With Civitavecchia port coming into view you could feel the buzz from passengers on board the transfer coach building. There was no denying that the Royal Clipper more than stood out among the other ships already in port, being the largest and only 5 masted fully rigged sailing ship in the world it was hard to miss. With the sun setting behind, the mood was set for the voyage ahead.
On boarding a warm welcome was well received with a cold flannel and a fruity cocktail. I was taken to my cabin by a member of the crew and my bag delivered shortly after.
My cabin was a category 3 outside cabin. It was spacious, and with a good sized marbled bathroom too.
The Royal Clipper has a real Edwardian and 1920s feel to it when you walk around. The real surprise for me was the space once on board. On looking at the Royal Clipper from the dock my first thought was how everything could possibly fit inside. But I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of space and facilities on board. It was a mega sailing experience but with your expected cruise amenities. These included a library, spa, gym, 3 swimming pools and 3 bars to name but a few.
Dinner was a casual event but with a 6 course a la carte menu to dine from. With tables of 2, 4, 6 and 8 to choose from you are guaranteed to really get to know your fellow passengers. The dining room is located at the bottom of the 3 floor Atrium with the glass bottom swimming pool a real feature to look up at.
With plenty to choose from on its a la carte menu there really is something for everyone to try.
Dining had no set tables, not set times and was pretty flexible. You would be given a guideline of timings for dinner and you could choose when to dine. You would also know it was dinner time with a quirky surprise. One of the waiters rings a hand bell and calls ‘dinner time’ up and the down the ship which was brilliantly funny and passengers loved!
A special highlight for me was the sail away event, which is a must do every time you leave a port, but an evening departure is very special. Sailing away with a glass of champagne, conquest of the seas playing and some of the 42 sails slowly coming up (which are beautifully lit) is a moment you will not forget in a hurry.
My first morning on board started off with heading back to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast with everything you can imagine. Omelettes and eggs being cooked to order, fresh croissants with a selection of jams, pancakes and all of the ingredients you would need for a cooked breakfast plus more!
Bonifacio, Corsica was our first port of call and was a tender service. The tender service was very well organised and smoothly run – a true benefit of small ship cruising and the ship holding a mere 227 passengers.
The scenery in town was spectacular and the view of the Royal Clipper behind us was just as magnificent. If I had decided to stay on board I would have had the chance to take a dip in the sea straight from the ship. Since the Royal Clipper has a Marina Deck at the back with included water sports and snorkeling, there is still something to do on board.
If you wasn’t full enough from breakfast, back on board was a themed French lunch followed by snacks at the Tropical Bar to enjoy with fellow passengers over a cocktail or 2 and conversation on how your day had been spent.
Since all entertainment was held at the tropical bar there is no need to go back and forth to a bar or wait for someone to take your drinks order. Drinks were very reasonably priced and already priced to include the gratuity – so there was no surprise on your room bill at the end. (The only gratuity you will find on your bill is the one for the crew and is at your discretion. To add this gratuity on you have to see reception to do so and it is recommended €8pp per day)
Ale, beers, Lagers – €3-4
Cocktails – €5-5.80
Spirits – €3.80-4.50
Bottle of house wine – €16
Glass of house wine – €3.50
Specialty coffee – €2-4
All other teas and coffees are included and are at a self service station at the Piano Bar.
The evenings that followed after continued in the same rhythm with a Quiz, after dinner dancing and other activities.
For the more adventurous at heart, there is a unique opportunity to climb the ship’s mast to the crow’s nest (whilst sailing!), providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding vistas. Before I knew it I was at the top with nothing but sounds of the wind and the waves. The climb was hard work but well worth it when you reach the top.
At the front of the ship are 2 hidden balcony’s which hang out to each side with a small seat for one. Sitting over the sea and seeing Menorca come into view was great – a real hidden spot to enjoy on board. When the weather is good this will be a great spot to sit with a book, or even try laying up front on the safety nets to catch the sun.
After a Mediterranean themed lunch I went up on deck to see the crew at work whilst docking into the port of Mahon, Menorca. Our cruise director was stood with us describing what we could see around us with some history and also explaining what the Captain and his crew were currently doing.
Having previously registered for an excursion at the excursions desk on board, I was off to explore Menorca on ‘Magic of Menorca’. Climbing to the highest viewing point in Menorca a small church presented itself where Nuns still live and displaying the most brilliant views over the whole of the island. Slowly going back down the winding roads we arrived at the historical site Torralba d’en Salord before heading to the old town to try the islands favourite almond cookies and take a stroll through the shops and markets back to the ship. Overall, the excursion was very good value for money.
My final day took me to Ibiza where I disembarked leaving the rest of the passengers heading off to Morocco. With a final look at the Royal Clipper from the castle in Ibiza, it was time to head home.
Star Clippers offer a fantastic cruising experience which is like no other I have ever been on. It is very casual on board, extremely social and a great age range on board too. If big ship cruising is not your thing I would highly recommend the experience on board the Royal Clipper. For me this was an unforgettable trip and one that I would love to repeat.