Star Clipper Cruise Experience & Cruise Review

by Wendy Fracchia

If you are a sea lover, I want to introduce you to a very unique and special way to enjoy an “experiential cruise” with a favorite small-ship cruise line of mine.

Star Clippers Cruises was founded in 1989 when Mikael & Ann Krafft launched their first of now 3 ships. The fleet consists of the first 2 twin-ships, the Star Clipper and Star Flyer which can accommodate up to 170 guests each, with the Royal Clipper joining the family in 2000. This ship is the world’s largest square rigger ship in service today with five tall masts and includes a drop-down sports deck off the back for all the fun! It can accommodate up to 227 guests and has so much to offer. 

If you go looking for a true “luxury” 5-star experience, I think you’ll be disappointed. There are many luxurious touches throughout the ship, but it is more of a casual-luxurious feeling you have while onboard these ships. Knowing you are doing something unique and special that many will never experience feeds the privileged feeling you have while onboard. It doesn’t take long to realize that you are not really on a “cruise” but instead, a friend’s sailing ship and this is an authentic, not fake experience. 

The On-board Experience - Having sailed on both the Clipper and Flyer, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences onboard, sailing in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. And really, what is not to love about relaxing on the deck watching the gentle push of the wind on the massive sails on the open water or being part of the crew with them, allowing you to hoist sails and take the helm of the captain’s wheel? There is a family-like, casual vibe throughout the ship with wonderful, friendly service from all crew members. The food was plentiful, well prepared, and had great presentation while in both the dining room, the deck, and even beaches when in season. 

There aren’t any elevators onboard, so you need to be physically able to go up and down stairs multiple times a day going from deck to deck, and on and off the ship. You almost always tender on the lifeboats in ports from the anchor location to the dockside, so you need to have good balance as well to keep yourself safe when the water has more motion in it rocking the boat against the stairs off the ship. 

The onboard activities - they are offered both while sailing and in port - are enough to keep you as busy or laid back as you prefer.  They offer watersports such as paddle boards & kayaks right off the side of the ship, you can relax on the bow net over the water or climb the main mast to a thrilling platform for amazing views. We had a yoga instructor onboard our sailings and that was wonderful to do each morning, but if not offered on your sailing, they do morning exercises on deck and deck walking if you need to move.  They offered a tour of the engine room, did a knot-tying class, and captains story time during the day. You can easily be part of the nighttime entertainment from the talent show, the fashion show, and the pirate night fun and games! Then, it seemed every night after the “activity” there was dancing for those who wanted to break loose under the stars. On each of my trips, we’ve had a VERY gifted musician on board who will do piano music during dinner, guitar on deck welcoming you back on board or sing & DJ fun pop & disco music into the night. 

The sail-a-way celebrations they hold, as they leave each port, are exhilarating. They play a very dramatic version of “The Conquest of Paradise” as they raise the sails, and the ship begins to move.  Everyone is on deck watching and waiting to see the wind catch the sails and know we are back on our way. 

The cabins are smaller than most cruise lines and because of the shape of a clipper ship, each is unique in shape and design, but all have the same nautical feel and amenities. The beds slept well with nice down blankets and plenty of storage space. The bathrooms are small. No words to mix there. Your toilet could be part of your shower, but there was great water pressure! Some of the top categories do have jetted tubs. The rooms all have port holes only unless you are Cat 1 on the sister ships or higher on the Royal. The cabins have TVs and DVD players but to be honest, I heard they didn’t work most of the time, but I was too busy to even try to turn mine on. I know some who were with me did watch movies you can borrow from the purser’s office with the help of their cabin attendant. 

Because the pricing is so closely structured based on categories, the cabins sell from the top down meaning the best cabins sell out before the lower levels so don’t wait to book if you want the larger cabins. I have stayed on both the main dining room (name changes based on the ship) deck and the lower deck and thought they were similar in the movement felt while cruising.

The itineraries offered are great and unique! They are one of the many benefits of sailing with Star Clippers. These ships can visit quaint private beaches and pristine small towns that the larger cruise ships simply cannot maneuver to. One of the huge benefits to this is less people to maneuver through while in a port city and seeing a more authentic side of the people and their culture. 

The excursions offered are good combinations of tours & experiences and are not overly priced as you get on most cruise lines. They also don’t offer so many that it is hard to choose what you want to do.

The cruise director will do a port talk at each port for those who just want to do their own thing and not take a tour. They are familiar with the towns and can always point you to a good restaurant, bar, or shop. 

My overall experience on the Star Clipper ships was phenomenal, and I simply loved it. I had an unbelievably good time on each of my journeys with them and look forward to my next trip on the Royal Clipper.   That cruise will be next June 2025.  We will sail from Venice through the Grand Canal, down through Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast.  Here are some of the reviews from our last cruise:

  • This was the best Tour we have taken this far! Wendy made it extremely enjoyable!!!
  • Great time, great people, and great guide.
  • I had a wonderful experience with MMET everything was handled wonderfully. The hotels were fantastic and everything was taken care of and we didn’t have any stress about where to be or when to be somewhere.
  • Excellent tour! Very knowledgeable tour guides. It was a lovely and relaxing vacation. It was so relaxing and beautiful. I loved every stop! So much to see and do!
  • Loved this and the community built!
  • Wendy is an amazing and fun person to go travel with. She is easy to get along with and will take great care of you! and traveling with Star Clipper was like no other experience you will have. their service is amazing and very authentic.