17 October 2006

A capital ship for an ocean trip

Summer of ’03. We’re poking along somewhere off the northern coast of Sicily, and I’m on watch (00-12, every day). I glance at the monitor in ESM, and the OOD is looking at a sailing ship.

When I go over to take a closer look, I see that it’s not just any old sailing ship – it’s a five-master. A five-master. Under full sail.

Took a bit of searching after I got home, but I finally found out what I’d been looking at that day. The coolest, spiffiest cruise ship in the whole world: Royal Clipper.

Star Clippers have two other ships, Star Clipper and Star Flyer, but those are just plain, ordinary, garden-variety (well, you know what I mean) four-masted barquentines. Royal Clipper is a five-masted, full-rigged ship, 439 feet long, flying 42 sails, a total of 56,000 square feet of canvas. Based on the old Preussen, she was purpose-built in Poland as a cruise ship, launched in 2001.

During the winter she’s homeported in Barbados, doing cruises in the Caribbean islands. During the summer, she works out of Civitavecchia, Italy, cruising in the Med and the Adriatic. And twice a year, when the ship repositions for the coming season, there’s a three-week transatlantic cruise, Italy to Barbados or vice versa. There’s room for up to 227 passengers.

If I ever win the lottery (yeah, right), I know for sure where some of the money is going....

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