If you have ever said, “cruising isn’t for me,” you might reserve judgment until you have sailed on the Royal Clipper. She is the perfect alternative to what you picture when you hear the words “cruise ship.”
The Royal Clipper, one of the three vessels in the Star Clippers fleet and is the largest fully-rigged sailing ship in the world! With five masts and 42 sails, she is truly a sight to see. The Royal Clipper carries 227 passengers in 114 cabins. During the winter and spring months, the Royal Clipper sails throughout the Caribbean and then relocates to the Mediterranean for the summer and fall seasons.
From the moment you step on board, you will know this is not an ordinary cruise ship. The Star Clippers line is a family run business, which is why you will feel like a guest of the owners on the Royal Clipper rather than merely just another passenger among thousands on a large cruise ship. The passengers are made up of a diverse mix of nationalities and are slightly younger than what you might find elsewhere. Star Clippers guests also tend to return year after year, which lends itself to the feeling of coming home to family.
5 Reasons You Will Love the Royal Clipper
A nautical adventure on the Royal Clipper means embracing all of the excitement of sailing on the open sea. As it is a real sailing vessel, she also includes unique services and amenities not found on other cruise ships. Guests are encouraged to do everything or nothing at all.
Because of her size, the Royal Clipper can call on a collection of smaller, lesser-known cruise ports. Most days she will drop anchor, rather than dock in town, meaning passengers will need tender into port via lifeboats.
An incredible advantage of visiting these off the beaten path spots is that you won’t be among thousands of tourists flooding a city for the day. You’ll be able to meander around town like a local.
All of the itineraries vary to include cultural, historical, and recreational stops. The Royal Clippers offers several exciting excursions to help you thoroughly discover each place. They range from historical walking tours with local guides to more physically challenging bike and kayak tours.
However, should you want to explore on your own, it is best to do your research ahead of time. This way, you’ll be prepared to make the most of each stop. Although information sheets can be found in your room each evening, they only include necessary port information. You will want to know ahead of time which cobblestone streets to wander down or the best trattoria to dine at for a local lunch.
The Crow’s Nest & The Bowsprit
While onboard, passengers can embrace their inner sailor while helping the crew to raise the sails or learning how to tie a proper knot. The more adventurous are even welcome to climb the mast to the Crow’s Nest and enjoy a panoramic view.
However, the best seat in the house on the Royal Clipper is in the bowsprit. There is nothing quite like being suspended in the netting with the ocean sprawling below and the sky overhead. Here you can enjoy the sailing motion of a real ship.
The Water Platform
Because the ship anchors at sea rather docked in a port, guests will have an opportunity to experience the Water Platform at the stern of the ship. You are welcome to jump off and have a swim or take out one of the kayaks, paddleboards, or small sailboats. If you fancy water skiing, the crew is happy to take you out for a spin as well. If you want to relax, lay on a float, and watch the world go by.
The Top Deck
The top deck has lots of space with shady spaces to read or lie on a lounger and sunbathe. You will likely find your fellow passengers enjoying an afternoon cocktail at the Tropical Bar. In the center of the top deck, there is a large swimming pool, plus two hot tubs.
The crew is friendly and accommodating — all 110 of them. You will have a dedicated cabin steward who keeps your cabin immaculate and is available to help with anything you might need during your cruise.
All shipboard announcements are made in English, German, and French. This is a reflection of the international clientele on board as well as the crew, which hail from 15 countries.
On the last night to demonstrate their global diversity, you will be treated to a world sing-along in which they showcase their home countries. It is an exceptional evening.
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This unique sailing ship has some things that regular larger cruise ship guests might not be accustomed to.
- Room service is only available for certain levels of cabins. If you are not staying on the third deck, you’ll need to plan to eat your meals during the hours in which the one dining room is open.
- There is no beverage package. However, the drinks are very reasonably priced.
- There are no elevators. The ship has four decks that are accessed via stairs.
- Entertainment by the crew begins nightly at 10:00 pm at the Tropical Bar.
- You will find a small air-conditioned library, but no casino.
- There is usually one Captain’s Gala Dinner where guests may get more dressed up, like a cocktail dress for women and maybe a jacket for men,
- There is likely to be one themed dinner, such as a Pirate Night. While wearing a costume is certainly not required, you might want to bring along a few items — you might win a prize!
- Plugs on the Royal Clipper are 220V European plugs; therefore, you will need to bring converters.
Dana Freeman is a freelance journalist and digital influencer living in Vermont. She is the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. Through her original photography and writing, she provides authentic destination information, reviews, and travel tips. Dana specializes in cruise, luxury, food & wine and adventure travel.