I had never been on a cruise before having always been put off those floating blocks of flats with x thousand passengers but I was drawn to Star Clippers ship “Royal Clipper” by the fact that it was accompanied by a celebrity chef – Aldo Zilli – and also that it was a chance to experience a voyage on the largest sailing ship in the world carrying only 200 passengers.
I wasn’t disappointed in any way. The crew are a mixture of various nationalities from the Estonian captain to the mainly Indian deck crew and the Filipino restaurant staff. The Cruise Director, Steffi, and the Hotel Manager, Anita, were frighteningly efficient and nothing was too much trouble for them.
The cabins are on the small side. Lots of varnished wood as you’d expect but comfortable with plenty of hot water. There are some luxury cabins with balconies but I gather they carry quite a hefty supplement. We were in 115 on the lower deck and for the time we actually spent in the cabin, I wouldn’t have thought it worth paying for an upgrade. The plug sockets are 2 pin European.
The dining room has an open dining policy. If you want to sit alone, the Manager can usually arrange it but we enjoyed sitting with different people every evening and met some very interesting folk from the US, Canada and Germany. Most of the passengers when we went were British attracted by the celebrity chef! There are no fixed sittings; dress code is informal except that men are asked to wear trousers not shorts in the evening. Wine is very reasonably priced from house type wines at around €15 to really good wines at around €40.
The food was excellent and served in reasonably sized portions. None of the usual cruise ship gluttony! Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style and there are light afternoon and midnight snacks if you have room for them!
Bar prices are reasonable too. A hand poured G&T (no measures !) was €5.50 and a decent glass of wine just €3.50. No service charge added either. Payment is by room card with an invoice presented before disembarkation.
Wi-fi is available at €6 per hour or €18 for four hours. It works well in the public areas and you don’t have to use all your time at once. When you login it tells you how many minutes you have left to use.
Our cruise went from Rome back to Rome, stopping at Ponza/Palmarola, Sorrento, Amalfi, Giardini Naxos (for Taormina Sicily) and finally Lipari. I enjoyed being able to visit the smaller islands which always seem to feature in glossy travel supplements but are never offered by mainstream tour operators.
On board there isn’t really a lot to do. Most of the action centres around the Tropical Bar where there is occasional informal entertainment. There are two pools on the sun deck with an adequate number of sun beds. If you want glitzy shows and bingo this isn’t the ship for you.
Gratuities are recommended at €8 per person per day and can be added to your account or left in an envelope at the Purser’s office.
Would we go again? Most definitely. In fact we’re going on the smaller Star Clipper later this summer from Bali with a visit to the Komodo dragons!