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21 Star Clippers Royal Clipper Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

This cruise was a gift from my parents, otherwise we wouldn't have gone. However, we are so glad we did and we will do it again, and again, and again! My husband and I took our 4 yr old son on the cruise and he had a blast. He ... Read More
This cruise was a gift from my parents, otherwise we wouldn't have gone. However, we are so glad we did and we will do it again, and again, and again! My husband and I took our 4 yr old son on the cruise and he had a blast. He was the only child on the ship, but he didn't even notice because he was having so much fun. This cruise was so much better than staying at a resort. The food was delicious and the staff and crew were very accommodating and attentive. Mr. J was even able to arrange a bottle of Dom, chocolate strawberries, and other delicacies as a thank you for my parents, which isn't easy when you don't have access to Amazon. Also, we didn't feel overwhelmed by the activities/excursions and felt perfectly happy either staying on the ship or strolling through town. I only have one very minor suggestion. It seems very petty and I hesitate to mention it, but it would be nice if they would lower the price of chocolate milk. I think 1/3 of the bar bill belonged to my son, and that includes the bottle of Dom! Once we realized that the chocolate milk cost more than beer and wine, we had to limit him to just one a day. 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
I initially planned to be onboard for one week for the cruise to the Windward Islands. I have been on many regular cruises, and I have been on sailing vacations on 50 - 60 foot yachts. This was completely different from either. What a ... Read More
I initially planned to be onboard for one week for the cruise to the Windward Islands. I have been on many regular cruises, and I have been on sailing vacations on 50 - 60 foot yachts. This was completely different from either. What a special experience! The Royal Clipper is a true sailing ship, and the captain had her sailing without the diesel engine running, as much as possible. To see the sails unfurled each time we weighed anchor as the Vangelis music from 1492 played -- it was powerful. How much did I like being on the Royal Clipper? By mid-week, I knew I was not ready to return home. One call to my travel agent, and I was on for the second week to the Grenadines. Practical Things: As many have mentioned, you need to be physically fit to be a passenger on the Royal Clipper. There are many stairs and no elevators. You will feel the water. The ship moves -- she's supposed to -- that's the point. You are sailing. Then at almost every port, you will tender to the shore. If you are unsteady on your feet, this is not the cruise for you. Seasickness: the ship moves a lot. I have had problems with seasickness in the past. I simply brought tablets, and I used them. I was fine. I had no problems, and would simply say, go prepared. The ship is in fine condition. It looked like carpet in many places was new. Someone onboard mentioned seeing the Royal Clipper in dry dock last year, so some freshening was probably done at that point. Embarkation was easy and well organized. I was in two different cabins (since the second week was a last minute addition). Cabin 206, week 1, was wider than cabin 201. This makes sense of course, because the clipper tapers towards the bow. I was by myself, and the cabins were very comfortable for one person. For two people, I would recommend staying away from the narrower cabins -- 201 and 202, and corresponding cabins on the deck below. Several couples that I met on the the cruise were in the luxury cabins one floor up, and said they were very spacious. I was quite happy with my cabins. The food onboard was outstanding. Our chef, Devon, was from Jamaica, and his staff produced amazing meals from what I am sure is a fairly small galley. Dinner entrees between the two weeks did not repeat, with the exception of the lobster, which is served for the Captain's dinner. The bar staff was equally fine -- friendly, funny. And they may make the best mojito I've ever tasted. Ports and excursions: okay, this is different from what I was accustomed to on a large ship. I took 2 - 3 excursions from the ship each week, and they were all well done. On all cruises in the past, I have made arrangements myself through local vendors. This is more difficult to do on Star Clippers, for two reasons. One, she rarely docks where the big ships go (a wonderful thing) so meeting other excursion people can be difficult. Two, you are often not in port as long as you would be on a regular ship. I would tell you that over my two weeks on the Royal Clipper, I am very content with the way this works. We were in some small, amazing places. They sent us on tenders into lovely beaches . . . excursion? who needs an excursion? I borrowed a mask and fins each week from the water crew onboard the ship, would hit the beach, snorkel, have a drink at the beach bar . . . Places that I strongly recommend taking an excursion: Fort de France, Martinique. Lovely island, gorgeous gardens. The city of Fort de France -- um, no. Get out of the town, and you will like Martinique. Soufriere in St. Lucia: this is a great stop because the Pitons, the most photographed mountains in St. Lucia, are right there. But the town is not wonderful. I have been to St. Lucia a number of times, and the perfect thing to do is to take a water taxi from Soufriere to the beautiful beach between the two Pitons. It's perhaps a fifteen/twenty minute ride. Two resorts share the white sand beach. Water is gorgeous, and there is snorkeling along the right side (right side, as you stand on the beach and look out to sea). Lovely bar and restaurant. What can I say? I loved my experience with Star Clippers. I am not sure that I will ever be able to return to a large ship. The sailing experience is the heart of a cruise on the Royal Clipper. Doing things like crawling out onto the net along the bowsprit as the ship sails -- transformative. I am obviously a convert -- and I would say, with great enthusiasm, if my description sounds appealing to you, you will have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
I had done extensive research on the Star Clipper website, YouTube, and Cruise Critic prior to deciding on the Royal Clipper Grenadine Islands itinerary as my husband was looking to visit smaller ports not available on the regular cruise ... Read More
I had done extensive research on the Star Clipper website, YouTube, and Cruise Critic prior to deciding on the Royal Clipper Grenadine Islands itinerary as my husband was looking to visit smaller ports not available on the regular cruise ships. We had visited all the islands (Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia and Barbados) other than the Grenadines (Union Island, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and Bequia) and wanted to return to them. We are avid snorkelers and water sports are a big part of Star Clippers in addition to the sailing aspect. My previous 20 cruises had been on the usual cruise lines (Celebrity, Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Azamara and Norwegian), usually on smaller or medium size ships, to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska and South America. When booking our cat 3 cabin, I was informed that most cabins are somewhat small, but adequate. We were on the Clipper Deck overlooking the atrium area (including the dining room) after entering an access door at the bottom of the stairs to the cabin corridor. This was an ideal location due to its availability to all points forward and aft. There are many gateway cities for included air and although Pittsburgh was not one of them, our agent was able to give us comp air due to connecting at Charlotte, NC directly to Barbados. After meeting the SC (Star Clipper) rep at the airport, we were accompanied to the small van (taxi) for our ride to the ship. The driver was very pleasant and in fact tried to get us to commit to a private tour upon our return to Barbados the following Saturday. Upon arrival at the ship, there was a large P&O ship and the Windstar sailing ship berthed as well. There is no embarkation procedure prior to boarding due to the ship's small size. We climbed the gangway and were greeted by the hotel director and a cold towel at the tropical bar and guided to the embarkation desk inside the piano bar area around the atrium. This took approximately 5 minutes and we then went to our cabin down one flight of stairs. We then took a short walk around the ship to get our bearings and returned to the tropical bar (location for many activities including the life boat drill at 6:45 pm as it is where the two muster stations are. Dinner was served from 7:30-11:00 pm every evening where guests can choose how large a table to be seated at and where. We therefore met many different guests mostly from the US and the UK, but some also from Canada. There were others from France, Germany, Italy and other European countries we learned later as we met them on excursions. All announcements were given in three languages (English-primary, German and French). Sailaway was at 10 pm and there was a moonlit sky, but little wind not necessarily from the direction needed so only a few sails were unfurled and the engines assisted. Breakfast buffet was served from 8-10 am everyday, with early bird coffee and hot tea, pastries and breads available at the piano bar from 6:30-10:30. Buffet lunch was from noon to 2 pm with a different emphasis (i.e.,seafood, international, Italian, Caribbean, Oriental) daily. Afternoon snacks were available from 5-6 pm at the tropical bar as well as midnight snack at the piano bar which we never saw due to our retiring prior, from 11:45 pm to 1 a.m. daily. Iced tea was only available during dinner. Beverages such as soda and all alcoholic drinks were charged to your onboard account which uses Euros, not dollars. We prepaid our gratuities in dollars. A second life boat drill was conducted while at sea on the first day, followed by introduction of the officers and crew. The ship anchored at every port except Fort-de-France, Martinique and therefore tenders were needed to go ashore. The Sports Team would always get the water activities set up at the onboard marina or take the equipment ashore to the beaches when we anchored at a beach (all the Grenadine islands). General info on the ship: There are no elevators and negotiation of steps is required throughout the ship and it is therefore not for those who are not ambient. There is no theater (therefore no production shows) but there was an excellent Steel Band on board for an hour prior to sailing from Grenada, no casino, no professional photographer and no manned excursion desk. There are signup sheets with descriptions in the 3 languages for excursions and the Cruise Director Anna previewed them as well as you can preview descriptions online. Some activities such as a fashion show, line dancing, pirate night and a talent show encouraged guests (189 on our sailing) to participate. No special facilities or activities for children (none on our cruise in late January). The crew of 100+ is multinational with a majority of European nationalities (the ship sails in the Med in summer). There is a beautiful relatively large library, three small pools, several bars, an observation lounge which we learned was partially removed to load supplies and food on pallets on embarkation day, and a small gym and spa which I was too busy to utilize. There are two lifeboats, two tenders (with ramps for wet landings) and multiple zodiacs which seemed to be used only by crew on our cruise. Royal Clipper provides complimentary use of all water sports including snorkeling gear which is issued the first day for the use of the cruise. The Sloop Shop has an extensive SC line of clothing/accessories and the shop doubles as the Purser's Office. This sailing ship does offer opportunities (usually more than once to participate in sailing activities including unfurling the sails, enjoying the bowsprit net, and climbing the crows nest. I thoroughly enjoyed my time up on the Crows Nest as we were beginning to sail from St. Vincent to Bequia and this afforded me great views of all the nearby islands (though it was very windy). Excursions booked through SC: Grenada - Shadowfax Sailing/Snorkeling/BBQ lunch - we were disappointed with this excursion as the catamaran sailing was very rough which was normal around the southern point (thought the excursion should not have gone). Lunch was OK - it included Lobster and champagne, but the beach was shaded by trees and we were cold from the windy sailing. The snorkeling was also not in a tranquil location. Tobago Cays - Snorkeling was a bit rough as well (around the back side of the island where the SC beach BBQ was held). St. Vincent - Reef life tour -- excellent snorkeling at two locations (one was black sand beach). Almost all of the snorkeling on our excursions including the complimentary ones from the ship requires a bit of experience - not for newbies. The final three days of our cruise involved two ports at each island (St. Vincent/Bequia, Martinique and St. Lucia) and since we were involved in snorkeling every day, we did not get the chance to "see the ports" as time was just too limited (3-4 hrs each). I enjoyed seeing many sunsets and on our last day sailing from Soufriere, St. Lucia, saw porpoises as well. This occurred after our awesome, amazing "Full Sail Sailaway" viewing the Royal Clipper unfurling her sails from a tender with the Pitons in the background - a superb way to end our cruise. Thanks to Capt. Sergey Utitsyn of Estonia, Hotel Manager Steve Adamson, Cruise Director Anna Alice Langstrom of Switzerland and all the crew for a special unforgettable sailing cruise. We took an island discovery excursion after disembarking in Barbados which included driving through Holetown and Speightstown, stopping at Farley Hill National Park with its Great House ruins and views of the East Coast, driving through St. John's Parish and ending at Sunbury Plantation where we also had a buffet lunch. The Great House has extensive antiques and the tour gave insight into the life of a wealthy planter 300 years ago. Last stop was the airport where we picked up our luggage around 1:15 pm. Return flight was through Charlotte as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, ... Read More
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess) and not-so-typical types of ships (Delta Queen river boat on the Mississippi, river boat for 7 nights on the Amazon, another on the Nile), so we certainly had many points of reference. After reading their brochure and website and many reviews, we were excited and looking forward to sailing on a clipper ship. It promised to visit the smaller ports and towns which were otherwise not accessible to the larger cruise ships. Well, it was a funny outcome in some ways. We were not disappointed, yet we found the trip lacking in many important ways. First the positives: The dinner food was one of the best we had on any trip. It was always delicious. Even the daily soup garnered rave reviews from our two older children (age 15 & 16) who usually do not like too many soups. For breakfast and lunch there were buffets daily. Unfortunately, the breakfast, while consistently good, lacked variety and each day very little was changed, leaving one a bit bored at the end of the week. Ordering for example, an “eggs benedict”, or even a “boiled egg”, was not available and never appeared on the buffet. The ship itself was lovely and majestic when in full sale. The setting of the sails were, in itself, an inspiring event. Rooms were small yet comfortable with enough room for two people to move about without consistently bumping into themselves. The itinerary was great with often two ports per day, so you were always busy. Getting into some smaller ports of call was also something to enjoy. As well, the on-shore excursions were terrific. Note that if you are prone to getting sea-sick, give this one a pass or at the least, use the sea-sick ear tab or Gravol. The smaller size of the ship, when compared to the typical cruise ships, often makes for rocky times while eating dinner or getting to sleep. We all used the tab as insurance and that neutralized the sea’s effects. That being said, it is a great experience to find yourself on such a vessel and really experience what it is like to be at sea. You can let your imagination run wild and pretend, like our toddler son did, that you are on a pirate ship! Now, unfortunately, while the ship was positioned as being a “high-end” cruise with correspondingly high-end service, etc., it failed to measure up in several ways. I am listing them all below because there were many areas which needed improvement. Keep in-mind, while these seem like many points, none-the-less, the trip was enjoyed by all and would still be an experience which would be appreciated by most travellers. 1. You would have expected that on such a small ship, the crew would be extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. This was definitely not the case. While the crew hands were always smiling, the ship’s mid-level officers, (with the exception of its “hotel manager” and “captain”) were usually without smiles or greetings, and when questioned about some ship timings or activities failed to know the answer (e.g. What are the lunch buffet times? What time do we get in port tomorrow?). Even at the information desk on-board, the junior office could not answer these simple questions. The ships tour director would not often be able to provide information about tours and excursions, or details about debarking. Once our toddler dropped some pasta on the floor en-route to his table. Three crew passed by stepping over the spill without any offer to help, or to clean it up; but instead we did. 2. This trip is really not recommended for young children. Prior to leaving we spoke to the “Star Clipper booking agent” about taking this with our almost 3-year old. She said it was welcomed and, while there would be no child facilities on board, there would be no issues. We were surprised to learn upon arrival that we could not even get a booster seat or high-chair for dining. We spoke to a senior officer about this and were told, “the owner board are old and conservative, and do not like to change things they have been doing for years.” He had offered to go ashore on a previous trip to buy a toddler chair for $40, and was told by the owners, “definitely not because we do not cater to young children”. He admitted they had no interest in targeting a “family” clientele. On that previous trip there were 3 young toddlers. On the positive side they did prepare special meals for our son at dinner … after the third night. 3. While still on the ship situation, this would not be a ship recommended to anyone with a physical disability. The stairs are long, very steep and narrow. There are no elevators. With the frequent rocking, this would make for a dangerous situation for handicapped or frail travellers. 4. While the cabins were cleaned daily, and there was a nightly turn-down service, no cleaning or refreshing was done throughout the day. So, if you came back from a tour in the morning and took a shower, you would be left with damp towels for your pre-dinner shower. The same lack of daily cleaning was evident when we noticed some dirty plates outside someone’s cabin early morning. They stayed there for TWO days. Not what you would consider first-class service. 5. There is an odd practice on this ship which allows crew officers to eat at the same time and place as the clients. Now by itself this would not seem to be a problem if not for the fact we experienced them jumping in-line to get their food, or eating the last portions of some foods, leaving passengers who paid significant amounts lacking their food. When this point was observed frequently, we brought it up to another senior officer who said again it was the policy of the “older owners”. Even the First Mate just shrugged his shoulders and said “that is the way it is on this ship”! 6. The Clipper should introduce a practice of having some food available to its passengers all throughout the day. The current practice is only to have the three meal times and midnight food available. There is also a small snack laid out at 5pm for one hour. That 5pm snack is very small and usually is taken quickly as passengers are hungry by then. So, if you are not there quickly you may find all the food gone and you have to wait until 7:30 for dinner. (This issue is further compounded as crew usually come and get their “snack” as well even though there is usually not enough for the passengers!) Even having some cookies or pound cake laid out in the lounge would work to take the edge of your appetite. 7. The above practice often sees passengers very hungry by the time dinner comes around – which is at 7:30pm. Normally such a late time for dinner is not an issue but given it is somewhat late to eat dinner for many people, the firm should change the policy and begin dinner a bit earlier, say at 6:30pm. Those who wish to eat later can still arrive at 7:30pm. 8. The ship does not have a “wine” package whereby you can buy bottles at a discount if you agree to purchase 8, 9, etc. This is common practice among other cruise ships and one which we find very client focused. Having to pay top dollar for wine with dinner can add up very fast. Similarly, there is not a soft-drink package for teens, and we know how much they can drink pop (at the price charged by the Clipper, that too adds up quickly). 9. When the Ship sails out on the first night, all passengers are invited on deck to see the opening of the sails. This is a great event to see. However, they invite you there to have a glass of champagne to celebrate this event. The word “invite” is misleading as they charge you 10 euros for that glass. It should be free as part of their welcome. 10. While this ship is relatively new, you can see signs that a retrofit is needed. In our washroom much of the marble on the floor has yellowed. Other areas you can see carpet showing wear. It is just starting to look a bid “old”. Perhaps this is intended by the owners to add character. 11. There is a “safety” speech given on the first day. Such a practice is also done on other cruise lines. However, it was longer than should be and was repeated the second evening. The tone was also very condescending as passengers were, for over 5-10 minutes, reminded there was unique plumbing on the ship and only the ship’s toilet paper should go in the toilet otherwise the entire system could block. This point seemed to go on forever on both evenings. Added to the length of this briefing is the fact it was given in three languages (English, German, French) so it took seemingly forever. I believe one such safety briefing to be sufficient. Now, you may think some of these points are too critical or trivial, perhaps so, but we did expect a 5-star trip and we feel we received a 3-star one. If the Star Clipper firm is to measure up to 5-stars, or even 4, none of the above should be evident in our opinion. We had the luck of meeting a couple who had just returned from a similar “sailing ship” with Oceania Cruises. They raved about it, the ship, and crew. Similarly none of our above issues were noticed by them. They did consider it 5-star. We would suggest anyone considering a clipper ship trip to consider that cruise line. We picked Star Clipper above them based on the fact they did take children (Oceania Cruises does not take children but does state that up-front). Little did we know those were just words and did not reflect anything on the ship. Too bad they are missing on a large market of family clients. Overall, let me restate we all had a terrific time for the week and would recommend it to others (and also to consider the other sail line options), however keeping in-mind the above limitations. We heard they are launching a new ship next year. You may be advised to wait for that one.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, ... Read More
It was a different way to cruise the Caribbean. Just the sight of all the sails flying above the ship peaked our interest in going on this unique type of vessel. We had cruised about 15 times prior on the typical cruise ships (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess) and not-so-typical types of ships (Delta Queen river boat on the Mississippi, river boat for 7 nights on the Amazon, another on the Nile), so we certainly had many points of reference. After reading their brochure and website and many reviews, we were excited and looking forward to sailing on a clipper ship. It promised to visit the smaller ports and towns which were otherwise not accessible to the larger cruise ships. Well, it was a funny outcome in some ways. We were not disappointed, yet we found the trip lacking in many important ways. First the positives: The dinner food was one of the best we had on any trip. It was always delicious. Even the daily soup garnered rave reviews from our two older children (age 15 & 16) who usually do not like too many soups. For breakfast and lunch there were buffets daily. Unfortunately, the breakfast, while consistently good, lacked variety and each day very little was changed, leaving one a bit bored at the end of the week. Ordering for example, an “eggs benedict”, or even a “boiled egg”, was not available and never appeared on the buffet. The ship itself was lovely and majestic when in full sale. The setting of the sails were, in itself, an inspiring event. Rooms were small yet comfortable with enough room for two people to move about without consistently bumping into themselves. The itinerary was great with often two ports per day, so you were always busy. Getting into some smaller ports of call was also something to enjoy. As well, the on-shore excursions were terrific. Note that if you are prone to getting sea-sick, give this one a pass or at the least, use the sea-sick ear tab or Gravol. The smaller size of the ship, when compared to the typical cruise ships, often makes for rocky times while eating dinner or getting to sleep. We all used the tab as insurance and that neutralized the sea’s effects. That being said, it is a great experience to find yourself on such a vessel and really experience what it is like to be at sea. You can let your imagination run wild and pretend, like our toddler son did, that you are on a pirate ship! Now, unfortunately, while the ship was positioned as being a “high-end” cruise with correspondingly high-end service, etc., it failed to measure up in several ways. I am listing them all below because there were many areas which needed improvement. Keep in-mind, while these seem like many points, none-the-less, the trip was enjoyed by all and would still be an experience which would be appreciated by most travellers. 1. You would have expected that on such a small ship, the crew would be extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. This was definitely not the case. While the crew hands were always smiling, the ship’s mid-level officers, (with the exception of its “hotel manager” and “captain”) were usually without smiles or greetings, and when questioned about some ship timings or activities failed to know the answer (e.g. What are the lunch buffet times? What time do we get in port tomorrow?). Even at the information desk on-board, the junior office could not answer these simple questions. The ships tour director would not often be able to provide information about tours and excursions, or details about debarking. Once our toddler dropped some pasta on the floor en-route to his table. Three crew passed by stepping over the spill without any offer to help, or to clean it up; but instead we did. 2. This trip is really not recommended for young children. Prior to leaving we spoke to the “Star Clipper booking agent” about taking this with our almost 3-year old. She said it was welcomed and, while there would be no child facilities on board, there would be no issues. We were surprised to learn upon arrival that we could not even get a booster seat or high-chair for dining. We spoke to a senior officer about this and were told, “the owner board are old and conservative, and do not like to change things they have been doing for years.” He had offered to go ashore on a previous trip to buy a toddler chair for $40, and was told by the owners, “definitely not because we do not cater to young children”. He admitted they had no interest in targeting a “family” clientele. On that previous trip there were 3 young toddlers. On the positive side they did prepare special meals for our son at dinner … after the third night. 3. While still on the ship situation, this would not be a ship recommended to anyone with a physical disability. The stairs are long, very steep and narrow. There are no elevators. With the frequent rocking, this would make for a dangerous situation for handicapped or frail travellers. 4. While the cabins were cleaned daily, and there was a nightly turn-down service, no cleaning or refreshing was done throughout the day. So, if you came back from a tour in the morning and took a shower, you would be left with damp towels for your pre-dinner shower. The same lack of daily cleaning was evident when we noticed some dirty plates outside someone’s cabin early morning. They stayed there for TWO days. Not what you would consider first-class service. 5. There is an odd practice on this ship which allows crew officers to eat at the same time and place as the clients. Now by itself this would not seem to be a problem if not for the fact we experienced them jumping in-line to get their food, or eating the last portions of some foods, leaving passengers who paid significant amounts lacking their food. When this point was observed frequently, we brought it up to another senior officer who said again it was the policy of the “older owners”. Even the First Mate just shrugged his shoulders and said “that is the way it is on this ship”! 6. The Clipper should introduce a practice of having some food available to its passengers all throughout the day. The current practice is only to have the three meal times and midnight food available. There is also a small snack laid out at 5pm for one hour. That 5pm snack is very small and usually is taken quickly as passengers are hungry by then. So, if you are not there quickly you may find all the food gone and you have to wait until 7:30 for dinner. (This issue is further compounded as crew usually come and get their “snack” as well even though there is usually not enough for the passengers!) Even having some cookies or pound cake laid out in the lounge would work to take the edge of your appetite. 7. The above practice often sees passengers very hungry by the time dinner comes around – which is at 7:30pm. Normally such a late time for dinner is not an issue but given it is somewhat late to eat dinner for many people, the firm should change the policy and begin dinner a bit earlier, say at 6:30pm. Those who wish to eat later can still arrive at 7:30pm. 8. The ship does not have a “wine” package whereby you can buy bottles at a discount if you agree to purchase 8, 9, etc. This is common practice among other cruise ships and one which we find very client focused. Having to pay top dollar for wine with dinner can add up very fast. Similarly, there is not a soft-drink package for teens, and we know how much they can drink pop (at the price charged by the Clipper, that too adds up quickly). 9. When the Ship sails out on the first night, all passengers are invited on deck to see the opening of the sails. This is a great event to see. However, they invite you there to have a glass of champagne to celebrate this event. The word “invite” is misleading as they charge you 10 euros for that glass. It should be free as part of their welcome. 10. While this ship is relatively new, you can see signs that a retrofit is needed. In our washroom much of the marble on the floor has yellowed. Other areas you can see carpet showing wear. It is just starting to look a bid “old”. Perhaps this is intended by the owners to add character. 11. There is a “safety” speech given on the first day. Such a practice is also done on other cruise lines. However, it was longer than should be and was repeated the second evening. The tone was also very condescending as passengers were, for over 5-10 minutes, reminded there was unique plumbing on the ship and only the ship’s toilet paper should go in the toilet otherwise the entire system could block. This point seemed to go on forever on both evenings. Added to the length of this briefing is the fact it was given in three languages (English, German, French) so it took seemingly forever. I believe one such safety briefing to be sufficient. Now, you may think some of these points are too critical or trivial, perhaps so, but we did expect a 5-star trip and we feel we received a 3-star one. If the Star Clipper firm is to measure up to 5-stars, or even 4, none of the above should be evident in our opinion. We had the luck of meeting a couple who had just returned from a similar “sailing ship” with Oceania Cruises. They raved about it, the ship, and crew. Similarly none of our above issues were noticed by them. They did consider it 5-star. We would suggest anyone considering a clipper ship trip to consider that cruise line. We picked Star Clipper above them based on the fact they did take children (Oceania Cruises does not take children but does state that up-front). Little did we know those were just words and did not reflect anything on the ship. Too bad they are missing on a large market of family clients. Overall, let me restate we all had a terrific time for the week and would recommend it to others (and also to consider the other sail line options), however keeping in-mind the above limitations. We heard they are launching a new ship next year. You may be advised to wait for that one.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just back from a week onboard the Royal Clipper, a 5 masted square rigged sailing ship [ apparently the largest in the world ]. It was an amazing experience to be on deck when the sails were unfurled each evening to the background sound of ... Read More
Just back from a week onboard the Royal Clipper, a 5 masted square rigged sailing ship [ apparently the largest in the world ]. It was an amazing experience to be on deck when the sails were unfurled each evening to the background sound of stirring classical music. The cabin, one of only 2 at deck level, a the stern end was very well appointed, all wood veneer pannelling and a huge bed. Although it was a bit of a tight squeeze and access to the bed was from one side only, so night time ventures to the loo involved clambering to the end of the bed to try and not disturb my good lady. The bathroom was quite large and well appointed with a big jacuzzi bath, a smaller bathroom and larger cabin might have worked better. Lots of soaps and lotions provided and a good sized cabinet for all our bathroom bits and bobs. The cabin had plenty of storage space for clothes and suitcases [ placed under the bed ], and access was from the deck so people would walk by throughout the trip, but we soon got used to this and it was nice to have the privacy of a cabin away from all the other accomodation. Cabin No.315. The food was excellent and the service first class, seating was as youplease so you get to meet different folks every meal if you choose. It was a very eclectic mix of passengers, Usa, Brits, Canadians, German and French made up the majority of the 220 onboard. A nice mix and most seemed friendly and happy to socialise. One thing to note, this is a sailing vessel NOT a mega liner so it moves about quite a bit. So if you suffer from sea sickness come prepared, my wife suffered quite a lot because of it, and we noticed that a few passengers had sea sickness patches on, worth considering. This was evident on the first night when our room steward raised a panel at the side of the bed to help prevent us falling out during the night. The voyage itself was great because, as this is a smaller vessel, it can get into places where the large vessels can't venture. Such as Ille Des Saintes a beautifull tiny French island. Apart from mooring at Martinique all other stops involve using the small tenders to get to and from the shore, these were well organised and seemed to run all day. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
It has been a little over a month since our return and I just keep telling people about our cruise. We had an amazing time on our cruise. My husband and I will never cruise on a large ship again. The experience on a clipper ship is so ... Read More
It has been a little over a month since our return and I just keep telling people about our cruise. We had an amazing time on our cruise. My husband and I will never cruise on a large ship again. The experience on a clipper ship is so intimate and so much more fun. The cabin was just big enough. The bathroom was even a little bigger than the big cruise ships. The crew and staff were wonderful from beginning to end. My husband and I are seniors ( 72 and 65). I'm not in the best shape but I had no problem getting around the ship. There were people from all over the world so it was really interesting meeting people. Because the ship only holds 227 passengers it was real easy meeting people and getting to know them. When we came into a port we were able to get right in to the beaches on tenders.. Except for Antigua we were able to swim at pretty much deserted beaches. We couldn't dock on the side of the Fort at Antigua so we had to dock where the big cruise ships go. It was amazing to compare the ships. My husband said our masts were as high as the gigantic cruise ships but the town was mobbed and very commercial. We took two tours, one in St Lucia and one in St Kitts. Both were very nice, informative and personal. The accommodations were very comfortable. The food was superb. On the big cruise ships the desserts look great but are tasteless not on this ship. There are no elevators but the stairs are not steep and I got added extra exercise. Breakfast and lunch are both buffets. Dinner is sit down. There are no shows and casinos but many would meet in the bar area for fun . One night was pirate night and there were hermit crab races to bet on . The cruise directors and their helpers were in charge. All were very young and enthusiastic. One of the many things I was impressed with was when we went to a beach snorkels and gear,beach games sunfishes, and kayaks were provided free of charge. Also dress is casual. My husband was so pleased he didn't have to bring a tie. Some of the down sides were poor internet reception so I would use the wifi when on land. We booked our airfare with Star Clipper and they certainly didn't leave enough time between connections and don't stay at the Miami Airport hotel( it smells of old cigarettes). We are saving up for our next trip (maybe the Greek Isles) Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We chose this cruise for our sixtieth birthday celebration because we enjoy sailing and because we love the Grenadines. We are not experienced cruisers having only cruised once before with NCL and we didn't warm to that style of ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our sixtieth birthday celebration because we enjoy sailing and because we love the Grenadines. We are not experienced cruisers having only cruised once before with NCL and we didn't warm to that style of travel.......too much organisation for our liking. We had high hopes for our trip on the Royal Clipper. We stayed one night pre cruise and three nights post cruise at the beautiful Tamarind Cove hotel in Barbados. Embarcation was a bit of a faff with everyone arriving at the same time which resulted in long queues to check in. We were pleasantly surprised with our cabin, it was well laid out with lots of storage for our luggage. the bathroom, whilst tiny, had a great shower with loads of instant hot water. The cabin steward did a great job keeping the room spotless. Towels were changed and a turn down service was provided while were at dinner. We were bemused by the introduction of the crew in the tropical bar. We did not really need this and the young crew members looked awkward and embarrassed. Talking of young cruise members, the cruise director was extremely young and inexperienced. Nice girl but she was not familiar with the ports of call and the attractions available. She could have spent the repositioning cruise reading up from the guide books which were piled up on the excursion desk. As for the sports team, they really just Wanted to play in the beautiful blue waters! Again they were totally inexperienced and were not prepared to put out the equipment That was available on board. Star Clippers need to address this staffing policy, youth does not have the experience to deal with the customers who are in the main extremely well travelled intelligent clients. Food on board was mediocre and a disappointment. Breakfast and lunch were better than dinner which was often served luke warm. The exception to this was the captain's dinner which was very enjoyable. The great parts of this trip were the sailing and the ports of call. The sail always are spectacular With the sails up and the music blaring out! We sailed at least ninety percent of the time under sail with the engine off!!! Thankfully we were familiar with the islands on the itinery having visited the area before. The highlight for us is swimming with the turtles at Tobago Cays. Give the water taxis on the beach ten dollars us and they will take you round to the sanctuary. The cruise staff did not know this existed so many passengers missed out on this wonderful attraction. The water taxis are strictly regulated because it is a state park. We loved Bequia and only wished we had a full day there to explore. We only went on one organised tour from Grenada. A fabulous catamaran trip with snorkelling and a champagne lobster lunch, we can highly recommend it. Would we sail on Royal Clipper again? Possibly yes because we loved the sailing, the ports of call and our cabin! Next time, if there is a next time, we would know what to expect. Do not go expecting fine dining and evening entertainment because you will be disappointed. Go for the sailing experience and the ports of call because the clipper can get to places large cruise liners cannot.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
From the moment you first walk up the gangway and the Captain welcomes you aboard you know this cruise is going to be different. The ship is something else, surely no more ropes are left for the rest of the world as this ship must have ... Read More
From the moment you first walk up the gangway and the Captain welcomes you aboard you know this cruise is going to be different. The ship is something else, surely no more ropes are left for the rest of the world as this ship must have used them all. For a vessel 12 years old it is kept in fantastic shape. The crew was great and having only 200 passengers was totally different from a regular cruise. Now understand, it is a sailing ship, and you will lay in bed and feel it rocking. You will indeed sail on this ship. As soon as you push away from the dock they sales start going up (with great fanfare), even while you are still in the harbor. Also don't bring any small children as you would not feel comfortable. Lots of rope to step over and several "gaps" in the railing around the life boats where there is no railing (only a single rope). There are no elevators and some of the outside doorways you have to sort of squeeze through as they can become water tight doors. Our cabin, although small, was the most beautiful, wood everywhere. Bathroom is nice but the shower size sucks (like stand up without moving you arms, heaven forbid you drop the soap). Ports, mostly beach stops which were nice. The little out of the way towns were nothing much. Don't go to expecting any great port stops. Would I go again, yes. Will I go again, yes. This ship is a "only one in the world" experience. Sitting on deck at night looking at the sails and the stars was worth every penny and moments we will remember forever. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
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 absolutely loved the ship - having sailed on big ones before. The atmosphere is very en famille, no silly entertainment or slot machines and you get to places the other big ships cannot get to. Sail Away is totally fabulous with all ... Read More
We absolutely loved the ship - having sailed on big ones before. The atmosphere is very en famille, no silly entertainment or slot machines and you get to places the other big ships cannot get to. Sail Away is totally fabulous with all those sails unfolding and Captain Sergey is a star, he really loves to use the sails as much as possible, for turning the ship or to sail shorter distances. And he talks to people, explains patiently - very much appreciated. The problem sometimes is the wind - if you are going North and the wind comes from there you cannot sail but they do what they can and it worked for us. We had a cat 2 cabin midships right down which was good in terms of stability - but the waves kept banging against it so it was a bit noisy when there was water action. Which there is a lot of - you DO notice that you are on a ship, it moves all the time and even if you do not get seasick which we did not it is unusual if you are not a sailor. There were lots of those on boards who just laughed at our worries. Having said that it really was not too bad but when the ship sails from and to Barbados you notice that you are out at sea and not under land any more. Cabin is small but well appointed but I would not like one of the others which have two sqm less. Already with this you have to be very organised if you are sharing a cabin. Food was the only downside - really not in line with expectations and partially re-heated potatoes, same salad every day, meat overdone and the bbq on the beach which is a good idea in theory turned out to be lukewarm overcooked stuff in reality. Not nice. And they use far too much butter. The ship is not really appropriate for persons with handicaps - lots of stairs and getting from the ship to a tenderboat is not easy especially when there are waves. Having said that we had a blind person on board who we all admired greatly - he did not miss a single trip - and the staff went out of their way to help. Also there were some elderly people who also made it. Great excursions, lots of beach and snorkeling - we enjoyed it, would come again - but get some seasickness plasters instead of just having tablets after the fact! And please note - this ship is also not good for kids either. There is nothing for them and with all the cables going around and open spaces it would be downright dangerous. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We flew to Barbados a day early so as not to miss the departure, had a reservation with the Pirates Cove Inn. That was a glorious experience. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.We were not able to board the ship until 4PM even tho' ... Read More
We flew to Barbados a day early so as not to miss the departure, had a reservation with the Pirates Cove Inn. That was a glorious experience. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.We were not able to board the ship until 4PM even tho' it docked at 7AM, so we had a lot of time to kill with our bags. It is an expensive cab ride from the hotel to Bridgetown and the pier. Pre-boarding we had to sign a health waiver and submit to a temperature test. We were also required to sign a form agreeing the line could only be sued from Monaco. OK we submit and sign because we are after all here to take the cruise. At 10PM we are underway with much pomp and ceremony for the raising of the sails. The music is very theatrical 1492 Conquest of the Caribbean. We actually made 8 ports in the 7 days. Only 2 were docked all the others were tendered. The sea was rough and getting off the ship and into the tender boats was difficult for able bodied folks. We had a number of older guests, some with limited dexterity so they were always presented with the dilemma of staying on board and missing the port or daring the transfer. Shopping was an absolute "nothing"...our day in Grenada was a national holiday...our day in Martinique was the beginning of Carnival. All the other stops were for snorkelling or scuba. Wrong cruise if you are not into water sports and raw beaches. The food is buffet style breakfast and lunch, full service dinner. The service good, not excellent but OK...same with the food. Our cabin steward kept us tidy, but had the flu. So if the guests have to submit to a health check, what about the crew. The Islands are beautiful, and are regardless of how you get there. My favorite stop was in Barbados where we had a great driver take us to the northernmost point of the Island to Flower Cave, and a great waterside restaurant for lunch before the trip to the airport. The staff on the ship especially the deck hands were eager to explain the tasks they were assigned to. As for the climbing of the mast...available for 2 hours one morning and one hour another...not quite like described in the brochures. Many who wanted to climb to the crows nest were not able to because they could not be accomodated. Entertainment was of the amateur variety, but since smoking is allowed in the Tropic Bar where the entertainment took place , those who choose not to inhale other peoples smoke could not participate. The currency on board is the Euro...makes drinks bloody expensive..... The captain on this vessel was very friendly and available to anyone who wished to speak with him...one could not say the same for the Hotel Manager who never got back to any guest about anything as near as I could tell. When all was said and done, spending the week in Barbados would have been more enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date February 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
It came & went so quickly, thankfully we have many pleasant memories and pictures to tide us over until our next adventure. Once again, Star Clipper's treated us to an excellent voyage......this time on the Royal Clipper as we ... Read More
It came & went so quickly, thankfully we have many pleasant memories and pictures to tide us over until our next adventure. Once again, Star Clipper's treated us to an excellent voyage......this time on the Royal Clipper as we sailed through the Grenadine's. We visited Union Island, Grenada, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent, Bequai, Martinique & St. Lucia after starting our journey in Barbados between Nov. 14 & 21st. We left Austin, Texas on Friday the 13th at 9AM on American Airlines and arrived in Barbados at 11PM after connections in Dallas & Miami. While the flight was long, everything went without a hitch. We were expecting the worse when we arrived in Barbados and hoped we would be at the Hilton by 1AM. To our delight, we cleared customs, caught a cab & were in our room by 11:45. One thing that has stuck with us was how nice and helpful everyone was: the Airport personnel, Customs Officers, Taxi driver and the Hilton staff. It bode well for an excellent vacation. The Hilton is a very nice hotel....large, but clean & well managed. Our room was on the 7th floor in the Lighthouse wing. We ordered room service when we got settled, and it arrived quickly and was very good. I had heard reports of how expensive dining is at the Hilton and Barbados in general, but we didn't think it was any more expensive than any other travel destination we have encountered. The package we booked included a bottle of Champagne, but as late as we checked in, and the number of cocktails we had on the flights, we decided to not pop the cork at that time. We awoke Saturday morning and looked over the balcony to see the most beautiful white sand and blue ocean. We went down to the Lighthouse Restaurant and had breakfast as it was also included. The buffet was well laid out with the usual assortment of breakfast items. After sitting down, the wind started up & we had a very heavy shower that lasted about 10 minutes....stuff was blowing off the tables and folks were scurrying around trying to stay dry. As quick as it came, it was over and the rest of the day was postcard perfect. Checkout is at noon, and since the Hotel was full, they couldn't extend check-out, but they do provide Hospitality Rooms for guests. These are reserved for 30 minutes, so we made ours for 3:15. After checking out, the Hilton staff stored our luggage and told us to enjoy the facilities and check back at 3. We hung around the beautiful beach & pool area, soaking up the sites & sun until it was our Hospitality time. We were able to take showers & iron some clothes and just relax a bit before heading to the Port and our date with the Royal Clipper, which we could see at the dock from the Hilton. Remember the bottle of Champagne? We never did get around to drinking it, but the Hilton said they would store it in the fridge & have it waiting for us when we returned the following Saturday. Finally it was time to head to the Port, so we hopped in our cab and we were off! On the way, we asked our driver f there was anywhere we could pick up some Rum to take aboard. He took us to a little market downtown & I ran in while he parked. The market was packed & as I was about to give up, our driver came in and said to let him handle it. He went up to the front of one of the lines and asked the next in line if he could cut in, which he kindly agreed to. That was indicative of everyone we met in Barbados. I was so grateful, I assisted with his groceries, so hopefully, I made his day a bit better also. After a short 10 minute ride, we were at the Port. Embarkation: We arrived shortly after 4PM, which was apparently the same time everyone else decided to show up. This was one of the few negatives for the trip. It was very hot & humid, we were in a non A/C building and it took about 1 ½ hrs to get processed. They did pick up our bags & take them to the ship, so we didn't have to mess with those while we waited. There were also a few shops that were open, so we would take turns exploring while we waited. I was able to find some Cuban cigars at one of the shops. As an ex-smoker, that is one of my guilty pleasures on our vacations. One cigar for the week and a few to take home to friends.....I don't know, maybe 'cause they are illegal here or just to buck doctors orders. I really don't like smoking them. Once we had our flu checks, turned in our passports & filled out all the liability releases, we were off to the ship! On Board at last! We headed for the gangway, and as we reached the deck, we were greeted by Capt. Sergey Utitsyn, who welcomed us aboard. Hostesses passed out towels to freshen up and others passed out what I think were Rum Punches. There were also finger foods set up in the Tropical Bar. We mingled for a short time and headed to our cabin to check it out. Since we were offered some terrific discounts, I decided to splurge on one of the Suites. We had 314, which is the furthest aft of the Suites on the Port side. This cabin, along with the the corresponding cabin on the starboard side are arranged a bit different from the other Suites. They are a little longer than the others & have a slightly larger veranda. It was definitely larger than the cat.2 cabin we had on the Star Flyer and had quite a bit more closet space and the whirlpool tub wasn't a bad perk also. It also opened directly to the deck instead of into a hallway like the others. This night, we decided to utilize one of the main perks of the Suites....room service! Our Steward, Augustus, brought us the menu & told us to just check off what we'd like & he'd get it handled. We requested it for 8 and like clockwork, it was there. Augustus took very good care of us that week. Anything we requested, was handled prompt & correctly. We really missed him when we got home! Rachel at Star Clippers also sent us a bottle of champagne which went very well with dinner. It was a great start o the voyage. As we sat on our veranda relaxing, the other ships in Port started leaving. One was a Celebrity ship & the other the Sea Princess. They looked so huge next to the Royal Clipper. We anxiously awaited sail away at 10PM and proceeded up to the deck. We departed on time & as we motored out of the harbor, we passed a Dutch nuclear submarine that was tied up at the pier just as we cleared. That explained why there were no other ships in that section of the harbor. Once we cleared the harbor, the familiar strains of 1492, Conquest of Paradise began playing over the sound system and Capt. Sergey gave the orders to raise the sails. There are so many sails on the Royal Clipper, it requires repeating the song three times.....they could remedy this with a little tool called Garage Band that would make it flow a little better, but that's another story. Finally, sleepy time called & we headed off for our first night at sea, with visions of Union Island dancing in our heads. Oh, the beds were extremely comfortable and the gentle rocking made us sleep like babies. Sunday...Union Island Our stop in the Grenadines was to be Union Island and we were scheduled to anchor at 12:30 in the afternoon. The morning leading up to arrival was a full one. We started with a good exercise with Emma from the Sports Team. She would lead a morning workout each day in the Tropical Bar. Next was breakfast followed by a meeting with the Sports Team to go over all the Scuba activities for the week. That was immediately followed by the Muster drill. The captain followed with the introduction of all the officers. Finally, the snorkel gear was handed out for those that wanted...they kept this equipment the entire week.We arrived at the island right on time and most people spent the day at the beach. There were a couple of establishments for refreshments, but mostly it was just a kick back and relax kind of day. We went on the early scuba dive. There was quite a bit of marine life, but the reef where we dove was a bit underwhelming. After returning, we caught a tender and went ashore where we spent some time kayaking and walking the beach. Alas, the time went much too quickly & it was time to return to the ship and sail off into the sunset. Monday...Grenada Started with a workout with Emma again...helped us feel better about eating too much! We arrived around Noon and although we were expecting to tender, we were fortunate to be able to dock. We caught up with the Sea Princess in Grenada as she was docked also. We were looking forward to diving here at a spot called the Underwater Sculpture Garden. It is a series of sculptures designed to promote quicker recovery of the reef that was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. They are life size figures placed around the reef. Pretty amazing sight! We scheduled this in advance with Dive Grenada as we had discovered the ship did not offer this dive. We are so glad we arranged this because as things turned out, Grenada was perhaps our favorite stop on the trip. The dive shop had arranged for us to be picked up at the pier, and as we walked into the terminal, a gentleman by the name of Garfield was waiting. As we proceeded to the dive shop that was located on Grand Anse beach, Garfield was giving us a history lesson on St. George. Since we were not scheduled to depart till 11:45 that evening, we asked Garfield if he knew of anyone we could hire to show us around the island after we finished with our dive. He said he would be pleased to show us around and as promised, was sitting at the dive shop when we returned from the dive. Now, since we didn't really have this planned, we didn't carry any money on us and Garfield said no worry, when we get back we would settle up. We had a great afternoon with him visiting little spots where we could get Caribe beer and sample some of the many spices found on Grenada. We also visited the fort, some waterfalls and the Grand Etang rainforest. It was simply an awesome day for us. FYI on the terminal area.....there are quite a few shops there, but most close by 6PM. Also, they do have security screening set up before heading out to the dock. That evening, we had the past guest cocktail hour with the Captain on the aft deck. Following dinner, they had the Fashion Show, but we didn't make it that late...the getting up at 5AM for the sunrises was catching up with us. Tuesday...Tobago Cays We spent the morning sailing around islands...we kept asking ourselves...is that it, is that it? Finally around 9:30, we dropped anchor off one of the beautiful islands. We had a dive scheduled this morning, which was very enjoyable. About a 60' wall dive with just a slight current. Not as much marine life as Union Island, but the coral on the reef was in much better shape. After the dive, we headed for the beach, where they had the Bar-B-Q set up. Nice spread...burgers, fish, chicken and all the fixings, and lots of desserts for the kicker. They also set up a small bar for cocktails. There were several venders set up selling t-shirts, jewelry & other little trinkets, so take some money ashore. After eating, we took a path to the other side of the island away from the crowd and worked on our tans. As the last tender took us back to the ship, we were getting excited about the evenings activities.....Pirate's Night & the Crab Races. First though, it was time to participate in the sailing maneuvers which enabled those that wanted to work the sails and lines. Dinner time brought out the pirates....all the crew and about a dozen passengers were dressed up. We dressed as Jack Sparrow & Elizabeth Swan. The Crab Races were a hoot as usual & it didn't hurt to win a couple of the races either! Wednesday...St. Vincent & Bequia Arrival in St. Vincent was an early 8AM, so no workout with Emma this morning. She was there, but no one else was. We anchored in the bay at Kingstown instead of Young Island, so there was a small cruise terminal with a few shops and an information center. Cabs were available just outside the gate, so we grabbed one and headed up to Wallilabou Bay. This is where the scenes of Port Royal in the movie Pirates's of the Caribbean were filmed. On the way we passed by Ft. Charlotte and saw some amazing views of the coastline and passed through several small communities, each with it's own uniqueness. You could still see some of the remnants of the filming, but it sure didn't look anything like the movie....still it was interesting. It was quite a bit further than we had expected...didn't look that far on the map. If we were to rethink our decision, we wouldn't have made the trip, as it took up the entire 4 hours we were in St. Vincent. We got back to the dock just in time to catch the last tender and soon we were crossing the 9 mile channel to Bequai. We anchored in the bay off Port Elizabeth around 2 and caught the tender to shore. If you could picture what you imagined a small Caribbean seaside village to look like, this would be it. The first thing we wanted to check out was the two Model Boat shops there. Both were located just a short walk north of the dock. Of the two, Sergeants was the largest & most interesting. We were able to talk with one of the craftsman & he showed us around the shop and the models in progress. Some are as small as a foot long, while others were well over 4 feet. Very nice craftsmanship. We checked out a few souvenir shops & then decided to attempt to make our way to Princess Margaret beach. At one time, there was a boardwalk that went to the beach, but storms have destroyed a section, and it would have been a long detour to bypass that section. We decided to stop at a little Pizza shop, Mac's, that several of the other Royal Clipper passengers were at. We opted for the Conch fritters & chased them with some ice cold Caribe Beer. It was a great way to finish the day there as we watched the sun set behind the Royal Clipper. All too soon it was time to head back to the dock & catch the tender back to the ship. Thursday...Martinique Another early start and Emma got stood up again. We docked in Fort de France around 8. Our 4x4 excursion was to meet at 8, so we had a quick breakfast & met the group by the gangway. They have changed this excursion from what was printed in the excursion brochure. Originally billed as a tour through the southern part of the island, we now were off to the interior rainforest and Mt. Pelee. We had 11 on the tour and luckily, we got in the group of 5. The tour was conducted in Land Rovers that technically seat 6. HAH! We were comfortable enough, but the other group was crammed in & had to make frequent stops & seemed to generate a lot of complaining. Our group was great & Anthony, our guide was great. Saw a lot of interesting plants in the rainforest & the countryside was beautiful. We stopped at the overlook at Mt. Pelee had had a few shots of rum & rum punch. We were very relaxed after that. It was a long excursion and we got back to the docks a bit late. We left the dock just after Noon and headed south for an afternoon at the beach. It was billed as Martinique Beach, but in reality was Martinique's,Grand Anse beach. Seemed like many of the islands had a Grand Anse Beach. The beach wrapped around the entire bay and was lined with small boutique accommodations and a few shops. Most were closed this day, however. There was a notice in the Daily Port sheets that it was a Holiday, but none of the locals we talked to new which holiday it was...guess it was a shop owner's holiday! We checked out a couple of dive shops and then spent the rest of the afternoon at a little beach bar by the name of Ti Sable. Cute little place with canopy covered tables. No food, but nice cold beer. The beer of choice on Martinique is Lorraine. It was cold & went down easy. As in Bequai, we watched the sun set over the bay and caught the last tender back to the ship. This evening was the Captain's Dinner & we were invited to the Captain's table. We had a pleasant evening with Capt. Sergey talking about his life in Estonia, sailing and his maritime career. We hope we get the opportunity to sail with him again. After dinner, they held the Talent Show at the Tropical Bar. Axel the Hotel Mgr. belted out a few Elvis songs...we knew he would be good, because he was aboard the Star Flyer when we sailed her last year. The Sports Team did a hilarious routine involving a Japanese Submarine crew and Carlito, the Head bartender did his best Michael Jackson routine. There was also a funny skit performed by Mariano, the ship's Marine Biologist & Ben from the Sports team. Afterward's, the crew & passengers did the Macarena. It was an enjoyable time for all. Friday...St. Lucia Alas...Emma gets stood up again. Another 8AM arrival. Marigot Bay is a beautiful, upscale anchorage. The dock area is lined with little shops, but no shopping today. We were off to the Zip Lines on the other side of the island. We got a good sampling of the beauty of St. Lucia during the hour long ride to the Tree Top Canopy Adventure Park. Once there, we were suited up and off to fly through the jungle. There were 11 runs total and was one of the highlights of the week. Everyone had a great time, but one of the ladies in the group injured her arm when she struck some bamboo. If you're adventurous, I highly recommend this excursion. Once again, we were late getting back and as soon as we boarded we headed south to the Pitons and Soufriere. We scheduled the afternoon dive and had a great dive. The reefs in St. Lucia were the best we encountered on the trip. We didn't return to the ship until 3:30, so we had just enough time to change & catch the last tender into Soufriere. We wanted to get some kind of souvenir of St. Lucia. We found a small shop a couple of blocks from the dock where we were able to find some things along with the brew of St. Lucia...Piton. Since the last tender back was at 4:30, we quickly made our way back. Before weighing anchor, they lowered the two large tenders so everyone could get pictures of the Royal Clipper under full sail with the Pitons in the background. Once aboard the tender, we moved away and the Royal Clipper got under way with the tenders in chase mode. It was an awesome sight to see that beautiful ship under sail. That evening at dinner, you could sense everyone was sad to see the cruise coming to a close....or it could have been the thought of having to pack & get your luggage out. Saturday...Barbados We arrived back in Barbados right at sunrise. It was a perfect ending to the week and there was a large contingent on deck to view the last sunrise and port arrival. Some left early to catch flights. We had a leisurely breakfast and said goodbyes to those we met onboard. Oh, we also had to settle up with the Purser. Grudgingly, we left the ship at 10 and caught a shuttle back to the Hilton where we would spend the evening and depart early Sunday morning. They didn't have a room available yet, so we stowed our luggage and hung out at the beach. We checked into our room a little after Noon. Remember that bottle of Champagne we left, the Hilton followed through at it was ready for us. We had a Bay View room this time, and I actually liked the view overlooking the bay & Bridgetown. We could also see the Royal Clipper at the dock, so we popped the cork and saluted the ship for providing us with such an enjoyable experience. That afternoon we decided to walk along the beach to the new Boardwalk. It turned out it was quite a bit farther than expected. There were sections where we had to climb over rocks & retaining walls, but we finally reached the Boardwalk. We proceeded as we watched our last sunset in this idyllic setting. On the walk back to the hotel, we came across Club Fred's Bar & Grill where we had a snack and a couple of drinks. Fred's is a quaint little place located in a Historic zoned house. It really does have a grill sitting on the front porch. Later that evening, we walked to the Brown Sugar Restaurant and had an excellent last meal in Barbados.....highly recommend this restaurant. Sunday...Dang, it's over! We caught a cab to the airport at 5AM for our 7AM flight. Everything went smoothly until we reached Miami. We parked at what had to be the furthest gate from Customs and of course our departing gate was at the complete opposite side from that. With no shuttles at the Miami Airport, there was a lot of walking. When we reached the departing gate, we were informed that there was a gate change, and you guessed it, it was back on the other side....walk, walk & walk some more. The rest of the flights went smoothly and we were back home at 8PM Texas time. That's 18 hours of travel time and we were some tired puppies. Odds & Ends Favorite Port: Grenada Favorite Excursion: Zip Line in St. Lucia Best spot on Ship: Widow's net, Peacefull & relaxing. Just take that step over the railing and you'll be glad you did. Best Drink of the Day:Caipirinha Local Rums: We bought two brands that we took aboard. Mount Gay Extra Old & Cockspur Old Gold. Of the two, I felt the Cockspur was smoother. Best Sunset: Bequai If you are thinking about renting a car, Don't! I am comfortable driving on the left, but most of the roads on these islands make the Road to Hana seem like a freeway. The roads are also poorly marked. Mast climbing was held on Monday & Thursday Food: Overall very good. What surprised me most were the steaks, juicy & tender. Usually on ships they are dry & tough. Cooked to order omelets at breakfast were also excellent. Cabin: The suite was great. The option of having room service and room to actually walk around was nice. However, at the normal rack rate, I don't think I could justify the extra expense over a Cat. 2 cabin. Royal Clipper: She is a beautiful ship. Although the specs would lead you to believe it isn't that much larger than the Flyer & Clipper, it is. There were only about 170 aboard so it never felt crowded. Although there is nothing wrong with the Clipper, we enjoyed the Star Flyer as a ship more. Cruise Director: There isn't a lot of entertainment aboard these ships, so the main function of the Cruise Director is to organize the Shore Excursions. This was a sore point with many of the passengers. The excursions wouldn't be posted until the day before, so there was no way to tell what times or how full the excursions would be. Hence, you couldn't plan out your day properly or even know whether they were going to have the excursion or have any confirmation you were on the excursion. By the time you read this, they should have a new CD on board, so hopefully it will be corrected. The new CD was the talk of much of the crew(mostly male) because she was a 24 year old Latin American. I'm sure they had visions of Salma Hayek or Jennifer Lopez! This link will take you to our album of photos from the trip: http://gallery.me.com/csealove/100277 Well, that's about it....all there is to do now is start thinking about our next adventure. Should it be Thailand or Costa Rica.....hmmmmmmmm! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
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
Summary: My wife and I have cruised before in the Pacific and through the Caribbean. Our trips were on typical vessels of Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises. Although entirely satisfied with those, we wished to do something special ... Read More
Summary: My wife and I have cruised before in the Pacific and through the Caribbean. Our trips were on typical vessels of Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises. Although entirely satisfied with those, we wished to do something special and we both enjoy sailing thus our choice of Star Clippers Line. SPV Royal Clipper was the ship that we selected to sail on. As we are 68 and 70 years old respectively, our holiday requirements were more sedate than years ago... With the help of our travel agent we found what we wanted by flying to Barbados five days prior to the cruise, staying at the Coral Mist hotel then sailing two seven-day cruises back-to-back on Royal Clipper. We offer our commentaries below hoping that they may assist fellow travellers. SPV Royal Clipper: We will not attempt to repeat all that has been said about Star Clippers and SPV Royal Clipper. We offer our comments relating to our specific experience under distinct headings below: Overview There are no superlatives that adequately describe what we experienced. A cruise on Royal Clipper is a romantic experience of a lifetime! If you are looking for a floating spa with disco, casino, and floorshows, you will be unhappy on Royal Clipper. If you enjoy sailing with a few friends in a romantic setting you will love it. (With good sea legs) The line's web site is good but lacks a few features. For example, we sent them an e-mail that they never answered using the "contact us" section. There is no possibility of pre-registration as offered by the main cruise lines. Given the small number of passengers for each sailing (227 passengers total) there is no anticipated delays on boarding. They offered an excellent DVD for free which turned out to be very useful in trip planning, and made our friends envious. Once aboard, there is no doubt that this is a special experience that is almost unique and worth repeating. In our case, we had an outstanding cruise aboard an outstanding ship. At every stop people came to stare at this marvellous oversized yacht. It is unique in the world. However, there is one caveat. This ship is open to passengers of all ages but there is precious little activity geared to the needs and interests of children. The five levels of the ship from the spa to the sun deck are only accessible by stairs. When walking around at sea the rule is one hand for the ship and one hand for you. While on our two-week cruise we noted some electronic glitches. For example, our door key had to be re-programmed a few times because it failed to open the door. In addition, the same card has a bar code used when leaving and returning to the ship. This did not always show the passenger returning thus a frantic call was made to ensure that the ship would not sail without the passenger. Great idea but rather annoying when it happens every day to the same individual who has dutifully returned on time. The reception clerk had a language problem thus it was difficult to explain the problem and have the card re-programmed properly; a small point in an overall wonderful experience. Caroline, the cruise director was a wonderful lady fluent in four languages and who never stopped looking after the passengers. She was simply outstanding. Embarkation They were well organized for the embarkation process, which began at the specified time. Drinks were available for people waiting in line although the line moved rather quickly. Those who arrived early complained of waiting in line but the instructions were clear that embarkation would begin a 4 p.m. Our recommendation would be for people to arrive one hour after the embarkation time to assure a smooth process. The reception on board was first class and very well handled; wet towels, Bellini, escort to the cabin where the baggage was already awaiting us. Cabin/steward/amenities The category 1 cabin is a very roomy 150 sq ft with more than adequate storage space. It was obviously designed by sailing enthusiasts and not a hotel architect. Every nook and cranny offered storage space in the form of shelving or drawers. Two roomy wardrobe offered more space than we expected. The safe is located under the writing desk and is also larger than expected. Music and an internal video is available on the TV which also had a DVD attached although I can't see anyone going on this ship to watch a DVD. The beds had excellent mattresses with duvet and pillows. We slept like babes. The marble bathroom is a sight to behold. Lots of mirrors, ample towels and a double floor drain that allows the water to drain while showering in heavy seas. Two hair dryers are available, one in the room and one in the bathroom. The usual amenities and toiletries are supplied throughout the cruise. The cabin exceeded our expectations. Of note, the current on board is 220v with an 110v outlet in the bathroom for a shaver. It will not accept anything else. Thus a converter is required for any 110v appliance. The reception offers an array of converters for a small rental fee of €10. The cabin steward is a key person on a cruise ship because he/she will leave a lasting impression. Our cabin steward was a young lady from Bulgaria who provided excellent service throughout our two-week stay. She kept the ice bucket full and re-supplied us with bottled water as we requested from her at the onset. Using a red/green door sign, she would refresh our cabin as soon as we left it. Restaurant/food/service For a sailing vessel, the food services far exceeded our expectations just like the rest of the ship. Typically, they had fresh fruit available at all times with tea and coffee. Continental breakfast was available 0600-0800 followed by a huge breakfast buffet and a chef available to cook eggs and omelettes to order between 0800 and 1000. Theme hot/cold lunch buffet was served 1200 to 1400; snacks were available on deck from 1700 to 1800 prior to the evening dinner. Dinner was a seven-course meal served à la Carte between 1930 and 2200 with open seating. The wine list is extensive and storage service is available. Should you not finish your bottle it is labelled with your cabin number and available at the next meal. Finally, there is a huge snack available at 2330 after the limited in-house entertainment. The bar and restaurant service was outstanding. Even with open seating the restaurant staff would remember your preferences and chat with you freely. Public facilities The sun deck carries a huge amount of deck chairs and offers three small pools for a refreshing dip. The centre pool forms the ceiling of the atrium visible from the dining room. (Don't scratch) The tropical bar on the main deck is the focus of most activities including evening entertainment. The piano bar is in the atrium and offers an air-conditioned space quieter than the tropical bar. It is also smoke-free as are all indoor spaces. Smoking is tolerated on the sun deck and in the tropical bar. The three-deck atrium has to be seen to be fully appreciated. There is also a well-stocked library, a conference room with Internet access, and a gym/spa below sea level. Sports & entertainment There is a three-member sports staff that offers morning exercise and a host of free activities during the day. The ship carries three zodiacs, two sunfish sailing boats, two sea kayaks, and snorkel equipment. All this is free but the scuba gear requires an extra fee. In good weather the staff also provides water skiing. At just about every stop an excursion to a beach is also provided free of charge. For example, at anchor off Le Bourg in Isles des Saintes (Guadeloupe) there was a tender going to town and another going to the beach every 30 minutes. Entertainment was provided by a musical duo every day, a local steel band at one stop, on-board talent show featuring crew members and the odd passenger one evening, a fashion show, etc. Itinerary Our first week on board went from Bridgetown Barbados to Union Island, Grenada, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent/Bequia, Martinique, St. Lucia and back to Barbados. During the second week we visited St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, Iles des Saintes, Martinique and back to Bridgetown. The captain is a true sailing enthusiast who demonstrated a keen interest in showing the ability of the ship and crew to perform difficult maneuvers. For example, using sails only (including the square sails) he performed a 360-degree turn that was an extraordinary demonstration of sailing choreography. (I was at the helm) It was simply awesome to see a 5000-ton square-rigger perform that maneuver. · Bridgetown - Clean and friendly as are the Bajans. There is a nice walking tour of the City or various excursions · Union Island (Grenadines) - A superb beach · Grenada - The spice island. Lots of excursions available · Tobago Cays - Another excellent anchorage and beach. Ship BBQ on the beach · St. Vincent & Bequia - Ship stops at both islands for excursions and beach · Martinique - Very nice city. The sidewalk from the cruise terminal to downtown (15 mins) is painted blue for ease of navigation. The botanical garden tour is interesting. · St. Lucia - Lush island with lots to do. We recommend the zip-line rain forest tour · Bridgetown - For passengers staying for another week the transition is very easy. Just exchange your door key at reception and voilà! · Dominica - Drop off at Roseau for excursions then sailed north to Cabrits National Park for a swim · Antigua - One of the jewels of the Caribbean. Great beaches. BBQ on the beach near Falmouth Harbour. Excursions include one for swimming with stingrays. · St. Kitts - Nice island with a scenic narrow gauge train ride · Isles des Saintes (Guadeloupe) - Anchor of Le Bourg which is a lovely and quaint seaside village. Great beach nearby. Prettiest stop in the cruise. Sea motion The one thing over which we have no control is the weather. This is a sailing ship and the Captain is reluctant to use the engine for anything other that arriving and leaving a harbour. During our first week we encountered strong winds (35 knots) and heavy seas providing a significant amount of rolling and pitching which did not bother us or most passengers but there were some who grumbled... Shore excursions Every evening a newsletter is distributed to the cabins outlining the activities of the next day. It is quite detailed and very useful but we found two minor issues with this process. First, an insert should be added with more information about the country being visited and the specific harbour/anchorage. This insert could also have a diagram of the shore installations found upon landing. This would be consistent with what cruise ships normally offer and be very useful indeed for those wishing to plan their own activities. Every morning the cruise director would give an arrival briefing on the bridge just before either docking or anchoring. Very useful but it highlights the second issue that shore excursion bookings close a minimum of 36 hours prior to arrival for valid reasons (bookings through their agent ashore). If more information were available on the ports and the excursions, better planning would enhance the visits. In a few cases we discovered information at the verbal briefing that would have enticed us to take an excursion but the bookings were already closed. We used a number of the excursions offered and found them all to be well-done and good value for money. Many passengers were content to do their own excursions or just stay on board and enjoy what the ship had to offer. Costs On board costs were consistent with industry standards. All charges are in Euros. We found the whole cruise to be good value for money. SPV Royal Clipper: A superbly romantic ship that provides a great cruise. This is a ten out of ten for sailing enthusiasts! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
First of all we had a great time and the crew was terrific. The cabins and common areas were always spotless. HOWEVER, there were four complaints that many of the passengers had that according to the crew "only management could ... Read More
First of all we had a great time and the crew was terrific. The cabins and common areas were always spotless. HOWEVER, there were four complaints that many of the passengers had that according to the crew "only management could solve." 1. Although cold water was always available on the main deck the majority also wanted ice tea. That proved to be impossible as "management" had to make all decisions regarding any beverage change. 2. In spite of the fact that were no middle eastern passengers the Arab TV channels ran constantly. The crew said that was because a large portion of the crew were from that area. The crew does not pay the bills. After a near revolt by the passengers it was turned off and we all went to the very good bar to celebrate. 3. Rabbit. The last night dinner heavily featured rabbit which few ate and most did not want at all. The answer was again "management." Otherwise the food was excellent at all times. 4. The steel band came on board for less than one hour. It was great but the answer was that we had arrived in port late and something about a customs issue. Although the passengers tried to find the ever elusive "management", he stayed well hidden. But having said that, it was a great cruise and we are going again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We selected the cruise for the Windward Islands because of the unique island ports and the character of the sailing ship. The ship was recommended by several others that had been on this ship before as well as the travel agent. There was ... Read More
We selected the cruise for the Windward Islands because of the unique island ports and the character of the sailing ship. The ship was recommended by several others that had been on this ship before as well as the travel agent. There was very simple and quick boarding as well as disembarkation. The lines are short as there are about only 225 passengers. The crew of the ship are the staff of the ship that will be working on the cruise. The cabin was adequate in size and very well appointed. There was a marble bath with stand up shower. There is only a curtain and very small half inch threshold separating the shower from the rest of the bath. It was comparable to the baths on other cruises that we have taken unless you get an upgraded cabin. The television and DVD player in the cabin was great to provide entertainment if one wanted to avoid too much sun or wanted to be alone with a partner. The public areas of this ship are nautical, but also elegant. There is much dark wood and brass colors and carpet throughout. The outside decks are very much like a working ship. There was sail repairs going on and normal upkeep maintenance all around. This was good to see and showed the concern of the crew for the ship. The dining was buffet for breakfast and lunch. As reported by others, the variety and amount of food available was sure to please everyone. There was a pasta station one lunch and a roasted pig in that location the next. There was afternoon snacks that was more like buffet meals, although with a smaller variety. The after dinner dessert buffet was a great highlight of the evening for most of the passengers. This was served upstairs in the Piano Bar and was better in my opinion than any dessert served in a dinning room on other cruises. The staff and crew could not have made us feel more welcome or gone farther to accommodate the passengers. There were enough activities on board to ensure there was no boredom, but not too much to prevent a relaxing vacation similar to a beach or sailing vacation. I would recommend this ship for anyone that is not expecting the big ship experience but is eager to meet others on the cruise and experience a sailing vessel. There is the sound of the water against the lower deck staterooms and there is more movement than large ships. This was never to a point that was excessive or obtrusive. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
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 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 3.6

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