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Tall Ships Cruise Guide

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  • Sail in style aboard a classic clipper for an authentic sailing experience that is a cruise unlike any other
  • What to expect on a tall ships cruise – from lavish interiors to delicious onboard meals and thrilling water sports
  • Discover the picturesque destinations tall ships sail to and be
    transported back to the bygone age of classic sailing

A cruise on a tall ship is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. A genuine sailing experience aboard a beautifully crafted clipper that exudes character and charm, it’s the perfect glamorous getaway for anyone who loves the sea. Intrigued to find out more? Our tall ships cruise guide reveals how they are a uniquely different experience from any other type of cruise.

What can I expect on a tall ship cruise?

Tall ship holidays are experiences unlike any other, where you sail effortlessly through stunning blue waters in exotic locations aboard a magnificent masted vessel. Elegant and romantic, these visually striking tall ships are equipped with modern comforts and state-of-the-art navigation systems, yet when you step on deck you’re transported back to a bygone age when these splendid sailboats ruled the waves.

Royal Clipper cruises are one tall ship sailing option aboard the world’s largest full-rigged sailing ship. With five masts and 42 sails, the 440ft-long SPV Royal Clipper is instantly recognisable by its geometric blue and white hull markings, and offers its 223 passengers the chance to enjoy a spectacular sailing holiday on a first-class floating hotel.

Much of the appeal of tall ship cruises is the thrill of coasting along open water such as the Mediterranean Sea, watching the wind fill the sails above. However, the age-old grandeur and associated romanticism of classic sailing ships adds to the excitement of clipper cruises. Tall ships often have stylish traditional interiors, with deep pile carpets, wood-panelled walls and marble bathrooms.

tall ships clipper luxury bedroom

Royal Clipper Owners Suite

Suites and cabins are sophisticated too, and while perhaps not quite as spacious as those found in ocean or river cruise ships – few have private balconies, for example – guests still enjoy luxurious and comfortable accommodation with plenty of amenities.

Attentive crew – sometimes one member of staff to every two passengers – not only unfurl the sails, climb the rigging and stand at the helm of the tall ship, they also make sure every guest is looked after and well-catered for. Bar attendants will serve sundowners to enjoy on deck, waiters will serve evening meals – breakfast and lunch are usually buffet-style – and water sport assistants will hand out snorkelling gear, surfboards and dinghies to those who want to make the most of being at sea.

What destinations do tall ships visit?

If you’re sailing on a charismatic clipper, the destinations you visit should be equally enchanting, and fortunately, tall ship cruises do not disappoint. Picturesque ports in the Mediterranean or Caribbean are often on the itinerary and as the yacht can moor beside wonderful walled cities and anchor near superb sandy shores, it’s easy to sightsee and explore.

One Royal Clipper cruise sails along the sapphire-blue coastline of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, visiting Montenegro then the islands of Corfu and Capri, before stopping at a destination on most holiday bucket lists – Italy’s alluring Amalfi coast.

As with most escorted tours, passengers are free to spend time ashore as they wish, joining a guided tour, leisurely wandering around or simply sitting in a waterside café or bar – no doubt admiring the exquisite tall ship that you’re looking forward to being back aboard.

tall ships dubrovnik croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

What is life like aboard a tall ship?

Couples on honeymoon, friends celebrating a special birthday, retirees making the most of new-found freedom – all types of people go on tall ship holidays. Some will be seasoned sailors, others will have never cruised under sail before, but everyone will be making memories to last a lifetime.

The ambience on tall ships is relaxed and carefree, with like-minded passengers simply wanting to experience a sailing adventure without having to learn the ropes. However, if you do fancy learning the ropes onboard activities include taking part in knot-tying lessons, visiting the captain on the ship’s bridge and, for the ultimate view, you may have the chance to ascend up a mast to the crow’s nest – a safety harness is provided. Lying on the netting at one side of the bowsprit is exciting too, especially as it’s an ideal spot to watch out for a passing pod of dolphins.

tall ships royal clipper relax in the netting

If there’s a day at sea – and this is not unusual on tall ship cruises – take the opportunity to unwind. Exercise in the fitness area, indulge in a little pampering in the ship’s spa or read a book in the library. Internet access is unreliable so browsing online may not be an option – a great excuse to unplug from the digital world. You may want to try paddleboarding or take a dip in one of the saltwater pools on the sun deck – just be aware that on the four-deck Royal Clipper, one of the pools has a glass bottom so anyone in the piano bar below can watch you swim.

Taking it easy in one of the ship’s lounges is another option, and while entertainment is low-key, live music is provided on some evenings.

What do I pack for a tall ship cruise?

While an impressive tall ship is a resplendent, grand beauty, the dress code is far more casual, so packing for a clipper cruise is easy. Bring comfortable and cool clothing. Shorts and t-shirts are acceptable attire for during the day – swimwear is usually only worn on the sun deck, so pack some cover-ups too. Casual clothing is also de rigueur in the evenings, with guests in the dining room choosing to wear sundresses or lightweight trousers with a patterned blouse or a short-sleeved shirt or polo top. Men do not need jackets or ties, though some people will enjoy dressing up for a welcome dinner.

Being at sea means that a sun hat is essential, as is plenty of sunscreen. UV rays will reflect off the white decks and sails, and surrounding water, so apply regularly even if there’s a strong breeze. Also be aware that on a sailing boat, you will be rocked to sleep every evening. It’s a gentle motion, but if you’re worried about feeling seasick, pack some remedies.

tall ships sailing

Join the Royal Clipper on a Mediterranean Odyssey

Intrigued to find out more? The next Royal Clipper cruise with Riviera Travel sets sail from Rome in June 2020, calling at Croatia, Montenegro, the Greek island of Corfu, Sicily, Capri and the Amalfi coast. If you’ve got a reason to celebrate next year, or simply feel it’s time to treat yourself to a holiday of a lifetime, find out more about The Royal Clipper – A Mediterranean Odyssey.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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