Hi Paul, just found your post. We were on the Star Flyer in her inaguaral year and are leaving this Thursday for Cannes, Fr for the first Transatlantic Crossing of the new Royal Clipper - 21 days to Barbados. We are very excited, waited 4 LONG years for it to come on board. And we like sailing ships. Will report when I get back!
We were on the Royal Clipper for the first Transatlantic Crossing from Cannes to Barbados. Was quite an adventure. First night and day out of Cannes, REALLY big storm, hanging onto the bed to try to stay in it and our things flying all over the cabin, next day dishes crashing in the galley, furniture falling over, etc. Food served on paper plates, That fortunately was the only real "weather" that we had. We made the port time into Mallorca and had a nice tour, but managed to get later and later, barely time for tour in Ibiza and 10 hours late getting into Malaga. Some of the passengers were getting off and some getting on in Malaga so it was quite a mess. No tour at 10pm of course. One more little squall just after we passed Gibralter, but after that smooth "sailing". We enjoyed the tour in Beautiful Madeira and would like to go back there for a land stay. Las Palmas on Grand Canaria was interesting, but the tour guide was a dud. It would have been better with one that knew what he was doing.
We departed Las Palmas at dusk under full sail (no motors) with a big send off from the locals, and the dramatic tones of the sound track from "1492 - Conquest of Paradise" on all the speakers. Off to Barbados for 10 days at sea following roughly the same path that Columbus sailed on his last trip to the Caribbean. It was very exciting!
The ship itself was a work in progress for the entire cruise. It had been late getting out of the ship yard and many things were being accomplished while we were at sea. Some design problems - the layout of the dining room was really crowded and made it difficult for the waiters and passengers to get around - not to mention the fact that the galley was one deck below and everything had to be carried up and down stairs. Crew members were completing, fixing, painting and in general doing finish work for the entire cruise. The top deck was spacious enough, but it was cluttered with ropes, tools, lines, and workers for the cruise. Most annoying of all was the vibration/shudder that was most pronounced at the stern, but was noticeable throughout the entire ship. Although the brochure mentions stabilizers, they were not working properly and the ship rolled her way across the Atlantic, even under sail.
I did get to see other cabins - the outside cabins are spacious and the cabins with verandahs are beautiful. Service in the dining room was good overall considering the crowding. Waiters Suwarno and Ahmet were wonderful as was Head Waiter Herman. Bar Manager Alton had been a waiter when were on the Star Flyer 8 years ago and is very personable.
The ship seems to give out a mixed message - a sailing ship that wants to appear more upscale than it actually is. Some passengers that had been on Windstar thought it would be the same and were very vocal in their disappointment. We have been on 20 Windjammer Barefoot Cruises and one of the other Star Clipper Ships and the RC was fussier than I had expected and would have liked. Guess that is why there is more than one ship in the world. :-)
I have heard from a passenger that has sailed since it has been in the Caribbean who said that apparently many things have been corrected because they had a grand time. I am sure that more improvements will be made as time goes on. When one goes on an Inaugural cruise on any ship one's expectations shouldn't be too high because unexpected things will happen.
E-mail me with any specific questions. We are still very satisfied with Star Clippers and are possibly going to do the repositioning of the Star Flyer next October from Athens to Phuket.