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, Star Clippers 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.
Star Flyer and Star Clipper
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.
Star Clippers 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.
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.
All 42 sails of the Royal Clipper (26 squaresails, 11 staysails, 4 jibs, 1 gaff-rigged spanker) are of the finest quality of Dacron and were tailored by Doyle Ploch Sailmakers of Clearwater, Florida who have made all sails for Star Clippers Ltd. since 1991. The largest order of Dacron in the United States was needed to complete the sails for Royal Clipper. So large, in fact, that the order depleted the entire U.S. supply and Dacron had to be imported from Europe in order to create the 56,000 square feet of sail inventory.
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%.
Her sailing speed, which is determined by weather conditions, fluctuates between 8 knots and 20 knots. At times when the wind fails, Royal Clipper sustains 13.5 knots or higher with her twin Caterpillar 2,500 horsepower diesel engines. These engines are geared together onto a single propeller shaft, sharing an ingeniously designed common exhaust through the hollow steel jigger mast, discharging exhaust high above the stern, a distance far away from any passenger space.
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.
Three swimming pools offer cool refreshment for sunbathers on deck. The pools can use either salt or fresh water. All pools feature-stepped sides. The main pool is inset into the Piano Bar Lounge ceiling and has a uniquely designed glass bottom and side porthole design which filters light down through a three-level atrium to the Dining Room below.
The indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar is situated on the Main Deck at the heart of the ship where passengers congregate throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night. This area can accommodate everyone on board and is the center for the nightly entertainment program as well as the focal point for all on-board activity and events.
The Royal Clipper’s interior spaces are simply dazzling. The majestic three-level atrium Dining Room features a single-sitting, open-seating dining plan with varied international fare and a no-tie dress code. The open Atrium begins at the Piano Lounge on the Main Deck with a spiral stairway hugging the Atrium’s perimeter, accessing retail shops, two decks of passenger cabins and, ultimately, ends at the center of the Dining Room three decks below. The familiar ivory-colored Star Clippers grand piano is positioned high above. Guests enjoy several concerts each day and the soft piano music filters through to the dining room during the evening meal. The design inspires an atmosphere that is festive and never intimidating. Every dining room chair is within easy service reach of the waiters and wine stewards and dining is permitted at the passenger’s leisure within lengthy meal periods.
Among the other luxuries on-board is the Captain Nemo Underwater Spa and Lounge, an exquisite little hideaway that features floodlit underwater views through submarine portholes when the ship is anchored. The Spa, Fitness Center, Unisex Hair Salon, Massage Room and the Skin and Body Treatment Center are also located in this area.
Two identical Owner’s Suites, each measuring 320 square feet, are at the stern of the ship with their own private interior stairway access from the Main Deck. Each one is equipped with a lavish double bedroom with a marble bath and its own whirlpool bathtub and a separate over-sized double sleeping loft with adjacent bath. There is a continuously stocked free mini-bar, a sitting area worthy of the finest mega-yacht and 24-hour cabin service offered for the occupants of the Owner’s Suites. The two suites are adjoining and may be combined upon request for ultra-spacious accommodations.
Fourteen Deluxe Deck Suites, each measuring 255 square feet and featuring outside balconies, are available on Royal Clipper. Each Deluxe Deck Suite has a wide view of the ocean and the balconies - a first for any sailing ship - have room for a table and two chairs for outdoor dining or just relaxing. There is also an extra-wide double bed, convertible to two handsome singles, with an adjacent conversational area overlooking the private outdoor verandah through a large window. Accessible through all-weather entrance, the Deluxe Deck Suites are located along the central interior corridor that connects the ship’s bridge area and the Piano Lounge. These suites are in much demand and should be booked well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Two Deck Cabins, each 175 square feet in space, have a corner location on the Main Deck just abaft of the library, each with a large window facing the stern, and another facing the side deck with a grand view of the sea over the rail. Both Deck Cabins have a luxurious fixed double bed, two chairs, TV for movies and news, satellite telephone, and a full whirlpool equipped marble bath and a mini bar. The cabin décor is upscale and yacht-like traditional.
Ninety outside double cabins, measuring 148 square feet, are located on the Clipper and Commodore Decks. All have a similar layout dressed in traditional polished dark woods, brass accessories, with marine prints, television for movies and news, and a satellite telephone. Most have luxurious double beds that convert to singles.
Passengers control the cabin temperature and there is a keyless entry system to all accommodations utilizing a passenger identification card. Twenty-seven of the Double Outside Cabins are convertible to triples, and there are six inside double cabins. Located to the aft end of the Main Deck’s open space extending beyond the Tropical Bar is the Ship’s Library. With a maximum capacity of about 50 persons, it is ideal for a small group meeting. However, its main use is for quiet reading from the bookshelves that add rich color to the chamber. It is not uncommon to find passengers enjoying a game of chess, backgammon, gin rummy, bridge or checkers by the fireplace located in the center of the library’s aft wall. By virtue of U.S. Coast Guard safety guidelines restricting open fires on commercial vessels, the fire in the fireplace is an electric simulation. Yet, it still emanates a warm, reflective glow that creates a relaxing old-world atmosphere.
Activities on Board
There is so much to do and see on a Star Clippers cruise. A marina platform conveniently lowers from under the Royal Clipper’s stern for water sports and the Star Clipper and Star Flyer offer similar activities from the tender service or on-shore facilities. The friendly, professional Water Sports staff helps passengers enjoy more uncommon adventures such as snorkeling face-to-face with tropical fish and all passengers have access to complimentary water sports including banana boating, sunfish sailing, water skiing and windsurfing. Activities such as aerobics classes, swimming in one of the on-board pools, or taking part of the exciting shore excursions are always an option for passengers. Plus all the barbecues, limbos, crab races, scavenger hunts, talent night, fashion shows and other daily activities that are included in the schedule. Passengers may also spice up their nightlife by enjoying the rhythms of folkloric shows and local entertainment at our many fabulous ports of call.
High above the deck, lookout stations have been created at the first yardarm on each of the masts. Equipped with high safety rails, and a comfortable teak settee for lounging at ease, passengers can observe all the action 60 feet below and out to the edge of the horizon. Passengers wishing to climb to the lookout posts slip on a ship supplied safety vest tethered to a watchful crew member on the deck, who keeps the safety line secured as they make the easy ascent up one of the ratlines. All three Star Clippers ships offer this exciting activity that is bound to be one of the highlights of a Star Clippers cruise.
Sailing Itineraries for Star Flyer, Star Clipper and flagship Royal Clipper cruise the French & Italian rivieras, Spain’s Catalonia and Balearic Islands, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and the ports and coastal resorts of Greece and Turkey in summer and fall. Envious spectators will witness these magnificent tall ships sail the waters where their forbearers originally plied their trade along the eastern and western Mediterranean shores. Optional pre- and post-cruise land tours to give passengers time for an in-depth exploration of some of the most popular homeports and non-port cities. At the end of the summer season, Royal Clipper and Star Clipper head for their winter home in the Caribbean, while Star Flyer heads to Costa Rica. Passengers have the option to book the entire repositioning ocean crossing or individual segments of the voyages. For connoisseurs of sailing, an ocean crossing is the ultimate sea-going experience, balancing the grandeur, adventure and tradition of open-ocean sailing with a sprinkling of exciting port calls, superb service, delicious cuisine and amenities and accommodations seasoned cruisers have come to expect.