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Tradewind Voyages's Golden Horizon

Tradewind Voyages

COVID-19 UPDATE

Tradewind Voyages is scheduled to begin sailing in May 2021.  Be sure to check the line’s website for up-to-date news.

With the launch of Golden Horizon in May of 2021, Tradewind Voyages introduces tall ship sailing with a philosophy of authenticity — to journey the way the old ships of maritime trade once did, following the monsoons and currents, powered by the wind, and calling at ports along traditional trading routes of yore.

It was built as a near replica of 1913’s France II, the world’s largest square-rigged vessel.

Tradewind Voyages's Golden Horizon

The Golden Horizon. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

(Originally the ship was designed, planned and executed by Star Clippers, to be called Flying Clipper, but it became caught up in a dispute between the line and the shipyard, Brodosplit in Croatia, and was not delivered to Star Clippers in the end.)

The ship will power most of its journey using 6,300 sq. m. of sails when possible, with the goal of using its propulsion engines a mere 30% of each season. To that end, the company has a built-in sustainability model.

The ship will launch with a series of itineraries from the UK, sailing the northern European coast, after which she will sail through the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and the Middle East, following the coast to India and on to Southeast Asia ending in Australia. When the winds change direction, Golden Horizon will follow the same journey back to her starting point.

Tradewind Voyages has mentioned plans to expand the fleet in the future.

FLEET

Golden Horizon (built 2021 & 272 passengers) — coastal Europe, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia & Australia

Passenger Profile

Sailing buffs and lovers of old ships and tall ships, who appreciate the journey as much as the destination, are the typical passengers.

Tradewind Voyage ships wheel

The pretty ship’s wheel. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

Golden Horizon is geared to couples, singles and friend groups in their 30s and 40s on up, predominantly from North America, UK, and Europe, and other places too.

Price 

$$ — Expensive

Included Features
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks are included at meal time
  • Complimentary water sports from the ship’s marina
Itineraries

Voyages from the UK begin mainly from Harwich, with two Glasgow embarkations, for 7- to 21-night exploring northern European coastlines.

The Maritime Silk Route cruises ply the coastal waters of France, Spain and Portugal into the Mediterranean, visiting ports in southern Spain and Italy to Croatia, then through the Suez Canal to Middle Eastern shores, India, Ceylon, Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Christmas Island turtle

Stunning sea life of Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, south of Java, Indonesia. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

A circumnavigation of Australia includes the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays, Yarra Valley and coastal scenery.

The journey back to the UK traverses Southeast Asia and across the Indian Ocean stopping at the Maldives and Sri Lanka to eastern African ports including Zanzibar.

Nosy Iranja the beautiful little island of Madagascar

Nosy Iranja, a beautiful little island belonging to Madagascar. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

Sample itinerary

The Bay of Bengal and The Malacca Straits is a 15-nights itinerary from Sri Lanka, where passengers will go wildlife spotting at the Yala and Bundala National Parks before embarking, and then cross the Andaman Sea to Thailand’s Phuket and Phi Phi Islands, sailing onward into the Strait of Malacca to Port Klang to finish in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

When to Go?

The summer months are spent in northern Europe.

Come autumn, Golden Horizon heads to the Mediterranean and sails through the Indian Ocean, Andaman Sea and through Southeast Asia.

Winter months are spent in Australia. In the spring, voyages back track to begin the summer season in northern Europe.

Sustainability Initiatives

The ship sails without using propulsion engines for around 70% of each season.

Activities & Entertainment

Onboard activities include wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, upper-deck games, movies under the stars and quizzes. Yoga and Pilates classes are held on the Sun Deck. There’s also a small gym and spa.

There are water sports from the marine platform. A resident destination speaker and visiting local speakers will present on areas of history and culture, maritime history and astronomy.

Optional shore excursions visit cultural attractions and natural sights.

In the evenings there’s a resident pianist and jazz duo in the piano bar who are sometimes joined by local dance and musical talents along the journey.

Dining

Seating is open in the main two-story dining room with its dramatic 19th-century maritime flair. Menus comprise dishes representing the local flavours of the region.

Tradewind Golden Horizon's restaurant

Golden Horizon’s two-level restaurant. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

SHIP

Golden Horizon

A 272-passenger tall ship, Golden Horizon may be a copy of a vintage ocean vessel, but the facilities are modern. Decor throughout is distinctly nautical. The dining room is grand two-level affair, where dishes are prepared with local flavours and a focus on fresh, sustainable and healthy ingredients.

There are two outside bars, which also serve light meals, and also a piano bar with resident pianist and a cozy premium beverage bar. In the late afternoons, snacks are provided by a trolley service.

For down time there’s a spa with sauna, hammam, snow room and Jacuzzi, salon, sun deck, gym and library.

Golden Horizon's library

Golden Horizon’s library. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

Cabins

The lowest category cabins have two portholes for views and accommodate two guests. Some of these rooms also accommodate solo passengers. Deluxe balcony cabins can sleep three adult guests — cabins in this category and higher have 24-hour room service and a free minibar.

All cabins have slippers, bathrobes, hairdryer, shampoo and conditioner.

Tradewind's Twin cabin with portholes

Twin cabin with portholes. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

Tradewind cabin

Deluxe balcony cabins can sleep 3. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

Tradewind Cabin bathroom

Cabin bathroom. * Photo: Tradewind Voyages

Along the Same Lines

The tall ships of Star Clippers and Sea Cloud Cruises offer a similar experience.

Contact

Tradewind Voyages, UK-based

www.tradewindvoyages.com

email: interest@tradewindvoyages.com

quirkycruise bird

 

 

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Star Clippers Adding New Ports

Star Clippers Adding New Ports

By Anne Kalosh.

Tall ship fleet Star Clippers will explore unusual new destinations in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia on departures beginning in April 2020.

In the Mediterranean, new ports for the 227-passenger Royal Clipper include Stintino (Sardinia), Propriano (Corsica), and Vis, Korcula and Zadar (Croatia).

Brand-new Itineraries in Southeast Asia

Star Clippers will make its first visit to Cambodia and varied port calls on the Thai, Malay and Indonesian archipelagos.

The 170-passenger Star Clipper will stop at Cambodia during a newly launched 11-night round-trip from Ko Samui, Thailand. Cambodian ports include the island of Koh Rong, a wildlife paradise with dense forests and white sandy beaches, and Sihanoukville, a trendy coastal city known for uninterrupted beaches and fresh seafood. An optional, overnight excursion will be available for passengers wishing to visit the incredible ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

Many other new port calls in Southeast Asia will see Star Clipper dropping anchor alongside pristine beaches and idyllic islands throughout Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Star Clippers Adding New Ports

The twin Star Clipper & Star Flyer. * Photo: Star Clippers

Corsica & Sardinian Ports Added to the Med Mix

The flagship Royal Clipper will again be sailing in the Western Mediterranean during summer 2020, with cruises departing from Venice, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Cannes, calling at an array of new ports. The seven-night “Corsica, Sardinia & the Riviera” sailing, round-trip Cannes, will visit the charming town of Propriana, Corsica, with its vibrant harbor and luxury shopping, and Stintino, a small, traditional village with some of the best beaches in Sardinia.

Star Clippers Adding New Ports

Royal Clipper will explore new ports in the Western Mediterranean. * Photo: Star Clippers

In Croatia, the seven-night “Croatia & Montenegro” sailing from Venice will visit Zadar, where travelers can explore Roman ruins and Venetian architecture before experiencing the famed Sea Organ, which captures the movement of the waves and transforms it into music. Also on the list is Korcula, with its red tile roofed Old Town and surrounding cypress and pine forest.

For those wishing to take a deeper dive into Croatia, the 11-night “Italy, Montenegro & Croatia” cruise will now call at Vis island, known for its many stunning beaches as well as fascinating history. Vis was founded in 397 B.C. as a base for the Greek colonization of the Adriatic.

“Due to our ships’ relatively shallow drafts, we are able to drop anchor in ports and harbors inaccessible to large cruise ships, enabling us to continually vary our itineraries,” Star Clippers Owner and President Mikael Krafft said. He predicted the new destinations will sell out first.

The line’s newest vessel, Flying Clipper, is set to debut in summer 2019. It’s a replica of 1911’s France II, the largest square-rigged tall ship ever built.

 

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Sea Cloud Building Another Tall Ship

Sea Cloud Building Another Tall Ship

By Anne Kalosh.

Sea Cloud Cruises plans to expand its tall ship fleet in summer 2020 with the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit. The vessel is designed with a similar style and philosophy as Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II, and will be traditionally sailed by hand (though it also has engines).

It’s going to be built at Metalships & Docks S.A.U. in Vigo, Spain, on the hull of the former construction project Sea Cloud Hussar.

Sea Cloud Spirit will be rigged with approximately 4,000 square meters/43,056 square feet of sails. The vessel will stretch 138 meters/453 feet, and its main mast will rise 57.7 meters/189 feet.

Sea Cloud Spirit will have 4,000 square meters (43,056 square feet) of sails. * Rendering: Sea Cloud

 

Sea Cloud Spirit is arriving at the right time,” according to Daniel Schäfer, managing director of Sea Cloud Cruises, based in Hamburg, Germany, but selling internationally. “Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II are enjoying a high demand from both independent travelers and in the charter market,” he said. “An expansion of the fleet, especially in the Mediterranean, is expected and demanded by many guests.”

Sea Cloud Spirit will have a classic yacht feel, with elegant decor and ample open deck space. An elevator, unusual on a sailing ship, will connect the five decks.

Twenty-five of the 69 outside cabins, including the three owner’s suites and 22 junior suites, will have balconies. A spacious wellness area will offer three treatment rooms, a Finnish sauna, a steam bath and a hairdressing salon. A separate fitness area will be located on the sun deck.

About 85 crew will serve on board.

 

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Island Windjammers

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QuirkyCruise ReviewQuirkyCruise Review of Island Windjammers

Remember Windjammer Barefoot Cruises? Enormously popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s for its ultra-casual, rum-fueled Caribbean sailing adventures, the line folded in 2008, leaving thousands of loyal passengers sad and landlocked. Enter Island Windjammers. Launched in 2009 by and for Windjammer Barefoot regulars when they got together to buy the 101-foot brigantine schooner DIAMANT, the line is a more mature version of its barefoot predecessor, operating truly intimate sailing adventures that tootle around the quieter corners of the Caribbean, far from the megaship mega-crowds.

Sure, there’s still plenty of rum punch and Red Stripes consumed, but the volume of the party has been turned way down to just the perfect level. (Island Windjammers is not to be confused with Sail Windjammer, a one-ship line that through 2020 is operating the 72-pax Mandalay, formerly of the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises fleet.)

Island Windjammers

Diamant in all her glory. * Photo: Island Windjammers

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Ship, Year Delivered & Passenger Count

DIAMANT (built 1978; refurbished 2016; 10 passengers), VELA (b. 1988; refurbished 2015; 26 p), and SAGITTA (b. 1960; 24 p — currently out of service).

Island Windjammers Passenger Profile

Young-at-heart American couples, singles and groups of friends 45+ who crave a carefree Caribbean getaway with zero pretension. Summers and holiday weeks see occasional families with children; though the minimum age is 8 and it’s probably better for kids to be at least 10 or 12+.

Passenger Decks

2 VELA & DIAMANT; 3 SAGITTA — all no elevators.

Price

$ Moderate

Included Features

Meals, wine, beer, rum punch, soft drinks and snorkeling gear are included in the fares; shore excursions are extra, as are optional tips. You’re also invited to bring along your own booze and the ships provide the mixers (there is no cash bar on board).

The fleet calls on great little places like Tobago Cays. * Photo: Island Windjammers

The fleet calls on great little places like Tobago Cays. * Photo: Island Windjammers

Island Windjammers Itineraries
  • 6- and 12-night Leeward Island cruises round-trip from St Martin or St. Lucia, calling on some combination of Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica (Portsmouth & Roseau), Guadeloupe, Iles des Saintes, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Barths, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Tintamarre
  • 6-, 9- and 12-night Windward Island cruises round-trip from Grenada or St. Lucia, calling on some combination of Bequia, Canouan, Carriacou (Tyrell Bay & Hillsborough), Grenada, Mayreau, Mustique, Petit St. Vincent, Sandy Island, St. Lucia, St Vincent, Tobago Cays, Union Island and Young Island
  • 6- and 12-night British Virgin Islands (BVIs) & Leeward Island cruises round-trip from St. Martin or Tortola, visiting some combination of Anguilla, Jost Van Dyke, Nevis, Norman Island, Salt Island, St. Barths, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Tortola or Virgin Gorda
  • 6-night French West Indies cruises round-trip out of St. Lucia, visiting some combo of Dominica (Portsmouth & Roseau), Guadeloupe, Iles des Saintes, Martinique and St. Lucia
Why Go?

To let your hair down, work on your tan and hang out with like-minded others who operate on island time.

When to Go?

All year around, though remember hurricane season in the Caribbean is officially June through November.

Island Windjammers Cabins

Small as you’d expect on sailing ships, but charming, wood-paneled and the perfect cozy nests to catch up your beauty rest; otherwise, life is lived up on deck or on shore. All cabins have 110v outlets, blow dryers, shampoo/soap, portholes (except for one cabin on VELA and two on SAGITTA), and private bathrooms with separate shower stall (exceptions: the two Cadet Cabins on VELA each has an all-in-one bathroom and SAGITTA’s and VELA’s two Solo Cabins share one bathroom).

A cozy and very nautical Diamant cabin. * Photo: Island Windjammers

A cozy and very nautical Diamant cabin. * Photo: Island Windjammers

VELA’s cabins include: two tiny Cadet Cabins with raised small double beds (for one or two people) each with a private all-in-one bathroom (no separate shower stall); two Solo Cabins, one with a porthole and one without, share one bathroom with a separate shower stall (each cabin can accommodate one or two people); two Standard Cabins are a bit larger with a double lower bed and a single bunk above; six Deluxe Cabins have a larger double bed with single bunk above; the pair of Compass Cabins that are at the aft of the ship has a queen size bed (and no upper bunk); the one and only Topsail Cabin has a queen bed and larger bathroom; and finally the relatively spacious Owner’s Suite has a king size bed, mini-fridges, and a large bathroom — both cabin and bathroom have portholes.

Island Windjammers

Vela’s Owner’s Suite, not too shabby! * Photo: Island Windjammers

After her overhaul in fall 2016, DIAMANT now sports four cabins with double beds below and single bunk above, and with full bathrooms with separate showers; and a fifth cabin is a suite with a queen bed, sitting area and a full bathroom.

Each day is more gorgeous than the last. * Photo: Island Windjammers

Each day is more gorgeous than the last. * Photo: Island Windjammers

SAGITTA has 11 double cabins with a double bed below and bunk above, and two single cabins without portholes. One of the doubles is the Owner’s Suite, with a king-sized bed, small fridge, flat screen TV with DVD player, and granite and tile master bath (none of the other cabins have TVs). All have portholes.

Island Windjammers Public Rooms

The whole point of an Island Windjammer cruise is to be outside on deck soaking up the sun and fresh Caribbean air, and enjoying the sailing ship experience and the quirkiness of the vessels — each has a very interesting background.

VELA was built in 1988 in Puget Sound, Washington, and deployed in the Marshall Islands as a floating medical clinic called Tole Mour, or “Gift of Life and Health.” Later she was used as an education vessel for students studying sailing, oceanography and marine biology. In late 2014, Island Windjammers purchased the ship and rechristened her VELA, and a year later did major renovations, replacing the dormitory-style cabins with en suite single and double cabins; there’s also a new pilot house, large enclosed bar and dining saloon on the top deck.

DIAMANT was built in 1978 in Taiwan and then later spent two decades sailing in the Galapagos Islands before Island Windjammers purchased her in 2009 and she’s been the fleet favorite ever since. She got a facelift in fall 2016 that reduced her passenger capacity to 10 passengers in five cabins and create an overall spiffier look (“sophisticated not stuffy” the line’s website points out). Of the two passenger decks, the top deck has both covered and open-air dining tables, plus a bar and deck chairs. The cabins are on the lower deck.

Hanging out on Deck aboard Sagitta. * Photo: Island Windjammers

Hanging out on Deck aboard Sagitta. * Photo: Island Windjammers

The three-deck, three-masted SAGITTA was built for the Swedish Navy in 1960, and in later years was completely updated for cruising. Today she has a dining area, bar, lounge and mini library inside on the Main Deck; and above on the outside Upper Deck, another dining area, deck chairs, and an open bridge.

Island Windjammers Dining

Meals are served at one very social open seating at a few tables, with local dishes to the tune of chicken roti, conch soup, pumpkin soup, callaloo and fresh fish as well as continental standards the likes of cheeseburgers and salads. Fresh island fruits are part of the picture, from passion fruit to guava, star fruit, sour oranges and bananas.

Island Windjammers

Delicious meals cooked up with local ingredients and Island panache. * Photo: Island Windjammers

Island Windjammers Activities & Entertainment

The day starts with the captain’s story time when he explains what’s happening for the day; the ships spend part of every day in port somewhere. The pace is easy going and free — while away the day swimming off the side of the ship (when conditions permit), take the ships’ kayaks for a spin nearby, try paddle boarding, or sip rum punch with new friends in an inflatable “floating island.”

There are a handful of shore excursions offered on most itineraries, but many passengers are content to find a good beach or wander around on their own. Sometimes lunch is served on a quiet beach somewhere, otherwise meals on are on board. Occasionally passengers will arrange their own diving trips, and spend part of a day deep down under looking at the colorful fishies.

Happy hour is a big thing and drinks on deck are a favored pastime for many; you’re free to bring aboard your favorite spirits or mixers, though why bother when beer, wine, rum punch and soft drinks are on the house. Evenings, the crew may start a bonfire on a nearby beach or organize a pub-crawl. Theme cruises from time to time focus on rum (with a rum expert on board to educate and do tastings), solo cruisers (no kids or couples allowed!), pirates (with costume contests, pirate trivia and visits to spots where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed), local food tasting, and yoga. Om shanti! 🙏🏼

Island Windjammers

Swing from the rigging, yipeee! * Photo: Island Windjammers

Along the Same Lines

Star Clippers is in the ballpark, though its passengers are more international and its ships are much larger, and the overall experience is more high-end.

Note

These ships are not suitable for people with mobility problems, as staircases are steep, doorways narrow and door sills high.

Island Windjammers Contact

Georgia-based Island Windjammers; 1-877-772-4549, www.islandwindjammers.com.

— HMS

 

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Quirky Cruise covers a number of sailing vessels that came into this world for a distinctly different purpose.

Sailing on Old Ships

by Ted Scull.

Let’s begin with something land-based.

Years ago when I was looking to buy a New York apartment, and long before the gentrification of many neighborhoods, I contacted real estate agents specifying pre-war only. This meant I wanted an older building constructed before WWII.

Benefits of sailing in an old ship

Former Brixham trawlers provide heritage sailing. * Photo: Trinity Sailing

Why Old Ships?

With age comes, at least to me, a more attractive building to look at, usually better craftsmanship inside and out, higher ceilings, more soundproof walls, attractive molding framing the doors and ceiling, and maybe larger rooms. Some of the older apartments I inspected were in better shape than others. I wanted, except for painting, move-in condition and didn’t want to have to replace the wiring, plumbing, and appliances.

My wife and I found our dream home, and decades later, we remain happily ensconced and have no thought of moving.

Okay, Not All of Us Think This Way

I realize many folks want a new building for all the obvious reasons, and that might also translate into choosing the latest ship, one with all the bells and whistles.

The new vs older ship debate can be a bit more complicated. While there may be little argument about many older ships looking more pleasing compared to some built today that resemble densely-packed condos — with almost no pointy bow and walls of cabins piled high virtually the length of the ship and at the stern — there’s no debating that old ships often require more maintenance.

Ships take an increasing amount of investment to keep them sailing safely, and as they plow through varying types of seas, they endure more pressure on their superstructures, internal divisions, plumbing, wiring and mechanical equipment than any stationary building on land.

The building I live in is over 90 years old, and is in excellent shape, while few ships last more than 30 or 40 years. They often get downgraded as they reach a certain age.

So, where can we throw all that to the wind?

Sailing Ships Age Well

One possible exception, is the sailing ship. In many cases they have been refitted from an earlier life to become a cruise ship, while still maintaining the maritime character not found in new ships. They provide an authentic sailing ship experience, albeit with added modern comforts, and likely operate an auxiliary engine to kick in when the wind dies, as most people need to be somewhere else at some point.

Built for a Different Purpose

Quirky Cruise covers a number of sailing vessels that came into this world for a distinctly different purpose. Here’s a look:

Sea Cloud Cruises. Let’s start at the top end for luxury-minded with the former private cruising yacht Sea Cloud, once belonging to the cereal heiress Marjorie Meriwether Post and operating as an extremely popular cruise ship for 40 years.

Built in 1931 as the Hussar, the Sea Cloud is largely authentic to its period with original dining and lounge spaces, eight luxury cabins as built, plus 26 smaller units added to make the now commercial ship turn a profit. Standing on deck with the sails up, she takes you back in time to a more elegant world. She’s pricey, so let’s look at some others.

*Note: Our Sea Cloud review does not list the lines that regularly charter her, and many will likely book through one of them or through an alum, museum group, than directly through the line Sea Cloud Cruises.

Quirky Cruise covers a number of sailing vessels that came into this world for a distinctly different purpose.

Sea Cloud, originally built in 1931 as a private yacht. * Photo: Sea Cloud Cruises

Oceanwide Expeditions operates the Rembrandt van Rijn built early in the 20th century as a herring lugger and refitted in 1994 as a three-masted Dutch schooner for cruising in the Arctic. Running mate Nooderlicht, originally designed as a light vessel in 1910, was refitted as a two-masted cruising ship for the same northern waters. With handsome profiles, wonderful wood-paneled interiors and cozy cabins with comfy bunk beds, you will be transported back to an earlier time.

Old ships

Noorderlicht. * Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions

Trinity Sailing operates a trio of once highly innovative Brixham (Devon UK) trawlers, once numbering in the thousands, that transformed Britain’s fishing fleet into a huge financial success.  Now they offer coastal cruises amongst the British Isles. Operating also as a registered charity, they also take school aged children from all backgrounds on sail training courses to help advance their confidence, skills and teamwork and make new friends. Leader built 1892, 12 passengers; Golden Vanity b.  1908, 7 passengers; and Provident b. 1924, 12 passengers.

quirky-cruise-trinity-sailing-brixham-heritage-trawler-in-the-river

Brixham heritage trawler in the River Dart, Dartmouth in Devon. * Photo: Trinity Sailing

Silhouette Cruises, in the Indian Ocean, converted a 1915 former sail-powered fishing boat into Sea Pearl (27 passengers) and a 1920 pilot vessel into Sea Shell (23 passengers) for interisland sailing in the Seychelles.

Benefits of cruising in an old ship

What could be more romantic than an heritage sailing vessel among the Seychelles? * Photo: Silhouette Cruises

 

Follow Up

In an upcoming post, we will cover our small engine-powered cruise ships that reveal their heritage as working ships and offer a real time look into the past.

 

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Sailing ships in Indonesia

Seatrek Sailing Adventures

SeaTrek’s two traditional sailing ships take adventurous souls to remote corners of the vast Indonesian archipelago, the single-minded focus of the company for more than 25 years. Itineraries zero in on the islands east of Bali — mainly Flores, Maluku, Sulawesi and fascinating West Papua.

The sturdy ironwood pinisi-style “Bugis” schooners were built in Kalimantan, Indonesia, and are full of charm. Their dramatic sheer (curvature) and dhow-like hull add to the ambiance and so does the hardworking and friendly Indonesian crew. No matter where you’re from, you’ll feel a million miles from home the minute you step on board.

The ships are powered by a combination of engine and sails; sails-only when and if the wind is cooperating. You’ll definitely feel the ships moving and bucking in the surf, so having sea legs is a big plus. Both have been recently refurbished and are offering a more polished experience than in years past, and further, there are now more expert-led itineraries offered aboard this pair of very cool Indonesian sailing ships.

Sailing ships in Indonesia

The lovely Katharina & Ombak Putih. * Seatrek Sailing Adventures

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers

KATHARINA (built 1995 & 12 passengers) and OMBAK PUTIH (b. 1997 & 24 p)

Passenger Profile

Seatrek Sailing Adventures attracts adventure seekers from around the globe, with most tending to hail from Australia, the UK and North America, with a sprinkling of Asian passengers.

Passenger Decks

3, with no elevators.

Price

$$   Expensive

Included Features

Meals, soft drinks and all excursions throughout cruise. Beer, wine and cocktails are extra, as are optional tips.

Sailing ships in Indonesia

A traditional Indonesian dance and music performance on an excursion. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Itineraries
  • From March through early September, OMBAK PUTIH does mostly 7-night itineraries between the islands of Bali and Flores to see the famous Komodo lizards, trek along volcanic mountain trails and snorkel; KATHARINA sticks to mostly customized charters of varying lengths to the Komodo region.
  • The rest of the year, OMBAK PUTIH ventures further east on week-long and longer, more remote itineraries in the Banda, Spice and Halmahera Islands, where waterfalls and white sand beaches are the backdrop to exotic wildlife. Some itineraries visit West Papau and Papau New Guinea to observe the strange customs of the tribal people.
  • About a dozen expert-led cruises a year between the two ships include two 12-day “Wallace Cruises” through Indonesia’s eastern Raja Ampat Islands with Dr. Tony Whitten, a Cambridge educated conservationist, author and Indonesia expert; the route follows in the footsteps of the great British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace. Besides collaborating with Darwin on the theory of evolution through natural selection, he identified what is now termed the Wallace Line, which divides the Indonesian archipelago into two parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia.
Why Go?

To get far far away from civilization and to learn something about the vast diversity of Indonesian culture, history and landscapes on traditional-style ships that hark way back to the early days of sailing. For those who really want to learn something, choose one of Seatrek’s expert-led cruises for a truly memorable adventure aboard one of these Indonesian sailing ships.

When to Go?

The best weather in the Indonesia archipelago occurs in April through September, when heavy rain is less likely.

Romantic? Yes! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Romantic? Yes! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Cabins

Recently refurbished cabins are covered in wood top to bottom and are charming but very small; there’s not much storage space, but then again you won’t need much more than tops, shorts, bathing suits and sarongs. Each cabin has a private bathroom with a shower nozzle above or next to the toilet.

Cabins on OMBAK PUTIH have portholes, KATHARINA’s do not and are a tad claustrophobic; though the point is to be up on deck or in the water most of the day. Most have bunk beds or doubles, with a handful of triples (three bunks or a double and bunk bed) on each ship.

Sailing ships in Indonesia

A triple cabin on Ombak Putih. * Photo: Seatrek Adventures

Public Rooms

The top deck is where everyone gathers for dining, drinking, socializing and scenery gazing. There’s also a small room below decks with a bar, music system, few shelves of books, and some tables and chairs. Besides your cabin, that’s it. The point of a SeaTrek journey is to be on deck.

The top deck is the ship's hub. * Photo Credit: Heidi Sarna

The top deck is the ship’s hub. * Photo Credit: Heidi Sarna

Dining

Meals are served at one large table on the main deck, under a tarp strung between the masts if it’s raining or too hot (the indoor lounge is used for dining if the weather turns bad), and are usually a combination of buffet and served dishes. Food is simple, hearty and some of it based on Indonesian stir-fry vegetable, noodle and rice dishes. There are also western staples the likes of scrambled eggs, burgers and French fries, and an afternoon snack to the tune of fried plantains and salsa.

Activities & Entertainment

When not in port, it’s all about hanging out up on deck. Gazing at the passing scenery or reading, snoozing, sunbathing, and sipping chilled cans of Indonesian Bintang beer while chatting with new friends are all par for the course. The cruise director and/or any expert guides who sail on board — from textile experts, authors and historians to legends like Lonely Planet’s Tony Wheeler — will also give talks about Indonesia and the upcoming ports of call.

The lounge offers a basic music system and a TV, but otherwise often no satellite signal for phones and the Internet (which can be a big blessing of course). Mingling with new friends, drinks and moody sunsets are the big show. After dinner once or twice, the crew gets out their guitars and sings, inviting passengers to join in and dance. There are typically one or two ports of call per day, and all shore excursions are included and guided by the cruise director, who doubles as the tour guide and mother hen.

There is snorkeling around remote coral reefs via the the small skiffs carried and diving off the ships’ rails when anchored in the middle of glorious nowhere. On some itineraries,  such as Raja Ampat, there is diving in some of the world’s most stunning underwater landscape.

In port, there are visits to small museums and places where local weaving and other handicrafts are done. Expect nature hikes, bird watching and perhaps a visit to a local sultan (ruler) for tea and a classic Indonesian dance performance.

Sailing ships in Indonesia

Katharina’s Salon. * Photo: Seatrek Sailing Adventures

Along the Same Lines

Sea Safari Cruises and ships offered for charter including Dunia Baru and Silolona Sojourns’ boats.

Note

These ships are not suitable for people with mobility problems, as staircases are steep, doorways narrow and door sills high.

Contact

Seatrek Sailing Adventures, www.seatrekbali.com.

— HMS

Tropical butterfly makes land fall on a passenger. * Photo credit: Heidi Sarna

Tropical butterfly makes land fall on a passenger. * Photo credit: Heidi Sarna

 

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QuirkyCruise Review QuirkyCruise Review of Star Clippers

Star Clippers offers the perfect marriage of adventure, romance and comfort, not to mention the thrill of sailing on a gorgeous replica of a 19th-century Clipper Ship. The company’s trio of swashbucklers feels like they belong in the Caribbean,  Mediterranean and Far East, bucking through the surf and wind like ships are meant to. Watching sunsets melt behind the rigging or a port come into focus from a front row perch at the rails, a Star Clippers cruise is best spent on deck — that is whenever you’re not relaxing in the cozy nautical cabins or having a tasty meal in the dining room.

Owner and company founder Mikael Krafft, a Swedish-born industrialist and real estate developer, spared no detail or expense to design and build his fleet of three square-rigged clippers in the likeness of their speedy predecessors — Krafft and his team referred to the original drawings and specifications of Scottish-born Donald McKay, a leading naval architect of 19th-century clipper-ship technology.

The newest and largest of the three (until the new 300-passenger FLYING CLIPPER launches), the 227-passenger five-masted ROYAL CLIPPER, was modeled on the famed Preussen, a 1902-built German clipper. She is the largest square-rigged in service with 5,202 square meters of sail, hence she holds the honorary title Queen of the Seas. All three sport towering masts, sails, rigging, wooden decks and chunky ventilators. Facing forward on the top deck, if you didn’t hear the murmur of the engines much of the time (and could ignore the small pool and all those people in 21st century clothes), it’s not a leap to imagine being a crew member cranking winches on a three-month run to England with a cargo of tea and opium from China.

The Star Clippers’ ships typically rely on sails alone about 25% to 50% of the time; otherwise, the sails are used with the engines to maintain speeds of about 9 to 14 knots for the comfort of passengers — though occasionally in strong winds they clock speeds in the neighborhood of 15 knots. Hold on!

Sunset through the sails

Sunset through the sails. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Of course the beauty of a Star Clippers cruise is you feel like you’re on a real working ship without having to doing any work. While you can help pull in the sails a few times throughout the week or climb the masts (with a harness) at designated times, most passengers choose to be voyeurs, gazing out at the sea and distant landscape through the lens of the ships’ masts and lines. Sunrise and sunset through the sails, lines and masts are magical.

Fans were thrilled to learn that Star Clippers would be building a fourth ship, the FLYING CLIPPER, a much anticipated and complex construction project that has been an ongoing saga due to two years of shipyard delays. Now completed there is a dispute between Star Clippers and the shipyard, and it is unclear what will transpire. The FLYING CLIPPER’s details are 300 passengers and measures 8,770 tons. It is powered by more than 6,350 square meters of sails.  Technically a five-masted, square-rigged barque, it’s a near-replica of the FRANCE II, commissioned in 1911 and the largest square rigger ever built.

Just as the original FRANCE II eclipsed PREUSSEN (which the line’s ROYAL CLIPPER is modeled on) more than a century ago as the world’s largest square rigger, the newbuild will replace the ROYAL CLIPPER, as the largest ship of its kind afloat today. The vessel has have generous deck space, three pools, and a watersports platform in the stern. One restaurant will accommodate all guests and cabin choices include 34 suites with balconies and four luxurious owner’s suites. Like those of the Star Clippers’ fleet, there will also be a library and an al fresco Tropical Bar. The ship will likely start out sailing in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Stayed tuned to when all this begins to happen!

Ship, Year Delivered & Passenger Count 

STAR FLYER (built 1991 & 172 passengers); STAR CLIPPER (b. 1992 & 172 p); ROYAL CLIPPER (b. 2000 & 227 p); and FLYING CLIPPER (2019 & 300p)

Star Clippers Passenger Profile

A mix of mostly Europeans, British and Americans in their 50s on up, plus a fair number of families with children aboard in summer and holiday weeks. In our opinion, it’s best for children to be at least 10 years old. Many passengers own their boats and just love to sail, with a huge number of repeat passengers who keep coming back for more. Repeaters get a 3% discount, not a lot yet a nod to their loyalty. Some passengers would never consider a standard cruise ship. Note: Announcements are made in English, German, and French.

Passenger Decks

4: No elevators.

Price

$$  Expensive

Included Features

Watersports, weather and conditions permitting.

Star Clippers Itineraries
  • Generally, all three ships  (only two in 2019)  summer in the Mediterranean between late April and October doing mostly one-week itineraries, plus a handful of longer 10- and 11-night sailings. ROYAL CLIPPER is based in the Western Mediterranean calling at ports in Spain, France and Italy and the islands: Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the Balearics. STAR FLYER undertakes some cruises in the Western Medit. to then position in the Adriatic along the Croatian coast, Greek islands and the Turkish coast but not Istanbul, for mostly 7 nights but a few 10 and 11. To reposition between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean in the spring and fall, longer trans-oceanic positioning voyages are the target for those who wants days under sail between ports with perhaps calls in the Canaries or Azores, and of course, one may begin or finish the voyage  with a string of Western Mediterranean ports calls. These voyages may be as short as 15 nights or as long as 28.
  • Two ships winter in Caribbean on mostly 7-night sailings (November-March), ROYAL CLIPPER offers varied 7-night itineraries from Barbados, longer 14-nighters through the islands and along the coast of Colombia to Panama including a canal transit.  STAR FLYER makes 7-night cruises from St. Maarten and longer 14-nighters along the coast and amongst the island to Panama including canal transit.
  • Through 2019, the STAR CLIPPER is in Asia spending half the year doing Andaman Sea mostly 7-night cruises off the coast of southwestern Thailand (October-April) and 7-, 10- & 11-night itineraries in the Indonesian archipelago the other half of the year. New 10- and 11-night itineraries will sail from Singapore to ports along the Malaysian coast and to the island of Borneo, including Kota Kinabalu and Brunei.
Approaching lovely Monemvassia. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Approaching lovely Monemvassia. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Why Go?

For the great mix of adventure and comfort, you can feel like an old salt soaking in the sailing scene without giving up the luxury of nice cabins, good dining and even massages.

When to Go?

Two generally winter in the Caribbean and Central America and this pair then spends the summer in various parts of the Mediterranean with spring and fall transats to connect the two seasons.. The third is based in Southeast Asia and the Indonesian islands for the foreseeable future.

Star Clippers Cabins

Cabins are nautical, with wood-paneling, navy blue fabrics and brass details. The ROYAL CLIPPER’s standard cabins measure 148 square feet, while the CLIPPER’s and FLYER’s are a bit smaller at 120 to 130 square feet. The vast majority of cabins on all three ships are outside rooms with portholes (some with a pull down third birth); a handful is smaller inside cabins without portholes.

Each of the trio has a handful of suites, including six on the CLIPPER and FLYER, plus one large oddly configured owners’ suite. The 14 Deluxe Suites on ROYAL CLIPPER’s Main Deck measure 255 square feet and have private balconies, sitting areas, minibars, whirlpool tubs and 24-hour butler service; the two Owner’s Suites measure 355 square feet and have two marble bathrooms, though no balcony.

All cabins have TVs with DVD players, private bathrooms with showers, hair dryers, small vanity table with stool, and surprisingly ample storage space unless you’re a major clothes horse.

Consider that the lowest deck cabins near the stern will be close to the rumbling engines, and the cabins bordering the entrance to the dining room get residual noise and traffic and meal time.

A triple cabin, room 206.

A triple cabin, room 206. When not in use, the upper berth will be folded up and away.* Photo: Heidi Sarna

Star Clippers Public Rooms

On all three ships, the open air Tropical Bar is the hub of activity. Passengers gather around the chunky wooden bar for drinks and daily afternoon canapés are served there, and sometimes special theme lunch bunches as well. It’s the spot for evening entertainment (local talent that often comes aboard while the ship is at anchor) and informal briefings about the day’s schedules.

Adjacent is an indoor wood-paneled Edwardian-style library and card room, and also an indoor piano lounge mainly used for people who want a quiet place to read during the day. Each of the trio has one restaurant; the ROYAL CLIPPER’s fussier and multi-level. The ROYAL CLIPPER also has a small gym and spa and health club on a lower deck below the waterline with portholes to look out into the deep.

Star Clippers Dining

Each ship has one restaurant with open seating and tables for mostly six or eight, encouraging passengers to meet and mingle. The dress code is casual, though some guests enjoy wearing jackets on the captain’s gala night. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, with made-to-order omelet and pasta stations, respectively, while dinner is served a la carte. The FLYER and CLIPPER’s restaurant is one story, while the frillier dining room on the ROYAL CLIPPER is multi-level with a vaguely 19th-century Mississippi steamboat look.

The continental cuisine is simple and delicately spiced, with several options for dinner entrees, plus soup, salad and appetisers. To please the mainly European clientele, there are plenty of cheeses and marinated meats and fish at breakfast and lunch, and at dinner there are always pasta and fish dishes, plus choices like eggplant Parmesan and broiled lobster.

The staff is happy to accommodate special orders and second helpings, and several theme nights per cruise see them donning Italian garb or other fun costumes. A 24-hour coffee and tea station is set up on the bar, and each afternoon a complimentary snack is offered at the Tropical Bar, from waffles with chocolate sauce to fried plantains and salsa. About 11:30pm each night, a cheese board, fruit, or another snack is set out by the piano bar for late-night noshing.

Passengers are free to climb on the bowsprit mast. Weeeeee! Photo credit: Heidi Sarna

Passengers are free to climb on the bowsprit mast. Weeeeee! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Star Clippers Activities & Entertainment

There is rarely more than one sea day on a Star Clippers cruise, though the ships are usually on the move before dinner and early mornings so guests get plenty of time to enjoy the ships at sea. When weather conditions cooperate, the sails are put up and the engines are turned off; otherwise engines power the ship as well as a few sails up for show. The cruise director or captain does at least one talk a day about the ships or the destination, and passengers are welcome to crawl into the bowsprit netting at the front of the ships for an exciting stint sunbathing above the crashing surf.

When in port several times per cruise, you can climb a mast in a harness and stand on the crow’s next 55 feet up for sweeping views. Passengers are free to stroll into the chart house to chat with the captain or officer on duty, and occasionally there are engine room tours, excursions via tender to photograph the ships under sail, and exercise classes on deck. The ROYAL CLIPPER has a small gym and “spa,” while STAR CLIPPER and FLYER offer massages from a tent-like room up on deck within earshot of the crashing surf.

In port, if you don’t go off on a guided excursion or a walkabout on your own, there is free watersports equipment including paddle boards, windsurfers and snorkeling gear which are hauled to a nearby beach (passengers are shuttled back and forth on one of the ships’ pair of zodiac boats, which also offer water skiing) or used right next to the ship if anchored in an appropriate spot, inviting passengers to hop right into the sea. Some itineraries offer scuba diving opportunities for certified divers, including equipment (for an extra charge).

photo safari

The beloved “photo safari” when passengers can take photos of the ship from tenders. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Evenings, it’s drinks before and after dinner at the Tropical Bar, when a key board player is often on had to serenade passengers with evergreens. After dinner, there’s an hour or so of entertainment offered, from a local folk dance troupe when in port late (ie steel drummers in the Caribbean to whirling dervishes in Turkey) to a crew talent show, trivia contest or dress-up dance party. Once in a while a movie may be shown on deck, projected onto a sail. Things rarely howl on too late.

Along the Same Lines

Windstar’s sailing ships are the closest, and Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II are in the ballpark too.

Star Clippers Contact Info

Star Clipper Palace, 4, rue de la Turbie, 98000 Monaco; www.starclippers.com; (377) 97-97-84-00.    

— HMS/TWS

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star clippers in thailand

Star Clippers in Thailand.

By Heidi Sarna.

With our beach bags and snorkeling gear slung over our shoulders, we filed down the metal staircase extended along side the 170-passenger Star Clipper and into a tender that would transport us to a Thai beach for the day. A short ride later, the boat was nudged into the sandy shoreline and we climbed out of the forward hatch, up and over the bow, and down a short ladder into the surf.

These wet landings would be the norm for the week; part of the adventure of visiting beaches without infrastructure. This was precisely why most of us had signed up for the 7-night Andaman Sea cruise in the first place, to go somewhere warm, sunny and remote, and to get there on a cool tall ship.

star clippers in thailand

Wet landings are business as usual on the Thailand itineraries. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Tall Ship Beauty

Star Clippers‘ four-masted Star Clipper itself was a destination. In fact some passengers didn’t care where the ship was going, they were there for the nostalgic sailing ship experience. About 25% to 50% of the time the engines are shut off and the ship moves under sail power alone — otherwise a combination of the two are used to propel the ship at speeds of about 9 to 14 knots — and it’s a sight to behold.

On the Star Clipper cruise I recently took with two friends Beth and Sheila, each evening, usually before dinner, passengers gathered on deck, many of us with a glass of wine or tropical concoction in hand. We were there to watch the Indian sailors nimbly handle coils of thick rope, wrapping and unwrapping it from pegs and cleats and pulling it along winches, to unfurl whichever of the 16 sails the captain wished to release to help us on our way.

As the sails inched skyward, the solemn theme song from the film “1492: Conquest of Paradise” was broadcast to set the mood. Passengers fixed their gaze on the sails and the twilight sky as the canvas flapped in the wind and the ship creaked through the waves like ships did centuries before.

RELATED: 10 Reasons to do a Star Clippers cruise in Thailand.  by Heidi Sarna

star clippers in thailand

Sunsets through the rigging are breathtaking. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

This appreciation for the experience is exactly what Swedish businessman Mikael Krafft had in mind when he started Star Clippers. He spared no detail or expense to design and build his fleet of three square-rigged clippers in the likeness of their speedy predecessors. Krafft and his team were guided by the original drawings and specifications of Scottish-born Donald McKay, a leading naval architect of 19th-century clipper-ship technology.

The result is a trio of tall ships with few rivals and lots of repeat passengers. The four-masted Star Clipper and twin Star Flyer were launched in 1992 and 1993, respectively, while in 2000, came the 227-passenger five-masted Royal Clipper. A fourth new tall ship, the Flying Clipper, is being built and will debut later this year.

UPDATE: While the Flying Clipper has been completed, a dispute between Star Clippers and the shipyard has delayed its debut; stay tuned. 

The fleet plies the waters of the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Asia, aiming for yacht harbors and remote bays and islands.

star clippers in thailand

The Star Clipper cruise sails round-trip from Phuket (yellow star) to islands in the Andaman Sea.

Andaman Sea Island Hopping

Round-trip from Phuket, we traveled 533 nautical miles around the Andaman Sea, as far north as the lower tip of Myanmar and south again to Langkawi in northern Malaysia. Most of our ports for the week were part of national parks and clusters of islands with names that weren’t easy to remember. But it didn’t matter what the kohs (also spelled ko) were called, what you remember about this itinerary are the beaches, the bright teal-blue water and those craggy towers and mounds of ancient limestone — partially submerged hills and mountains formed over millions of years.

star clippers in thailand

Some of Asia’s best beaches are in the Andaman Sea. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Each day took on a similar rhythm. After breakfast was a port talk up on deck by the captain or the funny and unflappable Brazilian Cruise Director Monica who loved repeating each morning on the approach to a new port: “Let’s go to paradise.”

The first visit was to KOH SURIN to the north of Phuket. We first snorkeled around reefs some distance from the beach, hopping in the sea right from a tender, ogling giant clams, brain coral and rainbow-striped fish. Then we hit the beach, where the ship’s watersports team had set up kayaks, sailboats and paddleboards. After successfully paddleboarding, a pleasant triumph when you’re no longer a spring chicken, we relaxed on the sand sipping water from coconuts.

star clippers in thailand

Beth gets up on the paddle board after the first try! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

The busiest beach we’d encounter all week was in the SIMILAN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK archipelago. As one German passenger joked after attempting to snorkel: “There were 3 fish and 2,000 legs.” Dozens of buzzing speedboats brought the mostly Chinese tourists on day trips from Phuket or Krabi, their revving outboard engines spitting water as they dropped off and collected their passengers from the beach.

We joined the multitude, finding a space for our towels in the soft, white sand that was surprisingly clean. We enjoyed the people watching, smiling at the throngs in their orange lifejackets taking endless selfies and playing in the sand. Most of the boats had departed by 4pm, leaving the beach nearly deserted with just a handful of Star Clippers passengers.

star clippers in thailand

An afternoon in the Similan Islands with lots of day trippers. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

In KOH KRADAN, part of the Hat Jao Nai National Park, we snorkeled near spiny sea urchins, mounds of brain coral and schools of neon fish. We floated in the water to keep cool and Beth went paddleboarding again, her favorite new activity. Dressed in floral shirts and white pants, the crew set up lunch on the beach, grilling delicious chicken, sausages and burgers that we ate sitting in the sand or on low hanging tree branches.

star clippers in thailand

Lunch on the beach, completed with grilled burgers and chicken. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

The perfect ending to our favorite beach day of the week was a half-hour walk across the island to the other side and down a steep path to a secluded, rock-framed cove that could have been the setting for a cover of a Harlequin romance novel.

star clippers in thailand

Where’s the film crew?? * Photo: Mark

The week’s two non-beach days included LANGKAWI, the one Malaysian port of the week. Beth and I signed up for the guided kayaking through the mangroves of the Kilim Geopark followed by lunch and then a sweaty 3km jungle hike in the Raya mountains with an enthusiastic machete-carrying guide Hizam who pointed out monkeys and exotic birds the likes of the Great Horn Bill and Longtail Macaque. Sheila chose a thrilling tour I couldn’t have handled — a mile-long 2,000-foot-high cable car ride between the peaks of the Machincang Mountains on Langkawi’s west coast.

Star Clippers in Thailand

A kayaking excursion through the mangroves of the Kilim Geopark on Langkawi. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

We anchored in AO PHANG NGA (Bay) on the final day or our cruise and signed up for the “James Bond Island” speedboat excursion. We stopped at the Panyi Muslim village on stilts for a walk around the maze of small wooden shops and homes crammed together on rickety boardwalks.

The other stop was scenic James Bond Island, otherwise known as Khao Phing Kan, where parts of the “Man With a Golden Gun” were filmed back in the 1970s thanks to its spectacular rock formations, some resembling giant dripping icicles.

star clippers in thailand

James Bond Island. * Photo; Beth Crow

The best part of the tour was sitting at the back of the boat near the outboard motors as the speeding vessel bounced through the water for several hours between stops. The views of the karsts, some smooth, some rough and covered with tufts of green foliage, unfolded like a 3D movie.

star clippers in thailand

The breathtaking speedboat ride to James Bond Island. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Besides the handful of excursions offered during the week, there were optional daily diving opportunities with the ship’s dive master. There was also Star Clippers’ beloved “photo safari,” when passengers pile into the tenders to circle the ship and take photos under full sail.

star clippers in thailand

The ship’s two tenders circled the Star Clipper for more than an hour on the beloved photo safari. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Onboard Fun & Games

On board, the main activity for the week was mast climbing, when those interested strapped on a harness and climbed up some 65 feet onto a small platform.  For me, massages were the favorite extracurricular; the masseuse was excellent and the prices reasonable, probably because the treatments were doled out in a humble canvas cabana wedged between the diving tanks and ship tenders. Book a massage when the ship is moving to avail of the breeze and soothing ocean sounds.

star clippers in thailand

View from the top, WOW ! * Photo: Doug Stavoe

With three of us sharing a cabin, we didn’t spend much time hanging out in the room, a cozy 130-square-foot abode with portholes, twin beds and a bunk-style third berth. Designed in nautical navy blue fabrics and wood trim, there was a TV, safe, decent storage space, and bathroom with showers. The ship also has eight deluxe cabins that open right up to deck; one large owner’s suite with a sitting area, mini bar and whirlpool bath; and six inside cabins.

Star clippers in thailand

Some standards cabins have a third berth. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

A Social Affair

Chatting and mingling on a small ship like the Star Clipper is inevitable. We became buddies with Monica and Doug, two easy-to-talk-to fellow Americans in their 50s, and Mark, a good-natured 30-something English chap traveling solo. A group of Germans, led by the gregarious Roland, had an infectious sense of humor that made many of us laugh out loud. Of the 114 passengers our week, a third were Germans, 18 were from the UK, a dozen from North America, and the rest a mix from Australia and other corners of Europe — most were 50+.

RELATED: Reader Review of this Star Clippers Thailand cruise. 

Mealtime encouraged socializing as tables were open seating for 6 or 8. Breakfast with a made-to-order omelet station, and lunch with a featured pasta or meat, were buffet-style and generous, while dinner was ala carte with continental choices and a few Asian offerings as well such as Pad Thai. Dishes ranged from so-so (a rib-eye steak and pork stir fry were disappointing and the cheese plate came with Ritz crackers) to very tasty, including the chicken curry, shrimp tarts, and raviolis. But a Star Clipper’s cruise isn’t about the food, it’s about being outside on deck.

Star clippers in thailand

Pad Thai is a classic dish of Thailand. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

The open-air Tropical Bar with its thick wooden bar top was the hub, where passengers congregated before and after dinner as the ship’s musician played happy pop tunes on his electric piano. Each evening, some light-hearted entertainment was featured, including a crew and passenger talent show, a traditional Thai dance from a shore-side troupe, and a silly “Pirate Night” party that was great fun.

Star Clippers in Thailand

Thai folk dancing with passengers * Photo: Roland Fella

Afterward, hits from the 60s and 70s were played on the sound system, putting us and new friends in the mood for some dancing as our gorgeous tall ship sailed through the Andaman Sea to our next port of call.

star clippers in thailand

Hotel director Herman at the ship’s hub, the Tropical Bar. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Fast Facts

Itineraries & Fares: Back in Asia after a long absence, through 2019, Star Clipper is doing 7-night Andaman Sea cruises between October and April starting at $1,360 per person, and spending the other half of the year cruising the Indonesian archipelago round-trip from Bali on mostly 7-night sailings.

Getting There: Most US flights come through Bangkok or Singapore, then it’s a short flight to Phuket. We stayed one night in the pretty Amari Phuket hotel along Patong Beach, near the ship’s anchorage.

star clippers in thailand

A relaxing stay at the Amari Phuket the day before the cruise. * Photo: Heidi Sarna Selfie

Weather & Dress Code: Thailand is just north of the equator, so it will be hot in the 80s and 90s and with short rain storms the norm. You’ll live in beachwear and cover-ups most of the time; at dinner, smart casual works — sundresses, skirts and pants for women and for men, khaki’s and polo shirts or short-sleeved button-downs.

Money Matters: The Thai Baht is the official currency, but there is virtually no opportunity to shop.

star clippers in thailand

Nature’s bounty is the entertainment on a Star Clipper’s Thailand cruise. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

 

RELATED: The Royal Clipper to Corsica, Elba & Sardinia.   by Christina Colon.

And here’s  Star Clipper’s website.

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QuirkyCruise reader review
Reviewer

Shelly Davis from the USA

Cruise Line

Island Windjammers

Ship

Sagitta

Destination

Caribbean: St. Kitts, Nevis, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and Montserrat

# of Nights

6

Departure Date & Port of Embarkation

December 2017 — St. Kitts

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars      (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating:  5.

-Cabin Rating:  5.

-Service/Crew Rating:  5.

-Itinerary Rating:  5.

Have you been on a small ship cruise before?

I’ve been on 1 small ship cruise.

Review

A great trip with kids!

My favorite part of this cruise was the ability to bring my kids along in a safe environment and let them experience travel the way I believe travel was intended. At 7 and 9, we finally felt this was the right time to let them experience a more adult trip. I was able to show them the real world and we explored it. They got to see an active volcano. They got to tour the engine room of the ship and watch intently as the crew members put the sails up and down . They experienced language barriers and learned about different currencies and cultures. The ship size allows for you to visit ports not typically covered over with huge cruise ships and volumes of oblivious tourists. We didn’t have every minute filled with electronics or events catering just to them. They even used their imaginations and performed a puppet show! I adored bringing my kids along on their very first adventure trip. We did a Disney cruise in February and it was lovely! Nothing against Disney at all. There is a time and place for everything. But this was more my speed and more what I want my kids to understand travel to be.

My second favorite part was the service. I cannot tell you how pleasant it was to be waited on nonstop. Even when I was quite capable and ready to pour my own cup of coffee, I wasn’t allowed. 🙂 They worked hard to satisfy every passenger on board. They would play a Ring Toss game with the kids and you could tell they genuinely enjoyed it. It wasn’t an act or chore! Some of my best memories were being the first passenger awake and the lovely conversations I had with the crew members who knew me by name and I knew them. The Operations Manager (Andrew) was on point at all times. He was patient with those of us who were chatty and eager to find on shore activities to please each of us. And there was always a suggestion that catered to the kids. I additionally appreciated his wit and humor he was able to include while remaining professional.

My third favorite part of this cruise was the food. OMG the food! I like good food, whether it be street food or prepared by a James Beard award winning chef. The food did not disappoint. I was repeatedly pleasantly surprised by how good each meal was. Even down to the appetizers. And you would eat it all trying not to miss out on a wonderful new flavor and then they’d come around and offer seconds!! No way! I’m saving room for dessert! Then I mentioned my husband’s birthday was occurring while we were at sea and I never thought about it again. But after dinner on his birthday a red velvet cake was brought out. The crew tried diligently (humorously so) to keep a single candle lit as they brought it out, but it was not going to happen.

Other notable and awesome things about Island Windjammers: 1) The passenger capacity. We made friends with everyone on our cruise. I am getting Christmas cards from these new friends and we have a Facebook group set up to share pictures and memories. 2) The rope swing and night swimming: How cool is it that they let passengers do that? When I realized there were no more opportunities for the rope swing, I got so sad!  3) I missed this National Geographic moment, but my husband got to witness a Needlefish become a Barracuda’s dinner one evening while looking over the side if the ship into the lit waters.

This whole trip was just wonderful. I genuinely hope we can make it back on board one of IWJ’s vessels. I would gladly do it again.

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QuirkyCruise reader review
Reviewer

David Mann from the USA

Cruise Line

Star Clippers

Ship

Star Flyer

Destination

Mediterranean

# of Nights

9

Departure Date & Port of Embarkation

October 2017 — Valetta in Malta to Malaga, Spain with stops in Balaeric Islands

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars      (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating:  5.

-Cabin Rating:  5.

-Service/Crew Rating:  5.

-Itinerary Rating:  5.

Have you been on a small ship cruise before?

I’ve been on 2 small ship cruises.

Review

Highly Recommended Sailing Adventure.

The excitement of sailing on a 4 masted clipper ship gave me a heightened sense of anticipation in the months before departure. The sight of this beautiful ship at the dock in the ancient city of Valetta and the modern 6,000 passenger liner on the adjacent pier fulfilled that expectation making me and this trip feel very special indeed. With ceremonial music blaring, the sails went up as we left the harbor for open water. Aside from the rough seas the first two nights, the rest of the trip was truly amazing.

This trip carried 115 passenger plus crew, making it very easy to get to know others on board. The crew was fantastic and provided ample food and sustenance. They were more than pleasant and willing to meet any request. The captain gave passengers the “run of the ship” and there wasn’t any place off limits, except for safety reasons when course or wind changes required sail adjustment. Watching the crew manipulate the 18 or 20 sails gave much appreciation for those who plied the seas in days of old. In quiet times we climbed to the crow’s nest or lazed in the netting from the bow sprit. The crew did all they could to entertain, serve, and encourage us all to enjoy the experience, even if we weren’t yacht owners back home. We participated in many of the daily excursions to the beautiful islands and ancient cities, thoroughly enjoying the layers of civilization and beauty still present that define this area of the world.

To get the most out of this trip, we initially spent 4 days in Barcelona and 4 days in Xagrhr, Malta before sailing and 4 days in Malaga, Spain after departing the ship. finding excellent rentals enabled us to get the most out of this special vacation experience.

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QuirkyCruise reader review
Reviewer

Huber Hannelore from Germany

Cruise Line

Star Clippers

Ship

Star Clipper

Destination

Thailand

# of Nights

7

Departure Date & Ports

April 15-22, 2017, round-trip from Patong Beach in Phuket to Langkawi and other islands

OVERALL RATING

3 out of 5 stars       (5=EXCELLENT; 4=VERY GOOD; 3=GOOD; 2=POOR; 1=TERRIBLE)

Have you been on a small ship cruise before?

I’ve been on 2 small ship cruises

Review 

It was a great trip! I enjoyed it very very much!!!!!

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QuirkyCruise reader review

Reviewer: Douglas Andrew from the USA.

Cruise Line: Star Clippers.

Ship: Star Clipper.

Destination: Thailand.

# of Nights: 7.

Departure Date & Ports: April 15, 2017, round-trip from Phuket, Thailand to offshore islands in Andaman Sea.

OVERALL RATING: 5 out of 5 stars.

Have you been on a small ship cruise before? Yes, 2.

Review: Once in a Lifetime

I’ve been on close to 20 cruises and this one was definitely my favorite.

The ship itself (Star Clipper) was fun to be on.  Lots of lines and ropes going every which way.  I got to climb one of the masts. We raised the sails every day and travelled under wind propulsion. I like to know how things work and it was easy to observe how the ship was actually operated by a fairly limited crew.  I always wake up early to watch the approach to each new port.  I especially enjoyed this on the Star clipper, as I could interact with the helmsman and officers on duty (to the degree they where able to without interfering with their duties).

The itinerary was good.  What can I say, southern Thailand is exotic no matter how you measure. The only occasional downside was some of the islands can be “over loved” due to the many visitors, but I can’t blame them for wanting to be there too.

The passengers on the Star Clipper were a very international and friendly group.  Most are very well travelled.  It was easy to meet others and make new lifetime friends.

The food was also great.  Nice presentation and good selection.  I would have liked to see more local cuisine (I love Thai food!).  However I still put on 5-10 pounds, but I’m almost back to my pre-cruise weight almost a month later.

I plan to take my adult kids on a clipper ship cruise sometime soon.

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