3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
Star Clippers' three (soon to be four) tall ships are for people looking for a one-of-a-kind seafaring experience. Clear skies, blue seas and billowing white sails add up to a romantic fantasy voyage. There's a sense of adventure, too. Though itineraries are mapped out in advance, there are days on some cruises when the captain follows the whim of the wind so passengers can enjoy the full sailing experience. Those who want a true adventure can join the twice-yearly transatlantic crossings, when the ships reposition between the Mediterranean and Caribbean. New experiences are what the Star Clippers fleet is all about.
Depending on the captain and the cruise director, informal classes in knot tying or celestial navigation might be on the daily program. The crew and passengers often star in the evening shows and games. Forget guest lecturers, nightclub-type floorshows, a casino, elevator or round-the-clock room service. Water sports are a major component of each cruise, with a from-the-ship program featuring complimentary snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and waterskiing. Diving trips and certification classes are also on offer, as are therapies in a small massage tent from the onboard Thai masseuse. Royal Clipper, the flagship, has a water sports platform in the stern for use when the ship is at anchor in a suitable spot, as well as a spa. Both of these are features that will be included on the new ship, too.
Themed cruises take place several times a year across the fleet. In particular, topics include yoga and meditation, but others have included archaeologists and even a retired Star Clippers captain.
The cabins offer yacht-type creature comforts. They're compact in design with lots of doors and drawers to keep everything in place when under sail. Soft furnishings and linens were replaced on all three ships between 2013 and 2015. Meals, except for dinner, are buffet style and feature an international mix of foods. Made-to-order eggs at breakfast start the day on a high. There's usually a pasta station or carving table for lunch, lots of salads and creamy desserts. Dinners are a la carte and served by waiters -- quite good, but not gourmet. The menus and food presentation are supervised by culinary advisor Jean-Marie Meulien, a top French chef with many Michelin stars to his name.
In comparison to Windstar Cruises or Sea Cloud Cruises, Star Clippers nearest rivals, a Star Clippers cruise is a more casual voyage; it's more about the sailing than the facilities onboard. Although passengers are not required to sail the ship, this is nonetheless a sailing experience and is never sold as a "luxury cruise." The new ship, though, which will have 38 cabins with private balconies, may present more of a challenge to these high-end lines.
In the Caribbean, about half the passengers are North Americans, and half are Europeans. In Europe, fellow passengers are primarily European: French, Italian, English and German. The Southeast Asian itineraries attract a higher proportion of Australian travelers. Passengers span a wide age range; you might be traveling with a group of 30-somethings and another group of 70-somethings. Many passengers are repeaters who own their own boats. Children over the age of 8 or so can have a grand time, but don't expect full-scale children's programs or youth counselors.