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Ringo Boitano: Royal Clipper

Royal Clipper

Sailing the Mediterranean on the Royal Clipper

"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

Story by Ringo Boitano
Photographs by Deb Roskamp

tand by to set lower top sail," shouted the captain. Backlit by a late Mediterranean sun, he made a striking figure in his maritime attire. "Pull sheets, lower top sail coming out!" I gripped firmly on the rope. "Heave! Heave! Heave!" commanded the first mate. My group of eight joined in unison as we pulled on the rope. I felt that the 70-something man in front of me could have worked a little harder, but the German boy at my rear was quite literally pulling up the slack. A few minutes later, the magnificent sail was towering in the wind above us. With images of Sir Francis Drake and Ferdinand Magellan, I had often dreamed of working on a real sailing vessel. This was a life-long fantasy come true. I made a mental note, though, never again to have two helpings of crème brûlée first at the lunch buffet before participating in the drill.

ship's bow

The Royal Clipper

The five-mast 439 foot Royal Clipper is the largest and fastest sailing ship on the sea today. Modeled after the turn-of-the-century Tall Ship, Preuseen - itself once the world's fastest sailing ship - the Royal Clipper is a hybrid, like today's new baseball stadiums, embracing the best traditions of the past with state-of-the-art amenities of today. It is the real deal and does not use computers for sail handling.

climbing the mast

Passengers can participate in sailing drills, climb the mast to one of the 'crow's-nests' for panoramic views, or even take their hand at the wheel. Contemporary creature comforts include luxuriating in the spa and three swimming pools, unwinding in the Captain Nemo Lounge, sunbathing on 18,940 square feet of open deck, and dining at the world-class (no tie dress code) Clipper Dining Room. A popular spot for reading and napping is the secret Widow's Net - a blanket-like braided net that hangs over the side of the vessel. There is a marina which offers snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing and windsurfing. What I liked best, though, was that with a maximum of just 227 passengers, you could really get to know your traveling companions in a low-key, casual atmosphere, and even make some life-long friends. I had such a great time aboard that it was almost hard to leave the vessel each morning for the day's adventure.

Destinations - Sun Hats, Water and Comfortable Shoes

Civitavecchia - Port of Rome
Your journey will begin and end in the Eternal City, and it is essential that you spend time either before or after your cruise in this Italian capital where each step forward is also a step back into history. From the Roman Forum and Colosseum to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Cathedral, the attractions are endless. The Royal Clipper offers three-day add on packages, which include accommodations and sightseeing tours.

Ponza
Easily the most low-key of all the destinations, the archipelago of Ponza is an oasis of sea and sun located 20 miles from the coast of Latium. The historic island is a good venue for light hiking through vineyards and small farms with the reward of panoramic views at the top.

Pompei

Pompei and Sorrento
On August 24, 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering the Roman provincial center of Pompeii with more than 20 feet of ash and stone. Many of the city's 20,000 residents were killed by sulfur fires or struck by lava and stone. Pompeii was frozen in time until excavations unveiled this remarkable archaeological site. Plaster was poured into the empty spaces in the lava to make body casts - a man stretches out to protect his mother, a dog lays tethered by his chain. Also on display are luxurious mansions, ancient baths, temples and markets, offering an amazing insight into over 2,000 year-old Roman life.

Sorrento is situated above sharp, towering cliffs enroot to Pompeii. The streets are lit up at night and lined with quiet sidewalk cafes. It was the most magical destination of the entire trip. Lemoncello - a sweet liqueur made from local lemons - is the defining product of the area and is served complimentary at the end of meals.

Amalfi Coast Cancelled - On to Naples
There was a collective moan among the passengers when we were informed that the water was too rough for landing on the Amalfi Coast. We had been warned beforehand that this can be the case aboard the authentic vessel. The moans became even louder when it was announced that the alternative would be a day in Naples: aka 'the city that Italy forgot.' Naples is the most densely populated city in Italy. The traffic is so intense that a simple stroll across the street can be a brush with death. I believe I was the only person on the vessel who was happy. For a trip to Naples meant one thing: I could finally sample Naples's gift to the world - an authentic Pizza Napoletana. Thin crusted, easily foldable and 14 inches in diameter, with a high outer wedge to contain the almost soupy tomato sauce and dollops of buffalo milk mozzarella, I was not unhappy to have the experience under my belt.

Taormina, Sicily
The day began with a Sicilian brunch and wine tasting at the estate of a real baroness. With Mount Etna and the Mediterranean as a backdrop, all wine and food products came from the estate. Next to the hospitality and setting, the highpoint was a simple pasta dish made with only three ingredients: olive oil, diced translucent eggplant and a dry ricotta cheese. Next stop was a bus trip on the coast road to Taormina. Perched on a terrace overlooking the sea, it a great place to sip an espresso and enjoy the local medieval character. On the edge of the town is an impressive 3rd Century BC Greek theater.

Capri

Lipari and Capri
Both Lipari and Capri are majestic world-class destinations known throughout the globe. Their beauty is stunning, and both justifiably touristic, so be prepared for large crowds. Did I mention bring sun hats, water and comfortable shoes?

StarClippers.com

Feedback for Ringo

I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic? And then there was the Heups in Bismark.

It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.

Brent, Seattle, WA

It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.

Sandee, Seattle, WA

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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!

Ramon, Kansas City, MO

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Ha ha ha ha ha...love your "schtick" Ringo!!

Dolly, Las Vegas, NV

Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best wishes.

Elsa Magdalena Berno-Boitano, Laussane, Switzerland

My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it? Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks for blazing the trail!

Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA

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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.

Key Logger, New York

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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest bar.

Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Jeff–

Thanks for taking the time for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.

- Ringo

Ringo,

I thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.

To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then. The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda" been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this to yourself all these many years.

Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hey, Ringo –

Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos, too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.

Mick, Greenbay, WI

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Mick –

Now that football season is over --- I’ve often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off season ---- it’s great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy. Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products, and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations --- you know, what’s a city, which one is a town, ect – so better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to argue about any subject.

- Ringo



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Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

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Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)

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As she came around the corner we could not believe how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful – almost elegant in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as quiet as a church mouse – or "as quiet as dreaming trees."

go there

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In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there


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