Royal Clipper 10/12/13
J Straw | April 15, 2019 | Star Clippers | Royal Clipper
Seeing Royal Clipper in Falmouth Harbour in Antigua was a sight to behold. With its five masts this magnificent sailing ship drew lots of attention from passengers boarding the big white cruise ships. Royal Clipper immediately gave you the impression you were embarking on a truly seafaring experience. The first glimpse was exciting and gave you a real sense of adventure awaiting you. The sun deck too me by surprise. Ignorantly I was expecting a wide open space but instead there was a vast array of sailing ship paraphernalia that was constantly being used which was quite a spectacle. On leaving port everyone gathered on this deck to the sound Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis as the 42 sails were unfurled which was truly amazing. This deck not only allowed you a little cramped sun bathing space, but it also allowed you to climb the rigging if you were brave or step into the bow nets and watch the sea pass underneath you. A deck below offered a small bar area which doubled as the open restaurant for afternoon tea. This covered area was also the main focal point for gathering after dinner to listen to a duo on keyboard and singing or seeing the ship??s crew star in their own show which was rather amateurish but amusing. A small bar inside was never used whilst I was on board and is likely to be the ??back up?? in bad weather.
A surprisingly large gym and spa was also on the lower deck, but I did not have the time to enjoy these facilities to be able to comment on how good they were. Away from the ship Star Clipper provided sailing, snorkel hire, and other water activities. When the ship anchored off port these facilities were brought to the beach for you to enjoy.
Seeing Royal Clipper anchored off port or in port made you feel proud to be a passenger and that feeling doesn??t go away. It was clear that the on board facilities are very limited, but you have to stop and realise that this is all about the sailing experience and not a cruise experience.
The food was a little disappointing. Breakfast was the same buffet each day with usual hot and cold choices and eggs cooked to your liking. Lunch inside the dining room offered the occasional variation such as Chinese buffet, followed by afternoon tea on deck which was a limited supply of sandwiches and cakes which once they were gone were not replenished. The evening meal was rather bland but edible and each night saw a slight variation. This is not a ship that sees you piling on the pounds!
My overall experience was marred a little by how much the ship moved. Of my seven travelling companions, only half of us managed to make it to dinner for 3 out of the 5 nights. The ship really moves from the minute you set sail and if you don??t get your sea legs early then it could really spoil it for you. Surprisingly the dining room was full, apart from our table, as clearly these ex seafaring passengers were well used to high seas.
The clientele is mixed European/American and an average age of 50 with most having had a sailing background. As they do not cater for children it would only be suited to singles, couples and small groups. A senior passenger could struggle with obstacles on the open decks, high steps on entering parts of the ship and the steep steps to the inside. Single passengers would find companions as you are seated on large mixed tables and with only one bar on board being used at any one time, it is easy to meet other passengers.
There are no frills to this cruise; it is a sailing ship not a cruise ship, just a truly amazing sailing experience. This is a holiday where you experience the ship being prepared to navigate around the ports by staff that are not there to serve you but transport you. A very casual holiday, no dressing up and very limited amenities on board. There was no check in desk, you board the ship and are handed you cabin card by the staff member at the top of the gangway, very quick and easy. The cabin was like no other I have experienced. You have to understand that they are only offering you yacht type comforts. Basic but adequate facilities and not a great deal of room to move around in. I had a twin cabin for single occupancy and would have struggled with someone else with me. The bed is very small for two people. Other grades of cabin offer more space and some cabins have a small balcony. Cabin steward did not introduce themselves and didn??t appear whilst I was there. Annoyingly my toilet did not work so I had to report this daily, there was no sense of urgency to resolve the problem.
VERY limited entertainment but this is not what you sail with Star Clippers for. Evenings are more of a social gathering than anything and the small bar area allows you to join fellow guests for a drink and background music. Tipping is at your own discretions, they suggest EU8 per person, per day and you leave an envelope at reception. Reception not manned all the time though and you have to find someone to help.
40 years of cruising experience has given me much the same type of holiday, eating, drinking, tours, all from 4/5 star comforts of a large ship. This holiday allowed me to sample something totally different and made a refreshing change.
This is a sailing ship that can weather any storm so sea conditions are not a deterrent, although you do experience movement. The Caribbean Islands are perfect for visiting from this unique vessel.
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