Star Clipper Line Royal Clipper by Wendy W Southern Caribbean February 11, 2007
I was going to write an updated detailed review, but decided to read the others' before I began. John G's review, written in December 2001, really captures the experience perfectly. I recommend that you read and believe his article.
We had a marvelous and memorable trip through the Grenadines on a beautiful sailing vessel. There were 2 nights of "rock-n-roll" from the waves (1 evening, 10 people didn't make it to dinner, but all were fine by the next morning). The crew was splendid, especially Captain Sergey, and couldn't do enough to make everyone's trip enjoyable. Many of the staff have worked for Star Clippers for years, which speaks highly of the company.
The itinerary and anchorages were so good that we only took 1 excursion (in Grenada). Typically, the ship puts you directly in towns or beaches (sometimes both in a single day) that are picture perfect. We snorkeled at 5 different snorkel sites for free in a single week. They also have on-board activities (like mast climbing) that are really fun and free use of kayaks, sailfishes, snorkeling gear, etc. They even taught our 10-year-old how to waterski at no charge. This free daytime entertainment helps to defray the relatively high cost of the cruise, compared to the discount lines, where you have to buy lots of excursion add-ons. When you look at the whole packaage, we felt we got a lot for our money.
Our only criticism was with the food, which was adequate, but not very good. The kitchen does a great job with what it has on board. Unfortunately, that does not usually include fresh fish, meat or vegetables. They use lots of frozen and canned products, which is remarkable considering they are in port almost every day. Also, lunch is served from 12 to 2,the afternoon snack from 5-6 and dinner from 7:30-10, with no room service. If you eat an early lunch and miss the snack, it's a long way to go til dinner. But, this is really small stuff.
Most of the people we met in this older, international crowd were repeat sailors with Star Clippers. We understand why and hope to join them again, too. This is not a trip for everyone, but if the notion of a relatively small upscale sailing cruise appeals to you--this is definitely the way to go!
One last note--you definitely want to be fit. We had to take tenders almost all of the time and there is definitely some bounce to the transfer from ship to tender. Also, it is a 4-story walk-up from the cabins and dining room on the lowest deck to the topmost sundeck. Between that and the snorkeling, we felt that we stayed in shape all week, without using any of the gym equipment.
In short, we (family of 3) loved it!