This small company has carved out a niche for itself by offering very attractive
one-week Caribbean, Mediterranean and Far East itineraries on the biggest,
fastest clipper ships ever built -- at prices comparable to (and often below)
conventional cruise ships'.
Both Star Flyer (1991) and Star Clipper (1992 are powered by
36,000 square feet of sail from four masts, with a diesel engine in reserve for
calms and maneuvering in port; the cruise line asserts that their 226-foot masts
are the world's tallest. With 56,000 sq. feet of sails and masts reaching 197
feet, Royal Clipper, which joined the fleet in mid-2002 with the fleet's first
balcony cabins and smoothest ride, carries 227 passengers and 106 crew, has a
spa and health club and a three-deck atrium with circular staircase. There are
19,000 square feet of open deck on and in which to relax 'neath sails and stars.
These ships offer a pure sailing experience and an
opportunity to mix with fellow passengers from many lands and of many ages.
Those seeking glitzy entertainment or fervent nightlife, guest lecturers, a
casino, or elevator are advised to look elsewhere; Star Clippers' idea of
entertainment is a crew fashion show of T-shirts and shorts. There's a
guaranteed single rate.
Quite simply, Star Clippers are for those who love sailing. No celebrity chefs
were involved in conceiving the line's starchy menu, there's no room service
(due to limitations on the number of crew), and you're going to be well aware
that you're at sea � which is to say that those prone to motion sickness are
going to want to bring their own bonine or Dramamine -- or rejoice in the
presence of the onboard nurse, who'll dispense some for you between shifts as a
server in the restaurant.
The ships for the most part bypass the mass-tourism ports,
anchoring at Cabrits in Dominca, for instance, rather than at Rouseau.
Itineraries are, of course, planned in advance, but when it comes to actual
arrival and departure times, the Captain follows the whim of the winds.
Though casual, the line isn't nearly as devil-may-care as
Windjammer, more closely resembling closer Windstar.
In Europe or the Caribbean, most of the passengers tend to come from groups
organized by a few travel agents, so there may be a contingent with Scots on
board with Germans and Americans from Detroit. Any possible combination can
occur, but inevitably, by the end of the cruise everyone seems to be friends no
matter what. On these ships, there simply is nothing else to do.
There are no children's facilities, but you might find a few kids six and older
aboard many sailings, often enjoying themselves, especially if Mom and Pop have
had the foresight and financial wherewithal to encourage them to invite a chum.
The cruise line recommends $8 per person per night -- $3 for the cabin steward
and $5 for the waiter. You may tip either with cash or by having the specified
amount charged to your shipboard account. At the bar, a 15 percent gratuity is
added automatically, just as on most ships lacking sails.