With so many modern cruise ship experiences on offer these days, why would you turn back the clock and aim to produce a 21st century version of a vessel that Thomas Cook would recognize or take the lead from that famous BBC serial “The Onedin Line”? At Star Clippers, the desire is to be able to offer the romance of sailing to guests who may never have experienced it or those that know only too well what a feeling it has and are happy to be able to enjoy it without the need to cook or man the rigging!
We joined the Royal Clipper whilst it was visiting Kotor on its voyage from Venice and back to Rome via the highlights of the Adriatic. We took the tender from the quay and took around 5 minutes to return to the ship. The 220 maximum guests that the ship holds enjoy being able to get closer to the best sights that’s for sure. The entrance to Kotor harbour is right next to the old town. In Dubrovnik, the Royal Clipper was the only ship which could be seen from the historic unesco awarded old town due to its smaller size. With a draught of only 5.3m, guests can tender straight into the medieval icon. The MSC clients were over 45 minutes away and then had to take a shuttle bus. Unlucky! Old world beats modern.
With 5 masts and 42 sails it has the Guinness world record for the worlds largest sailing ship. The certificate is on the wall. Within the body of the ship are nooks and crannies designed for the care free life at sea. A library with Chesterfield leather sofas and port holes and a table with incomplete jigsaws. The main bar is open on both sides with the breeze blowing through in the most refreshing way. So much so, an area of smoking is allowed. The dark wood and open area is where the evenings low key entertainment takes place. Resident pianist Emile Pandolfi plays in the piano bar which has classically styled chairs and brass. A lovely place to have an after dinner drink.
Michelin Star Dining Experience onboard the Royal Clipper
Go down a level again and you will enter the restaurant which serves buffet breakfast and lunch. And then in the evening there is the 3 star Michelin inspired formal dining experience from consultant chef Jean Marie Meulien which included Veal Parmigiana, creamy snail soup and wild mushroom risotto with sautéed chicken liver. The recommended bottles of wine are Mouton Cadet and Marlborough Valley are offered for €25 and €30, a reasonable price. Dinner starts from 7.30 and continues to around 9pm. Free seating is used and if the ship isn’t full then tables of 2 can be accommodated. But the idea is to intermingle and the various nationalities do usually encompass American, Australian, British, Italian, German. With the bar hours, then it is open all day and dependent on the nationalities on board stays open to around midnight or 1am most nights. People are relaxed and enjoying their sailing experience and drinks are purchased on a drink by drink basis or on a package.
The cabins on the ship are cosy unless you are in the owners suites but fit the feel of the ship. Category 1 features doors opening onto an outside deck area and the deluxe suites offer a veranda area, all cabins of this type are on the main deck, the next deck down below the sun deck.
For those that like the trappings of cruise life there is an adorable spa which is below water level, called captain nemo’s spa. And there are a few unique treats such as the full marbled hamam which is free to use. And a massage which involves tiger-striped clams from the Philippines which are then sanded and polished and warmed to be used in in either a full full Philippine Spa Ritual at 2 hrs 15 or a massage only.
The sun (upper) deck is however the place to know that you have come to the right holiday for you. The 5 masts and rigging tower over the beautiful vessel and the opportunity is there for every guest to host a sail at least once on a cruise. The lone is also there to be able to climb to the lower level on a mast and higher for those that can stand the height. For any guest that really wants to learn aboUt sailing the crew will put them to work and each cruise has at least one day at sea so who could resist.
So, moving along the deck there are 3 pools for relaxing and many shady and non shady areas for sun loungers. There are advantage points for feeling you are off the side of the ship and great for photo opportunities as well as more nooks and crannies in which to hide. This is not a ship for small children due to ropes and metal and all the trappings of a working vessel.
However, I would recommend it as an adventure on the high seas for teenagers and twenty something’s. Climbing the masts and sun bathing in the rigging is pretty cool. And water sports take place off the back of the ship so kayaking and snorkelling opportunities are plentiful and the joy of jumping in from height. There are no kids clubs or much of an Internet connection but the crew perform a show each sailing which guests are able to join.
A Perfect Holiday for Teenagers on the Royal Clipper
Perhaps a young guitarist could be encouraged or a singer, dancer or actor to join in the fun. Let them discover their inner selves through inventiveness and then post that on facebook. Who wouldn’t envy them their life as a pirate? Find them a voyage during school holidays with other teenagers on and new friends can be discovered as well as new places. Is there really a teenager who will turn down a sailing holiday to the Caribbean even if it is with mum and dad? And for 2017 they are returning to Thailand and Indonesia. And Grandma and Grandad you will feel at home too. With short tenders to port on the days you would like to explore and shady areas to hide on board when you just fancy feeling the breeze with a book in hand whilst the family explore, or hold regular nautical conversations with the crew. A stroll on deck to help the sumptuous six course dinner settle and then to Finish the day with star gazing from the bridge for all generations in an uninterrupted clear night sky and there is a holiday for all generations on board the Royal Clipper’s bygone romantic era of sail.
Star Clipper voyages are available all year round covering Europe, the Caribbean and the Far East. To watch a little video about the Star Clippers and learn more click here:
Alex & Simeon