by Pat and Mindy Clar
We first saw the beautiful Star Clipper at the new cruise ship pier in St. Martin
on Sunday morning. She was docked next to RCCL's Nordic Empress and I knew this
was going to be a very different experience. This was my 12th cruise, including
two on Windstar. My wife and I boarded the Star Clipper at four o'clock and were
greeted with a free cocktail and joined the welcome aboard activities including
snacks and live music. We then took care of our details in the ship's library,
got our keys and boarding card, and went to our cabin.
Our cabin was #131 on the lower deck port side at the water line. The cabin
was much nicer the I expected. Although small, it was very well laid out.
Plenty of closet space, a TV, small dresser and, of course, small bathroom. We
had a comfy double bed and the air conditioning was very pleasant.
We went to explore the ship and every thing about the Star Clipper exceeded
my expectations. The dining room was bigger than I thought it was going to be,
the bar and deck area was a very nice place to gather, and the library was very
quaint. The crew introduced themselves along with the captain then we had the
life boat drill which was very painless.
Now it was dinner time at 7:30pm, an open seating event which I prefer. I
am not the guy to give food reviews because I have never had a bad meal on any
cruise ship. I thought the food was very good for the whole trip and very much
liked the custom omelets for breakfast. Our captains dinner stood out because
we had lobster and it was great.
We set sail at 10:00pm for Anguilla and as we got out of the harbor under our
own power the lights on the deck dimmed as the sails started to rise while the
beautiful music from Vangellis,1492 Conquest of Paradise played on the P.A.
The warm Caribbean air, the sails full, and the half moon and stars, does it get
any better than this I thought. The next morning we had to avoid our stop at
Anguilla due to strong winds which I thought was a good move. We sailed to Jost
Van Dyke and that morning we anchored and went to a private beach for all kinds
of water sports including snorkeling, banana boat rides, water skiing, and wind
surfing. The chef brought over all the fixings for a wonderful beach lunch.
That afternoon we sailed to Soper's Hole to anchor for the night. The next
day we sailed for Virgin Gorda and Norman Island. The day there included some
tours and lots of beach time with all the sports staff and their toys. I must
mention that one of the highlights of the trip was climbing the mast enroute to
After a great day we departed for St. Kitts, an overnight trip and our
longest leg--about 120 miles. That night the cruise staff, under the direction
of the talented Patrice, put on the weekly crab races. This was great fun and
the crowd was really getting into cheering on their crab to win the jackpot. I
could not believe that we won and quickly spent our winnings on drinks for our
new found friends on the ship. At St. Kitts we stopped in town for a while and
then sailed again to a secluded beach to spend the day. Later that day the
captain arranged for pictures of the ship under sail by launching the tenders
with anybody who wanted to photograph the ship.
Our last day was spent at the beautiful island of St.
Barts. The ship
anchored in the harbor and tenders ran to town every half hour. St. Barts
was a great place for shoppers or just lookers. Our last night was a short sail
back to St. Martin where we left the ship at 10:00am after our usual custom omelet.
We felt sad leaving the ship and left wanting more which is how I want to
leave. That's how I know I had a great cruise. Now to cut to the chase, how
would I rate it? In a word great! Now let me qualify that by saying this ship is
not for everybody. First of all it is not a cruise ship, it is a sailing ship.
Star Clippers has done an outstanding job of providing many cruise ship features
while still maintaining the sailing ship experience. Some of the things
like steep stairs, high thresholds at doorways, and some generator noise at
certain areas of the ship might bug some people. My only real complaint about
the whole cruise was that some people just do not get it. They are expecting the
Voyager of the Seas--it's a sailing ship, OK. Most of these people were with a
group and did not even book this cruise themselves. The rest of the passengers
were a nice mix of Europeans and Americans and a little older than I expected.
Our cruise had 150 people on board and there was never a line for anything. I
can highly recommend this cruise. We will be back next year and will bring some
friends with us. For those of you who might ask how does this compares to
Windstar, I would say it is close but maybe just a little more fun and laid back
and an outstanding value.
Pat & Mindy Clar