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Star Flyer Berlitz Review

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Berlitz Rating:

Ship Beam (ft/m):
Ship Builder:
Sheepswerven van Langerbrugge (Belgium)
Ship Cabins (for one person):
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Ship Cruise Line:
Star Clippers
Ship Elevators:
Ship Entered Service:
Jul 1991
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Ship Length (ft/m):
Ship Library:
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Ship Passengers (lower beds):
Ship Propulsion:
sail power + diesel (1,030kW)/1
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Ship Size:
Boutique Ship
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Ship Wheelchair accessibility:
This proper sailing ship provides an antidote to cruise ships

Star Clippers - Star Flyer

Overview: The first clipper sailing ship to be built for 140 years,Star Flyerbecame the first commercial sailing vessel in 90 years to cross the North Atlantic. It suits those who would never consider a ‘normal’ cruise ship.

The Ship: The first clipper sailing ship to be built for 140 years, Star Flyer became the first commercial sailing vessel in 90 years to cross the North Atlantic. It suits those who would never consider a ‘normal’ cruise ship.Star Flyer is one of a pair of almost identical tall ships – its sister ship is Star Clipper. It is, first and foremost, a sailing vessel with cruise accommodation that evokes memories of the 19th-century clipper sailing ships. This is an accurate four-mast, barkentine-rigged schooner with graceful lines, a finely shaped hull, masts that are 206ft (63m) tall, and 16 manually furled sails totaling 36,221 sq ft (3,365 sq m). Some amenities found aboard large cruise vessels are provided, such as air conditioning, cashless cruising, live music, a small shop, and two pools to ‘dip’ in.Breathtaking when under full sail, the ship displays excellent sea manners and relies on the wind about 80 percent of the time, and heeling is kept to a very comfortable 6 degrees.During the cruise, you’ll be able to climb the main mast to a platform 75ft (23m) above the sea and help with the ropes and sails at appropriate times. One really neat chill-out pleasure is to lie in the netting at the front of the ship’s bows.A diesel engine provides propulsion when the ship is not under sail (in poor wind conditions), and two generators supply electrical power and help desalinate 40 or so tons of seawater each day for shipboard needs. Engine-room visits may be offered for anyone interested. Water-sports facilities include a water-ski boat, sunfish, scuba and snorkel equipment, and eight Zodiac inflatables. Sports directors provide basic dive instruction for a fee.Inside, classic Edwardian nautical decor throughout is clean, warm, intimate, and inviting. The paneled library has a fireplace and comfortable chairs. There are no lines and no hassle. Sailing a Square Rigger and other nautical classes are a part of every cruise, as is stargazing at night.Depending on the itinerary and region, passengers may gather for ‘captain’s storytime,’ normally held on an open deck area adjacent to the bridge, or in the bar – which, incidentally, has a collection of single malt whiskies. The captain may explain sailing maneuvers when changing the rigging or directing the ship as it sails into port, and notes the important events of the day.The sail-ship promotes total informality and provides a carefree sailing experience in a totally unstructured and relaxed setting at a reasonable price. Take minimal clothing: short-sleeved shirts and shorts for men, shorts and tops for women are the order of the day (smart casual at night). No jackets, ties, high-heeled shoes, cocktail dresses, or formal wear are needed. Take flat shoes because there are lots of ropes and sailing rig to negotiate on deck, not to mention the high thresholds to climb over and steps to negotiate – this is, after all a tall ship, not a cruise ship.The steps of the internal stairways are short and steep, as in all sailing vessels, and so this ship cannot be recommended for anyone with walking disabilities. Also, there is no doctor on board, although there is a nurse.For yachting enthusiasts, sailing aboard Star Flyer is like finding themselves in heaven, as there is plenty of sailing during a typical one-week cruise. The whole experience evokes the feeling of sailing aboard some famous private yacht, and even the most jaded passenger should enjoy the feel of the wind and sea close at hand. Just don’t expect fine food to go with what is decidedly a fine sailing experience – which is what Star Flyer is all about. Note that a 12.5 percent gratuity is added to all beverage purchases.For the nautically minded, the sailing rig consists of 16 manually furled sails: fore staysail, inner jib, outer jib, flying jib, fore course, lower topsail, upper topsail, lower topgallant, upper topgallant, main staysail, upper main staysail, mizzen staysail, main fisherman, jigger staysail, mizzen fisherman, and spanker. The square sails are furled electronically by custom-made winches.

Accommodation: There are six cabin price grades plus one Owner’s Suite. Generally, the higher the deck, the more expensive a cabin. The cabins are quite well equipped and comfortable; they have rosewood-trimmed cabinetry and wall-to-wall carpeting, two-channel audio, color TV and DVD player, personal safe, and full-length mirrors. The bathrooms are very compact but practical units, and have gray marble tiling, glazed rosewood toiletries cabinet and paneling, some under-shelf storage space, washbasin, shower stall, and toilet. There is no ‘lip’ to prevent water from the shower from moving over the bathroom floor.Individual European 100 percent individual cotton duvets are provided. There is no cabin food or beverage service.The deluxe cabins (called ‘deck cabins’) are larger, and additional features include a full-size Jacuzzi tub or corner tub, flat-screen television and DVD player, and minibar/refrigerator. However, these cabins are subject to noise pollution from the same-deck Tropical Bar’s music at night (typically until midnight), from the electric winches during sail maneuvers, and from noisy walkabout exercisers in the early morning.The cabins in the lowest price grade are interior cabins with upper and lower berths, and not two lower beds – so someone will need to be agile to climb a ladder to the upper berth. A handful of cabins have a third, upper Pullman-style berth, which is good for families with children, although closet and drawer space will be at a premium with three people in a cabin.

Cuisine/Dining: The dining room is quite attractive, and has lots of wood and brass accenting and nautical decor. There are self-serve buffet breakfasts and lunches, together with a mix of buffet and à-la-carte dinners, generally with a choice of three entrées (mains), in an open-seating environment.The seating is mostly at tables of six, and either adjacent to a porthole or inboard; it makes it difficult for waiters to serve properly – so the food is passed along the tables that occupy a porthole position. However, you can dine with whomever you wish, and this is supposed to be a casual experience, after all.While cuisine aboard the ship is perhaps less than the advertised ‘gourmet’ excellence as far as presentation and choice are concerned, it is fairly creative – and there’s plenty of it. Also, one has to take into account the small galley. Passenger niggles include repetitious breakfasts and lunchtime salad items, because lack of space prevents more choices. But most passengers are happy with the dinners, which tend to be good, although there is a lack of green vegetables. There’s a good choice of bread rolls, pastry items, and fruit.Tea and coffee is available 24 hours a day in the lounge – mugs, tea cups, and saucers are provided. There is no cabin food service.

Entertainment: There are no shows as such, except for an occasional local folklore show from ashore, nor are any expected by passengers aboard a tall ship such as this. Live music is typically provided by a solo lounge pianist/singer. Otherwise, dinner is the main evening event, as well as ‘captain’s storytime,’ recapping the day’s events, and conversation with fellow passengers.During the day, when the ship is sailing, passengers can learn about the sails and their repair, and the captain or chief officer will give briefings, as the sails are being furled and unfurled. The closest this tall ship comes to any kind of ‘show’ is perhaps one provided by members of the crew, plus a few traditional sea shanties.

Spa/Fitness: There are no fitness facilities, or beauty salon, although a masseuse provides Oriental massage. For recreation, the ship has a water-sports program. Facilities include kayaks, a water-ski boat, scuba and snorkel equipment, and eight Zodiac inflatable craft. The use of scuba facilities costs extra.

Berlitz Guide © Apa Publishing 2017

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