We are experienced cruisers in our late 60's and decided to try something different. We loved the itinerary of this particular cruise, going to ports that are not usually visited by big cruise ships, apart from Portofino.
Royal Clipper is a beautiful vessel and is kept spotlessly clean and well maintained. We knew ahead of time that the cabin would be smaller than what we are used to and that we would not be having a balcony but only two portholes. Storage was adequate but very limited and the bathroom small. The bed was pushed against the wall, which made getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night very awkward.
Sail way, when the sails are raised, music playing and champagne served, is quite magical. The final evening, with the under the stars disco and the sails lit up was breathtaking.
Food is quite good. Not as extensive a menu as a larger cruise of course, but quite adequate. Breakfast and lunch are buffets and dinner, waiter service. Service is excellent by both dining room staff and bar staff. All crew are exceptionally friendly but it is unfortunate that the same cannot be said about some of the officers, who appeared standoffish. Room stewards were friendly and our cabin was kept spotless. He even made towel animals.
Embarkation in Cannes was clumsy due to the ship being anchored rather than docked. Disembarkation in Rome went a lot more smoothly. Safety drill on the first evening took an hour and then a second drill on the first morning also took an hour. This seemed excessive and disorganized.
The dining room itself seems to have too many tables and chairs for comfort and the buffet is poorly designed, so that only a few passengers can access it at once. Up on deck, the sun beds are far too close together so that it is impossible to alter the reclining position without pulling it out of the line. There is very little shade on deck. Although a small area has an awning.
The atmosphere on the ship was very different to other cruises we have enjoyed. A large contingent of German doctors on a 'conference' were on board. It did not seem to make for a particularly friendly atmosphere on the ship. We understand that many such 'conferences' are a staple on Star Clipper lines.
A beach stop was offered on Corsica. I understand that this is at the discretion of the harbour master and that no choice is made by the Captain. The beach offered could not accommodate the tenders, so Zodiacs were used. The sea was choppy and entry onto the Zodiac difficult. When we saw the state of the beach as we approached it, we were not impressed. The sea was full of weed, and the beach strewn with debris. There were no facilities whatsoever. Passengers were expected to get out of the Zodiac with waves going up to their waists. We decided not to get off and returned to the ship. Upon disembarking from the Zodiac, my husband slipped against the metal edge of the dock, injuring his shin and requiring stitches. This was promptly dealt with by the ship's nurse. I made a complaint to the Hotel Manager that the beach was not of the standard we would have expected and that the sea was too choppy to get on and off the Zodiacs safely. No phone call to our cabin was received to answer my complaint. In fact the Hotel Manager approached me at the bottom of the staircase as I was going to dinner. In a curt manner she told me that the beach had nothing to do with the Captain and that the seas were of acceptable limits. My husband was right behind me. She did not speak to him but merely asked me how he was. I said he was not good and I was unimpressed with her handling of the situation and how on other lines, it would have been dealt with differently. No concern or follow up was made by her for the rest of the cruise. The only people who appeared to care were the waiters and the bar staff. This left a bitter taste in our mouths about the level of concern shown when one of the passengers was injured.
Very little entertainment was offered apart from talent show, fashion show, quiz evening and Mr. and Mrs. Contest. For a line that prides itself on being a cut above the average cruise line, these entertainments seemed to me to be childish and banal. The only talks given were Captain's stories and a talk on pirates. Napkin folding and knot tying class were given. A visit to the Bridge was advertised but the officers had forgotten until they were reminded twenty minutes late ....An engine room visit was also included. Mast climbing was offered but was so poorly organized that many of the passengers were disappointed they did not get a chance to climb. Water sports were often cancelled but some people enjoyed swimming off the marina platform.
Excursions were few but were reasonably priced. Drinks were reasonably priced.
My husband found the fitness room had exercise bikes which were old and in poor condition, the ceiling is low above the treadmill making it difficult for someone of any height to use.
In summary we were glad to have experienced this cruise line, but would be unlikely to again. These cruises are not cheap and many compromises are made, for the sake of seeing sails go up and down.
Clean and well maintained. Cramped and limited storage. Bed against the wall. Two portholes. Both key cards kept disabling even when kept away from electronic devices. Very quiet and almost no motion.