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20 Star Clippers Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We had never cruised previously because we did not like the idea of a floating city, so the smaller tall ship made sense, especially when it had a cruise that included our bucket list of places to see in Greece. We did our research and ... Read More
We had never cruised previously because we did not like the idea of a floating city, so the smaller tall ship made sense, especially when it had a cruise that included our bucket list of places to see in Greece. We did our research and knew what to expect, and the Star Flyer exceeded in most regards, especially the food! If tons of activity and entertainment is your goal, this isn't your best bet. If peaceful evenings on deck with no sounds but the wind thru the sales, and an intimate, yet casual setting for meals is what you like, this is for you. The group on board is small enough that mutual respect wins out over fighting for the best deck chairs or tables at dinner. The majority seemed to be seasoned travelers that know how to act in this setting and very friendly when sharing a table or space at the bar. So nice when the cruise director can address EVERYONE at the same time regarding excursions and ship-board fun. I don't think we'll ever take a trip on a large mega-ship! This setting was too perfect for us Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
.We chose to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on Star Flyer. The real let down was our cabin no.301 (300 would be the same). So small, only suitable for one person. Had to get out of bed at the bottom as bed fixed both sides. Bed ... Read More
.We chose to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on Star Flyer. The real let down was our cabin no.301 (300 would be the same). So small, only suitable for one person. Had to get out of bed at the bottom as bed fixed both sides. Bed was comfortable but difficult getting out as there was a metre drop to the floor. Quite dangerous at night! We feel this aspect really was not value for money as we paid nearly £5,000 not including flights for a small room cupboard. Did have a port hole but very small and high up on the wall. Better cabins are available but at a huge price hike. Enjoyed the food, varied and plentiful and the drink prices very reasonable, 3.50 euros for glass of wine/beer and 16 euros for bottle of wine. Cocktails around 5 euros. No problem with sunbeds, two very small splash pools which were fine with us but not so good if you you wanted to swim. The excursions were incredibly expensive for what was on offer and many people felt poor value for money. We did our own thing at each port which we preferred. Entertainment is patchy to say the least so if you want full on entertainment a Star Clipper would not be for you. Mr and Mrs contests, fitness programme in the morning etc. all very low key. Mainly tenders were used which surprised us and very dangerous for people with disabilities trying to get on as the ship was rocking plus the tender - pretty scary sometimes! Staff friendly and helpful but we would not do this again as we do not feel it was value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
All in all, this was a superb experience especially when the ship was at full sail. The food was excellent, the cabin small but adequate and very well-maintained, cabin and restaurant staff were very helpful and obliging. The bar menu was ... Read More
All in all, this was a superb experience especially when the ship was at full sail. The food was excellent, the cabin small but adequate and very well-maintained, cabin and restaurant staff were very helpful and obliging. The bar menu was reasonably priced and hot drinks and water were always available. However, I need to make some comments which I hope will be addressed in the future: There was no map included in our pre-cruise information, nor was there one in our cabin. The only map, apart from atlases in the library, was the maritime one on the bar deck which was not easy to read. When asked for names of the islands we were passing, the senior deck crew -(apart from the captain who was always charming ) - were very dismissive and quite arrogant e.g. one response was "it is all sea to me"! Another simply said " I don`t know". The sports staff were very new and lacked charisma - the stretch class was exactly the same each day with instructions delivered in a very quiet monotone so that one had to keep looking to see what the exercise was as it was impossible to hear clearly. The cruise director was full of energy and enthusiasm but it seemed that she was having to find her own maps and information on each port - surely she should have been given a pack with all the necessary info sheets before the departure of the cruise. I only took one tour which was fine but I know that there were complaints about these tours. We thought that, as the ship was small, we would dock at most ports so were disappointed to find that tenders were used on all but one occasion whilst the enormous ships were in the dock without having to tender. As the ship was self-contained regarding fresh water production and waste treatment, it did not need to dock so saved a lot of charges from the port authorities but tendered. These comments are all easy to put right in order to enhance a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We were in Athens a few days before we left, which helped us get acclimated both to the time zone and to the heat/humidity of Greece (and the Greek islands we would visit). Embarkation was not well organized in Piraeus, and we had ... Read More
We were in Athens a few days before we left, which helped us get acclimated both to the time zone and to the heat/humidity of Greece (and the Greek islands we would visit). Embarkation was not well organized in Piraeus, and we had little guidance as to what to expect, but once we were aboard ship all was well. Disembarkation in Venice was very smooth. I've been on a couple of standard cruises before (Disney, Royal Caribbean). What stood out most about this trip was the sense of actual *sailing*. This was not just getting a small hotel room on a floating luxury resort that ended up in a different place each morning. The feel of the ship, the ability to stand on the deck as sails were let out or taken in, listening to the music play as we left each port ... it all felt like we were actually sailing (which we were!), not just being transported. Going up on deck in the evening and seeing the sea passing around us, the star fields above us, the wind blowing past us -- it was all a remarkably special experience, and one that I will seek to repeat in the future. The cabin was comfortable and well-appointed. The dining was tasty, upscale without being hoity-toity, and quite satisfactory. The nature of the Star Flyer is such that evening entertainment was a bit constrained -- some DJ dancing, some occasional talent show stuff -- but, honestly, I spent my evenings up on deck, enjoying the air and the sea (and the cocktails). Shore excursions were generally good. Lots to see, usually multiple options, and guide selections ran from fair to excellent. We actually enjoyed just visiting some towns on our own, without doing a formal excursion. Service was efficient and friendly. The passenger count (around 150 on our cruise) was small enough that the bar and dining room staff got to know us ad our preferences. The entertainment director, Simona, was dedicated and excellent. The ports we visited were highly varied. I particularly enjoyed Corfu, Kotor, and Hvar, but they all had something to recommend them, depending on what you were looking for, and, as noted, instead of the excursions either just self-directed wandering at the ports or hanging out on the ship and relaxing were both fine alternatives. A few things I could have asked to be better: - The shipboard Wifi was pricey and spotty in coverage around the ship. - The "drink of the day" at the bar was usually pretty mediocre (the bartenders could make much better cocktails or straight pour drinks). Honestly, sailing the Star Flyer has spoiled me for hotels-with-a-keel style cruising. I will definitely be looking to them for further experiences. It was a memorable and wish-I-could-repeat-it experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We have sailed a number of lines including Princess,Disney,Norwegian, Costa,Silversea and Celebrity which is the one we sailed most of the time. We were looking forward to this trip as it was a true sailing ship.We brought my son and ... Read More
We have sailed a number of lines including Princess,Disney,Norwegian, Costa,Silversea and Celebrity which is the one we sailed most of the time. We were looking forward to this trip as it was a true sailing ship.We brought my son and nephew with us both in their 20's. Our cruise was to Croatia with stops in Montenegro and Slovenia. The ship is beautiful and our cabin while small was adequate. We did 2 excursions through the ship and our favorite was in Piren where we had lunch at a small family winery. There were only 8 of us and the excursion was wonderful. Due to the weather we did not have much sailing which was a disappointment but not anything star clipper could change. I thought they could improve on somethings. I knew that this was not a ship with many activities and was prepared for that but really there was nothing outside of the ports we visited. I think if they had a trivia once a day at the bar would have helped. The muster drill was awful. Two days, the first day was not bad but the second day of the mandatory drill of over an hour was just to long. The food was pretty good. I would not say it was better than Celebrity cruises and some nights were better than others. Would I travel on a star clipper again? Only if I really liked the ports of call and since this ship can make some smaller ports I would consider another cruise in the future. Service: Excellent from our cabin steward who had our room made up by the time we returned from breakfast, to the matrie at the restaurant who always found seats for 4 of us when arriving at anytime to a great bar staff.This was an excellent team who worked very hard.I do wish the cruise director did some on board activities; I felt she was lacking in this area Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We had previously sailed with Star Clippers aboard the Royal Clipper in the Caribbean --one of our best cruises. We were intrigued by sailing the small clipper ship in the Adriatic, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas and chose this back-to-back ... Read More
We had previously sailed with Star Clippers aboard the Royal Clipper in the Caribbean --one of our best cruises. We were intrigued by sailing the small clipper ship in the Adriatic, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas and chose this back-to-back cruise from Venice, allowing us to spend time seeing that port first, and disembarking in Malta, a port not found on a lot of itineraries due to its out of the way location south of Sicily. Ports for this cruise after sailing from Venice included Mali Losinj, Hvar, and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Katakolon (for Olympia), Santorini, Mykonos, Athens (end of first leg), Monemvasia, and Pilos, Greece; Syracuse, Sicily, and disembarkation was in Valletta. We took two private tours during the day in Venice, having arrived the day prior, arriving for embarkation (which began at 4 pm) at the terminal at 4:45 pm and being exhausted already, having arrived via a water taxi with 2 suitcases of 50 lbs.+ each which we dropped off at a different point of the terminal (to be scanned and sent to our stateroom), 2 roll-on carry-ons, and two backpacks, we found quite a few fellow passengers were in line, so we had a fair wait to go through security before boarding which also was compounded by another ship embarking in the same terminal. Upon embarkation via gangway to the Tropical Bar, we were met by the Captain and Hotel Manager with an alcoholic beverage. We elected to complete check-in in the piano bar and take carry-ons to our cabin, then return for snacks being provided at 5-6 pm that night as well as every evening on deck at the Tropical Bar. Muster drill was at 6:30 and was very comprehensive (with life jacket on and detailed instructions), compared to most cruise lines' drills nowadays. Second muster drill was the following morning (without donning life jackets). Sail away party was at 7:30 on Sundeck (top) to views the sails being raised. Dinner was served by waiters most evenings 7:30-10 as previously mentioned, open seating style (come at any time and join others at a table). The "tall ship" Star Flyer was built in 1991, is 360 feet long, and can accommodate just 170 guests. She spends her summers in various parts of Europe and her winters in the Caribbean. Life aboard is blissfully relaxed, much like traveling on a private yacht. You’ll never feel confined on Star Flyer. The ship offers spacious accommodations and expansive teak decks with ample space and not one, but two swimming pools. In fact, you’ll find that the ship offers more outdoor space per passenger than most conventional cruise ships. The décor of Star Flyer and her sister Star Clipper is reminiscent of the grand age of sail. Antique prints and paintings of famous sailing ships please the eye, while teak and gleaming mahogany rails are richly reminiscent of Star Clippers’ proud nautical heritage. All Star Clippers ships feature open-seating dining in an elegantly appointed dining room where formal wear is never required (but country club casual in the evening is the norm), their convivial indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar and Piano Bar, and an Edwardian style library where a Belle Époque fireplace glows with a warmth that reflects the friendliness and enthusiasm of Star Clippers’ hospitable officers and crew. I enjoyed climbing the Crow's Nest and had I been inclined, I could have manned the winches and raised or lowered sails. The bridge is open more than 95% of the time and passengers are encouraged to learn about sailing on this vessel. All crew (72 staff) "wear several hats", assisting in multiple tasks when needed, especially on embarkation & disembarkation day. Service in the dining room was erratic, depending on the number of patrons already there upon our arrival; we also felt that total number of waiters was insufficient, given the number of tables. We were privileged to "watch" provisions be lowered through several decks in an opening starting on the main deck not much larger than 10 feet X 10 feet, if that, (while eating lunch in the dining room) to the storage bulkheads in the lowest level of the ship during one such embarkation day mid-cruise. We wish to alert you that this type of cruise is not for everyone as it has no casino, entertainment is limited, and activities on board are minimal, but the benefits of feeling like you are a part of the sailing, and not one of thousands of people, and the staff and passengers you meet, endears it to your heart forever. Most days of the cruise were spent in a charming port where one could explore on their own or participate in a ship-sponsored cruise which were limited for this small cruise line, and in some cases were canceled if not enough participants signed up. About half the ports allowed for evening exploration as well, as sail away could occur between 6 pm and midnight. Local entertainment similar to a barbershop quartet was brought on board in Dubrovnik, while most nights the entertainment was provided by the crew (or passengers in a fashion show or talent show) or a movie was shown. Most mornings we continued sailing awhile before arriving into a port and our first morning was no exception. Gymnastics class was available at 8 am (most mornings). Early Bird Breakfast (continental) is available 6:30-10:30 in the Piano Bar with coffee, tea and juices as well. Full buffet breakfast was usually from 8-10 with an egg station, fresh fruits, numerous bread options, and several hot offerings ranging from bacon and sausage & potatoes to crepes, french toast, pancakes, dry cereal, and oatmeal. Yogurt, juices, cold cuts, cheeses and a smoothie were also available daily. Lunch buffet was usually 12-2, but varied slightly depending upon arrival in port. There was always a daily meat at the carving station as well as hot meat options and various potatoes, vegetables, breads, fruits and desserts at all lunch buffets, each of which featured a specific theme. We visited the small Croatian port of Mali Losinj on our first stop (Sunday) and there was not a lot to do, but it was an enjoyable relaxation port. If one stayed aboard in port, the Sports Team had offerings of Shuffle Board and deck golf most days. This night there was a cocktail demo and the passenger/Sports Team fashion show. Dancing on deck in the Tropical Bar was always available at 11 pm or so with music by the keyboardist who also played on deck during evening snacks (5-6 pm) and other times. There is a small Sloop Shop selling a variety of logo items (some of which were modeled in the fashion show). There is no gymnastics equipment, but the sports team did off activities daily. The ship then stopped in Hvar, Croatia where we arrived at 11:30 am and sailed at 6 pm. There were quite a few optional excursions in this port. Evening entertainment was a Dance Night on deck. The next morning, our next "sea stop" was for two hours allowing those who were inclined to swim from the ship via gangway from 9-11:30; other optional equipment included floaties, kayaks and paddle-boards. Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm brought our return to Dubrovnik, Croatia, one of my favorite culturally enriched and quaint ancient ports, and several excursions were offered by the ship as well. Water sports activities from the gangway were available late afternoon for those on board. The evening entertainment after dinner was provided by a local folklore group similar to a barbershop quartet, followed by sail away at 11:45 pm. We had been informed by the Captain the previous night that we would be entering the Bay of Kotor before daybreak, and arose to view the calm waters and tall mountains of the Dalmatian Coast forming fjords as we sailed towards Kotor and arrived at 7 am. We participated in a short excursion (the other biking option was canceled due to lack of participants), with no free time and definitely not enough time in Montenegro. We sailed at noon with a deck lunch which afforded us a chance to view the beautiful scenery and the afternoon was spent sailing towards our next port of Corfu, not reached until the following afternoon. Available activities after exiting the Bay of Kotor included mast climbing, knot tying and deck golf. After dinner, a virtual tour on the operations of the hotel department was available. Our arrival in Corfu, Greece, was at 2:30 pm and several ship excursions were offered. Sail away for the next Greek port of Katakolon was 8 pm. Friday morning offered mast climbing as our arrival at this port was not until 2 pm; most passengers took the tour to Olympia, a definite highlight for this port. We, however, enjoyed shopping through several small blocks on the main street, one block off the shore and relaxing, as we had visited Olympia previously. We did not sail until 10 pm, allowing passengers to watch two other ships in port sail away ahead of us, and a movie was featured after Star Flyer sailed onward towards Santorini, but first a sea day in the Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Crete, and a chance to view the Star Flyer from tenders with sails raised. Days at sea are usually very relaxing, and like the large cruise lines, the chair hogs have "reserved" their lounger for the day by 9 am. Gymnastics at 8, followed by a sea stop to view the ship sailing as we followed in tenders. Upon reboarding, mast climbing, a treasure hunt, a "tour" of the wheelhouse/bridge, deck golf, shuffleboard, walk-a-mile fitness, knot tying class, water gym, and creating towel animals were options to keep one busy if not occupying a lounger all day. Captain's dinner was this evening; however, he was kept busy determining whether Star Flyer would actually sail into Santorini, due to extreme winds and rough seas to traverse during the night. Once the ship passed into naturally sheltered waters around Santorini, the swells diminished and it was determined we would be able to tender ashore to this beautiful Greek island. The excursion to Akrotiri Archaeological site began once we anchored before noon for most passengers. We had visited that site previously and decided to see a few sites in Fira not explored on past cruises, including the Archaeological Museum, where some of the larger pieces from Akrotiri are housed. We also enjoyed a leisurely lunch of locally caught and superbly prepared calimari while I caught up with my wi-fi work. While back on board, sunset occurred behind Nea Kameni, the island in the middle of the caldera, just prior to our sail away for Mykonos at 7:30. I had signed up for the volcano hiking scheduled there, but I was disappointed as not enough participants forced a cancellation. After another rocky night sailing, we anchored off Mykonos at 10 am. Tender rides were rough and a bit wet. This was to be another port to explore on our own as we had visited once before and there were no ship sponsored excursions. We climbed up hills to a vantage point for many beautiful photos and then walked down to the 5 windmills and Little Venice which we had not explored during our previous visit. Walking kept us in shape and we spent some leisure time at a local bar in Little Venice. Our return tender trip was even more of a sea christening with a lot of bobbing/rocking/dousing with water. Sail away was at 5 pm, after which options included an engine room visit and napkin folding demo. Movie at night was "Around Cape Horn". October 17 brought the end of the first leg of our back-to-back cruise, with many disembarking in Piraeus, the port for Athens. Since we had seen most sites in Athens on previous visits, we had booked online an independent tour to visit Cape Sounion, home of the Temple of Poseiden located at the tip of the Pelopennese peninsula with fabulous views, for the afternoon after exploring the port during the morning. There were a number of ships in port and a shopping mall there. After reboarding our home for another 5 day cruise, we noticed many new faces, but continued our meal time gatherings with friends we made on the first leg of the cruise. Sail away was at 9:30 towards Monemvasia, Greece, arriving at noon the next day. This was a very unique small port with lots of history built on a hillside where there was a recently restored (exterior, with the interior restoration just beginning) Church of Agios Sophia at the top. No roads or vehicles are allowed in the small town, necessitating climbing to the top taking more than 1/2 hour where one traversed a very craggy uneven rock path, but the views were amazing, as was the church. Water sport activities were available for those staying on board. The second fashion show was presented following our sail towards Pilos at 6 pm. Our last port in Greece was Pilos where we anchored at 10 am, another port built on hills with a protected fort. There was a ship-sponsored excursion, but we elected to climb the hills of the town which  afforded great views once again. On board options featured walk-a-mile and mast climbing with the sports team. We raised the anchor at 6 pm, sailing towards Syracuse, Sicily. Evening entertainment provided by the passengers was a game show with three teams competing. Our sea day in the Ionian Sea offered another opportunity to view the ship from tenders sailing and the usual events with the sports team plus another bridge visit option. Another talent show after the Captain's Dinner for the second 5-day sailing. Our last day arriving in Sicily at 10 am was bittersweet as usual. I spent an hour of the morning walking around town and later our excursion (one of two offered) took us to some of the same spots, but included others as well. Shuffle board, deck golf, and another engine room tour were available late afternoon prior to our final sail away at 6 pm. Evening movie shown was "Around Cape Horn" again. Thanks to Capt. Yuriy Slastenin and all the staff and crew for wonderful memories sailing the Dalmation Coast, Greece and the Ionian Sea. We arose early Sunday, October 21, so as to view the entrance into the port of Valletta, Malta and have a relaxing breakfast before disembarking at our leisure around 9:30. We then got a taxi to our hotel, followed by a day exploring Valletta. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
A small ship able to visit the smaller, uncrowded islands, excellent food, fantastic and reasonable shore excursions with a wonderful cruise director, and pleasant company. What more can one ask? Well, maybe rolling out of bed and ... Read More
A small ship able to visit the smaller, uncrowded islands, excellent food, fantastic and reasonable shore excursions with a wonderful cruise director, and pleasant company. What more can one ask? Well, maybe rolling out of bed and walking 20 feet to a buffet breakfast, basking in the sun on the webbing slung from the bowsprit, climbing to the crow's nest for a fantastic view, or listening to the captain of the ship play classical guitar on the amateur entertainment night. We always wanted to try a sailing cruise and to see the Greek islands. The Star Flyer (or its sister ships in the Star Clipper line) was the ideal way to satisfy both desires for a reasonable price. We've done many large ship cruises but now we're sold on the intimacy and informality of the Star Clipper approach. It's great not to have any queues boarding, eating, visiting islands, or disembarking. While the dining was informal dress the food was great and the service elegant and attentive. The big name visit was to Mykonos, which we preferred least because it's too touristy and it was crowded with other cruise ships in port. We loved Amorgos: We were the only ship visiting this small Greek gem. We did a cruise tour to a monastery overlooking the beach where a famous diving movie, Le Grand Bleu, was filmed. Our guide was a local Greek woman who knew well the history of the monastery and the island. After the tour we spent the remaining hours in the small town and ran into the guide at her sister's patisserie. We then enjoyed watching the boats and locals at a port front restaurant while sipping wine and ouzo, for a few Euros each. Once again the guide appeared because her parents owned the restaurant. Our experiences on another small island, Patmos, where we visited the cave where St. John dictated the Apocalypse, was similar. For Monemvassia the cruise director Monica had the sports team organize a free walking tour to the fort at the peak of the island with a commanding view of the walled town at its base, the port, and the Peloponnese peninsula. Visits to the Greek ruins at Ephesus and Melos (an island just across from Mykonos) provided the cultural enrichment for the trip. We now understand why the majority of our fellow sailors were multiple repeat customers. One of them had been on 20+ Star Clipper cruises. But he's far from the record: One lady has sailed with the Star Clippers 190+ times. Well, we're on our way to compete! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I have always been a sailing freak but advancing age has prevented me from sailing the Greek Islands myself. This trip was pure indulgence for me. On arrival before embarkation the cruise line organised a pickup from our hotel. It was ... Read More
I have always been a sailing freak but advancing age has prevented me from sailing the Greek Islands myself. This trip was pure indulgence for me. On arrival before embarkation the cruise line organised a pickup from our hotel. It was on time even calling the hotel to inform us of its immediate arrival. Embarkation was painless, thorough and subject to the normal security screening. On boarding we were met by the Captain and some of his officers. Our room (504) was clean tidy and well appointed. The food during the trip was excellent. I now eat olives with my cooked breakfast that includes feta cheese. Cabin service was outstanding. Both English and German were spoken fluently by the cruise director and most of the crew. The entertainment was home grown but wonderful despite not being a Broadway production. My compliments to Delicia and Joseph for the entertainment. The shore expeditions ranged from ordinary (2) to excellent (the rest). Ordinary because the others were so good that good became ordinary. If Rhodes had beaches like Australia I would have to live there. Despite this trip being my indulgence my wife reckons this is one of the best holidays we have had. I can only second her opinion. Great crew, great staff, great food and a great ship. Thank you Captain Yuri (Not Russian) Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our fourth cruise via Star Clippers and a disappointment. Our accommodations were fine and the overall service was great, especially in the dining room. The Hotel Manager (Arnold Deutchl) was exceptionally helpful and competent. ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise via Star Clippers and a disappointment. Our accommodations were fine and the overall service was great, especially in the dining room. The Hotel Manager (Arnold Deutchl) was exceptionally helpful and competent. Unfortunately the Cruise Director (Monica) was only interested in promoting excursions and next year's cruises. She was unwilling or incapable of providing information about the ports of call along the way. As a result, available shore activities had to be scouted out after docking, limiting enjoyment of the ports. Expensive access to low speed internet service made it difficult to research destinations in advance. (The cost and availability of internet access on board is a disgrace in this connected age). The ship Captain was ill most of the time and remained aloof. The Sports Team did very little except conduct morning yoga exercises and mast climbing events. The crew in general was not as friendly and happy as we have experienced in the past. We will avoid this cruise line in the future since the quality of the service has apparently deteriorated. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
If you have any understanding of sailing you will love this. Lots of passengers didn't know anything about sailing but still loved it because of the small number of passengers, delightful crew, fab service, comfortable cabins, air ... Read More
If you have any understanding of sailing you will love this. Lots of passengers didn't know anything about sailing but still loved it because of the small number of passengers, delightful crew, fab service, comfortable cabins, air con, fantastic food, and every extra thought of. Hairdryer - tick, cups of tea of coffee anytime and you can trot back to your cabin with a brew in the mornings, charging points - tick, reliable shower - tick, cool air conditioning below deck - tick, tiny pools but great to just get cool when sunbathing, plenty of sun loungers. Loads of food - beautifully presented and served and you did not have to sit with any particular person - so people tended to go down in groups or with a couple of people they met on the way down and sat together. If not, the staff allocated you to a suitable table. Excitement every time the sails went up and I even got to steer. Yesss! Wish they'd given us more beach outings and had a working windsurfer or two! Only one SUP and one dinghy and couple of canoes. We were on a week that was block booked - so not sure if we had the same shore visits as most Eastern Med cruises on the star clipper. Had been on a cruise with Norwegian line - hated it. This one was something else! With a small number of passengers you are on nodding terms with everyone within a couple of days and begin to pal up with like-minded people and sit together for some meals. And the whole sailing thing - to die for! Drinks are sensible prices too. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Ship was contracted out so majority of passengers were from UK. The embarkation could have been a better experience as it was very hot and we didn't see the drinks on offer in tent until it was too late. Once om board the queuing and ... Read More
Ship was contracted out so majority of passengers were from UK. The embarkation could have been a better experience as it was very hot and we didn't see the drinks on offer in tent until it was too late. Once om board the queuing and processing of cards meant we stood in line for a long time and when they tried to take photos the uSB wouldn't work. We helped them reboot the laptop. cant fault the service and as always the ship was sparkling clean. Lots of choice for breakfast, lunches and main meals. All were well cooked and presented. good choice of desserts as well at lunch, but those involving pastry or cake I felt lacked a good flavour - perhaps they had used cheaper margarine. Lovely touch of the late afternoon food on the deck. Great to swim off the platform when we were moored and the chance to kayak. good aquarobics class at the swimming pool - shame they have cut down on the number of qualified sports crew, but they did their best. I even joined the 0700 yogalates class run by the excellent cruise director. Climbing the crows nest was great fun, but the booking process was a bit chaotic. Cabins are compact but have everything you need and air conditioning relatively quiet. Tours arranged by ship were a bit overpriced but well organised. All in all still a great cruise- just felt standards had slipped - you don't hose down a zodiac above the route for passengers going ashore! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Star Clippers are unlike any other cruise line,you are sailing in every sense of the word We chose the Star Clipper sailing from Athens to Venice via Greek Islands Montenegro the Damatia Coast and finally Venice. Being a smaller ship ... Read More
Star Clippers are unlike any other cruise line,you are sailing in every sense of the word We chose the Star Clipper sailing from Athens to Venice via Greek Islands Montenegro the Damatia Coast and finally Venice. Being a smaller ship we can get into much more exclusive ports, Our Captain was ever present ever professional ever friendly and approachable his knowledge of sailing the sea and clipper ships of which is so proud is astounding We had a grade one cabin opening in to the deck very special Sailing on the Star clipper is unlike a sailing on a large cruise ship if it's nightly shows and fancy cinema and choice of restaurant all drinks included, this is not for you, but if you want feel as though you are going back into time to a proper era of sailing this is it, The food is good the bar is excellent the cabin is looked after imaculately the crew are brilliant the cruise director so knowledgable I cannot praise everyone highly enough Sailing out of each port with the sails hoisted to the music of Van Gellis makes you swell with pride each time The clipper is the most elegant and admired lady all who see her look on in awe All of us passengers on our beautiful ship would hate to go on one of those floating hotels but all the passengers on the floating hotels would love to be on our ship Sailing into Montenegro on the Star Clipper was just fantastic the scenery is astounding and when we left the with wind her sails we made a magical sight Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The trip just fell short on everything. Started badly by having a toilet blockage in the public bathroom having to be fixed through our cabin. Because we couldn't dress for dinner I asked for another cabin (there were plenty that were ... Read More
The trip just fell short on everything. Started badly by having a toilet blockage in the public bathroom having to be fixed through our cabin. Because we couldn't dress for dinner I asked for another cabin (there were plenty that were empty). The cabin they offered was supposedly an upgrade because it was upstairs, but it was significantly smaller and noisier and had less storage space. We moved back the next morning. The food was bland and lacked imagination. In comparison, the Wind Star had a port-inspired dish on the menu each night, offered fresh made menu items at all three meals, plus the buffets at breakfast and lunch, and the option for room service whenever you desired, and there was free soda and water in your cabin at all times. Star Clipper's breakfast and lunch buffets were truly disappointing; buttered noodles should not ever be a dish on a cruise, yet Star Clipper offered it at three buffet lunches. There was the option for fresh eggs at breakfast, and I was told by another passenger that you could also order toast. You must pay for all drinks on the Star Clipper, soda and bottled water included. Lastly, on the food, the service on the Star Clipper couldn't hold a candle to Wind Star. Some, not all, of the staff were often unkempt and unfriendly, and seemed put out by any request. All they wanted to do was what they must, fill glasses, clear plates, etc. On the Wind Star the staff was professional, courteous, and seemed to genuinely enjoy making your experience the best it could be. We got the opportunity to see one of the Star Clipper's "luxury" cabins when we befriended another couple, and I'd have to say aside from the bathtub, it was no bigger or nicer than our standard cabin on the Wind Star. Certainly not worth the price. Our Star Clipper cabin was significantly smaller and older looking than the Wind Star. Also the old TV had no reception and could only be used for DVDs, which you could borrow from the Purser's Office, two at a time. We spent much more time watching movies than on any other cruise, as there is no real entertainment to speak of. Whereas the Wind Star had cultural dance troops and the like, the Star Clipper had a fashion show, where if you had bought any of their apparel, you could walk the "runway" in hopes of getting other passengers to buy stuff. Robert, the piano player was nice enough, but didn't add much to the experience. The piano player on the Wind Star was not particularly nice, but did his job very well, engaging the passengers and playing a wide variety of tunes. Oh, and on the last day they wouldn't give me my passport because they said I hadn't returned a DVD, when in reality the "Sports team" had taken it without signing it out, so they just accused the last passenger who had borrowed it. You sign them out, but don't sign them in, so if they say you haven't returned it, they hold your passport, which made me late for my prescheduled tour that morning. As for the excursions, make sure you know what you are signing up for because a lot of people were disappointed with how they handled the Barcelona tour. The tour ended at the airport, whether you were staying in the city for a couple of days or even continuing on the Star Clipper, you got left at the airport. I've never had that experience before and it was less than clear. Also, there was one couple that wanted to cancel their tour and were told they could not even though they stood before the cruise director with another couple who wanted to take that very tour, but were told it was sold out. All they had to do was switch credit card numbers, but instead both couples were left unsatisfied. In general, I found the cruise director, Anna, unfriendly, unhelpful and unapproachable outside her regular passenger interaction. Many passengers on the ship were happy repeat customers, which left my husband and I confused. What we learned was they were often sailors themselves who were looking for a "real" sailing experience. It is true that the Wind Star used their engine more (usually during sleeping hours) but in all fairness they also sailed farther and all the ports were significant, culturally or historically. I felt like the Star Clipper simply chose ports they could get to under sail. The other thing though was that none of these happy repeat customers had been on a Wind Star cruise and therefore had nothing really to compare. We were sure to encourage all to try Wind Star; I really believe they will all be more than happy with the decision! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We recently sailed on the Royal Clipper on their Eastern Med cruise starting at Venice and finishing in Rome having visited Croatia, Montenegro, Sicily, Corfu and Capri, This was a truly wonderful experience and without a doubt the most ... Read More
We recently sailed on the Royal Clipper on their Eastern Med cruise starting at Venice and finishing in Rome having visited Croatia, Montenegro, Sicily, Corfu and Capri, This was a truly wonderful experience and without a doubt the most unique experience I have had cruising. It was a truly magical and our fellow passengers were the most interesting I have met on the 15 cruises I have been on before. The ports of call were excellent and the suite we had ( owners suite) was luxurious. The crew were friendly and most helpful and the food was excellent. If you like to have others passengers who speak English then I would advise you to book through Riviera Travel as they charter several of the clippers ships throughout the year and sell them exclusively in the UK. Also if you book through Riviera they include quite a few of the excursions in the price so very good value and the couriers were excellent. This cruise should not be compared with the huge gin palaces on the sea it is very much more select and stylish so don't expect children running around and flash cabarets. The Royal Clipper has a library and a small spa and a couple of bars and cabins have a DVD and BBC World. It also has three plunge pools on the deck and a marina at the back where you can swim from and do water sports. It was a great experience travelling under sail and we had no turbulence at all throughout the entire cruise. If there is no wind it travels under engine power. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was our first "cruise" experience, chosen not for cruising as such but because it was a sailing ship and seemed infinitely more exciting. Although a cheaper cabin, ours was well fitted out with plenty of storage, a safe, ... Read More
This was our first "cruise" experience, chosen not for cruising as such but because it was a sailing ship and seemed infinitely more exciting. Although a cheaper cabin, ours was well fitted out with plenty of storage, a safe, 2 hairdryers and clean linen as needed and enough sockets to keep our technology charged. We took our own adapters. The shower room was a bit small but quite sufficient. Food was to a high standard although there is rather a lot of choice and not all of it is enjoyable. For me the fruit variety for breakfast was a bit boring, no strawberries, raspberries, blueberries but lots of melon varieties, oranges and prunes, bananas only twice. The cooked breakfast was a bit disappointing, bacon rather solid, sausages - less said the better, scrambled eggs cooked to standstill and beans not the tomato sauce variety. Fresh omelettes though. It wasn't too difficult to find something. Lunch was probably the best meal, lots of variety, most well done and tasty, lovely roast beef, lamb and pork. Dinner, served formally and usually pretty good but not really enough vegetables. If you don't eat carbs then you're stuck a little. Rather too much food but if you're strong willed you'd be ok. The trips can be changed if the weather prevents the Clipper from docking anywhere and this happened twice on our trip. The places varied but generally included ruins, shops and bars. Beach time happened only once which was a shame, I'd have like more opportunity to swim in the sea. The staff are all delightful, the entertainment is varied and none of it professional but all the more fun for that. The ships talent contest was hilarious. The niggles? Well the same as others have noted, the sunbed hoggers were well in evidence (and an all British clientele) and although saving a bed is against the "rules", it went on and the staff turned a blind eye, unlucky for those of us who went on excursions and were looking forward to resting in the sun, we rested in our cabins instead. The dress code for dinner was also breached by passengers in shorts and this was also ignored, disappointing when most made the effort to be smart. A real occasion was made of setting off under sail and I found this really uplifting, watching the sails unfurl to the music of Vangelis and flying along. The sail time though is often curtailed by the weather and takes place mainly at night, if at all. Still, lovely to see the ship when it did happen. Dining with the captain, you had to pay and as he only appeared once not much chance really as this seemed to have been an option paid for in advance and thus not really open to most of us. All in all, I was glad to have sailed on The Clipper, just for the experience, I don't desire to "cruise" with hordes of people and children and eat bland food. I enjoyed it, loved it even. The weather was kind, never less than 30c and often hotter. No rain, yippee, pity you can't book the weather wherever you go. The one downside was the reports that there had been two and maybe three incidences of theft, almost certainly crew related. I am also against having to tip up for gratuities, in this day and age the crew should not have to rely on them for a decent wage. I know they are "voluntary" but who wouldn't feel obliged, especially when envelopes are provided for you do so. Who knows if the crew even receive the tips? Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
The most important thing to bear in mind if you are looking at the Star Clipper is that this is a sailing holiday and not a cruise. Unlike the big cruise ships, these ships do not have stabilizers and therefore there can be quite a lot of ... Read More
The most important thing to bear in mind if you are looking at the Star Clipper is that this is a sailing holiday and not a cruise. Unlike the big cruise ships, these ships do not have stabilizers and therefore there can be quite a lot of rocking and rolling if the sea is anyway rough. On the first night's sailing a substantial number of passengers suffered from sea sickness including my wife! The ship's nurse was on hand with sea sickness tablets and if you feel that you may be prone to this, takes a tablet early. Getting on board Arrival and check-in was quite painless and as there is a maximum of 170 passengers, there was no queuing. The company do the usual thing on cruise ships by welcoming you on board with a cocktail and a buffet but on this ship you can probably meet most of you fellow passengers in one go! Cabins are quite compact compared to some of the bigger cruise ships but they were very comfortable. During the trip I found that if I went to the bar it gave my wife room to do whatever women do. The price of drinks at the bar is reasonable compared to other cruise ships I have been on and tea, coffee and drinking water are all complimentary for the duration of the trip. Bring a southern European adapter, the ship can supply you with one but have a very limited supply. Dining Apparently the ship has a Michelin Star chef and the standard of food reflected this. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and evening was a la carte. You can sit wherever with whoever which was helpful for those travelling alone. The house wine was fine and cost around 15 Euros for a bottle. There were also early morning, late afternoon and mid-night snacks for those of us with a big appetite. It would be worth going on this cruise just for the food which was outstanding. Sailing As I said earlier, this holiday is all about the sailing experience and the shore excursions are an optional extra. I had heard some complaints from passengers who had travelled on a Clipper and the Captain had used the sails very infrequently. Fortunately this was not our experience and we appeared to travel under sail all the time. It was nice to get ashore to shop and see the sights but I could have as easily stayed on board for the duration of the trip. Organized excursions are generally expensive but it is worth paying for the Dalyan River trip. The Cruise Director was either poorly trained or was in the wrong job. What information he did manage to communicate to the passengers was generally wrong, including simple things like paying for entrance to the castle and museum in Bodrum. No, you cannot pay in any currency, they only accept Turkish Lira but if you stop at the nearest bar they will exchange your Euros for Lira. You get a really poor rate but it was worth it to get in. Entrance was 10 Lira. Also unknown to the Director was that some of the sights were closed on the day of visiting. Fortunately we and a number of the other passengers treated this all as a bit of extra entertainment and it did not spoil our holiday Some passengers came on the trip just to see Santorini but if I go again I would give it a miss, particularly if there are other big cruise ships in. We choose this holiday to get away from the queues but queued for about an hour to get the venicular railway back down to the harbor to board the ship again. Couple this with the problem of getting ashore on time due to the rough sea, it just wasn't worth the bother. The place was pretty but very crowded and very expensive. Setting sail each evening to the sound of Vangelis was an exhilarating experience and there was always something going on deck during the day. This is not a big ship but the deck and bar never appeared to be crowded. You should also be aware that if the sea is rough, it is possible that the ship will be unable to berth or drop anchor. They usually have a plan B! Last but not least, the crew and staff were very friendly and helpful making this a lovely holiday and we will go back, perhaps taking the trip through the Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband and I are in our mid 30s and decided on Royal Clipper for our Honeymoon cruise. The ship was under capacity with only about 130 on board mostly Germans and Brits. Only about 20 Americans(which we are). Announcements were done in ... Read More
My husband and I are in our mid 30s and decided on Royal Clipper for our Honeymoon cruise. The ship was under capacity with only about 130 on board mostly Germans and Brits. Only about 20 Americans(which we are). Announcements were done in French, German and English. Other travelers were well traveled and business 'white collar' types. We enjoyed their company greatly. The average age range was 40-60 year olds. We opted to stay at the Clipper's hotel in Venice two days before boarding. The hotel was in a good part of the city away from too much touristy stuff, but still close enough to get around. Also they served free breakfast which was a nice surprise. Getting to the port was simple and check in was fine. There was quite a line, but by the time we had all forms filled out we easily did the passport check and photo. On board we were treated to music, drinks and light snacks and our bags were in the room waiting for us. Royal Clipper is BEAUTIFUL. We were shocked at the care being given to the ship. It looked and smelled brand new. Every day we would see the friendly crew scrubbing, polishing, or painting something. The decor is tastefully done and all rooms compliment each other. On board each evening there was a different type of entertainment. From the first night introductions and fashion show, to crab races, to Greek dancers and finally the crew talent show. We went to and enjoyed each event especially the Mr. and Mrs. Royal Clipper game which we won. These all took place in the bar which was the usual evening hang out spot. We also watched the sail raising when departing each port, listened to all the port information as we arrived(got some great information and tips on what to do and see), climbed the mast( a MUST do), lied in the front netting, swam off the back dock, listened to music in the piano bar, read in the library, and relaxed in the 3 pools. We also checked out a few dvds from their rental. Not a huge selection, but enough. For such a small ship, we never ran out of things to do. We also enjoyed pirate night though wish we had known about it ahead of time so we could have brought costumes. The service was wonderful. We were so spoiled and felt we had our own personal butlers for the 11 days. Crew members always had smiles on their faces and knew our names, who we hung out with and which wine we drank. We also loved the laundry service, reasonably priced and we got the joy of seeing our undies and swimsuits ironed! We did an excursion at each port and though they are slightly overpriced(as is expected on all cruise lines) none were a disappointment. All the guides were well traveled and bilingual, plus we were usually served food and drink. Our budget would only allow us the cheapest room. It was small, but nice. All we do in the room is sleep and shower anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. Compared to the room size, the bathroom was quite large which was a plus. We had been told that small ships feel the movement of the ocean a lot, but did not find this to be the case. It was a smooth ride the entire time. The dining room had a great menu that changed each day. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with a theme each day. Every breakfast had a different smoothie which I looked forward to trying. There was also an omelette bar which was my husband's favorite. Lunch included a dessert bar which was wonderful. Dinner was the only meal that required dressing up. I wore a skirt while my husband went in khakis and a Polo shirt. Most people dressed slightly more for the captains dinner. However ties, gowns and all that nonsense are not expected(thank goodness). There was no assigned seating or times which is exactly what we enjoy. The meals were wonderfully made and presented well. About an hour before dinner began there would be a menu and sample dissed placed outside the dining entrance so you knew exactly what you were ordering ahead of time. If nothing on the menu met your needs steak and fries were always an option. One of our favorite things about this ship: no kids! We love kids, but the purpose of our holiday was our honeymoon. We wanted an adult only vacation. There was a 5 year old with his nanny that we saw about 3 times. An out of control 11 year old who someone complained to the crew about and 3 teenagers that easily blended in with the adults. My husband and I have a child now, but would not bring him on this cruise until he is at least 10 if not 15. They have a small fitness room and spa which we used a bit. I got a massage and facial at the spa which was great. On the daily schedule there were several specials for treatments. Each day they'd feature a drink special as well which was always cheaper and usually quite good. You are not supposed to bring alcohol on board, but they do not make a big deal out of this. The ship does not have a party/drunk type atmosphere so anyone getting wasted in their own room would look rather foolish. Leaving was also simple, the procedures were explained to us in a meeting the day before and we were able to quickly get our things and leave to our next destination(Rome). We were very sad to say good bye to Royal Clipper and are planning a return in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I have just returned from a wonderful holiday on the Star Flyer in the Mediterranean, overall it was a memorable trip, but marred slightly by things which could be improved so easily! I estimate that 80% of the passengers were non ... Read More
I have just returned from a wonderful holiday on the Star Flyer in the Mediterranean, overall it was a memorable trip, but marred slightly by things which could be improved so easily! I estimate that 80% of the passengers were non smokers, and although you have a smoking policy it is was not adhered to, in fact one day in the tropical bar 3 German passengers were smoking cigars in full view of the Captain, The Hotel Manager and the Cruise Director! even though cigars and pipes were only to be smoked on the upper sun deck. Several of the British passengers I spoke to avoided the Tropical bar area because smoking was allowed! Perhaps you could consider changing your policy to "Smoking ONLY allowed on the upper sun deck or even no smoking at all!! The chafing dishes used in the dining room did not keep the food hot, even going in for breakfast at 08.00 the food was at best luke warm, and some days cold! I did point this out to the head waiter but he was extremely offhand about it and couldn't see "my problem". As to being advised the level of tipping (because according to the Cruise Director cabin & catering staff do not get paid!??) I feel that tipping should be discretionary, and only for exceptional service, and I personally felt no one on the ship did any more than they were actually paid to, so perhaps you should change the charging structure to include this in your overall costs and stop the begging!! Internet access charged at 12 Euros for an hour! That's the equivalent to what I pay monthly at home, when you are spending £4000 on a holiday, it should be included! Why is diving an additional cost when other water sports are included? Charlie the entertainer was very good, but did not know any Scottish tunes so we couldn't demonstrate a Strip the Willow or Eightsome reel to the non Scottish passengers , perhaps you could supply each ship with an appropriate CD of tunes. Mail posted on the ship, which I was assured would be posted in the next port, did not get posted until 11 days after we disembarked!! On a positive note, the ship was kept immaculately, The "sail away" experiences with Vangelis playing were very emotional, the deck/tender crews were very courteous and cheerful and overall it was a very memorable holiday which I have already recommended to friends. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
REVIEW - MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE ABOARD THE ROYAL CLIPPER ROME TO VENICE A Little Information about Star Clippers Let me say right from the start that I am a big fan of the Star Clippers sailing experience. This cruise is our 5th on ... Read More
REVIEW - MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE ABOARD THE ROYAL CLIPPER ROME TO VENICE A Little Information about Star Clippers Let me say right from the start that I am a big fan of the Star Clippers sailing experience. This cruise is our 5th on Star Clippers and the second time we have sailed on the Royal Clipper. We have also sailed on the sister ships Star Flyer and Star Clipper and have cruised with them in Thailand, Tahiti, Greece & Turkey and the Caribbean out of Barbados. My husband and I own our own sailboat in Florida and have chartered sailboats around the world for bareboat experiences. I wanted to write a review of our latest sailing experience aboard the Royal Clipper, and share some of my observations and comparisons with the other ships of the line and with other types of cruises. When deciding to go on a cruise, one of the major decisions a person has to make, other than the destination, is if you want a traditional cruise ship or a sailing vessel. There are pros and cons of both options which I will not go into here, but if you are not absolutely certain that being on a real sailboat is of the upmost importance, you may want to think twice about sailing with Star Clippers. On any of the ships in the Star Clipper line, you will find the cabins are not as big or luxurious as a traditional cruise ship, the food is not as good or as plentiful and are no formal dress up functions. There is also no bingo, casino or glitzy entertainment. If you have any mobility problems, there are stairs everywhere and there is no elevator. With this said, it is interesting to note that the Star Clippers has a very loyal and dedicated clientele, with over 60% of passengers on any given cruise being repeat customers. My husband and I would not consider going on any other commercial cruise line than Star Clippers. I am pointing this out at the beginning of my review to alert readers that this may not be the cruise for you, depending on your priorities and expectations. On this last cruise, I met several passengers who were very unhappy and complained about the food, entertainment, nightlife, accommodations, foreigners, layout of the ship and anything else they could think about. They thought they were going on another Carnival Cruise and never came to appreciate the unique and wonderful experience that being on a tall ship can bring. If, however, you are active and healthy, adventurous and friendly, if food is not your priority on a cruise and you can live without a balcony cabin, than you should consider taking a cruise on one of the Star Clipper ships. Rome - Civitavecchia port - Day 1 On our 11-day cruise, the Royal Clipper departed from Civitavecchia - the port of Rome. Civitavecchia is about an hour outside the city of Rome. The best and most inexpensive way to reach Civitavecchia is to take the train. From the Rome airport, take the Leonardo express train into Rome (14 Euros). The train drops you off at the Termini station (Track 29) and is right next to the Piza train (on Track 27) that takes you to Civitavecchia (4 Euros). Buy both tickets at once at the airport and just get off one train and hop on the other...it could not be easier. If you want to spend some time in Rome, I believe there is a place to store your bags at the train station. Be aware that both Track 29 and 27 are at the absolute furthest parts of the Termini train station, so be prepared for a long walk to get to the main terminal and leave plenty of time. There is also the option of transfers with the cruise line. Those passengers that decide to do that option (it is about $85 per person) walk from the airport to the adjacent Hilton Airport Hotel (10 minute walk with covered walkways). They store your luggage and provide a meeting room with chairs to hang out in. You have the option to take the train into the city on your own or use the hotel's free shuttle bus into Rome (which is an hour away). At 5:00 these passengers must be back at the hotel to take a bus out to the port. If you take the train from Rome out to Civitavecchia, you will arrive at the train station, which is not right on the water. From the station, you can take a short taxi ride to the ship for around 7 Euros. I believe there also may be a shuttle bus but I am not sure about its schedule. Boarding the ship is from 4:00pm - 10:00pm, and the ship departs at 11:00pm or as soon as everyone is onboard. At the port of Civitavecchia, the ship will be docked alongside pier no 11, 12, 13 or 14. It is very obvious there it is, as you can spot it from miles away, so it is not hard to find. At the port terminal, we went through a security scanner and got on the ship after a quick check-in where they took our photo and issued us a ship ID card. This card, which we call our MULTIPASS (like in the movie 5th Element), is also your room key, ID for boarding and credit card for all ships purchases. At this point, you also surrender your passport, which you will not get back again until the end of the cruise. To get on the ship, one must climb the steep boarding stairway - a wobbly but secure contraption attached to the outside of the ship. This is one reason why this ship is not recommended for anyone with mobility problems. Once on the ship, we were welcomed with a tropical drink and shown to our cabin. Unfortunately for us, our luggage was lost by Delta Airlines, and did not make it to the Rome airport with us (I guess our luggage had always wanted to visit Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris). We reported this to the ships purser, who then contacted the ships port agent. The port agent was hopeful that we might be reunited with our lost luggage in 3 days in Sicily, where he would send it when found. Our stops before then were too small to have an airport, so I guess we would be wearing our current attire a lot in the next few days. At this point I must say that the staff on the ship went out of their way to help and accommodate us with clothing and supplies. The ships store opened and gave us toiletries. They also offered us any clothing in the store for a 50% discount and gave us free laundry service. Our room steward took our cloths when we went to bed at night and returned them to us in the morning clean and fresh. The purser kept in contact with the port agent and kept us posted on the status of our luggage. I guess this kind of thing happens frequently - so it you are going on a cruise take an emergency bag with you on the plane with underwear, shorts, sandals and toiletries! The ship left port at around 9:30 when all of the passengers were onboard. One of the most magical experiences on any Star Clipper sailing is leaving port. Everyone gathers up on deck while the crew hoists some of the sails (most are automatically unfurled), while the beautiful and haunting musical theme from the film 1492 plays. I must confess that I never tire of this experience no matter how many times I sail out of port on one of their ships. Ponza - Day 2 We had a leisurely sail and anchored off the small island of Ponza at around noon. As it was a Sunday, and we were very jet lagged and had no sport cloths to wear, so we decided to take it easy on the ship. The people who did go ashore said it was a beautiful little town and some of the shops were open. No shore excursions were available at Ponza, which was a very small and isolated island. There were lots of huge yachts anchored in the bay. Around sunset we set sail for Capri. The evening entertainment was a fashion show put on by the ship's store. The Star Clipper Fleet The Royal Clipper is the largest of the Star Clipper fleet, with 5 masts and about 225 passengers at full capacity. The cabins on the Royal are a little bit larger and nicer than those on the smaller ships. The dining room is multi level, with a small inner ring that is used for the breakfast and lunch buffets. The two identical sister ships, the Star Flyer and the Star Clipper have 4 masts and a maximum of 170 passengers. Even though there is only a difference of about 50 passengers, the Royal feels much larger than the other two ships. Unique to the Royal is a cool spa that is located at the bottom of the ship, with porthole windows looking out underwater. The Royal also has 3 saltwater pools and a water sport platform that opens up at the stern. The Flyer and Clipper have 2 saltwater pools. All ships have dive masters, snorkeling equipment (provided free), kayaks and sailboards. There is also a Learn To Dive program on the ships available to passengers who want to try it out before committing to a longer program on shore or on the ship. The largest gathering area on the ship is the Tropical Bar, which is at the center of the ship and open to the elements, although they put up a shade canvas. Even though I love the elegance of the Royal, I think I prefer the smaller and more intimate ambience of the Flyer and the Clipper. I think the biggest advantage of the Royal is the stern water sport platform, which is much easier for diving and snorkeling. Capri - Day 3 We arrive in Capri around 11:00 and after a quick lunch on the ship embark on an Island Tour (53 Euros) at 1:00. This was the only tour offered. On Capri, there is no ship tender service, only local boats because the port is too small and crowded. We are picked up at the ship in a boat by the tour operator, who takes us to the Coral Grotto and White Virgin Grotto (which we back into). We see the famous Faraglioni rock formations surrounding the island and take the boat through a rock arch. The boat drops us off at Marina Grande, where we take a small tour bus up to Anacapri. From here we have the option of looking around the town and shopping, visiting Villa San Michele which is built on the ruins of Tiberius's palaces or taking the chair lift up to Monte Solaro. We decide on the chair lift, which is like an individual ski lift that takes you up to the top of the mountain and incredible views of Capri and the Bay of Naples. We meet back at the drop off area and take another bus down to Capri. Here we have time to shop and look around, and are given tickets to take the Funicolare back down to the port. There is a long line for the Funicolare and it drops you off a short distance from the dock, where we take a shuttle boat back to the ship. We spoke with other passengers that did most of this stuff by themselves (except the boat tour) for a much cheaper price than we paid on the tour, and while we could have done it ourselves I think the tour was a good value. We were discouraged from trying to go to the Blue Grotto (which Capri is most famous for), but we could have done it from a tourist office at the harbor. Those that did try to see the Blue Grotto paid to be taken there only to not be allowed in because the seas were too rough (and no refund...you take your chances). We set sail at around 7:00 to a beautiful sunset and rough seas. Entertainment tonight was a Music Trivia contest. Food on the Royal Clipper The most common question people ask about a cruise is, "How was the food?" As food is often a very subjective area, it is sometimes a difficult question to answer. Unfortunately, on this particular cruise the answer is simple...the food was not very good. As I have stated at the beginning of this review, this was not my first Star Clipper cruise and not my first experience aboard the Royal Clipper. We had sailed on the Star Flyer 8 months previously in Tahiti, so we had fairly recent exposure to the culinary offerings on that ship - where the food was outstanding. Unless the parent company had instigated a drastic reduction in food quality, which I seriously doubt, I would blame it on the chef. Our chef on the Star Flyer in Tahiti was from the Philippines and his food was well prepared, interesting and had delicious seasonings. The chef on the Royal Clipper was from Jamaica, and his menu was uninspired, the food poorly prepared, bland and downright boring. It is the only cruise in memory where I lost weight and tried to eat off the ship whenever possible. The main topic of conversation among the passengers was how bad the food was. One German passenger commented to me that he liked to get the cheese course for dessert, but they gave him the exact same cheeses every night. He observed that at lunch they have different cheeses every day, and so he asked the waiter to give him those different cheeses at dinner. They complied with his request...but why didn't they offer that to everyone? I think it shows a lack of leadership in the kitchen, people doing as little as possible instead of trying for excellence. Every day is the same breakfast buffet on the Royal. There are made to order omelets and a selection of fruits, breads and cereals. Also offered was underdone bacon, sausages that looked like cut up hot dogs and some other hot items such as crepes or pancakes. On the 7th day (of an 11 day cruise), the fresh mushrooms ran out - so my husband stopped eating the omelets (what's the point without mushrooms?). Someone should have planned that better. Lunch was also a buffet, the layout of the dining room on the Royal making for a traffic jam. (The buffet layout is better on the Flyer and Clipper because the dining room is all one level and more open.) The lunch was often the best meal of the day, with different themes such as Asian or Italian. The crew decorated the room with festive flags and banners and there was often a carving station with a ham or turkey. Also offered was a dessert buffet and many cheese and salad options. Dinner was served at table, the maitre d' seating people together and doing a great job of remembering who liked to sit together. I found most people preferred to sit with others that spoke the same language, so there were the German tables, the French tables and the English tables. Star Clipper cruises are always an international mix of people, and our cruise had passengers from 38 different countries. Meeting and talking with passengers from all over the world is one of the most enjoyable things about traveling on a Star Clipper cruise. The food is served in courses and the ship has a good selection of wine offerings. If you don't finish a bottle, they will label it and save it for you for the next night. It is a shame that the food was so disappointing on this cruise and I hope that they take steps to improve it on the Royal Clipper soon. If they read their comment cards from passengers, they should be aware of the problem. Giardini Naxos, Sicily - Day 4 Sometime during the very early pre-dawn morning, the ship sailed by the active volcanic island of Stromboli - a smoking cone rising straight out of the ocean. I failed to wake up in time to see it, but a fellow passenger who did said she saw a fiery lava plume amid the smoke. I saw it at a distance, and even then it was a magnificent sight. We arrived at the Straits of Messina at around 9:30 and were entertained by a talk by Captain Sergey about piracy and how it is affecting passenger ships. I had previously sailed on the Star Flyer in Thailand, but they have discontinued that route because of increased safety concerns in the area. Captain Sergey, originally from Russia, is one of a select few tall ship captains in the world, and is very good at what he does. He also lectured us later in the week about the different designs and configurations of sailing ships and told us about the new ship that the Star Clipper line plans to add in 2014. We arrived at the port of Naxos at around 2:00 and we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our luggage. I had been very fortunate to meet an absolutely wonderful fellow passenger from Ohio named Marcy. After hearing that I had no cloths, and observing that she was about the same size as me, she sent me an whole bag of cloths to wear until my own arrived. She even had new underwear, still in the Wal-Mart bag. She said she had taken along extra cloths, not knowing why. I believe she was a guardian angel sent to rescue me. She was traveling with her husband and two other couples (the Ohio gang), who became our friends and made our trip delightful. In Sicily, the ship offered several excursion options; a transfer to Taormina and tour of Greek theater (39 Euros), a brunch and wine tasting tour (89 Euros), or a tour of Mt Etna (94 Euros). There is not much to do at the port of Naxos, but the beautiful town of Taormina is just down the coast, perched on a cliff. When a passenger asked our cruise director Angela why the ship went to Naxos instead of Taormina, she answered that they had not yet figured out how to sail up a mountain. We decided not to take a tour but to share a taxi with our friends (the Ohio gang). We negotiated a fare of 40 Euros for 6 (I think we could have done better if we would have haggled more), and our driver took us up to the town of Taormina, arranging to pick us up again in 3 hours. We walked a couple of blocks up to the ancient (3rd century BC) Greek theater. The theater is still in use and has beautiful views of the coast and Mt. Etna, looming in the background. We walked back down through the streets of Taormina, stopping for wonderful gelato at Gelatomania. There were lots of touristy shops in town, also lots of tourists. I purchased a beautiful red pottery platter, glazed with the "Fire of Etna" pattern. After having a drink in a cafe, we return to the ship. Our luggage had arrived...thank you purser Yula! Some of our friends did the Mt. Etna tour and had a great time and brought back a whole backpack of rocks. In Hawaii, Pele doesn't like you to take home any lava, but I guess things are different in Sicily, where it is considered good luck. Our ship departs at almost midnight, but before we leave some local entertainers come on board for a Sicilian folklore performance. Also, a local fashion designer shows some of her over-the-top fashions with young local models. At Sea - Day 5 There were very rough seas during the night and throughout the next day making any people seasick. I personally like it when it is rough...it rocks me to sleep and makes me feel like we are on the ocean. This sentiment was not shared by most of the other passengers. The mast climbing was cancelled and swimming pool drained. Marcy and I spent the day in the ships library where we painted some watercolor scenes of the ship. A great day at sea. Electrical and Internet Connections The electrical system on the Royal Clipper is the European plug system - 2 round holes. On the Star Clipper and the Star Flyer the electrical system is the American plug system. There is a hair dryer in the cabin, but if you need to charge your phone, camera or computer, you need to bring an adapter. Most computer and camera chargers these days operate on a dual voltage system...you can use anything between 120volt-240volt. Check your device to see if it is dual voltage. If it is not a dual voltage device, you need to bring a converter adapter (more expensive and larger). All of the Star Clipper ships have computer and wireless service available. You purchase a wireless card (good for 1 hour) for about 11 Euros. You can either use their computers (very slow ones) or use your own wireless device. I used my iPad and it worked great. Their signal comes from a satellite, so very slow to use. I usually typed my emails before signing on to system account, then copied and pasted them into my email. It is amazing how fast you can use up 1 hour of connection time on a slow satellite connection. Corfu, Greece - Day 6 We arrived at the Greek Island of Corfu at around 8:00 and docked at the pier. This was the only port between Rome and Venice that we were at a dock; the other ports involved anchoring and a tender. The ship offered 3 shore excursions in Corfu; a bus ride to the Achilleion (a neoclassical palace outside of town built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria) and a walking tour of the Old Town near the port (38 Euros), a cycling tour through olive groves that included some uphill riding (84 Euros) and a boat tour of the island including a beach swim (75 Euros). We decided to explore the island on our own and rent a car. After docking, a free shuttle bus picked us up at the pier and took us to the terminal. Just outside the terminal were a string of taxis and a Royal Car Rental lot. We negotiated down from 70 Euros to 60 Euros (cash no credit cards) for a small manual transmission car - which was very comfortable even though we are tall people. It was easy to drive around the island as the roads are well marked in both Greek and English. We drove to Paleokastritsa, a beach town on the other side of the island, after a stop in Lakones. Lakones is perched high on top of a mountain and has a fabulous view. We stopped at a great restaurant in Lakones and had fresh squeezed juice and cappuccino while eating the delicious homemade baklava. The streets in town are very narrow, so cars stop at the light on one edge of town and wait for the cars coming in the opposite direction to pass. The driving in Corfu was beautiful, going from beautiful turquoise beaches to ancient olive groves and mountains. Where the other islands were dry, Corfu was green and lush in many places. Driving down to Paleokastritsa, a nice beachfront community with 3 bays and lots of tourists. We went up to a monastery and walked around then left town and drove to Glifada, another beach community, where we ate grilled fish on the beach. Next we drove up to the mountaintop village of Pelekas (which had some better looking eating places) and on to the Achillion Palace. The tragic beauty Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the Princess Diana of her day, built the Achillion Palace. The palace and gardens were beautiful, with a giant statue of Achilles looking out over the ocean from the cliffside gardens. Inside, the house is filled with assorted items with little or no connection to Elisabeth. We drove back to the ship and departed from Corfu at around 4:00. Our friends that took the bike tour had a great time and highly recommended the tour, although an older gentleman broke his leg on the tour and spent the rest of the trip in a cast. During the evening, we began playing bridge in the library with a German couple we met on the ship. He was now retired, but as a career he had been the German ambassador to Cuba and several South American countries. It was fun getting to know him and his wife, both good bridge players. Kotor, Montenegro - Day 7 Around 10:00am the Royal entered the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. The bay is a large, windy fjord, with Cyprus covered mountains towering over the ship. After several twists and turns we finally arrived at the end of the fjord and the walled city of Kotor. The ship offered 2 excursions in Kotor; a walking tour of Kotor (20 Euros) or a bus and boat tour to the island near Perast (59 Euros). We signed up for the Perast excursion and after taking the tender into Kotor boarded a bus to drive us to the small town of Perast about 6 miles away. At Perast, we boarded a small boat to take us to the Lady of the Rocks, a small church built on a man-made island in the bay. The shrine has wonderful paintings on the walls and ceilings and displays silver medallions given by grateful sea captains for safe voyages. There is also a small museum. Back in Perast, nothing much to see except gypsy women selling linen tablecloths along the waterfront. These tablecloths were obviously made in China, not locally. We headed back to Kotor and the guide took us to the city gates, handed us a free map from the local tourist office and left us. We felt this tour was a complete rip-off. We could have taken a taxi to Perast for 10 Euros and a boat trip to the island for 5 Euros. We walked around the walled city of Kotor on our own. Kotor is a beautiful city, with a huge ziz-zag wall built behind it up the mountains. Several people hiked up the wall, and said it was a spectacular, but hard, climb (without safety rails). We found Kotor delightful, uncrowded (I don't think big cruise ships can get in there), and authentic, with local people still living in the walled city. It was like a town that was poised on the precipice between living city and tourist destination. None of the shops were touristy - it was like they had no idea of what to sell, what tourists would want to buy. Most of the shops were grocery stores and shoe stores selling usable items to the locals. After being in so many towns that had been transformed from real city to Disney tourist fantasy town, it was refreshing to walk the noncommercial streets of Kotor. I predict it will not stay this way for long because Kotor has everything it takes to become a major tourist destination. As it was my birthday, we met with up with our Ohio friends from the ship and took a couple of taxis to a local restaurant I had heard about - Star Mlili. It was about a 15-minute taxi ride (7 Euro) away, on the water in an old olive mill. The gardens were beautifully landscaped, with a stream and waterfall set next to the diners and lanterns hung from the trees. We dined on the local specialty of black mussels, squid and "Mama's Eggplant" - delicious. The local wine was superb as was the almond cake. Getting back to the ship, we could hear the music from the waterfront bars echo across the water while we gazed up at the illuminated city wall, which lit up the entire hillside. Dubrovnik, Croatia - Day 8 We sailed into Dubrovnik, Croatia at around noon and were soon joined at anchor by a huge cruise ship with over 3,000 passengers. Dubrovnik is an ancient walled city (UNESCO World Heritage list), and the best thing to do there is to walk the top of the city wall - which is almost 3 miles long. There were 2 tours offered by the ship; a bus tour of surrounding villages ending at the Old Town (40 Euros - which was cancelled because of lack of interest) or a walking tour of Dubrovnik (33 Euros). We decided to explore by ourselves and took the tender ashore, which dropped us off right at the city gates. Because of the other huge ship in port, the city was crowded with tourists. We waited until the crowds thinned and then climbed up to the city wall walk. The wall completely circled the city and involved lots of steps. There were occasional towers and rest areas with small cafes offering cold drinks. The view was amazing - the sea on 3 sides and the mountains climbing up on the other. Dubrovnik was recently involved in a war, and the most obvious evidence of that were the new roof tiles covering the city. While we were up on the wall, we watched the huge cruise ship pull up anchor and sail away through a narrow pass - dwarfing the city as it passed. Back down in the Old Town, we had gelato and explored the narrow streets and grand promenade of the Stradun. Dubrovnik is known for its fine gold and silver filigree jewelry, unique and handmade. I purchased some in a small shop, where the owner makes the items during the long winters and sells to tourists in the busy summers. Several times a day, costumed guards run through the streets for tourists to take blurry photos of. We also saw some weddings at many of the churches. Even though Dubrovnik is a tourist city, it still has local character. At sunset, we sat at a bar that was literally perched on the cliffs outside the city wall - spectacular! Some of our friends took the cable car up to the top of the mountain from just outside the city gates. They said there was an interesting war museum and a great view up there. Other friends who took the ships walking tour were disappointed in it, so we were glad we did our own thing. The ship left port at almost midnight; so many passengers went into town for dinner. Korcula, Croatia - Day 9 We arrived at the quaint town and island of Korcula at about 10:30. We took the tender to shore and had a quick look around the town, which was easy to do because is very small and compact. We climbed the tower for a great view and had gelato at a cafe on the water. The ship offered several excursions; a walking tour of the city (20 Euros), a Buggy Adventure (98 Euros) or an island bus tour that included lunch (65 Euros). We had signed up for the Buggy tour immediately when we got on the ship in Rome. It sounded like a great tour and had only spots for 7 couples. This turned out to be one of our best tours on the cruise and was totally fun. We were picked up at the tender dock by a small boat, which took us to the other side of the island. We got off and were assigned our "buggies". The buggies were like a go-cart and sat 2 people side by side. We were given a helmet to wear that had goggles, which came in very handy on our dusty off-road travels. It was fun driving through the hills, olive groves and vineyards, climbing higher up the mountain on rough trails. We stopped at a winery and sampled the local wine - good stuff. We then drove down to a nice sand beach were we went for a swim with the local kids that were enjoying their last day of summer vacation before school started. The tour captain brought out fresh fruit and local cheese on the short trip back to the ship on his small boat. A great adventure! Friends that took the walking tour were not happy and thought it was boring. Others spent the day in kayaks and small sailboats off the sport platform at the rear of the ship. Many had trouble getting back to the ship because of the strong currents and had to be rescued by the sports team. That afternoon, just before sunset, the ship had its Photo Excursion. Passengers departed the ship in 2 tenders and circled the ship as it raised its sails. I got some beautiful photos with the spectacular sunset in the background. That night was Pirate Night in the dining room, with passengers encouraged to dress up as a pirate with whatever they had on had. There were some very creative and enthusiastic costumes. The entertainment that night was a crab race, where you can bet $5 on which crab will cross the deck racetrack first. It is pretty funny, as the crabs are very unpredictable. Crew on the Royal Clipper There are about 100 crewmembers on the Royal Clipper (about 70 crew on the other ships). The main divisions seem to be the Bridge staff (the Captain and those that sail the ship, including the seamen), the Purser and Hotel staff (including all those wonderful room stewards), the Engineering and Maintenance staff (they are always painting and varnishing the ship - nonstop), and the Food staff (including the chef and all the bar and restaurant staff). There is also the Cruise Director, who organizes all of the tours at port and orchestrates the activities on board and the Gift Shop manager who stocks the ships store. Our sailing also included a Marine Biologist, who gave lectures and had dolphin-watching sessions in the mornings. For this cruise (and our last cruise in Tahiti), our cruise director was Angela. Angela does a remarkable job keeping everyone informed with what is going on aboard ship (she does a daily newsletter delivered to the cabin), scheduling and organizing the tours. She also is the ships translator, which is a crucial job when you consider the international clientele aboard ship. All information is recited in English, German and French, and I would imagine they would also do Spanish if it were called for. Angela was completely fluent in all of those languages and did a remarkable job. She also plans and hosts the evening entertainments such as the talent show. Unfortunately for the passengers, Angela is leaving the ship in the spring to get married - we wish her luck in her new life in Turkey. One of the gems of the Star Clipper cruise line is the cruise director Peter. We had the good fortune of getting to know him aboard the Star Flyer in Thailand (I believe he is currently on the Star Clipper). Peter, besides being fluent in a multitude of languages, is a nautical historian. He gives informal lectures and sailing with him is like taking a graduate class in naval history. Tipping is done at the end of the cruise and can be paid by cash or added to your bill. I think that we tipped about 160 Euros for the entire 11-day cruise. All ships accounting is done in Euros and the charges will show up on your credit card as coming from Monaco. There is usually not a medical doctor on the Star Clipper sailings, although we did have a doctor on our cruise. Hvar, Croatia - Day 10 We sailed into Hvar (silent H) at around 10:00. Hvar is a beautiful town with lots of islands and sailboats. There were several excursions offered in Hvar; a bus island tour (58 Euros), a jeep safari (80 Euros), a new sailing adventure (57 Euros) and a new Hiking tour. We decided to go on the new sailing adventure tour. We went over to town in the tender and met up with the sailboat tour, which was a small 38' racing sailboat with one guy on it. There were only 6 people from the ship signed up for the tour, which was lucky because the boat did not have a lot of comfortable seating. We jumped on the boat and immediately went out into the busy harbor. As there was only one guy operating the boat, he looked at the passengers, zeroed in on my husband as the most likely candidate, and asked him if he wanted to take the helm while he handled the sails. This ended up to be a good call because my husband jumped at the chance and ended up sailing the boat for the entire cruise. Bora winds from the mountains enabled up to get up to speed of 10 knots. The area was dotted with small islands and filled with all types of sailboats. We had a great time sailing around the many islands - a great excursion and my husband's favorite! We stopped by a swimming beach, but as it was a bit cool and breezy no one wanted to swim. After a couple of hours of some of the best sailing in our life, we were dropped off at the dock, which was adjacent to the large town square. We had a great lunch at a cafe in the square and then walked around the town, filled with jewelry shops selling chunky necklaces made from semi-precious stones from elsewhere. The pier was lined with stalls selling lavender, which the island is known for. We even had lavender flavored gelato before returning to the ship. Some of our friends took the hiking tour, which they loved and felt was the best of the trip. They took a small van to a scenic area and then hiked through olive groves and lavender fields. They stopped at a ghost town, which had a small private restaurant that was open only for them. They feasted on grilled chicken and potatoes, washed down with great local wine. Other friends walked around town, and down the long promenade to the left of the harbor. They purchased a beautiful watercolor painting from a local artist and sat at a fancy hotel on the water and drank very expensive lemonade while watching swimmers on the beach. The ship departed at around 5:00 and that evening was the Captains dinner of lobster, steak and Baked Alaska. There was a crew and passenger talent show in the tropical bar, which was the best entertainment of the week, with some very talented performers and lots of enthusiasm. Rovinj, Croatia - Day 11 It was raining when we arrived at Rovinj at around noon. There were 2 tours offered; a cycling tour that went to a nearby park for a swim (40 Euros) or an island tour by bus (49 Euros). We were signed up for the cycling tour, but it was cancelled because of rain. The town of Rovinj is built on a hilly peninsula with the pinnacle of the town being St. Euphemia's church and tower. It was part of the Venetian empire and the architecture shows that influence. Legend has it that it was the birthplace of Marco Polo, who left town as a baby for Venice and then on to Asia as a teenager. One difference between Rovinj and other walled towns in Croatia is that Rovinj had always been relatively poor and consequentially had no big mansions or elegant squares. The town had small twisted streets winding up to the church, the centerpiece of the community. The crypt of St. Euphemia is on display in the church (she is a martyr famous for not being eaten by lions) and they open it once a year at their festival. There is also a large tower adjacent to the church with a wooden stairway right out of the Hitchcock movie Vertigo. It is a "climb at your own risk" kind of place, with big gaps and holes between the slats. The German couple we played bridge with were very unhappy about the stop at Rovinj and thought there was nothing there worth seeing. As Americans, we were kind of intrigued by the small claustrophobic kind of setting and enjoyed walking through the maze, although I admit it was not the best stop. Our cruise director Angela had told us at the beginning of the cruise that we should, "Get Kuna (currency of Croatia) in Korcula and spend it all in Rovinj at the art galleries." I was expecting to do just that, but it turned out that the town was full of bad and awful art galleries filled with kitschy tourist stuff. As far as I could tell, the only thing worth buying in Rovinj was a gelato. We were not sad to sail away at sunset, which looked very pretty setting over the town. It is always sad to end a cruise, and you know the fun is over when you have to have your bags outside your cabin before you go to bed on your last night. A copy of the bill had been left under the door, and if everything was correct you could sign it and pick up your passport from the pursers desk. Venice, Italy - departure We arrived at the San Marco Straits at around 6:30 and sailed by an empty St. Marks square. After breakfast we waited in the lounge for the rain to subside a little before leaving the ship at around 9:30. A small shuttle took us the short way to the port terminal, although we would have walked it if it had not been raining so hard. After claiming our luggage, we took the nearby vaporetto (6 Euros), which took us right into the town center. We got off at the Rialto stop and hired a waiting porter (20 Euros) to take our bags to our hotel - the Hotel Aqua Palace. The Hotel Aqua Palace turned out to be a great place to stay in Venice, midway between the Rialto Bridge and St. Marks Square on a small canal. I plan on writing a separate review of the hotel - but that is another story. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We travelled to Venice and stayed in a gem of a hotel away from the crowds but within walking distance of our embarkation port - San Basilio. Trundling our luggage over bridges and along side alleys, we quickly reached the port and joined ... Read More
We travelled to Venice and stayed in a gem of a hotel away from the crowds but within walking distance of our embarkation port - San Basilio. Trundling our luggage over bridges and along side alleys, we quickly reached the port and joined the queue. Even at this early stage the crew were there to help and guide us through the formalities of boarding Star Clipper. In no time at all we were climbing the gang plank to be met by members of the crew, music, welcome drinks and snacks. We were shown to our cabin - clean, inviting and with lots of storage space, a comfortable queen size bed, bathrobes, and a bathroom to dream about - marble surrounds, mirrors, a large Jacuzzi bath and shower, lots of fluffy white towels and complimentary toiletries, shower caps and emery boards. We then explored the ship - several decks, two pools, a cocktail bar and a small but well equipped library, containing books, board games, information on excursions and a daily potted news summary in English and German. It was then time for our first meal. We descended an elegant staircase to a dining room big enough to seat all the passengers and officers - who always joined a table at meal times. We could sit alone or ask to be seated with other passengers, and in this way we met most of the 130 or so people on the small ship who were all very interesting and added to the enjoyment of the holiday. The dinner menu included several starters, followed by a soup, a sorbet, a salad, a choice of main course and a choice of dessert. All meals were beautifully presented, cooked to perfection and catered for a wide variety of tastes. We were to learn that food was also available round the clock. An early bird breakfast of juices, pastries and fruit appeared at 6 a.m. A full self service breakfast which included fruit, cereals, English breakfasts, cold meats, salads and eggs cooked by a chef to order before your eyes, was offered from 8.30 until 10.00a.m. At twelve noon a buffet lunch appeared, with too wide a variety of dishes to list here, but all tasty and tempting. Midway through the afternoon a cake tray with chocolated fruits and cookies appeared in our cabin. At half past five it was canapE time and later it was dinner. As if this were not enough, there was a midnight snack (which I was never awake to see, but I am sure it was as good as the rest of the food.) There were plenty of ship's activities. I was up at eight each morning for thirty minutes keep fit, and later in the afternoon took part in the mile walk, where we explored parts of the ship I didn't know existed, as well as making several trips round the deck to the amusement of more laid back passengers. There was also water aerobics in one of the two rather small pools. We had severaltalks from the Ship's Captain (who was passionate about his sailing ship) and Doctor and updates from the Cruise Director. We had tours of the Bridge and Engine Room, demonstrations of knot making, games of deck golf and quoits, treasure hunts and quizzes. Nobody was coerced into doing any of these, but there was something to interest everyone. Likewise the entertainment after dinner was a mixture of talent shows, Pirate Nights, Folklore, Comedy Shows and a final night Slide Show of the passengers and sights on this particular trip. And every night there was music and dancing. We also had a massage tent which was very popular. We were fortunate to have the company of the ship's owner for part of the trip and he and his wife mixed easily with us, asking our views and answering our questions with patience and good humour. During our ten days, we visited eight ports before arriving at Athens, and had one day entirely at sea. The ship's tenders transported us to shore and optional excursions were offered at all but one of the ports. I had come on this trip to relax, so only participated in one - a coach tour in Corfu which was well organised and allowed us free time in the town after visiting Achilleion and the Old Town. For the rest, I wandered through the harbour at Losinj, swam from the boat at Hvar and Yithion,explored Dubrovnik from the city walls, walked through a deserted Old Town in Montenegro in the early morning and had a day on the beach at Mykonos. My husband went sailing once, and there were snorkelling or scuba diving available. I have not yet mentioned the part of the trip which gave it that extra touch - the excellent service from every member of the crew. Our cabin boy kept the cabin spotless and folded and laid out clean towels every day. The waiters always had a smile on their faces and seemed to remember everyone's names from day one. The chef frequently came into the dining room to check all was well, as did the maitre d' . The activities team were always available and helpful. My husband spent a lot of time on the Bridge and talking to the Engineer and Captain about the sailing aspects of the ship and found the officers informative and more than willing to answer his questions. The Cruise Director seemed to be on duty round the clock - and she never lost her smile or her temper! Disembarkation could not have been simpler. We received most of our bill the day before so there was plenty of time to check it. We settled up, handed in our keys in return for our passports, went into the customs hall and collected our luggage which we took to the transfer bus. Then we said our final goodbyes to the crew and were whisked away to the airport. Looking back, I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable holidays I have ever taken, and as many of the passengers were on their second, third - and in one case sixth - cruise, I was obviously not alone in feeling this way. There was so much to enjoy - the ship's amenities, the lovely cabin, the attentive crew, the information on board, the ports we visited and the wonderful food. However, no holiday is without a down side and if I must find one it will be - the food. There was too much, too often, and it was too good to resist!! I was also a little disappointed that there was not more swimming. The pools were tiny and we only swam off the side twice, but apparently this was because of port restrictions. There was also a tendency among a small minority of passengers to hog the sun-beds, in spite of written pleas by the cruise managers. And in fairness it was not just one nationality which was guilty of this! This was my first cruise, and I was not at all keen to share the experience with hundreds of others, so I chose a small sailing ship. I can honestly say that the ambience, the amenities, the experience and the fellow passengers, many of whom I got to know quite well, made it the holiday of a lifetime and I am already looking at the brochures to decide when to book my next. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
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