The Origins of Star Clippers

1st October 2015

Royal Clipper

Before the launch of Star Clippers' Star Flyer, no transatlantic tall sailing ship had been built for almost 100 years. Upon launch in 1991, the Star Flyer revolutionised the cruise industry – whilst at the same time allowing passengers to step into a bygone era of sailing. Sister ship, Star Clipper, followed a year later and the five-masted full-rigger Royal Clipper launched in 2000. Royal Clipper is the first ship of its kind to be launched since Preussen, which launched in 1902.

Today, intrepid holiday-makers seeking a cruise unlike any other can discover a world of tall ship sailing, exploring a range of exotic destinations along the way. What inspired it all? Last week we looked at the childhood inspiration of Mikael Krafft and this week, we take a closer look at how the inspiration became reality.


Defined: “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” This is a phrase that could certainly be used when trying to sum up the life of Star Clippers founder Mikael Krafft. It was off the coast of St Martin whilst on board his personal yacht, Gloria, that Krafft has his epiphany. As the tropical sun began to set, all of these events and thoughts suddenly pieced together.

The pieces were:

  • The independent sailing trips in his youth among the 28,000 islands that make up Sweden

  • His single-handed sailing trip to Aland in 1958 (situated between Sweden and Finland)

  • His expansive knowledge of the most beautiful and speediest ships built throughout the 19th century

  • His cruises onboard his own personal yachts

It was these memories and events that collectively led Mikael Krafft building his first vessel. “I decided to build a genuine large sailing ship, with the wind as the most important source of power. No one had done that for almost a hundred years. The ship should resemble old clippers in hull but with a stern like my Gloria, yet be designed to accommodate some 150 guests. In my new clipper, I wanted to include all the romance of sail and style that you find in a large sailing yacht, such as those I have been lucky enough to sail.”

Over the last 100 years, many safety rules and regulations have been imposed within the world of maritime as a whole. “First and foremost it was a question of adjusting a genuine sailing ship to all modern security regulations. No ship like the Star Flyer had been built for almost 100 years, and that was before the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. That frightful accident led to changes in all rules concerning stability and a great many other things.”

The exploration into a bygone of era is due to expand, following the announcement of a new ship to join the Star Clippers fleet. A brand new ship based on the five-masted France II, which launched in 1912 and gracefully sailed the seas. Star Clippers have also announced a new range of itineraries in Far East Asia, which are set to debut in late 2016.

Whilst other cruise lines are competing to create large-scale ships with the most modern amenities, finest restaurants and luxurious staterooms – Star Clippers provides a nod to the past. Sail onboard a traditional tall ship and explore new destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, and around Cuba.

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