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How was the trip? How did it compare to some of the other cruises you've taken? Is this a line you would take again?
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This was my third cruise with this line...I sailed the Flyer out of Phuket, and the Royal out of Cannes. I thought I preferred the smaller ship over the Royal, but must admit the Royal was nicer in case it was a rainy day.
The food was good considering the size of the operation and the bar service was good. Room service was just fine and the ship was clean.
I thought the officers and satff were not as nice as those on the other ships. I think this was a leadership issue based on the Captain andHotel manager and not indicative of the cruise line itself. The passenger mix was nice (Europeans and Americans)and honeymooner as well.
Boarding in St Maarten.....when they say no boarding till the specified time...you better believe it.
Sports team was very energetic...and fun.
Pursers office staff...two new employees....bad. I spoke to the hotel manager...he said he had received a number of complaints and things would be addressed.
Beach BarB Q...wonderful.
Would I sail Star Clipper Line again...yes
Was it fun.....yes.
Did they use the sails in the Caribbean......yes...almost all the time at night.
Standing on the deck at 10pm with the stars out and hearing the wind in thwe sails gives you an idea of what it was like before steam powered ships were built.
The cruise...perfect...no, good, yes.
If there are specific questions you have let me know.
I am looking for a cruise to give my husband for his 50th Birthday and have been looking quite seriously at the Star Clipper line - he loves sailing, but has no interest in a mega liner, dressing in a suit or the large numbers of passengers on the mainline cruise ships. Neither of us have cruised before. I have been looking at the Royal out of Barbados and the Clipper out of St. Maarten - we both enjoy water sports alot, seeing new things and learning new things - but not alot of structure. One of the things that is holding us back is my husband has a chronic lung condition and a severe allergy to cigarette smoke - do they allow smoking on these ships and if so, where and can you avoid it if you want/need to? That is our biggest concern. Beyond that, the idea of the sailing ship really appeals to us - if you don't mind, we really appreciate your comments/advice.
Smoking...I cant handle it myself.
Most smokers were doing their thing out on deck and sitting at the outdoor bar. Smoking indoors is suppose to be a no no.
I would suggest the Royal over the Clipper...more space especially out on deck.
For your first cruise there is also Windstar...however these ships are more a motor sailer than a true sailing ship.
If you choose the Clipper..do not get a cabin in the stern (rear of the ship)...a rough ride if the wind is up!
Let me know how I can help you further.
Thanks for the info. It always helps to hear from someone who has been there. Your comments are verifying what my thoughts are - now that I know how they handle smoking - I was leaning toward the Royal out of Barbados. Will let you know if I have further questions - thanks again for being so helpful.
One issue with smoking on the Star Clipper is that they have a large European clientelle, and they smoke more than Americans. You may encounter more smokers than you would expect in a similarly sized group of Americans. We sailed the Star Clipper in December (and met CaptTom!); the passengers were about 40% European. There were usually two to three smokers on deck at any one time. The only place you really noticed it was around the outdoor bar. Staying windward of the smokers is the best way to avoid the smoke, but your husband might have problems if he is very sensitive.
Thanks DoctorTom for your comments - you do have a point - although we're not really drinkers so would doubt we'd spend much time in the bar - one of the reasons we have avoided European cruising was because of the issue of smoking during the land portion - you are absolutely right about the propensity for Europeans to enjoy smoking more than most, it seems.
We were leaning toward the Royal Clipper back to back, but perhaps we need to put more consideration into this.
Thanks again - comments and help are always appreciated.
Hi...we did a 'back-to-back' on the Royal, December '03. Smoking was allowed only at the port (left, facing the pointy end) side of the main bar...not at the pool bar or the piano bar area. We met before dinner each night at the bar on starboard and never had a problem. We are both very sensitive to it, and were not bothered in the least. We loved everything about the trip except the madhouse departures at Barbados airport. We are on the Star Clipper in April for the Antigua Classic Race Week cruise...we actually race two days and host the awards banquet on the last night before returning to St. Maarten. Then we are spending a quiet week on Anquilla before heading home.
We are just back from the "Royal Clipper" out of Barbados -- a back to back trip. The main lounge allows smoking on one side only, but is not physically divided so I guess smoke might waft over. At the end of this lounge is the interior portion of the bar. This bar, which is oval in shape, is half-way outside. Outside, I saw no prohibitions against smoking, but there was always a breeze so I doubt it would be a problem. I saw no one smoking in the dining room. I did see a few cigar smokers among the cigarette smokers outside.
If you are considering the "Royal Clipper" you might want to look at their balcony cabins.
Four years ago we took the "Star Flyer" in Thailand and the smoking situation was the same.
We loved both trips and highly recommend this line.
I am posting this in sections as I seem to be unable to get cc to accept a long posting!
We did a back to back (Windward/Leeward) Islands cruise on the Royal Clipper. We slightly preferred the Leeward Islands as they are more "primitive" and less sophisticated than the Windward Islands. However, we have been to the Caribbean many times before and this time just wanted to swim, snorkel and generally veg out. The one port that was sad to see was Grenada due to the effects of hurricane Ivan.
We were in a balcony suite which I highly recommend. The bathroom in particular was quite a bit larger than those in regular cabins. 2 people could easily use it at the same time. The main advantage was the large tub/shower. We did not take baths, but the tub meant no sloshing of water on the floor and more room to move about. The room had 2 large closets with wooden hangars (more available upon request, but we had plenty), with 2 shelves below. The hanging space was not long enough for dresses -- I did not care! Our bed was 2 twins put together making at least a queen and perhaps a king. On each side was a night stand with 3 drawers. We had a small fridge and 2 robes. There was a bureau with 3-4 drawers. There was a desk w/chair and 2 open shelves. There was a small sitting area -- 1 chair, a loveseat and table. The balcony was small, but worth it. It had 2 plastic chairs (with cushions) and a table. There would not have been room for lounges. To be continued.
The service was excellent. Our cabin steward seemed to know the minute we left the cabin and it was immediately made up. The bar staff knew our preferences within a day, but to be fair, I knew the head bartender from a previous trip. The maitre d' did an excellent job. Upon entering the dining room he asked what size table we wanted. We always opted for 8, to meet new people and he always found us interesting people. You can ask for a table for 2, 4, 6 or 8. The only glitch was when we were invited to the Captain's Dinner where I was seated between my husband (who spoke to the man next to him) and a German lady who spoke no English. Boring for me, but probably miserable for her!
We did only 4 excursions and they were oriented towards beaches/snorkeling/catamarans. You will be in Martinique where I recommend the catamaran tour, as downtown Martinique is not very interesting. On both cruises they offered one complimentary snorkel safari. They also did a beach barbecue on each trip.
Food was excellent. Breakfast was the normal eggs, bacon (both crisp and limp -- who eats the soggy stuff?), cereal, fruit, etc. Both breakfast and lunch were buffet, with the lunches often themes such as Oriental, Italian. Lunch always had lots of salads, cukes, carrots, etc. Lots of desserts. I found the lunches a bit repetitive. Dinner was great. There was a choice of 2 soups -- 1 clear, 1 creamy. Then a choice of 2 appetizers, one fish, one pasta, 2-3 meats and a salad. If none of this appealed you could order a steak and fries which I understand was quite good. Portions were smallish but with all the courses it was plenty. You could have as many courses as yo wished.
Feel free to ask further detailed questions. But be aware that I am prejudiced as I just love this cruise line!
Thanks very much for the information on smoking. It sounds like something my husband could handle - and a balcony cabin sounds ideal - mpfund - do you recall what category your cabin was? They describe category 1, 2, 3 etc. on the Star Clippers website. Also, could you please comment on the style of dress at dinner - how casual is it - for both men and women. I think a back to back out of Barbados would be ideal.
The balcony cabins are listed as "Deluxe Suites" and are the next to highest category. The highest category are the Owner's Suites, which I understand are quite large, but do not have balconies. I do not think you will find any discounts on the Deluxe Suites or Owner's Suites (other than a small discount for doing 2 cruises). If your budget allows, I would really recommend the Deluxe Suites.
The evening dress code for men was long pants and a collared shirt. For the once a week Captain's dinner I saw a few jackets, but they were really in the minority. For women it was a bit more varied. I saw capri's, docker type slacks with knit tops, nice silk type slacks with pretty tops, and a few sundress type dresses. For the Captain's dinner I saw just a few sequin type outfits and they tended to be worn by the European women.
Hope this helps -- I'll be happy to answer any questions I can.
mpfund thank you for the quick response. The deluxe cabins aren't shown in detail on the Star Clippers web site which is why I was having trouble finding the balcony cabins. We're just trying to decide on dates now for next March/April - thanks for the offer to answer future questions, it is very much appreciated.
I think my husband will really enjoy this - he loves sailing and wanted casual - this really seems to fit the bill!
We have just returned from back to back cruises on the Royal Clipper- the first week we did the Grenadines and the second week the Windward. Hi-mpfund- it was nice to meet you and I enjoyed reading your cruise review. Perhaps you will copy it from this thread and make it into an official review on this web site.
Smoking: We never met any smokers on the top deck in the stern area behind the steps to 315, 316 and the marine platform. We sat there almost every night to watch the sun set. Also, smokers are not allowed near the zodiac boats.
Cabins: There is a great deck plan that shows the deluxe suites at: http://www.capitolhilltravel.com/Roy...erDeckPlan.htm The description of these suites by mpfund is excellent. I would avoid the owners cabin (very spacious but no windows-only a skylight) and Cabins 315 and 316 (drapes must be closed all the time because people walk by the cabin windows). Cabins 313 and 314 have doors that open directly on to the deck near the stairs- smoke could potentially blow into the cabin or the balcony from smokers on that deck. Perhaps mpfund would know more about those cabins. I had a chance to peek in the other deluxe suites on "turnaround" day when we were on the ship and before the new passengers moved in. Beautiful!!
I don't really think these cabins would be a problem re smoke. The decks they open onto are not really conducive to smoking -- they are rather narrow and function more as passageways to reach the tenders. My objection to them would be that they might be a bit noisy due to people gathering to line up to board the tenders. Also, these cabins are a bit awkward to reach from inside the ship as you have to go through a split swinging door which is really quite heavy and a bit difficult to get both sides open at once, plus step up and over a high doorsill.
Dogandcat and mpfund - thank you so much for your continued advice. I received the star clippers brochure in the mail this week - it looks fabulous - I am sure my husband will be thrilled with this and from your descriptions I think he should be able to handle the smoking no problem. Once again, thanks for your help!