Sail thru the Panama Canal and the Caribbean, visiting several ports in Panama, Colombia, the ABC Islands and more on one of our 14-night voyages aboard Star Flyer. Enjoy amazing sights from the deck as the ship transits through the Panama Canal, a feat of engineering and hard work. See the locks in operation and spot wildlife from toucans to croco...
[caption id="attachment_16889" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo of Star Clipper shared on Instagram by user @gerpongo.
This fabulous photo of Star Clipper was shared on Instagram by user gerpongo. Here the four-masted tall ship is at port at Porto Ortigina, Syracuse, Sicily.
[caption id="attachment_16884" align="aligncenter" width="550"] What's your favorite travel book?
Sailing is a great adventure, but so is reading! In between Star Clippers outings enjoy a fabulous tale of travel to take you away. In honor of World Book Day here's a list (in no particular order) of some favorite travel and adventure books to spark your wanderlust!
Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck
The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
A Ship of War, by Seth Hunter (submitted by guest Jamie Hartshorn)
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
The Motorcycle Diaries, by Ernesto Che Guevara
Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walker
Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Master and Commander Series (submitted by guest Anita Brew)
Shadow of the Silk Road, by Colin Thubron
Do you have a favorite you'd like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
On this Earth Day we celebrate clean, green travel!
Star Clippers’ major source of energy — wind propulsion— is both abundant and emission free! Operating the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels, Star Clippers sails under wind power whenever possible. This enables guests to experience a true tall ship sailing experience and the line to reduce its carbon footprint.
In the Caribbean during the winter months, where the wind is most predictable, the ships operate under wind power up to 70% of the time, thus minimizing use of auxiliary engines which also power the air-conditioning and provide electricity.
Sailing versus motor cruising means substantially lower fuel consumption and emissions. Using a figure of 60% average power coming from wind energy saves 1,839 gallons per day. That amounts to a reduction of 671,000 gallons per ship per year.
When Star Clippers ships do consume fuel, it is a less polluting grade. All the vessels only utilize very pure high-quality low-sulfur gas oil. For this, the line has been awarded the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate. Star Flyer was the first ship in the world to receive this certificate, and later Star Clipper and Royal Clipper received the same certification.
Star Clippers' fleet is equipped with small low power, energy efficient caterpillar engines whose performance far exceeds the new requirements imposed by the international maritime organization. The engines on Star Clippers ships also are designed to exceed new regulations on exhaust gas emissions.
Additionally the line promotes sustainable seafood, recycling, and eco-friendly, biodegradable products onboard the ships among other green initiatives.
After all, we love the seas we sail and the lands we visit!
Do you love sailing the cleanest seas and to the purest destinations? Tell us what you think in the comments!
[caption id="attachment_16868" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photos shared on Instagram by @dubrovnik_tour_guide_denis.
HBO's Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on television today. Audiences around the globe are enchanted by the surreal scenery from the lush greens of Winterfell to the icy tundras North of the Wall and the incredible walled city of King's Landing.
Many fans know that filming locations include Ireland, Iceland, and -- last but not least -- Dubrovnik, Croatia. In reality Dubrovnik is no less beautiful than its fictional counterpart, King's Landing, and Star Clipper returns year after year to stroll the narrow cobblestoned streets of the beautiful walled city.
Get to know the city by foot, bike, kayak, or from behind the lens with a Star Clippers excursion.
Have you sailed into Dubrovnik? Let us know what you though in the comments!
[caption id="attachment_16865" align="aligncenter" width="550"] As travelers lead healthier, more active lifestyles, wellness activities like yoga are becoming part of their vacations.
Studies show that a yearly vacation is invaluable for health with benefits varying from lower stress levels to cardiovascular improvements. Adding to these benefits, many travelers are now combining traditional vacations with wellness-geared getaways.
A panel of experts at the annual International Travel Mart in Cannes, France, predicted that by 2040 90 percent of luxury tourism would include some aspect of health and wellness.
The global market size of the wellness tourism industry is growing rapidly — faster than travel in general — and is predicted to account for $678.5 billion by 2017, compared with $438.6 billion in 2012, according to Statistica Inc.
Much of this growth can be attributed to the maturation of the baby boomer generation, which is more health-conscious than preceding generations. These travelers look for a vacation that integrates their daily healthful routine with traditional aspects of travel. But it’s not just baby boomers who are looking to travel in good health — the active family travel market is burgeoning and is expected to continue to grow as well.
So what is wellness travel? The trend covers all aspects of health, including nutritious menu options, spa offerings and fitness activities. Across the globe tourism professionals are responding to growing demands by introducing whole food, vegetarian and vegan menus, spa packages and active excursions. Hiking, cycling, paddle boarding and kayaking continue to gain popularity.
Star Clippers offers a complete wellness experience. Shoreside the features include complimentary water sports and adventurous shore excursions such as mountain biking and kayaking in some of the most beautiful destinations in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Guests are invited to participate in yoga on deck under billowing sails on select yoga-themed sailings, and most cruises afford the opportunity to climb the mast for an exhilarating workout. Massages are available on each ship and flagship Royal Clipper features a full-service spa. Healthy gourmet meal options are available on all three ships in the fleet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Do you like to stay active when you cruise? Let us know how in the comments below!
[caption id="attachment_16851" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Star Clipper will feature fabulous chefs for summer 2015.
Star Clippers is excited to feature an outstanding line up of guest chefs and lecturers on culinary-themed journeys in 2015. Whether you consider yourself a foodie or you're just hungry, you're sure to learn a lot from these fabulous professionals. Join chefs from top Michelin Starred Restaurants and Expert Sommeliers on select Star Clippers cruises.
Star Clipper will be host to Michelin Star Chefs Markus Semmler of Das Restaurant, Berlin, Germany; Jens Kirchenwitz of Le Jeton Restaurant, Bad Kissingen, Germany; and Christian Loisl of Junge Wilde. In the beverage arena guests inclule Sommelier Brice Faluelle and Mixologist Uwe Chistiansens.
These culinary-centered cruises will take place in July and August on the 170 passenger ship and cover the eastern Mediterranean including Southern Cyclades, Yachtsman's Paradise, and Northern Cylcades itineraries. For more information click here.
Stay tuned for more info next week on Royal Clipper's culinary cruises!
What culinary cruise do you want to sail on? Let us know in the comments!
[caption id="attachment_16845" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo by guest Mary Stuart Miller.
Amalfi was one of the original maritime republics. It has a glorious history. Compared to the ancient cities of Campania it was founded rather late - around the 6th century - yet Amalfi flourished while other ancient towns were in decline. Its inhabitants were expert sailors and built up an extensive trade with the east, founding churches and hospitals and making their town the richest in the south of Italy. The Amalfi fleet, together with those of Naples and Gaeta, defeated the Saracens who were about to launch an attack on Rome in 849. The 11th century saw the town at its pinnacle of greatness. Its dockyards built ships for foreign countries as well as Italy’s own fleets. Amalfi minted its own money and had its own maritime laws. The famous “Tabulae Amalphitane” is kept in the town’s museum.
Amalfi sailors were the first to use the compass. The founder of the order of St. John of Jerusalem also came from Amalfi . Amalfi was, alas, defeated by Pisa, and although it was among the first maritime republics to rise, it was also the first to fall into decline. It became part of the principality of Salerno, losing and regaining its independence under the Normans, only to lose it again under Norman Roger II. After belonging to a succession of different lords, it was taken by the Aragonese, with a subsequent history similar to that of other Campanian towns. The Cathedral of Amalfi , atop its great steps, remains a testimony to the town’s ancient glory. It is dedicated to St. Andrew. A great statue of St. Andrew, sculpted by Michelangelo Naccherino, stands in a 13th century crypt along with the statues of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence by Pietro Bernini. The so-called Cloister of Paradise is attached to the Cathedral. It is accessible via an arched passageway decorated with frescoes by Pietro Cavallini. Sarcophagi, Roman and medieval objects d’art are kept here. The other tower, built at the same time as the Cathedral’s bell tower, is now annexed to a hotel that occupies the old 12th century monastery.
[caption id="attachment_16847" align="aligncenter" width="546"] The Amalfi and Positano Coasts have astounding views. Photos by Kathi King.
While there take a ride up Positano and the Amalfi Coast Positano and Amalfi Coast
By motor coach and public boat.
The tour starts from Amalfi. You will enjoy a scenic drive up from the harbor to Positano and you’ll stop along a stretch of coast in Positano where you’ll walk from the coach park to the village. Admire the white, Moorish-style houses clinging to the slopes around a small, sparkling bay.
In 1953, when writer John Steinbeck lived here, the town was a forgotten fishing village, loved by artists. Since then it has become a retreat for the wealthy and a popular resort area. Spend some time browsing in some of Positano’s 200 boutiques, which sell the casual, locally made cotton clothing that the town is famous for. You will have some time at leisure to explore the village.
Then meet your guide and board the public boat for a ride back to Amalfi . Amalfi has a Spanish flavor and a prestigious history. Its white houses sit atop rocks facing a bright blue bay. After an introduction by the local guide, you will be free to visit Amalfi ’s Cathedral and village on your own, or walk to the landing pier to return to the ship.
In an article for Cruise Critic travel writer Elissa Garay named Star Clippers among the best small ship cruise lines in the business! Read on for an excerpt or click here to read the whole story.
If you long for the open ocean but bristle at the thought of all-night discos, thousand-seat dining rooms or congested Caribbean ports-turned-duty-free-shopping-malls, know this: not all cruise ships are vast, floating resorts. A burgeoning industry niche revolves around small vessels -- a wide-ranging group that includes yachts, rugged expedition ships, riverboats and classic sailing schooners -- where passenger counts top out at closer to 300, rather than 3,000.
For the tall-ship enthusiast, there's nothing quite like sailing under a starry or sunny sky, powered by the bluster of ocean winds. If you want to float along with the wind while exploring less-traveled ports in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, Star Clippers is tough to beat. The fleet's three vessels -- flagship 227-passenger Royal Clipper and 170-passenger twins Star Clipper and Star Flyer -- are some of the fastest clipper ships ever built. Feel the sails catch the breeze, help with the raising and trimming or morph into a spider and climb high in the rigging.
Onboard, passengers don't adhere to rigid timetables as they might on more conventional cruise ships, and the evening dress code is always elegantly casual (with the exception of themed evenings, like Pirate Night). Water sports are also a major component of each tall ship sailing cruise, with complimentary snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and other sea-based activities offered directly from the ship.
Instagrammer @goddessonahighway recently shared this photo of Royal Clipper in the Caribbean with the caption "50 shades of blue."
It's remarkable to see the size of Royal Clipper, Star Clippers' five-masted flagship, in comparison to the sailboat riding alongside.
[caption id="attachment_16827" align="aligncenter" width="550"] "Veduta Scavi Pompei 3" by Mentnafunangann - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Situated near Naples, Italy, Pompeii is a legendary destination with one of the most fascinatingly preserved histories in the world.
Ancient Pompeii was a prosperous provincial center with an estimated population of 20,000. An earthquake destroyed much of the town in 63 AD. Rebuilding was still in process when the volcano erupted again 16 years later. The whole town was buried beneath more than 20 feet of ash and pumice stone.
Many residents were killed by lethal sulphur fumes or struck by lava and pumice stone that rained down upon the city, but others escaped. Abandoned until the 18th century, Pompeii was frozen in time until excavations revealed this amazing archaeological site. Plaster was poured into empty spaces in the lava to make body casts of some of the victims, such as a young man stretched out to protect his mother and the famous twisted body of a dog still tethered by its chain.
The eruption of Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D. not only preserved structures but also evidence of the ancient way of life, such as a fully-equipped tavern with the last customer’s money still on the counter. Admire the luxurious mansions and fabulous art of wealthy patricians who came to Pompeii to escape the turmoil in Rome. Their houses were designed around an inner garden with few windows on the exteriors, so residents could forget the outside world and get sunlight from their own courtyards. Visit some of the more modest homes, and explore ancient baths, temples, theaters, markets and the huge forum.
Check it out on a Star Clippers excursion this summer!
Thanks to Michele Peterson for this fabulous story in The Montrealer about sailing the "secret" Caribbean with Star Clippers.
I realize something as soon as our ship sets sail. It’s not about the posh cabins, the exotic ports of call or even the 5-course gourmet dinners, the magic of the Royal Clipper, the world’s largest sailing vessel, is all about the wind. A warm gust catches the sails lifting our schooner high on the water and waves splash the bow as we glide away from port of Bridgetown, Barbados. Its 10 pm, the moon is high in the indigo sky and the captain’s white uniform bright against the teak bridge. A crescendo of symphonic music from 1492: The Conquest of Paradise fills the air. An audible sigh at the sheer beauty of it all, rises from the passengers on deck.
“This is unlike any cruise I’ve ever been on,” says the woman next to me, as she raises a glass of white wine.
I have to agree. The romance of great sailing vessels certainly captures the imagination. From the earliest Egyptian mariners to the great explorers of the British Empire, mankind has long relied on the power of the wind to take him to unknown territories. In my case, I’ve chosen the Royal Clipper, modeled on the Preussen a 1902 merchant ship, because unlike larger cruise ships, at just 439 feet she is able to access hidden ports and less-visited islands of the Caribbean. Our itinerary is the Windward Islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, St Kitts, Îles des Saintes and Martinique.
Although the ship is inspired by the past, it offers all the modern conveniences. My room Category 2 gets me an outside cabin with a double bed and marble bath with shower and a porthole window, TV, writing desk and closet. Located on the Clipper Deck, one level below the main deck, it’s compact but comfortable.
St. Lucia and Dominica
The next morning, the ship drops anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia and we awaken to the sight of the pitons, dramatic rainforest-clad volcanic mountains. While there are plenty of shore excursions available – from a rugged 4 x 4 jeep tour to a Segway experience. I decide to play castaway and go for a solo hike.
The tenders, small boats with gangplanks for easy disembarkation, drop us off on a white sand beach and within minutes I’m at Pigeon Island, a 40-acre (16 hectare) islet connected by a causeway to St. Lucia’s northwest coast. There, I discover the remains of an 18th century British fort and Fort Rodney, reminders of the days when the Caribbean was a naval battleground. For a post-hike cool-down, I find a secluded cove where my only company is a pair of dappled grey horses grazing on sea grass. I float on my back daydreaming of pirate ships until it’s time to return to the Royal Clipper.
[caption id="attachment_16812" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Walkway to Champagne Reef on Dominica. (Photo by Michele Peterson)
More seclusion awaits at Dominica our next port stop. Although sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, it’s still relatively undeveloped and is so lush it’s known as the ‘nature island.’ I opt for an easy 15-minute hike to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trafalgar Falls in Morne Trois Pitons National Park where we’re surrounded by hummingbirds, giant ferns and graceful orchids. At the end of the misty trail, twin waterfalls (one as high as a 10-story building) cascade into reflecting pools and I feel as though I’ve stumbled into an undiscovered corner of the Caribbean.
To cool off after the steaming rainforest, we journey to Champagne Reef, a snorkelling site with a unique geo-thermal spring. Warm bubbles caress our bodies as we float across a colourful reef just a few steps from shore. “It’s like swimming in a glass of sparkling champagne,” says Clem Johnson, the owner of Champagne Reef Dive and Snorkel as he points out parrot fish, sea sponge and hawksbill sea turtles.
Back on the Royal Clipper, with my appetite whetted by all the exercise, it’s soon time to head to the dining room. Set in a soaring three-storey atrium with curving staircase, the Edwardian décor of polished brass and mahogany woodwork is formal but the dress code casually elegant – no evening gowns required. The open seating plan encourages mingling. The ship’s 227 passengers are an eclectic mix of nationalities; many of them repeat cruisers on the Star Clippers sailing fleet. My tablemates are a group of well-travelled couples from Florida and we enjoy a five-course meal, featuring Chateaubriand with truffle sauce and fresh-caught grouper in delicate meunière sauce, and chat about our island experiences.
“Join me for dolphin and sea turtle watching in the morning,” encourages Clara, the staff biologist as she stops by our table. “The best time to see them is in the early morning.”
Antigua and St. Kitts
Although looking for dolphins is tempting, I begin the next day with a 30 minute class of gentle aerobics held on the open-air deck beside the Tropical Bar and Library. Energized, I’m ready for the island of Antigua.
Naval history looms large here so it’s fitting to sail into Falmouth Harbour. With its pretty Easter egg hued buildings with Caribbean fretwork, it’s hard to imagine Antigua was once Britain’s most strategic colony due to its protected bays and location on important trade routes. I immerse myself in history at Nelson’s Dockyard, named for Admiral Horatio Nelson, the famous commander in the Napoleonic wars and then walk to secluded Pigeon Beach to enjoy a group barbecue under the palms, dance to live music by local steel drum band and swim in tranquil waters.
More tranquility awaits on the next shore excursion, the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, on the island of St. Kitts. Built between 1912 and 1926 to transport sugar cane from the island’s plantations to processing factories, the restored double-decker “Sugar Train” makes a 2-3 hour loop around the island on a narrow-gauge railway while we sip rum punch and take in the 360 views.
Taking the sun topside
Taking the sun with only the sounds of the sea and the wind in the rigging
With so many islands to explore it would be easy to overlook the pleasures of ship life. That would be a mistake. With more outdoor space per passenger than conventional sailing ships, it’s easy to find solitude with a paperback, socialize at one of the three swimming pools or indulge in a Thai massage at the Captain Nemo spa.
Other diversions include chatting with Captain Sergey Tunikov, Chief Officer Dominique Rollin and the crew on the bridge who are happy to explain the difference between a mizzen-mast and a jigger-mast. While some passengers climb the rigging, help raise the sails or scramble up to the crow’s nest under their supervision, I enjoy steering the ship and feeling the power of the 42 sails.
[caption id="attachment_16813" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Large cruise ships can’t dock at tiny islands
such as Îles des Saintes
(Photo by Michele Peterson)
Îles des Saintes and Martinique
Sailing into the island archipelago of Iles des Saintes is so picturesque, the bay has been designated a member of Les Plus Belles Baies du Monde (The World’s Most Beautiful Bays), an association established in Berlin in 1997. On shore, we soak up some French flair by sipping café au lait in local cafes, shopping for lacy French lingerie and exploring the tiny island by scooter. Îlet à Cabrit offers pristine swimming, easy snorkelling and the rustic studio of French artist Ulrich, who offers hands-on pottery lessons.
Few things are as vital to the French lifestyle as cuisine and our final stop in the city of Fort de France, Martinique doesn’t disappoint. It offers an inventive blend of French haute cuisine and Creole culinary traditions drawn from a mix of African, Indian and Caribbean influences. There’s no better place to dive in than at the colourful market brimming with spices, madras tablecloths, vanilla and fine aged rum.
Cuisine, beaches, history—as intriguing as each Caribbean island is, the highlight of each day is when we join Captain Sergey and his crew as they raise the sails and we launch into the seas like the great explorers before us. While private yachts are certainly quicker and mega cruise ships larger, no other boat plying the waters of the Caribbean sparks the imagination more than the sight of the Royal Clipper under full sail.
The Australian recently published this piece by Maggy Oehlbeck in a roundup of sailing opportunities entitled "Sail away to adventure of your dreams." Read on for an excerpt or check out the whole story here.
[caption id="attachment_16800" align="aligncenter" width="550"] A yoga class on deck for all ages and skill levels.
We cluster on Royal Clipper’s deck, casting lingering looks over Venice’s profile as we glide along the Giudecca then cross the lagoon, Adriatic bound.
Astride the helm, the captain signals and 42 sails unfurl . Given fair winds, our odyssey will take us to Croatia, Corfu, Sicily, Capri, Ponza then Rome. Royal Clipper, the brainchild of Star Clipper founder Mikael Krafft, is the first five-masted, fully rigged sailing ship built since Germany’s Preussen in 1902.
It is poetry to watch the sailors nimbly shimmying up 60m masts to perform the masterful skills of tall-ship sailing. Below decks, cruise-ship features include 114 cabins, a two-tiered dining room, piano lounge and library. Polished wood, brass and nautical paintings create a clubby ambience. Facilities include three swimming pools and a marina platform. It’s best suited for 35 to 65-year-olds who adore the thrill of sea and sail on a fantastic tall ship.
Have you had the adventure of your dreams with Star Clippers? Tell us about it in the comments!
Thanks to travel photographer Diane Persephone for sharing this fabulous photo of Star Clipper on Instagram.
[caption id="attachment_16792" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Star Clipper at Jost Van Dyke by Diane Persephone.
"Tall Ships!...just too hard to resist! Spotted while high above Jost Van Dyke, B.V.I. #starclippers." - @diane_persephone
[caption id="attachment_16789" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Cadiz is one of the oldest continually settled cities in Europe. (Photo by Jose Ra)
Situated on a narrow strip of land surrounded by the glittering sea, Cadíz is one of the oldest and well-preserved cities in southwestern Europe. Cadíz also boasts a unique experience, categorized by the distinct cultures of each historical old barrio, (village) a sharp contrast from more urbanized areas.
A visit to the Cathedral in the Old Town provides a spectacular panoramic view of the entire city.
Christopher Columbus is said to have brought over many of the trees that line Cadíz’s picture-perfect parks, perfect for a romantic stroll set behind a backdrop of colorful flowers.
You will discover narrow streets filled with charming cafés that arguably serve the world’s freshest fish. Europe’s oldest covered market, El Mercado Central, is a must-do if you’re looking for fresh groceries and an authentic Andalusian experience.