You'd better limber up your neck before taking a cruise on the new Royal Clipper. This graceful, splendid five-master, the size of the legendary clipper ships that once raced around Cape Horn, carries more than 50,000 square feet of sail, so passengers spend much of their time gazing up in awe at rigging, spars, and masts that form a sort of nautical nave.
Many of the Royal Clipper's 228 passengers may be living out secret Conrad-and-Melville fantasies, but they're enjoying comforts old-time mariners could never have imagined: marble-clad bathrooms, videos, bedside phones with credit-card swipes. Recommended are the 14 Deluxe Balcony Suites on the main deck offering private veranda, whirlpool, and room service. Below decks, facilities include a health spa, a retractable marina for kayaking and water-skiing, and a red-plush restaurant encircling a three-deck-high atrium illuminated by a see-through swimming pool overhead on the main deck. The cuisine reflects the global makeup of the passengers (American, European, Asian), and the highlight of seaboard showtime is the on-deck crew talent show.
For the romantics on board, nightlife is simply lying on deck loungers and looking up at the stars through billowing sail—a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. Rates for seven-night cruises in the Mediterranean in summer, the Caribbean in winter, are $1,445-$4,795 per person. For information: 800-442-0551 or www.starclippers.com.