Since 1991 Star Clippers Ltd. has offered sophisticated travelers the ultimate cruising vacation alternative – a tall ship “mega-yacht” experience aboard authentic re-creations of the classic sailing clipper ships that ruled the waves during the 19th century.
The brainchild of Swedish entrepreneur, Mikael Krafft, the company operates three of the largest barquentine and full-rigged sailing ships in the world. Star Clipper, Star Flyer and flagship, Royal Clipper are a triumvirate of four and five-masted sailing ships that offer the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht at a price which is often less than one would pay on a large, mass-marketed cruise ship. With Star Clippers, Mikael Krafft has realized his lifelong dream to provide a unique sailing experience for his passengers in full harmony with the environment, the sea and often away from ports congested with tourists.
Launched in 1991 and 1992 in Ghent, Belgium, Star Flyer and Star Clipper were the first clipper ships since 1911 to be granted the certificate of Sailing Passenger Vessel (S.P.V.) by Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. They are both four-masted, square-rigged barquentines, 360 feet long, with 36,000 square feet of sail and carry up to 170 passengers and 75 crewmembers. The two ships filled a niche in the market calling for the casual yet elegant style of a private yacht sailing vacation as opposed to the bigger-is-better theory of the huge floating hotel-cruise ships.
All ships feature open-seating dining, a convivial indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar with an intimate Piano Lounge, and an Edwardian style library with an Époque fireplace. Passengers will be pleased to see antique prints and paintings of famous sailing vessels and gleaming mahogany rails with brass fittings throughout the ship.
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Royal Clipper - The success of Star Clippers over the decade of the 90’s convinced Krafft that the time had come to launch a new ship. Inspired by the “Preussen,” the historic flagship of the famed Flying P Line in Germany, Star Clippers commissioned Royal Clipper, out of the Merwede shipyard in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Royal Clipper is the first five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship to be built since 1902 when her inspiration, Preussen, was launched in Hamburg. She is the largest true sailing clipper ship in the world today and joined the Star Clipper fleet in July of 2000 with immediate accolades world-wide.
Royal Clipper carries the highest rating possible of S.P.V. +100 A1 and is designed to pass all safety and equipment ratings of the United Nations, as well as all U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements. Registered out of Luxembourg, Royal Clipper operates under the respected high standards of the Belgian Maritime Authority.
The steel-hulled vessel is 439 feet long, has a beam of 54 feet and draft of 18.5 feet. She carries 42 sails with a total area of 56,000 square feet. Her highest mast, at an extraordinary 197 feet, includes a 19 foot hinged top section that can be folded down for passing under bridges and power lines. However, her twin sisters, Star Flyer and Star Clipper still hold the record for the tallest mast in the world at 226 feet above the waterline. Royal Clipper accommodates 227 passengers and 105 crewmembers, of whom 20 are needed to handle all sails. The remaining 85 crewmembers serve passenger needs or are on support duty. Well-known yacht designer Donald Starkey of London, England, who has created the décor for many of the world’s most admired mega-yachts, was commissioned to design the Royal Clipper’s interiors. The ageless Edwardian style he chooses here suits Royal Clipper perfectly with its warm, welcoming atmosphere and traditional, nautical flourishes.
At sea, Royal Clipper is always under sail power except when weather or sea conditions require she be assisted by her twin 2,500 horsepower diesel engines.
Experienced sailors use power winches to raise, lower and position sails from the security of the deck. While she may seem to be an apparition from the grand old age of sail, this marvelous wonder is updated with state-of-the-art equipment and navigational systems for the comfort and luxury of 21st century cruising.
Comfortable sailing is of utmost importance and is maintained by prudent control over how many sails are set while at sea. This results in minimum heeling, usually held to less than 6%.
Royal Clipper balances magnificence, adventure, luxury and tradition to create the ultimate seagoing experience. With 19,000 square feet of open deck area and three swimming pools, passengers enjoy a wonderful spacious outdoor environment including 106 square feet of open space per passenger. This exceeds the individual space allotment provided by most conventional cruise ships.
Cabins - cabins on sailing ships are notoriously small. Royal Clipper has two suites with over 300 sq ft each, two corner cabins at 175 sq ft and ninety outside cabins at 148 sq ft. All are similar in size to what you might find on a standard ocean liner.
On Board - dress is casual elegance - no need for suits and gowns, food is gourmet quality in a single seating restaurant.
Prices - are generally in the $280 to $350 per person per night for a comfortable cabin. There are pretty consistent discount programs offered that will take something off those rates or include extra options such as reduced or free airfare or some shipboard perks.
Evaluation - Star Clippers is for guests who want to experience the beauty and excitement of the heyday of sailing ships. The atmosphere is elegant but casual. The food is excellent and the accommodations are comfortable. There are "do it yourself" sailing options at one end of the sailing spectrum and Windstar (limited actual dependence on sails to get around) at the other. Star Clippers is in the middle - the engines are more for emergencies - it is a real working sailing ship.
Sample Itineraries - Star Clippers concentrates on Europe - Mediterranean and Northern Europe - and the Caribbean. Some sample itineraries include:
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