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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We are sailors, and Star Clipper actually spends some time under sail - we were told about 25% on our cruise. Some 'sailing' cruise ships use their sails only for photo-ops.The ship was tidy and squared away, the food excellent, ... Read More
We are sailors, and Star Clipper actually spends some time under sail - we were told about 25% on our cruise. Some 'sailing' cruise ships use their sails only for photo-ops.The ship was tidy and squared away, the food excellent, and the crew lovely - with the exception of the officers. Our cabin was quite comfortable, although one sleeper was against the hull. This didn't bother us at all but if you expect a 'walk-around' bed you might be disappointed. There may be a Stateroom upgrade with a bit more room? There was a small but excellent buffet for breakfast and lunch, with sit-down dining in the evening. There was a small library, and I believe TV in each cabin. No theatre. No casino. If that's what you are looking for, sail on a larger ship. In the evenings we met around the covered deck, near the bar, and had 'discussions' with the Cruise Director as moderator. Subjects could involve travel, steam vs sailing ships, 21st century piracy, etc. The talks could become a bit contentious as the Cruise Director, a German gentleman, was quite unhappy with the roll the USA plays in the modern world, and he wasn't afraid to express his opinions. Of the 60+ passengers, perhaps a half-dozen were Americans (which we usually enjoy) and we were outnumbered by French, British, German and other EU citizens. The other passengers were generally very nice, and seemed a little embarrassed at times by the Director's distaste for all things American. And the officers? Russian, and from the captain on down arrogant and stand-offish to the passengers. The crew on the other hand - the folks that actually did the work - were lovely to a fault. Our ports of call were often smaller than a big ship could handle, and we enjoyed that immensely. Sailing, especially at night, was beautiful. In the end this was one of our favorite cruises ever, and we would do it again if the cruise line could get a handle on the snooty attitude of the officers, etc. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
My family and friends took this trip to celebrate our 50th, 53rd, and 75th birthdays. The ship was wonderful. The staff were amazing. Prices for the bar were very reasonable. The ports were really beautiful and not very crowded. We ... Read More
My family and friends took this trip to celebrate our 50th, 53rd, and 75th birthdays. The ship was wonderful. The staff were amazing. Prices for the bar were very reasonable. The ports were really beautiful and not very crowded. We did a wine tasting and Godfather tour in Sicily that was wonderful. We did the Ravello tour from the ship and that was also very beautiful. We did a Joe Bananas tour in Sorrento - private tour of Capri by boat. Loved it!! We had the same seating for dinner every night so our family could be together and they brought us a cake almost every night to celebrate one of our days. The pool was small, but it was nice to cool off in and close to the pool bar. The piano bar was fun and he let us sing with him. Talent night and white night were a lot of fun. We sailed a good bit and never had any really bad seasickness. The food selections for dinner were very good and lunch was amazing. Breakfast was pretty crowded and people sat wherever. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Don't bother reading any review on the Star Clipper line that wants to be critical. If people were not satisfied with the unbelievable quality of the food (fine dining each meal) the service and the overall sailing experience well I ... Read More
Don't bother reading any review on the Star Clipper line that wants to be critical. If people were not satisfied with the unbelievable quality of the food (fine dining each meal) the service and the overall sailing experience well I struggle to understand what they expect. The staff and the people from all around the world added to the enjoyment of the experience. If you want to spend time on a Casino on water get on those ridiculous ships that can't go to the beautiful intimate places that this sailing ship goes. To see this ship in full sail leaving a port accompanied by music and glass of wine is an experience you will never forget. The crew goes out of their way to provide every passenger with a once in a lifetime experience . Do yourself a favour and go you will never regret it !!!! An amazing experience Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Taking a Star Clippers cruise is about being on a true sailing vessel. If you like to sail, this is your ship. Our trip to Italy and Greece was amazing. We spent a day exploring Rome on our own and then took the train to Civitavecchia ... Read More
Taking a Star Clippers cruise is about being on a true sailing vessel. If you like to sail, this is your ship. Our trip to Italy and Greece was amazing. We spent a day exploring Rome on our own and then took the train to Civitavecchia (make sure you take the bus from the train station....walking doesn't work) where we boarded our ship. It is breathtaking because it's a sailing ship that is well loved and taken care of. After we did all the check-in's, drills, unpacked, etc. we had a delicious dinner and met new friends. Our stops were Ponza, Palmarola, Sorrento, Lipari, Syracuse (Italy), and Pilos, Elafonisos, Hydra, and Athens (Greece). All of our stops were beautiful. Every day, there is a talk and a sheet of paper that explains destination, tours, opportunities to explore. Do some research on your own too. Many people did the tours but some explored on their own and had a fabulous time. One couple would find a cafe with a beautiful view and spend the day painting. We love seeing their pictures. Because this is a sailing vessel that can transport you to smaller ports, sometimes the ship cannot dock right at port. In that case, you will take a tender to the port. Embarking and disembarking the tender is only as easy as the calmness of the ocean. For 95% of people, this was fine, but there were some that struggled. Also, don't take the first tender in the morning. The first one is too packed with people, it gets hot and they're figuring out how to work with the ocean and waves. The tenders go back and forth regularly so you can have short or long excursions....whatever floats your boat. The cabin size was perfect for us. They are small, but we don't sit in our cabin, we love the ship and spend as much time out on the deck as possible. One of our favorite activities before dinner is to enjoy a glass of wine at the back of the ship watching the rolling waves and the scenery and then going into dinner a little later. You can sit wherever you like at meal times. If you have a preference (i.e., english-speaking table or if you have a group of people, they will seat you together). The food is delicious. You probably get fancier stuff on big ships but this is trip is about sailing. I ate fish almost every night and loved it! Their soup is delicious too. Cocktails are very reasonably priced. We enjoyed their house rose too. We had a category 2 cabin/bathroom and the shower is small....but it feels delightful after a full-day of excursions. I would choose this cruise over a big cruise any day because the crew is fantastic, the ship is beautiful and it's a fabulous experience. There were some issues with night-time entertainment on our ship because the piano player had a medical emergency and could not be on our boat, but we were so tired at the end of the day, we couldn't stay up anyhow. If dancing/music are important to you, bring a phone with your favorite playlist and they will make a party/dance club on the tropical deck. Category 1 (500 level) rooms can hear some of the action on the deck (pounding/repairing sails, music from the dance club, etc). Category 5/6 (100) level rooms can hear the engines. Not much you can do about that other than bring earplugs. Star Clippers vacations are fabulous. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was a Bare Necessities cruise, and I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of weeks in July then cruising the Mediterranean on a beautiful ship with friendly crew and NO DRESS CODE! Only (minor )short comings were: ... Read More
This was a Bare Necessities cruise, and I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of weeks in July then cruising the Mediterranean on a beautiful ship with friendly crew and NO DRESS CODE! Only (minor )short comings were: 1) Food was good, but not excellent. Maybe I've become jaded, having recently come off a Crystal World Cruise, but I thought the food was a little better two years ago when we were on the Royal Clipper. 2) Our Cruise director, Monja, was a very nice person, but her pronunciation of English, when speaking generally over the microphone, was completely unintelligible. Talking to her face-to-face was fine, and when she gave a canned safety announcement she was readable. But when she was just talking none of the passengers could understand her. She helped us out one day when my wife was ill, so I hate to knock her, but the lack of communication really was a downer. Other than those two minor points the cruise was wonderful and we look forward to coming back. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
As this was our fourth cruise with Star Clippers it would seem obvious we were fans of this line. Unfortunately this latest experience will not encourage us to return. Yes Royal Clipper is starting to show her age but the actual sailing ... Read More
As this was our fourth cruise with Star Clippers it would seem obvious we were fans of this line. Unfortunately this latest experience will not encourage us to return. Yes Royal Clipper is starting to show her age but the actual sailing is still a special event. However with a cruise priced at something around £3000 per head for a grade 2 cabin the overall experience was disappointing. The food and dining room service was still very good as was the cabin stewards attention to detail in the tired cabin but the real problem was the attitude of the senior personnel. From the cruise director, hotel manager, restaurant manager and other ranking officers, passengers were basically ignored or treated as if they were a nuisance for any kind of request or help on different issues which were small but escalated as the cruise progressed. Unable to guarantee a table for our family of 7 people for dinner unless we were first in queue at the start of service. In fact these people were more interested in telling us to observe the rules and their own importance than trying to ensure people were happy. Having taken the trouble to write to Star Clippers - Mr. M. Krafft Owner - to try and explain some of the shortcomings - and without the courtesy of a reply I can only presume the line does not care about return bookings. Great Pity! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
good: - excellent service of the stuarts and very friendly service people - very friendly and urbanity Capt'n and Officers poor to absolutely inaceptable: Ship & interieur & equipment is 15 years old with year ... Read More
good: - excellent service of the stuarts and very friendly service people - very friendly and urbanity Capt'n and Officers poor to absolutely inaceptable: Ship & interieur & equipment is 15 years old with year round refurbishing during the cruises! -> means: lots of noise the whole day and you get much more of it when you paid much more = for a luxury cabin. So be sure that you won't get anny rest. At least once a day is the toilet not working (on the whole ship). Pool was (except the last day) the whole cruise under construction. Restaurant manager is unfriendly. Backslapper cruise manager is unprofessional and telling more private stories than informative stuff. Hotel Manager ist super rude without any acceptable manners and not helpful at all (just two examples: our toilet was leaking, over night the half cabin/ carpet was wet and after a while stinky but we had to stay in this cabin for 2 more nights even there was another free luxury cabin; 8h before an excursion he wasn't able to tell us if that will take place or nit but was asling on the next morning to the money and so on) Seemt like cruise and hotel manager are low budget stuff - you get what you paid for. We did not get any apology - not for the noise, not for the stinky cabin ... Everything there is third rate but the price is higher than for any other cruise. Incredible! Equipment at the gym is old enough to open up a musem. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 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
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This was our first clothing optional cruise, but definitely not our last. The boat was full of nothing but cheerful people. I guess it's hard to be crabby when your not wearing pants! This was truly a clothing OPTIONAL cruise. ... Read More
This was our first clothing optional cruise, but definitely not our last. The boat was full of nothing but cheerful people. I guess it's hard to be crabby when your not wearing pants! This was truly a clothing OPTIONAL cruise. Most folks chose to take full advantage of the sun and ocean breezes, but some preferred full or partial covering and that was OK. I can't recommend the Bare Necessities folks and organization highly enough. there were 16 first time couples, and we all said we'd come back in a heartbeat. The ship, meanwhile is great. When the wind blew the Captain shut off the engine and hoisted all 42 sails. Stunning! There isn't much choice of activities on this 200+ passenger ship, but all we wanted to do was lounge around on deck, with occasional (and voluntary) sail hoisting and mast climbing. One day he raised all the sails in a very light breeze, and launched two tenders full of photographers to circle the ship. She is a BEAUTIFUL ship! There is a minuscule library, comprised solely of donated books in many different languages. And the entertainment is very low key. Shoe excursions were very reasonably priced, with a good variety. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
The best part of the cruise was the fabulous staff. The food and the staff were wonderful. I thought we were in trouble when check was a terrible experience. All other ships had signs and staff to organize the incoming passengers. Star ... Read More
The best part of the cruise was the fabulous staff. The food and the staff were wonderful. I thought we were in trouble when check was a terrible experience. All other ships had signs and staff to organize the incoming passengers. Star Clippers...nothing. Several stops at ports the tender left us at a sport and we had to figure out how to get to town. Taxis took full advantage and we were told it would be perhaps 5 euros a person and it would be 10-15. Also disappointing was most of the off shore excursions. For about half of them the review by the passengers was that they were very expensive and not quite what was advertised. I will note that one of the biggest disappointments was that we only sailed twice (while I was awake) After several days I asked when we would sail and I was told that perfect conditions were required. Not TOO windy and windy enough. For a sailing experience I recommend a MUCH smaller ship. Looking at other reviews I see others had a different experience; however, I would not go again and would not recommend them. For the money, I would look elsewhere. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
I'm ordering photos online to make Christmas gifts and am reliving the experience all over again. I've been on a few cruises, mainly as a child with my grandparents on big cruise lines (Alaska and Hawaii). My family likes to ... Read More
I'm ordering photos online to make Christmas gifts and am reliving the experience all over again. I've been on a few cruises, mainly as a child with my grandparents on big cruise lines (Alaska and Hawaii). My family likes to travel and we normally don't choose cruising because we like to spend more time in a location. We have traveled all over the world and have had some extraordinary vacations. My mother informed me that my stepdad's lodge had chosen to go on this cruise and I was fortunate enough to be able to make it work. Where do I start. Being used to the extremely large cruising ships, this was the antithesis of those. More of a sailing ship, it is an absolute sight to behold. Anytime I show someone the picture of it, they are absolutely blown away. It's amazing. You may read that there are certain downsides to choosing a smaller ship and I agree that there were a few areas that left room for improvement but I did not care one bit. The experience was amazing. Amazing is not even the right word to describe it. I think of our trip, and I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. I know this sounds a bit over the top but it's true. The places we visited were stunning (Italy, Sicily, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia). We read reviews and saw that this was not a trip to choose for families with small children but my nephews were coming either way (ages 8 and 11). Pros: Mainly European passengers so we were able to meet people from a variety of places The people who worked in the bar/restaurant/room care treated my nephews like they were VIP's. I know that they will NEVER forget it. You actually get to know the people on your boat because there were only about 150 of us. We had a reunion after our cruise ended in Venice afterwards and many of us still keep in touch. The people who work on the boat love their job and it shows. The food was really delicious. There were a few misses but overall, wonderful The stops were beyond amazing. While I heard of bad tours, ours were FABULOUS (sea kayaking in Dubrovnik and wine tasting/truffle hunting in Slovenia) Cons: The musician on our trip (Gabor) was pretty bad. But we never let it ruin our trip. He WAS passionate about music and we just rolled with it. There were times that he sang during meals and it was way too loud. But honestly, it never put a damper into our trip. He seemed like a really nice guy. Our Activity Director (I don't even know if that's her title), Anna, was a bit aloof. But she was great for a whole group information sessions. There were times that we saw her when we we stopped and were in the cities and you got the impression that she did not want to interact when she was "off the clock". Again, it never put a damper on our trip. There are no set activities for children like on the big ships. This was never a problem as they swam and entertained themselves. We were also at the ports of call all day where we kept them very busy. They were incredibly happy on this trip and there were hardly any kids. Anyway, our entire family (all 7 of us--my mom and stepdad, me, and my brother and sister-in-law and my 2 nephews) view this trip as a trip of a lifetime. I keep a picture of the boat as my screensaver and anyone who sees it is always incredibly impressed.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
In booking our cruise aboard the Royal Clipper, I searched for any family reviews and found very few, prompting this review. Our cruising family including myself and DH, 2 girls ages 8 and 10 (turned 11 aboard the ship), parents (mid ... Read More
In booking our cruise aboard the Royal Clipper, I searched for any family reviews and found very few, prompting this review. Our cruising family including myself and DH, 2 girls ages 8 and 10 (turned 11 aboard the ship), parents (mid 60's, active) and brother- 36. We are seasoned cruisers- many trips aboard RCL, NCL, Celebrity and most recently the Galapagos aboard the SS MaryAnne, a 12 Pax sailboat. The Royal Clipper is gorgeous at full sail and inside. Deck chairs and pools could be improved in our opinion, but when outside, most of the time we could be found relaxing in the bow net, climbing the mast, playing off the marine platform or sailing the ship! The girls loved these sailboat specific activities. While there is not the variety of activities that a large cruise ship offers, our Italy itinerary was port intensive with just 1 day at sea. We loved the ability to tender in at a close distance and visit smaller ports of call. Rooms are small (max 3 pax) but efficient. Bathrooms are all Marble and surprisingly beautiful. My 10 year old daughter celebrated her 11th birthday aboard the ship and said that it was her very best birthday ever! All the staff aboard the ship sincerely enjoyed having our girls on board and everyone knew their names....something not found on a large cruise ship. Children are a rarity on the Royal Clipper- most of the passengers were 50 plus. So, I would only consider bringing your children if they are comfortable around adults and able to amuse themselves. There is certainly no kids program, but the on board sports activities were all kid friendly....Kyaking, Mast climbing, Paddle Boarding. Our girls loved the sail by the active Stromboli Volcano where we were treated to amazing eruptions several hundred feet in the air under cover of darkness...(the perfect end to DD's birthday). Waiters and staff were very accomodating of DD's peanut allergy as well. Captain is wonderful and invited the girls to sail the ship- something they each did for about 30 minutes under supervision of the Captain and Professor....a highlight for them! Ship was small enough that we felt comfortable letting the kids explore/walkabout together on their own- something we won't let them do on the mega cruise lines. We had one morning only of rough seas which prompted a port of call change. Otherwise, smooth as glass sailing and fantastic weather the entire week. Cruise Director Lidija is spunky, and amazing! The best measure of a cruise ship and line...would you do it again? All in our party said, absolutely YES! Kids included. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
The experience was great. Passengers all Americans as it was a charter by Vantage Travel. Good mix of generally experienced travellers. Loved the open sun deck, including being able to stand around during port entries and departures, ... Read More
The experience was great. Passengers all Americans as it was a charter by Vantage Travel. Good mix of generally experienced travellers. Loved the open sun deck, including being able to stand around during port entries and departures, watching captain, first mate and pilot (when there was one). The atmosphere is laid back but the decor is not glitzy and has a touch of glamor. The ports were wonderful--Capri, Corfu, Taormina, Ravello, Kotor (spectacular), Dubrovnik, Hvar, Rovinj and Venice. One day at sea. There was one spell of weather that had the ship rocking quite a bit but it didn't stop most folks from activities. Embarkation was slower than I'd expect on that size vessel. The staff were overall helpful, particularly the purser who couldn't do enough for pax. Bought their wifi option and it was worth it at 20 Euro for 3 hours. The raising of sails is a real treat--though the weather wasn't condusive to having a lot of sail up a lot of the time. The 'entertainment' was not particularly to my taste--I could have done without the goofy 'pirate night'. But you don't go on this ship for entertainment. The atrium extends through two decks, topped by the bottom of the sun deck swimming pool--disconcerting to see bodies bobbing about above you. Restaurant well laid out with very good dinners and an excellent lunch buffet. If you are looking for something other than the standard 'big ship' experience, this may be for you. Cabins small--I did fine but was travelling solo. I can see that two people would have had to be organized. The climbing the mast experience was great fun--what a view from up there! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
We organized 5 couples for the trip of a lifetime aboard the Royal Clipper, the largest of the Star Clipper Cruise Line. When we first stepped onto this boat, we knew we were in for a treat. Everything about it was perfect - the entire ... Read More
We organized 5 couples for the trip of a lifetime aboard the Royal Clipper, the largest of the Star Clipper Cruise Line. When we first stepped onto this boat, we knew we were in for a treat. Everything about it was perfect - the entire staff made us feel welcome from the first bellini to the final goodbye. Food could not have been better, and was more than plentiful, and the cabins (we were in Category 2 staterooms on the clipper deck) were more spacious than one on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise. Storage galore, as well - we had cabinets we did not even use. There were plenty of hangers in the closet for all of our clothes, and the best part is that there are no dress-up evenings! We sailed from Civitavecchia (port of Rome) to the Amalfi Coast, and most port stops were spectacular. Weather was rough on day one at Ponza, so we could not take the tender, but enjoyed beautiful views from the boat. Please see the individual port descriptions below, other than Ponza, Amalfi, and Lipari (not included in Cruise Critic's master list). Amalfi was our fourth stop - a charming place, where we chose a side trip to Positano, clearly Italy's most beautiful town. We took the hair-raising bus ride around twists and turns to Positano, then a boat back to Amalfi. This was worth the price of the entire cruise, as the views from the water looking back up the steep cliffs is magnificent. The Amalfi coast is truly beautiful, and June is a perfect time, as everything is in full bloom. We wandered some side streets in Positano, then found a little cafe for a drink before heading back to Amalfi. Many pretty linens and cottons here as well, and more of the pretty stoneware we saw in Sorrento. Amalfi was fun to wander as well - be sure to explore the bustling piazza around Sant' Andrea, the duomo mid town. We highly recommend this shore excursion, as it provides the best of both worlds with the bus trip and boat return, as well as visits to two top destinations. The last port of call was my favorite. Lipari is a little known island just north of Sicily. It is quaint and very "old Italy", not yet tarnished by the many tourists of places like Capri. Cute shops, good food, and some interesting ruins at the top of the hill, highlighted by another fabulous view. There is a beautiful church at the top, interesting to trace its many phases of construction through the ages. It closes at noon, but worth the visit if you time it right. The boat itself is a treat - at every port, the sails are raised with great ceremony, with Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis playing on loudspeakers. Something we will not forget. After the last port stop, we were able to board the tenders with cameras, as the sails were raised for some great photo ops. Everything about this cruise provides their "guests" top notch service and hospitality. The only thing I would do differently in the future is that I would book my own transfer from Rome to the boat. We look their arranged bus from the Airport Hilton, and were told to be there by 3pm. Bus did not leave until 5, and we just sat in a very hot room for 2 hours. Food and drinks were provided, but it was not a comfortable place to wait. It's an hour to the port, and when we got on board (boarding process very easy), they were just finishing up a free happy hour with appetizers and bellinis. We totally missed that! Perhaps this was a good option for folks flying in that day, but could have had almost a full day in Rome day rather than getting to and from the airport hotel and waiting. Other than that, all was perfect and I would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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: May 2010
There is no doubt that the ship is beautiful with gleaming wood everywhere. our category 3 cabin was very attractive. The main flaw in the bathroom design is that the shower curtain is too short, so that the floor of the bathroom is ... Read More
There is no doubt that the ship is beautiful with gleaming wood everywhere. our category 3 cabin was very attractive. The main flaw in the bathroom design is that the shower curtain is too short, so that the floor of the bathroom is flooded whenever the shower is used unless extreme care is taken to keep the water from the shower nozzle from pushing the curtain outside the metal lip that encloses the shower. The air conditioning in our cabin did not appear to be working when we arrived (not much air from the vents and the air flow itself was not very cool). We inquired about this and a crew person appeared quickly, equipped with a laptop computer, who made a series of adjustments that produced plenty of cool air. We picked this cruise for the itinerary. We enjoyed all the ports except Capri and the evening cruising of Stromboli(featured in the literature) was very poorly handled. The stop in Capri is in the evening, so there is no time to visit the Blue Grotto or to take a tour. There is time to take a bus or taxi from Capri to Anacapri, but both are excessively touristy with expensive shops. The evening cruising by Stromboli conflicted with the Captain's dinner. Few passengers saw any lava, because to see the best lava you had to leave before the dinner was over and stay past the long past the end to the posted time. I had thought that we sailed around Stromboli, but we merely motored (as opposed to sailed) past. If we had hung around for a while, we could have seen more lava. I skipped desert and saw some lava before the viewing window and stayed long past the 30 minute viewing window and saw 4 more small eruptions as Stromboli faded into the distance. The evening of the Captain's Dinner was also when we encountered the most amazingly bad service. Recognizing that the time for viewing Stromboli would be tight, we showed up at dinner just as the dining room opened. We told the Maitre D' that we had come early because we wanted to finish in time to see Stromboli and explained that was why I brought my binoculars and polar fleece to the dinner. We asked to be seated with other English speaking passengers. Forty minutes later we were still sitting alone at a table for 6 at the entrance to the dining room. The waiters serving other tables that had been filled, three times swiped wine glasses from the unused places at our table. The third time, I got up and complained to the nurse, who served as the assistant Maitre D', telling her that I had never had such humiliating service. The wine glasses on our table were replaced and a solo German (but with good English) woman was seated at our table. The wine glasses from our table were soon being swiped by the waiters again even though I had stopped one and explained to him, why that was disturbing to us. Finally, they seated the Italian marine biology lecturer, Mariano with us (We had met him at the start of the cruise, and he turned out to be the most interesting and entertaining member of the crew/expedition staff) . When the main course still had not arrived after 75 minutes, I went back to the assistant Maitre D' (since the Maitre D' had vanished after my prior complaint and never apologized) to request if my food did not arrive in the next 15 minutes that it be sent to my cabin (since there was no alternative source of food). We were finally served about 5 minutes later. I quickly ate, so that I could go out and watch Stromboli and indeed I saw the first and best of the small eruptions prior to the end of the Captain's Dinner. The next day, several of the waiters apologized to us, but the Maitre D' never spoke to us again. Our favorite stop was Lipari, where we took the optional excursion to Vulcano. The cruise around Lipari on the way to Vulcano was very beautiful, as well as the cruise around Vulcano itself. On Vulcano, a visit to the mud baths was included. It is a natural mud bath, so you need to watch out for occasional spurts of scalding water. You wash off in the adjacent area of the ocean, which is warmed by the volcanic activity to a comfortable, but not hot temperature. You can see bubbles rising through the ocean water. Our second favorite stop was Taormina, Sicily, where we took the optional tour to Mt. Etna, which did not leave time to visit Taormina. It was a beautiful drive up the mountain with a long cable car ride to close to the summit. (The cable car was replaced after an eruption destroyed the previous one two years ago.) We walked around a steaming crater and saw the roof of a two story building that was buried in the last eruption just barely above the surface. Two Italian fighter aircraft did a high speed flyby just over the summit while we were on top. There appears to be a culture of not being honest with the passengers. In Amalfi we took a wonderful, optional excursion to Ravello and decided to return to the Royal Clipper for the offered local rides (in the printed program sheet for that day)on the ship's Zodiacs. When we got back to the the Royal Clipper, we were told that we needed to check after lunch to see when the rides would be given. When we followed up, as instructed, after lunch, we were told that the boat rides could not be done because of water traffic. We later heard from fellow passengers that the motors of both Zodiacs had broken. In Lipari, after the excursion we were explicitly told by the Cruise Director that the tenders would run on demand. When we showed up to go back to Lipari after cleaning up from the mud bath, we were told that the tender was running on a schedule and we had to wait 25 minutes. The switch cost us a third of the time we had on our own in Lipari. The Cruise Director later denied that she had said the tenders would run on demand, but there was no mistaking what we had been told earlier. There appeared to be a conflict on this issue between the Cruise Director and the Second Officer, the officer in charge of the tenders that day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2009
Our 08 cruise to the Black Sea was not as much fun as previous trips and so when our niece announced he wedding in Croatia, we decided to see if we could cruise before the ceremony. We selected the cruise because the last port was close to ... Read More
Our 08 cruise to the Black Sea was not as much fun as previous trips and so when our niece announced he wedding in Croatia, we decided to see if we could cruise before the ceremony. We selected the cruise because the last port was close to our destination and we had never done the "sailing vessel" thing before. We liked the idea of only 200 guests. My observations are possibly tainted as I have cruised NCL, Celebrity and HAL, I am always amazed at the star ratings that certain lines and ships receive but these are my observations and I recognize that not everyone grew up in my house, I just hope my review is helpful cause a vacation is a terrible thing to waste. We had calm seas, except for the first night, my wife was sick, there is much more motion on these smaller ships, caveat emptor. We upgraded to a first class cabin, classes 2-5 were basically large closets with port holes, this basically doubled the cost of the cruise, it was nice and the cabin steward was excellent. The lunch buffets were excellent, breakfast got a little boring and dinner was good, but just not the overall quality and depth of selection I have enjoyed with Holland America. We made some great friends, there were several ugly americans about however and unfortunately we were paired with them for one meal which was not pleasant. An interesting trip, I did not think the "sailing" was that big a deal and I think there are much better values out there, but then Star Clippers does not tell you they are about value, but there virtual tour of there cabins is a little misleading, Bon Voyage, Veindoc Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
My May 9 - 16th sailing on the beautiful Royal Clipper was a dream vacation from start to finish. The ship, now 10 years old, looks as it was just being built. She shines and sparkles and ist one of the most beautiful ships I have ever ... Read More
My May 9 - 16th sailing on the beautiful Royal Clipper was a dream vacation from start to finish. The ship, now 10 years old, looks as it was just being built. She shines and sparkles and ist one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen, with or without sails being out. Lot´s of wood and brass. Very classy! Crew and officers very friendly and always mingling with the passengers. Captain Vlad from the Ukraine a very nice, approachable and sympathetic person! Cruise director Petra from Germany, fluent in English, German and French very lively, always around, equally sympathetic and on duty 24 hours ( her words! ). They did a fantastic job keeping everybody happy. As did a marine biologist, Mariano from Italy. Passenger came from many different countries, such as US, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, UK, Denmark, many over 50, quite a few under, during our cruise. The ship sailed below capacity which was nice. However there is enough deck space and it is unlikely that one feels cramped even when full. Cabin was very compact and storage space limited but since noone needs to dress up ( dress shirt for dinner is fine ) it is sufficient. Meals were wonderful and pleased most passengers. Breakfast and lunch were open seating buffet style ( very good and always varied! ), whereas dinner is open seating a la carte. Dinner options are displayed on plates early evening, which makes it easy to pick the right choice when seated. Very good and reasonable wines available. Staff ( mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia) was very quick and efficient, always smiling, sometimes a bit too quick for the European taste though. Entertainment at nighttime not really existing ( with a few nice exceptions), but due to ports of call and their hours, no deal and not necessary at all. Everybody seemed happy with what was available and seemed to have a good time.Ports of call were all exceptional, very well selected and downright beautiful. Ponza on the Pontine Islands a beautiful hideaway for Romans on their weekends. Very picturesque. Hopped on a local bus and drove around the island up and down the hills to see some of the most beautiful sights from high above onto the dark blue mediterranean sea. Fantastic. Next stop Sorrent. Another beautiful place on this planet. Went on a great ship excursion to Pompeii. Later in the afternoon we set sail fo Capri, my favourite stop where we anchored around 5.00 p.m. Very wise to do so because most other tourists leave this beautiful island and so you have its beauty (almost) to yourself. It was really really beautiful with the sun later going down, putting everything into magical light, the wonderful smells of spring and its flowers in the air. Truely magic!Around 11:00 p.m. we set sail again for our next port of call. Amalfi. Optioned for a lovely ships tour to Positano. Again a good choice and a wonderful day at a place one has to see to believe it, as pictures and words cannot describe its beauty!Next stop was Taormina, Sicily. A beautiful tourist village high on top of a hill with a snow covered Mount Etna (vulcano) in sight. Another day in paradise, full of surprises for all senses ! We did not set sail again till 11:00 p.m. in order to be able to experience this wonderful place at day and night. Great! Next stop was Lipari, a beautiful harbour in the Lipari islands. Opted for a ships tour to Vulcano, another vulcanic island nearby. Great day. That night, after setting sail again on our way back to Civitavecchia again we were all in for a treat. We closely passed by the island of Stromboli, an active vulcano, around 11:00 p.m. We were able to see the vulcano erupting several times spitting out yellow lava. It was magical, very special and something I will never forget!Last day was a seaday. We passed Capri again, this time on the other side of the island. Captain gave some interesting information about the island in his daily captains´storytime.We sailed most of the day with winds finally strong enough to keep us going. Movement of the ship was noticeable but definitely tolerable and no big deal.It was a wonderful week, hard to top. I´d do it again in a heartbeat, even the same routing. Will I do Star Clippers again? Most definitely! No wonder 60 percent of their passengers are repeaters. Staff and crew did a great job and I met some of the nicest people from around the globe. The sports team on board fulfilled every wish, if you had one, from diving to mast climbing. Thank you Star Clippers for this exceptional week! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We were so looking forward to being on a real clipper and sailing around Italy. The Royal Clipper was a beautiful ship, meticulously maintained and our deluxe suite was very adequate with a balcony. BUT, the service was quite bad- no ... Read More
We were so looking forward to being on a real clipper and sailing around Italy. The Royal Clipper was a beautiful ship, meticulously maintained and our deluxe suite was very adequate with a balcony. BUT, the service was quite bad- no bartenders to be found on the pool deck except the last day so you had to go downstairs to get even a coke or water. Most of the waiters can hardly speak english and the meals were just okay. Nothing spectacular and most times the food came out luke warm, (must have been all pre-prepared). And if you ask for seconds of anything, they are a little surly about it. The dining room maitre-d just catered to people from his country. Wine stewards were just bartenders brought to the dining room. It was hard to get a drink at dinner as you had to chase them down. I will say the dining room was spectacular. The sloop shop has nothing really, movie selection for the room is extremely limited and old. The spa is in the fitness room and you cannot relax due to the high power music coming through the door.Our cabin steward was the best thing on on the ship- he got us whatever we wanted. The security to get on the ship is virtually non-existent. They just tell you to put your luggage thru the machine and no one marks them or anything. Most people did not even bother to do this as on one is watching. A little scary. I'll go back to the Windstar ships as they are spectacular all around. Read Less
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