A Swim Stop in the Arabian Sea

We received this photo and post from guest Helen McNamara. The "floating hand" and superimposed shark gave us quite the laugh!

Here's Cruise Director Peter Kissner tempting fate during a swim stop. His signature line is "You are laughing????" heard many times a day. I could not resist using the line here!

Hot Off the Press!

Star Clippers just published the new "Fall 2009 - Spring 2011" brochure, and it's available for order. It's filled with itinerary details, port information, pre- and post-cruise land tour packages, pricing and Advanced Purchase Discounts. The line is introducing 40 maiden ports and new itineraries in Costa Rica, Myanmar and the Mediterranean, so be sure to order your brochure today! (800) 442-0556 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Port of the Week: Nyaung Wee, Myanmar

A city full of tradition and culture, Star Clipper guests visit the port of Nyaung Wee, north of Inle Lake in the Shan State of Myanmar — on the new seven-night Myanmar itineraries that sail rounnd-trip Phuket, Thailand. After the ship docks, if guests are not on a shore excursion the best way to move around the island is by bicycle, or if you’re feeling a little lazy rickshaws can easily be found throughout the city.

Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar, is home to the beautiful floating gardens that are made up of water hyacinths and mud – a photographer's dream. The Nankand Canal is a popular way of travel, running into Inle Lake, which is surrounded by 200 villages. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the “one-legged fisherman,” a fishing method specific to the region where the fisherman uses one leg for rowing and one leg for balancing, so the hands are free for fishing nets.

Visitors will notice Stupas scattered throughout the city and countryside. These contain Buddhist relics and are thought to have been places of worship. While in Nyaung guests may want to check out the oldest of these stupas — Yadana Man Aung. Other popular sites include the Museum of Shan Chiefs Stupas.

After taking in the sites, a stroll around Mingala Market is sure to entice shoppers with local wares. The Inle Lake area is renowned for its weaving industry, and the shan-bag, a totebag used daily by many Burmese, is the item to pick up. If the weather’s right, before heading back to the ship you may want to indulge in a relaxing popular local custom like kite-flying or challenge a local in “kite combat,” which is trying to bring down an opponent’s kite.

Postcards from an Ocean Crossing

Guest Ed Swafford sent in these photos taken during his Athens, Greece, to Goa, India, ocean crossing last fall. Looks like it was a grand adventure!

Our U.S. Navy escort through the Gulf of Aden.

Nothing like freshly caught fish on the dinner menu.

We Want Photos of You Climbing the Mast

Climbing the mast is one of the most unique aspects of a Star Clippers cruise. It's not everyday that you get to put on a harness and climb the mast to hang out on the Crow's Nest of a tall ship. We want to see photos of you climbing the mast or your view from the Crow's Nest. Send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can post them on the blog and our Facebook page.

Kudos for Star Clippers

We received this nice note from a guest who recently sailed aboard Star Clipper.

Dear Star Clippers people,

Enclosed is our evaluation form for our voyage on the Star Clipper from Singapore via Phuket to Athens, in March and April of this year. I apologize for not getting this to you earlier, but my husband and I wanted to say more that the form allows room for.

This was not our first Star Clipper experience. We have sailed in the Caribbean three times (one on the Royal Clipper) and we sailed on the Star Flyer’s crossing from Athens to Panama City in the fall of 2007, so we are very familiar with the Star Clipper/Flyer and with the Star Clipper trip protocols.

This wan an absolutely unique and unforgettable voyage, in the best sense of these adjectives. First, we thoroughly enjoyed all the sea days. In facts, that’s what attracted us to this itinerary in the first place, after our enjoyment of the 11 or so straight sea days on the Star Flyer Atlantic crossing. Second, this particular itinerary was fascinating. We had been to Thailand and to Greece, but not to any of the other countries along the way.

There were, however, two things which made this trip uniquely special for us. The first was, of course, the six or so days from Goa to Bab al Mandab at the south end of the Red Sea transiting the Gulf of Aden. Six days on high alert (“code red”) in the pirate area was quite an experience. The precautions taken by the Star Clipper’s crew (razor and electrified wires, plywood panels around the aft sun deck, complete blackout at night, portholes blocked 24 hours a day, emergency drill) were reassuring. Particularly reassuring was the presence of our escort ship, “Delta Mike,” cruising alongside 24/7, complete with three machine guns set up on deck. As an English friend once said years ago, “That’s a story you can dine on for ages!”

The second and even more impressive thing which made this trip special for us was Peter Kissner, the cruise director. In fact, Peter was much more than just a “cruise director.” His planning, his daily talks and “little stories,” and his interaction with us passengers and with the crew were highlights of our time on board. Thanks to Peter’s planning awe got to do some things that no ordinary cruise ship would include” stopping to go swimming in the Indian Ocean (twice) and the Red Sea (once), and visiting Brothers Island and lighthouse in the Red Sea. We especially appreciated Peter’s absolutely encyclopedic knowledge of the history, geography, personalities, customs and cultures of all the places we visited and even those we just passed by. We learned so much from Peter’s talks, and we had not expected this trip to include so much fascinating information. I cannot even being to recall right now all I learned from Peter’s talks on such topics as the history of explorations from Europe across the Indian Ocean to Asia, why dealing with pirates and piracy is not a simple matter logistically or legally, how sailing ship design developed and why sailing ships may still have a future in international shipping, and tips on each of the places we were going to be docking for the day. He even had “human interest” items about various historical persons, such as Prince Henry the Navigator and Magellan. (However, luckily I took notes!) Having Peter as a travel companion was an invaluable addition to our voyage.

Currently we are booked on the Star Flyer for the Pacific Ocean crossing. Tahiti to Panama, next February and March. We are looking forward to another lengthy time at sea. The only thing missing will be Peter and his daily informative talks (unless, of course, he just happens to be places on that voyage.)


Gretchen Morris

Postcards from Tahiti

Star Flyer guest Carolina sent in these beautiful photos from her recent Tahiti sailing. It looks like they had gorgeous weather and a lot of fun!

The "Shark and Stingray Feeding" shore excursion in Bora Bora:

The "Quad Adventure ATV" shore excursion in Opunahu Bay:

Port of the Week: Olympus, Turkey

Star Flyer calls at the maiden port of Olympus, Turkey, next year on the seven-night Antalya Route cruise that sails round-trip Rhodes, Greece.

Off the coast of Turkey lies the ruined city of Olympus. With the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean spread out around the ship and a view of the mountains, a pebble beach patiently awaits for a day relaxing, sunbathing or swimming. The snorkel gear provided on board also is perfect for this tranquil port. For the more adventurous types, the area surrounding the beach is ideal for activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing and sea kayaking.

The ancient city of Olympus is on the south end of the beach. Here ancient baths and theaters are nestled among the ruins.

A highlight nearby is the ever-burning flames of the Chimera, a mythological fire-breathing monster — part lion, part snake and part goat — that was defeated in ancient times. The eternal flame is more brilliant at night, but visitors can still see the flames during a day-trek to the site.

While at Olympus, a side-trip can be made to Cirali, which offers a chance to visit small local shops and sample local cuisine. The sandy beach closer to Cirali is home to a turtle preservation site where turtle nests are set up.

Knot Tying 101: Figure 8

Captain Gerry demonstrates how to tie a Figure 8 knot. The Figure 8 knot provides a quick and convenient stopper knot to prevent a line sliding out of sight. Its virtue is that, even after it has been jammed tightly against a block it doesn't bind; it can be undone easily.

Step 1: Form a loop at the top, which we'll call end A.

Step 2: Form another loop, creating an X where the rope crosses itself. The section of rope closest to end A should be passing under the other section, from top left to lower right of the X.

Step 3: Hold the X with your left hand.

Step 4: Use your right hand to poke end A into the hole.

Step 5: Pull on end A and tighten the knot.

A Memorable Greek Isles Sailing

Guest Helen Heinel-Szesch sent us a post about her wonderful Greek Isles cruise aboard Star Clipper.

In August 2008 my husband and I spent another memorable week on board the Star Clipper, this time sailing around the Greek Northern Cyclade Islands.

Star Clipper at Kusadasi, Turkey.

Star Clipper anchored at Sifnos, Greece.

Again, it was the wonderful atmosphere on board, which made the holiday extra special. It was also especially nice to see some of the crew, who had been on board the year before in the Caribbean – in particular our absolutely favourite barman Igor!

Barman Igor.

I am the romantic type so it wasn’t really surprising to me that I got goose pimples each evening when the sails went up to the sound of Vangelis 1492!

The Star Clipper presented us with more than enough opportunities to “play” with our cameras and we really got some great shots. And, we couldn’t forget that we were on a sailing ship as, on one particularly breezy day, the swimming pool made its way down the stairs to the tropical bar.

I can’t wait until the next opportunity to be on board again.

Wolfgang Serchinger, a friend we met on board, climbing the mast.

Royal Clipper Fun Facts: Part 2

• There is a total of 19,375 square feet of handcrafted Burma teak on the Sun Deck and Main Deck.

• The two tallest of the five masts are hinged so that mast tops can be easily cranked lower by 19 feet for clear passage under low bridges and power lines without interfering with the ship’s standing rigging.

• Royal Clipper and her sister ships, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, are the only major true sail ships ever built on which no seaman ever needs to climb the masts to handle sails.

• A simple button lays the propeller blades almost flat against the hull when the vessel goes to sailing mode, largely eliminating resistance to the flow of water along the sleek sailboat hull.

Royal Clipper Fun Facts: Part 1

• A total of 42 sails are used to propel the ship: 26 squaresails, 11 staysails, four jibs and one gaff-rigged spanker. The sails are made of Dacron and tailored especially for the ship by Doyle Ploch Sailmakers of Clearwater, Fla.

• All sail stitching is especially resistant to weakening caused by tropical sunshine, and a computer designed all but one sail. So much Dacron was needed (the biggest sail order ever placed for a single ship) that the supply in the United States was exhausted and some Dacron had to be imported from Europe.

• A sail maker is part of the ship’s crew. A special sewing machine always is available at sea ready for use when sails occasionally get ripped by the wind.

• Royal Clipper is the first fully rigged square-rigger with five masts since her inspiration, Preussen, in l902, and the ship approximates Preussen in all major measurements.

• Royal Clipper does not use computers for sail handling. All sails are raised, lowered and positioned from the security of the deck by skilled sailors who use power winches and hand-controlled horizontal and vertical power furling.

Port of the Week: Essaouira, Morocco

Royal Clipper makes a maiden call at the port of Essaouira, Morocco, on the 16-night Westbound Crossing from Lisbon, Portugal, to Barbados, departing Oct. 28, 2010.

Portuguese, French and Berber architecture frame the maze-like streets of Essaouira, a western Moroccan city along the Atlantic Ocean. With its long beach, abundant seawater spa treatments and dramatic sunsets, relaxation is as easy to find as the northeast trade winds that create ideal conditions for watersports. Long considered one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast, archaeological research shows that Essaouira has been occupied since prehistoric times.

The Carthaginian navigator Hanno visited and established a trading post here in the 5th century B.C. Around the end of the 1st century B.C. or early 1st century A.D., Juba II established a Tyrian purple factory, processing the murex and purpura shells found in the intertidal rocks at Essaouira and the Iles Purpuraires. This dye colored the purple stripe in Imperial Roman Senatorial togas.

Today, the Medina of Essaouira is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage city as an example of a late 18th century fortified town. The medina is home to many small arts and crafts businesses, notably cabinet making and "thuya" wood-carving (using roots of the Tetraclinis tree), both of which have been practiced in Essaouira for centuries.

Essaouira also is renowned for its kitesurfing and windsurfing, and camel rides are available on the beach and into the desert band in the interior.

A Race to the Finish Line

A favorite tradition at Star Clippers is to have a race between sister ships when they are in port together. The race is under full sail and all of the passengers and crew help out to get their ship to the finish line first. The races last anywhere between 15-30 minutes, and the ships meet out in open seas and either race between islands or toward a port. Don't worry, every precaution is taken to ensure it's a safe race!

Star Clipper's crew look on as the ship takes the lead over Royal Clipper.

Photos courtesy of guest Helen Heinel-Szesch.

A Caribbean Honeymoon to Remember

We received this nice note and gorgeous photos from Star Clippers guest Helen Heinel-Szesch.

My husband and I spent our honeymoon on board the Star Clipper sailing around the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. That holiday will always remain in our memories as one of the most fantastic weeks we have ever had; not only because of the fabulous Caribbean scenery, but also because of the amazing atmosphere on board. Whenever we returned to the ship after an excursion on land there were always many guests on deck chatting happily about whatever they had seen that day. In fact friendly faces were all about from mornings through until evenings. There is certainly no comparison between that and a "normal" hotel on land. We met some lovely people, with whom we continue to have contact.

Of course the Caribbean is quite spectacular with Antigua and Dominica being my particular favourites. Being enthusiastic hobby photographers, we were in our element with the abundance of birds and flowers to photograph. We managed to spend three hours under one particular tree at the beach on Antigua photographing humming birds - getting a very suntanned back in the meantime! Cabrits on Dominica is just like the typical Caribbean picture postcard.

I remember the only sad part about the entire holiday was standing on the beach on St. Maarten in the evening watching the Star Clipper sail away without us.

A hummingbird photo taken in Antigua.

Postcards from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Travel writer Geoff Edwards sent us more photos from his Mediterranean cruise. These were taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on a gorgeous day. Both Star Clipper and Royal Clipper call at the port.

Knot Tying 101: Bowline

Captain Gerry demonstrates how to tie a bowline knot. The bowline is among the most commonly used knots on a sailboat. With it, you can tie a line (rope) in a loop around anything else to anchor the line. The bowline is not only strong and secure but is easy to break loose later, even when pulled tight under a load.

Step 1: Hold one end of the string in your left hand, and one end in your right hand.

Step 2: Make a small loop with the end of the string in your left hand. These instructions assume you start with an "underhand" loop, so that the free end of the string is under the intersection formed by the loop.

Step 3: Put the end of the string in your right hand through the loop made by your left hand. The end should be coming towards you as it goes through the loop.

Step 4: Bring the end around (behind) the string that is facing up from the loop.

Step 5: Put that same string back through the loop. This time the end is going away from you.

Step 6: Take the top loose string in your left hand and all the rest of the string and pull in opposite directions to tighten the hitch.

Or ...

Use a mnemonic to remember the knot:

1. Think of the loop as a "rabbit's hole" and the string end coming off the loop as a "tree."

2. Imagine the other loose end of the string, which you're holding in your right hand, is the "rabbit."

3. The rabbit comes up the hole, runs around the tree, and goes back down the hole.

Port of the Week: Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Star Flyer will call at Drake Bay, Costa Rica, on one of the two new round-trip Costa Rica itineraries debuting next year.

Discovered by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the globe, Drake Bay is one of the most popular destinations in the region. Drake Bay is exclusively accessible by boat and is home to Parque Nacional Corcovado, the tallest primary rain forest on the planet and home to nearly 400 species of birds, 139 species of mammals and 116 species of amphibians and reptiles. Also near Drake Bay is the smaller Marenco Biological Station, where guests can hike through moss-festooned rain forest replete with toucans, monkeys, curassows and tanagers, or ride a horse to the Rio Claro for a swim. The tiny island has a wealth of underwater beauty, and gives guests the chance to swim among brightly colored tropical fish and dolphins.

Do You Know Your Sailing Lingo?

Whether you're a sailing novice or a nautical expert, it's good to know some of the sailing terms that go along with taking a Star Clippers cruise. After all, it's not like being on a regular cruise ship and there's plenty of lingo that may not be familiar. Here's a cheat-sheet that you can take along with you next time you're on board so you can sound like a pro!

BOOM: A long spar extending from a mast to hold or extend the foot of a sail.

BOWSPRIT: A spar extending forward from the stem of a ship to which the stays of the foremast are fastened.

BRACING: A rope by which a yard is swung and secured on a square-rigged ship.

COURSE: The lowest sail on a mast of a square-rigged ship.

CROSSJACK: The lowest square sail, or the lower yard of the mizzenmast.

FOREMAST: The forward mast on a sailing vessel.

JIB: A triangular sail stretching from the foretopmast head to the jib boom and in small craft to the bowsprit or the bow.

JIGGER: A small sail set in the stern of a yawl or similar boat.

MAST: A tall vertical spar, sometimes sectioned, that rises from the keel or deck of a sailing vessel to support the sails and the standing and running rigging.

MIZZENMAST: The third mast or the mast aft of a mainmast on a ship having three or more masts.

RIGGING: To fit (sails or shrouds, for example) to masts and yards.

RUNNING RIGGING: Gives support to each mast against sideways strain. It is made of galvanized steel, fitted to adjustable stout placement at the rails opposite each mast.

SHROUDS: One of a set of ropes or wire cables stretched from the masthead to the sides of a vessel to support the mast.

SPANKER: A usually gaff-headed sail set from the aftermost lower mast of a sailing ship.

SPAR: A wooden or metal pole, such as a boom, yard or bowsprit, used to support sails and rigging.

SQUARE-RIGGED: Fitted with square sails as the principal sails.

SQUARESAIL: A four-sided sail extended by a yard suspended horizontally across the mast.

STAY: A heavy rope or cable, usually of wire, used as a brace or support for a mast or spar.

STAYSAIL: a fore-and-aft sail set on a stay (as between two masts).

TOPGALLANT: Of, relating to or being the mast above the topmast, its sails, or its rigging.

TOPSAIL: A square sail set above the lowest sail on the mast of a square-rigged ship.

UNDER SAIL: An extent of canvas or other fabric by means of which the wind is made serviceable as a power for propelling vessels through the water.

YARD: A long tapering spar slung to a mast to support and spread the head of a square sail, lugsail or lateen.

Star Flyer in the Eastern Med

Michael Pal sent us some nice photos from his Mediterranean sailing, along with this note:

My wife and I had the most memorable experience on Star Flyer on an Australian Charter of the vessel from Istanbul to Athens back in June 2006. The first four photos were taken at the harbour in Kusadasi. The monster next to the Star Flyer is the HAL ship Noordam. The last photo is taken from the cliffs of Santorini.

It was actually an amazing incident, as the Noordam was stuck in Kusadasi. As we were sailing into Kusadasi on the Star Flyer, the cruise director, Peter, came over the PA saying that there had been an alert for a "man overboard." As we were sailing towards the area, the alert was called off because the Noordam had gotten there first and picked "them" up. It turned out there were a number of people overboard, apparently refugees. The Noordam was unable to leave Kusadasi that night because of the regulations requiring the situation to be clarified before they could leave. That was my understanding as to why the Noordam was still there next to the Star Flyer at that hour of night.

All the best,

Michael Pal

Perth, Australia

Star Flyer alongside with Noordam at Kusadasi, Turkey.

Star Flyer anchored at Santorini, Greece.