Blending modern cruising with historic sailing

4th May 2017

It could be argued that the 19th century was defined by an era of exploration, with hundreds of vessels built with the intention of sailing the world in search of rare and exotic products. This was slowly followed by the introduction of passenger services across the Atlantic on board steamboats, before eventually phasing out due to impracticality, following the introduction of cheaper, faster and more efficient jumbo jet services.

However, cruising made a comeback in the 1970’s, after many holiday-makers began to see the romantic appeal it could offer. Since then, the industry has gone from strength to strength and cruising is now recognised around the world as a great-value holiday option. Many lines strive to offer ships with the latest amenities, while Star Clippers offers a chance transport back to traditional-style sailing of the 19th century.

It should be noted that the three vessels of the Star Clippers fleet offer a sailing experience, rather than a cruising experience. Yes, you will can sit back and relax on the top deck while your ship carries you to stunning destinations across the Caribbean, Far East Asia and Mediterranean; but the feeling you get as the ship glides through the waves is completely different. This is just one of the many aspects of a Star Clippers cruise that distinguishes the fleet from other 21st century lines.

Star Clipper

The three vessels of the Star Clippers fleet are all traditional style barquentine ships, which means they have all been built with three or more masts. Both Star Clipper and Star Flyer have been fitted with square-rigged foremasts, which are ideal for providing sustainable speed over a long distance and creating a more dramatic appearance. The Royal Clipper is sight to behold, with each of the five masts square-rigged – making her largest fully-rigged tall ship to ever be built.

Royal Clipper

Sails and rigging account for the majority of the propulsion across the entire Star Clippers fleet. The Star Clipper has six sails and the Star Flyer has 16, while the Royal Clipper has a total of 42 sails positioned across the five masts. However, these are not always practical or efficient when considering each vessel has to adhere to a tight itinerary at any one time. Therefore, in addition to the sails, the Star Clipper and Star Flyer have both been fitted with Caterpillar 3512 engines, while the Royal Clipper has two Caterpillar 3516 diesel engines. The usage of these engines is, however, kept to a minimum and is utilised as more of a back-up system.

Star Flyer

Each ship is much smaller than most ocean-bound cruise ships, with both the Star Clipper and Star Flyer weighing in at 2,298 gross tonnes and the Royal Clipper being 5,000 gross tonnes. This is a drop in the ocean when considering the gross tonnage of the largest cruise ship in operation is a whopping 226,963. This is certainly a beneficial factor when it comes to drawing up itineraries, with each ship able to dock in smaller ports that are generally inaccessible to larger vessels.

While traditional sailing remains at the heart of the line’s ethos, each of the ships offers the amenities, luxurious features, and high-quality service that one would expect from any other cruise line. There are pools on the top deck along with plenty of sun loungers to help you make the most of the fantastic weather. Bars offer a range of exotic cocktails, while the on board restaurants serve high-quality gourmet cuisine – offering a perfect end to each perfect day on shore. You can also bring each day to a relaxing close in your luxurious accommodation, which each cabin grade offering a perfect place to rest your head.

Although clearly outlined, each Star Clippers Itinerary is quite relaxed, with weather conditions, wind speeds and proximity to certain islands often playing a factor. It is not uncommon for the captain to dock on an island that isn’t listed on the itinerary – an additional bonus for passengers. This also helps to create a relaxed atmosphere on board, which goes a long way to setting Star Clippers aside from other cruise lines.


Star Clippers offers itineraries blend gorgeously untouched island paradises with traditional sailing experiences. The fleet offers itineraries to a range of destinations around the world including the Caribbean, Cuba, Far East Asia and the Mediterranean. Additionally, from 2018, the fleet will be joined by a fourth vessel – the Flying Clipper – which will be a five-masted build and will accommodate a maximum of 300 passengers.