We're experienced small ship cruisers, but this was our first time on this type of ship. In brief, we had a really enjoyable time, and would highly recommend the experience. Being under sail is, as my wife put it, absolutely magical. ... Read More
We're experienced small ship cruisers, but this was our first time on this type of ship. In brief, we had a really enjoyable time, and would highly recommend the experience. Being under sail is, as my wife put it, absolutely magical.
First the positives.
We were in cabin 505, on the main deck, port side, forward. The cabin is compact, but very comfortable, and well thought out in terms of layout, style and facilities. There is plenty of stowage space for two people. The bathroom is similarly well designed, with a large tub/shower, a single handbasin and secure stowage for all those small bottles.
The staff overall were very good, pleasant and helpful. The deck Officers were approachable, and happy to answer questions, and the Captains enthusiasm for his job was infectious! Other Officers - the Engineers and the "hotel" staff were similarly pleasant, with the Hotel Manager - Arnold - in particular being especially charming. Barmen and waiters similarly were all pleasant to interact with. Food is perfectly acceptable. The breakfast and lunch buffets were very good, while the a la carte dinners were for the most part enjoyable. More vegetables would help. The Italian house red at $16 a bottle is a good option.
Being under sail as frequently as we were (probably 50-60% of the time) was unexpected, and a real plus. One had the impression that the Captain was just as eager to get the sails up, just for the fun of it!
The overall informality is wonderful. Access to an iron would have been useful, but really wasn't a huge issue - take drip-dry non-iron clothes! (Pressing service is available at a reasonable price, but requires an overnight before return).
Now the negatives.
Our main grouse was noise related, in two ways. Firstly, it turned out that our cabin (and all the forward '5' series premium cabins) was located directly beneath some mechanical winches and other equipment used to raise/set/and adjust the sails. This was not a problem in daylight hours, but at night time it was. We had interrupted sleep on 6 out of 7 nights aboard due to the sails being adjusted at various times during the night, on a couple of nights up to three/four times. This was irritating to say the least, and we felt that the possibility of this happening should have been made clear by Star Clippers on booking, especially as our cabin was graded as 'premium'. However, by the end of the trip we were becoming used to the disturbance and it concerned us a little less than it had at the start. Secondly, there were several small children on this segment, and they often monopolised the aft (larger) swimming pool, playing games and shrieking loudly. This effectively drove away anyone seeking peace and quiet, which we believe is what a cruise of this type is about. A little more consideration and control by parents and ships staff would have helped ensure everyones' enjoyment of the ship. Finally, embarkation at the Marina Bay Cruise Terminal in Singapore could have been more efficiently handled. Most of the joining passengers were already present in the terminal well before the official embarkation time of 4 pm, and it would have improved the check-in process if the required forms to be completed had been given to passengers along with a 'queue number' ticket as they arrived in the terminal and handed over their baggage.The actual procedure of announcing embarkation at 4 pm and only then handing out forms for completion led to a somewhat disorganised surge of passengers around the check-in desks.
Would we use Star Clippers again? Absolutely, given the right itinerary - and a good set of earplugs to use at night under sail! Read Less