Rome to Venice aboard Royal Clipper

trip-images-stripRome

Jodie & I were lucky enough to be on the first leg of this fantastic sailing. Starting in Rome, we had the hospitality transfer which involved a conference room at the Airport Hilton Hotel. There were snacks provided, including pasta salads, cake and tea, coffee and water was provided. There was also an opportunity for those early arrivers to take a shuttle bus into the city centre of Rome. Unfortunately we didn't have time to do this, so relaxed in the conference room.

On arrival seeing the Royal Clipper was absolutely amazing with it’s grandeur and elegance. We were welcomed on board with a cocktail, eager to see our cabins and wonder around the ship whilst the remaining passengers arrived throughout the afternoon.

We were shown to our category 3 cabins along the Commodore deck which have a double bed, portholes and marble lined bathrooms. These cabins are middle range of what Star Clippers can offer and are more than adequate in terms of space and decor, very elegantly designed.

All of the passengers were called for the compulsory lifeboat drill, we grabbed our life jackets in our cabins and headed to the muster station at the Tropical Bar. Surrounded by everyone wearing their life jackets for the drill, a sea of orange, we had our cabin numbers called out to ensure we were there for this important information of how to evacuate, where to go and what to listen for.

We headed (looking glam) to the restaurant and waited to be seated. We were sat with a very well-travelled trio from Washington DC and South of France, although not travelling together, the conversation and laughter flowed over our several courses and glasses of wine. The menu each night provides a great choice, tonight a beautiful Veal option was opted for followed by a light mint choc chip mousse.

At 10pm we were ready for the first sail away, waiting on the Sun Deck, lights to set the mood were beamed on to the sail, and the sounds of Vangelis Conquest of Paradise played. It was really magical and the atmosphere was euphoric.

We returned to the Tropical Bar for a nightcap after an hour of sitting on the sun deck, taking it all in. Sailing this way is definitely something to recommend.

 

palmarola-and-ponzaPalmarola & Ponza

We chose to relax this morning before our arrival into Palmarola and explored more areas on board of the Royal Clipper. However some of the guests had been to use the gym on board the ship which is located on Commodore deck. Not many other gyms have an outlook through the port holes whilst you use the treadmill, which makes for an interesting workout. Once the pool had been filled, water aerobics was offered as a morning activity by the watersports team. Plenty of options for those early risers or indeed those who wish to remain active.

Breakfast is set out in the restaurant with plenty to choose from, cereals, toast, fried breakfast, fruits, cheeses, and pastries, tea, coffee and fresh juices, you definitely won't go hungry on board.

We were ready to board the tender at 10am for a cruise around Palmarola (part of the Italian Pontine Islands). Rather rocky boarding the tender ship, you didn’t notice this whilst on board the Royal Clipper. The sea was turquoise blue, and so inviting. Seeing the rocky landscape of the island was stunning. There were a lot of private yachts surrounding the inhabited island, an obvious popular Italian holiday destination. The other activity available was snorkeling off the island where there was another tender awaiting to take fellow passengers on this trip. Snorkels & fins are provided and you can keep hold of these for the duration of the sailing.

After the relaxing cruise around Palmarola we headed back to the beautiful Royal Clipper for lunch before our next stop of the day - Ponza another Pontine Island. Lunch provided on board is a buffet, as well as a chef cooking a special option of the day. Breads, soup, a selection of meats & cheeses, fruits and an array of small desserts, today the chef was cooking Spaghetti Bolognaise.

We arrived at Ponza early afternoon where passengers who had booked an excursion boarded the first tender to the island. We decided to do our own thing, and have a wander around the port. With the temperature scorching we put our bikinis on and grabbed a beach towel and headed ashore. Once ashore we walked along the road to the next beach along and got straight into warm sea. After a refreshing swim we strolled back towards the tender, other passengers had headed up the hills to explore the church and village. It was far too hot for us so we went back to the ship, the the Marina Platform where the on board watersports team are on hand to assist with a number of activities offered. We ventured to the sun deck late afternoon to relax on one of the many sun lounges dotted along the deck.

Sail away took place at 6pm. With a strawberry dacquiri in hand, we joined passengers who had gathered at the front of the ship to take in the 1492 music of Vangelis and seeing the sails rise as the Second Officer took to the wheel, making us feel like real sailors.

After dining at a different table within the restaurant tonight, a fashion show took place for the evening’s entertainment which involved many of the crew. This was followed by music played by the onboard Pianist Gabor. The Tropical Bar is ‘the’ place to be at night with the crew behind the bar on hand to continue to pour our new favourite cocktails. We could both certainly get used to this!

 

capriCapri

Today was our penultimate day, just as we were starting to get used to this way of life.

We were arriving in Capri for 11am and were both really looking forward to this stop as everyone had spoken very highly about this particular port of call. The views from the ship were impressive and we were eager to get to dry land and discover more and of this picturesque location. Many passengers had pre-booked a shore excursion taking in the beautiful scenery of Capri by boat, cable car and by foot. We decided to explore independently and go at our own pace and absorb as much as possible.

In Capri, the Italian port authority provide the smaller tender boats. Once at the port we headed straight for the funicular railway. Once out of the station we were welcomed to warm Mediterranean colours bouncing off white buildings. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Versace, Guess, Chanel & Hugo Boss were among a few of the designer shops we found through the cobble streets. Cafes and restaurants filled the square of beautiful people. To cool down we both devoured a traditional Italian Gelato whereby we were spoilt for choice with the assortment of flavours.

We took the tender back to the ship late afternoon, with enough time to have a relaxing hour on the sun deck with a good book in hand and a refreshing glass of lemonade.

Glamming ourselves ready for an evening with the Captain, we went for pre-dinner drinks at the Tropical Bar before making our way down to Commodore deck for dinner which consisted of a light salad, followed by lamb served with a selection of vegetables and lentils, and a creamy chocolate mousse to finish.

After an enjoyable evening meal, the Captain invited all of us to the bridge. With only the moon for light, there were quite a few passengers on the sun deck taking in the sea air. The bridge although small was very technical. We could see surrounding ships on the radar system, as well as a map showing our journey. After learning all we could about sailing for one night, we returned to the Tropical Bar for the rest of the evening.

We can't believe this is our last night on board, we certainly don't want to leave!!!

 

taorminaTaormina

Hannah and I were lucky enough to be sailing the middle section of the cruise and what I considered the most picturesque and interesting part.

After arriving at Giardina Naxos – Sicily, we were able to watch the impressive 5 mast Royal Clipper sail into the bay. We watched from a pizzeria, sipping ice cold Sicilian white wine and as locals and tourists took pictures of the ship, Hannah commented that the ship looked like it sailed from a different era. We were extremely proud as we took the tender boat to board our home for the next 4 nights.

As we had an early start and a morning of travelling to Sicily, we decided to use our free afternoon relaxing up on deck. This also gave Hannah the opportunity, who had not sailed with Star Clippers before, to familiarise herself with the 4 decks on the ship and take a tour down to the Marina Platform, where a few passengers were swimming off the back of the ship. Most passengers had disembarked for the afternoon in Naxos and taken a short taxi ride (7 min) uphill to the stunning town of Taormina. Taormina is settled on the hill of Mount Tauro and dominates two grand sweeping bays below. Mount Etna can be seen and offers a dramatic and memorable view. Having been to Taormina before I recommend to passengers to meander around the cobbled streets, full of shop and restaurants, stopping at the Greek Theatre, which is built into the hillside.

Our colleagues Jodie and Alison who had one last evening onboard introduced us to some of the passengers, of many nationalities who they had made friends over their first few days. Shortly after a few cocktails in the Tropical Bar together as the sun was setting, we made our way inside past the glass roofed atrium to the dining room.

Dinner consisted of Fresh Salmon, watermelon sorbet and to finish a selection of cheeses, perfect and not too heavy as we knew we still had an evening of watching the Sicilian dancers, brought onboard to entertain the guests. After a sad farewell to Alison and Jodie, we gathered up on deck for a late night sail away. The music being played as the sails were being raised never fails to give me goose bumps.

 

at-seaAt Sea

A full day at sea on day 5 of the trip is the perfect opportunity to recharge those batteries for the remainder of the trip. Taking full advantage of a rare lay in, I surfaced in time to enjoy a relaxing breakfast. This morning, I slowly made my way through the selection on offer including a visit to the egg station along with copious amount of tea provided in the cast iron team pots.

Many guests were already on the sun deck soaking up the rays whilst we sailed the between Sicily and Corfu. Other guests were taking a refreshing dip in one of the pools, whilst others relaxed in the Piano Bar or library.

Today’s activities consisted of a morning session of gymnastics with the sports team with the sports team, a compulsory life boat drill for all passengers to attend, my first experience of this as all of the passengers met in the Tropical Bar in their brightly coloured orange life vests. I was all prepared to become an honoury member of the crew in the afternoon by climbing the mast to the crows nest, however due to a strong sea breeze, this was postponed. Instead, this allowed me to attend Captain Sergey’s story time in the Piano Bar. He is certainly an interesting man from Russia and worth going along to hear of his amazing tales. This was followed by a presentation with the cruise director Monja who informed customers of the other sailings offered by Star Clippers.

As Gabor the musician played soft melodies whilst afternoon tea was being served, this allowed for the ambiance to build in time for dinner. I opted for steak and a salad which is one of the options available on the menu everyday, along with a pasta dish of choice. We were joined by guests from the UK and also across the pond as we worked our way through several courses of fine food complimented by a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. We retired to the Tropical Bar where Manolito was on hand to pour our cocktail of the day as Gabor entertained the guests with a sing a long for the night.

Some say sea air makes you tired and this was certainly true today having spent most of the time on the sun deck, I could get used to this sailing lifestyle!

 

corfuCorfu

After a restful sleep, opening the curtains to discover we had already docked in Corfu was a great way to start the day. It is one of a couple of destinations we visit on this itinerary that doesn’t require you to take a tender ashore as we dock right in the heart of Corfu Port, a short walk into Corfu Town.

Taking my morning up of tea onto the sun deck to watch the hive of activity take place within the port, crew members were busy cleaning the ships wheel and painting certain areas.

We ventured off ship to head to Corfu Town. We partnered up with fellow guests Sue and Simon and decided to take a local bus to Ipsos, a 30 minute journey along the east coast of the island. Sue and I had worked in Corfu years ago so it was great to revisit some old haunts. There are calm waters in this bay as Corfu is protected by neighbouring Albania and mainland Greece in the distance, making for stunning scenery to look out at whilst sipping on a drink and dipping feet into the refreshing cool waters of the Ionian Sea.

As we were too busy exploring and having adventures on local buses, we didn’t make it back to the ship in time for the Greek themed lunch they had on offer. Instead we found ourselves at a beautiful Taverna and enjoyed a fresh Greek salad and Tzatsiki and pitta bread. I had forgotten how much I had missed Greek food.

Making our way back to the port for an afternoon of sailing, small crowds had started to emerge around the Port as photographs were taken of the magnificent Royal Clipper. Today was my first experience of sail away during daylight which really is something pretty special. Fellow passengers mingled on the sun deck whilst crew prepared the ship for its departure to Montenegro. I was absolutely mesmerized by the sheer number of ropes being pulled as the sails were up for next port of call, Kotor. This allowed for a couple of hours of late afternoon sunshine and also the opportunity for Kelly and I to clamber onto the nets, which I must say is quite a feat, putting huge amount of trust into ropes that support us from the depths of the seas.

Whilst drinking a pre-dinner cocktail of the day in the Tropical Bar, a Sea Breeze, the bell rang informing guests onboard that dinner was served. We headed down to dine with the new friends we had made at the bar. Conversation flowed in between my two starters, of Palma ham and melon, a mini ravioli dish, a mango sorbet and a beautiful beef dish for mains. Believe it or not, I even managed to save room for one of my favorite desserts, panna cotta.

The entertainment had a pirate theme, where some guests dressed to impress in stripy clothing and bandanas. Fun and games were had at the Tropical Bar after the numerous courses consumed. Captain Sergey allowed Kelly and myself to take to the bridge and view the abundance of technology they use to sail us from port to port. Apparently sailing in between the Fjords of Kotor is not to be missed with breathtaking scenery awaiting us – the camera is charged and at the ready.

 

kotorKotor

Today I woke up with anticipation as I knew exactly what we going to be witnessing in less than an hour....10am the ship makes way into the most southerly Fjord in Europe in Kotor, Montenegro. Although more of a submerged river cannon than a Fjord, this provides the most spectacular scenery.

Hannah and I had cameras at the ready, up on deck and our first spot were the WWII submarine tunnels on the Lustica peninsula, followed by dozens of terracotta roof houses up in the hillsides. However my favourite part was on the approach to 'Our Lady of the Rock' (Gospas od Skrpjela), a small island in the Boka Bay, the Captain sounded the horn as we turned towards Kotor. This was quite an experience, and all passengers on deck were silent as you could hear the noise of the horn echo off the mountains, the whole experience was breathtaking.

As the ship anchored in Boka Bay, we paired up Elaine and Bill a couple from Washington DC and headed into Kotor town, to try and find a Jeep we could hire for the afternoon. We were taken back by how beautiful Kotor was, but were not satisfied with watching the coming and goings of luxury yachts and wanted more of an adventure.

So we negotiated a good rate for a Jeep, with an English speaking driver and off we went heading up the mountains behind Kotor. The scenery was incredible as we made our way up 25 switch backs to the top, stopping at viewing points on the way up to take pictures. The views were as good if not more dramatic than places in New Zealand I have been too.

The driver then asked if we would like to go 'off road' on Lovcan mountain, with my adventurous nature I agreed, forgetting poor Bill and Elaine are in their 70's and were being bounced around in the back of the jeep. Thankfully they found this fantastic fun and we even stopped to climb a small mound which meant we were at the highest point overlooking all of south Montenegro, it was stunning!

Our descent through the National Park of Cetinje, known as the 'Valley of the Gods’ and a short refreshment in Budva Bay completed our amazing afternoon.

On the tender back to the ship the Captain asked the 4 of us to join him for dinner. We had an interesting evening drinking Prosecco and eating Chateaubriand whilst listening to the Russian Captains tales.

Up in the Tropical Bar a music quiz was keeping us entertained, before we all went up on deck for our final sail away.

As Vangelis played and we made our way out of Boka Bay, I was already thinking 'when is my next trip onboard'?

 

dubrovnikDubrovnik

Today I have been lucky enough to fly out to Dubrovnik with my colleague Danielle to join the Royal Clipper for the last 4 nights of her 11 night Rome to Venice sailing. This is my second trip on Royal Clipper and an exciting one as they are all new destinations for me.

At Dubrovnik airport we were met by our pre booked transfer to be taken to the old town harbour where the ship was docked. Whilst driving along the Croation coastal roads we spotted the stunning Royal Clipper which made us feel excited as we knew this was our home for the next four nights.

Dubrovnik is a hidden gem in the Adriatic, steeped in history, the city walls surround the cobbled streets and stonewashed staircases of the old town. The bustling atmosphere of this Croatian port offers an array of cafes, bars and restaurants to sit and watch the world go by, which is exactly what we did! After ambling through the maze of streets we made our way to the tender to embark Royal Clipper.

We were surrounded by others who could only experience Royal Clipper through their camera lense, so we felt a sense of pride to be able to experience this wonderful ship first hand.

Only moments after stepping on board we were handed our welcome cocktails and found ourselves catching up with the crew that had remembered us from the last trip. This friendly welcome sums up life on board and is, I think, why we have so many passengers returning time and time again, it’s like one big happy family.

As the sun was shining we decided to take advantage of the sun deck so found ourselves some sun loungers perfectly positioned next to one of the three swimming pools - an afternoon of total bliss.

We freshened up in our cabins then met again at the al fresco Tropical Bar for a pre dinner Prosecco.

Dinner on board is an a la carte affair with 6 scrumptious choices to devour. I started with shrimps in a light coconut sauce, followed by chicken breast stuffed with spinach and a vegetable medley. I was too tempted to resist dessert so opted for the chocolate flan which was divine. We ordered a bottle of house white wine which at €15 is very well priced, this price includes a gratuity to the bar as well. We were pleasantly surprised to find the house wine was a Pinot Grigio and will definitely be ordering that again!

We were welcomed to join a lovely American couple at dinner, where we spent the evening exchanging stories and enjoying our first night on board. Dinner is an excellent opportunity to mingle with fellow guests, the open dining policy on board means you can dine with different people every night, have a table for two or if you do meet friends and wish to dine with the same people each evening, the Maitre de will accommodate every guests wishes.

We left the dining room to head to the Tropical Bar where the space had started to fill with dancing couples and music in the air - this is the perfect post dinner cocktail retreat!

With midnight approaching all of the guests hurriedly gathered up on the sun deck, joining all of the crew and officers for sail away.

Picture this...

A classical piece of music by a composer called 'Van Gellis' begins to boom around the deck. A little haunting and quite dramatic the 'conquest to paradise' fills the air commanding full attention of everyone on board. As the music plays, the crew began to pull on the ropes and very, very slowly the stunningly lit sails rise for what seems like miles above our heads. We set sail off in to the open sea with the music playing in the background sipping on champagne and engaging in this totally magical and magnificent moment only to be had on Star Clippers.

This rounded off our day in a incredible way and all that was left to do was retire to our comfortable cabins.

 

hvarHvar

Danielle and I met for breakfast at 0930 after a much needed rest. As always with the food onboard, we were spoilt for choice. From fresh fruit to a full fry up there is something for everyone. I had a plate full of scrambled eggs, bacon, bread and beans. Not the light breakfast I had in mind!

Today’s destination was Hvar, a place I had wanted to visit for a long time. It was the highlight of the itinerary for me however with the 33 degree heat we decided to wait until the afternoon to explore this beautiful harbour. This gave us the perfect opening in our schedule to try out some water sports.

As part of the Star Clipper experience, we offer a complimentary watersports programme. This includes; kayaking, snorkelling, water skiing, wake boarding, piquot sailing and swimming. The marina platform lowers from the back of the ship so you can do all of these activities directly from the ship in to the ocean. There is a watersports team on every sailing who are on hand to help.

The sea looked very inviting, a great way to cool down in the heat. We swam over to the lilos floating in front of the platform which are all attached to the ship by a rope so there was no worry of floating too far away. Whilst laying in the sun just a few meters from the ship, the view of the Royal Clipper was incredible and made me feel tiny in comparison to her magnificent form.

The ship was due to leave Hvar at 5pm so we only had a few more hours to go and explore.

Hvar - The St Tropez of Croatia. Millionaire’s impressive yachts lined the harbour where people sat in sophisticated cocktail bars soaking up the bustling atmosphere. Individual stools selling Croatian jewellery alongside endless supplies of the local lavender meaning the powerful floral scent filled the air of the beautiful old town. The cobbled streets and main square were reminiscent of Dubrovnik with many old churches and Mediterranean restaurants acting as the heart of Hvar.

We found ourselves aimlessly strolling around the harbour and stumbled across the hotel Adriana which sign posted a 'roof top bar' on its 4th floor. With the thought of the views this bar would have over Hvar harbour, we had no hesitation in heading up to the 4th floor. It was breathtaking; we had sight of the yachts, small and large and to our left the old fort of Hvar. With cocktails on order, we really were in heaven.

We were back onboard on the last tender where we would shortly be setting sail in daylight. Once again we joined the officers on the sun deck to experience sail away in a very different way. Sail away always gives me a warm feeling but it's a very different experience in day light, just as magical as a midnight sail away but in another way.

Tonight was Captains night followed by the talent show. This is what I had been looking forward to. After a refreshing shower we met again in the Tropical Bar before dinner. On this special night we were joined by two new faces, a young female travel agent and a gentleman in his 80's. I am always having the same debate with myself every dinner time, deciding what out of all the amazing food to eat. Tonight I had scallops, beef Rossini, and of course baked Alaska, the tradition on most conventional cruise ships.

Captain Sergey had the attention of the whole room when giving his speech, raising a glass with the complimentary champagne for this occasion - applause filled the air. It was a fantastic dinner and not many people wanted the night to end there so headed up to the Tropical Bar for the talent show.

It was lovely to see the passengers getting involved in the show as well as the crew. They gave us some great performances of singing, clarinet playing and dancing. The waiters from Goa gave a traditional Goan dance, the bartenders formed a band and played and sang 'hotel California' encouraging guests to sing along. We even had the Captain playing the guitar and singing Russian folklore music, now I'm not sure you'd see that on many other cruise ships. By 1130 the talent show had finished but the night was just getting started as the dance floor filled and the music played entertaining guests for a few more hours. The ambience tonight was wonderful. Everyone was enjoying themselves in the friendly and lively atmosphere on board.

 

rovinjRovinj

We decided it would be nice to actually have a light breakfast today. Every morning in the Piano Lounge they provide pastries, fresh bread and fruit jams. This is available everyday from 0630 - 1100, an ideal choice for an early, or late riser!

I had never been lucky enough to have a cabin tour on the Royal Clipper before so we arranged this after breakfast. Firstly we were shown to the Owners Suite, of which there are two on Royal Clipper. I had thought I would like the Deluxe Suites the most but I must say as the most expensive cabin on board, the opulence and grandeur is expected but still I was totally impressed. The entrance leads you to the Suite by a small staircase with deep red carpet and brass railings. The beautiful artwork of fellow sailing ships adorn the walls of the elegant living area which is surprisingly spacious. The bedroom is large in size and nautical in decor, with a marble lined whirlpool bathroom attached in en suite style. A second wetroom can be found off of the living area which also boasts a second raised double bed. A stunning stateroom worthy of the 'Owners' title.

We were then shown to a category 6 inside cabin on the Clipper Deck but the cheapest cabin on the ship. Very comfortable and similar in decor to the other outside cabins. The final cabin we saw was a Deluxe Suite. Only on Royal do we have the Deluxe Suites, and the charming thing about these cabins is the private balcony that no other category of cabin has.

We made our way to the main dining room for another fantastic meal time. Today’s lunch selection of desserts were all too tasty and I ended up having two!

After lunch we were joined up on deck by most of the passengers as we sailed into Rovinj. It was easy to see the stunning church and clock tower in a prime position on top of the hill, a great picture moment as we had the perfect view of this from the ship. The familiar cobbled streets we were now used to in Croatia led us on our upward way to the church. We passed endless jewellery and art shops, there is plenty of shopping opportunities in Rovinj with one off pieces made in Croatia making for the perfect souvenir.

As we neared the church we caught a sight of the Royal Clipper sails beneath us. We took a moment to take in the mesmerizing view. In every port of call it is amazing to look out to sea and see the Royal Clipper however, it’s just as moving every time as there are a crowd of people also looking out to sea in awe.

We continued to the top where the exterior of the church of St Euphimia came closer. We had reached the highest point in Rovinj and it was certainly worth the steep walk up, the views were incredible. We silently entered the church taking our time to look around its grand interior.

Once back onboard we had a few hours before dinner giving me time for some more deck lounging in the sun whilst Danielle enjoyed her full body massage in Captain Nemos Spa.

I met with Danielle up on deck in time for sail away. As the music played and the sails rose in the sky we glided so slowly and gracefully past the old town and hilltops of Rovinj. To make this moment even more perfect we were close enough to the land to witness a bride, a vision of beauty in a clean white dress, embracing her new husband as we set sail at dusk. Hundreds of people lined the harbour to wave the Royal Clipper off on her journey.

We dined again with Stephanie and Sven from the previous evening and had another lovely evening in the company of one another. An exciting event and reason to celebrate was the news of the future King of England being born. We invited Stephanie and Sven to join us in celebrating by ordering some champagne in the Tropical Bar. We wanted to share this news with the whole ship so Monja, our cruise director made the Royal announcement which was a very special moment. We had many passengers from all over the world excited by the news. We had music from the onboard musician, the ship was filled with music and passengers danced the night away beneath the sails and the stars.

 

piranPiran

We met early for breakfast in the main restaurant today, we were due into Piran at 9:30 so swiftly ate as we were keen to get ashore and explore.

After a very smooth few days our luck had come to an end, fault of our own! We took the first tender over to Piran excited to have a Slovenian adventure, little did we know that we needed our passports to go ashore so had to take the tender straight back to the ship. The tender today was longer than all of the others which had only been a matter of minutes. This information was clearly given on the daily schedule however we, along with a few others, missed these details. Although a little disappointed, we were happy to spend the day experiencing life onboard.

Danielle convinced me to lay out on the nets at the front of the ship. Filled with nerves I let Danielle climb over and onto the ridgid netting first. Slowly I made my way on and once there I was in heaven. What an amazing feeling to be so high from the water with smaller ships circling and taking photos. The only two on the nets, we had found the perfect hide away.

We headed back to the main restaurant for an oriental themed lunch. Each day there is a different theme for the lunch menu, today’s being our favourite. I had a heaped plate of sushi, beef satay, sweet & sour pork and chow mein, all carefully prepared by our expert chefs. Other themed meals include Italian, Mediterranean, Oriental, deck BBQs and in the Caribbean we also offer a fantastic beach BBQ.

Another hot day meant that an afternoon of cocktails & cooling down by the pool was in order. Mimicking the brochure, we spend time in the shallow seated area in the pool, cocktail in hand. We had fun taking nautical pictures on deck and chatting away to members of the friendly crew. There is plenty of deck space per passenger; in fact Star Clippers has more deck space for guests to relax in than most conventional cruise lines. For the last time, we went down to the Marina Platform to enjoy swimming from the ship and kayaking before setting sail to Venice. It seems the whole ship had the same idea and were keen to use this last opportunity, proving just how popular this feature is.

Sail away tonight was particularly spectacular, possibly because I knew this was the last, until next time anyway. Another daylight departure saw us raising the sails to the now familiar music to all. The Captain ever so slowly sailed by the pretty peninsular of Piran, almost showing off. This afternoon the small boats, yachts and dinghies were out in flocks - the flashes from their cameras almost blinding. Hundreds of people lined the coast waving our grand sail ship goodbye. We all graciously waved in return whilst sipping a cool drink. Another beautiful moment shared with the passengers and crew onboard, it never gets old!

A sad night for all, as we have to disembark the beautiful Royal Clipper tomorrow morning. This traditionally means the last evening onboard is fairly quiet, most retiring to bed early after enjoying the last evening meal on board. However, the dining room is a wonderful place to be when the crew gather together proudly waving their flag and singing 'we are the world' to an emotional audience.

Our journey continues as we have one night in Venice. First time in the city for both of us, we knew we had a busy day to look forward to.

 

veniceVenice

Disembarkation takes place early in the morning, with all passengers having to vacate their cabin by 9:30am. It is a simple checking out process, you will receive a final copy of your bill in your cabin at about midnight. You simply sign a copy of the bill and hand it to the watersports team in the Tropical Bar, provided you gave a copy of your credit card on embarkation. You also have the option to pay by cash. You also don't have to worry about lugging your case off the ship, as long as you leave your case outside your cabin door by 4am then this is taken to the port terminal ready for you to collect.

We said our farewells to the friendly crew and passengers, although always sad to leave the ship, we were very excited for the next adventure in Venice.

We soon discovered it was very simple to use the public transport. Just a minutes walk from the ship was the bus stop where we hoped on the boat. It takes about 25 minutes to get to St Marco Square and is only 8 Euros. Private water taxis are another way of transport however much more expensive but are quicker and more relaxing. We jumped off the public water bus and straight away saw our hotel, the 4* The Londra Palace, which was in an ideal location in front of the canal. We entered the cool, fresh lobby where we were greeted by friendly staff. First impressions of the hotel were great, and continued to impress as we were shown to our Deluxe Lagoon View room. The view from balcony was outstanding, we could see over the water for miles. I would highly recommend to anyone staying in Venice to opt for a room with a view of the canal. It is the floating city after all and a garden view doesn't quite cut it here!

It was time to get lost in the city! We left our hotel at around 10:30am, in intense heat even at that early hour. We instantly fell in love with this beautiful place. Every corner turned we entered another picture perfect scene, Venetian buildings, canal bridges, windy streets, all filled with tourists. It was lovely to not even touch a map and just take in every tiny street we came across, we actually ended up back near the port without knowing. We had the Royal Clipper in sight so we stopped and had lunch on a floating restaurant. Wanting to fit in everything as traditionally Italian as possible, we shared a pizza and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco. After lunch, we continued our adventure, stopping at shops along the way and buying ice cream. We also found our way to the Rialto bridge for some photo opportunities, of which we took many.

As we headed in the direction of our hotel, we took this opportunity to visit some other properties that we sell in Venice. The Liassiddi Palace, which is quite hidden away from the canal and good 3* option. The Metropole, a 5* boutique property has a similar location to The Londra Palace. This hotel does steal the show with its typically Venetian décor, warm spicy scent and furnishings finished to a very high standard. The bar, the saloon area , the restaurant and the garden bar took form on the first floor of the hotel offering an oasis away from the busy streets for guests and non residents alike, who are welcome even for a drink to relax in the beautiful surroundings. The Metropole is highly recommended and would make a perfect start or end to your trip in Venice. A quick freshen up back at The Londra Palace, having only a total of 24 hours in Venice, we just had to try out the iconic Venetian activity - a gondola ride, and I am so glad we did. Each small canal we glided down, none looked familiar and all looked beautifully unique. Dusk was approaching as we left, it was a magical time to experience this tourist activity in Venice. At 40 Euros per person for a 30 minute journey, this isn't exactly cheap, but so worth it.

We knew we wanted to have front row seats on the canal at about 7:45pm, so this we did. The Royal Clipper was due to sail from San Basillio Port at 7:30pm and in our direction she was headed past the front row seats we had found. We sipped Bellinis as we proudly watched her glide through the canal, past St Marks Square with hoards of tourists excitedly taking pictures. The ship was so close we could even hear the music playing on board as we waved to the new passengers leaving for their own Adriatic journey.

We walked to the famous Piazza to dine al fresco. Of course dinner included more of Italy's finest, Prosecco, antipasti, pasta & Pinot Grigio. Venice by night was just as impressive as Venice by day. The lights reflecting on the water showing off the stunning palaces and churches. Live bands in the square playing to an audience of tourists. This called for one final Bellini in the square enjoying the music and atmosphere.

I didn't want the evening to come to an end, but of course it had to. This was my most memorable trip with Star Clippers yet. I was blown away by all the destinations and am already planning my next trip back to Venice. We hope you have enjoyed reading our accounts of the Rome to Venice itinerary on board Royal Clipper and that it has given you an insight to the unique holiday we strive to offer all of our customers.