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Star Travel Review

Steve Newman

Writer and Photographer Eco and Adventure Cruising
Tel: 01668 213042

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Star Clippers Sailing Tall Ship Cruises

To be on the deck of a cruise ship at sunrise is always a memorable occasion. What makes it an unforgettable experience is when for those precious few minutes the early sun paints the sails on the ship with a marvellous orange light and you lean over the bow watching the dolphins riding the wave. Star Clippers are renowned worldwide for their service and the experience they offer their passengers of comfortable, crewed sailing on traditional clipper ships, built to uncompromising yacht safety, with the elegant surroundings of a private yacht of a bygone age. At the present time the company has three ships in their fleet and all are modern, high-tech, re-creations of the classic clipper sailing ships that dominated the oceans of the world in the 19th century.

Now you have to ask yourself is this type of cruise suitable for the older passenger? OK there are no lifts in their ships, just stairs but the ships have stabilisers just as modern cruise liners do so you won’t get thrown about. In my own experience of Star Clippers there were many ‘Silver Cruisers’ on board. Access the shore is by tender or by the normal steps when in port. If you want to visit the smaller islands there’s quite a steep staircase down to the tender and you have to cross from the landing stage to the tender to take you to the shore. If you have walking difficulties then you should consider carefully if this is the cruise for you. Having said that if you can walk up the stairs of your house or to the shops, trust me you can enjoy the incredible experience of these ships.

To me however the real beauty of Star Clippers is that because the vessels are smaller than conventional cruise ships, they can call into ports untouched by larger craft. This was certainly true of our trip on Royal Clipper around The Windward Islands where we dropped anchor in tiny inlets to spend time snorkelling or lying on the empty beaches of isolated islands such as the Tobago Cays and the coast of Martinique.

So what do get for your money that makes it so different from a normal cruise ship? There are no entertainments, cinemas or Broadway musicals on board but there are 1,800 square metres of open deck area and three swimming pools (admittedly not that big), one with a glass bottom that filters light down through a three-level atrium to the Dining Room below.

There’s an indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar near the stern which was the place everybody met up and where the ice melted extremely quickly for all of us, an elegant Piano Lounge, a library and a watersports platform at the stern that was lowered when the ship was at anchor and from where we canoed, dived and swam in the Caribbean or went water ski-ing or windsurfing. There was also an underwater Spa and Lounge, offering hairdressing, massage and beauty treatments in rooms with underwater portholes.

Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record as being the biggest five-masted ship in the world and is the 227-passenger flagship of the Star Clippers fleet. (The two smaller ships, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, take 170 passengers each, with a crew of 70, while Royal Clipper carries 227 with a crew of 106.) The fact that the passenger count is so small compared to the thousands found on bigger ships means that you really do get to know your fellow travellers and the two minutes it takes to walk around the ship along its elegant corridors and up and down the Edwardian style staircases means you can’t fail to meet and talk to everyone else.

However the real difference that makes Star Clippers such a unique experience is that you are not just a passenger but you have the opportunity should you so wish to become part of the crew and indeed get under the skin of these magnificent vessels. In my short time on board I helped the crew put up the sails, learned various knots, watched as the captain talked us through turning her through 360 degrees, held the wheel, learned about navigation and even helped swab down the decks on one occasion!

What then are the highlights I brought back from this trip? It would have to be watching the dolphins riding the bow and and smiling back up at me, the food was simply gorgeous , swimming in the  deserted lagoon of the Tobago Cays and the barbecue we had on the beach afterwards..

Silver Travel Advisor recommends The Cruise Line. They have a selection of cruises from the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Far East on all three of the Star Clipper ships. You can even take a transoceanic voyage if you wish.

This article was first published on

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Sunset Martinique

Dawn approaching St Lucia

At anchor

Deck 17

Tobago Cays


Tobago Cays


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