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All sails are out!

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We spend Sunday under sail slowly drifting towards Sicily. There is hardly any wind, but it is an incredible sight seeing all sails unfurled and gently rippling in the breeze. With the engines turned off, there are only the sounds of the sea and sails to enjoy, occasionally interrupted by the tinkling of ice cubes in a tall glass or the faint sound of a crew member mending one of the sails. There is no calypso band pounding across the open deck, no belly flop competitions. Instead, passengers are seen climbing one of the five incredibly tall masts, watched by the less energetic from the sun beds deep down on Sun Deck. This must be the epitome of relaxation, also known as "Clippering"! 

Royal Clipper still life Bowsprit Royal Clipper still life Royal Clipper still life
Bow Royal Clipper still life Sun Deck Star Clipper house flag

Whereas modern luxury liners are constructed with only the passengers in mind, Royal Clipper is a replica of a true sailing ship and as such is full of ropes, vents, winches, cables and sails. With the ship taking center stage, it almost seems at times that the passenger is less important. You can see crew members taking care of ship matters around the clock, but the bar tender might well have disappeared, leaving you waiting for him to return. Don't expect roaming waiters carrying trays of overprized tropical cocktails. "Clippering" means you go to the bar if you want a drink; it's as simple as that! And be honest, is there anything wrong with that?

Lucy "panicking" during the Emergency Drill... Captain Klaus Crew introduction in the Tropical Bar Captain's afternoon talk on the bow

Most activities on board take place in the Tropical Bar, een semi-open space on Main Deck with a large bar, a beautiful teak wooden floor and the cage of  resident parrot Murphy. The Tropical Bar is without doubt the most popular spot on board. On Sunday morning we attend the Captain's Welcome Presentation here. Captain Klaus is German but lives in Scotland. Together with his twin brother he has commanded the Star Clippers fleet, with a crew that is as international as the passengers. The masseuse is from Thailand, the Cruise Director is Belgian and the good looking water ports team hails from Sweden. The passenger list is just as impressive and varies from a group of Japanese women to a bunch of rowdy but oh so amusing Aussies. We get to know them all on the balmy starry nights at the Tropical Bar. 

Royal Clipper still life Piano Bar Tropical Bar Piano Bar
Library Captain Nemo Lounge Library Meeting room

Still, the Tropical Bar is not the only public room on board. The heart of Royal Clipper is the three-deck high atrium that stretches all the way from the beautiful Clipper Restaurant on Commodore Deck to the glass bottom swimming pool on Sun Deck. On Main Deck is the spacious Piano Bar. When the weather doesn't cooperate you can relax here, looking at the tall masts through the rippling waters of the pool. The bar serves up the most exotic of drinks, on tables you will find fresh fruit aplenty and every afternoon we see passengers study the dinner menu. More intimate is the Library, located aft on Main Deck and only accessible through the Tropical Bar. And if that is not enough, why not descend below sea level to the Captain Nemo Spa & Lounge, featuring a fitness room, beauty salon and Turkish Bath. Through portholes you can look at the underwater world. And I can now confirm that fish are just as curious of our wonderful clipper!

Clipper Restaurant Looking up through the swimming pool Clipper Restaurant Clipper Restaurant
Clipper Restaurant Clipper Restaurant Clipper Restaurant Clipper Restaurant

The "pièce de résistance" of Royal Clipper is the stunningly beautiful Clipper Restaurant, set  down in the ship at the bottom of the three deck high atrium. The shiny wood paneling and elaborate sailing ship artwork, combined with the ornate lighting fixtures and classic furniture give the room a feeling of an elegant French brasserie. From the restaurant, the mast that towers some 50 meters (160 feet) above can be seen through the rippling green waters of the main glass bottom swimming pool. A word of warning: think twice before plunging into the pool during meal hours as you will end up as the perfect lunchtime entertainment!


Photos and text: © 2003 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on August 30, 2003

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