Star Clippers offer one of the most unique experiences within the cruising world. Taking guests onboard a genuine, traditional, tall sailing ship that allows a truly exclusive sailing experience, with the added conveniences of a modern cruise ship.
With a fleet of three beautiful sailing ships they travel all over the world, stopping at many un-touched, intimate ports that larger cruise ships cannot go to.
It is not only the ports that contribute to this unique experience, the onboard facilities are truly wonderful. The accommodation and dining offer a traditional cruise ship experience, in a non-traditional setting! One of the most breath-taking elements of a Star Clippers holidays are the sailaways. Being part of the dropping of the sails ceremony, against a backdrop of string music is an emotional and amazing experience.
I wish I could be writing a blog about my experience on Star Clipper, however I was not the lucky one this time! However, Brooke Daniels, a reservations supervisor from Star Clippers wanted me to share her experience from Rome to Venice onboard Star Clipper. Here is what she had to report daily:
Only moments after stepping on board we were handed our welcome cocktails and found ourselves catching up with the crew that had remembered us from the last trip. This friendly welcome sums up life on board and is, I think, why we have so many passengers returning time and time again, it’s like one big happy family.
We were shown to our category 3 cabins which have a double bed, portholes and marble lined bathrooms. These cabins are middle range of what Star Clippers can offer and are more than adequate in terms of space and decor, very elegantly designed.
As the sun was shining we decided to take advantage of the sun deck so found ourselves some sun loungers perfectly positioned next to one of the three swimming pools - an afternoon of total bliss.
Dinner on board is an a la carte affair with 6 scrumptious choices to devour. I started with shrimps in a light coconut sauce, followed by chicken breast stuffed with spinach and a vegetable medley. I was to tempted to resist dessert so opted for the chocolate flan which was divine. We ordered a bottle of house white wine which at €15 is very well priced, this price includes a gratuity to the bar as well. We were pleasently surprised to find the house wine was a pinot grigio and will definitely be ordering that again!
We left the dining room to head to the Tropical Bar where the space had started to fill with dancing couples and music in the air - this is the perfect post dinner cocktail retreat!
With midnight approaching all guests gathered up on the sun deck, joining all of the crew and officers for sailaway. A classical piece of music by a composer called 'van gellis' begins to boom around the deck. A little haunting and quite dramatic the 'conquest to paradise' fills the air commanding full attention of everyone on board. As the music plays, the crew begin to pull on the ropes and very very slowly the stunningly lit sails rise for what seems like miles above our heads. We set sail off in to the open sea with the music playing in the background sipping on champagne and engaging in this totally magical and magnificent moment only to be had on Star Clippers.
This rounded off our day in a incredible way and all that was left to do was retire to our comfortable cabins.
Danielle and I met for breakfast at 0930 after a much needed rest. As always with the food onboard, we were spoilt for choice. From fresh fruit to a full fry up there is something for everyone. I had a plate full of scrambled eggs, bacon, bread and beans. Not the light breakfast I had in mind!
Today’s destination was Hvar, a place I had wanted to visit for a long time. It was the highlight of the itinerary for me however with the 33 degree heat we decided to wait until the afternoon to explore this beautiful harbour. This gave us the perfect opening in our schedule to try out some water sports.
As part of the Star Clipper experience, a complimentary watersports programme is offered. The marina platform lowers from the back of the ship so you can do all of these activities directly from the ship in to the ocean. There is a watersports team on every sailing who are on hand to help. Whilst lying in the sun just a few meters from the ship, the view of the Royal Clipper was incredible and made me feel tiny in comparison to her magnificent form.
Hvar - The St Tropez of Croatia. Millionaires’ impressive yachts lined the harbour where people sat in sophisticated cocktail bars soaking up the bustling atmosphere. Individual stools selling Croatian jewellery alongside endless supplies of the local lavender meaning the powerful floral scent filled the air of the beautiful old town. The cobbled streets and Main Square were reminiscent of Dubrovnik with many old churches and Mediterranean restaurants acting as the heart of Hvar.
We were back onboard on the last tender where we would shortly be setting sail in daylight. Once again we joined the officers on the sun deck to experience sail away in a very different way. Sail away always gives me a warm feeling but it's a very different experience in day light, just as magical as a midnight sailaway but in another way.
Tonight was Captains night followed by the talent show, this is what I had been looking forward to all day. Tonight I had scallops, beef Rossini, and of course baked Alaska, the tradition on most conventional cruise ships.
Captain Sergey had the attention of the whole room when giving his speech, raising a glass with the complimentary champagne for this occasion - applause filled the air. It was a fantastic dinner and not many people wanted the night to end there so headed up to the Tropical Bar for the talent show.
It was lovely to see the passengers getting involved in the show as well as the staff. They gave us some great performances of singing, clarinet playing and dancing. The waiters from Goa gave a traditional Goan dance, the bartenders formed a band and played and sang 'hotel California' encouraging guests to sing along. We even had the Captain playing the guitar and singing Russian folklore music, now I'm not sure you'd see that on many other cruise ships. By 1130 the talent show had finished but the night was just getting started as the dance floor filled and the music played entertaining guests for a few more hours. The ambience tonight was wonderful, everyone was enjoying themselves in the friendly and lively atmosphere on board.
We decided it would be nice to actually have a light breakfast today so didn’t go down to the main restaurant. Every morning in the Piano Lounge they provide pastries, fresh bread and fruit jams. This is available every day from 0630 - 1100, an ideal choice for an early, or late riser!
I had never been lucky enough to have a cabin tour on the Royal Clipper before so we arranged this after breakfast. Firstly we were shown to the Owners Suite, of which there are two on Royal Clipper. I had thought I would like the Deluxe Suites the most but I must say as the most expensive cabin on board the opulence and grandeur is expected but still I was totally impressed. The entrance leads you to the Suite by a small staircase with deep red carpet and brass railings. The beautiful artwork of fellow sailing ships adorn the walls of the elegant living area which is surprisingly spacious. The bedroom is large in size and nautical in decor, with a marble lined whirlpool bathroom attached in en suite style. A second wet-room can be found off of the living area which also boasts a second raised double bed. A stunning stateroom worthy of the 'owners' title.
We were then shown to a category 6 inside cabin, also on the Clipper Deck but the cheapest cabin on the ship. Very comfortable and similar in decor to the other outside cabins. The final cabin we saw was a Deluxe Suite. Only on Royal do we have the Deluxe Suites, and the charming thing about these cabins is the private balcony that no other category of cabin has.
After lunch we were joined up on deck by most of the passengers as we sailed into Rovinj. It was easy to see the stunning church and clock tower in a prime position ontop of the hill, great picture moment as we had the perfect view of this from the ship. The familiar cobbled streets we were now used to in Croatia led us on our upward way to the church.
Once back onboard we had a few hours before dinner giving me time for some more deck lounging in the sun whilst Danielle enjoyed her full body massage in Captain Nemos Spa.
As the music played and the sails rose in to the sky we glided so slowly and gracefully past the old town and hilltops of Rovinj. To make this moment even more perfect we were close enough to the land to witness a bride, a vision of beauty in a clean white dress, embracing her new husband as we set sail at dusk. Hundreds of people lined the harbour to wave the Royal Clipper off on her journey.
Once again we had music from the onboard musician, the ship was filled with music and passengers danced the night away beneath the sails and the stars.
Danielle convinced me a must was to lay out on the nets at the front of the ship. Filled with nerves I let Danielle climb over and onto the ridgid netting first. Slowly I made my way on and once there I was in heaven. What an amazing feeling to be so high from the water with smaller ships circling and taking photos. The only two there, we had found the perfect hide away.
Soon enough it was lunch time and we headed back to the main restaurant for an oriental themed lunch. Each day there is a different theme for the lunch menu, today’s being our favourite. I had a heaped plate of sushi, beef satay, sweet & sour pork and chow mein, all carefully prepared by our expert chefs. Other themed meals include Italian, Mediterranean, Oriental, deck BBQs and in the Caribbean we also offer a fantastic beach BBQ.
Another hot day meant that an afternoon of cocktails & cooling down by the pool was in order. Mimicking the brochure, we spend time in the shallow seated area in the pool, cocktail in hand. We had fun taking nautical pictures on deck and chatting away to members of the friendly crew. There is plenty of deck space per passenger, infact Star Clippers has more deck space for guests to relax in than most conventional cruise lines.
Sailaway tonight was particularly spectacular, possibly because I knew this was the last, until next time anyway. Another daylight departure saw us raising the sails to the now familiar music to all. The Captain ever so slowly sailed by the pretty peninsular of Piran, almost showing off. This afternoon the small boats, yachts and dinghies were out in flocks - the flashes from their cameras almost blinding. Hundreds of people lined the coast waving our grand sail ship goodbye, we all graciously waved in return whilst sipping a cool drink. Another beautiful moment shared with the passengers and crew onboard, it never gets old!
A sad night for all, as we have to disembark the beautiful Royal Clipper tomorrow morning. This traditionally means the last evening onboard is fairly quiet, most retiring to bed early. However, the dining room is a wonderful place to be when the crew gather together proudly waving their flag and singing 'we are the world' to an emotional audience.
Disembarkation takes place early in the morning, with all passengers having to vacate their cabin by nine thirty. It is a simple checking out process, you will receive a final copy of your bill in your cabin at about midnight. You also don't have to worry about lugging your case off the ship, as long as you leave your case outside your cabin door by 4am then this is taken to the port terminal ready for you to collect it.
We said our farewells to the friendly crew and passengers, although always sad to leave the ship, Danielle & I were very excited for the next adventure in Venice.
We had no pre-arranged transfer from the port to our hotel however we had been given some guidance by a colleague, we soon discovered it was very simple to use the public transport. Just a minutes’ walk from the ship was the bus stop where we hoped on the boat. It takes about 25 minutes to get to St Marco square and is only 8 Euros.
It was time to get lost in the city! We left our hotel at around 10:30am, in intense heat even at that early hour, and didn't return until around 4:30pm. We almost instantly fell in love with this beautiful place. Every corner turned we entered another picture perfect scene, Venetian buildings, canal bridges, windy streets, all filled with tourists. It was lovely to not even touch a map and just take in every tiny street we came across, we actually ended up back near the port without knowing. We had the Royal Clipper in sight so we stopped and had lunch on a floating restaurant. Wanting to fit in everything as traditionally Italian as possible, we shared a pizza and enjoyed a glass of prosecco.
We knew we wanted to have front row seats on the canal at about 7:45pm, so this we did. The Royal Clipper was due to sail from San Basillio Port at 7:30pm and in our direction she was headed. We sipped bellinis as we proudly watched her glide through the canal past St Marks Square with hoards of tourists excitedly taking pictures. The ship was so close we could even hear the music playing on board as we waved to the new passengers leaving for their own Adriatic journey.
Of course dinner included more of Italy's finest, prosecco, antipasti, pasta & Pinot Grigio. Venice by night was just as impressive as Venice by day. The lights reflecting on the water showing off the palaces and churches. Live bands in the square playing to an audience of tourists. this called for one final Bellini in the square enjoying the music and atmosphere.
I didn't want the evening to come to an end, but of course it had to. This was my most memorable trip with Star Clippers yet. I was blown away by all the destinations and am already planning my next trip back to Venice.
It sure sounds like Brooke and Danielle had an amazing trip, a Star Clippers cruise is definitely next on my list!