Alison's Experiences in Thailand and Malaysia - Part One


Alison's Experiences in Thailand and Malaysia - Part One

18th January 2018

Thailand has been my go-to holiday destination every year for the last 20 plus years, but I’ve always opted for a hotel-stay of some description. This, however, was a trip with a difference - my first experience on one of our smaller yachts, the Star Clipper.

In December 2017, I was lucky enough to take a small group of travel agents away with me on a work trip. Upon arrival at Birmingham Airport, we were told at check-in that we’d all been upgraded to Business Class on Turkish Airlines – what a way to start a trip! This gave us access to the lounge at Birmingham Airport and also the incredible lounge at Istanbul Airport, which is simply huge! You can enjoy every kind of drink and snack imaginable and there is also a wide range of entertainment areas for the kids.

Business Class was an absolute treat, we had the large reclining seats from Birmingham to Istanbul followed by a flatbed from Istanbul to Bangkok and we even had our own chef on board. The food was amazing, the service was good and we all arrived reasonably well rested.

We had a quick overnight stop in Bangkok, where we decided to get into a couple of taxis for a drive around. Taxis are generally cheap but beware, the traffic is dreadful at all hours of the day, so if you’re anywhere near the sky train it is suggested to plump for that option instead. We were staying at the Anantara, which is a little way out of the main tourist areas but very easy to get around. There are many temples to visit, but a ride along the river or a crazy journey in a tuk-tuk is an absolute must, as they both offer a cheap and fun way of getting around.

Our first meal together in Bangkok was at a very famous restaurant, Cabbages & Condoms, they serve good, well-priced food in a lovely courtyard setting. The restaurant has been going for years and makes it into many guidebooks for its unusual statues and artwork which are – you guessed it - all made out of condoms… But there is nothing seedy about it. Patpong, on the other hand, is very colourful, with streets that are lined with late-night market stalls ready to embrace bargain hunters as well as a number of bars to sit in and people watch. Bangkok is very safe and a really fun city – it is certainly worth a couple of nights here.

The next morning we were up early for our Air Asia flight down to Phuket. It was going to make such a change to see the beautiful Thai and Malaysian coastlines from a sailing ship rather than doing a land-based holiday and doing the odd boat trip.

As we travelled down into Patong Bay in our taxi, we caught our first glimpse of our home for the next week. The excitement started to build. Star Clipper - one of our smaller four-masted yachts – was looking majestic on the horizon.

Star Clipper Thailand

Check-in was incredibly easy at the Seaview Hotel in Patong. We left our bags, checked ourselves in and went to explore Patong. About a 10-minute walk is all that is required before you arrive at the centre of Patong, where you will discover a crazy district full of shops, bars, restaurants and everything you could possibly want. Alternatively, you can just chill at the hotel and they’ll provide you with towels, or you can go and have your first massage of the trip – a real must when you’re in Thailand!

We boarded the ship at around 4pm and were met by the smiling staff who greeted us with a wonderful cocktail. After a wander around and a spot of unpacking, we were back up on deck for the all-important lifeboat drill. By this time, we’d worked up quite an appetite so it was time for a welcome drink in the bar together and it was great to see Alberto - the head bartender who I had previously met on Royal Clipper. That’s just one of the many great things about sailing on a smaller ship - you get to see familiar faces and make new friends very easily.

Star Clipper Thailand

After a glass of prosecco each (only £3.50), we headed down for our first feast, all served by friendly smiling waiters in the main dining room that seats all passengers. There was a wide choice on offer, with meat, fish, vegetarian options, and - if nothing suited - there was always steak and chips, and a pasta dish on offer each night. Tonight, I went for the mushroom soup followed by the salmon, which was cooked in a lemon butter sauce – delicious! One of the highlights for me each night was the beautiful homemade bread and speciality butter served with it – definitely not to be missed!

Sail away tonight was at 10pm, so we headed up on deck for our first sight of Star Clipper being all lit up. As the haunting music of Vangelis, Conquest of Paradise, filled the air, the sails were raised for the first time. It’s a truly magical experience watching all of the sails go up and every time you see something slightly different. We were then entertained by Jerby, who was truly talented on the piano and electric keyboard and had everyone up dancing in the Tropical Bar until the early hours. By this time, new friends and memories had been made.

Two of the most amazing things about embarking on a cruise is only having to unpack once and being able to wake up somewhere new every day. Our first breakfast was a delight, there was plenty on offer – cereals, breads, pastries, bacon, sausage, eggs and a fresh omelette station. Captain Sergey welcomed us all on board the following morning after breakfast and introduced us all to the crew that was there to look after us for the week. We could see the beautiful scenery passing by on either side as we headed to our first port of call, Ko Butang.

Ko Butang was quite a small beach, but perfect to try out some water sports. For those that were interested in diving, we had a ‘Dive Master’ on board, who took people out and provided necessary training. For those of us that preferred to be on top of the water, there was kayaking, water skiing, wakeboarding, sailing and snorkelling on offer and complimentary for all guests. There was a local Thai guy selling drinks on the beach, so we didn’t need to worry about keeping refreshed.

After a chilled afternoon, we headed back in time for afternoon tea and what a treat this was! Some days we had sandwiches, other days we had hot snacks, both of which would be served with lots of homemade biscuits or cakes and fresh fruit. We would then wash it all down with a nice cup of tea (tea and coffee are available every day free of charge).

Tonight’s entertainment was the fashion show. While there isn’t a shopping mall on board, all of the three ships have their own ‘Sloop Shop’ selling Star Clippers tastefully branded goods. These range from shorts to dresses and jackets to hats – with something for everyone and these were all modelled by the staff for us all to see. Afterwards, it was disco time with Jerby who, once again, had everyone up dancing. For those that wanted a quieter evening, there is always the Piano Bar or the Library - two nice areas of the ship where you can enjoy a quieter atmosphere or play board games.

A lot of us also chose to sit up on deck in the evening under the sails and watch the stars. It’s so dark on the sea at night, which makes it a perfect place for star-gazing.

Our next port of call was Penang in Malaysia - not the prettiest of ports, but there are lots of excursions available including the Penang Grand Island Tour, Jungle Trekking, a Malay Cooking Class, and the Orangutan Island trip. We chose the Orangutan trip which took us to Bukit Merah - home to about 25 Orangutans. Here, the orphans are nurtured and rehabilitated before being released back into the wild. These lovely intelligent creatures can be seen swinging from the trees and being fed on their feeding platforms.

Once back on board, we had the chance to play some deck golf. For those brave souls, there was also a wonderful opportunity to climb the mast up to the crow’s nest. This is a must for anyone that has a good head for heights and a truly one-off experience. Another evening sail away was followed by a fabulous evening meal, where I had a beautiful pork dish. Dinner was followed by a talk from Captain Sergey about his adventures navigating these beautiful tall ships through foreign waters.


Indonesia’s Pink Beach


Indonesia’s Pink Beach

1st February 2018

It’s been a couple of years since Indonesia was added to the list of regions you can visit on board a traditional tall ship sailing with Star Clippers. Sailing aboard the Star Clipper on a roundtrip out of Bali, the smaller size of the ship provides a unique opportunity to visit a range of isolated paradise islands that are generally inaccessible to larger vessels. There are two itineraries available – eastbound and westbound respectively out of Bali – as well as a number of sailings that also incorporate the luxurious metropolis of Singapore.

Komodo Dragon

There are many sights to see and landmarks to explore on board all three of these itineraries, but perhaps one of the most interesting islands of all is the one that inhabited by large reptiles. Komodo Island is, as the name suggests, home to the world’s only natural habitat for komodo dragons and you can embark on a walking tour that will enable you to admire these creatures up close. A national park was established on the island to protect these creatures in 1980 and it later became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1986. It is worth pointing out that the komodo dragons are also the main occupants of the island, with 2,500 of these reptiles living here alongside only 2,000 people.

Although this is the main draw, there is much more to see and do on this unique island. A short journey along the coast will unveil a dazzling pink colour reflected in the sands – part of a natural landmark that you will only see in six other places on earth. Pantai Merah – or Pink Beach – gets its distinctive colour from microscopic marine creatures known as Foraminifera.

These single-celled, microscopic organisms live in shells consisting of a red-coloured calcium carbonate. When these creatures die, their shells drop to the ocean floor and are collectively washed to the shore. The dye of the shells mixes with the seawater which, in-turn, mixes with the sand to give the beach its distinctive shade of pink.

Pink Beach Indonesia

The colour of the beach offers a contrast to the calm turquoise waters, which are more than ideal for water-based activities – so much so, in fact, that this is widely considered to be the best area for snorkelling on the island. The pink beach indicates an abundance of coral life activity and you would not be mistaken, with pygmy seahorses, blue-ringed octopus, various species of rays and many more creatures awaiting your discovery. If you decide to instead relax on the beach, though, you will be rewarded with views of the gorgeous scenery and surrounding lush-green hills. Alternatively, a guided hike up one of these hills will provide you with fantastic views of the island and offers a great vantage point from which to admire the komodo dragons.

If this blog has inspired you to embark on a tall ship sailing with Star Clippers, why not get in touch? You can contact our friendly sales team via the Freephone number above or chat to an advisor instantly online.

Mary Stuart-Miller's Indonesia Journey



Mary Stuart-Miller's Indonesia Journey

11th January 2018

The simple things in life are often the most memorable. Collecting shells on a palm fringed white sand beach, lapped by warm water. Watching the sun tip beneath the horizon at sunset, its last glinting rays casting a shimmering fire on the open sea. A bright-eyed child reaching an outspread hand for sweets. The calming lapping and gentle slapping of waves against the hull of a boat. The unfamiliar smells, sights and sounds of village life - far removed from home. Little baskets of fragrant flowers left in the roadside for local gods. A white sail against a blue sky.

Temple Bali

Star Clippers’ South Asia sailing voyages encompass all of these experiences and many more. Indonesia and its principal island, Bali, remain mysterious and exotic destinations for the western traveller. It was this mysticism, the lure of discovery and the quest for new adventures that drew us to Indonesian waters in summer 2017 to sail on board the four-masted and fully-rigged Star Clipper from Bali.

Our voyage took us to idyllic islands, passing towering volcanos, calling into primitive villages, pristine harbours and beaches, and swimming in waterfalls - cold, clear and refreshing after the humid heat of the day. Unplanned days took shape without effort, each one adding new and more vivid memories as the ship dropped anchor and we took the tender ashore to explore harbours, villages and beaches. Never knowing quite what we would experience, each day we returned to our magnificent tall ship `home’, offering new tales of discovery over an early evening cocktail with new found friends at the ship’s Tropical Bar.

Komodo Dragon

We gathered more and more colourful images on our cell-phones and cameras. Images of our family group dwarfed by seemingly giant Komodo Dragons in the foreground, taken by fearless Komodo island guides. Memories of an afternoon spent in a humble village, houses on stilts with goats, chickens and dogs beneath. The joy of seeing even the youngest children splashing with friends and siblings in shallow water, seemingly unsupervised, playing with crudely crafted boats and enjoying the simplest pleasures in life.

We videoed monkeys, some with tiny babies clamped to their chests, scampering at our feet for the nuts we’d bought at roadside stalls, the more daring among them stealing our water-bottles and shaking the last drops from them. We also filmed each other attempting to water-ski on turquoise waters with the majestic Star Clipper as a backdrop as we sped by in the ships’ zodiac inflatables.

We took a motorcycle ride to a stunning river valley to find plummeting waterfalls, deep pools and homemade rope swings from which the younger and stronger guests among us swung and plunged into the deep, swirling river pools below. That day concluded with a memorable and tranquil walk along white sands to discover a simple bar with a beach-front veranda. Here, we downed cold beers with traditional local boats and the setting sun as our view.

Star Flyer

Knowing our days would start and end on board Star Clipper, where crew become more like friends and family, where long days conclude in the bar. A quick shower followed by dinner, amid more friends in the restaurant, gave us the comfort and reassurance we needed to enjoy our daily adventures to the full.

Our week of culture, discovery, adventure, fun and life-long memories culminated in a final day on a beach fit for the cover of a tropical holiday brochure. Small, colourfully painted local wooden boats chugged our pristine white sand beach, where we sat beneath the shade of towering palms. We swam, we made footprints in the sand, we snorkelled, collected shells, sunbathed and - when paradise didn’t feel it could get any better - we wandered along to where the ship’s crew had set up a spectacular and delicious beach barbecue.

This magnificent sailing voyage opened up sights, sounds, smells and tastes we could have barely imagined before we set sail. The ship, with its amenable and super-friendly staff provided a familiar and homely base from which to explore and experience Indonesia to the full. Either side of our magnificent cruise, we made the most of our time with pre and post-cruise stays ashore. Each day, we pampered ourselves with massages, manicures and pedicures - sampling local food in simple restaurants and staying in stunning Balinese hotels.

Tiff’s Travels from Singapore to Phuket | Part Two


Tiff’s Travels from Singapore to Phuket | Part Two

21st December 2017

Day 6 – Ko Tong, Thailand

Star Clipper Thailand

Our first beach day today, so we were very excited to grab our snorkel equipment and get in the tender boat which takes passengers to the shore. It was a wet landing, which meant climbing down the ladder into the sea – all part of the fun. Ko Tong, known as Monkey Island, is home to hundreds of wild monkeys... A large monkey was sat on one of the Star Clippers kayaks and stared hard at us, wondering what we had in our bags. Looking for food to steal, it was soon joined by more monkeys, who crowded around us in the hope of a free meal.

They soon gave up and ran into the trees, leaving us to explore the stunning white beach. The water was incredibly warm - so perfect for snorkelling and kayaking. We enjoyed some fast rides on the speedboat with the sports team as they showed off their water skiing skills. One of the ship’s waiters was on the beach with a cold box full of beers and soft drinks and, of course, we took advantage of this with a delightful Singha beer.

Reluctantly, at 5:30 pm, we left the gorgeous beach to go back to the ship, in time to prepare for talent night. Somehow, we got roped into singing Abba’s Dancing Queen... And after the talent show, we became dancing queens once again…

Day 7 - Ao Phang Nga

Phang Nga Bay

Cameras at the ready today! With photo opportunities as we sailed through the spectacular passage of Phang Nga Bay - famous for breath-taking scenery with limestone cliffs rising out of the emerald green Andaman Sea. Phang Nga is in the marine national park, with lagoons and vast mangrove swamps. There are 40 islands, some reaching an altitude of 1,000 feet and shaped like animals - with dramatic sea caves and sheltered, pristine beaches. Intricate stalagmites and the atmospheric lighting from cave openings produce a theatrical effect.

We took the speedboat excursion, cruising at great speed from the Star Clipper through picturesque Phang Nga Bay en-route to James Bond Island - one of the locations used in the movie The Man with the Golden Gun. We made a brief stop here to photograph the iconic giant rock and felt like we had stepped into a movie set.

James Bond Island

Our next stop was Koh Panyee Village, a “floating” fishing village established on stilts 200 years ago by Indonesian fishermen, who fell in love with the location. Their descendants are now the only inhabitants of Phang Nga Bay. We had a walking tour of this fascinating village, learning about daily life and visiting a school, followed by some local cuisine by the water’s edge. From there we journeyed back to the ship through Ao Phang Nga. Once again, we were travelling at high speed and, once again, we were able to marvel at the incredible scenery.

Back on board, everyone was getting ready for Captain’s dinner –where ladies put on their best dresses. It isn’t a dressy affair, but for those who wish to, the opportunity is there. The main course is a choice of lobster or chateaubriand… Both were excellent. This was followed by waiters dancing through the dining room balancing trays of lit Baked Alaska on their heads while everyone clapped and cheered.

Day 8 – Ko Miang / Similan Islands

Our final day of the cruise and another beach day with a wet landing. Koh Similan is one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea - largely because of the clear blue waters that surround it - and is considered to be among the 10 most interesting dive areas in the world. This is because of the water and the abundant marine life. One of the most striking features here are the huge boulders that surround the western and southern shores. So, once again, plenty of photo opportunities.

A snorkelling safari was on the agenda for the afternoon, so back on the tender boat with our gear, where a whole underworld awaited - vibrant reefs and incredible marine life. From under the water to back on deck - we were about to enjoy our last evening aboard the Star Clipper. As is customary after the final meal, all of the crew gather in the dining room waving flags and singing “We are the World” – an emotional moment and time to reflect on the past week. Everyone has made new friends and created memories to take away with them.

Thailand Beach Boat

Day 9 – Patong Beach

Disembarkation day – always a shame, but all good things come to an end. Straight after breakfast, we got on the tender boat for the short journey to Patong Beach, where our luggage was stored at The Seaview Hotel. We had a stroll along the beachfront here, checking out the local shops for last-minute presents to take home. This was an experience in itself, as we soon discovered that many of these shops have back rooms where they store their fake goods.

By lunchtime, we were in a taxi to the Vijitt Resort & spa - 45 minutes away. We had a day room here, as our flight home wasn’t until after midnight. This gave us the opportunity to make the most of the facilities and relax. We had a light lunch near the beach before moving just a few feet to some loungers around the striking infinity pool. Within moments, the heavens had opened to a monsoon, so everyone ran for cover. We ran to the spa where we treated ourselves to a full body massage. The perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon and prepare the body for a long flight. Totally relaxed, we then went for a final cocktail down by the beach… And our final few minutes of Thailand before heading off in the taxi to the airport to begin our journey home.

Back to Part One >>

Tiff’s Travels from Singapore to Phuket | Part One


Tiff’s Travels from Singapore to Phuket | Part One

14th December 2017

Day 1 London Gatwick – Dubai – Singapore on Emirates

Our adventure began with a 1-night pre-cruise stay at the magnificent Shangri-La Hotel near Orchard Road. We were greeted by a friendly doorman with a welcoming smile. Walking through the impressive lobby, we were handed a refreshing lime juice which slipped down easily as we admired the sophisticated décor. Our host arrived as we checked in and showed us around the hotel, which oozes luxury and opulence. There are several culinary choices within the hotel. Our hosted dinner was in the Italian restaurant – and it was homemade Italian food at its very best, in an impressive setting.

Singapore Super Tree

Too full for deserts, we set off to visit the Gardens by the Bay’s Supertrees. The 50-foot super trees made of wire and steel light up at night and are a truly stunning spectacle sitting against the backdrop of Singapore’s central business district. We treated ourselves to a drink at the alfresco rooftop bar, at the top of the tallest supertree, boasting unobstructed views of Singapore’s iconic cityscape. After that, it was back to the hotel for a quick Singapore Sling before bed – well it had to be done… And it was worth every dollar!

Day 2 Singapore

After a few hours’ sleep, we dragged ourselves from comfy beds to make the most of the morning we had in Singapore, planning a quick breakfast before heading out to see the sights. But how can you have a quick breakfast in the Shangri-La with such an amazing breakfast buffet? The extensive choice made it feel like an international tour. Singapore is a world-class cosmopolitan city but, rather than hit the shopping malls, we wanted to see Little India – the buzzing historic area that shows off the best of Singapore’s colourful Indian community with many unusual shops and a vibrant culture.

Sri Veeramakaliamman

Sri Veeramakaliamman - Little India’s prettiest, busiest and most difficult to pronounce temple – is well worth a visit, with its hundreds of tiny colourful statues on the outside. From Little India to Chinatown, a bustling mix of old and new, with culture bursting out onto the streets and fragrant smells of traditional cuisine. There was no time to sample the street food, but we managed a quick Tiger beer before making our way to the cruise terminal.

The check-in process was quick and easy and, in no time at all, we were boarding the Star Clipper - greeted by the Captain Sergey Tunikov, a smiling crew and a welcome cocktail. The sail away was at 7 pm, while the sky was a beautiful shade of blue - lit up with a dramatic storm throwing lighting across the horizon. The haunting music of Vangelis' Conquest of Paradise fills the skies and sent shivers down my spine. An hour later, we were tucking into our first dinner on board before dancing the night away in the Tropical Bar until our feet couldn’t stand any more.

Day 3 Malacca, Malaysia


Breakfasts on the Star Clipper ships are always worth getting up for. There’s a choice of continental and full English breakfast options available, with tea and coffee served at the table and - my personal favourite – the omelette station. After breakfast, we went to the lifeboat drill and got to meet all of the officers and crew. Before we knew it, we were back in the dining room for our first lunch on board while the ship anchored off the port of Malacca.

Known as the “City of Dreams”, Malacca is the oldest city in Malaysia - retaining the influence of all the cultures that settled there including Chinese, Portuguese and English. We headed to the historical Heritage Area of town, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. This was a charming area of town, with red painted buildings and a beautiful canal. It’s easy to forget that Malacca is, in fact, a huge city, until we ventured beyond this area and found colourful street markets, modern buildings and lots of shopping malls. Naturally, we made a few purchases – clothes, spices and some fake designer goods!

All in a day’s work. We were back on board by 5 pm - in time for afternoon snacks, with live music provided by the resident musician Jerby. 6 pm was sail away – never to be missed – as the Star Clipper sets sail towards Langkawi. After dinner, we headed to the Tropical Bar to watch the Star Clipper Fashion Show – where the sports team model many of the clothes from the Sloop Shop and some of the clients get involved too. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek and provides some great entertainment – finishing in some classic dances such as YMCA, which gets everyone up dancing and laughing the night away. Then, suddenly, its midnight and the snacks come out... Oh go on then, it would be rude not to.

Day 4 Malacca Strait – At Sea

Today was our only day at sea – time to CHILL and RELAX as we sailed through the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. We took the opportunity to lay on deck and recharge our batteries after yesterday’s busy day. The afternoon was taken up with a treasure hunt, where we were given a list of things to do. This ranged from collecting the signatures of four of the officers to finding out the cruise director’s shoe size.

Once this was done, we took our place in the piano bar to sing songs with Jerby and the sports team whilst sampling the cocktail of the day. Later, the entertainment was the popular Frog Race, (wooden, not REAL frogs) which has the sports team displaying their competitive nature as they recruit clients to help them win. Divided into teams, it involves pulling a wooden frog along a bit of string from one end of the deck to the other, and is much more difficult than it looks. I lacked the skill needed to move my frog at any speed, so our team didn’t win. However, we weren’t last either… And then it was time to dance some more!

Day 5 Langkawi, Malaysia


A quick breakfast this morning as we arrived by 8:30 am at Langkawi – the biggest island in Malaysia and with plenty of tax-free shopping opportunities! Yes, more shopping! But there is much more to Langkawi than shopping and beautiful beaches – with a choice of three organised excursions.

The first one was an island tour through rice paddies and rubber plantations, exploring mangrove swamps aboard local boats. This excursion continues with a drive through the countryside to reach a typical village for a lunch stop. From here, you take a cable car and glide over the rainforest past tropical trees and waterfalls until you reach the peak of Gungung Machinchang. There, you will be amazed by panoramic views of many of the 99 islands surrounding Langkawi and out towards Thailand, Ko Butang and Ko Toratanu.

The next excursion is jungle trekking and kayaking in tropical rainforests. The trails take you through Langkawi’s ancient rainforests, with flora and fauna at its best. Look out for different species of monkeys, birds, butterflies, rare birds and much more wildlife. After jungle trekking, you go to the Kilim River and a fish farm for lunch before kayaking through the mangrove forests along small rivers. This provides an opportunity to catch a glimpse of various species of land crabs, lizards, squirrels and if you are lucky rare monkeys. After kayaking, you go by small boat to the Bat Cave, an ancient dark cave filled with hundreds of bats before heading back to the ship.

Finally, for the more adventurous, there is the ultimate adventure tour - a jungle trek up 700 steps to reach the first challenge of a series of challenges: a river crossing by a steel rope followed by abseil training. This is followed by a tree-climb and the thrill of a breath-taking 60-metre zip line before facing a 6-metre ravine and the notorious “Postman’s Walk” to get to the other side safely. The expedition continues with a 12-15 metre abseil, a 20-metre traverse climb and then another 30-metre abseil down a sheer rock face. After a hike through the jungle, it’s back to the ship for a well-deserved rest!

And speaking of rest, that’s exactly what we did…. With the discovery of a massage parlour, we treated ourselves to a reflexology session. Rejuvenated from our pampering, we then walked along the beach before making our way back to the ship.

Tonight’s entertainment was one of my favourites – The Quiz with the Drum - testing our geographical knowledge. The Cruise Director, Peter Kissner, fired the questions, and then it was a race to run to his drum and come up with the correct answer - which earned you a disc. My pile of discs wasn’t enough to put me in first place, but it was lots of fun and the passengers loved it.


An adventure to Thailand & Malaysia...


An adventure to Thailand & Malaysia...

4th January 2018

Aboard Star Clipper

Star Clipper Phuket

South East Asia has always been an area of the world I have longed to explore. The typical images of the small wooden fishing boats floating peacefully on crystal clear waters, and the stunning yet rugged mountainous backdrops that pop out from the ocean, and the mouth-watering flavours of Thai cuisine are among the reasons that I’ve always been keen to visit - well my time has come, and I’m lucky enough to be experiencing it all on Star Clipper’s first 7 night voyage from Phuket!

Day 1 – London/Phuket


Our group flew with Etihad (via Abu Dhabi) which was two flights, the first of just over 7 hours and the second just over six. With a short 2-hour stopover, the journey is long but well worth it. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to business class on the first leg, which was on one of the new A380’s – WOW, what an incredible treat. The private roomy seat, which fully reclines into a bed, makes for a very comfortable start to the trip. The champagne was topped up several times even before take-off and this attentive service continued throughout the flight. If you’ve got a bit extra in the budget, I would highly recommend travelling in style…

We landed in Phuket local time around 6 pm, immigration was straightforward and our pre-booked taxi was there to meet us in arrivals. A short transfer of just 20 minutes and we arrived at our home for the next two nights, the Anantara Mai Kaho Villas. From taking just the first step into this property, my breath was completely taken away. The wooden bridges over the serene lakes, the low-lit lanterns and the soft music filling the air and the atmosphere screaming luxury was immediately relaxing. After a short check-in, we were shown to our pool villas. Every ‘room’ in this hotel has its own private swimming pool and is absolutely massive in size, hence the label ‘villa’.

The attention to detail was phenomenal and I knew straight away this was hands down one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. We were welcomed in the restaurant with the Thai Buffet, which had a very impressive choice of curries, noodles, seafood, rice, soups and many other oriental delights. As we were all very tired from the flight, so we had a light bite and some wine and retired to our private villas for a very peaceful night sleep.

Day 2 – Phuket


The following morning we met for a traditional Thai breakfast on the terrace. The grounds of the hotel really are gorgeous, the tropical greens and colourful flowers are budding in every corner, surrounded by the still waters and peaceful shrines hidden away. To enjoy a coffee and fresh fruit sitting out and admiring all of this was the perfect way to start the day. After breakfast, we participated in one of the hotels complimentary activities, a bike ride! Cycling around the local towns, roads and markets, stopping on a sandy beach, then at a local smoothie stall for fresh mango drinks was a great introduction to Phuket. A tiring 2 hours later we met back at the hotel for lunch overlooking the sea.

Most of the group headed down to the beach for a massage, priced at just 400 BAHTS for one hour which, converted, is about £10 - it was hard to resist! You could afford to have a massage on the beach every day in Thailand, which is definitely a highlight for me if you have the stamina to take it!

That evening, we made the short journey (5 minutes by local taxi) to a neighbouring hotel ‘The Sala’. This is a hotel we sell regularly, with a competitive price point and excellent location, it makes a great choice for a 2 or 3-night pre/post-cruise stay. The Sala was more modern in design, with beautiful whitewashed interiors, romantic outside bathrooms and a stunning seafront location, we were all really impressed. We dined poolside, lit by candlelight with the sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore - a perfect setting for our final night in Phuket.

Day 3 – Phuket/Star Clipper

With only a few hours left to see what Phuket has to offer, we opted for an island tour. Collecting us from the hotel, we embarked our air-conditioned minivan for the day and made our way to our first stop, a Buddhist temple. After removing our footwear we stepped into the temple, filled with an overwhelming amount of gold and Buddhist statues, we watched on in awe as the monks made their daily ritual and prayed on their knees. It felt a great privilege to be this close to them in such an intimate moment. From here we went on to Phuket Old town, where we had half an hour or so to stroll freely through the busy streets.

The multi-coloured buildings and cluttered shops made for a bustling atmosphere as cars sped past and locals went about their normal routines; we were immersed in the heart of the town. Our final stop before lunch was at the ‘Big Buddha’ a relatively new, huge, religious statue sitting high on top of a hill. The views looking down over the bay were stunning and the guest monkeys were posing for tourists pictures (as well as trying to pinch their belongings). Finally, we ended up at a restaurant near the port, where we had a huge amount of fresh seafood, noodles and stir-fried vegetables bought to our table. The excitement had started to build now as our final stop for the day was to be Star Clipper herself…

The Seaview hotel is just opposite the pier for Patong Bay, which is where the ship is at anchor. Star Clippers have a designated check-in area in the lobby at the hotel, where drinks and refreshments are provided whilst the relevant forms are filled in. Check-in opens at 4 pm and can be done anytime before 9 pm, however, I recommend doing so sooner rather than later so you can relax and enjoy your first night on board. The ship is a short tender ride from the pier and your luggage will meet you in your cabin, so it’s a very seamless, easy process.

We were shown to our category 4 cabin, 109, which situated on the Commodore deck was a well-appointed, well laid out and very comfortable space for the next 7 nights. Plenty of wardrobe space, a small dressing table area, one porthole window and an en-suite marble lined shower room made up the cabin configuration. Some cabins have a fixed double bed and others can be made up as a twin, which is what we had opted for, giving enough room to move around and in-between the beds. After a quick shower and change we made our way to the Tropical Bar for pre-dinner champagne (it would be rude not too) and as past passengers, we all received a bottle of house champers in our cabin, a lovely touch.

A wonderful welcome dinner in the Clipper dining room was accompanied by three Thai ladies entertaining the crowd with traditional dancing, just in the background but a lovely addition. Six courses are available every night from the à la carte menu and the food is excellent quality with plenty of choice. Throughout the week there was always a ‘Thai special’, usually a curry; it was great to see the ship making the most of the local flavours!

Sail away on the first night is like a scene from a movie. Stood up on deck under the night sky, sipping another glass of cold champagne and watching the Captain and officers expertly echo the orders to the crew, as they start to pull on the ropes and the cream sails start to unfurl above us all. ‘Conquest of Paradise’ a classical piece of music by a composer called Vangelis, is played through the speakers and as the music fills the air, the sails rise above us and we set sail off into the calm waters of Thailand, using only the stars in the sky as our lights – a truly magical moment.

One member of our group was turning 50 the next day so we had to celebrate in style at midnight! Back in the Tropical Bar, more champagne was cracked open and we danced the night away to the resident musician, Charlie’s playlist, which had a surprising range of classics, right up to chart music from today, something for everyone! A quick midnight snack in the Piano Lounge and we were ready for bed, looking forward to our first port of call on the Northern route we were sailing.

Day 4 – Ko Surin

Ko Surin

The Star Clipper dropped anchor off of Ko Surin National Park at midday. So after a leisurely breakfast on board and a scenic arrival watched from the decks, we took the tender across to the island to see what it had to offer. Peter the Cruise Director, had pointed out that this was one of the best spots on the itinerary for snorkelling and as this activity is complimentary on Star Clippers. Lots of guests hired their snorkel equipment for the week and eagerly ventured out on the ‘snorkel safari’. One of our group members did so and said it was incredible, many colourful fishes were spotted and as a pro snorkeler in South East Asia, she was not disappointed! The rest of us took the easy option and instead opted for a slow stroll on the beach.

After an ankle deep wet landing from the tender, we stepped on to the small isolated beach. Here we found a large campsite, which presumably was for backpackers and local schools, with some basic facilities including toilets and a small café, all available for us to use - such a convenience! We wandered around to a quieter beach through some woodland where we had some lovely views of the ship in the distance. Unfortunately for us, the weather wasn’t brilliant, so we didn’t get to see this island in the best light, and we were quite chilly so our stay there was short-lived before we took the tender back to the ship.

Day 5 – Ko Similan

The Similan islands are famous for their crystal glass waters and powdery white beaches. Fringed with palm trees and rocky backgrounds, this is a really popular spot for snorkelers and divers alike, attracting various tourist day trips from other islands. The small cove was busy today; another wet landing and we found a nice spot on the beach to set up our towels for a spot of sunbathing. After a morning of relaxation, we decided to take the steep trek up ‘snail rock’ a pedestrian route which was being taken by many other tourists, and although was a little ‘adventurous’ in places, it was well worth the climb – the views were outstanding! A great sense of achievement standing at the summit, posing for the ‘money shot’ and a real thrill to be looking down on one of the most spectacular stretches of white sand I’d ever seen.

After a few hours, we took the tender back to the ship, just in time for ‘snack time’, which is a small buffet selection served in the Tropical Bar. There is always one ‘hot option’ ranging from chicken wings to calamari and Taco’s to name but a few, alongside traditional sandwiches and biscuits for those after a more ‘afternoon tea’ style. Cocktail of the day was ‘Singapore Sling’ which, at 5 euros a glass, is the perfect way to wash down the afternoon treats. Charlie, the musician, plays background music whilst guests chat and exchange stories about the day so far, the atmosphere is light and relaxed, as always.

After a quick change, it was time to head to the dining room again for another wonderful dinner. If there’s ever an occasion where you don’t fancy anything on the menu, you are invited to request a steak or a pasta dish. Tonight I went for the pasta, which was spaghetti Pomodoro, which I asked for with extra chilli and was delicious. We had house wine with dinner every night which was lovely; the white was a choice of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc and the Red was a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. At just 16 euros a bottle, this is a very affordable choice for the evenings, although there is an extensive wine list available should you wish to push the boat out (pun intended!).

This evening’s entertainment is one of my favourites - ‘The Star Clipper Frog Race’! Teams begin to form on the decks and the wooden frogs are strung up with the rope, tied at one end of the bar to the other – using your hands on the rope, the objective is to make the frog leap across the decks to the other side, and the fastest team (rally style) wins the bottle of prosecco. The excitement and competitive streaks fill the air with many laughs had by all - a perfect example of our ‘light-hearted and low key entertainment’!

Day 6 – Langkawi


Today was my favourite port of call. Having visited Malaysia many years ago, I already had fond memories of the country. Friendly people, beautiful landscapes, a wealth of activities and the list goes on… I’d never been to Langkawi before so was excited to explore this new destination. Using the local maps provided by the ship that morning (very useful) we pinpointed a few areas we liked the look of for a visit. We approached a local taxi at the port and agreed on a price for the day and were on our way – really simple and reasonable way to do things.

Our first stop was the ‘Oriental Village’ a shopping centre positioned around a beautiful lake, with lanterns, small boats and other decorative items making the ‘oriental’ feel very real. Within the village was the ‘Langkawi Cable Car’, which we all decided we wanted to do. Instead of queuing for 2 hours, which we were advised was the length of time we would wait, we bought fast track tickets for an extra £10 and headed straight up to the top. The experience of going up was amazing, slightly scary and wonderful all at the same time. The view got increasingly better the higher we went (so high my ears popped!) and the lush greenery of the island, contrasted with the clear blue waters around the sandy coastline was my favourite sight of all. Once at the top, we walked across the sky bridge, suspended 1,700 m above sea level and framing a wonderful jungle below, a really breath-taking moment.

Lunch in the Oriental Village was easy, as there was a ‘food village’ with plenty of choice. We opted for pizzas and cokes – not very local, but tasty all the same, before carrying on with our journey. Now for a ‘beach stop’ at our request.

As we stepped down from the minivan, through the various market stalls and past the trees, I had to stand still. The beach laid out in front of me was paradise. Miles of talcy white sand, the lagoon-style sea as calm as bath water - so calm you couldn’t even hear the tiny waves lapping at the shore. Finding a spot right by the shoreline, we had an hour to soak up the surroundings, which we certainly made the most of. I went as far as checking out the name of the hotel I could see nearby, as this is definitely a beach I could return to and spend a fortnight on!

Back at the ship, we sipped on ice cold beers as we reminisced about the day we’d had. Langkawi is stunning and a real highlight of the itinerary for me.

Day 7 – Ko Rok Nok

We didn’t arrive into Ko Rok Nok until midday, so another leisurely morning on board was welcome, taking a sun lounger up on deck, reading a book in the Piano Lounge, or maybe, if you’re feeling brave, climbing the rigging up to the crow’s nest. There was plenty to do until we dropped anchor in our next port of call.

We had lunch before disembarking today, the Oriental lunch buffet is an array of delights from beef satay, noodles, freshly carved pork, salads and stir-fried vegetables - plenty of choice for everyone. It’s always hard to resist the desserts at lunchtime, so today I didn’t even try, the bread and butter pudding was divine.

An afternoon of snorkelling and kayaking was in order! Some of the group took kayaks and went across the bay to another island, where they found one park ranger and several small dragons! The photographs they took were incredible and eagerly shared with the rest of the group on their return – quite an adventure!

Day 8 – Ko Kraden

As real sun worshippers, we were keen to be on the first tender to the beach at 10 am and were glad we had done so. As we stepped onto the sandy shores, we were pleased to see an array of sun loungers stacked up, belonging to the Anantara hotel situated on the island. A staff member approached us and explained that as long as we ordered a drink from the hotel bar, we could use the sun loungers all day long. We happily ordered a round of mojitos whilst he set up our sunning stations for the day. After a few days of lying on beach towels on the sand, the comfort of the sun loungers was a real delight.

Today was beach BBQ day – this is always a highlight of the Star Clippers sailings. The crew of chefs, waiters and bar staff come across and set up an impressive area of salads, bread, freshly barbecued meats and fish and of course the famous deserts. I had a cheeseburger AND a hot dog, lots of fresh salad and an ice cold can of coke - charged back to my onboard account from the beach, which was very convenient! After lunch, we had until 1730 to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful island of Ko Kraden - so we decided to hunt down another beach massage! Again, at the equivalent of just £10 for a one-hour full body Thai massage, we settled into the beach shacks. This was the perfect location for a relaxing treatment and an even more perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Tonight was ‘Captain’s Night’ which is a lovely occasion on board. Our dress code day and night is ‘casual elegance’ with no formal dress required, even on Captain’s Night, however, some guests enjoy getting a bit more glitzy for the event, which is, of course, welcomed. A menu of Chateaubriand or lobster tail is tantalising on the taste buds. We treated ourselves to a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc tonight, which didn’t disappoint, and the complimentary glass of bubbles was handed out prior to the Captain’s speech. Captain Sergey has a very warm way about him, approachable and kind. Having sailed with the company for many years, he really feels part of the family and works very hard to make every guest feel the same way. His genuine words were met with rounds of applause as we toasted good health and happy sailing!

The Talent Show on Star Clippers always falls on Captain’s Night and is a show made up of crew and passengers alike showing off their various talents. From a traditional Goan dance from the dining room waiters to a man serenading his wife for their wedding anniversary and a comedy sketch from the sports team - there was laughter, tears and eventually dancing, as everyone got involved and filled the dance floor into the night.

Day 9 – Phang Nga Bay/Ko Hong

This morning was very special. We were all given the opportunity to take a tender from the ship, and follow her whilst she proudly boasted under full sail – a magnificent site. Her four mast barquentine style is the most elegant tall ship of all, gracefully gliding the turquoise waters, expertly navigating her way through the famous Phang Nga Bay. I must have taken over a hundred photographs of the ship, it was hard to stop, at times finding it hard to believe the beauty that we were witnessing and desperate to catch every moment, although no picture does the experience justice, truly fantastic.

James Bond Island

There was an excursion to ‘James Bond Island’ today, which a lot of the passengers took, but we decided to go to the beach that the ship’s tender took us too – Ko Hong. Two small bays connected together, our barman sat with his cool box full of drinks and more bath-like water to cool down in was the order of the day. The sports team were perched and ready for the off should anyone wish to take on any of the water-based activities today, snorkelling, kayaking, water skiing, wakeboarding and paddle boarding are all available free of charge to our guests. Our last lazy day on the beaches of Thailand was today, so we soaked up every last moment of the gorgeous sunshine before taking a tender back to the ship for our last sail away.

It was a stunning sail away at dusk, the sky was the most intense red I’d seen, the soft classical tones swept around the deck and the cream sails dramatically unfurled for one last time...

Tonight we had to have our suitcases packed and outside our cabins so that the crew could collect them and take them off of the ship for us the next day. After ‘the last supper’ most retired early to finish the last of the packing and get a good night’s sleep, as a long day of travelling was ahead of us tomorrow.

Day 10 – Phuket/London


A copy of our bill was posted in our cabin once the bar closed on the final night and a simple signature and handed in at the checkout desk then enables us to disembark the ship. We were back at the Seaview Hotel by 10 am, where guests are welcome to spend the day until their transfer leaves for the airport. We weren’t due to fly until later that evening, so we had the full day ahead in Patong.

We headed on foot to the local street markets, where we haggled and purchased incense sticks, novelty pencils and elephant handbags. The hustle and bustle of this area is very strong, a lively town centre with lots to see and do. We walked into the main town past many bars and clubs and imagined how lively it must be at night time with the bright lights!

After a quick lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant, we headed back to the hotel in a tuk-tuk and spent the last few hours lazing by the pool, with towels and sunbeds provided to all Star Clippers guests. Use of the hotel facilities was complimentary and very handy. After one final ‘Chang’ at the bar, we showered and headed back to Phuket airport for our long journey home.

Lots of passengers were staying on for week 2 (Southern route) which is a great way to see even more of Thailand and Malaysia, and well worth thinking about once taking the long trip over there, to extend your stay further!

Celebrate Christmas and New Year in Cuba


Celebrate Christmas and New Year in Cuba

7th December 2017

With Christmas now less than two weeks away, you may be feeling relaxed, safe in the knowledge that all the shopping is done - or you may still be worrying what to get people and starting to panic a little. If you fall into the latter of these two, you may be in need of relaxing getaway and Star Clippers may be able to offer the perfect tonic.

Throughout December, the tall ship line will be operating Christmas and New Year sailings in and around the islands of Cuba. With temperatures reaching the mid to high 20’s, you will be able to soak up the sun from the top deck as you travel to a range of vibrant and colourful towns and cities. Both sailings will take you aboard the Star Flyer, with the nine-night Christmas sailing departing out of Cienfuegos on 18th December and the ten-night New Year sailing departing out of the Cuban capital of Havana on the 27th December.

Spend Christmas Day on Maria La Gorda

Maria La Gorda

After getting a taste for the impressive Cuban city of Cienfuegos and having a chance to visit smaller islands including Isla de la Juventud, you will celebrate Christmas Day in one of the most isolated areas on the south-western coast. There are no regular buses to this area and only a single hotel in the whole of the area. Arriving at this almost exclusive area, you will discover expansive warm sand that provide the perfect place to soak up the Christmas sun and enjoy a truly special celebration. Maria La Gorda is also an ideal location to partake in a spot of diving, with opportunities to see an abundance of vibrant and colourful marine life.

See in the New Year with Iguanas


Yes, you did read that correctly. After sailing out of the flamboyant capital city of Havana and visiting the relaxing beach island of Cayo Largo, you will reach Cayo Rico - a hidden gem that is particularly known for its population of indigenous iguanas. The island is so isolated and receives so few tourists that it is likely that iguanas will outnumber the number of fellow tourists. Peace and quiet can be enjoyed for the day while soaking in a surrounding that is synonymous with paradise. Swaying palms, powder-sand beaches and crystal clear waters in which you can admire the vibrant coral and marine life. What more could you ask for?

Cuba is not the only place where you can enjoy a festive escape this winter. Star Clippers is also operating a series of traditional tall ship sailings in other regions of the world including South-East Asia and around the Grenadine and Windward Islands of the Caribbean.

For more information or to book a cabin on board one of these fabulous sailings, contact our friendly sales team today via the freephone number above or chat to an advisor online.

Enjoy a taste of home in the British Virgin Islands


Enjoy a taste of home in the British Virgin Islands

30th November 2017

It goes without saying that Christopher Columbus is one of the most renowned explorers of all time, having completed a number of journeys between Europe and America throughout the 15th century in search of new land. During his second travel to the American continent, he discovered a Caribbean island group which he would later name Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgenes (Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins). Despite being settled by many countries, these islands have maintained their ‘Virgin’ name in honour of the story of St Ursula.

The British have held claim to the islands since 1960 and the archipelago became autonomous in 1967. Once heavily invested in agriculture, the British Virgin Islands have refocussed their main industries on tourism and financial services – which has led to them becoming highly lucrative. The Star Clippers ‘Treasure Islands’ cruise provides an opportunity to see for yourself why these islands are so highly-prized. This week, we take a look at each of the destinations you can visit on this fabulous itinerary.

Gorda Sound | Virgin Gorda

Jost Van Dyke

Once an underwater volcano, the island of Virgin Gorda is one of the easternmost situated of the British Virgin Islands. Evidence of the volcanic history of the island can be discovered today, with many unique water grottos formed by ancient lava flows. There are many huge boulders situated along the coastlines – some of which hold the key to a series of hidden caves and pools. A journey to The Baths will enable you to discover these for yourself and intrepid explorers will be able to uncover Devil’s Bay – one of Virgin Gorda’s most-renowned beaches.

The Bight | Norman Island

Owned by Dr Henry Jarecki, Norman Island is one of the most untouched destinations of the British Virgin Islands. Other than a series of roaming goats, there are no permanent inhabitants on the island and the surrounding waters provide plenty of opportunities for snorkelling and diving. Near The Bight, visitors can discover three water-level caves – each providing ideal conditions for snorkelling.

Sopers Hole | Tortola

Jost Van Dyke

Tortola is the capital and largest island of the British Virgin Islands, with plenty of opportunities available. At Soper’s Hole, you will discover an enviably relaxing way of life and many watering holes – where you can mingle with locals and enjoy a glass of rum or two. Travel further afield and you will discover some of the most highly-renowned beaches in the Caribbean, with options including Lambert Bay, Josiah’s Bay, Brewer’s Bay and Cane Garden Bay.

White Bay | Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke gets its name from a famed Dutch pirate of the same name, who used the island as a hideaway. Upon arrival, it is easy to see why he chose such a destination – with a relaxing atmosphere and some of the finest beaches in the world to be discovered. This feeling of relaxation can be realised by heading to the famous Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, where you can enjoy a rum or two. Alternatively, if you are looking for a more active experience, you can embark on one of the many hiking trails up the hills – which will provide you with stunning vistas out to sea.

The first of a series of seven-night ‘Treasure Islands’ itineraries depart out of the St. Maarten capital of Philipsburg on 10th February 2018 aboard the Star Flyer, with additional sailings also available through to March and in 2019. For more information or to book a traditional tall ship sailing with Star Clippers, contact our friendly team via the freephone number above or chat to an advisor online.

Experience blissful isolation in Ponta Delgada


Experience blissful isolation on Ponta Delgada

23rd November 2017

Transport yourself back to an age of exploration, trade and discovery – a period when tall ships similar to those operated by Star Clippers used to be the only way to travel the world. Hundreds of these vessels would head across the Atlantic in search of land and products such as gold, tea and spices. Today, the experience is much more relaxing and luxurious, with beautifully-decorated interior spaces and journeys to some of the most tranquil hidden paradises on earth.

While the three Star Clippers vessels - Royal Clipper, Star Clipper and Star Flyer – embark on many journeys within the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Southeast Asia; the line also operates a series of transatlantic itineraries. Spending several days at sea between venturing onto land paves the way for a truly authentic sailing experience. On selected journeys, however, you can break up the itinerary with a call into Ponta Delgada, on the Azorean island of Sao Miguel. Its isolated location has contributed to the unique environment, while there are also many historical palaces and churches to explore. This week, we take a closer look at what you can enjoy during a visit to Ponta Delgada.


Ponta Delgada Furnas

Furnas is one of the most spectacular tourist sights on the island – home to an array of hot springs, geothermal pools, brightly-coloured gardens and beautiful small villages. These pools are filled with pleasantly warm water, which makes for a truly relaxing experience. The water has an orange hue, which is the result of high iron content. Within the gardens, you will be able to appreciate an abundance of trees and tropical plants from around the world.

There is also an impressive caldera lake here – Lagoa das Furnas – which offers fantastic views of the surrounding scenery. While at the lake, you may also be able to try a uniquely-flavoured stew, which is buried beneath the ground and cooked via the earth’s heat.

Lagoa do Fogo

Ponta Delgada Lagoa do Fogo

While the caldera lake at Furnas is certainly impressive, it is well worth going to visit the Lagoa do Fogo. Not only will you be able to enjoy the spectacular volcanic landscapes and surrounding beach scenery, but you will also be able to admire a unique nature reserve. This is the highest-located lake on the island of Sao Miguel and provides a home for a range of indigenous birdlife including the Azores wood pigeon and the Azorean kite.


Ponta Delgada Architecture

Perhaps one of the first striking factors of Ponta Delgada is the distinctive style of architecture that is present in the historical centre – much of which dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time, many buildings were built with distinctive whitewash and black basalt colours, creating a unique sense of character.

One of the most visited landmarks is the 16th-century Convent and Chapel of Our Lady of Hope, which is still occupied by the nuns of the order of St. Francis to this day. It is filled with many beautiful works of religious artwork including a wonderful 18th-century canvas of azulejos tiles. Another religious building worth visiting is the Church of Sao Sebastio, which was founded in the 16th century and features a portal carved from limestone and many baroque additions.

If you are looking to gain a historical and cultural insight into the city and the island, the Carlos Machado Museum is the best place to go. The museum was founded in the 19th century and is housed within an ornate 16th-century monastery.

You can experience the island of Ponta Delaga for yourself on board either the 28-night or the shorter 16-night Transatlantic Eastbound itinerary – both of which depart out of Bridgetown, Barbados, on 7th April 2018.

If this blog has whetted your appetite to embark on a traditional tall ship sailing with Star Clippers, contact us via the freephone number above or chat with an advisor online.

Travel to exotic paradises in Colombia


Travel to exotic paradises in Colombia

16th November 2017

The Caribbean is a treasure trove of exotic paradise destinations, each offering a tranquil place to soak up the sun. Some of the first destinations that spring to mind when thinking about the Caribbean may include the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, the Cayman Islands and Cuba. However, these comprise of only a handful of the total number of islands that can be found within this 1-million-square-mile region. There are more than 7,000 islands to be discovered and Star Clippers’ range of Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries offers an opportunity to visit some of the smallest ones.

While the Caribbean is home to several independent countries and a number of dependent territories, a number of South American nations also stake a claim to some of the islands. This week’s blog focusses on two Colombian islands situated within the Caribbean, both of which are actually closer to the eastern coast of Nicaragua and are so small that you are likely to have them all to yourself.


Providencia Colombia

No larger than 12km, the island of Providencia offers a fine blend of isolated beaches with lush-green natural features and – of course – a quintessentially Caribbean climate. The main beach of Bahia Aguadulce is sure to be pristine enough, but other quieter options around the island include Bahia Suroeste, and Bahia Manzanillo, which offers regular parties and live acoustic music. In addition to these, there is Almond Beach, which is an ideal location for snorkelling.

Alternatively, you can take the opportunity to admire the surrounding natural elements from The Peak, which is the highest point on the island and offers beautiful panoramic views. It is also possible to visit the significantly smaller island of Santa Catalina, which is connected to Providencia via a footbridge known as Lover’s Bridge.

San Andres

San Andres Colombia

The island of San Andres comprises of a 26km strip and is slightly more developed than Providencia. Upon arrival, you will instantly be immersed in the relaxing Caribbean atmosphere, which is emitted through welcoming locals and entrancing Reggae music. As you might expect, the island is home to many relaxing beaches upon which to relax, but the surrounding waters are where you will find an abundance of hidden treasures.

The sea has varying levels of depth, which has led to it being called the seven-coloured sea. It is a perfect place to try out scuba diving and snorkelling, with opportunities to admire an underwater coral reef, explore a hidden shipwreck and even catch a glimpse of a statue of Neptune – the Roman God of the sea.

Both of these stunning islands can only be visited on board the nine-night Panama to Cienfuegos sailing, which departs on the 9th December 2017 out of the Panamanian island of Balboa. Many itineraries also offer the opportunity to visit the charmingly authentic Colombian city of Cartagena – a walled city that is home to many brightly coloured buildings and a series of 500-year-old forts.

To book a Panama Canal or Caribbean sailing aboard one of the fabulous Star Clippers tall ships, contact our friendly team via the reservations number above or send us an email.

Four of the best hidden must-visit destinations


Four of the best hidden must-visit destinations

10th November 2017

The beauty of embarking on a sailing with Star Clippers is the ability to travel to a range of smaller destinations that are somewhat inaccessible to larger vessels. With itineraries operated in regions around the world, each sailing offers the chance to go off the beaten track to hidden paradise islands and along narrower waterways. Furthermore, you will be able to enjoy all of this while also stepping into a bygone era of traditional tall ship exploration. Each of the three vessels - Star Clipper, Star Flyer and Royal Clipper – offers classical décor with a cruising experience unlike anything else.

To outline the distinctive benefit of the smaller size of the Star Clippers fleet, we have outlined four of the best off-the-beaten-track destinations you can visit on selected itineraries. From the charming islands of the Mediterranean to the isolated areas of Far East Asia, these destinations are some of the closest parallels to paradise on earth.

Cayman Brac – Cayman Islands

Cayman Brac

One of the sister islands to Grand Cayman, the often overlooked Cayman Brac offers a tranquil place for Caribbean beach relaxation. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503, the famous explorer spent little time on the island and therefore missed the abundance of marine life that thrives in the surrounding the surrounding waters. Divers and snorkelers should definitely take the opportunity to admire the amazing display of colours present in the array of fish and corals. If you are lucky, you can also catch a glimpse of one of the many shipwrecks located in these waters. You can admire the beauty of this island and much more on board selected Cuba sailings.

Ko Adang - Thailand

Ko Adang

Situated far off the western coast of mainland Thailand and close to the border of Malaysia, the Butang Island group awaits your arrival on one of the selected South-East Asia sailings. Protected by the Ko Tarutao National Park, Ko Adang is one 61 islands that make up this archipelago and it is so remote that it is only inhabited by Park officials. You can relax on the isolated pristine beaches or embark on a tour of the jungles in-land and explore the abundance of native flora and fauna.

Lipari – Aeolian Islands - Italy


The Mediterranean is home to a contrast of impressive charming cities combined with relaxing beach islands – many of which you will be familiar with. One of the few areas that may not have popped up on your radar is that which comprises of the volcanic Aeolian Islands, accessible via selected Italy sailings in the Western Mediterranean. Thought to be favoured by the Gods, these islands offer a distinctive sense of paradise. You can climb the narrow streets and admire the medieval Castello before arriving at a secluded beach – which is yours for the day.

San Blas Islands - Panama

San Blas Islands

The appeal of a Panama Canal sailing is obvious, but there is much more to see than this magnificent man-made wonder. Situated off the coast of Panama is a small group of islands that form the San Blas group, which provide a home to an abundant range of colourful birds, animals and fish. To celebrate the local wildlife, the indigenous Kuna women have depicted the beauty of the island through the artwork of moias. Distinctive red, orange, blue and green colours are combined by these independent people to create works of art, which create the perfect souvenir of your experience on the islands.

The four destinations mentioned above outline just a handful of some of the beautiful areas you can visit on board one of these spectacular itineraries. Seeing is believing and we believe that once you embark on a Star Clippers sailing for the first time, you will never look back.

To find out more or to book a sailing on board a Star Clippers ship, contact us via the freephone number above or chat to an advisor online.

How France II influenced the world


How France II influenced the world

26th October 2017

The newest addition to the Star Clippers fleet is currently being constructed at the Brodosplit shipyard in Croatia and is set to launch in 2018. Complete with five masts and fitted with traditional sails, the Flying Clipper will become the most contemporary tall ship to date and offer a wide range of luxurious amenities. She will carry a total of 300 passengers in some of the most beautiful regions on earth including the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Far East Asia.

To build a ship in this style in the 21st century can certainly be considered a feat of engineering. While modern cruise ships continue to be built larger and larger and offer an increasing range of glittering amenities, the Flying Clipper will offer a chance to experience a bygone era of traditional tall ship sailing.

Flying Clipper

Star Clippers founder and CEO, Mikael Krafft, was inspired by magnificent tall sailing ships throughout his childhood. Since 1991, he has gone about creating his own range of traditional vessels, offering passengers an alternative holiday experience. Each of his vessels has been based on historical tall ships, with the legendary Preussen being the main influence behind the Royal Clipper.

The main influence for the brand new Flying Clipper is the iconic France II – a five-masted vessel built in 1911. This spectacular vessel was the second largest commercial merchant sailing ship ever constructed and offered those who sailed on her a wide range of luxurious amenities and a traditional décor. She was built with many impressive wooden components including a wooden deck covering and a beautiful lounge area complete with piano and precious furniture. She also offered seven luxury cabins, a library, darkroom and even equipment for seawater therapy.

She combined the best of both worlds by being able to carry large amounts of cargo while also offering luxurious accommodation. Often, those on board would be a crew that consisted of a captain; second captain; naval officer; first, second and third mates; and 40 able seamen including a cook, steward, sailmaker and carpenter.

The vessel was originally fitted with diesel engines, but these were later removed in 1919. She sailed the world on numerous journeys, transporting nickel from Caledonia and even embarked on successful voyages around Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin throughout the course of World War I. Sadly, the vessel met an early grave in 1922 when she ran aground on Ouano reef in New Caledonia. Her owners had the opportunity to rescue her but, due to the impending fallen cargo rates, they refused to pay the fee to tow her free from the bay. The wreckage remained at the bay until American bombers destroyed what was left during target practice in 1944.

Flying Clipper will be equally as impressive when she launches next year, offering a fine blend of tradition and luxury. Much like France II, the new build will be equipped with engines to ensure she travels efficiently between destinations. She is expected to be capable of travelling at a rate of 20 knots under favourable weather conditions and 16 knots under power from the engine. Referring to the destinations visited by France II listed above, it is also interesting to note that the Flying Clipper will be built to meet ice class requirements and will, therefore, be able to sail in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Details for itineraries onboard Flying Clipper have yet to be confirmed, but the new build did receive an official launch party in June when Mikael Krafft and his wife, Ann Krafft, successfully broke a bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull. While this vessel receives her final touches, you can still enjoy a journey on board one of her sister ships including Star Clipper, Star Flyer or the Royal Clipper.

For more information, contact us via the freephone number above or chat to an advisor online.

Star Clipper Sailing Ships


Star Clippers Brochure


01473 242666
UK and Eire passengers please contact Fred. Olsen Travel, the General Sales Agent for Star Clippers or any ABTA Travel Agent.