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17 Star Clippers Southern Caribbean Cruise Reviews

A masted sailing ship, 14 nights and sail power 83% of the time. What an adventure! The ship built in 1992 was well maintained, staff friendly and food fantastic. Cabins are an adequate size; we were on the Commodore deck, #131. ... Read More
A masted sailing ship, 14 nights and sail power 83% of the time. What an adventure! The ship built in 1992 was well maintained, staff friendly and food fantastic. Cabins are an adequate size; we were on the Commodore deck, #131. It is located over the air conditioner, so there was a constant "hum" which bothered us the first night. The under bed storage did accommodate our two suitcases and the three small closets held all of our clothes with room to spare. We do tend to pack light and took advantage of the laundry service offered. There was also a clothes line in the shower and found you could rinse out a t-shirt or underwear and it would dry overnight. The bed in this cabin was fixed double and could feel cramped if you are used to a king. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and more than adequate. At 5 daily there was an afternoon "snack" on the tropical deck that consisted of sandwiches or a hot snack like egg rolls or cocktail franks, fresh fruit and cookies. Dinner offered appetizer, soup, sorbet, salad a main course and dessert. Main course had a vegetarian offering and two fish or meat dishes to choose from. Also you could order a steak and fries or a pasta dish each evening. Seating at all meals is open and tables hold 6 or 8 people. The staff did designate a "french speaking table" but after the first few nights it was more mix and mingle. The passengers were aged from about 45 to 80 and were from the Us (mostly west coast), France, Germany, Austria and the UK. Most spoke English and we enjoyed learning where people were from; 80% were repeat clients. This was our first Star Clipper experience. Due to the ships size there is not glitzy evening shows, no casino, and not hourly passenger entertainment. We enjoyed watching the sails go up and down, reading, lounging in one of the two small pools and the occasional shuffleboard or ring toss tournament. There was also morning yoga and a daily mile walk around the ship. Shore excursions were offered ranging from bus tours around the islands we stopped at to snorkeling, 4x4 tours and eco hikes. Snorkeling equipment is free, but take your own masks if you have them. We found the free ones did not fit our faces and leaked. Getting off via the tender on beach days if the sea is rough can be a challenge. The last debarkation in Panama City was scary. We were anchored in the ocean by Balboa, all passengers were getting off for flights home or an excursion and the ocean swells and rough sea delayed us over an hour and a half. Passengers could only go down the gangway one at a time and then had to time their stepping into the tender as the gangway and tender rode the waves. One women ending up wet to the knees and a crew member broke his finger when it got caught between the gangway and the ship. This 14 day cruise stopped in The Grenadines, Greneda, Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao, Cartegena, the San Blas Islands and transited the Panama Canal. The Canal was the highlight, being in a lock with a mega cargo ship in the adjacent lock was a marvel. A Canal historian was on board forr the day to give us a narrative on what we were seeing. We are hooked! We will continue to seek out this cruise line over the huge cruise ships. This was like stepping back in time to a far more intimate way to sail the seas. I did use the ear patch as I get sea sick- it worked and I had not problem as it is a sailboat and does rock. My husband was not bothered in the least by the motion even during our one "rough" day at sea. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This cruise was a gift from my parents, otherwise we wouldn't have gone. However, we are so glad we did and we will do it again, and again, and again! My husband and I took our 4 yr old son on the cruise and he had a blast. He ... Read More
This cruise was a gift from my parents, otherwise we wouldn't have gone. However, we are so glad we did and we will do it again, and again, and again! My husband and I took our 4 yr old son on the cruise and he had a blast. He was the only child on the ship, but he didn't even notice because he was having so much fun. This cruise was so much better than staying at a resort. The food was delicious and the staff and crew were very accommodating and attentive. Mr. J was even able to arrange a bottle of Dom, chocolate strawberries, and other delicacies as a thank you for my parents, which isn't easy when you don't have access to Amazon. Also, we didn't feel overwhelmed by the activities/excursions and felt perfectly happy either staying on the ship or strolling through town. I only have one very minor suggestion. It seems very petty and I hesitate to mention it, but it would be nice if they would lower the price of chocolate milk. I think 1/3 of the bar bill belonged to my son, and that includes the bottle of Dom! Once we realized that the chocolate milk cost more than beer and wine, we had to limit him to just one a day. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We had been out to the tall ship festival in Green Bay, WIsconsin in August 2016 and got a brochure about the Star Clipper tall ships. When our 1st vacation fell through we decided to do a cruise with Star Clippers. We had never been on ... Read More
We had been out to the tall ship festival in Green Bay, WIsconsin in August 2016 and got a brochure about the Star Clipper tall ships. When our 1st vacation fell through we decided to do a cruise with Star Clippers. We had never been on a cruise before but we wanted to travel with 170 people rather than 3,500 or more. Everything about the Star Flyer was great. The crew knew our names after the 1st day which was really astonishing. The food was very good and we had plenty of choices. The best part of the whole cruise was getting to meet all the different passengers from the 14 different countries. We became very close for only knowing them for 7 days and will stay in touch with them for years to come. We can't wait to go on another cruise with the Star Clipper company. You really need to give them a try. It is totally different from the big cruise lines were you are just a number. If we could change anything about our cruise is that we needed a longer period of time in each port. However, each port of call was outstanding and the choices for shore excursions were great. I can't say enough good things about Star Clippers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
A cruise on a tall mast ship was on my bucket list for some time. I tried to get a friend to go with me but they either were afraid of being seasick or didn't want to spend the money. I am SO glad I went solo - it really was a trip ... Read More
A cruise on a tall mast ship was on my bucket list for some time. I tried to get a friend to go with me but they either were afraid of being seasick or didn't want to spend the money. I am SO glad I went solo - it really was a trip of a lifetime. Islands on this trip (St. Maarten, Nevis, Dominica, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Barts) I flew to St. Maarten and stayed one night at the Holland House Hotel on Front Street. This will put you close to the pier, right on the beach and on Front Street (the main commercial street in Philipsburg). Check in was smooth and organized. There were refreshments/fresh fruit and tents were set up to provide shelter from the sun. It was a short walk to the Star Clipper from check-in. Once welcomed onboard I received my room key. I was in room 325 right off the dining room and across from the gift shop. My room was a Category 2 stateroom with the beds pushed together. The stateroom was very nice with a flat screen TV (which I never turn on) and a safe. I didn't pay a single supplement which was a major incentive for me to go on this cruise. I honestly wasn't in my stateroom that much. I took advantage of the adventure of being on a sailing ship and of the excursions. I was very pleased with the food. There was early bird breakfast (juices and danishes), full breakfast, lunch, 5 pm hors d'oeuvre, dinner and midnight snack. Breakfast and lunch were buffets with a large selection. Dinner had appetizer, soup, sorbet, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert. Considering that the food was prepared for 150 people that often in a small galley kitchen - I was very impressed with the quality. Excursion Nevis - Hiking: this was a pretty challenging hike made more challenging my rain, but I loved it. Dominica - Rowing on the Indian River: 8 person row boat manned by a local guide. Iles des Saintes (no excursions) I explored the island on my own. Hiked up to Fort Napoleon in the morning and then took the tender to Cabrits and hiked up to the ruins of Fort Josephine. I fell in love with Iles des Saintes - this is why you go on a Star Clipper ship. An island off the tourist radar. Guadeloupe - Solar Power Boat Tour of the Mangrove and Lunch - It poured but we still had a great time. Antigua - Zip Lining - So much fun. St. Barts - ATVing around the island. My favorite. I made sure to get up at 6 am every morning for sunrise and I wasn't disappointed. The sunrise and sunsets were breathtaking. I was in bed most nights between 10 and 11. There really isn't much entertainment on the ship beyond your shipmates and some tunes on a piano. For me that was perfect. I have three minor complaints: one has been mentioned before - there isn't a lot of shade on the top deck. This didn't turn out to be a big issue for me because I was exploring each island so much that I was off the ship in port. This might be an issue if you want to stay onboard. The staff are very reserved to the point of being distant. I'm not sure if this is something to accommodate the large amount of European onboard or if this is a company policy. It did feel at times cold and indifferent. I never could figure out if out. I've been on several cruises and the staff are always so friendly. I missed this very much. Finally there seemed to be tension on my cruise between some of the Europeans and the Americans. Americans are loud. I actually never realized how loud we were until this trip - add alcohol to the mix and we are louder yet. This really seemed to upset some of our European companions. THIS IS NOT A TRIP FOR ANYONE WITH LIMITED MOBILITY. I can't reiterate this enough. I saw people struggling to get in and out of the tenders. The water was quite rough off St. Barts and the tender was really bouncing in the water. If you have any mobility issues - this will be a problem. This was a magical trip: I climbed the mast, I relaxed in the net, I was up for sunrise, I got to sail the Caribbean and I was able to explore new destinations. I would definitely go on another Star Clipper cruise. For solo travelers - go! Take advantage of the lack of a single supplement. I'm 46 so I was at the lower end of the age range and I knew that in advance. Being solo wasn't an issue at all. I met many nice people who included me in their group. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I initially planned to be onboard for one week for the cruise to the Windward Islands. I have been on many regular cruises, and I have been on sailing vacations on 50 - 60 foot yachts. This was completely different from either. What a ... Read More
I initially planned to be onboard for one week for the cruise to the Windward Islands. I have been on many regular cruises, and I have been on sailing vacations on 50 - 60 foot yachts. This was completely different from either. What a special experience! The Royal Clipper is a true sailing ship, and the captain had her sailing without the diesel engine running, as much as possible. To see the sails unfurled each time we weighed anchor as the Vangelis music from 1492 played -- it was powerful. How much did I like being on the Royal Clipper? By mid-week, I knew I was not ready to return home. One call to my travel agent, and I was on for the second week to the Grenadines. Practical Things: As many have mentioned, you need to be physically fit to be a passenger on the Royal Clipper. There are many stairs and no elevators. You will feel the water. The ship moves -- she's supposed to -- that's the point. You are sailing. Then at almost every port, you will tender to the shore. If you are unsteady on your feet, this is not the cruise for you. Seasickness: the ship moves a lot. I have had problems with seasickness in the past. I simply brought tablets, and I used them. I was fine. I had no problems, and would simply say, go prepared. The ship is in fine condition. It looked like carpet in many places was new. Someone onboard mentioned seeing the Royal Clipper in dry dock last year, so some freshening was probably done at that point. Embarkation was easy and well organized. I was in two different cabins (since the second week was a last minute addition). Cabin 206, week 1, was wider than cabin 201. This makes sense of course, because the clipper tapers towards the bow. I was by myself, and the cabins were very comfortable for one person. For two people, I would recommend staying away from the narrower cabins -- 201 and 202, and corresponding cabins on the deck below. Several couples that I met on the the cruise were in the luxury cabins one floor up, and said they were very spacious. I was quite happy with my cabins. The food onboard was outstanding. Our chef, Devon, was from Jamaica, and his staff produced amazing meals from what I am sure is a fairly small galley. Dinner entrees between the two weeks did not repeat, with the exception of the lobster, which is served for the Captain's dinner. The bar staff was equally fine -- friendly, funny. And they may make the best mojito I've ever tasted. Ports and excursions: okay, this is different from what I was accustomed to on a large ship. I took 2 - 3 excursions from the ship each week, and they were all well done. On all cruises in the past, I have made arrangements myself through local vendors. This is more difficult to do on Star Clippers, for two reasons. One, she rarely docks where the big ships go (a wonderful thing) so meeting other excursion people can be difficult. Two, you are often not in port as long as you would be on a regular ship. I would tell you that over my two weeks on the Royal Clipper, I am very content with the way this works. We were in some small, amazing places. They sent us on tenders into lovely beaches . . . excursion? who needs an excursion? I borrowed a mask and fins each week from the water crew onboard the ship, would hit the beach, snorkel, have a drink at the beach bar . . . Places that I strongly recommend taking an excursion: Fort de France, Martinique. Lovely island, gorgeous gardens. The city of Fort de France -- um, no. Get out of the town, and you will like Martinique. Soufriere in St. Lucia: this is a great stop because the Pitons, the most photographed mountains in St. Lucia, are right there. But the town is not wonderful. I have been to St. Lucia a number of times, and the perfect thing to do is to take a water taxi from Soufriere to the beautiful beach between the two Pitons. It's perhaps a fifteen/twenty minute ride. Two resorts share the white sand beach. Water is gorgeous, and there is snorkeling along the right side (right side, as you stand on the beach and look out to sea). Lovely bar and restaurant. What can I say? I loved my experience with Star Clippers. I am not sure that I will ever be able to return to a large ship. The sailing experience is the heart of a cruise on the Royal Clipper. Doing things like crawling out onto the net along the bowsprit as the ship sails -- transformative. I am obviously a convert -- and I would say, with great enthusiasm, if my description sounds appealing to you, you will have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
After sailing on mainstream cruises for years we decided to try Star Clippers. Wow, what a difference and what an experience. The ship was beautiful, the service was top notch and the food was delicious. The best part of the trip ... Read More
After sailing on mainstream cruises for years we decided to try Star Clippers. Wow, what a difference and what an experience. The ship was beautiful, the service was top notch and the food was delicious. The best part of the trip was the people we met. The ship was booked with about half European guest and half American. The Europeans were mainly from Germany, Italy and Great Britain. The Americans were a nice mixture from coast to coast. WIthin two days you recognized everyone on the ship and the camaraderie was almost instant. A few guests kept to themselves but for most is was one big friendly group. The islands were beautiful and the fact we had them to ourselves really sets Star Clippers apart from the mega ships. Our Cruise Director, Peter, was a font of useful and trivial information. The Sports Team kept us busy in port and entertained on the ship. The cabin was smaller than a standard cruise ship cabin but it was still very comfortable and functional. Loved the open seating dining - sit with who you want when you want!! Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. No long lines, no stress. The evening "entertainment" was cute and fun - it consisted of a passenger/crew talent show, a trivia contest, frog racing (proud to say our frog won!!) a steel drum band or a piano player. Sitting under the stars while under sail was the only entertainment most people needed. We only took one shore excursion (tubing in Dominica) and it was a great value. Nothing on board is overpriced - bottled water (large) and sodas were about $2, beer and cocktails were between $3-5 and good wine at dinner was only $15 a bottle. We had an amazing time and we are already planning our next trip top Asia in 2017!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Wanting something special to celebrate our 40th anniversary we chose the Star Clipper. We could not have made a better choice. There were only 100 passengers (out of a possible 170) on the first Caribbean sailing of the season so we felt ... Read More
Wanting something special to celebrate our 40th anniversary we chose the Star Clipper. We could not have made a better choice. There were only 100 passengers (out of a possible 170) on the first Caribbean sailing of the season so we felt very pampered by the staff of over 70. We upgraded to one of the 6 deck cabins on the main deck near the bow. The cabin has a large picture window and direct access to the deck. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathroom is quite spacious and has a whirlpool tub. The bed was quite comfortable and the cabin steward took excellent care of our needs. The food and service was excellent. We had a very large breakfast buffet with the usual options plus meats, cheeses, hot entrees and made to order eggs and more. Lunch was usually themed, again with many hot and cold options and great desserts to choose from. Dinner is served from an extensive menu with several options for appetizers, salads, soup, cheese course, entrees and desserts. Wine pairings are suggested for each course. Coffee and teas, as well as fresh fruit, are available all day in the piano bar. The entertainment is generally silly (in a good way) and interactive with the crew and passengers providing most of the fun. One night we had a steel drum band on board. Peter, our cruise director, is an amazing storyteller who captivated the passengers once or twice a day with tales of the sea, tall ships and the islands we were visiting. He is fluent in English and German and tells the stories in both languages quite easily. Since about half of the passengers were from Germany this was most appreciated. The islands we visited were almost secondary to the sailing adventure. Raising the sails each day was accompanied by stirring music and many passengers took advantage of enjoying time on deck while sailing. The captain prides himself on sailing whenever possible vs using power so we were able to truly enjoy a sailing trip. There is plenty of room on the sun deck to enjoy the sunshine and cool off with quick dip in one of the two small pools. the sunrises and sunsets were memorable and the bonus of a full moon during our cruise was a real treat. A few of the excursions were not quite as advertised and I wish we had just made our own arrangements to tour some of the islands vs paying to join the tour. There is a sports crew that provides snorkel equipment, sailboards, laser sailing, water skiing and trips to some gorgeous beaches. They also lead a 30 minute fitness session each morning that was a nice way to start the day. There were several on our cruise that had just sailed the ocean crossing from Spain and a few who opted to stay on another week rather than get off after one week. I wish we could have done that. We will definitely take another cruise on a Clipper line ship - hopefully in the Mediterranean - maybe for our 45th anniversary. This was the only vacation we've been on where the getting there was better than the destination. We loved the sailing adventure. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I had done extensive research on the Star Clipper website, YouTube, and Cruise Critic prior to deciding on the Royal Clipper Grenadine Islands itinerary as my husband was looking to visit smaller ports not available on the regular cruise ... Read More
I had done extensive research on the Star Clipper website, YouTube, and Cruise Critic prior to deciding on the Royal Clipper Grenadine Islands itinerary as my husband was looking to visit smaller ports not available on the regular cruise ships. We had visited all the islands (Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia and Barbados) other than the Grenadines (Union Island, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and Bequia) and wanted to return to them. We are avid snorkelers and water sports are a big part of Star Clippers in addition to the sailing aspect. My previous 20 cruises had been on the usual cruise lines (Celebrity, Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Azamara and Norwegian), usually on smaller or medium size ships, to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska and South America. When booking our cat 3 cabin, I was informed that most cabins are somewhat small, but adequate. We were on the Clipper Deck overlooking the atrium area (including the dining room) after entering an access door at the bottom of the stairs to the cabin corridor. This was an ideal location due to its availability to all points forward and aft. There are many gateway cities for included air and although Pittsburgh was not one of them, our agent was able to give us comp air due to connecting at Charlotte, NC directly to Barbados. After meeting the SC (Star Clipper) rep at the airport, we were accompanied to the small van (taxi) for our ride to the ship. The driver was very pleasant and in fact tried to get us to commit to a private tour upon our return to Barbados the following Saturday. Upon arrival at the ship, there was a large P&O ship and the Windstar sailing ship berthed as well. There is no embarkation procedure prior to boarding due to the ship's small size. We climbed the gangway and were greeted by the hotel director and a cold towel at the tropical bar and guided to the embarkation desk inside the piano bar area around the atrium. This took approximately 5 minutes and we then went to our cabin down one flight of stairs. We then took a short walk around the ship to get our bearings and returned to the tropical bar (location for many activities including the life boat drill at 6:45 pm as it is where the two muster stations are. Dinner was served from 7:30-11:00 pm every evening where guests can choose how large a table to be seated at and where. We therefore met many different guests mostly from the US and the UK, but some also from Canada. There were others from France, Germany, Italy and other European countries we learned later as we met them on excursions. All announcements were given in three languages (English-primary, German and French). Sailaway was at 10 pm and there was a moonlit sky, but little wind not necessarily from the direction needed so only a few sails were unfurled and the engines assisted. Breakfast buffet was served from 8-10 am everyday, with early bird coffee and hot tea, pastries and breads available at the piano bar from 6:30-10:30. Buffet lunch was from noon to 2 pm with a different emphasis (i.e.,seafood, international, Italian, Caribbean, Oriental) daily. Afternoon snacks were available from 5-6 pm at the tropical bar as well as midnight snack at the piano bar which we never saw due to our retiring prior, from 11:45 pm to 1 a.m. daily. Iced tea was only available during dinner. Beverages such as soda and all alcoholic drinks were charged to your onboard account which uses Euros, not dollars. We prepaid our gratuities in dollars. A second life boat drill was conducted while at sea on the first day, followed by introduction of the officers and crew. The ship anchored at every port except Fort-de-France, Martinique and therefore tenders were needed to go ashore. The Sports Team would always get the water activities set up at the onboard marina or take the equipment ashore to the beaches when we anchored at a beach (all the Grenadine islands). General info on the ship: There are no elevators and negotiation of steps is required throughout the ship and it is therefore not for those who are not ambient. There is no theater (therefore no production shows) but there was an excellent Steel Band on board for an hour prior to sailing from Grenada, no casino, no professional photographer and no manned excursion desk. There are signup sheets with descriptions in the 3 languages for excursions and the Cruise Director Anna previewed them as well as you can preview descriptions online. Some activities such as a fashion show, line dancing, pirate night and a talent show encouraged guests (189 on our sailing) to participate. No special facilities or activities for children (none on our cruise in late January). The crew of 100+ is multinational with a majority of European nationalities (the ship sails in the Med in summer). There is a beautiful relatively large library, three small pools, several bars, an observation lounge which we learned was partially removed to load supplies and food on pallets on embarkation day, and a small gym and spa which I was too busy to utilize. There are two lifeboats, two tenders (with ramps for wet landings) and multiple zodiacs which seemed to be used only by crew on our cruise. Royal Clipper provides complimentary use of all water sports including snorkeling gear which is issued the first day for the use of the cruise. The Sloop Shop has an extensive SC line of clothing/accessories and the shop doubles as the Purser's Office. This sailing ship does offer opportunities (usually more than once to participate in sailing activities including unfurling the sails, enjoying the bowsprit net, and climbing the crows nest. I thoroughly enjoyed my time up on the Crows Nest as we were beginning to sail from St. Vincent to Bequia and this afforded me great views of all the nearby islands (though it was very windy). Excursions booked through SC: Grenada - Shadowfax Sailing/Snorkeling/BBQ lunch - we were disappointed with this excursion as the catamaran sailing was very rough which was normal around the southern point (thought the excursion should not have gone). Lunch was OK - it included Lobster and champagne, but the beach was shaded by trees and we were cold from the windy sailing. The snorkeling was also not in a tranquil location. Tobago Cays - Snorkeling was a bit rough as well (around the back side of the island where the SC beach BBQ was held). St. Vincent - Reef life tour -- excellent snorkeling at two locations (one was black sand beach). Almost all of the snorkeling on our excursions including the complimentary ones from the ship requires a bit of experience - not for newbies. The final three days of our cruise involved two ports at each island (St. Vincent/Bequia, Martinique and St. Lucia) and since we were involved in snorkeling every day, we did not get the chance to "see the ports" as time was just too limited (3-4 hrs each). I enjoyed seeing many sunsets and on our last day sailing from Soufriere, St. Lucia, saw porpoises as well. This occurred after our awesome, amazing "Full Sail Sailaway" viewing the Royal Clipper unfurling her sails from a tender with the Pitons in the background - a superb way to end our cruise. Thanks to Capt. Sergey Utitsyn of Estonia, Hotel Manager Steve Adamson, Cruise Director Anna Alice Langstrom of Switzerland and all the crew for a special unforgettable sailing cruise. We took an island discovery excursion after disembarking in Barbados which included driving through Holetown and Speightstown, stopping at Farley Hill National Park with its Great House ruins and views of the East Coast, driving through St. John's Parish and ending at Sunbury Plantation where we also had a buffet lunch. The Great House has extensive antiques and the tour gave insight into the life of a wealthy planter 300 years ago. Last stop was the airport where we picked up our luggage around 1:15 pm. Return flight was through Charlotte as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Just back from a week onboard the Royal Clipper, a 5 masted square rigged sailing ship [ apparently the largest in the world ]. It was an amazing experience to be on deck when the sails were unfurled each evening to the background sound of ... Read More
Just back from a week onboard the Royal Clipper, a 5 masted square rigged sailing ship [ apparently the largest in the world ]. It was an amazing experience to be on deck when the sails were unfurled each evening to the background sound of stirring classical music. The cabin, one of only 2 at deck level, a the stern end was very well appointed, all wood veneer pannelling and a huge bed. Although it was a bit of a tight squeeze and access to the bed was from one side only, so night time ventures to the loo involved clambering to the end of the bed to try and not disturb my good lady. The bathroom was quite large and well appointed with a big jacuzzi bath, a smaller bathroom and larger cabin might have worked better. Lots of soaps and lotions provided and a good sized cabinet for all our bathroom bits and bobs. The cabin had plenty of storage space for clothes and suitcases [ placed under the bed ], and access was from the deck so people would walk by throughout the trip, but we soon got used to this and it was nice to have the privacy of a cabin away from all the other accomodation. Cabin No.315. The food was excellent and the service first class, seating was as youplease so you get to meet different folks every meal if you choose. It was a very eclectic mix of passengers, Usa, Brits, Canadians, German and French made up the majority of the 220 onboard. A nice mix and most seemed friendly and happy to socialise. One thing to note, this is a sailing vessel NOT a mega liner so it moves about quite a bit. So if you suffer from sea sickness come prepared, my wife suffered quite a lot because of it, and we noticed that a few passengers had sea sickness patches on, worth considering. This was evident on the first night when our room steward raised a panel at the side of the bed to help prevent us falling out during the night. The voyage itself was great because, as this is a smaller vessel, it can get into places where the large vessels can't venture. Such as Ille Des Saintes a beautifull tiny French island. Apart from mooring at Martinique all other stops involve using the small tenders to get to and from the shore, these were well organised and seemed to run all day. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
It has been a little over a month since our return and I just keep telling people about our cruise. We had an amazing time on our cruise. My husband and I will never cruise on a large ship again. The experience on a clipper ship is so ... Read More
It has been a little over a month since our return and I just keep telling people about our cruise. We had an amazing time on our cruise. My husband and I will never cruise on a large ship again. The experience on a clipper ship is so intimate and so much more fun. The cabin was just big enough. The bathroom was even a little bigger than the big cruise ships. The crew and staff were wonderful from beginning to end. My husband and I are seniors ( 72 and 65). I'm not in the best shape but I had no problem getting around the ship. There were people from all over the world so it was really interesting meeting people. Because the ship only holds 227 passengers it was real easy meeting people and getting to know them. When we came into a port we were able to get right in to the beaches on tenders.. Except for Antigua we were able to swim at pretty much deserted beaches. We couldn't dock on the side of the Fort at Antigua so we had to dock where the big cruise ships go. It was amazing to compare the ships. My husband said our masts were as high as the gigantic cruise ships but the town was mobbed and very commercial. We took two tours, one in St Lucia and one in St Kitts. Both were very nice, informative and personal. The accommodations were very comfortable. The food was superb. On the big cruise ships the desserts look great but are tasteless not on this ship. There are no elevators but the stairs are not steep and I got added extra exercise. Breakfast and lunch are both buffets. Dinner is sit down. There are no shows and casinos but many would meet in the bar area for fun . One night was pirate night and there were hermit crab races to bet on . The cruise directors and their helpers were in charge. All were very young and enthusiastic. One of the many things I was impressed with was when we went to a beach snorkels and gear,beach games sunfishes, and kayaks were provided free of charge. Also dress is casual. My husband was so pleased he didn't have to bring a tie. Some of the down sides were poor internet reception so I would use the wifi when on land. We booked our airfare with Star Clipper and they certainly didn't leave enough time between connections and don't stay at the Miami Airport hotel( it smells of old cigarettes). We are saving up for our next trip (maybe the Greek Isles) Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Hello every one, We are a couple of 33 and 34years and we've done our first cruise on the Royal Clipper, the 26th January to 2nd february in the Grenadines islands. We do not regret the expensive ticket because the cruise has been ... Read More
Hello every one, We are a couple of 33 and 34years and we've done our first cruise on the Royal Clipper, the 26th January to 2nd february in the Grenadines islands. We do not regret the expensive ticket because the cruise has been wonderfull. FOOD : ++ The food quality is excellent and various. You will find something new for every breakfast first example. We can tell that the food is a concern for Star Clipper by the number of time that you can eat on board : 6 time per day!! * Early breakfast on the piano bar * Breakfast buffet on the dinning room (fruit, sweets, eggs, bacon, pancakes, vegetable,... and a egg bar where the chef will make for you the eggs you want) * Lunch buffet at the dinning room with one thematic per day. Wonderful desserts and a meal "a la decoupe" (a full salmon, sucking pig, ...) * Cocktail and Collation at Tropical Bar around 5PM. Again sweets and salty thing, different every day. * Dinner at the dinning room. You are placed by the "Maitre d'hotel" and you can change your table every night if you want. The menu have 2 appetisers and 1 soup; 2 main dishes (one fish one meat) and a vege dish and a more local suggestion; salad and cheese and 2 dessert. * Midnight lunch at the Piano Bar Food are more european/french style than really local. Very good and nice presentation but I would like the local suggestion to be more "local". You will not really taste the local products like grilled fishes, sweet potatoes, yam, colombo, plantain and all the wonderful fruits of the Caribbean. If you want to taste local food you will have to go in ports but, for dinner, you will have time only at Grenada. Wines and cocktails are at reasonable price, count 5.50euro for a cocktail. The cocktail of the day is a little bit cheaper. EXCURSIONS : + One of my biggest fear was the excursions. Previous review were pretty bad about the cruise director. I have to say that the new one, Renata, is more than efficient and friendly. Inside documentation we get by mail before the cruise we've found all the excursions proposed with hours, description, prices, ... And during the week Renata stick to the programm. she even add one more trips due to passenger demand as snorkeling in Santa Lucia. She's speaking English, German, french and also Spanish. You will see her everywhere, at the boat tender to check departure of people for excursions, at evening to animation the shows, explaining the disembarkation or giving more information about the excursions, ... When is she sleeping?? So she's doing a very good job. Excursion themselves are more oriented to 60s people with 4x4 travel. No big hiking or physical activities. Also on many island we stay 4 hours (morning or afternoon). that is a small amount of time if you want to do something by yourself except beach or shopping on the touristic front beach. SHIP : +++ It is a real sailing ship and the captain does not miss any occasion to remind you that. So yes, the boat is rocking (and yes I can confirm that I'm seasick). The Royal Clipper is a pretty lady and you will always seen crew member painting, cleaning, repairing,... every beat of it. It is really something to sail in this ship and to see other cruise ship passenger looking at the Royal Clipper! The dinner room is just amazing. Look at the Titanic, shrink it a little bit and you get it. For a ship of this size it is really impressive To be honest it has been one of our criteria to select the royal Clipper over Star Flyer. *Sun Deck, you will find 2 small pools (hot-tub size) and one big enough for 5 people. A lot of sun chair and roof for the shadow. There are also 2 steering wheel (real ones, you can drive the ship with them if the bridge decide so) and all the sails and rope. Note that thanks to electrical helping plots one sailor is able to rise a sail (he wind the rope around it at that help him to pull). There is also the bridge and the forward nest where you can go, except the night. Very good place to see the sunshine! * Main Deck, the heart of the ship : the Tropical Bar, open both side to the sea in the middle of the ship. It is the real meeting point for everyone. Inside you have also the Piano Bar and the impressive light shaft to the dinning room. There is also the library, the cabins with balcony and the forward lounge used for conferences. * clipper Deck is the cabin deck with the continuation of the light shaft, the reception and sloo shop. * Commodore Deck is again the cabins and the luxurious Dinning room. There is also a well equipped gym room and the spa (used none of them as we were to busy!!) PASSANGERS : ++ We were the youngest. 2 or 3 other couples in the 30s-40s but majority of passenger are couples of 50s and more. A lot of american, german, some canadien also. Usually people are repeaters of the Star Clipper and are seasoned travelers. English is the main language. However all official communication were made in english, german and french. Don't except to have party every night with dance after midnight! In the other hand, if you prefer to enjoy the stars/moon at the sun deck and discuss with crew members it is perfect. SATURDAY, Embarkation at Barbados arrived at 1pm, it is a little bit too early but we've been part of the first to get inside the boat. 1 or 2 hours to explore the ship and wonder if we are inside a dream or not. Followed by the drill exercise then the diner. We skipped the desert to assist to the sail and departure at 10PM. SUNDAY, Captain's choice Union Island Quiet day at the beach, a little bit raining. It was one of my favorite place for the beach background : forest, not to many people, 1 or 2 bars made from wood and really local. MONDAY, Grenada Muddy and slippery hiking to the Seven sister falls. It is not very difficult or long... for young people. The waterfalls are very nice and it stay as one of my favorite place of the cruise. Imagine to swim in the water-pool in the middle of the rain forest... Never think I will be able to do that one day! We've also see some monkeys very quickly. If you want to eat local that's the day because the boat leave at 11PM. TUESDAY, Tobago Cay An other post card place. Very nice beach and good snorkeling place. For the lunch it a a BBQ on the beach. The only problem : maybe too many people (almost all the boat) on the beach... WEDNESDAY, St Vincent The morning at Kingston, the capital. It is a NOT touristic place. Then I will not say beautiful but interesting to see what can be the real world behind the post card of touristic pace. Afternoon at Bequia, this one is a real touristic place in front of the beach. Lot of gift shops (twice the price compare to Kingston). The boat tender can also bring you to the beach, seem to be nice. THIRSDAY, MARTINIQUE Morning at Fort de France. It is a little bit of France in the middle of Caribbean, very surprising. Bring euros here to buy something! The rum is excellent and cheap. :-) Afternon at Anse d'Arlet. Many people love this place but it was my less favorite one. First there is no shadow at all and we've already get sun burned from the previous days, second the beach is narrow and full of constructions. The worse of "Cote d'Azur"! FRIDAY, St Lucia Again, one place in the morning (Marigo Bay) and one the afternoon (Soufriere). The bay is funny to see all the expensive yachts. The Soufriere is a beautiful place. The zip-line excursion is good but the highlight of the day is the photo-tender : at the sunset the 2 boat tender will turn around the ship, all sails out, and you can do amazing picture of the Royal Clipper. SATURDAY, Barbados The end of the cruise, sadly. You can have some excursion (beach or island tour) that will bring you at the airport. As usual the organization is serious and efficient! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
It came & went so quickly, thankfully we have many pleasant memories and pictures to tide us over until our next adventure. Once again, Star Clipper's treated us to an excellent voyage......this time on the Royal Clipper as we ... Read More
It came & went so quickly, thankfully we have many pleasant memories and pictures to tide us over until our next adventure. Once again, Star Clipper's treated us to an excellent voyage......this time on the Royal Clipper as we sailed through the Grenadine's. We visited Union Island, Grenada, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent, Bequai, Martinique & St. Lucia after starting our journey in Barbados between Nov. 14 & 21st. We left Austin, Texas on Friday the 13th at 9AM on American Airlines and arrived in Barbados at 11PM after connections in Dallas & Miami. While the flight was long, everything went without a hitch. We were expecting the worse when we arrived in Barbados and hoped we would be at the Hilton by 1AM. To our delight, we cleared customs, caught a cab & were in our room by 11:45. One thing that has stuck with us was how nice and helpful everyone was: the Airport personnel, Customs Officers, Taxi driver and the Hilton staff. It bode well for an excellent vacation. The Hilton is a very nice hotel....large, but clean & well managed. Our room was on the 7th floor in the Lighthouse wing. We ordered room service when we got settled, and it arrived quickly and was very good. I had heard reports of how expensive dining is at the Hilton and Barbados in general, but we didn't think it was any more expensive than any other travel destination we have encountered. The package we booked included a bottle of Champagne, but as late as we checked in, and the number of cocktails we had on the flights, we decided to not pop the cork at that time. We awoke Saturday morning and looked over the balcony to see the most beautiful white sand and blue ocean. We went down to the Lighthouse Restaurant and had breakfast as it was also included. The buffet was well laid out with the usual assortment of breakfast items. After sitting down, the wind started up & we had a very heavy shower that lasted about 10 minutes....stuff was blowing off the tables and folks were scurrying around trying to stay dry. As quick as it came, it was over and the rest of the day was postcard perfect. Checkout is at noon, and since the Hotel was full, they couldn't extend check-out, but they do provide Hospitality Rooms for guests. These are reserved for 30 minutes, so we made ours for 3:15. After checking out, the Hilton staff stored our luggage and told us to enjoy the facilities and check back at 3. We hung around the beautiful beach & pool area, soaking up the sites & sun until it was our Hospitality time. We were able to take showers & iron some clothes and just relax a bit before heading to the Port and our date with the Royal Clipper, which we could see at the dock from the Hilton. Remember the bottle of Champagne? We never did get around to drinking it, but the Hilton said they would store it in the fridge & have it waiting for us when we returned the following Saturday. Finally it was time to head to the Port, so we hopped in our cab and we were off! On the way, we asked our driver f there was anywhere we could pick up some Rum to take aboard. He took us to a little market downtown & I ran in while he parked. The market was packed & as I was about to give up, our driver came in and said to let him handle it. He went up to the front of one of the lines and asked the next in line if he could cut in, which he kindly agreed to. That was indicative of everyone we met in Barbados. I was so grateful, I assisted with his groceries, so hopefully, I made his day a bit better also. After a short 10 minute ride, we were at the Port. Embarkation: We arrived shortly after 4PM, which was apparently the same time everyone else decided to show up. This was one of the few negatives for the trip. It was very hot & humid, we were in a non A/C building and it took about 1 ½ hrs to get processed. They did pick up our bags & take them to the ship, so we didn't have to mess with those while we waited. There were also a few shops that were open, so we would take turns exploring while we waited. I was able to find some Cuban cigars at one of the shops. As an ex-smoker, that is one of my guilty pleasures on our vacations. One cigar for the week and a few to take home to friends.....I don't know, maybe 'cause they are illegal here or just to buck doctors orders. I really don't like smoking them. Once we had our flu checks, turned in our passports & filled out all the liability releases, we were off to the ship! On Board at last! We headed for the gangway, and as we reached the deck, we were greeted by Capt. Sergey Utitsyn, who welcomed us aboard. Hostesses passed out towels to freshen up and others passed out what I think were Rum Punches. There were also finger foods set up in the Tropical Bar. We mingled for a short time and headed to our cabin to check it out. Since we were offered some terrific discounts, I decided to splurge on one of the Suites. We had 314, which is the furthest aft of the Suites on the Port side. This cabin, along with the the corresponding cabin on the starboard side are arranged a bit different from the other Suites. They are a little longer than the others & have a slightly larger veranda. It was definitely larger than the cat.2 cabin we had on the Star Flyer and had quite a bit more closet space and the whirlpool tub wasn't a bad perk also. It also opened directly to the deck instead of into a hallway like the others. This night, we decided to utilize one of the main perks of the Suites....room service! Our Steward, Augustus, brought us the menu & told us to just check off what we'd like & he'd get it handled. We requested it for 8 and like clockwork, it was there. Augustus took very good care of us that week. Anything we requested, was handled prompt & correctly. We really missed him when we got home! Rachel at Star Clippers also sent us a bottle of champagne which went very well with dinner. It was a great start o the voyage. As we sat on our veranda relaxing, the other ships in Port started leaving. One was a Celebrity ship & the other the Sea Princess. They looked so huge next to the Royal Clipper. We anxiously awaited sail away at 10PM and proceeded up to the deck. We departed on time & as we motored out of the harbor, we passed a Dutch nuclear submarine that was tied up at the pier just as we cleared. That explained why there were no other ships in that section of the harbor. Once we cleared the harbor, the familiar strains of 1492, Conquest of Paradise began playing over the sound system and Capt. Sergey gave the orders to raise the sails. There are so many sails on the Royal Clipper, it requires repeating the song three times.....they could remedy this with a little tool called Garage Band that would make it flow a little better, but that's another story. Finally, sleepy time called & we headed off for our first night at sea, with visions of Union Island dancing in our heads. Oh, the beds were extremely comfortable and the gentle rocking made us sleep like babies. Sunday...Union Island Our stop in the Grenadines was to be Union Island and we were scheduled to anchor at 12:30 in the afternoon. The morning leading up to arrival was a full one. We started with a good exercise with Emma from the Sports Team. She would lead a morning workout each day in the Tropical Bar. Next was breakfast followed by a meeting with the Sports Team to go over all the Scuba activities for the week. That was immediately followed by the Muster drill. The captain followed with the introduction of all the officers. Finally, the snorkel gear was handed out for those that wanted...they kept this equipment the entire week.We arrived at the island right on time and most people spent the day at the beach. There were a couple of establishments for refreshments, but mostly it was just a kick back and relax kind of day. We went on the early scuba dive. There was quite a bit of marine life, but the reef where we dove was a bit underwhelming. After returning, we caught a tender and went ashore where we spent some time kayaking and walking the beach. Alas, the time went much too quickly & it was time to return to the ship and sail off into the sunset. Monday...Grenada Started with a workout with Emma again...helped us feel better about eating too much! We arrived around Noon and although we were expecting to tender, we were fortunate to be able to dock. We caught up with the Sea Princess in Grenada as she was docked also. We were looking forward to diving here at a spot called the Underwater Sculpture Garden. It is a series of sculptures designed to promote quicker recovery of the reef that was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. They are life size figures placed around the reef. Pretty amazing sight! We scheduled this in advance with Dive Grenada as we had discovered the ship did not offer this dive. We are so glad we arranged this because as things turned out, Grenada was perhaps our favorite stop on the trip. The dive shop had arranged for us to be picked up at the pier, and as we walked into the terminal, a gentleman by the name of Garfield was waiting. As we proceeded to the dive shop that was located on Grand Anse beach, Garfield was giving us a history lesson on St. George. Since we were not scheduled to depart till 11:45 that evening, we asked Garfield if he knew of anyone we could hire to show us around the island after we finished with our dive. He said he would be pleased to show us around and as promised, was sitting at the dive shop when we returned from the dive. Now, since we didn't really have this planned, we didn't carry any money on us and Garfield said no worry, when we get back we would settle up. We had a great afternoon with him visiting little spots where we could get Caribe beer and sample some of the many spices found on Grenada. We also visited the fort, some waterfalls and the Grand Etang rainforest. It was simply an awesome day for us. FYI on the terminal area.....there are quite a few shops there, but most close by 6PM. Also, they do have security screening set up before heading out to the dock. That evening, we had the past guest cocktail hour with the Captain on the aft deck. Following dinner, they had the Fashion Show, but we didn't make it that late...the getting up at 5AM for the sunrises was catching up with us. Tuesday...Tobago Cays We spent the morning sailing around islands...we kept asking ourselves...is that it, is that it? Finally around 9:30, we dropped anchor off one of the beautiful islands. We had a dive scheduled this morning, which was very enjoyable. About a 60' wall dive with just a slight current. Not as much marine life as Union Island, but the coral on the reef was in much better shape. After the dive, we headed for the beach, where they had the Bar-B-Q set up. Nice spread...burgers, fish, chicken and all the fixings, and lots of desserts for the kicker. They also set up a small bar for cocktails. There were several venders set up selling t-shirts, jewelry & other little trinkets, so take some money ashore. After eating, we took a path to the other side of the island away from the crowd and worked on our tans. As the last tender took us back to the ship, we were getting excited about the evenings activities.....Pirate's Night & the Crab Races. First though, it was time to participate in the sailing maneuvers which enabled those that wanted to work the sails and lines. Dinner time brought out the pirates....all the crew and about a dozen passengers were dressed up. We dressed as Jack Sparrow & Elizabeth Swan. The Crab Races were a hoot as usual & it didn't hurt to win a couple of the races either! Wednesday...St. Vincent & Bequia Arrival in St. Vincent was an early 8AM, so no workout with Emma this morning. She was there, but no one else was. We anchored in the bay at Kingstown instead of Young Island, so there was a small cruise terminal with a few shops and an information center. Cabs were available just outside the gate, so we grabbed one and headed up to Wallilabou Bay. This is where the scenes of Port Royal in the movie Pirates's of the Caribbean were filmed. On the way we passed by Ft. Charlotte and saw some amazing views of the coastline and passed through several small communities, each with it's own uniqueness. You could still see some of the remnants of the filming, but it sure didn't look anything like the movie....still it was interesting. It was quite a bit further than we had expected...didn't look that far on the map. If we were to rethink our decision, we wouldn't have made the trip, as it took up the entire 4 hours we were in St. Vincent. We got back to the dock just in time to catch the last tender and soon we were crossing the 9 mile channel to Bequai. We anchored in the bay off Port Elizabeth around 2 and caught the tender to shore. If you could picture what you imagined a small Caribbean seaside village to look like, this would be it. The first thing we wanted to check out was the two Model Boat shops there. Both were located just a short walk north of the dock. Of the two, Sergeants was the largest & most interesting. We were able to talk with one of the craftsman & he showed us around the shop and the models in progress. Some are as small as a foot long, while others were well over 4 feet. Very nice craftsmanship. We checked out a few souvenir shops & then decided to attempt to make our way to Princess Margaret beach. At one time, there was a boardwalk that went to the beach, but storms have destroyed a section, and it would have been a long detour to bypass that section. We decided to stop at a little Pizza shop, Mac's, that several of the other Royal Clipper passengers were at. We opted for the Conch fritters & chased them with some ice cold Caribe Beer. It was a great way to finish the day there as we watched the sun set behind the Royal Clipper. All too soon it was time to head back to the dock & catch the tender back to the ship. Thursday...Martinique Another early start and Emma got stood up again. We docked in Fort de France around 8. Our 4x4 excursion was to meet at 8, so we had a quick breakfast & met the group by the gangway. They have changed this excursion from what was printed in the excursion brochure. Originally billed as a tour through the southern part of the island, we now were off to the interior rainforest and Mt. Pelee. We had 11 on the tour and luckily, we got in the group of 5. The tour was conducted in Land Rovers that technically seat 6. HAH! We were comfortable enough, but the other group was crammed in & had to make frequent stops & seemed to generate a lot of complaining. Our group was great & Anthony, our guide was great. Saw a lot of interesting plants in the rainforest & the countryside was beautiful. We stopped at the overlook at Mt. Pelee had had a few shots of rum & rum punch. We were very relaxed after that. It was a long excursion and we got back to the docks a bit late. We left the dock just after Noon and headed south for an afternoon at the beach. It was billed as Martinique Beach, but in reality was Martinique's,Grand Anse beach. Seemed like many of the islands had a Grand Anse Beach. The beach wrapped around the entire bay and was lined with small boutique accommodations and a few shops. Most were closed this day, however. There was a notice in the Daily Port sheets that it was a Holiday, but none of the locals we talked to new which holiday it was...guess it was a shop owner's holiday! We checked out a couple of dive shops and then spent the rest of the afternoon at a little beach bar by the name of Ti Sable. Cute little place with canopy covered tables. No food, but nice cold beer. The beer of choice on Martinique is Lorraine. It was cold & went down easy. As in Bequai, we watched the sun set over the bay and caught the last tender back to the ship. This evening was the Captain's Dinner & we were invited to the Captain's table. We had a pleasant evening with Capt. Sergey talking about his life in Estonia, sailing and his maritime career. We hope we get the opportunity to sail with him again. After dinner, they held the Talent Show at the Tropical Bar. Axel the Hotel Mgr. belted out a few Elvis songs...we knew he would be good, because he was aboard the Star Flyer when we sailed her last year. The Sports Team did a hilarious routine involving a Japanese Submarine crew and Carlito, the Head bartender did his best Michael Jackson routine. There was also a funny skit performed by Mariano, the ship's Marine Biologist & Ben from the Sports team. Afterward's, the crew & passengers did the Macarena. It was an enjoyable time for all. Friday...St. Lucia Alas...Emma gets stood up again. Another 8AM arrival. Marigot Bay is a beautiful, upscale anchorage. The dock area is lined with little shops, but no shopping today. We were off to the Zip Lines on the other side of the island. We got a good sampling of the beauty of St. Lucia during the hour long ride to the Tree Top Canopy Adventure Park. Once there, we were suited up and off to fly through the jungle. There were 11 runs total and was one of the highlights of the week. Everyone had a great time, but one of the ladies in the group injured her arm when she struck some bamboo. If you're adventurous, I highly recommend this excursion. Once again, we were late getting back and as soon as we boarded we headed south to the Pitons and Soufriere. We scheduled the afternoon dive and had a great dive. The reefs in St. Lucia were the best we encountered on the trip. We didn't return to the ship until 3:30, so we had just enough time to change & catch the last tender into Soufriere. We wanted to get some kind of souvenir of St. Lucia. We found a small shop a couple of blocks from the dock where we were able to find some things along with the brew of St. Lucia...Piton. Since the last tender back was at 4:30, we quickly made our way back. Before weighing anchor, they lowered the two large tenders so everyone could get pictures of the Royal Clipper under full sail with the Pitons in the background. Once aboard the tender, we moved away and the Royal Clipper got under way with the tenders in chase mode. It was an awesome sight to see that beautiful ship under sail. That evening at dinner, you could sense everyone was sad to see the cruise coming to a close....or it could have been the thought of having to pack & get your luggage out. Saturday...Barbados We arrived back in Barbados right at sunrise. It was a perfect ending to the week and there was a large contingent on deck to view the last sunrise and port arrival. Some left early to catch flights. We had a leisurely breakfast and said goodbyes to those we met onboard. Oh, we also had to settle up with the Purser. Grudgingly, we left the ship at 10 and caught a shuttle back to the Hilton where we would spend the evening and depart early Sunday morning. They didn't have a room available yet, so we stowed our luggage and hung out at the beach. We checked into our room a little after Noon. Remember that bottle of Champagne we left, the Hilton followed through at it was ready for us. We had a Bay View room this time, and I actually liked the view overlooking the bay & Bridgetown. We could also see the Royal Clipper at the dock, so we popped the cork and saluted the ship for providing us with such an enjoyable experience. That afternoon we decided to walk along the beach to the new Boardwalk. It turned out it was quite a bit farther than expected. There were sections where we had to climb over rocks & retaining walls, but we finally reached the Boardwalk. We proceeded as we watched our last sunset in this idyllic setting. On the walk back to the hotel, we came across Club Fred's Bar & Grill where we had a snack and a couple of drinks. Fred's is a quaint little place located in a Historic zoned house. It really does have a grill sitting on the front porch. Later that evening, we walked to the Brown Sugar Restaurant and had an excellent last meal in Barbados.....highly recommend this restaurant. Sunday...Dang, it's over! We caught a cab to the airport at 5AM for our 7AM flight. Everything went smoothly until we reached Miami. We parked at what had to be the furthest gate from Customs and of course our departing gate was at the complete opposite side from that. With no shuttles at the Miami Airport, there was a lot of walking. When we reached the departing gate, we were informed that there was a gate change, and you guessed it, it was back on the other side....walk, walk & walk some more. The rest of the flights went smoothly and we were back home at 8PM Texas time. That's 18 hours of travel time and we were some tired puppies. Odds & Ends Favorite Port: Grenada Favorite Excursion: Zip Line in St. Lucia Best spot on Ship: Widow's net, Peacefull & relaxing. Just take that step over the railing and you'll be glad you did. Best Drink of the Day:Caipirinha Local Rums: We bought two brands that we took aboard. Mount Gay Extra Old & Cockspur Old Gold. Of the two, I felt the Cockspur was smoother. Best Sunset: Bequai If you are thinking about renting a car, Don't! I am comfortable driving on the left, but most of the roads on these islands make the Road to Hana seem like a freeway. The roads are also poorly marked. Mast climbing was held on Monday & Thursday Food: Overall very good. What surprised me most were the steaks, juicy & tender. Usually on ships they are dry & tough. Cooked to order omelets at breakfast were also excellent. Cabin: The suite was great. The option of having room service and room to actually walk around was nice. However, at the normal rack rate, I don't think I could justify the extra expense over a Cat. 2 cabin. Royal Clipper: She is a beautiful ship. Although the specs would lead you to believe it isn't that much larger than the Flyer & Clipper, it is. There were only about 170 aboard so it never felt crowded. Although there is nothing wrong with the Clipper, we enjoyed the Star Flyer as a ship more. Cruise Director: There isn't a lot of entertainment aboard these ships, so the main function of the Cruise Director is to organize the Shore Excursions. This was a sore point with many of the passengers. The excursions wouldn't be posted until the day before, so there was no way to tell what times or how full the excursions would be. Hence, you couldn't plan out your day properly or even know whether they were going to have the excursion or have any confirmation you were on the excursion. By the time you read this, they should have a new CD on board, so hopefully it will be corrected. The new CD was the talk of much of the crew(mostly male) because she was a 24 year old Latin American. I'm sure they had visions of Salma Hayek or Jennifer Lopez! This link will take you to our album of photos from the trip: http://gallery.me.com/csealove/100277 Well, that's about it....all there is to do now is start thinking about our next adventure. Should it be Thailand or Costa Rica.....hmmmmmmmm! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Our March 2009 cruise on the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER was a delightful experience that exceeded our expectations. The ship is beautiful, the crew extremely friendly, professional, and helpful, and our fellow passengers were great and interesting ... Read More
Our March 2009 cruise on the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER was a delightful experience that exceeded our expectations. The ship is beautiful, the crew extremely friendly, professional, and helpful, and our fellow passengers were great and interesting cruise companions. We had the good fortune of fair weather with plenty of sun and only the briefest of rain, and, considering the sailing nature of this ship, we had plenty of wind all week to make our way under sail.We picked the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER primarily for propulsion by sail and for the smaller passenger complement. We have owned boats and done a lot of boating in the past 25 years, including living aboard and cruising for several weeks at a time on our own boats, principally in the northern Great Lakes. Our previous cruising experience is limited. We spent a week aboard the NORWAY (formerly the SS FRANCE) in the eastern Caribbean in 2002. FOOD The food was excellent, served in elegant fashion, and in great variety. There was a bit of a European style to the cooking and some of the dishes. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets. Dinner is a grand meal, often stretching to almost ten o'clock at night. The main dining room is wonderful, filled with mahogany and brass, very nautical, with large port holes just above the waterline which are often filled with white foam from waves as you enjoy dinner under sail. The dinner menu offered fish, meat, and vegetarian choices each night. Wine can be bought by the bottle, and if you don't finish the bottle, you can have it stored and brought out the next night. The waitstaff is very congenial. Don't expect to eat and run. With our permission the Maitre d'Hotel seated us each evening at a different table with an interesting variety of dinner companions. He seemed to have a knack for mixing up congenial groups at each table. For the reclusive, there were a few tables for two available. Most people dined in parties of four, six, or eight. CABIN Our cabin was large, comfortable, and beautifully appointed. It was one of the better cabins on the ship, but we discovered that other than a bit more room and the luxury of a tub with a jacuzzi, there really was not much difference between our cabin and the less expensive ones. They are all quite elegantly furnished. We were in Cabin 316, an aft cabin on the main deck, somewhat removed from most of the other passenger accommodations. We could walk out our cabin door directly to the open deck and railings. Most of the time there were no other passengers in our deck area, so it was almost like being aboard a private yacht. Although we were near the Tropical Bar area, the sounds of its music or other activities were never intrusive. Being near the stern there was a bit more vertical motion from the ship. Cabins located amidships and lower will have less movement. ACTIVITIES ON BOARD Being a smaller ship, there are not a great deal of on-board activities, which was fine for us. Each evening around ten o'clock the Tropical Bar (on-deck but under canvas) hosts some entertainment or dancing. Passengers have free run of the ship and its decks. You can climb 60-feet to the first crow's nest on the main mast under supervision of the crew, or you can scramble out on the bow sprit's netting whenever you feel like it. The Chief Engineer gives a tour of the engine room. There are water sport activities each day, and you can go to the beach to swim, snorkel, sail small boats, or kayak for no additional charge. There are also diving activities almost daily, but at added cost. The snorkeling was conducted by a marine biologist, and it was every informative and pleasant. The marine biologist also presented one or two lectures during the cruise. The principal on-board daily activity is the sail-away each evening. This usually brings all passengers on deck to watch the sails being hoisted and set, done to the accompaniment of music by Vagelis, "CONQUEST OF PARADISE" (from the sound track of the cinematic feature "1492"). This literally puts a tear into everyone's eye as it is a very moving experience. The process of hauling the anchor, raising the sails, and gently gliding under sail from the many cozy anchorages we visited was universally enjoyed by all passengers. The Captain is an excellent ship handler and often sailed us into or out of crowded harbors without resorting to any assistance from the engine or bow thrusters. Every day is a new port and there typically are multiple shore activities available. We only went on one excursion, snorkeling at Dominica, which was billed as being some of the best available in the Caribbean. The snorkeling was good, but the overall excursion was not quite what we expected. It was too long, included a luncheon, and too much bus riding. We were very glad to get back to the ship. THE SHIP The most impressive element of the trip was the ship itself and the amount of time it spent under sail. The captain truly likes to sail, and the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER moves from port to port under sail power as much as possible. As a result, there is more motion to the ship than might be comfortable for those accustomed to very large and very stable ships. My wife and I are both experienced sailers and have spent a lot of time underway and living aboard moderately sized sailboats boats. For a 430-foot ship, the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER surprised me with how nimble it was. It has a rather quick roll period, must faster than I expected for a big sailing ship. I got a chance to take the helm on afternoon while under full press of sails and at 11-knots. The ROYAL CLIPPER is very responsive to the helm and responds quickly to any rudder input. We embarked at Barbados, which is quite separate from the other islands. You have at least 125-miles of open water sailing to the closest island, and the trip from and to Barbados generally brings higher seas than any other portion of the cruise. On our week the winds were unusually strong. We left Barbados on Saturday evening with a Force-6 (25- to 30-knot) wind on our starboard bow. Once we cleared the lee of Barbados, we were in open seas with significant waves, their tops being blown off into spray by the wind. There was considerable motion on the ship. The Captain had the cabin stewards deploy the lee boards on all berths as a precaution. With large seas and the wind well forward, the ship was put under motor propulsion, although several staysails were up for steadying. Quite a few passengers did not fare well on this first night at sea, including me. I used to be able to say I had never been sea sick, but I can no longer make that claim. I would recommend taking Dramamine or similar anti-motion sickness medication for this first night unless you are truly immune to sea sickness. Compared to the rough first night, we sailed comfortably after that, and with our sea legs regained, we never had any problem with sleeping or discomfort again. The run back to Barbados was again in rougher seas, but the wind was just far enough aft we could sail all the way. In general, sailing gives a more pleasant motion to the ship, in my opinion, and although we were rolling down the seas, the last night was not a problem. The ship is a thing of beauty and it is maintained in tip-top condition. If you arise early you will see the crew washing down the teak deck every morning, wiping down all the varnish and brightwork, and polishing the brass. They even re-painted the huge anchors during the trip so that they looked perfect. While you are ashore during the day, the crew goes over the side and touches up any little blemish on the hull. The mast and rigging all appear to be in perfect order, and the sails themselves are mainly new and without stains or patches. Even when you are ashore, your gaze will be drawn back to the ship as it rides at anchor in the harbor. It dominates every setting and attracts attention wherever it goes. It is beautiful. The other passengers were an interesting mix of Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and South Americans. On our trip there was a large German contingent, so all announcements were conducted in English and repeated in German. The several French speaking passengers were comfortable with English, so we avoided a third language in the public announcements. Menus and other ship information are printed in English, German, and French. Americans were probably about 40-percent of the passengers. The rest were mainly European, with a few Canadians and South Americans in the mix. The crew is composed of men and women from many countries. The Captain, Chief Engineer, and one of the senior Officers were Russian, which is probably due to the necessity of having proper licenses and ratings for a very large sailing ship. Russia had or has a fleet of large sailing ships, so there are more officers qualified on large sailing ships from Russia than anywhere else these days. Every one of the ship's crew with whom we came in contact was very pleasant and friendly, and we never lacked for service or assistance. Our weather was wonderful, with sunny skies and warm temperatures, made even more comfortable by a constant sea breeze. The many shades of blue of the Caribbean Sea sparkled at us day and night. We enjoyed several sun sets from the aft deck, including a rare Green Flash sunset one delightful evening while at sea. The rhythm of the cruise puts you into a new port each day, generally arriving in the late morning. The ship sets anchor, and tenders are deployed. You can go ashore to explore, swim from the beach, or just remain onboard and enjoy the expansive deck. The last gangway is typically in the late afternoon. The anchor is then hauled and the ship sails away. After sunset, everyone retires to their cabin to prepare for dinner. After dinner the ship sails into the night to the next port. Repeat this six times. A delightful week of cruising. We were told that Star Clippers has a very high repeat business rate, and I am not surprised. After this trip we are very likely to cruise with Star Clippers again. Most of the people we met aboard were veteran Star Clipper cruisers and were on their second, third, fourth or even tenth trip with the line. Most other passengers had more cruising experience than us, and they expressed a strong preference for the Star Clipper style of ship and cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Summary: My wife and I have cruised before in the Pacific and through the Caribbean. Our trips were on typical vessels of Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises. Although entirely satisfied with those, we wished to do something special ... Read More
Summary: My wife and I have cruised before in the Pacific and through the Caribbean. Our trips were on typical vessels of Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises. Although entirely satisfied with those, we wished to do something special and we both enjoy sailing thus our choice of Star Clippers Line. SPV Royal Clipper was the ship that we selected to sail on. As we are 68 and 70 years old respectively, our holiday requirements were more sedate than years ago... With the help of our travel agent we found what we wanted by flying to Barbados five days prior to the cruise, staying at the Coral Mist hotel then sailing two seven-day cruises back-to-back on Royal Clipper. We offer our commentaries below hoping that they may assist fellow travellers. SPV Royal Clipper: We will not attempt to repeat all that has been said about Star Clippers and SPV Royal Clipper. We offer our comments relating to our specific experience under distinct headings below: Overview There are no superlatives that adequately describe what we experienced. A cruise on Royal Clipper is a romantic experience of a lifetime! If you are looking for a floating spa with disco, casino, and floorshows, you will be unhappy on Royal Clipper. If you enjoy sailing with a few friends in a romantic setting you will love it. (With good sea legs) The line's web site is good but lacks a few features. For example, we sent them an e-mail that they never answered using the "contact us" section. There is no possibility of pre-registration as offered by the main cruise lines. Given the small number of passengers for each sailing (227 passengers total) there is no anticipated delays on boarding. They offered an excellent DVD for free which turned out to be very useful in trip planning, and made our friends envious. Once aboard, there is no doubt that this is a special experience that is almost unique and worth repeating. In our case, we had an outstanding cruise aboard an outstanding ship. At every stop people came to stare at this marvellous oversized yacht. It is unique in the world. However, there is one caveat. This ship is open to passengers of all ages but there is precious little activity geared to the needs and interests of children. The five levels of the ship from the spa to the sun deck are only accessible by stairs. When walking around at sea the rule is one hand for the ship and one hand for you. While on our two-week cruise we noted some electronic glitches. For example, our door key had to be re-programmed a few times because it failed to open the door. In addition, the same card has a bar code used when leaving and returning to the ship. This did not always show the passenger returning thus a frantic call was made to ensure that the ship would not sail without the passenger. Great idea but rather annoying when it happens every day to the same individual who has dutifully returned on time. The reception clerk had a language problem thus it was difficult to explain the problem and have the card re-programmed properly; a small point in an overall wonderful experience. Caroline, the cruise director was a wonderful lady fluent in four languages and who never stopped looking after the passengers. She was simply outstanding. Embarkation They were well organized for the embarkation process, which began at the specified time. Drinks were available for people waiting in line although the line moved rather quickly. Those who arrived early complained of waiting in line but the instructions were clear that embarkation would begin a 4 p.m. Our recommendation would be for people to arrive one hour after the embarkation time to assure a smooth process. The reception on board was first class and very well handled; wet towels, Bellini, escort to the cabin where the baggage was already awaiting us. Cabin/steward/amenities The category 1 cabin is a very roomy 150 sq ft with more than adequate storage space. It was obviously designed by sailing enthusiasts and not a hotel architect. Every nook and cranny offered storage space in the form of shelving or drawers. Two roomy wardrobe offered more space than we expected. The safe is located under the writing desk and is also larger than expected. Music and an internal video is available on the TV which also had a DVD attached although I can't see anyone going on this ship to watch a DVD. The beds had excellent mattresses with duvet and pillows. We slept like babes. The marble bathroom is a sight to behold. Lots of mirrors, ample towels and a double floor drain that allows the water to drain while showering in heavy seas. Two hair dryers are available, one in the room and one in the bathroom. The usual amenities and toiletries are supplied throughout the cruise. The cabin exceeded our expectations. Of note, the current on board is 220v with an 110v outlet in the bathroom for a shaver. It will not accept anything else. Thus a converter is required for any 110v appliance. The reception offers an array of converters for a small rental fee of €10. The cabin steward is a key person on a cruise ship because he/she will leave a lasting impression. Our cabin steward was a young lady from Bulgaria who provided excellent service throughout our two-week stay. She kept the ice bucket full and re-supplied us with bottled water as we requested from her at the onset. Using a red/green door sign, she would refresh our cabin as soon as we left it. Restaurant/food/service For a sailing vessel, the food services far exceeded our expectations just like the rest of the ship. Typically, they had fresh fruit available at all times with tea and coffee. Continental breakfast was available 0600-0800 followed by a huge breakfast buffet and a chef available to cook eggs and omelettes to order between 0800 and 1000. Theme hot/cold lunch buffet was served 1200 to 1400; snacks were available on deck from 1700 to 1800 prior to the evening dinner. Dinner was a seven-course meal served à la Carte between 1930 and 2200 with open seating. The wine list is extensive and storage service is available. Should you not finish your bottle it is labelled with your cabin number and available at the next meal. Finally, there is a huge snack available at 2330 after the limited in-house entertainment. The bar and restaurant service was outstanding. Even with open seating the restaurant staff would remember your preferences and chat with you freely. Public facilities The sun deck carries a huge amount of deck chairs and offers three small pools for a refreshing dip. The centre pool forms the ceiling of the atrium visible from the dining room. (Don't scratch) The tropical bar on the main deck is the focus of most activities including evening entertainment. The piano bar is in the atrium and offers an air-conditioned space quieter than the tropical bar. It is also smoke-free as are all indoor spaces. Smoking is tolerated on the sun deck and in the tropical bar. The three-deck atrium has to be seen to be fully appreciated. There is also a well-stocked library, a conference room with Internet access, and a gym/spa below sea level. Sports & entertainment There is a three-member sports staff that offers morning exercise and a host of free activities during the day. The ship carries three zodiacs, two sunfish sailing boats, two sea kayaks, and snorkel equipment. All this is free but the scuba gear requires an extra fee. In good weather the staff also provides water skiing. At just about every stop an excursion to a beach is also provided free of charge. For example, at anchor off Le Bourg in Isles des Saintes (Guadeloupe) there was a tender going to town and another going to the beach every 30 minutes. Entertainment was provided by a musical duo every day, a local steel band at one stop, on-board talent show featuring crew members and the odd passenger one evening, a fashion show, etc. Itinerary Our first week on board went from Bridgetown Barbados to Union Island, Grenada, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent/Bequia, Martinique, St. Lucia and back to Barbados. During the second week we visited St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, Iles des Saintes, Martinique and back to Bridgetown. The captain is a true sailing enthusiast who demonstrated a keen interest in showing the ability of the ship and crew to perform difficult maneuvers. For example, using sails only (including the square sails) he performed a 360-degree turn that was an extraordinary demonstration of sailing choreography. (I was at the helm) It was simply awesome to see a 5000-ton square-rigger perform that maneuver. · Bridgetown - Clean and friendly as are the Bajans. There is a nice walking tour of the City or various excursions · Union Island (Grenadines) - A superb beach · Grenada - The spice island. Lots of excursions available · Tobago Cays - Another excellent anchorage and beach. Ship BBQ on the beach · St. Vincent & Bequia - Ship stops at both islands for excursions and beach · Martinique - Very nice city. The sidewalk from the cruise terminal to downtown (15 mins) is painted blue for ease of navigation. The botanical garden tour is interesting. · St. Lucia - Lush island with lots to do. We recommend the zip-line rain forest tour · Bridgetown - For passengers staying for another week the transition is very easy. Just exchange your door key at reception and voilà! · Dominica - Drop off at Roseau for excursions then sailed north to Cabrits National Park for a swim · Antigua - One of the jewels of the Caribbean. Great beaches. BBQ on the beach near Falmouth Harbour. Excursions include one for swimming with stingrays. · St. Kitts - Nice island with a scenic narrow gauge train ride · Isles des Saintes (Guadeloupe) - Anchor of Le Bourg which is a lovely and quaint seaside village. Great beach nearby. Prettiest stop in the cruise. Sea motion The one thing over which we have no control is the weather. This is a sailing ship and the Captain is reluctant to use the engine for anything other that arriving and leaving a harbour. During our first week we encountered strong winds (35 knots) and heavy seas providing a significant amount of rolling and pitching which did not bother us or most passengers but there were some who grumbled... Shore excursions Every evening a newsletter is distributed to the cabins outlining the activities of the next day. It is quite detailed and very useful but we found two minor issues with this process. First, an insert should be added with more information about the country being visited and the specific harbour/anchorage. This insert could also have a diagram of the shore installations found upon landing. This would be consistent with what cruise ships normally offer and be very useful indeed for those wishing to plan their own activities. Every morning the cruise director would give an arrival briefing on the bridge just before either docking or anchoring. Very useful but it highlights the second issue that shore excursion bookings close a minimum of 36 hours prior to arrival for valid reasons (bookings through their agent ashore). If more information were available on the ports and the excursions, better planning would enhance the visits. In a few cases we discovered information at the verbal briefing that would have enticed us to take an excursion but the bookings were already closed. We used a number of the excursions offered and found them all to be well-done and good value for money. Many passengers were content to do their own excursions or just stay on board and enjoy what the ship had to offer. Costs On board costs were consistent with industry standards. All charges are in Euros. We found the whole cruise to be good value for money. SPV Royal Clipper: A superbly romantic ship that provides a great cruise. This is a ten out of ten for sailing enthusiasts! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
First of all we had a great time and the crew was terrific. The cabins and common areas were always spotless. HOWEVER, there were four complaints that many of the passengers had that according to the crew "only management could ... Read More
First of all we had a great time and the crew was terrific. The cabins and common areas were always spotless. HOWEVER, there were four complaints that many of the passengers had that according to the crew "only management could solve." 1. Although cold water was always available on the main deck the majority also wanted ice tea. That proved to be impossible as "management" had to make all decisions regarding any beverage change. 2. In spite of the fact that were no middle eastern passengers the Arab TV channels ran constantly. The crew said that was because a large portion of the crew were from that area. The crew does not pay the bills. After a near revolt by the passengers it was turned off and we all went to the very good bar to celebrate. 3. Rabbit. The last night dinner heavily featured rabbit which few ate and most did not want at all. The answer was again "management." Otherwise the food was excellent at all times. 4. The steel band came on board for less than one hour. It was great but the answer was that we had arrived in port late and something about a customs issue. Although the passengers tried to find the ever elusive "management", he stayed well hidden. But having said that, it was a great cruise and we are going again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We selected the cruise for the Windward Islands because of the unique island ports and the character of the sailing ship. The ship was recommended by several others that had been on this ship before as well as the travel agent. There was ... Read More
We selected the cruise for the Windward Islands because of the unique island ports and the character of the sailing ship. The ship was recommended by several others that had been on this ship before as well as the travel agent. There was very simple and quick boarding as well as disembarkation. The lines are short as there are about only 225 passengers. The crew of the ship are the staff of the ship that will be working on the cruise. The cabin was adequate in size and very well appointed. There was a marble bath with stand up shower. There is only a curtain and very small half inch threshold separating the shower from the rest of the bath. It was comparable to the baths on other cruises that we have taken unless you get an upgraded cabin. The television and DVD player in the cabin was great to provide entertainment if one wanted to avoid too much sun or wanted to be alone with a partner. The public areas of this ship are nautical, but also elegant. There is much dark wood and brass colors and carpet throughout. The outside decks are very much like a working ship. There was sail repairs going on and normal upkeep maintenance all around. This was good to see and showed the concern of the crew for the ship. The dining was buffet for breakfast and lunch. As reported by others, the variety and amount of food available was sure to please everyone. There was a pasta station one lunch and a roasted pig in that location the next. There was afternoon snacks that was more like buffet meals, although with a smaller variety. The after dinner dessert buffet was a great highlight of the evening for most of the passengers. This was served upstairs in the Piano Bar and was better in my opinion than any dessert served in a dinning room on other cruises. The staff and crew could not have made us feel more welcome or gone farther to accommodate the passengers. There were enough activities on board to ensure there was no boredom, but not too much to prevent a relaxing vacation similar to a beach or sailing vacation. I would recommend this ship for anyone that is not expecting the big ship experience but is eager to meet others on the cruise and experience a sailing vessel. There is the sound of the water against the lower deck staterooms and there is more movement than large ships. This was never to a point that was excessive or obtrusive. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
INTRODUCTION My wife and I sailed on the February 18, 2006 voyage of the Star Clipper round-trip from St. Maarten. It was by far the best vacation we have experienced. This was our eighth cruise overall, but first on a Clipper ship ... Read More
INTRODUCTION My wife and I sailed on the February 18, 2006 voyage of the Star Clipper round-trip from St. Maarten. It was by far the best vacation we have experienced. This was our eighth cruise overall, but first on a Clipper ship type vessel. We have previously cruised twice each on Celebrity, Carnival and NCL, and once on Royal Caribbean. We have grown tired of the larger ships and have wanted to try a sailing cruise for some time now. After sailing on the Star Clipper, we have no desire to return to the mass market cruise ships. ARRIVAL We arrived at the pier in St. Maarten about 3:30. We were told at the pier that check-in would begin at 4:00, but it actually began about 10 minutes early. Check-in consisted of receiving our room keys and ID cards and leaving an imprint of our credit card for purchases on the ship. We were finished with the process and were walking to the ship in a few minutes. We were met as we boarded by the Cruise Director and Hotel Manager and given a complementary cold drink. Light snacks were available on deck. We were escorted to our cabin and our luggage was delivered to our room shortly after our arrival. SHIP The Star Clipper is a fabulous ship. It is a sailing vessel, not a cruise ship. The ship is very elegant and sophisticated with none of the glitz of the bigger cruise ships. There are no casinos, atriums, show lounges, elevators or rooms with a verandah. There are two bars on board, the outside Tropical Bar and the inside Piano Bar. All of the nightly entertainment occurs at the Tropical Bar. The ship has plenty of teak and mahogany wood, all varnished to a high gloss. Additionally, there is a lot of brass, which is also kept polished. The crew was working every day doing routine maintenance around the ship. The ships passenger capacity is 170, but this week there were only 94 passengers on board, along with 73 crew members. The breakdown of passengers was very international - 41 were from the United States, six from Canada, one from Costa Rica and the remaining 46 passengers were from Europe. Of the 94 passengers, 63 had previously sailed with Star Clippers. The 73 crew members were from 25 different countries. The ship never seemed crowded. It is an easy walk from one end of the ship to the other. Because of its small size, the ship can fit into ports that the larger ships cannot. The ship offered several features not found on cruise ships: passengers could climb the mast to the first level crows nest (with appropriate safety equipment) on three separate occasions during the week; we could relax on the widows netting at the bow of the ship anytime the crew was not operating the sails; there was an open bridge policy throughout the week; the crew lowered lifeboats one day during the week to give the passengers the opportunity to photograph the Star Clipper at sea under full sails; and passengers were given the opportunity to steer the ship while at sea. Each day as the sails were raised as we were leaving a port, the ship would play the Vangelis symphony, 1492: Conquest of Paradise over the sound system. The passengers would congregate on deck to watch the crew raising the sails and to listen to the music. We felt there would be a lot of free time for reading - we brought several books along with us. However, we were only able to sit and read on deck one day out of the week because there was so much to do - each day was full of activities. The sailing throughout the week was rough. We had constant winds of 25-30 knots and the sea was rough while sailing. Several passengers were ill at points during the week due to the ships movement. CABIN We booked a Category 5 room and were assigned cabin 342. The room was small, but very efficiently designed, as was the rest of the ship. The room had a raised double bed, four feet off the floor - we had to use a block of steps or a ladder to reach the bed. The bathroom had a shower, toilet, sink and a medicine cabinet with plenty of shelving for storing toiletries. The cabin had sufficient storage and closet space for the two of us. A safe with a programmable lock was located in one of the closets. There was a TV in the room, which only received one English speaking program, Euro News (similar to CNN). A DVD player was also in the room, and video disks could be borrowed from the ships collection. There was a two channel audio system in room, one channel for classical music and the second channel for popular music. Our cabin attendant was very good and efficient. Towels were exchanged each morning and evening. MEALS All meals were served in the main dining room. Like the rest of the ship, the main dining room was very elegant. Booths lined the outside walls and accommodated four persons each. Tables in the middle of the room seated either six or eight. It was very common for the ships officers, including the captain, to join a group of diners at each meal. All dining is open seating, with service between 8:00 and 10:00 for breakfast, 12:00 and 2:00 for lunch and 7:30 and 10:00 for dinner. There are no formal nights - dress for dinner is resort casual for men and women. Buffet meals were served for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, there was an assortment of cereal, yogurts, pastries and fruits, along with scrambled eggs, french toast or pancakes, bacon and potatoes. There was also an omelet station for fresh omelets each morning. Lunchtime had a nice assortment of salads, cold cuts, cheeses, homemade soups and fruit. There was also a carving station each day with either fish or meat. The breakfasts and lunches were all very good. Each day between 5:00 and 6:00, an afternoon snack would be served at the Tropical Bar. Like the breakfasts and lunches, the afternoon snack was very good. We felt it was better than the dinners. The snack would consist of finger sandwiches, fruit, a hot dish and dessert. We were disappointed in the dinners served, both in the nightly selection and quality of food. Dinner would always have a seafood entree, a vegetarian entree and the two of the following: beef, pork, lamb or chicken. I only had one dinner I would classify as very good - a grilled sea bass. Lobster Tail was served on Thursday night, which is the Captains Dinner. My wife had the lobster, and said it was good, but not great. On two of the nights, I ordered the vegetarian selection when nothing on the main menu looked promising. The beef and pork dishes were consistently under cooked. I ordered a steak one night as medium well, and it came out very rare. On a different night, my wife ordered a steak very well done, and it came out rare. Others sitting at our table had pork and lamb dishes on different nights, and they were also done very rare. Coffee, tea and fresh fruit is available 24 hours a day in the Piano Bar. An early morning breakfast of croissants and pastries is also available in the Piano Bar from 6:00 to 8:00 in the mornings. Many mornings, we would be up early and grab a croissant and our coffee and tea and sit on the deck as the ship sailed to the next stop. SERVICE The service in the main dining room and throughout the ship was outstanding. Our waiters in the dining room were very attentive and we tried to sit in the same area each day with our favorite waiters. Bar service was mainly at the bar, with no bar waiters hounding you to purchase drinks every few minutes. The guys on the sports crew were excellent. The crew that worked the sails was also very good, showing great patience as the passengers were on deck as the crew was trying to raise or lower the sails. They were also very helpful with any information that the passengers asked them for. ENTERTAINMENT As mentioned above, entertainment on this sailing was very limited. There was one entertainer on board who sang and played the keyboard during the afternoon snack period. He also played the piano in the Piano Bar during the dinner hours and served as the deejay for nighttime dancing. There was an organized entertainment activity each night at 10:00 at the Tropical Bar. One night was crab races, another night was a Best Couples contest and a crew and passenger talent show was held on another night. These activities were very entertaining, and better than a lot of cruise line entertainment. The Best Couples contest was very hilarious, and the talent show with the crew performing was very enjoyable as well. Other forms of entertainment centered around the cruise directors daily talk on the upcoming port and the captains story time. Every morning before we reached a port, the cruise director would hold a briefing on the bridge. He would explain the history of the island and places of interest to visit. He detailed what times the tenders would operate to the town or to the beach, and what time the last tender would return to the ship at the end of the day. On two of the mornings, the captain held a story time on the bridge. These sessions lasted 60-90 minutes and consisted of mainly questions from the passengers regarding the ship and sailing in general, with the captain answering the questions. ITINERARY This is not a typical cruise ship itinerary. As was pointed out to the passengers on more than one occasion: This is a sailing vacation, not a cruise. The stops are in remote islands and harbors. The focus on the stops is enjoying the nature and natural history of the islands. There is not a lot of activity going on in most of the ports. At many of the stops during the week, French was the main language and the official currency was the Euro Dollar. English was not spoken in some of the locations and the US Dollar was not universally accepted. At each stop, the ship would run two tenders, one to the town for limited shopping and to meet the shore excursions and one to the beach. For each beach stop, the crew would take a banana boat, water ski equipment, a wave board (similar to a snow board), a windsurf board, sea kayaks, and a small sailboat. All of these activities were provided with no additional charge. Snorkeling gear was also issued at the beginning of the week for use throughout the cruise, again at no additional charge. The stop on Sunday was the island of Nevis. However, all shops in town are closed on Sundays. The beach tender stopped at a nice section of the beach near the Four Seasons Hotel. The Sunshine Bar is an open-air bar located next to the Four Seasons. This bar is famous for its signature drink, the Killer Bee. The walls of the bar are adorned with photos of celebrities who have sampled a Killer Bee. On Monday the ship stopped at Deshaies in Guadeloupe. As with many of the other islands the ship visited during the week, the shops in town were closed between 12:00 and 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon. We took the tender into the town, walked around for a few minutes and returned to the ship for lunch. The afternoon was spent relaxing at the beach. On Tuesday the ship stopped at Iles des Saintes in the French Antilles. We hiked up a steep road to the fort at the top of the harbor, with great view of the island. After returning to the ship for lunch, I took the beach tender in the afternoon for some snorkeling. While sailing into Iles des Saintes, we met up with another Star Clippers ship, the Royal Clipper, and both ships sailed side-by-side for a period of time. On Wednesday, prior to arriving in Dominica, the captain arranged for the life boats to be lowered and the passengers had the opportunity to ride in the life boats and photograph the Star Clipper at sea under full sail. This event was originally scheduled for Monday afternoon, but had to be canceled on Monday due to high winds. The fact the captain rearranged the schedule to fit in the photo opportunity is another example of the great service offered during the week. The stop on Wednesday was at Cabrits National Park in Dominica. This was the only stop where we docked at a pier, versus anchoring offshore and taking a tender to shore. The park had another fort overlooking the harbor and several hiking trails. We hiked up one side and down the other, ending up at a remote stretch of rocky beach on the other side of the island. After lunch, we sat on deck and read, as the ship left the dock at 3:00. The Thursday stop in Antigua was at Falmouth Harbour in Antigua. The large cruise ships that visit Antigua stop in the countrys capital, St. Johns, on the other side of the island. Nelsons Dockyard, home of the British Navy during the battles for supremacy of the Caribbean, is located at Falmouth Harbour. The beach visit today was very nice. The ships crew set up a barbecue on the beach and offered grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, fish and ribs for lunch. There was also good snorkeling at this beach. The final stop on Friday was at Gustavia in St. Barthelemy (also referred to as St. Barth or St. Barts), a very exclusive and wealthy island. Many large private yachts and sailboats were at the dock or anchored just offshore. There are many shops and restaurants surrounding the harbor. This was the only day the ship did not offer a beach tender. We were able to walk to Shell Beach, which was about a 10 or 15 minute walk from the dock where the tender stopped. It is a very nice beach, with plenty of shade and a small bar and restaurant. In the evening, we took the tender back into town for a little shopping and a drink at a harbor front restaurant. SUMMARY Despite our disappointment with the dinner food and the ships constant rolling movement, this was a fabulous vacation, and we would definitely love to take another Star Clippers cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
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