We first saw Royal Clipper docked in Barbados a decade ago, then visiting the port off an 8-day Southern Caribbean sailing of Carnival Legend. Walking by the ship with sails that day, I casually admired the vessel but did not really think much about it; only that it would have been of great interest to my father, at one time fascinated by sailing. But then he had a passing fancy with a number of interests and often brought us along for the ride. Funny how things come full circle sometimes.
First it was golf and we joined a country club. Everyone in the family got a set of clubs, took golf lessons and we learned to love a sport. Then it was flying so dad bought an airplane, we all took flying lessons and learned how to soar. Along came sailing and a sailboat owners we became, learning the basics of seamanship and how to survive the elements. As the sails unfurled aboard Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper, on our first night heading out of Barbados, I thought of my dad and how much he would have enjoyed the experience
And an experience it was.
We talk a lot in this space about the current focus of cruise lines on the experiential element of what they do, regardless of the line. Big ocean ships, once the exclusive domain of the masses doing mass things are honing in on allowing us to step out of our comfort zone and into a new experience, no easy undertaking with thousands of souls aboard. Smaller ocean ships come by it naturally, going to places big ships can’t get close to. On the river, it’s an up close and personal experience with iconic destinations we may have only read about or seen in films or on television.
The largest fully rigged ship that the planet has ever seen, Royal Clipper’s numbers speak for themselves. In this world, it’s not how many tons the ship displaces but how many square feet of sail that counts. And count it does.
As Captain Sergey Tunikov ordered Royal Clipper to sea, music that otherwise might have been coined the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean played to a deck full of well-traveled guests. Random conversation was overheard while we waited for that event to happen, but was silenced as the Royal Clipper’s canvas was unfurled one by one, small sails feeding life into larger ones.
Sailing aficionados on board threw around sailing jargon, most of which had a familiar ring to it. As Royal Clipper moved farther and farther away from shore, sailing off into the night, I couldn’t help but think of my father and how much he would have enjoyed this. I was glad I had that sailing experience as a boy, happy that I could share it with Whitney, along with me on this sailing and humbled by what looks to be quite a unique travel experience, right from the start. Dad would have especially liked that thought.
Stay tuned as we go through the ship and onboard experience as well as the various ports of call seen along the way. This is going to be one amazing ride.