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Copyright © 1995-2001 
Linda Coffman

Star Clipper
February 2001

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 Virgin Gorda.

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.

Happy Cruising,
Pat & Mindy Clar

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