Climbing the Mast

One of the unique activities aboard a Star Clippers tall ship is the chance to climb the mast. Guests are harnessed in and climb up a rope ladder to the Crow's Nest. A great view is in store for all who make the climb.

Helen McNamara sent us this photo collage taken aboard Star Clipper in the Indian Ocean:

Mike Rech sent us his photos of Laura climbing Royal Clipper's mast:

Postcards From Tahiti

We received this nice note and gorgeous photos from guest Mark Skalny who sailed on Star Flyer for his honeymoon. Mark is the owner of Visual Nature Images, Inc., so it's interesting to see the ship and the ports through the eyes of a professional.

We had an amazing trip! The entire trip was just perfect from start to finish and we did not want to get off the boat and come home. The staff and crew of the Star Flyer were five-star all the way. And what a way to see the islands of Tahiti ... We hope to join your ships on another journey through some exotic port soon.

Port of the Week: Elafonisos, Greece

One of the lesser known (but equally stunning) of the Greek islands is Elafonisos, located in the Lakonikos Kolpos. Sailing into port cruisers will be dazzled by the turquoise waters surrounding the island. In ancient times the island was a peninsula and the sandy isthmus, which separates it from the Peloponesso, is only a few feet underwater creating the remarkably alluring color in the sea.

Elafonisos is a very small island and guests visiting will get an authentic Greek vacation experience. Its close proximity to Athens (five hours by car) makes it an attractive weekend destination to Athenians.

This is the one of the best ports to pull out the on-board snorkeling gear. The snorkeling experience off the island is wonderful with the clear blue waters and miles of white sandy beaches creating an ideal combination for a day of relaxing in the surf and sand.

Before heading back on board guests should explore the small port town that is reminiscent of a smaller, more Spartan version of Aegina. The line of seafood tavernas entices both cruisers and locals to sample the fabulous cuisine.

Star Flyer calls at Elafonisos on the 14-night Grand Mediterranean itineraries departing July 3 and Aug. 21, 2010.

The Rainbows of Taha'a, Tahiti

Here are the first rainbow photos submitted since Julie called for readers to send in pix of a Star Clippers ship and a rainbow or just a rainbow photographed while sailing on Star Clippers. We're willing to tolerate a little rain to get beautiful rainbows like these.

We saw two rainbows next to one other sailing away from Taha'a on August 21. The one on the right is a little faint, but it was a great experience.

Rachel & Bryan Gavini

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

We received this gorgeous photo taken by a guest on a Tahiti cruise aboard Star Flyer. If you have photos of the ship with a rainbow, send them in — even if it's just a photo of a rainbow (no ship) that you took while on your Star Clippers cruise. Be sure to let us know what port you were visiting when the photo was taken. You can send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gourmet Week Aboard Star Clipper

Star Clipper recently featured Gourmet Week aboard the ship, and Culinary Advisor Jean-Marie Meulien was on board to host the trip.

From left: Culinary Advisor Jean-Marie Meulien, Eric Trarieux, Executive Chef Devon Hodges and Dieter Biesler.

Caramelizing pear fans for decoration on a main dish.

Isabelle Mangeart and Christian Marbler, owners and producers of Clos des Nines estate and winery.

Meet Culinary Advisor Jean-Marie Meulien

Chef Jean-Marie Meulien brings years of experience, expertise and talent to Star Clippers’ kitchens. As culinary advisor, Meulien works with the food and beverage department at Star Clippers’ headquarters, as well as the on board chefs, to develop new dishes and put together menu cycles that will have the passengers raving and their palates dancing.

Formerly he was executive chef of Michelin three-star L’Oasis in La Napoule on the Cote du Sur on the French Riviera, and he upheld those three stars for 14 years. Prior to that, he was chef at Le Meridien in Paris and earned that restaurant two stars in just one year.

Meulien has shared his culinary talents with gourmands in more than a dozen countries, including Uruguay, Switzerland, Thailand, Morocco and Greece. He also serves as a culinary consultant to several restaurants and hotels around the world, and he is a member of the Disciples of Auguste Escoffier and Toques Blanches Internationales. His most recent cookbook, "Flavors of the Mediterranean," can be found in kitchens across the globe.

Superstitions at Sea: No Bananas On Board

There are a lot of great superstitions attached to the sea and sailing. Here is one of our favorites.

Bananas are a mainstay of most cultures and are the world’s most popular fruit. However, these deliciously yellow treats have no place at sea. Since the 1700’s, it has been widely believed that having a banana on board was an omen of disaster.

In the early 1700’s, during the height of the Spanish’s South Atlantic and Caribbean trading empire, it was observed that nearly every ship that disappeared at sea and did not make its destination was carrying a cargo of bananas. This gave rise to the belief that hauling bananas was a dangerous prospect. There are other documented origins to this superstition as well.

Another explanation for the banana superstition is that the fastest sailing ships used to carry bananas from the tropics to U.S. ports along the East Coast to land the bananas before they could spoil. The banana boats were so fast that fishermen never caught anything while trolling for fish from them, and that’s where the superstition got started.

Another theory is that bananas carried aboard slave ships fermented and gave off methane gas, which would be trapped below deck. Anyone in the hold, including cargoes of imprisoned humanity, would succumb to the poisoned air, and anyone trying to climb down into the hold to help them would fall prey to the dangerous gas.

And finally, one of the better known dangers of bananas at sea, is that a species of spider with a lethal bite likes to hide in bunches of bananas. Crewmen suddenly dying of spider bites after bananas are brought aboard certainly would be considered a bad omen resulting in the cargo being tossed into the sea.

Any of these scenarios could be the reason behind fishermen’s mistrust of the yellow fruit, possibly all of them. Whatever the case may be, it is best that you don’t attempt to bring any bananas on board your next seafaring excursion, just to be safe.

Thanks to for providing this interesting information.

Port of the Week: Puerto Banus, Spain

Puerto Banus is located on Spain’s famed Costa del Sol. Part of Marbella, Spain, the luxury marina and complex is a relatively recent travel destination, having been for a number of years a well-kept secret among the rich and famous.

Built in 1970 by José Banús, a local property developer, the marina can berth up to 915 boats — who knows, guests may find themselves docked next to the King of Saudi Arabia or another of the world's wealthiest individuals who keep their yachts in this sunny spot.

Synonymous with the Costa del Sol (sun coast) region, Puerto Banus boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year making it the perfect place for sunbathing on the golden-sand beach. Sailing into port guests will catch views of La Concha Mountain, one of the coast's landmarks, and glimpses of streets filled with designer boutiques and nightclubs.

In true luxury, Puerto Banus features superb shopping. Guests can head over to the Marina Banus Shopping Center or for a more local feel they can explore smaller, more traditional Spanish shops and boutiques. A must-see if visiting on a Saturday is the weekly market held in the bullring — just watch out for the matador.

The surrounding areas of Puerto Banus feature the Sierra Bermeja Mountains rising up to the north of the town and numerous golf courses are scattered nearby.

Royal Clipper will call at Puerto Banus on the 12-night Grand Mediterranean sailing departing Malaga, Spain, April 26, 2010.

We're Nominated for Two World Travel Awards!

Star Clippers has been nominated for two World Travel Awards: "World's Leading Green Cruise Line" and "World's Leading Small Ship Cruise Line." Now we need your votes to help us win! It's easy!

Go to: Register (it only takes a minute) and then click on "world" on the left. Find Star Clippers' categories (in alpha order) and vote. You can skip through the other categories if you want (you don't need to check the dot to skip them).

Thank you for the support!

Nomenclature of the Sails and Masts

We recently had an e-mail from guests who are sailing on the upcoming Indian Ocean crossing of Star Clipper, and they want to become familiar with the names of the sails and masts. Hopefully this graphic will be helpful.

A Krafft Family Affair

From left: Mikael, Anne, Marie and Eric Krafft.

To hear Star Clippers founder Mikael Krafft tell it, he never thought his entire family would work at the line, but that’s what has happened over the years. Krafft’s wife Ann looks after quality control and manages the hotel directors and shipboard entertainment, son Eric, 34, supervises finances and daughter Marie, 30, is a director of sales.

“It’s an extra benefit that I didn’t expect,” said Mikael Krafft. “It was not intentional, but has been a pleasant surprise that my family has been interested in working in the business.”

When he started the company 20 years ago, his children were young and the family lived in Brussels. When the kids completed their baccalaureate studies, they were packed off to Stockholm to attend college and get back in touch with their Swedish roots. With the children out of the house, Ann — who Mikael describes as “a very keen sailor” — could turn her attention to the cruise line.

She began by handling the bookings of several hundred Krafft family friends who sail every year with Star Clippers, then gradually got more involved in the hotel and food and beverage operations. Today, she oversees hotel management and entertainment, going on board the ships to check everything from uniforms to food and service.

An interest in rocket engines resulted in an engineering degree for Eric Krafft. Following business school in London, he worked as an investment banker in London and New York, before becoming the Managing Owner of a China-based dry bulk shipping business.

Port of the Week: Ko Phawt, Myanmar

Star Clipper will call at Ko Phawt, Myanmar, on the new seven-night Myanmar itineraries that sail round-trip Phuket, Thailand.

One of the 800 islands that make up the Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar in the Andaman Sea, Ko Phawt is a lush, tropical island that is home to many different species, including the horn bill and the fruit bat, also known as the flying fox. It's a nature lover's dream.

Guests will have their strip of sand to choose from as they make their way from the ship. If they’re looking for a picture-perfect beach, then Haad Saikantang is very difficult to beat — white sand, crystal-clear water and fairly limited development giving the impression of a deserted private beach. Other lovely strips include Thong Nai Pan Noi, Bottle Beach, if it's not too busy, and Haad Khom on the north coast.

Guest may want to take a hike around the island in hope of catching site of the horn bills of Ko Phawt. These are long-tailed, and certain species are brightly colored around their bill and head. They live in the tropical forest, making their homes by nesting in holes in trees and usually fly in large flocks, giving guests the opportunity to capture a striking photograph.

Star Flyer from the Air

Photographer and Tahiti resident Danee Hazama took these photos of Star Flyer from an ultra light plane over Moorea. The ship will be leaving Tahiti next year, so there's not much time for guests to sail Star Clippers in Polynesia!

Postcards from a Tahiti Cruise — Life On Board

We received more photos from guest Carol who recently sailed on a Tahiti cruise. These are from life on board.

Local entertainment comes on board each cruise to perform for the guests.

The crew talent show performed for the guests.

More crew talent.

From the Crow's Nest: An Interview with Mikael Krafft

"101 Holidays" recently conducted an interview with Mikael Krafft, owner and president of Star Clippers. The UK Web site provides a unique selection of some of the world’s greatest travel experiences.

It's not your typical interview about running Star Clippers, but more about Mikael and his personal likes. We thought you would enjoy getting to know the man behind the company.

101: Where are you planning to go on holiday this year, and why?

MK: I am planning to set sail from Rhodes to explore Southern Turkey in order to prepare and fine-tune a new itinerary for one of the Star Clippers sailing vessels next summer.

101: What is your favourite bolthole in the UK, and why?

Dolphins Swimming Along with Royal Clipper

A guest shot this video aboard Royal Clipper of dolphins swimming along with the ship. This is something our guests could see while dolphin-watching with the marine biologist.

Port of the Week: Milos, Greece

Milos, Greece, is best known for the statue of Venus de Milo (Aphrodite, to the Greeks). The island’s unique lunar landscape is immediately evident to guests, creating unbelievable and imposing rocky formations in deep reds, browns and glimmering white. Volcanic activity started in this area five million years ago, and is the reason behind the extreme colors and landscapes. While at this port, guests will definitely want to take advantage of the unique topography by exploring the caves, catacombs and sulfur mines before settling down at village café or tavern and enjoying some Greek delicacies.

The caves, three to be exact — Papafragos, Sykia and Kleftiko — are located in the north, west and south coasts and are known for their beautiful rock formations. Another underground highlight, the Catacombs of Milos, date back to early Christianity and are considered to be one of the most significant Christian cemeteries during Roman times.

Guest also can explore the long-abandoned sulfur mines located at a little beach called Paleorema on the east coast of Milos. These hot water thermals have resulted in the formation of many important minerals like perlite, caolin, bentonite and baryte.

Other island highlights that are sure to intrigue history buffs are the Ancient Theater near the catacombs, which dates back to Helenistic times, and the Venetian Castle, constructed in the 13th century.

After a day filled with the island’s topography, guests can visit the many villages and beaches of the area, particularly Adamas Village just south of Plaka. It's one of the most popular stomping grounds in the area, filled with taverns, cafes and shops. Not far from Plaka village is stunning Sarakiniko beach for guests who just can’t get enough of the deep azure waters of the Mediterranean.

Star Clipper will call at Milos on the seven-night, round-trip Athens, Greece, "Southern Route" cruises come summer 2010.

Dolphin Watching with the Marine Biologist

The resident marine biologist aboard Royal Clipper sent us this interesting information about the type of dolphins they observed on a recent cruise. While on board, the marine biologist holds whale/dolphin watching sessions on deck, as well as goes on dives and snorkeling trips, and even for beach walks in areas of ecological interest.

The type of dolphin observed was a Stenella Coeruleoalba, or "striped dolphin." They are among the most abundant and widespread dolphins in the world. These dolphins can reach lengths of about 9 feet and weigh up to 350 pounds for males and 8 feet and 330 pounds for females.

They have a sleek body with a long, defined beak and round "melon" (forehead). Their distinct and striking coloration pattern with a complex of bold thin stripes that extend from the eye to the flipper and another set of stripes down the side of the body to the back region distinguishes it from other cetacean species, and is the origin of its common name.

Left: The dolphins swimming under the bowsprit net. Right: A group of guests came out to look for dolphins with the marine biologist.

Postcard from a Far East Cruise

Guest Andy sent in this beautiful photo that he took in Thailand. The water is incredibly clear and brilliantly blue. Star Clipper returns to the region in November and will again sail seven-night cruises round-trip Phuket, Thailand, and between Phuket and Singapore.