royal clipper - star clippers - cruise ship review and photos
Royal Clipper off Mazara del Vallo, Sicily

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"Clippering? Friends look at me in disbelief when I tell them I am about to set sail on Royal Clipper, the largest sailing ship in the world. Being a veteran of over 30 cruises on the most luxurious floating palaces the choice of a sailing ship does not seem too obvious for some. But what most people don't know is that "Clippering" combines all the comfort of a traditional cruise with the magic of actually sailing on a ship that seems to come from the pages of a history book. With her 42 sails, teak wooden decks and five gigantic masts, Royal Clipper draws crowds wherever she goes. And as we leave the port of Civitavecchia on the first evening, the masts fully illuminated and with the music of Vangelis sounding over the PA system, I know we are in for an unforgettable week.

Our week of utter relaxation starts too early on a Saturday morning as my good friend Lucy and I check in for the KLM flight from Amsterdam to Rome, arriving at Leonardo da Vinci Airport right on time. We have pre-booked our transfer to the port of Civitavecchia through Star Clippers, which means we are welcome to drop off our luggage at the Hilton Airport Hotel, help ourselves to coffee and tea and basically take it easy until it is time to hit the road.  Without even pointing a finger at our luggage anymore, we board the coach at 4.30 pm and enjoy the 90-minute drive through the arid countryside towards the coast. Finally, there she is... Royal Clipper.

Welcome to Rome! Rome Airport Hilton Star Clippers hospitality room at the Hilton All Aboard!
First sight of Royal Clipper Royal Clipper at Civitavecchia Royal Clipper at Civitavecchia Royal Clipper at Civitavecchia

Within minutes after our arrival at the port, we are on board and take up position in the Tropical Bar with a tall tropical drink and a snack checking out our fellow shipmates for this week. These come in all ages, all sizes, all shapes - this cruise is clearly attracting all sorts of people. It turns out we have 175 fellow passengers on board this week from 20 different nations. If ever there was a multi-culture cruise experience, this must be it! But first, let's discover our cabin. We find our way to deck 2, where cabin 205 is located pretty much forward. The cabin corridor slopes up when we walk further forward and to our amazement (and amusement) we find the floor in our cabin sloping up as well! The room itself is of adequate size, with twin beds that can be made up into one queen sized bed, TV, direct-dial telephone and a marble bathroom with shower. There is a tiny sofa perched between the bed and the wall, underneath the television and closet and drawer space could be more generous. But the fine looks of the cabin, its twin portholes, beautiful wood paneling, attractive artwork make the cabin feel very welcoming from the first minute.

Cabin 205 Cabin 205 Cabin 205 Marble bathroom
Cabin corridor Cabin 205 Bathroom Cabin 205

Departure from Civitavecchia is not until 10 pm and dinner is served in an open seating, so we first tour our beautiful ship. Modeled after the famous German sailing barque Preusen, her hull was newly built in Poland in 1999, with her outfitting work was done at a yard in the Netherlands in 2000. Royal Clipper is the proud holder of the title of largest sailing ship in the world, and combines her old-world charm with all the contemporary facilities you could ask for. From fitness center to formal restaurant, this unique ship has it all. Spread over 3 decks are her 114 comfortable living quarter, ranging from compact inside cabins to wonderful suites with private balconies. Her beautiful wooden paneling, murals and high-quality furnishings make her interiors look very handsome.

Registered in Luxembourg Ready to sail! Sun Deck Royal Clipper figurehead

We first have dinner in the very elegant Clipper Restaurant and are seated directly beneath the main swimming pool (more about that later) at a large table with 4 Australians and 2 Americans. The mood is upbeat, the accents are diverse, the food very good and the wines fine. By the time we finish eating the lines are already cast and Royal Clipper is heading towards the open sea. With her masts covered in lights and the sound of Vangelis '1492" wafting over the open decks, we are captured in the excitement and romance of "Clipper Cruising". Our voyage of discovery on Royal Clipper has begun!

Royal Clipper Royal Clipper Royal Clipper Royal Clipper


Photos and text: 2003 Bart de Boer -

First published on August 30, 2003

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