Travel Channel Names Royal Clipper "Best Caribbean Cruise"

The Travel Channel has named a cruise on Royal Clipper the best in the Caribbean!


[caption id="attachment_15760" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper sailing by the pitons of St. Lucia.




The Travel Channel just published their list of Travel's Best Cruises 2014 and Star Clippers took the cake for Best Caribbean Cruise!



The article cited Star Clippers sophisticated travelers, fine wine, fabulous destinations and laid back beach barbecues among the reasons that a cruise on Royal Clipper topped all others:



Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper
You'll find a very different tropical seagoing experience aboard Star Clippers' 227-passenger Royal Clipper, the world's largest and only 5-mast, full-rigged sailing ship.



The elegant tall ship frequents small exclusive ports like Bequia, Tobago Cays and Iles des Saintes. “Attracting sophisticated travelers (roughly half are European), Royal Clipper offers open-seating, dining on sumptuous fare and fine wine. After dinner, guests gather around the grand piano or on deck to watch the enormous sails unfurl in the wind,” adds Anne Campbell. Don’t miss the beach-side barbecue on a deserted beach.



[caption id="attachment_15763" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper's Windward Islands itinerary.




Royal Clipper -- along with 4-masted sister ships Star Clipper and Star Flyer -- will return to the Caribbean Nov. 2014 where the ship will resume the popular Windward Islands and Grenadine Islands itineraries. The Windward Islands itinerary departs Bridgetown, Barbados and calls include Rodney Bay, St. Lucia; Cabrits & Roseau, Dominica; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes; Fort de France, Martinique;



[caption id="attachment_15764" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper's Grenadine Islands itinerary.




The Grenadine Islands itinerary also departs Bridgetown, Barbados, but follows an alternate route first calling at the Captain's choice, Grenadines, followed by calls at St. George's, Granada; Tobago Cay, Grenadines; St. Vincent, St. Vincent and Bequia; Fort de France, Martinique; and Marigot Bay, St. Lucia.



Both itineraries are fabulous and life at sea on a tall ship brings the beauty of sails to these already stunning destinations. To learn more about departure dates as well as Star Clipper's Caribbean itineraries and Star Flyer's Panama Canal Crossing visit the website.






Have you sailed on one of these Royal Clipper itinearies before? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!
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Following Summer on Star Clippers

Greg George is a world traveler, writer, blogger and "non-hipster foodie" based out of St. Marys, Ontario. He recently sailed on Royal Clipper. Here's an except of his journey from his blog followsummer.me.







Some Ancient Sea-Dog Superstitions


An earring is said to give sailors good eyesight and an old sea dog’s tattoo of a cross, an anchor and a heart protects against dangers at sea and at port. There was many an earring and tattoo evident on the Concierge Travel sponsored Star Clippers Royal Clipper cruise out of Bridgetown, Barbados on a 7 day excursion to the Western Caribbean in early March. Concierge is generally known for booking bigger party boats but this was a chance for my husband and me to check off one of those proverbial bucket list items, ditch the tuxes and experience some warm Caribbean waters on a smaller, more intimate 5-Master.



Fueled by its romantic barefoot and sun-kissed visions of gliding into a sun-setting, undiscovered bay, sails up, dropping anchor and listening to the gentle lapping of the Caribbean against the hull of the ship, we quickly signed up a contingent of Canadians and booked our passage.






Bucket List, Checked Off!


And indeed, that bucket list is now checked-off! During our 7 day sea-bourne adventures, we tendered into some of the smaller islands and cays: Isla Margarita, in Venezuela; St Georges, in Grenada; Tobago Cays and Bequia, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Marigot Bay and Soufrière, in Saint Lucia; enjoyed beach days with a full-on BBQ lunch, diving, sailing, kayaking and other water sports.






To visit Greg's blog click HERE.
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Antigua Welcomes Star Clippers, Royally

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, www.chriscruises.com.





As if island-hopping in the Caribbean on a ship with sails is not adventure enough, passengers on Star Clippers Royal Clipper had a select list of shore excursions from which to choose. An Antigua Rhino Adventure, Kayak Echo Tour and an Island Jeep Safari kept many passengers off the ship all day. Add in a beach barbecue, with a relaxing massage or water gymnastics with the ship’s sports team and it was a full day ashore. Or not. Other passengers chose to stay on board and read a book, lounge on deck or do nothing at all.



Comparing the Star Clippers experience to other niche cruise options is no easy task. There simply is no other cruise choice that comes close. Wind Star cruises has ships with sails that appear from a distance to be sailing ships. But the able bodied seamen on Royal Clipper are quick to dismiss their mock sails as ‘just for show’ in a very matter of fact way.



Previous visits to Antigua took us to Pineapple Beach resort, a beautiful place with a wedding chapel perched high on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We thought that location was about as good as it could get on this island if not in the entire Caribbean. But approaching Antigua’s Falmouth Harbour via a ship with sails turns the focus in an entirely different direction.






It’s a common scene when Royal Clipper enters any populated area. Rather than local residents lining shores to wave good bye to the cruise ship, a common scene when big ships leave port, the focus is reversed. Local residents, boat and yacht owners and those on the few other ships we see in port line up to see the ship with sails arrive. I can see why too; Royal Clipper casts a striking image against just about any backdrop.



Upon arrival in Antigua, small sailing craft raced to get an up close view of the Guinness-record holding largest masted ship in the world. At the private beach barbecue, our Executive Chef prepared lunch on an open fire while the Maitre ‘d made sure everyone was well taken care of, all within sight of our ship. Some guests relaxed on the beach, others engaged in complementary water sports or went on to their shore excursion while a few returned to the ship or explored the island on their own.












We did a little of both; walking through town, drinking in the local flavor then returning to the ship for a leisurely afternoon. As we continue our voyage on Royal Clipper, one element of the experience seems universal: you can do whatever you want to do but don’t miss sailaway for any reason.



After this experience, the term “set sail” has an entirely different meaning than it has on any other ship we have ever sailed on. The correct term, we learned early in the voyage was to “set the sails” and that indeed is a major event every single day. Setting the sails are sailors who work in unison, right in front of the passengers as the Captain calls out commands that are instantly repeated by the seaman responsible for executing the order. Every single time. It’s a military-precision operation that results in a breathtaking event that is totally over the top for those who appreciate such things. There is a huge undeniable difference between a big ship where someone we don’t see uses a joystick and thrusters to move the vessel into a launch position and sailors setting the sails.



Antigua is a beautiful port with captivating aquamarine water that is just as pretty as a picture. Ply those waters on a ship with sails and the experience is simply something you have to do to appreciate.
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A Tour Of Cabrits, Dominica, Brings A Different Outlook

Chis Owen of the popular blog Chris Cruises recently took a Royal Clipper sailing. 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, www.chriscruises.com.





Stopping at the volcanic island of Cabrits in Dominica, we spent some time touring on our own. Arriving via Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper, the ship would be anchored a short distance from the island, running continual tender operations throughout the day. A quick lunch ashore, a visit to the crater of a once-active volcano and a new friend later, we were back on board, sailing off into the sunset again.



Getting ashore from Royal Clipper almost always requires a tender operation, done a bit differently. The ship carries actual tender boats for what they call a “triangular” operation. Tenders depart from the ship, stopping first at the port’s marina then on to the beach before returning to start all over again…or something like that. This is one of the areas where Star Clippers don’t get very specific, much like the time in port when viewing itineraries in advance of sailing. This is a good thing.



Rather than commit months in advance to being somewhere at an exact time, ships with sails need to leave scheduling a bit loose. Weather, ocean currents and winds have a lot to do with where we end up on a given day. On board, daily programs do lock in on a time, based on recent weather conditions and experience. Still, not being on a rigid schedule is very much a big part of the Star Clipper experience and we like that just fine.









It’s sort of like how the ship has a satellite Internet system but yet it doesn’t.



Guests are encouraged to ‘just forget about the Internet and enjoy your vacation’. That truly is the best bet. Satellite Internet at sea is always a complicated process with any ship in motion, constantly having to reacquire line-of-sight connectivity. Add that ships with sails are not only in forward motion but bobbing up and down, and side to side making staying connected a lot like trying to thread a needle while running with your eyes closed. I am pretty sure that Christopher Columbus had a better connection on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria than we have here. And that’s ok.



That reality puts our regularly scheduled programming plan of a live report, all the time, in Davy Jones’ locker but that’s ok too. We will catch you up when we can along the way and post gazillions of photos and reports back on dry land.









That’s why our first stop in Cabrits was Prince Rupert’s Tavern, Restaurant And Bar with free Wi-Fi. After a quick email check it was off with Thomas, our guide for the day and a lifelong resident of Dominica, eager to share highlights of his home.



Probably one of the best $40 we have spent ashore, Thomas took us high up into the rainforest where we hiked down to the crater bed of a once-active volcano. Along the way we captured images of some pretty amazing scenery and lush vegetation then came away with a friend on the island that we hope to visit again some day.






Later in the afternoon, Royal Clipper would reposition to the other side of the island, stopping briefly to pick up passengers who ended a river tubing trip there. That was one of a select offering of shore excursions available and the subject of our next post…whenever that might be.



To visit Chris' blog click here: www.chriscruises.com
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Having a 'Double Wow' Vacation on Royal Clipper

Guests Ed and Nancy are on Royal Clipper, and as you can read they are having the time of their lives. Thanks to them for sharing their thoughts and photos!





It is just incredible, this trip ... one has to be here to fully understand this unique experience. We're sitting in the newly opened Nutmegs in Grenada, a place we've been coming to every time we've been here except they had closed last year. A beautiful day, no rain, sunny, almost hot and we're being treated with a steel drum concert on board tonight before sail away at midnight. The food is beyond over the top, the crew are beyond exceptional, the beds are very comfortable, and the wind in the sails lulls us to sleep at night. We're meeting many guests, mostly English, however, they are from all over the world. It is beautiful and casual at the same time.







Our group is now well known (in two short days) and we are having such a great time. Sail away is magnificent ... it is magical ... and when we left Barbados, the guests on a cruise ship in port were hanging off the rails waving and taking pictures as we left port. And the music ... oh, the music ... we were enchanted! We wish that all of you could be on board with us ... and today as we got into the tender, all these rafts were tied together floating off the marina deck of the boat for those who wanted to enjoy. More like the catamaran than a cruise ship! BUT WE ARE GUESTS TREATED ROYALLY!



Beautiful ship, beautiful people, double wow ... what more can I say.









[caption id="attachment_14634" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Lunch at Barbados with Karen, Gloria, Mike, Bob, Dick and Nan.







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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, www.chriscruises.com.





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: www.chriscruises.com
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Sister Ships Meet in the Caribbean

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, www.chriscruises.com.

On the way to Cabrits in Dominica, we happened upon another ship with sails, smaller 172-passenger Star Clipper, little sister to our ship, Royal Clipper. As custom would have it, crewmembers gather on deck with the flags of their nations to salute one another. Under the watchful eye of Captain Tunikov, the two ships come close together for a while, with crew and passengers alike waving as songs from the variety of nationalities on board play.



It’s a huge photo opportunity for passengers, able to see a version of their ship up close while at sea. After nearly an hour together, the two ships parted ways as Star Clipper made her way to dock in Dominica and Royal Clipper would anchor not far away. While in port, crew members from either ship will come aboard, see old friends and have some special time during a rendezvous that happens every few weeks during the Caribbean season.






























To visit Chris' blog click here: www.chriscruises.com
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Memories Come Full-Circle for Orlando Chris

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, www.chriscruises.com.





We first saw Royal Clipper docked in Barbados a decade ago, then visiting the port off an 8-day Southern Caribbean sailing of Carnival Legend. Walking by the ship with sails that day, I casually admired the vessel but did not really think much about it; only that it would have been of great interest to my father, at one time fascinated by sailing. But then he had a passing fancy with a number of interests and often brought us along for the ride. Funny how things come full circle sometimes.



First it was golf and we joined a country club. Everyone in the family got a set of clubs, took golf lessons and we learned to love a sport. Then it was flying so dad bought an airplane, we all took flying lessons and learned how to soar. Along came sailing and a sailboat owners we became, learning the basics of seamanship and how to survive the elements. As the sails unfurled aboard Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper, on our first night heading out of Barbados, I thought of my dad and how much he would have enjoyed the experience



And an experience it was.












We talk a lot in this space about the current focus of cruise lines on the experiential element of what they do, regardless of the line. Big ocean ships, once the exclusive domain of the masses doing mass things are honing in on allowing us to step out of our comfort zone and into a new experience, no easy undertaking with thousands of souls aboard. Smaller ocean ships come by it naturally, going to places big ships can’t get close to. On the river, it’s an up close and personal experience with iconic destinations we may have only read about or seen in films or on television.



Just one day into our Windward Islands sailing of Royal Clipper and we see yet another totally unique experience ahead of us.



The largest fully rigged ship that the planet has ever seen, Royal Clipper’s numbers speak for themselves. In this world, it’s not how many tons the ship displaces but how many square feet of sail that counts. And count it does.










As Captain Sergey Tunikov ordered Royal Clipper to sea, music that otherwise might have been coined the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean played to a deck full of well-traveled guests. Random conversation was overheard while we waited for that event to happen, but was silenced as the Royal Clipper’s canvas was unfurled one by one, small sails feeding life into larger ones.



Sailing aficionados on board threw around sailing jargon, most of which had a familiar ring to it. As Royal Clipper moved farther and farther away from shore, sailing off into the night, I couldn’t help but think of my father and how much he would have enjoyed this. I was glad I had that sailing experience as a boy, happy that I could share it with Whitney, along with me on this sailing and humbled by what looks to be quite a unique travel experience, right from the start. Dad would have especially liked that thought.



Stay tuned as we go through the ship and onboard experience as well as the various ports of call seen along the way. This is going to be one amazing ride.



To visit Chris' blog click here: www.chriscruises.com
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Blogging About a Royal Clipper Sailing

Star Clippers guests Daniela and Michael shared these wonderful photos with us from their March 2011 Royal Clipper sailing. For those who can read German, visit their travel blog for entries documenting their cruise experience. For those who can't read German, enjoy the photos!


















































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