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Most meals on board are served in the Clipper Restaurant, which always operates on an open sitting basis. Within the set meal hours, you can come and go as you like and sit with whom you like. Dress code is decidedly casual, although shorts and t-shirts are not permitted at dinner time. However, most passengers dress up a little for the Captain's Dinner (a.k.a. Lobster Night) on Thursday. On other nights, you will feel perfectly comfortable in short sleeved shirts and slacks. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style in the dining room, with themed lunches on most days. The quality of these buffets is very, very good indeed. Breakfast features all of the things we have come to expect on the larger cruise ships, including pancakes, French toast, freshly baked rolls, lots of fruit, a choice of cereals, fruit juices and even an omelet station. For late risers, rolls, fruit juice, coffee and tea are available in the Piano Bar until 11 am.

The Oriental Lunch Buffet is overflowing with sushi, Chicken Teriyaki, Sate, stir-fry dishes and even tropical desserts. Watch out for a mean paella and smooth Crema Catalana at the Spanish Buffet and don't miss the Tiramisu and pizza slices at the Italian Buffet! One afternoon, a BBQ lunch is served out in the Tropical Bar. The setup is fabulous, with many vegetable sculptures and we simply can't get enough of the sinful desserts. For those still hungry after such a lunch extravaganza, a tempting afternoon snack buffet is set up daily in the Tropical Bar, featuring fruits, delicious sandwiches and the odd addictive hot specialty. Oh, and fresh fruit and coffee and tea are available around the clock in the Piano Bar. Who needs dinner? Oh well...

Dinner is a social event on board Royal Clipper and it is a lot of fun greeting familiar faces as they make their descend down the grand staircase. On a ship with a capacity of only 200, you pretty well know all passengers by face within a couple of days and get to talk to many ship mates. The open seating policy in the Clipper Restaurant only adds to the camaraderie, with many newfound friends sharing tables. Again, the food is quite good although the portions can best be described as "European", which means some big eaters might consider them too small. The menu is diverse and features a choice of soups, starters, two or three main courses and three desserts. The wine list features many good wines at modest prices and the food quality is excellent, with fresh meat and fish and perfectly cooked vegetables. Though dinner is a perfectly enjoyable event (thanks to our newfound friends the word "hilarious" comes to mind...), the dining operation lacks a certain finesse and does not do justice to the looks of the room. Perhaps because of the open seating policy, service from the international wait staff seems rather uninterested and uneven at times.

Captain Klaus and his bagpipes Good company, good times

Crab races

Talent Show

When the sun sets, most passengers flock to the Tropical Bar to enjoy the warm breeze, a cool drink and some conversation until the need for food guides them in the direction of the Clipper Restaurant. After dinner, it's back to the Tropical Bar for the evening entertainment. Don't expect Broadway revues and celebrity singers though. The entertainment is very low key and in tune with the rest of the cruise experience. One evening you will applaud crewmembers that show the Star Clippers logo wear, the next evening will have you marvel at a Maltese folkloristic performance (featuring an unforgettable rendering of a song called "Maltese Girls are nice"). Whether it is a dancing contest, Star Clipper's famous "Crab Races" or the crazy Talent Night, every night is Party Night in the Tropical Bar. And when the show is over and the Pop Mix Duo takes over, passengers are lured to the dance floor. Then, a welcoming breeze drifts over the deck and the full moon lights up the sea...  Ahhh...

Romance on the high sea Captain Klaus Royal Clipper still life A full moon

But the best evening entertainment must be climbing up to Sun Deck and glimpse at the moon and stars in between the towering masts. Up on the open air bridge the officer of the watch discreetly greets you while he steers the ship towards the next amazing port of call. Unforgettable...


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

First published on August 30, 2003

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