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ILoveScotland

Questions, questions, questions before making decision

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I am still in the early stages of planning my next cruise including itinerary and ship. In the 1990s, DH and I took our first two cruises with the now defunct Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. I loved the size of the ships, the "oneness" with the sea and the informality.

 

I have now taken 8 additional cruises on large ships - some with DH, but he is much older than I am and since last summer lives in a skilled nursing facility so no longer travels.

 

I just returned from a Caribbean cruise accompanied by my DD and some friends. We were on one of the 3000 passenger ships, and I realized that I'm ready to look for something smaller.

 

So, I'm exploring options including Star Clippers. I know the ships are far different from the older Windjammer Barefoot ships so am not expecting a repeat of that experience. But, I do have questions that will help me as I plan what I want to do. Here they are:

 

 

  1. What's the demographic of the passengers? Age, children, etc. I am 70 but feel 45, well educated profession who still works part time but far from wealthy.
  2. Are there any (many) who sail solo which is what I'd probably do?
  3. Where do most people stay during the day? On the Sun Deck or whatever the top deck is called?
  4. Do the ships mostly use motorized power with sails for "decoration," or are there times when they're under sail power only?
  5. What's it like to be on a transatlantic cruise on a smaller ship? It sounds great to me and is one of the cruises I'll consider.
  6. Will I have plenty of opportunities to find a place and read or gaze at the sea without being reminded of some activity?

There are probably other questions, but I think these are the basic ones although of course, I guess I could ask: What do you like best about Star Clippers and what would you change if you could?

 

Thanks for all your good information.

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As a former Windjammer pax (Amazing Grace 2 times), and a megacruise ship goer as well, I'll give you my impressions of my trip last month on the Royal Clipper

 

 

  1. What's the demographic of the passengers? Age, children, etc. I am 70 but feel 45, well educated profession who still works part time but far from wealthy.

There were no children on my cruise; I'd guess the ages ranged from mid-thirties to over 80. With a good # of those being over 50. Every one was active enough to handle the stairs up and down (there is no elevator).

 

 

  1. Are there any (many) who sail solo which is what I'd probably do?

There were a number of solo passengers on my cruise; it's quite the norm. I was by myself, and had no problems finding people to sit with for meals. (Unless I wanted to eat by myself.)

 

 

  1. Where do most people stay during the day? On the Sun Deck or whatever the top deck is called?

There are plenty of loungers and seats all along the Sun Deck, as well as fore and aft on the Main Deck. There are tarps over some sections to create shade for those that want it.... One of my favorite places was going all the way forward into the net surrounding the bow sprit.

 

 

  1. Do the ships mostly use motorized power with sails for "decoration," or are there times when they're under sail power only?

The captain always used as much sail as he could. The Royal Clipper is a square rigged ship, which means the wind has to be behind about 60 degrees in order to utilize them. Most times we would motor sail at least at first to ensure on time arrivals. But when is coming from the right direction is is WONDERFUL.

 

  1. What's it like to be on a transatlantic cruise on a smaller ship? It sounds great to me and is one of the cruises I'll consider.

The TA on the Royal Clipper is on my "bucket" list, so no first hand knowledge yet...

 

 

  1. Will I have plenty of opportunities to find a place and read or gaze at the sea without being reminded of some activity?

There are few if any announcements over the PA. Passengers are expected to read the newsletter. <grin>

 

The experience on the Royal Clipper was very similiar in tone to my Amazing Grace cruises. Typically, we would pull in to port around 9am. The cruise director would give a talk about the stop in three languages on the bridge. (The "bridge" on the Royal Clipper is open air, and opened to passengers, unless a pilot is on board. There is an enclosed "chart house", but the officers and AB's spend most of the time outside.)

 

At all but one stop we tendered; one tender to town, and one to a beach. At the beach the crew set up water toys for people to use. (kayaks, sailboats, etc)

 

There was a duo that would play live music in the afternoon/eveing. Ususally, there was one scheduled activity in the evening in the Tropical (outside) bar. At those times, for peace and quite (and a drink), you could retire to the piano bar; or just go to the Sun Deck to avoid the noise.

 

The biggest difference between Windjammer and Star Clipper is the eveing dress standards. At night, no shorts are allowed in the dining room. I would call it resort casual. I work Dockers, and a knit shirt every night; I did NOT bring a dinner jacket at all.

 

I loved the cruise, and cannot wait to go again

 

 

 

Aloha,

 

John

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Thank you, John. You've answered my questions with just the "right" answers. The TA does look just wonderful but so do other itineraries.

 

Beth

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Beth,

 

I have done over 10 weeks on Windjammer and I know of a few solo travellers I met there that are doing the October Trans Atlantic. I will let you know how it goes.

 

too many sleeps left...

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All the 3's - 3,333 posts!!!

 

We have been on the Clippers 11 times (next one booked for March on the RC to the BVI's) in the Caribbean and the Med.

 

1. Just a few children seen on our trips - all well behaved. As for adults we have travelled with a Swiss Couple on their honeymoon - in their twenties I would say - through to an American couple with the lady being two months short of her 101st birthday and her husband 97, and just about all ages in between. Age does not seem to matter - people tend to get along well. Fellow passengers could, perhaps, be described as Understated, Modest, Considerate, Breadth of Backgrounds and Good Company. We have met people who have scrimped and saved for their "holiday of a lifetime" and, no doubt, others who are wealthy - it does not matter.

 

2. There are usually one or more solos on each trip (they are welcome - hence the "guaranteed single" booking option). You are free to mingle as you wish. Suggest you let the Maitre D. know your wishes for seating at dinner.

 

3. In the Caribbean and the Med. the ships are usually at a "stop" during the day. Ashore/trips/stay on board - up to you. Transatlantic obviously several days at sea. Whilst on board there are several outdoor areas (some covered) with good space plus lounge and library. Part of the Bridge is "open" and that, and the area close to it, is popular. There are also "nets" at the bow and you can lay out there if you wish.

 

4. The sails are definitely not for decoration. All three Clipper ships are the "real thing" for sailing. The motors are used to keep up to schedule and when the wind is too light or from the "wrong" direction.

 

5. I have not done a transatlantic but there is a lady (who we have met) here in England who is a regular on the TA. She is now 90 and still going (as well as climbing the mast!)

 

6. Yes. Very few announcements over the speaker system and only one piece of music - the same one every time on each departure. Beautiful. (crying is permitted and, if you are so inclined, you will not be the first!)

 

What do I like best about the Starclippers? Some indications above. Well there are about 6.9 billion people in the world and the Clippers exist because of one man - Mr. Krafft (the owner). Mr Krafft is on the ships from time to time (have met him once - a pleasant and sociable man) and he is well known for keeping things up to snuff. Be part of it. As I say, in the world in which we live you can live the life and you can dream the dream. On a Clipper under sail you can live the dream.

 

What would I change - nothing really, although it would be nice always to have a fair wind but I guess I cannot control that:):)

 

Hope you make it and have a great holiday.

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JOBAKE, this post will get rid of one of those 3's. :D

 

Thanks for such good information. I must say the ships and itinerary sound like what I'm wanting to do next. Now I have all I need to make a decision within the next few months.

 

Beth

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Travelinguy,

On which ship are you doing the transatlantic? I will be on the Clipper from Athens to Sint Maarten, together with about 10 people I met on the Papeete to Monaco crossing. I agree, too many nights to go.

IloveScotland,

I have been travelling solo since 2005, never had a problem. There is always somebody to talk to or have dinner with. Even if you want to have dinner on your own, it is possible.

Just enjoy.

Pralientje

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We are on the RC from Lisbon to Barbados in October.

 

1 less sleep now!

 

I don't think the timing would work for me, but that's what I would book if I could. Time will tell.

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We are also former Windjammer passengers, four times on the 13 day Mandalay. I still get a tear in my eye when I think about WJBC demise. A cruise like no other. And we've done many big ship cruises. No comparison. Love the small ship experience.

 

We did the 11 day Athens to Venice on the Star Clipper in July 2009 with 4 other couples, all in our 60's, and loved it. It's not Windjammer but it's the next best thing. It's still casual at dinner but like someone else posted, you can't wear shorts in the dining room at night. On that itinerary, you're usually in port during the day and sometimes into the evenings so you could have dinner onshore if you so desired. We did mostly motor sailing due to lack of wind.

 

Because we sailed in July, we had maybe 6 kids under the age of 15 but they were all well behaved. We had a nice mix of passengers from the US, Canada and Europe. We even had a family from Australia.

 

I don't think you can go wrong with the Star Clipper. We haven't sailed on the Royal Clipper but I feel that the Star Clipper is closer to a Windjammer experience. But I disagree with the previous poster. No matter how any times we heard the song as the sails were being raised (can't remember the name of it), it's not Amazing Grace. That always brought a lump to my throat. Happy sailings no matter what you choose.

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Barbara, I can't hear Amazing Grace without thinking of my two WJBC cruises. We were on the Fantome for a total solar eclipse in February 1998. There were three WJBC ships in the line of the eclipse, and all three of us were in port in St. Barth's one night - quite a sight. This was only 8 months before the Fantome went down the following October in Hurricane Mitch. She was such a beautiful ship.

 

I was in Aruba three years ago and saw the Polynesia just sitting there at one of the piers - made me want to cry at how neglected she looked.

 

Since I'm still exploring ideas, I'll look at the Athens to Venice itinerary. I've been to Athens twice but never to Venice, and the Med would be a great place to sail.

 

Beth

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I have not sailed on SC yet. I hope to in Feb. Check out Island Windjammers. It is a newer line started by passengers and crew(I think) from the original windjammers. I have only read about them, so I can't give you more info. Good luck!

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The music that is played on the Clippers is Vangelis 1492 - Conquest of Paradise. Some people also refer to it as Columbus - hence the emotional aspect. You can buy the CD on the ship - I have it in front of me as I write.

 

If you are thinking of a trip with Venice at the beginning or the end there is a case for starting in Venice. Because of the route of the channel out of the Port in Venice the ship will most likely motor out initially - at 10 p.m.. Suggest you be in the area of the bridge on the port side. We did that on the RC. At the Captain's Dinner night he said, relative to leaving Venice "will you ever forget" Answer "No".:)

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Beth: I agree. Everytime I hear Amazing Grace, I tear up. I especially like the version by Il Divo.

 

It was our first Mediterranean cruise and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. Loved all the islands we went to, especially Mykonos, Santorini, Kotor and Korcula. And I'll have to disagree with the prior poster. Sailing into Venice at sunrise is the way to see Venice. And then stay a few days. We spent 2 nights in Venice and 5 nights in Florence post-cruise.

 

If you want a small intimate cruise, you might look into Island Windjammer. 12 passengers plus captain and crew. Sails the Grenadines.

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Island windjammers is a great group of people.

 

I was with some of the owners in San Diego for Jammerfest in the spring ( a Windjammer land based get together) and heard lots about the Diamante.

 

I have friends on her right now for their honeymoon and I look froward to hearing about their experience.

 

BTW Barb, your name and being from Spokane sounds familiar to me.

I may have sailed with you on the Mandalay. Did you have friends from the Carolina's with you?

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Travelinguy:

 

We sailed 1997 (Jan or Feb South to north); 2000 (Feb N-S); 2003 (Feb N-S) and 2006 (Feb N-S). There were 6 to 8 of us from Spokane including Nancy, the redhead (Hard to forget). We did have one couple in our group in 2000 from S. Carolina, Jerre and Lee. Jerre also sailed with us in 2003 and I believe 2006.

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This follows on from my post yesterday and cruisingbarb's 10.36 a.m. post yesterday.

 

We two Brits have adopted the New Zealand Tourists' motto which is "Expect the Unexpected"

 

Prior to our RC holiday departing from Venice we had stayed there a few days and, among all the other beauties of that great destination, had enjoyed the sunrises.

 

I had a conundrum when I wrote my previous post - how much should I say?

 

When the Captain said "will you ever forget" he did not elaborate.

 

As the Royal Clipper departed Venice (for the trip we were on) and was passing the St. Marks Square area and nearby waterfront promenade we could see from our vantage point on the ship hundreds and hundreds of pinpricks of light. We, and fellow passengers, deduced they were the flashlights of tourists' (ashore) cameras. We (by which I mean the Royal Clipper and all onboard) were the stars of the show. Unexpected.

 

Choices! (aren't we lucky). Decisions!

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We are amazed and happy to see reference to prior Windjammer cruises on the Star Clipper site. Several times during WJ cruises we were docked next to or observed Star Clipper. Pretty awesome vessel!! We are booking on the 4-2-11 cruise from Barbados around the Grenadines and look forward to re-visit a number of favorite places.

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The only SC ship we ever saw on our cruises was the Royal Clipper. Beautiful ship but since we were on the WJ, it didn't appeal to us. Plus we had an incident with their tenders as they came ashore. They seemed to think they owned the beach and asked us to move. Didn't go over well with the WJ passengers. Needless to say, there were some words exchanged, and I believe our captain even made a formal complaint to their captain. However, we did enjoy the Star Clipper very much. No complaints whatsoever. But we still miss the Mandalay. I'm sure you'll have a good time.

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Sorry, I inadvertently wrote Star Clipper when I meant the Royal Clipper. We were also tied to a pier with Mandalay on one side and SC on the other. Like you, we were happy with our little vessel, but - alas, times change. We would go back on Mandalay at a moment's notice and miss her very much.

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