Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 401 out of 500
Accommodation: 157 out of 200
Food: 288 out of 400
Service: 296 out of 400
Entertainment: 80 out of 100
Cruise: 312 out of 400
Overall Score: 1534 out of 2000
Royal Clipper Statistics
Size: Boutique Ship
Cruise Line: Star Clippers
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 8712178
Builder: De Merwede (Holland)
Original Cost: $75 million
Entered Service: Oct 2000
Length (ft/m): 439.6/134.0
Beam (ft/m): 54.1/16.5
Draft (ft/m): 18.5/5.6
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (3,700kW)/1
Passenger Decks: 5
Total Crew: 106
Passengers (lower beds): 228
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 22.1
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.1
Cabins (total): 114
Size Range (sq ft/m): 100.0-320.0/9.3-29.7
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 14
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 0
Wheelchair accessibility: None
Cabin Current: 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): No
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 0
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
This is the ultimate tall ship, and exudes character and charm
Overview. Royal Clipper best suits couples and singles who would probably never even consider a ‘normal’ cruise ship, but who enjoy sailing and the thrill of ocean and wind, but want a package that includes accommodation, food, like-minded companions, and interesting destinations, and don’t want the bother of owning or chartering their own yacht. This is the bee’s knees.
The Ship. The culmination of an owner’s childhood dream, Royal Clipper is a stunning sight under sail. It’s the world’s largest true fully rigged sailing ship - it has five masts - and is a logical addition to the company’s two other, smaller, four-mast sail-cruise ships (Star Clipper and Star Flyer).
Royal Clipper’s design is based on the only other five-masted sailing ship to be built, the 1902-built German tall ship Preussen, and has approximately the same dimensions, albeit 46ft (14m) shorter.
The construction time for this ship was remarkably short, owing to the fact that its hull had been almost completed (at Gdansk shipyard, Poland) for another owner but became available to Star Clippers for completion and fitting out. The ship is instantly recognizable due to its geometric blue and white hull markings. Power winches, as well as hand winches, are employed in deck fittings, as well as a mix of horizontal furling for the square sails and hydraulic power assist to roll the square sails along the yardarm. The sail handling system, designed by the ship’s owner, Mikael Krafft, is such that it can quickly be converted from a full rigger to a schooner.
Its masts reach as high as 197ft (60m) above the waterline - the top 19ft (5.8m) can be hinged over 90° to clear bridges, cable lines, and other port-based obstacles. Watching the sailors manipulate ropes, rigging, and sails is like watching a ballet - the precision and cohesion of a group of men who make it all look so simple.
As a passenger, you are allowed to climb to special lookout points aloft. Passengers are also allowed on the bridge at any time - but not in the galley or engine room.
The ship has a large amount of open deck space and sunning space - something most tall ships lack - although, naturally, this is laid with rigging ropes. A marina platform can be lowered at the stern, from where you can use the surfboards, sailing dinghies, take a ride on the ship’s own banana boat, or go waterskiing or swimming. Snorkeling gear is available free, but there is a charge for scuba gear. You will be asked to sign a waiver if you use the water-sports equipment.
Inside, a midships atrium three decks high sits under one of the ship’s three swimming pools, and sunlight streams down through a piano lounge on the uppermost level inside the ship and into the lower level dining room. A forward observation lounge is a real plus - it’s connected to the piano lounge via a central corridor. An Edwardian library/card room includes a Belle Epoque fireplace. A lounge, the Captain Nemo Club, is where you can observe fish and sea life when the ship is at anchor, through thick glass portholes; it’s floodlit from underneath at night to attract the fish.
This spectacular sailing ship operates cruises in the Grenadines and Lower Windward Islands of the Caribbean during the winter and Mediterranean cruises during the summer. Officers navigate using both traditional (sextant) and contemporary methods (advanced electronic positioning system).
Being a tall ship with true sailing traditions, there is, naturally, a parrot (sometimes kept in a large, gilded cage, but often seen around the ship on someone’s shoulder), which is part of the crew, as aboard all Star Clippers’ ships. The ambience is extremely relaxed, friendly and unpretentious. The dress code is always casual (shorts and casual tops are the order of the day - yachting wear), with no ties needed ever.
The suites and cabins are, in general, smaller than aboard Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II. I do not include the Windstar Cruises ships (Wind Spirit, Wind Star, Wind Surf), because they cannot be considered tall ships. Royal Clipper, however, is exactly that - a real, working, wind-and-sails-in-your-face tall ship with a highly personable captain and crew that welcome you as if you were part of the team.
This vessel is not for the physically impaired, or for children. The steps of the internal stairs are steep, as in most sailing vessels. Any gratuities you give are pooled and divided among all crew members. What gives the ship a little extra in the scoring department is the fact that many water sports are included in the price of a cruise.
Accommodation. There are several accommodation grades, priced according to size, type and location: Owner’s Suites (2), Deluxe Suites (14), and categories 1-6. All have polished wood-trimmed cabinetry and wall-to-wall carpeting, personal safe, full-length mirror, small TV set with audio channels and 24-hour text-based news, and private bathroom. All have twin beds (86 of which convert into a queen-size bed, while 28 are fixed queen-size beds that cannot be separated), hairdryer, and satellite-linked telephone. The six interior cabins and a handful of other cabins have a permanently fixed double bed.
Most cabins have a privacy curtain, so that you cannot be seen from the hallway when the cabin attendant opens the door - useful if you’re undressed. Additionally, 27 cabins can sleep three.
The two Owner’s Suites, located aft, provide the most lavish accommodation, and have one queen-size bed and one double bed, a living area with semi-circular sofa, large vanity desk, minibar/refrigerator, marble-clad bathroom with whirlpool bathtub, plus one guest bathroom, and butler service. They have an interconnecting door, so that a combined super-suite can sleep eight.
The 14 ‘Deck Suites’ have interesting names: Ariel, Cutty Sark, Doriana, Eagle Wing, Flying Cloud, France, Golden Gate, Gloria, Great Republic, Passat, Pommern, Preussen, and Thermopylae. However, they are not actually suites, as the sleeping area can’t be separated from the lounge - they are simply larger cabins with a nicer interior, more storage space, and a larger bathroom. Each has two lower beds convertible to a queen-size, small lounge area, minibar/refrigerator, writing desk, small private balcony, and marble-clad bathroom with combination whirlpool tub/shower, washbasin, and toilet. The door to the balcony can be opened so that fresh air floods the room; note that there is a 12in (30cm) threshold to step over. There are no curtains, only roll-down shades for the windows and balcony door. The balcony itself typically has two white chairs and drinks table. The balconies are not particularly private, and most have ship’s tenders or Zodiacs overhanging them, or some rigging obscuring the views.
Two other name cabins (Lord Nelson and Marco Polo - designated as Category 1 cabins) are located aft, but do not have private balconies, although the facilities are similar.
The interior cabins and the lowest grades of outside-view cabins are extremely small and tight, with very little room to move around the beds. So take only the minimum amount of clothing and luggage. When in cabins where beds are linked together to form a double bed, you need to clamber up over the front of the bed, as both sides have built-in storm barriers (this applies in inclement weather conditions only).
There is a small room service menu (all items cost extra).
Dining. The Dining Room is on several connecting levels (getting used to the steps is not easy), and seats all passengers at one seating under a three-deck-high atrium dome. You can sit with anyone you wish at tables for four to 10. However, it is noisy, due to the positioning of numerous waiter stations. Some tables are badly positioned so that correct waiter service is impossible, and much reaching over has to be done in order to serve everyone.
One corner can be closed off for private parties. Breakfasts and lunches are self-serve buffets, while dinner is a sit-down affair with table service, although the ambience is always friendly and lighthearted. The wine list consists of very young wines, and prices are quite high. The cuisine, although perfectly acceptable, is certainly nothing to write home about.
Entertainment. There are no shows, nor are any expected by passengers aboard a tall ship such as this, where sailing is the main purpose. There is, however, live music, provided by a single lounge pianist/singer.
Spa/Fitness. The Royal Spa is located on the lowest passenger deck and, although not large, incorporates a beauty salon, an extra-charge Moroccan steam room, and a small gymnasium.