Joining Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper for a Cruise through the Southern Caribbean

Star Clipper's Royal Clipper in Bridgetown, Barbados on December 12, 2015. She is the only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship to be launched since the Preussen of 1902. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Star Clipper’s Royal Clipper in Bridgetown, Barbados on December 12, 2015. She is the only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship to be launched since the Preussen of 1902. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tucked within the maze of gleaming white cruise ships that loomed tall over the piers in the port of Bridgetown, Barbados was a smaller, more unassuming cruise ship. She doesn’t have row upon row of balcony staterooms, nor does she have poolside movie theatres or rock climbing walls that scale her funnel. In fact, Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper doesn’t have a lot of things that the big megaships have – and that’s entirely the point.

Don't like big cruise ships? Royal Clipper, left, could be the ship for you! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Don’t like big cruise ships? Royal Clipper, left, could be the ship for you! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Royal Clipper isn’t your average cruise ship. Royal Clipper is a masterpiece of design and engineering; a classic throwback to the glory days of ocean travel. She is the world’s largest full-rigged, five-masted sailing ship in the world.

The masts are the first things that guests arriving in the Port of Bridgetown are likely to notice. I traced them down with my eyes to Royal Clipper’s striking blue-and-white superstructure. I’ve seen her before – ironically, twice here in Barbados. Once in 2010, and again in 2012. Yet I was unprepared for the surprisingly opulent world that awaited me once I stepped onboard.

Guests casually embark Royal Clipper at her berth in the port of Bridgetown. There are no long lines, no massive check-in operations. Just check your name against the manifest, grab a cocktail, and welcome aboard! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Guests casually embark Royal Clipper at her berth in the port of Bridgetown. There are no long lines, no massive check-in operations. Just check your name against the manifest, grab a cocktail, and welcome aboard! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Guests embarking the other ships in port – Azura, Oosterdam, Seven Seas Navigator and Wind Star – would never imagine that there is a three-story atrium on Royal Clipper that leads from the dining room on Commodore Deck all the way up through Clipper Deck and rising through Main Deck and the adjacent Piano Bar. The atrium terminates with a massive skylight that cleverly doubles as the glass-bottom of the midships swimming pool.

Have you ever seen thousands of litres of water literally suspended over top of a three-story atrium with glass panes separating it from the interior elements? It sure is a first for me – and a very cool one at that.

The gorgeous ceiling above the Piano Bar is actually the underside of the midships swimming pool. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The gorgeous ceiling above the Piano Bar is actually the underside of the midships swimming pool. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper will continue tomorrow with an afternoon on the beach at Union Island, Grenadines! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.

 

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