Navigate the Northern Cyclades

This week our fleet arrived in the Med where we'll be sailing through the summer months. Between the three tall ships, there are a number of different itinerary options, each distinct from the next.

[caption id="attachment_15223" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Photo courtesy of guest Kim Fine.

Star Flyer will mostly concentrate on the Spanish Balearic Islands, Royal Clipper will navigate the western Mediterranean and Star Clipper will sail the eastern Med. The Northern Cyclades is one of Star Clipper's fabulous summer 2014 itineraries

Guests embark at Piraeus, the port of Athens, Greece, and enjoy a day at sea before arriving at Kusadasi, Turkey. At Kusadasi you can take a tour of Ephesus. Ephsesus, once the trade center of the world and the religious center of early Christianity, is a well preserved ancient city located less than 20 miles from Kusadasi.

[caption id="attachment_15228" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Clockwise from left: the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa; the view of Patmos, Greece; Sunset at Mykonos; and Star Clipper at Monemvasia. Photos by Greg Baxter, Star Clippers’ director of incentive sales and national accounts, west and Star Clippers' guest Shirley.

After Kusadasi it's off to Patmos, the small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. There you can visit the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or just take in the view.

Amorgos is known for the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa that protrudes from the side of the cliff, nearly vertical, and for beautiful clear blue waters. It is the eastern-most island of the Cyclades.

Mykonos, one of the best known Greek Isles, features the iconic windmills looking out over the sea, whitewashed houses, and beautiful boats.

The last call of this itinerary is Monemvasia, Greece, known as the Gibraltar of the east. This was the site of a powerful medieval fortress. The town walls and many Byzantine churches remain.

At each port you're free to take a tour and learn more about the ancient history of the region or to stroll around on your own. The itinerary ends as it began at Piraeus, the port of Athens, rich in history and iconography all its own.

What do you think you'd like to explore when you visit these ports? Do you like to learn about history or prefer to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery? Let us know in the comments below!

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Star Clipper at Skiathos, Greece

Thanks to Jackie from the United Kingdom for submitting these lovely photos from her "fabulous holiday" on Star Clipper. These shots were taken off the coast of Skiathos, a small Greek island in the northwest Aegean Sea.

Do you have a favorite Star Clippers photo to share? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and you may be featured on the blog.

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Words of Wisdom Wednesday 2/12

Do you have a passion for travel?

Do you prefer an urban setting like Rome, Italy, or would you rather roam the more remote roads on Star Clippers' destinations like Patmos, Greece?

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Chronicles of Greece

Brian Crisp has been a journalist for over 30 years. Although he's based out of New Zealand, he is on the road about half the year. Recently he discovered the delights of Greece and Turkey onboard Star Clipper. Read on for an excerpt of his travels. For the full story visit Chronicles of Brian.

Day 2 at sea
Thankfully I’m up too late for the exercise class but still in time for breakfast. Today is a sailing day. It is also our first safety briefing so at 10am, as the alarm sounds, about 170 guests, wearing bright orange life vests, head outside for a run through the safety procedures, an introduction to key staff and a familiarisation of on-board procedures.

The Star Clipper is meant to be a true sailing experience. It is not cruising, as most of us know it. It is not like the big ships with which we share the docks. You won’t find a casino on board. You won’t find any Las Vegas-style shows. It is very casual. It is the first morning and already most people are down to shorts and T-shirts. You can be as active as you like (there is something happening every hour on the hour), or you can sit back and enjoy a good book and watch the Aegean Sea and Greek coastline pass you by.

If you wish, you can help the crew by hoisting the sails, learn how to tie nautical knots or join the captain in the wheelhouse and take the helm.

The Aegean Sea is about 645km long and 290km wide. It is dotted with islands, including the Cyclades, Dodecanese and Sporades.

Day 5 Santorini, Greece

The view from the porthole this morning is a little confusing. The waves are swirling, the sea is heaving and, instead of sunlight what I’m seeing looks more like my front-loading washing machine.

We anchor at noon about 200m from the base of Santorini. We have three options walk up, up, up the mountain, go by donkey or take the funicular.

The latter wins. I felt sorry for the donkey.

Santorini, for good reason, is the Greece that most of us know. It is the stuff postcards are made of.

It owes its sublime landscape to an earthquake. Those white houses with blue domes really do cling to the cliffs like limpets. The streets are narrow and overflowing with tourists buying jewellery, trinkets and linen tablecloths.

It’s May, the temperature is climbing towards 30C and already it is crowded.

Talk filters through the town that Brad and Angelina have just arrived with their private jetload of offspring.

I can only image what this place is like in the peak of the holiday season. Even hotter and more crowded with celebrities and tourists.

We take refuge under cover at Cafe Classico, drink Mythos (the local beer) and get lost for several hours in the view.

Please visit Chronicles of Brian for the full story.

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Nancy in Corfu, Greece

Nancy has been writing about her summer travels. Celebrating 46 years of marriage, she and her husband Joe left the city of brotherly love and landed in Venice, Italy, to begin their journey. She is sailing the Mediterranean aboard Royal Clipper, and was kind enough to share her experience with us. Below are some excerpts from her blog. For her whole story you can visit her personal blog Nancy Near Philadelphia.

After a very relaxing day at sea with no port stops, we came to the island of Corfu, Greece. We caught a cab from the harbor to the downtown area, and walked around.

It was a very pretty city, and more of a city than most of the other ports we had visited. Restaurants and shopping areas were abundant, and there was more variety in the stores. Olives, kumquats, soap, and ouzo are specialties of this island, and they were everywhere in the shops.

While in Corfu, we had a great adventure! As we walked along the shopping street, some young girls beckoned us into their shop. It was a Fish Spa! We'd never heard of such a thing. Everywhere, on countertops, in the window, and on the floors, were tanks with small fish. The shop proprietors enticed us further. First they washed our hands with anti-bacterial soap and asked us to remove our jewelry (which we kept safe and close at hand). Then we each put our hands into a tank and tiny, toothless fish swarmed around and nibbled at our fingers and hands, helpfully removing all of the dead skin! It didn't feel creepy at all; in fact, it was relaxing. When the "treatment" was over, our hands felt smooth and lovely.

At dinner that evening with our British friends, we spoke of our incredible adventure and Kristina was dismissive. "Oh," she said, "We had those in Britain and they have all been closed down due to health hazard! People were getting infections!" We felt properly chastened. Fortunately, no signs of infection developed.

Goodbye, Corfu! Where are we off to next?

To visit Nancy's blog, Nancy Near Philadelphia click here.

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Ellie's Journal: Riding Bikes in Corfu, Greece

Hello, my name is Ellie! Some of you may remember me from three years ago... That's when I blogged last, when I was on Star Flyer in Costa Rica. I'm fifteen years old now, and I'm back again, just on a different ship, Royal Clipper, and having more fun than ever. I'm from Oregon (in the USA) and my favorite sport is sailing, so this is a really fun experience for me.

[caption id="attachment_12686" align="alignnone" width="550"] Our mountain-bike excursion on Corfu was too amazing for words, and our guides took great care of us.

I've had two very packed days while I wasn't blogging! I didn't have the time to sit down and compose a piece that would be coherent because at the end of every day I've been soooo tired from all the activities; on shore, and on the ship. Now I'm settled in my bed, being rocked by the happy swells of the Mediterranean. A lot of people don't like it when the boat rocks or jostles about, but over the years of sailing that I've had, I've come to the conclusion that the swells are just these gentle things, almost like animals, who have to come and say "hi!" and rock me to sleep - so now I love them. Whenever I get nervous I tell myself, "Ellie, the ocean is happy. The boat is happy. Be happy!"

Yesterday was crazy. We were in Corfu, Greece. Again, I felt that same culture shock as I have everywhere else I've gone on this trip. I got up at 9:58 a.m. (breakfast closes at 10) and literally ran down to the dining room to grab a bite to eat. At 11 a.m. we walked down the gangway (we were on a pier) and found our bus driver. My friend Ryan and his family went on the excursion, too, so he and I had fun being able to talk to each other because we're near the same age. The drive was relatively short, and before I knew it, the bus stopped at the bike store where we were to begin our 27-kilometer long bike ride.

The first bit of the ride was insane. I live in a pretty small town, so when I bike around I don't really have to worry about cars and mopeds whizzing by me at a million miles an hour, so that first mile was a little bit overwhelming. We were riding single file on the side of a thoroughfare, and it was very difficult to focus on the road because the beach was literally two meters away and it was beautiful.

We rode about five kilometers up a huge mountain, and stopped for water at several little villages as the road climbed toward the top. Ryan and I were pretty tired, and were very hot, more than 40* centigrade (100+). The group continued journeying upward, through very mountainous and hilly land. After catching our breath, the guides told us all about a monastery that was 2 kilometers farther up the mountain. My dad and a few others rode up to see it, but I stayed back with my friend and my mom. We were all much too tired to ride anymore - at least, for a while.

One of the guides gave us a small tour of the tiny village, and when we arrived back to where our bikes were, there were a few tables full of food for us to eat. Oh my gosh, it was the most amazing food I've ever tasted: fresh baked bread, just-picked tomatoes with just-picked oregano on top, homemade goat cheese! And the best part of it, for me, was the lemon Fanta. We were all so thirsty we drank a river of water and lemonade when we were at the little restaurant.

But when you ride up, the reward is the ride down, and ours was glorious. Ryan and I raced all the way down the mountain, and we could hear our moms yelling at us from behind "Kids don't be crazy! You'll crash! Be careful!" Yeah, right! You know, the normal mom stuff. The end of the road brought us back to the beach and we got to swim for an hour. When our parents told us to get out we hollered back "Noooo!!!!"

We knew we'd have to get out at some point, so we climbed out and went to the freshwater shower. If you'd have seen us, you'd think we'd never seen a shower before. We just stood there in our bathing suits, cleaning off all of the salt water. It was amazingly awesome. I have to go now! Goodnight!!

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