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mef_57

Basic newbie questions about Caribbean sailing on both sizes of ship

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First, I apologize. I haven't time to read all the reviews to find answers as I am trying to take advantage of a very good sail with Star Clippers at the moment; and time may be of the essence.

I haven't cruised for a while, and certainly not at this size or luxury level.

 

I am a solo cruiser and looking to see the islands. Some feel for the islands is great, but there is also the strong draw for snorkeling and ocean time (not just lolling on a beach). I also have some sailing experience, so don't mind putting my hand to trimming the sails or working the wheel.

 

The Grenadines route appeals the most as does the RCs Class 6 room over the Star size ships, but open for all if the smaller ones might fit better..

Is there a different feel between the 2 size ships? Similar clientele, or are the folks on the smaller ships are they more 'hands on' as intimated on the promo videos?

Is anything included in the price? i.e. wine with dinner, or shore excursions?

As a solo traveler, is it possible to eat alone on those nights one is just too tired to chat? Part of the desire to sail is for rejuvenation, not 'all about the ports', or fellow cruisers (blame it on the introversion). I don't want to be a pariah, but sometimes just need my own time and it doesn't look like there are dining options outside the dining room.

Thanks for feedback to help me choose the ship.

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I have sailed on both the Royal and the Star ships a number of times, several times in the Caribbean.

 

Route: on my trips, the best sailing was to be found on the Treasure Island itinerary that features the British Virgin Islands (marketed by the BVI's as a 'Yachtsman's Paradise'). However, I also really enjoyed the Grenadines itinerary.

 

Cabin: I don't have experience of the Cat 6 cabins though I note that the Star ones are on the lowest deck whilst the Royal ones are just one deck below the main deck. The Royal has mainly double beds in its Cat 6 whilst the Star has bunk beds - this suggests that the Star cabins are smaller.

 

Eating alone: Royal has one or two small tables but mainly 6 or 8 seaters whilst Star's tables seat between 6 and ten people. For breakfast and lunch you would have no problem sitting by yourself as people arrive at different times so the dining room doesn't get very busy. However, at dinner there is usually a dash for the dining room at 7.30 pm when the bell is rung. To be sure of dining alone you would be best advised to wait until the people who like dining later go down, probably around 8.45 pm.

 

On board during the day it is easy to find a spot to be alone / not have to make small talk. Try the bowsprit nets or the library or the saloon.

 

Clientele: I haven't noticed a difference between types of passengers on the two ships.

 

'Feel': My personal view is that the Star ships are a bit more involving in good sailing weather than Royal. The fore-and-aft sails mean that the boat is likely to be (smoothly) heeling over in good winds and, because of the sail layout, can operate at wider angles of wind than the Royal's square-rigged sails permit, albeit the Royal can go like a bullet with the wind in the right direction. (Real sailors may care to take me to task at this point because of my sparse knowledge!).

 

In reality, there is not much 'hands on' for passengers to do. Yes, you may get a chance to steer the ship, yes you will get the chance to climb to the crow's nest and yes, at some stage you and your fellow passengers will get the chance to haul a main sail by hand, but that's about it.

 

Price inclusions: sorry, not much! Plentiful (and, usually, very good food); drinking water, tea and coffee 24 hours a day. But excursions, wine and other drinks are all extras.

 

Have a great time and beware....it's easy to get hooked on these ships!

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Purleyking, thank you for taking the time to read and answer my questions. I did also read up on CC on their cruise reviews. That and your replies give me a better idea of choices.

 

I hear you that this type of sailing may become addictive. There is something about the snap of a sail, or the tilt with water running under your feet that a cruise liner doesn't offer. Though truth be told, I am happy to leave line work to others. I would like the bowsprit nets and a chance to go aloft, however. Now living land locked, I miss the feel of being aboard.

Thanks again.

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I have sailed on Star Flyer as a solo in a cat 6 cabin and it has bunk beds and I used the upper bunk for storage, the cabin is small but for one person it was fine, would be really tight for 2 people. I will be on the Royal Clipper in March in a cat 6 cabin and from what I can read it will be larger and have a full double bed and a tv which the Star Flyer did not in a cat 6. At dinner, I was seated with a family of 3 who were great company and I ended up spending a lot of time with them when we went on shore as we had the same plans, lunch I was on the island and most breakfast I ate alone as people came in at different times. My experience was wonderful and I am booked for 2 Star Clipper cruises this winter. I have been able to wait for a no single supplement offer before booking which makes this experience affordable for me.

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I'm also thinking about taking advantage of the no solo supplement offer. This would be my first time on Star Clipper. Most of my other cruises have been on Windstar. Mef, we won't be competing for rooms as I'm leaning toward a Cat 4 room. I definitely want an outside room. The only Cat 5 s on Royal Clipper are at the bow and on Star Flyer they are either far aft or at the bow.

 

I'm generally okay with motion. I've only been really seasick once and that was on a bottom fishing boat which had a really uncomfortable roll as it drifted along for bottom fishing. But I think for a first time out on these ships, it might be better to have a cabin toward midship just in case.

 

The Grenadine Islands itinerary has 3 days where it has an AM port and a PM port. Does that leave enough time to enjoy the ports? I've never had two ports on the same day.

 

Would the Leeward Islands be a better choice? Or Treasure Islands?

 

How is Barbados for a woman traveling solo? I'm a bit more comfortable with St. Maarten, but perhaps that's unfounded?

 

I'm also thinking about one of the Star Clipper sailings - Southern Phuket Island or Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore. Would you recommend one over the other. I've been to the Caribbean but never to Thailand so that would be a more unique destination for me.

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In response to new_cruiser's post:

 

I have enjoyed all the Caribbean routes that Star Clippers operate. In my view, The Grenadines route offers a good variety of beach and town stops, whilst the Treasure Islands route is more beach orientated but is my favourite because it tends to have the best sailing winds (however, be aware that currently there may still be a lot of rebuilding going on in parts of the BVIs following last year's big hurricane).

 

Which route is best for you will depend on your interests and priorities and where you have previously visited - I don't think you can go wrong. I can't really comment on how safe Barbados is for a single woman but the touristy bits that I have visited have all seemed appropriately friendly.

 

I have travelled the Singapore to Phuket route and really enjoyed the variety of ports of call and remote beaches. I have not done any of the circular routes out of Phuket.

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On 8/21/2018 at 9:52 AM, PurleyKing said:

 

Price inclusions: sorry, not much! Plentiful (and, usually, very good food); drinking water, tea and coffee 24 hours a day. But excursions, wine and other drinks are all extras.

 

 

Just looking into this cruise lines and see that their website seems to say all non alcoholic beverages, which contradicts your reply.  Can I ask which is correct - is it all non alcoholic, or just water and 24 hour tea/coffee?

 

I am interested in the main differences between their smaller ships and the smaller 'normal' cruise ships which take about 600 to 900 pax which is our normal fodor.  Are the cabins comparable for instance (we are happy with a window cabin or even an inside) and how do they handle when the seas get a little choppy?  Also what would you suggest as the cheapest, reasonable cabin type/location on the ship.

 

The thought of travelling on a tall ship really appeals, so would be worth splashing out on for the experience, though we do not normally pay a vast amount for our cruises.  The cruise location is not so important, so likely to choose the best price, though the cruises from Phuket appeal and the Med would be easy to get to, regards cost and length of flight from the UK.

Edited by tring

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I have sailed on all three Star Clippers ships several times.

All drinks are chargeable apart from tea and coffee, which are available 24 hours a day in the piano bar. Also drinking water, available from a dedicated "fountain" in the tropical bar; you may refil bottles from this. You get a complimentary bottle of mineral water in your cabin on boarding. You may purchase replacements in the bars.

Cabins are compact but well designed; these are tall ships not cruise ships with sails. They handle well in most conditions, but may heel in the manner of all sailing ships. They do not roll like power boats but do pitch in heave seas.

The main difference between Star Clippers and conventional cruise ships is that Star Clippers essentially provide voyages on tall ships rather than cruises. More like what I imagine travelling on a large private yatch would be like. So expect a real feeling of being at sea, good food, drink and service. Convivial evenings socialising with your fellow passengers; passengers who tend to be well educated, read and travelled and (it must be said) well heeled. Don't expect shows, formal entertainment, casinos and other such trappings of normal cruise ships; it is not that type of experience.

I love it!

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6 hours ago, Denarius said:

I have sailed on all three Star Clippers ships several times.

All drinks are chargeable apart from tea and coffee, which are available 24 hours a day in the piano bar. Also drinking water, available from a dedicated "fountain" in the tropical bar; you may refil bottles from this. You get a complimentary bottle of mineral water in your cabin on boarding. You may purchase replacements in the bars.

Cabins are compact but well designed; these are tall ships not cruise ships with sails. They handle well in most conditions, but may heel in the manner of all sailing ships. They do not roll like power boats but do pitch in heave seas.

The main difference between Star Clippers and conventional cruise ships is that Star Clippers essentially provide voyages on tall ships rather than cruises. More like what I imagine travelling on a large private yatch would be like. So expect a real feeling of being at sea, good food, drink and service. Convivial evenings socialising with your fellow passengers; passengers who tend to be well educated, read and travelled and (it must be said) well heeled. Don't expect shows, formal entertainment, casinos and other such trappings of normal cruise ships; it is not that type of experience.

I love it!

 

Thank you very much for the kind reply.

 

Lack of "shows, formal entertainment, casinos and other such trappings of normal cruise ships" alone sounds well worth travelling for.  We were very found of Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery before All Leisure went bust, but we only used Swan if we were likely to want those included excursions (e.g. The Amazon and Iceland) as we usually prefer to be independent.  Having good company of like minded people to ourselves who were genuinely interested in the countries visited was a large part of the appeal of those cruise lines, along with the quality of the speakers (academics, ex diplomats and real nature experts etc).

 

We are well educated, but with public sector backgrounds (and the fact I did not remain employed through parenthood) our 'heeling' is rather slim.  Can I ask about the cost of any excursions which may be needed, (or are many ports OK to DIY), and cost of tips and bar prices?  I am thinking they will probably be similar to the US based lines rather than the UK ones and perhaps to the high side of that.  I have looked at their website and find it pretty poor, but we are off to a cruise fair soon when I think there will be a rep from Star Clippers, so would be useful to have a background knowledge before speaking with the rep and perhaps booking a cruise.  I think we will fit in well with the clientelle, as long as there is not a snobbish atmosphere.

 

Also, as you are well experienced with Star Cippers, is there any particular part of the world you would suggest as a first (and possibly only) venture on one of their ships and any particular ship?

Edited by tring

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Suggested tips (for cabin attendant and restaurant waiters) are 8 € per person per day. Bar prices are very affordable (i. e. soft drinks about 2.50 €, tap beer about 3 €, several house wines starting at about 16 €/bottle. And good to know: Service charge is already included in drink prices. As service is always between very good and excellent, feel free to give some extra tip. 😉

 

As the ship (or the tenders/zodiacs) usually go directly to the 'hot spots' (whenever possible; depends on destinations), you may do a lot on your own in most cases.

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With that level of suggested tips we would willingly add some more as appropriate and yes bar prices are reasonable (though best not to talk too loudly about that).  Also we were thinking we would be happy in the (mainly) smaller ports, but good to have that clarification.  Overall certainly sounds doable for us.

 

Thanks very much for all the help,

 

Barbara

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