An Introduction To: Star Clippers
June 11, 2015
Star Clippers isn’t your average cruising experience – in fact it’s probably one of the most adventurous and unusual cruise line you could choose to look at!
A cruise with Star Clippers will take you right back to the basics of cruising (in an extremely luxurious way obviously), transporting you back centuries to feel the wind in your hair like a sailor from a bygone era.
You’ll set sail on what’s known as a tall ship, a faithful replica of the clipper ships that sailed a hundred years ago (with a few mod-cons thrown in of course!)
This means your cruise ship will have sails, masts, ropes, nets and rigs; just like something out of Treasure Island!
Don’t panic just yet though as they also come equipped with engines that run on marine petroleum to ensure you get to your ports of call on time but for the most part you’ll be traveling powered solely by the wind.
The line was first started in 1991 by Swedish entrepreneur Mikael Krafft, who’d decided he wanted to create a fleet of classic clippers from the past (as you do).
But what’s it like to sail on one of these ships? What sets them apart from the usual cruising experiences (apart from the obvious) and why should you cruise with them over anyone else?
What’s it really like to experience cruising as people did two hundred years ago?
Read on to find out!
Meet the Fleet
There are three ships in the fleet currently, with the largest being the…
The Royal Clipper – This 134 metre long ship actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 for being the world’s largest square rigger (literally meaning a ship with square shaped sails!) It accommodates 227 guests and has three swimming pools, a three story atrium and 1,760 square feet of open deck.
The Star Clipper and Star Flyer – these ships were built to look and feel the same on-board and each hold 170 guests. The ships are 117 metres long and have two pools, a library and as you’d expect have décor reminiscent of the golden age of cruising.
Star Clippers have also announced a fourth ship, which is being built ready for a 2017 launch that will replace the Royal Clipper. It’s yet to be named but it will be able to carry more than 300 passengers and will be powered by more than 6,350 square metres of sails!
Did you know? The Royal Clipper was inspired by the legendary tall ship “Preussen” and its replacement in 2017 will be a partial replica of the “France II.”
Is there a “typical” Star Clippers traveller?
Star Clippers are ideal for those who are looking for an adventure off the beaten track.
Maybe you’ve cruised before and want a different experience from the mammoth cruise liners or maybe you’ve never cruised before but like the idea of cruising on a ‘working’ ship.
It’s an ideal holiday for couples or singles, although we wouldn’t recommend them for families as there aren’t any children’s amenities provided.
If you want relaxation then it’s the holiday for you as these are cruise ships stripped bare of the formalities of dining in dinner jackets and the bells and whistles of the hectic American ships.
We asked our cruise consultant Camilla who she thought Star Clippers would be ideal for: “this is not a holiday for someone who wants rock climbing walls, Broadway style shows and casinos. But if you love the idea of really sailing and having an adventure you will not be disappointed!”
You can read more about Camilla’s own adventures on Star Clippers here.
Did you know: You won’t just cruise on this ship, you’ll actually get the chance to sail her as well. The crew will give lessons in trimming the sails, splicing the jib and any other nautical term you care to think of (except walking the plank of course!)
As you’d imagine from such a unique cruise line, Star Clippers specialise in providing cruises off the beaten track; stopping at beaches and small private coves that most cruise ships just couldn’t get to, including those lines that would normally brag about getting into smaller ports.
The destinations you sail to make you feel as if you were a real sailor on a voyage of discovery, instead of always going to all the main commercial ports that every other cruise line visits!
Enjoy the delights of the Caribbean, Costa Rica & Central America, the Panama Canal, transatlantic Crossings, the eastern and western Mediterranean, Northern Europe and even the Baltics as you’ve never seen them before.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about star Clippers is that unlike traditional cruises, you won’t be stuck to a strict itinerary. Due to the small size of the ship, you aren’t docked in huge cruise ports where timing is essential, so the captain may change the order of destinations- and even add in extra ports of call if he can!
A Star Clippers customer (Brindley, from Gosport) explains: “The captain changed the days so that we could get the best weather, which we certainly did.” You can read more about Brindley’s adventure here.
Julien from Plymouth experienced something similar as on her journey: “[The] calms were followed by some great sailing in high winds. In the end we made such good progress that an unplanned stop in Barbuda gave an opportunity for more swimming this time at an empty beach.” Read more about this here.
Unplanned stops to beautiful, unspoilt destinations? Sounds like heaven to us!
On Board Experience and Entertainment
Star Clippers main aim on-board is for you to relax! There’s no rigid schedule of activities that you may experience on other cruise lines – the day is yours to enjoy as you see fit.
Whether you want to lie down on the rigging over the side of the ship and watch the waves (and sometimes dolphins) beneath you, take a dip in one of the ships pools or just chill out on one of the many sun loungers, the choice is yours.
Despite the small size of the ships you’ll still find a salon offering spa treatments on-board. Known as Captain Nemo’s lounge it offers treatments such as massages, facials, body treatments and hydrotherapy. This lounge is also under the water line – meaning you’ll have a porthole view of tropical fish whilst you relax!
Did you know? Your sail away party will probably be the highlight of your trip! Our cruise consultant Camilla told us that as she sailed “the music began to play, it was the haunting sounds of Vangelis – Conquest of Paradise – the theme tune to ‘1942 The Conquest of Paradise’, a film charting Columbus discovery of the Americas. I can honestly say there was hardly a dry eye on board as we sailed out into the ocean on what really felt like a Spanish Galleon heading off on a voyage of discovery. This was a magical evening indeed.” You can read more about this
As you’d expect for a small ship the entertainment is light and includes locals from your destination coming on-board to give you a taste of their culture and art. There’s no theatres but you and your crew will make your own entertainment with crab racing contests, scavenger hunts and talent nights (you don’t have to if you don’t want to though!)
To get you in the holiday mood there’ll be bands playing tropical music to create a real “shipmates” atmosphere. The authentic sailing experience continues as you’ll be able to see your crew lowering the sails and there’ll be the chance to learn tie knots like a sailor.
Pippa from Kernow particularly enjoyed being able to enjoy the “real” aspects of the sailing ships, as she explains: “Twice during the cruise, passengers were invited to don a harness, (and under the watchful guidance of the crew), climb up to the first level Crow’s Nest. We tried it and the reward was spectacular views of the decks below and the ocean beyond. We also loved climbing out on to the widow nets at the prow of the ship. From there we were afforded a fine view of Royal Clipper carving through the ocean. Pure magic!” You can find out more about Pippa’s time on Star Clippers here.
One of the best things that Star Clippers has to offer is the fact that their ships are small enough to deploy inflatables and marine platforms for you to go diving off. These platforms enable you to have scuba diving lessons right next to the ship so you can learn to become a certified diver. You can also go on a ski boat or snorkelling.
For the more active amongst you there’s some aerobics or if you’d like to really relax your mind there are yoga themed cruises. You could even climb the mast – like a real sea man!
If you’re after something a bit more educational then enjoy the Edwardian style library (which also offers computers to contact home) or listen to guest lecturers (who will include experts in maritime history, ancient history or marine biology.)
Want to see the relaxing kinds of things you’ll get up to? Watch the video below!
Due to the size of the ships there’s only one restaurant on-board which is where you’ll receive all of your meals. For those of you that love river cruising you’ll be used to the kind of culinary experience as it’s very similar.
For breakfast you can expect a wide choice of continental breakfast options (e.g. croissants, toasted English muffins or Danish pastries) or else a full English, smoked salmon or omelettes cooked to order.
Lunch is a buffet with seafood, salads and grilled favourites on offer. Depending on where you are, you may even have a BBQ on shore!
The dinner is the highlight of your culinary day, with a five course meal accompanied by fine wines served between 7.30 and 10pm. Their wine prices are also worth mentioning – as some wines are as cheap as £3 a glass!
Did you know? Star Clippers are also the only cruise line to offer restaurants that are below the waterline so you can watch the marine life as you eat!
You’re free to sit with whoever you like as there are no set seating arrangements and we’ve been told that the bar has a good selection of single malt whiskeys as well.…
One of our customers told us that: “the cocktail hour from five till six [is] a delight!]” You can read more of Powell’s review here.
There is also the option to have an early bird breakfast, an afternoon snack of hors d’oeuvers, finger sandwiches and pastries as well as late night snacks.
Camilla told us about her experience of the food on-board: “They do deck BBQ’s when the weather is good which is great and you can have breakfast in the bar area where is more relaxed. The food tends to be International with local specialities as well. Breakfast and lunch are a buffet with loads of choice and dinner is waiter service with 2 or 3 choices per course.”
In each cabin you’ll find a marble bathroom, private safes, a television, DVD player, telephone and a hairdryer. You can also pay to rent DVDs if you didn’t bring any with you.
The vessel is air conditioned and has a small shop which sells sunscreen, toothpaste, gifts and anything else that you may have forgotten.
Tea and coffee is available 24 hours in the lounge, the announcements on-board are made in three languages and (admittedly patchy) WiFi is available at a charge.
If you’re on your honeymoon you’ll also receive complimentary champagne, fresh fruit and sweet treats placed in your room. Star Clipper ships can also perform confirmation weddings for the romantics amongst you.
Staff and Gratuities
You may have a different experience with crew on-board Star Clippers than you’re used to as the Captain gives daily talks and tales at meal times and the crew will eat with the guests.
It’s also the case that because Star Clippers ships are smaller than the mammoth cruise ships most of us have become accustomed to, the service is better! Smaller ships mean your crew have more time to attend to you, and there is a higher quality of service from staff with a staff to passenger ratio of 2.6.
Gratuities are recommended at $8 per person per night and there will be a gratuity automatically added to bar drinks.
There is officially a “no tie” dress code on board! With everything very informal, you won’t be expected to dress to the nines for dinner. Instead, men usually wear a shirt whilst women wear day dresses. This means you have less to pack, and can also enjoy the laid back sunshine lifestyle.
Camilla explained: “Dress code is casual which really suits the ship as it is like stepping back in time!”
Have you sailed with Star Clippers before? Would you be tempted?
Let us know in the comments below!
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