INTRODUCTION My wife and I sailed on the January 17, 2009 voyage of the Royal Clipper round-trip from Barbados. This was our second cruise with Star Clippers, having also sailed on the Star Clipper in 2006. Our previous cruises were on ... Read More
INTRODUCTION My wife and I sailed on the January 17, 2009 voyage of the Royal Clipper round-trip from Barbados. This was our second cruise with Star Clippers, having also sailed on the Star Clipper in 2006. Our previous cruises were on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and NCL. We had grown tired of the larger ships and wanted to try a sailing cruise for a change. After sailing on the Star Clipper and Royal Clipper, we have no desire to return to the mass market cruise ships. ARRIVAL We took a taxi from the airport and arrived at the pier in Barbados around 4:00, and the check-in process had already begun. Check-in consisted of receiving our ID cards (which doubled as our room keys), dropping off our passports and leaving an imprint of our credit card for purchases on the ship. We finished with the process and were taken to the ship via a very short shuttle ride. As we boarded the ship, we were met by the Captain and Hotel Manager and given complementary cold drinks and light snacks on deck. We then were escorted to our cabin and our luggage was delivered to our room shortly after our arrival. SHIP The Royal Clipper is a fabulous ship. It is a sailing vessel, not a cruise ship. The ship is very elegant and sophisticated with none of the pseudo-glitz of the large ships. There are no casinos, ship's photographers, show lounges or elevators. There are three bars on board: the outside Tropical Bar; the inside Piano Bar and a Pool Bar. All of the nightly entertainment occurs at the Tropical Bar. The ship has plenty of teak and mahogany wood, all varnished to a high gloss. Additionally, there is lots of brass, which is also kept polished. The crew was working every day doing routine maintenance around the ship. The ship's passenger capacity is 220, and this week it seemed filled. The breakdown of passengers was international - from the United States, Canada and Europe. About one-half of the passengers had previously sailed with Star Clippers. There were several passengers on board for two weeks, combining the Grenadine Islands itinerary of this sailing with the Windward Islands sailing the week immediately prior to or after our sailing. The crew members were from 25 different countries. The ship offers several features not found on cruise ships: passengers could climb the main mast to the first level crow's nest (with appropriate safety equipment) on two separate occasions during the week; we could relax on the widow's netting at the bow of the ship anytime the crew was not operating the sails; there was an open bridge policy throughout the week; the crew lowered tenders one day during the week to give the passengers the opportunity to photograph the Royal Clipper at sea under full sails; and passengers were given the opportunity to steer the ship while at sea. Each day as the sails were raised as we were leaving a port, the ship would play the Vangelis soundtrack, "1492: Conquest of Paradise" over the sound system. The passengers would congregate on deck to watch the crew raising the sails and to listen to the music. The sailing during certain periods throughout the week was rough. We heard that some passengers were ill at points during the week due to the ship's movement. However, we did not feel any discomfort during the week. CABIN We booked a Category 6 (Inside) room, cabin 228. In retrospect, we would have booked a higher category (Outside) room to give us a little more space. The room had a fixed double bed. The bathroom had a shower, toilet, sink and a two-door medicine cabinet with plenty of shelving for storing toiletries. While most of the electrical outlets in the cabin are 220 volts, there are two outlets in the bathroom for 110 volts, which I used for charging our digital camera's battery. These outlets could also be used for electric razors or charging cell phones. There was a hair dryer attached to the wall in the bathroom. The cabin had just enough storage and closet space for the two of us. A safe with a programmable lock was located in one of the cabinets. There was a TV in the room, which received a few English speaking programs, including CNN International. A DVD player was also in the room, and video disks could be borrowed from the ship's collection. Our cabin attendant was excellent. Towels were exchanged each morning and evening. MEALS All meals were served in the main dining room. Like the rest of the ship, the main dining room was very elegant. It was very common for the ship's officers, including the captain, to join a group of diners at each meal. All dining is open seating, with service between 8:00 and 10:00 for breakfast, 12:00 and 2:00 for lunch and 7:30 and 10:00 for dinner. There are no formal nights - dress for dinner is resort casual for men and women. Buffet meals were served for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, there was an assortment of cereal, yogurts, pastries and fruits, along with scrambled eggs, French toast or pancakes, bacon, sausage or ham and potatoes. There was also a station for fresh omelets and eggs each morning. Lunchtime had a nice assortment of salads, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and homemade soups, plus one or two hot entrEes. There was also a carving station each day with either fish or meat. The breakfasts and lunches were all very good. An afternoon snack would be served daily between 5:00 and 6:00 at the Tropical Bar. Like the breakfasts and lunches, the afternoon snack was very good. The snack would consist of items such as finger sandwiches, fruit, a hot dish and dessert. The dinners have improved since our last cruise on the Star Clipper. On our prior cruise, we were disappointed in the dinners served, both in the nightly selection and quality of food. We were much more pleased with the dinners on this cruise. Dinner would feature four choices for the main course: a seafood entree; a vegetarian entree; a meat entrEe and a Caribbean chef's special. Lobster Tail was served on Thursday night, which is the Captain's Dinner. One nice thing about the dinner food on this cruise (and on the prior Star Clipper cruise) was that each night, the various entrEes would be displayed in the piano bar for the passengers to get an idea of what would be served that evening. An early morning breakfast of croissants and pastries was also available in the Piano Bar from 6:00 to 8:00 in the mornings. Many mornings, we would be up early and grab a croissant and coffee and tea and sit on the deck as the ship sailed to the next stop. Coffee, tea and fresh fruit are available 24 hours a day in the Piano Bar. The coffee on the ship is barely drinkable. I think that they must let it brew too long and leave it on the heat after it has finished brewing. The best thing I found was to grab a fresh cup as soon as the brew cycle finished or to mix the coffee with hot water to dilute it somewhat. SERVICE The service in the main dining room and throughout the ship was good. However, with the ship filled to capacity, the service seemed slower than three years ago. We often had to ask for refills on water or coffee. Bar service was mainly at the bars, with no bar waiters hounding you to purchase drinks every few minutes. The guys (and one young lady) on the sports crew were excellent. As noted above, our cabin steward was excellent. The crew that worked the sails was also very good, showing great patience as the passengers were on deck as the crew was trying to raise or lower the sails. They were also very helpful with any information that the passengers asked them for. ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment on the clipper ships is very limited - this is one area that could use improvement by Star Clippers. There was one entertainer on board who sang and played the keyboard during the afternoon snack period. He also played the piano in the Piano Bar during the dinner hours and served as the deejay for nighttime dancing. The music selection for nighttime dancing seemed strange and hardly anyone danced after the organized entertainment ended each evening. It would have been much nicer to have a talented duo or trio providing the dancing music in the evenings. There were organized entertainment activities each night at 10:00 at the Tropical Bar. The first night was a Welcome Aboard party. Other nights featured crab races, a musical trivia quiz contest and a fashion show. A crew and passenger talent show was held on another night, which was very funny and enjoyable. While we were docked Monday night in Grenada, a very good steel drum band came aboard to play for us. Other forms of entertainment centered around the cruise director's daily talk on the upcoming port and the captain's story time. Every morning before we reached a port, the cruise director would hold a briefing on the bridge. He would explain the history of the island and places of interest to visit. He detailed what times the tenders would operate to the town or to the beach, and what time the last tender would return to the ship at the end of the day. The captain held two story times. The first session lasted about one hour and consisted of the captain narrating a slide show of sailing ships and then answering questions from the passengers regarding the ship and sailing in general. He also held another story time later in the week, demonstrating sailing maneuvers from the bridge area. ITINERARY This is not a typical cruise ship itinerary. Because of its small size, the ship can fit into ports that the larger ships cannot. The stops are in remote islands and harbors. The focus on the stops is on sailing and enjoying the natural beauty of the islands. There is not a lot of activity going on in most of the ports. At most stops, the ship would run two tenders, one to the town for limited shopping and to meet the shore excursions and the second one to a beach. For each beach stop, the sports crew would take water ski equipment, a wave board (similar to a snow board), a windsurf board, sea kayaks, and small sailboats. All of these beach activities were provided with no additional charge. Snorkeling gear was also issued at the beginning of the week for use throughout the cruise, again at no additional charge. After departing Barbados on Saturday, Sunday we stopped at uninhabited Young Island for a full beach day. On Monday the ship called at Grenada and spent all day docked at the pier in St. Georges. Several excursions were offered by the ship but we opted to walk into town in the morning and stopped at a public library to use the Internet connection. During the afternoon, we took a private taxi tour of the island, stopping at a spice plantation, Annandale Falls and a scenic point overlooking the harbor. On Tuesday the ship stopped at an uninhabited island in the Tobago Cays for a full day. This was probably the most beautiful beach we have ever been on. In addition to the beautiful beach, the natural harbor was filled with sailboats in the area for the day. You could take a short walk to the other side of the island where more sailboats were anchored offshore. There was good snorkeling right off of the beach. The ship's crew provided a full beach barbecue for lunch at this island stop. On Wednesday morning, we stopped in St. Vincent at the capital city of Kingstown. This was by far the worst stop of the week. No one could understand why the ship stops at this island. The pier area is crowded and dirty. Once you leave the protected area of the pier, you are hounded by taxi drivers. We did not feel comfortable walking through the city and headed back to the ship. Fortunately, we left St. Vincent around noon and sailed to Port Elizabeth, Bequia. As bad as St. Vincent was, Bequia was just as good. It is a beautiful island. The beach area is wide and sandy, without any rocks. There is a small town at the pier with many charming shops, restaurants and pubs. I know that many passengers made suggestions that St. Vincent should be dropped and the whole day should be spent in Bequia. There were two stops on Thursday on Martinique. During the morning, we stopped at the capital city, Fort de France. We spent the morning walking the city streets. During the afternoon, we anchored off of Grand Anse Beach. While on the beach, the sports crew led a snorkeling excursion to another part of the island on their Zodiac boats. Two excursions were offered, each with a capacity of eight persons. I was fortunate enough to go on the first excursion, and it was simply the best snorkeling I have ever done. Our excursion stopped at the same site as the local scuba dive tours. The water was incredibly clear, as we were able to see the ocean floor at least 70 feet below us. The coral formations living on the rocks were fabulous. During our time in the water, we saw two eels and an octopus, along with many other colorful fish. The best part of the snorkeling excursion was that it was free - no additional charge for the side trip. After snorkeling, we stayed on the beach until the last tender at 6:00 and witnessed a beautiful sunset on the tender ride back to the ship. The final stops on Friday were St. Lucia. In the morning, we stopped at Marigot Bay. A tender service was offered into a small marina, which turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. There was a coffee shop with nice patio seating along with several small specialty stores. There were several beautiful sailboats and yachts docked at the marina. A very nice resort hotel with beautiful grounds, Discovery at Marigot Bay, was located at the end of the marina. In the afternoon, we sailed to Soufriere Bay, where the sports team offered another snorkeling excursion - this time a one Euro fee was charged as we snorkeled at a St. Lucia national park, and the one Euro fee was the entrance fee to the park. During this snorkeling excursion, we saw and swam with a sea turtle for 10 or 15 minutes. The ship also offered shore excursions and a tender service to the town of La Soufriere. The passengers who went into the town were very disappointed, as they were harassed by local youths begging for money. SUMMARY This was another great week with Star Clippers, and we would definitely love to sail with them in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Royal Clipper Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.4
Family 1.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.9
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 3.6

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