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Star Clippers: Royal Clipper

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Royal Clipper Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

The exhilaration of being propelled by the elements; to call at lots of relatively untouristed ports.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Great food; a casino; glitzy entertainment; formal dining; large cabins; to bring their children.

Tipping

The ship speaks not of dollars, but of euros. A tip of 8 Euros per passenger per day is suggested - 5 for the wait staff pool, 3 for your cabin steward. Tips may be placed in a box at the purser's office or added to your onboard account. A 12.5 percent tip is automatically added to bar bills.

Cabins

The 114 cabins in eight categories attractively juxtapose wood paneling, off-white walls, marine blue carpeting, bedspreads with nautical flags, and brass fixtures, all of which combine to say: nautical. A hair dryer, safe and standard toiletries are supplied in all categories. Cabins are equipped with 220-volt outlets, plus a 110-volt shaver outlet. Bring a converter for use with U.S. appliances.

Each of the two 320-square foot Owner's Suites has it own separate sitting area and free minibar. The 14 Deluxe verandah suites, the first on a sailing craft, measure 255 square feet. Two 175-square foot cabins behind the library have no designated balcony space, but the cabin doors do open onto the deck, and there's a whirlpool tub/shower in the bathroom, as well as a minibar and bathrobes.

Fitness/Spa

The spa, beauty salon and gym share the Captain Nemo Lounge's underwater setting. The gym offers four treadmills, five exercycles (three types) and six weight machines. Spa treatments include a 60-minute relaxation or Thai massage, for 62 Euros. Use of the sauna is by appointment, and costs 3 Euros per day. The facilities are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some passengers apparently believe that walking up and down stairs (there's no passenger elevator) a couple of times a day is all the exercise they need.

Of the three fresh water pools on the teak Sun Deck, two are only knee-deep, and the water's unheated. The third pool - the glass-bottom one above the dining room - is about four feet deep and just about big enough for a cooling dip.

On port days, a marina platform is sometimes lowered from the stern, and passengers frolic on and with a sunfish, a banana boat, water skis, windsurfs and kayaks. Snorkeling gear must be used at the beach, as swimming off the platform is forbidden.

The ship's most unusual and exhilarating exercise is supervised mast-climbing, which takes place several times a cruise unless the weather's dreadful. Those who don't like heights can climb out in the bow netting while the ship is under sail.

Children's Facilities

There are no children's programs, counsellors, or kid's menus, and few youngsters sail aboard Royal Clipper. Neither cribs nor formula is available. Pregnant women in their third trimester are not allowed aboard.

Attire

Shorts and T-shirts are banned from the dining room at night, when men are encouraged to wear long-sleeved shirts for dinner, but most wear polo shirts, while their better halves favor slacks or casual dresses. At all other times, anyone seen in anything other than shorts and a T-shirt is frowned at censoriously.

Onboard Experience

The largest square-rigged sailing ship in the world, Royal Clipper offers a blend of older lines Windjammers' ultra-casual and Windstar's more upscale onboard atmosphere, and is popular with international passengers who find it exhilarating beyond their ability to describe the sight of 42 sails unfurling consecutively to symphonic accompaniment.

Royal Clipper has no elevator and no cabins designed for the handicapped. Except during trans-ocean crossings, there's no doctor aboard, but only a nurse, who also waits tables.

Public Rooms

The ship's ever-lively epicentre is the Tropical Bar on Main Deck, presided over by a surly green parrot called Murphy. Evening entertainment is presented here, right on the teak deck. Next door, the Piano Bar, complete with a white baby grand, opens to the three-deck-high atrium, a rarity for a sailing ship. Aft of the Tropical Bar is the comfortable, air-conditioned library. There's also a seldom-used Observation Lounge forward of the Deluxe balcony suites.

In the cool, quiet, under-used Captain Nemo Lounge, which shares space with the gym and spa, you can observe marine life through thick portholes while relaxing on a comfortable sofa. Despite the gym equipment, the brass, wood, and leather give the lounge a nautical flavor. There is no bar service.

Cuisine

Fill up at breakfast, a lavish, usually delicious buffet. At dinner, you may well find the food either a bit heavy, or inexpertly prepared, or both. There are frequent on-deck barbecues at lunchtime.

Restaurants

The Clipper Dining Room is the ship's most beautiful room. The central ceiling, three decks overhead, is actually the glass bottom of one of the dipping pools. Tables of assorted shapes and sizes seat two, four, six or eight.

Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, with an omelet station in the morning and a fresh pasta or stir-fry for lunch. Dinners are a la carte, with open seating; as there are commonly multiple nationalities aboard, be certain to ask to be seated with English-speakers - assuming, of course, that you're neither reclusive nor misanthropic. The dishes on the menu are displayed each evening in the Piano Bar, allowing you to see what you're getting yourself into. Room service is offered only to guests in the two Owners and 14 Deluxe Suites.

Service

Service is best described as friendly, as crew members often do double duty as waiters, nurse, and whatever else may be required. Meals are the times when you get to talk to them the most as they wait on your table and visit at the same time. Very much a "family" kind of atmosphere.

Entertainment

Want traditional cruise line production numbers? Sail with someone else. Here you'll make do with crab races, passenger talent shows, and local guest performers in the Tropical or Piano Bar. Most passengers agree that the best show onboard is sailaway.




Ship Overview

Royal Clipper spends the winter season sailing weekly from Bridgetown, Barbados on itineraries that include the Grenadines and Windward Islands of the Caribbean. After repositioning to Europe in the spring, she sails a variety of summer voyages ranging from Spain to Croatia in the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Royal Clipper is the first five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship built since 1902. As the largest true sailing clipper ship in the world today, she carries 42 sails with a total area of 56,000 square feet.

Unusual for a sailing ship, a three-deck atrium graces the heart of the vessel.

Her interior is decorated in Edwardian-era style with abundant gleaming wood, brass fixtures, and nautical touches. Light filters into the piano bar, three-deck-high atrium, and dining room through the glass bottom and portholes of the main swimming pool located overhead.

The rarely used Observation Lounge is forward of the Deluxe suites and affords great sea views. It is also the location of the computer station for all Internet access.

In 1991, Star Clippers unveiled a new tall-ship alternative to sophisticated travelers whose desires include having an adventure at sea but not on board a conventional cruise ship. Star Clippers vessels are four- and five-masted sailing beauties—the world's largest barkentine and full-rigged sailing ships. Filled with modern, high-tech equipment as well as the amenities of private yachts, the ships rely on sail power while at sea unless conditions require the assistance of the engines. Minimal heeling, usually less than 6%, is achieved through judicious control of the sails.

A boyhood dream became a cruise-line reality when Swedish entrepreneur Mikael Krafft launched his fleet of authentic recreations of classic 19th-century clipper ships. The day officially begins when the captain holds an informative daily briefing on deck with a bit of storytelling tossed in.

The lack of rigid scheduling is one of Star Clippers' most appealing attractions. The bridge is always open, and passengers are welcome to peer over the captain's shoulder as he plots the ship's course. Crew members are happy to demonstrate how to splice a line, reef a sail, or tie a proper knot.

As attractive as the ships' interiors are, the focal point of Star Clippers cruises is the outdoors. Plan to spend a lot of time on deck soaking in the sun, sea, and sky. It doesn't get any better than that. Consider also that each ship has at least two swimming pools. Granted, they are tiny, but they are a refreshing feature uncommon on true sailing ships and all but the most lavish yachts.

Although the Star Clippers ships are motorized, their engines are shut down whenever crews unfurl the sails (36,000 square feet on Star Clipper and Star Flyer, and 56,000 square feet on Royal Clipper) to capture the wind. On a typical cruise, the ships rely exclusively on sail power any time favorable conditions prevail.

As the haunting strains of Vangelis's symphony "1492: Conquest of Paradise" are piped over the PA system and the first of the sails is unfurled, the only thing you'll hear on deck is the sound of the music and the calls of the line handlers until every sail is in place. While the feeling of the wind powering large ships through the water is spine-tingling, you will miss the wondrous sight of your ship under sail unless the captain can schedule a photo opportunity utilizing one of the tenders. It's one of the most memorable sights you'll see if this opportunity avails itself. However, when necessary, the ships will cruise under motor power to meet the requirements of their itineraries.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • The feeling of the wind moving this large vessel through the water is spine-tingling
  • You won’t miss the glorious sight of Royal Clipper underway when the captain schedules a photo op via the tenders
  • The library is a cozy place to read and offers a good selection of books

Cons

  • In Category 3 cabins near the bow, you'll notice a definite slant to the floor
  • You may also feel a bit more motion forward than aft, and be aware that creaking sounds are common on sailing ships
  • Tall passengers will find it difficult to use the treadmills in the low-ceilinged gym
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 106
  • Entered Service 2000
  • Gross Tons 5,000
  • Length 439 feet
  • Number of Cabins 114
  • Passenger Capacity 227
  • Width 54 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jan 2, 2017

Review of Royal Clipper

Heather Farmer Age: 59 Occupation:Educational support worker Number of Cruises: 3 Cruise Line: Star Clipper Ship: Royal Clipper Sailing Date: 2014-01-25 Itinerary: Grenadines Wonderful experience, so different from the large cruise ships. Just magical. The food was very good. There was plenty of it and there was afternoon tea and midnight snacks also. Fresh fruit, tea and coffee was always available to help yourself. A little on the small side,

but very comfortable and there was enough storage hidden away. The shower only has a small lip on it, so if you are at sea the water tends to slosh around. Mast climbing, knot tying, water sports were all available and you could steer the ship or help raise the sails. It was great, and very different. I can't stop thinking about my wonderful holiday aboard the Royal Clipper in the Grenadines. I have traveled a lot, but this ranks as one of the best holidays ever. The ship is beautiful with its mahogany and brass, and the cabins are comfortable, if a little small, with enough storage for everything we took. The only thing I would advise is to shower when the ship is in port, otherwise water sloshes everywhere if you are at sea. The entertainment was good...this is not like the entertainment on the big cruise ships, it is very much in-house with audience participation. A steel band came onboard one night and provided excellent entertainment. The resident singer and musician were very good, providing a range of music, and there was dancing every evening, (not always easy when the sea got a bit choppy). One night there was a quiz with a bottle of champagne as the prize. The talent show was great, with crew members showing us what they could do the highlight being the puppet show, which was hilarious, I haven't laughed so much in years. I think I could sum it up as luxury with fun. The food was very good, I have no complaints. The waiters were lovely and so helpful, in fact all the crew were great. Steve, the hotel manager, and Tanje, the Cruise Director, were particularly accommodating to all our requests, and Prabhakar, the bosun, giving us a lesson on knot tying was lovely. With only 188 passengers on board it was easy to get to know other people very quickly, and this added to the fun of the holiday. The sail away from every port was always special. Standing on the bridge watching the sails unfurl and flap in the wind to the sound of Conquest of Paradise music was just magical. This cruise is about the beautiful ship as much as everything else.

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Feb 8, 2014

Grenadines

Wonderful experience, so different from the large cruise ships. Just magical. The food was very good. There was plenty of it and there was afternoon tea and midnight snacks also. Fresh fruit, tea and coffee was always available to help yourself. A little on the small side, but very comfortable and there was enough storage hidden away. The shower only has a small lip on it, so if you are at sea the water tends to slosh around.

Mast climbing, knot tying, water sports were all available and you could steer the ship or help raise the sails. It was great, and very different. I can't stop thinking about my wonderful holiday aboard the Royal Clipper in the Grenadines. I have traveled a lot, but this ranks as one of the best holidays ever. The ship is beautiful with its mahogany and brass, and the cabins are comfortable, if a little small, with enough storage for everything we took. The only thing I would advise is to shower when the ship is in port, otherwise water sloshes everywhere if you are at sea. The entertainment was good...this is not like the entertainment on the big cruise ships, it is very much in-house with audience participation. A steel band came onboard one night and provided excellent entertainment. The resident singer and musician were very good, providing a range of music, and there was dancing every evening, (not always easy when the sea got a bit choppy). One night there was a quiz with a bottle of champagne as the prize. The talent show was great, with crew members showing us what they could do the highlight being the puppet show, which was hilarious, I haven't laughed so much in years. I think I could sum it up as luxury with fun. The food was very good, I have no complaints. The waiters were lovely and so helpful, in fact all the crew were great. Steve, the hotel manager, and Tanje, the Cruise Director, were particularly accommodating to all our requests, and Prabhakar, the bosun, giving us a lesson on knot tying was lovely. With only 188 passengers on board it was easy to get to know other people very quickly, and this added to the fun of the holiday. The sail away from every port was always special. Standing on the bridge watching the sails unfurl and flap in the wind to the sound of Conquest of Paradise music was just magical. This cruise is about the beautiful ship as much as everything else.

Read More
  • New

Jan 5, 2013

Windward Islands

A proper Tall Ship, sail away was an experience every time. Cabins small but well appointed and super service all the way through. Royal Clipper can anchor where the big monsters cannot so definitely a plus. We do not have a family and do not think that kids would feel good on board, they would just be bored to tears. There were none and I would definitely not advise families to chose this ship. Food was way below expectations that was the only downside

really. Otherwise you just have to be aware that this ship - while the biggest sailing ship in the world - still is comparatively small. It MOVES all the time and if there are waves you will notice even though she really was remarkably stable. but sailing at night if you are not used to it caused some sleeplessness for me. Never mind it was worth the experience! Not much sorry. This was definitely not the three star influenced cuisine that was promised and the BBQ on the beach - while a great idea was substandard with cold meat, inedible sausages etc. Fine. Not big but we knew that it works and there are lots of drawers so nothing is lying around. Decor works with this type of ship I do not care much for pirate evenings and fashion shows or talent nights but they made an effort and others enjoyed it. If you want razzmatazz and slot machines you are definitely on the wrong ship. It is all more family style which is good. All excursions were really good but as usual very rushed. Never mind - visit the Botanical Gardens on Martinique, go hiking on Grenada and enjoy the volcano on St. Lucia - it all was worth it. First time ever on such a small sailing vessel - loved it but will definitely bring seasickness plasters next time. Not that we were seasick - just to help with the motion and to stop worrying about getting seasick....And be aware that at Christmas time in the Caribbean there is something called the Christmas Winds... But all the snorkeling and experience of small secluded islands which you do not get to with any of these floating hotels is worth the experience!!!

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  • New

Jan 5, 2013

Windward Islands

A proper Tall Ship, sail away was an experience every time. Cabins small but well appointed and super service all the way through. Royal Clipper can anchor where the big monsters cannot so definitely a plus. We do not have a family and do not think that kids would feel good on board, they would just be bored to tears. There were none and I would definitely not advise families to chose this ship. Food was way below expectations that was the only downside

really. Otherwise you just have to be aware that this ship - while the biggest sailing ship in the world - still is comparatively small. It MOVES all the time and if there are waves you will notice even though she really was remarkably stable. but sailing at night if you are not used to it caused some sleeplessness for me. Never mind it was worth the experience! Not much sorry. This was definitely not the three star influenced cuisine that was promised and the BBQ on the beach - while a great idea was substandard with cold meat, inedible sausages etc. Fine. Not big but we knew that it works and there are lots of drawers so nothing is lying around. Decor works with this type of ship I do not care much for pirate evenings and fashion shows or talent nights but they made an effort and others enjoyed it. If you want razzmatazz and slot machines you are definitely on the wrong ship. It is all more family style which is good. All excursions were really good but as usual very rushed. Never mind - visit the Botanical Gardens on Martinique, go hiking on Grenada and enjoy the volcano on St. Lucia - it all was worth it. First time ever on such a small sailing vessel - loved it but will definitely bring seasickness plasters next time. Not that we were seasick - just to help with the motion and to stop worrying about getting seasick....And be aware that at Christmas time in the Caribbean there is something called the Christmas Winds... But all the snorkeling and experience of small secluded islands which you do not get to with any of these floating hotels is worth the experience!!!

Read More
  • New

Apr 29, 2012

Leeward Islands

Wow what a great vacation! The Star Clipper Line's flagship the Royal Clipper is a real gem. As a sailor I had wanted to sail on this 5 masted full rigged ship for many year. We took the Royal Clipper the first week of April in 2012. We started in Barbados and hit all the Leeward Islands during the week. The staff was great., our cabin was super, the food was first class and the experience was to remember for a lifetime. I can't wait to

go back on another cruise on the Star Clipper Line. I would highly recommend any vacation on the Star Clipper's line. As a sailor I really had a blast with all the 55,000 sq. ft. of sails. This boat really sails. On most of the trip we sailed and didn't motor. Even though the boat has twin 16 cylinder motors it was fun to see the crew actually sail the boat whenever possible. We found out that the boat actually sails faster than it motors when the wind is off the quarter. Climbing the mast, great excursions, small harbors and bays, all contribute to the unique experience on the Royal Clipper. We loved the casual dining experience. No set tables, we made loads of friends and enjoyed a varied and well thought out menu each day. Our class three stateroom was fine and what we expected on a sailing ship. Not huge but large enough for the two of us. The Class two staterooms are just slightly larger. All are well decorated, with wood paneling and marble bathrooms. Our A/C was very good and kept us cool every night. Very low key. This is not a boat for kids and we didn't miss our grown ones either. The most exciting part of each day was departing a harbor, un-furling the sails and sailing off to our next destination. We got to climb the mast, go out on the bowsprit, take the helm and we also enjoyed the pools to cool off. Since there are only 200+ guests we got to know a bunch of really nice people from around the world. Several of the excursions were fun, especially the Bar-B-Q set up on the beach. We also enjoyed taking part in a yacht race where the US slammed the German team! The van tour around St. Kitts was very interesting.

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