View From The Tropical Bar

Thanks to Royal Clipper guest Anthony Nicholas of “Travels with Anthony” for sharing his onboard experience.

So I’m nursing a Margarita- aptly, at five o’clock- at the Tropical Bar of the Royal Clipper. We are close cruising the lush, verdant coast of Dominica, and the mood is quietly electric.

Across my line of vision, a rainbow splits the landscape like some amazing, technicolor lightning rod, even as the last rays of the setting sun turn the still, silent ocean into a glorious, golden carpet. There are hot hors d’oevres on offer on a central display base- watermelon slices, cookies, and some absolutely delicious hot spring rolls, and the crowd milling around the open bar devours them with obvious relish. It’s a relaxed, dreamy vibe in a location that soon became the social centre of the entire cruise.

The Tropical Bar is not one of those cushioned, faux Miami Beach luxe style areas that are so currently popular on the mega ships. Here, it is very much a case of ‘less being more'; with an open view on both sides (covered by canvas screens when the sea gets up), the wooden deck area is sprinkled with a few tables surrounded by wooden stools, bolted to the floor. Immaculately varnished benches flank the edges, seeming to recoil from the three sided, central bar and the crowd that throngs it at this magical hour every evening.

Over our week in the Caribbean on this extraordinary, five masted flyer of a sailing ship, the Tropical Bar would pull in people like moths to a flame. At any hour up until midnight, and sometimes beyond, you would always find a few hardy souls braced there, sampling good German beer, or the potentially deadly Long Island Iced Teas served up with such deft aplomb.

[caption id="attachment_16415" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Sunset from the Tropical Bar.

And you needed to be hardy at times. As befits any royal lady with a temperament, there were moments when the Royal Clipper would suddenly heel sharply, almost as if she were trying to keep us on our toes. Or, perhaps, throw us off them. In so many ways, this magnificent paragon really does dance to her own, unique tune. And to hear it, well- that was to love it.

There was actual music, too, from a wonderful Hungarian guitarist/organ player by the name of Gabor. Like everything on board, it was subtle, understated, and it seemed to fit the mood of the moment with almost cosmetic perfection. Listening to his version of Hotel California as the last rays of the sun threw long, fading fingers of light across the wooden deck was a spine tingling moment.

With the vast, tree shrouded slopes of Dominica darkening slowly and almost within touching distance, a warm breeze ruffled my hair. The drinks straw in my glass did an idle, skittish little dance as the ice cubes in it clinked together, as if huddling together for protection. Suddenly, a thoughtlessly discarded plate slid down the bar like a runaway train. The barman caught it mid stream without even batting an eyelid. And so catastrophe was averted once more.

With that, I gazed out once more across the deep red carpet of the Caribbean, so lost in it’s vast, rolling beauty that I almost missed his words.

Another one? Hmm, why not? You don’t get to hang out in a bar like this one every day, that’s for sure.

So, when you do get the chance to do it, you absolutely owe it to yourself- and to your fellow travellers- to make every moment count.

Whether we’re talking food, drink or good music, there’s always something nice cooking at the Tropical Bar. Often as not, it’s all three.

Don’t exist-live. Get out there.

Facebook Fans Share First Impressions

[caption id="attachment_16400" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper photo by Valerie Jenkins Fors.

As according to Star Clippers' latest bit of wisdom, "It's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times." Some guests hear all about the Star Clippers experience, but nothing compares to the moment when you come on board for the first time.

We recently asked fans on Facebook to fill in the blank: My first impression of Star Clippers was _____________

The results are in and here's what the sailing veterans had to say!

Matthias Wunsch: A dream I had in my childhood about a replica of the Preussen as a cruise ship come true!

Rosamond Koether Stephanak: Awesome perfection!

Janet Covington: Wow! Yay! (In rapid succession)

Michael Barkström: Amazing!!

Liliana Patricia Locicero: Admiration and shocked, My first sight was in St Marteen Island.....I thought " This in incredible....I will sailing in this faboulus clipper as in XIX century!!!!!!!!!!!

Brenda Worthington: Wonderment

Daniel Habenicht: Wow! Just wow! And every time since!

Debbie Cates Pearson: Awe...

Janet Blair: Breathtaking!!

Kymber Habenicht: I now have a sense of what sailing travel was like long ago (except with much better amenities).

[caption id="attachment_16446" align="alignright" width="235"] Royal Clipper sailing into Antigua. Photo shared by Ursula Sobotta.

Birgit Weber: Just amazing ...

Pat Floegel: Awe, joy and excitement!!

Helene Karatas Fd Nykänen: What an exciting work environment and such great crew members to get to know!

Cathy McCallister: Wow, I've just stepped through a time warp.

Leslie Kahn: Gorgeous!

Margaret Bonds Podlich: Magestic!

Valerie Jenkins Fors: Magical, experiencing the past! Just left her 2 days ago!

Ursula Sobotta: More than amazing!!

Nicole Mieding: ...breathtaking. And also lifechanging.

BoB Smith: WOW!!!!!

Linda Kirchner Griffin: Wow was the word for Royal Clipper 4 years ago, get to find out what I think when I see Star Clipper on January 3 in St. Maarten...

Patty Jordan: Awesome!!!

Rebecca Leonard: Classic sailing ship! Felt like we had stepped back in time.

Oliver Coenen: Freedom!

Jane Gunnell: Feels like home!

What did you think the first time you saw a Star Clippers ship? Whether virtually or in person. Let us know in the comments!

Words of Wisdom


Top 10 Unique Experiences on a Star Clippers Cruise

[caption id="attachment_16434" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Royal Clipper in the Med by Kathi King.

Relaxing on a sun lounger under a mass of billowing sails is a big draw while cruising with Star Clippers. In addition to taking time to simply watching the world sail by, there are multiple opportunities on each voyage to enhance the experience -- from learning a new skill to becoming immersed in some of the world's most beautiful sailing destinations.

Here are the top 10 unique experiences on a Star Clippers cruise:

Learn to tie knots like a sailor
Guests can fine-tune their sailors' knots with a complimentary lesson on deck from the crew and master the art of tying a bowline and a clove hitch. The Balearic Islands are a fine inspiration for sailing fanatics, as the region has some of the Mediterranean's most popular sailing areas among yacht owners, including the Spanish royal family.

[caption id="attachment_16435" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Learn to tie knots like a sailor! Photos by Kathi King.

A roundtrip voyage from Palma, Mallorca, on Star Flyer starts at $1,575 per person, double occupancy, and calls at Ibiza, Formentera, Valencia, Mahon and Port de Soller, all in the Balearics, departing June 27; July 4, 11, 18 and 25; and Aug. 1 and 8.

Shin up the mast of a tall ship
One of the most popular activities is when guests get harnessed and shin up the steel rigging supporting the ship's mast to the first Crow's Nest like a professional deck hand. The 360-degree views and photo opportunities from aloft are spectacular, looking down onto the teak decks and up into the mass of rigging and billowing sails. There's a chance to climb the mast -- no experience required -- on every voyage, weather permitting.

A seven-night cruise on Royal Clipper roundtrip from Rome, Italy, starts at $1,740 per person, double occupancy, and calls at Ponza, Sorrento and Amalfi, Italy; Taormina, Sicily; and Lipari, Aeolian Islands; departing May 16, 23, 30 and June 6, 2015.

Water ski in the Greek islands
Each of the three Star Clippers ships carries watersports equipment and a fleet of powerful inflatable Zodiac craft. Water skiing and wakeboarding are complimentary activities, subject to sea conditions, in every port where the sports team is able to set up on the beach. This is a great opportunity for guests to have a free go at a sport that would be expensive at a shoreside hotel.

Fares for a voyage on Star Clipper between Istanbul, Turkey, and Athens, Greece, start at $1,575, calling at Canakkale, Turkey; and Limnos, Athos, Ouranopolis, Skiathos, Skopelos and Poros, Greece, with plenty of opportunities for watersports from the islands' beaches, especially Poros, which has a sheltered bay perfect for water skiing. Departures are May 2, June 20, Aug. 1 and Sept. 5, 2015.

[caption id="attachment_16437" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Barbecue tastes better on the beach! Photo by Jim Bottoms.

Enjoy a fantastic beach barbecue in the Caribbean
On every Caribbean cruise, weather permitting, a special day is set aside to feature Star Clippers' popular beach barbecue. Culinary delights are prepared ashore and guests can relax on golden sands and lounge in hammocks while enjoying delicious barbecue favorites prepared by Star Clippers' acclaimed chefs.

A voyage on Star Clipper roundtrip from St. Maarten costs from $1,510. The seven-night cruise calls at Dominica, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Antigua and St. Barts, departing Jan. 10 and 24; Feb. 7 and 21; and March 7, 2015.

Master the art of paddleboarding
A relatively new craze, paddleboarding is peaceful, has zero environmental impact and is great for strengthening core muscles. Each of the three Star Clippers ships carries boards. Guests start by kneeling, and once balanced, stand up. Relatively flat sea is required for beginners, but paddleboarders often can be seen in Croatia and Montenegro, both excellent locations for gentle watersports.

A 10-night voyage on Star Clipper from Venice, Italy, to Athens, Greece, starts at $2,140 per person, double occupancy, with calls at Hvar and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Santorini; and Mykonos, Greece; departing July 8 and Sept. 23, 2015. 

Admire the underwater world in the Grenadines
Each of the three ships has a large supply of masks, fins and snorkels, all free of charge for guests to use. Where possible, a guided snorkel safari is offered by the watersports team. There's no better place to snorkel in the Caribbean than the Grenadines, where marine life teems in the crystal-clear waters of Tobago Cays National Park where Royal Clipper spends a day.

A seven-night voyage on Royal Clipper roundtrip from Bridgetown, Barbados, starts at $1,560 per person, double occupancy, and calls, Grenada, Tobago Cays, Bequia, Martinique and St. Lucia in the Grenadines, departing Jan. 10 and 24; Feb. 7 and 21; and March 7 and 21, 2015.

Navigate the Atlantic using the stars
Every day Captain's Story Time on the ship's bridge provides insight into a different aspect of sailing, including an introduction to celestial navigation, a talk on wind and explanation of the different sails and their function. Guests are welcome to help the crew raise the sails and practice sailing maneuvers as well. On a trans-Atlantic voyage, there are plenty of opportunities for guests to take the helm, as the ships depend largely on the warm trade winds to make the crossing.

A 15-night trans-Atlantic crossing on Star Flyer from Las Palmas, Grand Canary Islands, to Bridgetown starts at $1,790 per person, double occupancy, calling at Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands, departing Oct. 24, 2015.

[caption id="attachment_16433" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Sunrise yoga is a great way to start the day! Photo by Kathi King.

Chill out on deck with sunrise yoga
Several times a year Star Clippers offers themed yoga cruises with a highly qualified instructor onboard who conducts classes in the morning and evening, free of charge, as well as meditation sessions. Instruction is in English and German, and no experience is required.


In 2015 yoga cruises depart Jan. 24 and 31 (roundtrip St. Maarten from $1,510 per person, double occupancy); May 16 and 23 (roundtrip Rome from $1,740 per person, double occupancy); May 30 and June 6 (roundtrip Athens); Sept. 7 (from Malaga to Las Palmas); and Aug. 1 and 8 (roundtrip Palma) from $1,575 per person, double occupancy). 

Learn from a master mixologist
Learn how to make cocktails with a dash of panache through demonstrations by the friendly and talented bartenders in the Tropical Bar. There's no better time to study the art of the perfect rum punch than late afternoon in the Caribbean as the sun begins to set and cocktail hour approaches.

A voyage on Star Flyer through the Panama Canal from Bridgetown to Balboa, Panama, starts at $2,910 per person, double occupancy. The 14-night cruise departs Nov. 8, 2015, calling at ports in the Grenadines, Grenada, Venezuela, Bonaire, Curaçao, Aruba, Colombia and Panama.

[caption id="attachment_16439" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photos from a Star Clippers sailing in the Mediterranean.


Cultural immersion in the Mediterranean
Star Clippers offers optional shore excursions in every port, and this 14-night Grand Mediterranean voyage from Athens to Malaga, Portugal, takes in some of the great historical sites of the region, including Syracuse in Sicily; the Maltese capital of Valletta; Cartagena in Spain, a magnificent port more than 2,000 years old; and Tunis, a mélange of ancient and modern cultures. Late October, when the temperatures cool and the summer crowds are gone, is the perfect time to explore.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!
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Postcards from the Caribbean: Royal Clipper

[caption id="attachment_16423" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo shared on Twitter by @AwrightPhoto.

Could the Caribbean be any more lovely? Star Clippers are a welcome addition to the stunning scenery. This photo was shared on Twitter by @AwrightPhoto.

Do you have any postcards from your Star Clippers cruise that you would like to share? Email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

Yoga on Deck a Hit - More to Come in 2015!

[caption id="attachment_16407" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo shared by Christel Vollmer.

Yoga expert Christel Vollmer was onboard Royal Clipper's transatlantic sailing offering twice-daily yoga lessons at sunrise and sunset. Yoga on the beautiful teak decks as the sun rises or sets over sea is an ethereal experience and all were welcomed.

Christel praised the "super supportive" Captain Sergey Tunikov and cruise director Lidija Jovic, who is also a yoga lover.

"We all had a lot of fun and very good yoga practice twice a day. Paradise!" she said.

If you missed one of the recent yoga cruises don't worry -- you can set sail on one of Star Clippers’ six scheduled yoga-themed itineraries in 2015. Christel returns along with more world-class yoga instructors on Star Clipper’s Jan. 24 and 31 Caribbean sailings, Royal Clipper’s May 16 and 23 western Mediterranean cruises and Star Flyer’s Aug. 1 and 8 Balearic Islands itineraries.

[caption id="attachment_16408" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo shared by Christel Vollmer.

All classes are complimentary and will take place on deck in the fresh air under the billowing sails at sunrise and sunset. The instructors also will give lectures on the philosophy of yoga and advice for practice at home. All of the classes are appropriate for all skill levels, so beginners are as welcome as advanced participants.

Yoga teacher, author and life coach Inge Schöps will join the seven-night Caribbean sailings on Star Clipper roundtrip from St. Maarten, Jan. 24 and 31, offering yoga and meditation classes. Schöps is based in Cologne, Germany, where she teaches, and she also runs yoga retreats in the Mediterranean on the Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Formentera. She is an author and has published yoga apps and e-books.

[caption id="attachment_16405" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo shared by Christel Vollmer.

On Royal Clipper’s May 16 and 23 seven-night western Mediterranean cruises roundtrip from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, guests can learn Ishta-style yoga, focusing on asana, meditation, anatomy and yogic and tantric philosophy under the instruction of Raphaella Rose. A yoga practitioner for 17 years, Rose promotes friendly and accessible yoga, and has taught classes in the U.S., Great Britain and Spain, running regular retreats alongside her class schedule.

Christel Vollmer returns to join the seven-night Balearic Islands sailings on Star Flyer roundtrip from Palma de Mallorca, Aug. 1 and 8. She will give two classes daily: 60 minutes of power yoga in the morning and a 40-minute wind-down class at sunset, followed by meditation. Vollmer brings many years of teaching experience to Star Clippers, having trained under Bryan Kest, yoga guru to celebrities including Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Sting.

All classes and lectures will be conducted in English and are optional. Additional ship activities will be offered as part of the standard daily program.

Have you practiced yoga under sail? Let us know what you thought in the comments!


Words of Wisdom


Royal Clipper; Sails and Starlight at Sea

Thanks to Royal Clipper guest Anthony Nicholas of "Travels with Anthony" for sharing his onboard experience.

[caption id="attachment_16393" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo by Anthony Nicholas.

There is something so hopelessly compelling about sailing under the stars that legions of writers have attempted to describe it for years, some more successfully than others. But there is no denying the deep, intense splendor of a night at sea beneath a canopy of twinkling, benevolent stars, perhaps garnished with a side order of moonlight from time to time.

What makes it so utterly magical and spellbinding an experience? Largely the fact that, miles from land and shorn of land based light and other pollutants, the skies are clearer by a million miles. And the result is a night sky that can often seem so full of stars that the sky resembles nothing so much as a black velvet canvas, pierced by literally millions of pin pricks in what someone once called ‘the fabric of the universe’. And the resulting view is, almost literally, electric.

How delightful, then, to kick back on a starlit sea anywhere in the world, from Trondheim to Tahiti, and back again. But for sheer, platinum chip romantic effect, the waters and skies of the Caribbean remain perhaps the most compelling visual playground on the planet, and for very good reason.

Even the biggest and most seemingly impersonal ships will provide you with a series of secluded, special vistas from which to observe this spectacular nightly phenomena gifted by Mother Nature. But even a smaller ship, operating under diesel power, will generate a certain amount of exterior background buzz that acts as a kind of subliminal ‘white noise’ against your indolent, dreamy bit of stargazing. It’s a minor point, but a valid one for all that.

But… imagine taking all that noise out of the situation, and getting the whole, silent beauty of the night to just drink in like fine wine? Short of having some magical remote control that can act as a universal volume dimmer, it seems impossible. Right?

Not quite. Just change your thinking about the kind of ship you are sailing on.

Twice now, I have lain out under fabulous, star spangled skies on the sailing ships of Star Clippers. Last week, I did just that on the aft deck of the Royal Clipper, as she surged through a calm, serene sea en route from Antigua to St. Kitts. And what was lacking was truly anything but lackluster.

With almost all of the deck lights off at the stern, all that was to be heard was the sound of the breeze kissing a forest of slowly heaving canvas sails, way above my head. Even the five giant, towering masts seemed to point like guiding fingers at the sea of twinkling, shimmering starlight that carpeted the black, endless expanse of the heavens.

With no machinery pushing the ship along, I had to listen really hard just to pick up the sound of the gentle, rolling swell lapping at the hull. But, truth be told, my attention was totally engaged by the hypnotic brilliance of the constellations as they peeped out between the masts, and the sheer brilliance of starlight dancing on water.

Seldom in decades have I been so spellbound, so in touch with the elements around me. With the air as warm as toast and the wine crisp and chilled, the solitude and sense of space wrapped itself round me like warm cashmere. Time itself seemed to stand still. Perhaps it did.

There it is. Just a moment in time; a snapshot of something so brief in the scheme of things, and yet so compelling and incredible that it is indelibly imprinted in my mind forever. A moment, frozen in aspic, that could only have been truly savoured aboard a ship like the Royal Clipper. 

To quote the great Al Green; simply beautiful.

Spotlight on Venice

Throughout the summer Royal Clipper sails a series of cruises that begin or end in Venice, Italy. The charming city is rich in history and has been a Mediterranean favorite for many many years.

The origin of Venice dates back to the mid 400s and was the biggest power in the Mediterranean during the 1300s and through the 1500s. The city lies on an archipelago consisting of 118 flat islands far off the Veneto coast in the Adriatic Sea.

Venice was not built directly on the surface of the islets, but instead supported by wooden platforms kept together by wooden piles entrenched in the sea bed because emerging flat lands were not sturdy enough to support construction.

Today the historic canals and gondolas make Venice among the most recognized destinations in the world. Scroll on for more pictures of the beautiful city, taken by Royal Clipper guest Kathi King.

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Musings on a Maritime Enigma

Thanks to Royal Clipper guest Anthony Nicholas of "Travels with Anthony" for sharing his onboard experience.

[caption id="attachment_16339" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo from

Boarding the Royal Clipper in Barbados last week was an experience on a par with walking into some fabled palace or monastery for me. The same feeling of hushed awe permeated the entire, impressive expanse of the vessel. Her five great masts clawed at the sky like skeletal fingers. The hull- long, sleek and low- is pure clipper ship, with a pert upward sweep toward the bowsprit. Sheathed in teak, brass and real rigging from stem to stern, she was an epic adventure writ large; a steel and canvas cathedral, improbable yet real, and about to sweep us off into the deep, dreamy Caribbean.

The main public room is the dining room, based on the lower level of an impressive, three deck atrium that rises right up to the main deck. Sweeping staircases are flanked by amazing, floor to ceiling murals that lead out onto an upper deck main lounge. One of three plunge pools- the centre one- has a perspex floor that forms the roof of this atrium. The overall effect is light, graceful, and effortlessly classy. Try looking for glitz anywhere; you won’t find it aboard the Royal Clipper, period.

This leads directly to the outdoor, partially enclosed Tropical Bar. This has late afternoon and early evening entertainment, and was the focal point for passengers, both day and night. With a wooden floor and wood chairs, stools and varnished benches, this area loftily eschews the cushioned, beach style luxe spaces springing up on modern cruise ships everywhere these days. In many ways, the exterior spaces of the Royal Clipper are all about functional fittings rather than extravagant frills. Nothing quite so much points up her sailing ship credentials as this does.

Up top, the five steel masts, clad in ochre, form a towering, impassive series of central points. Strands of meticulously maintained rigging, block and tackle feed up their lengths on both sides, ready to raise the sails. And when those sails go up…..

The raising of some forty-two sails is like the opening night of a show; pure, true theatre of the finest kind. And, out on those immaculate teak decks, there is not a bad seat in the house. The sails unfurl like slow, awesomely majestic theatre curtains. When the warm breeze hits them, it does so with an audible slap. And, when it does, the Royal Clipper surges forward like a greyhound straining at a leash. It is thrilling, life affirming, and utterly unforgettable.

[caption id="attachment_16334" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Sails up! The Royal Clipper sets out on another elegant adventure

So, how well does she sail? First, remember that the Royal Clipper is long, lean and low hulled; a graceful throw back to the age of clippers such as Thermoplyae and Cutty Sark. Narrow beamed and bereft of stabilizers, she can- and does- heel sharply at times, but she rights herself as smartly as a destroyer in a following sea.

But when the sea is calm (as it so often is in the Caribbean) the Royal Clipper seems to almost ghost across the water. There is no wake, and no screaming tannoy announcements for bingo or hairy teeth competitions. Instead, there are the simply soothing sounds of the sea boiling alongside that sleek, sublime hull, the gentle hum of the ventilators and, more than anything, the subtle creak of the rigging, and that of the wind filling the sails. It is utterly addictive, spellbinding, and a million miles removed from the experience of being on anything else afloat.

These are just a few, initial impressions, and there will be much, much more to come. But bear in mind that the Royal Clipper has no elevators, so walking between decks is compulsory. If you’re mobility impaired in any way, shape or form, this is not your ship, I’m afraid.

But if you have an ounce of romance in your soul, or even a shred of retrospective yearning and curiosity about experiencing a way of seagoing life that has largely vanished from the ocean, then the Royal Clipper will thrill, amaze and inspire you as few vessels ever have, can, or ever will be able to. Quite literally, she is in a class of her own.

The girl has soul. Stay tuned for more.
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Words of Wisdom


Summer in Ponza

There's nothing like strolling Ponza in the summertime! Royal Clipper guest Kathi King shared these photos from her call at the Italian gem.

A popular holiday destination for Romans, Ponza is a sight to behold from the sea. Porto rises from the water, a mosaic of pastel boxes against volcanic cliffs. Once there you'll find plenty to see, eat and drink! Scroll on for more images of this popular port.

Do you have a favorite Star Clippers port? Let us know in the comments!

Royal Clipper and the Classic Caribbean

Anthony Nicholas has been tweeting shots from his Caribbean cruise on Royal Clipper using the hashtags #ClassicCaribbean and #42sails. Check him out on twitter to follow along!

[caption id="attachment_16308" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Close quarter cruising the coast of Dominica on the mighty Royal Clipper #classiccaribbean

[caption id="attachment_16307" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Sails up! The awesome Royal Clipper puts to sea

[caption id="attachment_16310" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Treasure Islands with the Royal Clipper #classiccaribbean #42sails

[caption id="attachment_16309" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Land ho! Royal Clipper off Blackfriars Beach, St. Kitts #42sails #classiccaribbean

Don't forget to follow Star Clippers on Twitter!

What about the Star Clippers experience do you find to be "Classic Caribbean?" Let us know in the comments!

Crossing the ocean on a sailing ship: Is It For You?

The following story is from Dave G. Houser's feature in All Things Cruise.

Assessing this voyage and your suitability for it, I must caution that such a crossing is not for everyone. If your sea-going experiences have been limited to traditional cruise ships you’ll have to ask yourself if you’re willing to forgo the casino action, night club shows, specialty restaurants, spa treatments, mani-pedis and daily shore excursions.

On the other hand, if you’re a sailing enthusiast you’ll definitely want to consider a Clipper crossing — nobody does it better or more authentically. Testifying to that is the fact that 61 of the 90-odd passengers had sailed previously with Star Clipper and, as I mentioned earlier, 35 had made one or more crossings. Or, it may be that you’d simply like to escape the frenetic activities of your landlocked life by surrendering yourself to the vastness and vacancy of the sea.

If you’re still undecided, ponder this from Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

During his 34-year freelance career, Dave G. Houser has established himself as one of America’s most widely published travel journalists. More than 1,200 of his articles and tens of thousands of his photos have appeared in leading magazines, newspapers and online publications worldwide. He has received nearly 40 awards for his work, including three Lowell Thomas Awards. Dave has journeyed to 150 countries and is an avid cruiser, having experienced more than 40 voyages, most of them small-ship expeditions. He resides in St. Augustine, Florida.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For all who are celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving from our dining room to yours!

Wisdom Wednesday

The holiday season is upon us and it is all about togetherness! Who are you grateful for?

When Sailing Means Sailing!

Royal Clipper was featured in The Courier Mail as one of the top 10 smaller cruise ships. Take a look!

"Remember when sailing the seas actually meant sailing? Well on the Star Clipper cruise line, it still does. The Royal Clipper is the pride of the fleet, modelled on the legendary Preussen ship which sailed majestically across the oceans more than 100 years ago." -- Jeremy Pierce, The Courier Mail


Postcard from Ibiza

[caption id="attachment_16289" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Photo shared on instagram by @georgwesch.


Cruise Diary: Crossing the Atlantic aboard a sailing ship, the Star Flyer

The following story is from Dave G. Houser's feature in All Things Cruise.

[caption id="attachment_16269" align="aligncenter" width="550"] View of Malaga from Gilbafaro Castle, Malaga, Spain.

Crossing the Atlantic on a sailing ship had been on my bucket list for many years – inspired largely by a couple of voyages I made with Star Clipper vessels Star Flyer and Royal Clipper in 1991 and 1995 respectively. When the opportunity came about to join Star Flyer on a 22-day transatlantic crossing from Malaga, Spain to Bridgetown, Barbados in October, I jumped at the chance.

To sail before the mast, following the trade winds along the same route taken by Columbus and other early explorers venturing from Europe to the New World, seemed to me a romantic and venturesome undertaking – a travel experience well beyond the ordinary.

It was my original plan to author a daily blog during the voyage, but after discovering that internet service onboard Star Flyer during such crossings is very slow, often unreliable and quite expensive (at about $8 an hour), I opted to post this report upon my return home.

Mercado de Atarazanas, Malaga, Spain.
Having never visited Malaga, in the heart of Spain’s fabled Costa del Sol, I booked a three-day stay in the city prior to my October 18 sailing. This proved to be a good decision and I heartily recommend such a pre-cruise visit to any of you who might join future fall crossings of the Star Clipper fleet. All three of the company’s vessels, Star Flyer, Star Clipper and Royal Clipper, routinely make the transatlantic crossing from the Mediterranean each October/November to reposition for the winter sailing season in the Caribbean. Here are some of my impressions and observations of the historic port city of Malaga:

[caption id="attachment_16271" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Marble-paved Calle de Marques Larios is Malaga's main shopping street, Malaga, Spain.

Malaga, like many Spanish cities, bears witness to a long and storied past. Founded by the Phoenicians more than 3,000 years ago, it was next colonized by the Carthaginians, the Romans, Visgoths and then by the Moors who held it for more than eight centuries. Finally Malaga came under Christian rule following the Reconquest in 1492. Aside from some damage and casualties suffered during the civil war of the 1930s, the city has subsequently enjoyed relative peace and prosperity.

Monuments to the Roman and Moorish times are to be seen around the city, including most visibly the Moorish Gilbafaro Castle and Alcazaba Fortress, and a well-preserved Roman Theater.

Built in the 14th century over the ruins of a Phoenician lighthouse, Gilbafaro Castle proved a good place to begin my visit as it affords a magnificent view of the city and harbor, and a good look too at Plaza de Toros de la Malgueta, the region’s top bull ring. Just below the castle sits the Alcazaba, built between the 8th and 11th centuries as the palace fortress of the Muslim governors.

I enjoyed meandering through the Alcazaba’s network of courtyards interspersed with tile and marble pools and fountains. It’s a relaxing setting, dappled in the shade of orange trees and draped with bougainvillea. A small museum houses a display of ceramics from the Muslim period and scattered all about the place are marble columns and other relics from the Roman times.

Situated at the foot of the Alcazaba, the Roman Theater rounds out Malaga’s most important archaeological collection. It was built in the 1st century BC during the reign of Augustus I and was used through the 3rd century AD. I paused to sit among the arching tiers of ancient stone – just to let my imagination wander for a moment.

[caption id="attachment_16273" align="alignright" width="245"] Malaga Cathedral, Malaga, Spain.
Malaga’s Cathedral draws a lot of attention, mainly due to a quirk in its construction. Building began in the 16th century but work was halted due to a lack of funds in 1782, leaving the south tower unfinished. This led residents to give it the nickname “One-Armed Lady.” It is nonetheless an impressive structure.

Iglesia de Santiago, built in the 15th century in Moorish-Gothic style, is another of Malaga’s most important and beloved churches. It is an aesthetic masterpiece, brimming with artistry. Malaga-born artist Pablo Picasso was christened therein and the church is home as well to some of the leading cofradias (brotherhoods) who lead the city’s huge Holy Week parade. The cofradias’ gleaming silver-plated parade floats are on display there.

Without question, Picasso is Malaga’s most famous native son – and I made it a point to visit both his birthplace and an extraordinary museum dedicated to his life and work.

Casa Natal, the house where Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in 1881, occupies a corner overlooking Plaza de la Merced and now serves as a museum housing a collection of his original works, along with books, documents and personal possessions of the painter and his family.

Just a few steps away is Museo Picasso Malaga, which opened to great fanfare in 2003 in the beautifully restored Palacio de Buenavista, a 16th century Renaissance-style palace. Brilliantly exhibited there in 12 galleries are more than 200 works – paintings, sketches, sculptures and ceramics – by Picasso, who is often described as the most influential artist of the 20th century. For me, Museo Picasso was the highlight of my stay in Malaga.

[caption id="attachment_16270" align="alignleft" width="245"] Mercado de Atarazanas, Malaga, Spain.
Another of the city’s attractions I found fascinating was Mercado de Atarazanas, a bustling market lined with stalls spilling over with local produce, meat, fish and baked goods. Housed in an iron structure typical of French markets of the 19th century, this one incorporates the original Puerta de Atarazanas, the exquisitely crafted 14th century Moorish gate that once connected the city with the port. A large stained glass window composed of scenes depicting Malaga’s history adds color and charm to the old marketplace.

My evenings in Malaga were spent dining al fresco on tapas and salad at whatever sidewalk café struck my fancy around Plaza de la Constitucion or along the busy and festive marble-paved shopping and entertainment thoroughfare Calle de Marques Larios.

On my final night I dined once again on those tasty, traditional tapas – but this evening accompanied by a rousing flamenco performance at Kelipe. This cultural center and dinner theater features a troupe of professional singers and dancers who really put their hearts into the soulful music and dance of Andalusia. The theater is situated on Calle Alamos, which, like most of Malaga’s major sites and attractions was just a short walk from my hotel, the comfortable, reasonably priced Salles Hotel Malaga Centro.

I’ll say again that electing to arrive early and spend a few days in Malaga was a smart move – leaving me in a Mediterranean state of mind – relaxed and ready for my long Star Flyer voyage.

During his 34-year freelance career, Dave G. Houser has established himself as one of America’s most widely published travel journalists. More than 1,200 of his articles and tens of thousands of his photos have appeared in leading magazines, newspapers and online publications worldwide. He has received nearly 40 awards for his work, including three Lowell Thomas Awards. Dave has journeyed to 150 countries and is an avid cruiser, having experienced more than 40 voyages, most of them small-ship expeditions. He resides in St. Augustine, Florida.

To view the original story on All Things Cruise click here.

Wisdom Wednesday


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