Small Ship Advantages

Chis Owen of the popular blog Chris Cruises boarded Royal Clipper in Barbados. Chris is a travel-writer who focuses primarily on the cruise industry and he began live-tweeting, instagramming and blogging his experience aboard the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world. Follow along with Chris' journey here, or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, or his own blog,


Sailing Star Clippers, it did not take long to notice that smaller ocean-going ships offer some distinct advantages not possible with larger vessels. Our first port of call on Royal Clipper took us to the lovely island of St Lucia, a tender port as most are on our itinerary. Normally not a big fan of tender ports, there is a huge difference between moving a couple hundred people on our ship with sails and thousands off a larger ship. The process is rather easy. But moving a comparatively miniscule number of passengers is far from the only difference.

Smaller Ships At Smaller Ports
That Star Clipper ships stop at ports rarely visited by large ships is unique. Cruise travelers who have become a bit bored with big ship-capable ports will like the change in scenery. A bonus is that the ports are not overwhelmed by a massive surge in visitors as multiple ships deposit legions of passengers ashore for the day.

In St Lucia’s Rodney Bay, we found a more relaxed scene with less crowded beaches, shops and restaurants. At the end of the pier were tour operators waiting for those on excursions but also local guides willing and able to take us on a leisurely, custom tour. Charles from Charles In Charge tours was happy to talk to me for about a half hour about the island, what it had to offer and what he would charge, even after I told him I was not interested. The difference was that Charles was conveying his love of his island and was happy to talk about it with no sales pitch pressure.


Nemo would love this
Dining is a big part of any cruise travel experience it seems and doing so with Star Clippers is no exception. An early riser continental buffet starts the day, followed by a breakfast and lunch buffet. At breakfast an omelet station prepares made to order creations and lunch brings a pasta station with a variety of choices also.

Royal Clipper has one dining room with porthole views of the ocean that are very much like what the crew members might see on a big ship. Gazing out of the window at lunch on the way to St Lucia we were right at water level. Passing through a wave brought an underwater view that, in the crystal clear Caribbean, is something we just don’t see on other ships.


Able Bodied Seniors With A Passion For Life
Sailing in moderately heavy seas the first night, Royal Clipper was rocking and rolling but cabin stewards are prepared, raising sideboards on bed to keep passengers off the floor. To those who enjoy that motion, it was very much like being rocked to sleep, perhaps as a baby in a cradle. Interestingly, the largely senior passenger mix navigated hallways, stairs and open decks with ease on well-traveled sea legs. Veteran hotel manager Steven Adamson told me that is usually the case as passengers who book Star Clipper ships are comfortable with the elements of ocean travel on a ship with sails.

Indeed, it seems every one of them has a story. Ronald from Maryland built model sailing ships as a boy and later worked for the Smithsonian doing the same. Freda from the UK was looking forward to climbing the mast to get an idea of what her father might have seen as a wiry young man who did the same in the Royal Navy.


The People Element Presents Itself Early In The Voyage
Regular readers here know this is not our first mention of how meeting others along the way can make for a rich travel experience. We have found that on the biggest of big ships too. Many of our friends were met on a big cruise ship. Still, it seems that the smaller the ship is, the more apt we are to meet and engage other passengers. We found that on Azamara Club Cruises smaller Azamara Journey. On Viking River Cruise longships we enjoyed meeting many of the 190 people on board. From the biggest to the tiniest ships, each offers a unique cruise vacation experience.

One of the distinct advantages of sailing Royal Clipper is that those on board share a love of the sea unlike we have experienced before.

How interested in ships with sails are the passengers on board? Nearly half of the passenger group were invited to the past guest party after our departure from St Lucia. Held on deck, Captain Tunikov told stories from the sea to the appreciative audience, most of whom had sailed with him before.


Frankly, it would be easy to be embarrassed about our entire cruise history in this environment. I can’t help but think of our friend Peter Knego, a maritime history authority who would be right at home on this ship and could probably swap stories with the best of them.

That said, just a couple days into our Windward Islands sailing, we have learned more about ships, made more new friends who have a passion for travel and gained more of a perspective on the cruise industry than on any dozen other sailings. As this experience unfolds, we are clearly in an entirely different world, that of ships with sails and one we hope to share with you, every step of the way.

To visit Chris' blog click here:
Having a 'Double Wow' Vacation on Royal Clipper
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Monday, 19 October 2020

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