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Royal Clipper
A Sailing Diary

The Royal Clipper Experience


"What's that big cruise ship over there?" A fellow passenger asked that as we watched SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream II anchor nearby. I suppressed my surprise and simply offered the vessel's name. My shipmate probably had the impression that SeaDream II is larger than Royal Clipper (it isn't) because of its appearance, specifically the height of a traditional cruise ship's superstructure versus a sailing ship.

However, Royal Clipper isn't just any sailing ship. Inspired by the legendary Tall Ship Preussen, which in 1902 was the largest and fastest sailing ship in the world, Royal Clipper is the largest and only 5-masted full-rigged sailing ship built since. The similarities stop there. Preussen may have been magnificent, but it didn't feature three swimming pools, a spa and gym, an Internet center, and graceful staircases that connect a triple deck atrium. And there's that "skylight" over the atrium--actually the glass bottom of the swimming pool overhead. 

Polished wood and brass railings surround each of the atrium's decks--at the top, the piano bar is the ship's main salon; in the center is the purser's office, Sloop Shop, and, past trompe l'oeil murals, are cabin corridors; the bottom deck is the grand dining salon, divided by raised sections and intimate alcoves. 


From dawn until late night, the hub of activity is the outdoor Tropical Bar, aft of which is the cozy library with its comfy seating and faux fireplace. Computers are located in the rarely-used Observation Lounge. If the weather is foul, it's the only dry spot to find a forward facing view of the sea.

The Sun Deck features a small bar, three swimming pools (more accurately termed dipping pools), plentiful lounge chairs, and the wheelhouse.

Captain Nemo's lounge and spa/gym are located down a staircase low in the hull. There are no elevators on Royal Clipper.

At only 150 square feet, standard outside cabins are small when compared to most cruise ships, but the efficient layout and nautical appointments make them pleasant and comfortable for two. Triples are available, but, as one shipmate who was sharing a cabin with her sister and mother observed, "I have to leave the room to change my mind." Inside quarters and category 5 cabins are somewhat smaller at 107 to 118 square feet. Check the deck plans for cabin configurations--some have fixed double beds and there is an inside designated for single occupancy.

Deluxe Suites and Owner's Suites range from 204 to 355 square feet and contain such lavish appointments as a whirlpool and mini-bar. Deluxe Suites have tiny private verandas.

Meals are open seating in the formal dining room during scheduled hours; breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style and dinners are leisurely occasions, served in the European manner. Hint: If you want your salad before your main course, just ask. Menus, created in consultation with chef Jean Marie Meulien (who has been awarded Michelin stars throughout his career), include appetizers, soups, pasta, sorbet, at least three entrees, salad, cheeses, and, of course, desserts.

Sunlight streams into the Dining Room from the overhead skylight

Should you want to remain in your bathing suit, casual buffets are set up adjacent to the Tropical Bar at noon (the Deck Snack Buffet) and at 5pm (the Afternoon Snack). Some of us were so full after the latter that we chose to skip the dining room meal (beginning at 7:30) altogether. Some of the "snacks" were themed and filling--a Neptune luncheon, snacks with waffles or crepes, and a taco bar.

While room service is available only to suite occupants, those of us in standard cabins could always find a pot of coffee and fresh fruit trays in the Piano Bar.

"Sailing in search of romance is much like trying to catch the horizon." -- Unknown
Photograph courtesy of Dr. Scott Fenske

Royal Clipper Fast Stats

5,000 tons
439 feet long
54 feet wide
227 passengers (double occupancy)
5 masts
197 feet mast height
42 sails
56,000 square feet of sail area

The feeling of the wind powering this large ship through the water is spine-tingling. However, you will miss the wondrous sight of her underway unless the captain can schedule a photo opportunity utilizing one of the tenders. It can be hit-or-miss depending on the weather, but we were fortunate on my sailing. The demand was so great that two tenders were used. 

I can't even begin to describe the sight of sails unfurling until Royal Clipper was moving through the water (and giving the motorized tenders a run for their money.) Once again, it took my breath away. I was simply awestruck by the power and beauty of pure sailing.

For the trip of a lifetime, or simply the thrill of real sailing, Royal Clipper delivers it all. Don't miss the opportunity to experience this unique vessel. 

You'll sleep like a baby.

Previous Royal Clipper Sailing Diary Segments -->


Life on Board

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