This stunning, fully rigged, five-masted, square-sail clipper is a sight to behold, and the interior amenities, from marble bathrooms to an Edwardian-style three-level dining room, are the company's most plush.
Typical Per Diems: $240+
Royal Clipper sails the Caribbean from Barbados (winter, spring).
Star Clippers' biggest and poshest ship to date -- and at 439 feet in length, one of the largest sailing ships ever built -- the 5,000-ton, 227-passenger Royal Clipper boasts more luxurious amenities than the line's older ships, including marble bathrooms, roomier cabins, a small gym and spa, and three pools. In fact, the ship definitely gives the somewhat-tired-looking, 15-plus-year-old Windstar ships a run for their money in the amenities department, while still having a more rustic ambience. With five masts flying 42 sails that together stretch to 56,000 square feet, Royal Clipper is powerful, too, able to achieve 20 knots under sail power only, and 14 knots under engine power. (Still, as on Star Clipper, the sails are more for show, and typically the engines are also in use 60%-80% of the time, especially at night.) Engines or not, for true sailors and wannabes, the web of ropes and cables stretched between Royal Clipper's sails, masts, and deck -- along with the winches, Titanic-style ventilators, brass bells, wooden barrels, and chunky anchor chains cluttering the deck -- are constant and beautiful reminders that you're on a real ship. The same goes for the creaking, rolling, and pitching.
The bottom line: This ship is a big winner for those who like the good life, but in a gloriously different way than any mainstream megaship could ever provide.
The ship's 114 cabins are lovely and roomy, done up in a nautical motif with navy blue and gold fabrics and dark-wood paneling. All but six are outside cabins measuring 148 square feet (the suites are larger) with portholes, and are some 20 to 30 feet larger than cabins aboard Star Clipper and Star Flyer; they're equivalent in size to the standard cabins on many Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line ships, though they're about 40 square feet smaller than Windstar cabins. Bathrooms are marble in all except the six inside cabins, and all have brass and chrome fittings and plenty of elbowroom, as well as brass lighting fixtures, vanity/desks, hair dryers, safes, telephones, and TVs with DVD players. One problem: There are no full-length closets in the cabins -- but then again, who's bringing an evening gown?
Some 22 cabins on the Main and Clipper decks have a pull-down third berth, but unfortunately it's only about 2 feet above the beds, so even when folded up, it juts out enough so that you can't sit up in bed without bumping your head.
Six tight 113-square-foot inside cabins on the Clipper Deck (category 6) and four outside cabins in the narrow forward section of the bow on the Commodore Deck (category 5) tend to be the best cabin bargains, if you're looking to save a buck.
The 14 255-square-foot Deluxe Suites located forward on the Main Deck are exquisite, with private balconies, sitting areas, minibars, and whirlpool tubs. The Main Deck also has two Owner's Suites measuring 355 square feet; they're connectable, so you could conceivably book them together to create a 710-square-foot suite. Each boasts a pair of double beds, a sitting area, a minibar, and -- count 'em -- two marble bathrooms. Neither suite has a balcony. Suite guests get 24-hour butler service.
There are no connecting cabins, nor any wheelchair-accessible cabins.
Royal Clipper is like no other small sailing ship we've ever set foot on, with a three-level atrium and frilly multilevel dining room that are more like what you'd find on a much larger ship. Like the cabins, the decor of the ship's main lounge, library, and corridors follows a strong nautical thread, with navy blue and gold upholstery and carpeting complementing dark-wood paneling.
The open-air Tropical Bar, with its long marble and wood bar, is the hub of evening entertainment and pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres and drinks, while the more elegant piano lounge just inside hosts the weekly captain's cocktail party. (The ceiling of the piano bar is the glass bottom of the main swimming pool, so shave those legs, girls!) A clubby library is adjacent to the Tropical Bar aft on the Main Deck, and far forward on this deck is an observation lounge where you'll find two computers with e-mail and Internet capability (don't expect to see many people here -- everyone's out on deck).
On the lowest deck, under the waterline and adjacent to the gym, is the little Captain Nemo Lounge, where an underwater spotlight allows you to see fishy creatures swim past the portholes while at anchor (though we never saw anyone using it when we were on the ship).
Pool Fitness & Spa Facilities
Considering her size, Royal Clipper has amazing recreational facilities, with three pools, a gym, and a small spa. The spa boils down to two small massage rooms divided by a partition, plus a room with a hot tub and a small steam room. The treatments are expertly doled out at about $75 an hour.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.