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The Ultimate Caribbean Christmas Cruise

 

The Ultimate Caribbean Christmas Cruise

07/10/14

Royal Clipper

Say Christmas to anyone and thoughts come to mind such as family, nativity, turkey, happiness and the odd one out being "cold weather". But it doesn't have to be the case...

What if you could escape the weather and try something totally different this Christmas? How about embarking a four, or even five mast tall clipper ship, hearken back to the golden age of sail to experience the wonders of the Caribbean? Star Clippers provides just that. With a detailed Christmas tour around the Caribbean, you are guaranteed to be able to soak up the sun.

Below is a detailed itinerary of what you can expect from a seven night Christmas cruise around the Caribbean on board the Royal Clipper in 2014.

Caribbean Cruise
Barbados Caribbean

Day 1 – 20th December – Barbados

Bridgetown, on the east coast of Jamaica, is where the adventure begins and the Royal Clipper departs. The town got its name from a bridge being built in the place of an Indian bridge after 1654. A very traditional town – it maintains a lot of it’s roots from when the British took over including past times such as cricket and high tea.

A lot of red sands found on the beaches here were blown all the way across the Atlantic from the Sahara Desert. Popular sites to visit include Villa Nova sugar plantation, Trafalgar Square and St Michael’s Cathedral.


St-Lucia Caribbean

Day 2 – 21st December – St Lucia

Rodney Bay is one of St Lucia’s largest and most popular beaches and is also popular for yachting – so no surprise that this is the first port of call for the Christmas cruise. In addition – the island is filled with banana plantations, rain forests and even a drive in volcano to explore.

Other sites worth visiting include the Diamond Falls and Mineral Baths where you can wander and take time out to relax in the tranquil pools underneath the waterfalls.


Dominica Caribbean

Day 3 – 22nd December – Dominica

Roseau is Dominica’s beautiful and colourful capital – surrounded by black sand beaches and featuring a steamy rainforest.

Step away from the beaches and stroll into the Old Market Plaza, where you may be able to pick up a unique last minute Christmas gift.

Stroll even further to Morne Bruce and get unique views of the botanic gardens and panoramic views of Roseau.


Antigua Falmouth Harbour Caribbean

Day 4 – 23rd December – Antigua

Falmouth harbour is certainly popular with tourists.

The area is renowned for harbouring some of the most expensive yachts in the world over the Christmas period.

Falmouth harbour and the whole of Antigua is steeped in history and is internationally recognised for sailing; which is epitomised by Lord Horatio Nelson who arrived in the 18th century, boosting the island’s commercial shipping reputation.


St-Kitts Caribbean

Day 5 – 24th December – St Kitts

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s hard to think of anywhere better to spend it than on the golden beaches of South Friar’s beach on the island of St Kitts.

The nation is known as the first successful colony in the British West Indies and is home to two British forts.

If you fancy taking a break from beautiful beaches, you can stroll into the island’s capital, Basseterre, for a spot of Christmas shopping or even take time out for a round of golf.


Iles-Des-Saintes Guadeloupe Caribbean

Day 6 – 25th December – Iles Des Saintes

Merry Christmas! Forget putting the turkey in the oven and ensuring the house is clean condition for guests…

Instead, soak up the sun in this gorgeous archipelago – with temperatures often reaching 27 degrees. Iles Des Saintes consists of a group of eight tiny islands and is the perfect sunshine isolation for Christmas day.

Take time out to relax with a drink in hand and excellent cuisine or why not take the opportunity to try something new like snorkelling or diving. It will be a Christmas Day like no other!


Martinique Caribbean

Day 7 – 26th December – Martinique

And to recover… A relaxing day in the tropical island of Martinique.

Admire the history of Fort De France and soak up the culture of an island heavily influenced not only by France but the Caribbean, South Asia and Africa.

Be sure to bring back souvenirs for your loved ones from the markets and enjoy the excellent spicy creole food.


Day 8 – 27th December – Barbados

It’s back to Barbados with the memories of not only a cruise to remember but a Christmas to remember – sailing around the Caribbean in the most traditional sense. A Christmas cruise will take you around all of the islands mentioned above as well as many more including: Aruba, St Maarten, Jamaica and Curucao and each cruise features activities and excursions to suit everyone’s taste. You’ll be wondering if you’ll ever find a use for that Christmas jumper again!

Star Clippers deliver unique sailing experiences around the Caribbean, Cuba and the Grand Cayman, the Panama Canal and the Mediterranean all year round.

Palma to Palma - Fay's Blog


Palma to Palma - Fay's Blog

2nd September 2014

General Manager of Star Slippers UK, Fay McCormack set sail on board Star Flyer with her family and friends from Palma. Here she tells of her experience.

We opted to spend a few nights on the beautiful island of Majorca prior to sailing, which we all agreed was a great idea. By the time we arrived at the port on Saturday afternoon, we were well and truly rested, slightly less pale and altogether very much in holiday mode!

As always, our first glimpse of Star Flyer was a moment that all of us found very special. Palma is a busy and bustling port, and nestled amongst the huge cruise ships, container vessels and passenger ferries sat our little haven of peace and tranquillity, her masts standing tall and proud, paintwork bright and glossy and her brass shining like gold. We all scampered eagerly up the gangway, warmly met by the Captain, Hotel Manager, various officers and crew and of course, a delicious welcome on board cocktail.

The teenagers scampered off quickly, keen to see their ‘sleeping quarters’, whilst the adults sat in the sunshine, savouring the moment. For our friends, this was their first experience of Star Clippers, and of course I wanted it to be as special as possible. But I needn’t have worried, it was already much more than this, it was Star Clippers magic and it had well and truly caught another family of hearts already.

After a delicious welcome dinner, we had a first sail away of the week. Now, of course many of you reading this will already know what this feels like, but for those who don’t, it’s almost impossible for me to describe with any real justice. I have been lucky enough to experience many of these now, but you never tire, you never really lose the urge to pinch yourself as you glide out of port, the chilling music of Vangelis playing in the background and the twinkling lights of the port waving you off as Star Clippers’ sails wave back. I watched my friends faces during this first sail away for them, and I knew that they got it too.

The ports of call of this sailing were delightful. First stop was the Island of Formentera , and this was a new one for me. We arrived wet. Very wet in fact. Our teenage girls literally screamed in delight as the tender dropped us off some way from the shore, and we found ourselves in waist high water wading to shore, bags held above our heads and trying not to laugh ourselves head over heels into the sea. We were however, treated to one of the most beautiful, white sanded pieces of paradise, fringed with tropical blue water, so clear we could see the marine life beneath the surface. We spent the afternoon enjoying the beach, swimming and paddling and arguing about who had left the sun cream in the sand with the lid off. The girls tried out a bit of kayaking, safely supervised by the Sports Crew before it was time to head back on board. This time the girls were a little cleverer, and had already talked their fathers into giving them piggy backs back to the tender ladder, despite already being dripping wet. The Dads of course obliged with gusto, and everyone was delivered back safe and sound and in time for the afternoon tea served in the Tropical bar. Because of course, after a huge cooked breakfast and an impressive buffet lunch we were famished and couldn’t possibly make it through till dinner without something else to eat.

Royal Clipper

After another delicious 5 course dinner we ventured up to the Tropical Bar to watch the infamous fashion show, which is one of the highlights of the entertainment programme for the week. It’s fair to say that Star Clippers do have their very own unique entertainment programme and again, those who have been lucky enough to experience Star Clippers will understand this already of course. I personally love the low key evenings, the Tropical Bar, the way the crew and passengers come together after dinner to enjoy a cocktail, talk about their lives and dance under the stars together. And I also love the way that you can find a quiet spot up on deck, and watch the world sail past under the moonlight, only to be interrupted by the sounds of the waves, the flapping of the sails and of course the crew who seem to move around almost silently as they sail these beautiful ships onwards towards the next port of call. And of course don’t be surprised to approached by the Captain and the Officers, who are always around and ready to share their tales and wisdom about life at sea and our beautiful tall ships.

The next morning brought us to Ibiza Town, and I was excited about this one. I had imagined myself sitting in one of the very chic cocktail bars I had seen in ‘Hello’ magazine, sipping a Mojito and putting in a good shift of people watching . But the girls, who had already made good friends with a journalist who was on board, had been reliably informed that Ibiza Town was the best port of the week for shopping and they were on a mission. The port of Ibiza Town itself is almost split into two and when you get off the ship you can go either way- Left for the historic, more traditional part. Here you will stumble across cobbled streets hiding small white churches, little cafes and very traditional shops selling lace and wood crafts- Or turn right for the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan part of town, and it is here where you will find the shops, including international brands, cocktail bars and restaurants. It was with a very determined stomp to the right for our girls, and they spent a happy couple of hours browsing the shops for bracelets, trying on flip flops and searching for the perfect t-shirt. Exhausted and hot, but very happy with their morning’s work we set off on the very short stroll back to Star Flyer for lunch and some shade!

Next day after breakfast we arrived in Valencia. I have been to some of Spain’s more famous cities previously, but knew little of Valencia so was curious about Spain’s third largest city. We took a local bus from right outside the terminal for 1.50 Euros, and 20 minutes later, found ourselves in the Old Town and right outside the Cathedral. We had heard that the Cathedral has a bell tower, which affords magnificent views over the entire city and beyond for those brave enough to climb the 207, very steep, spiral steps. Now, we had all enjoyed breakfast that morning, and if we are being very honest, perhaps a little too much breakfast, so agreed that there was only one thing for it. The girls of course sprinted up in about 20 seconds, the rest of us huffed and puffed our way to the top and prayed that we would survive the climb as it was Italian Buffet lunch on the ship later, and no one wanted to miss that. But wow, what view when we did make it to the top. A complete, 360 degree view around Valencia, in the morning sunshine, with just a handful of other tourists to share it with, well worth it and we spent a happy hour or so taking in the views and taking photos. And psyching ourselves up for the climb back down. The rest of the morning was spent wandering the streets of this fascinating place, and we stumbled across an indoor food market frequented by the locals. The market sold every food type, from fruit and vegetables, to sweets, olives, nuts and cheeses, to whole hams hanging from their hooks. But it was the fish that fascinated (and revolted in some instances) our girls the most- Whole octopus, lobsters, prawns the size of their hands and even eels, alive and wriggling, as they witnessed one of these poor creatures being plucked from his tank and removed of its head. Not something they have seen in Sainsbury’s before, that’s for sure. But, before long it was time to head back to Star Flyer and just in time for that Italian Buffet!

Royal Clipper

Next on the list was Sant Carles de la Rapita. This is a new port of call for Star Clippers, and in fact, Star Clippers are the only Cruise Line to have visited Sant Carles de la Rapita, and we arrived to quite a welcome! It felt that half the town was there to greet us, with various information stands in the terminal, musicians, and shuttle buses ready to take us to the town or beach, depending on your preference. This port of call is famous for its birdlife, and in particular, the flamingo and gulls and many of the passengers headed off for a spot of twitching. We opted to visit the little town, and spent a happy couple of hours wandering the little streets, browsing the shops and enjoyed a coffee in one of the cafes. We then took a look at the beach, which is where the Sports Crew had set up camp for the day and were able to offer a wide range of sports, all safely overseen by their expert eyes. We headed back to Star Flyer ready for sail away to our next port of call.

Back on the ship we got ready for the mast climb. On most of our sailings, we offer the opportunity to climb to the Crow’s Nest and for some, this is the highlight of any voyage. The girls were very keen do this and got themselves ready for the challenge. My daughter had already done this before, but again, this was a first for the twins and very exciting. Under the ever watchful eye of the Sports Crew, the girls were dressed in their safety harnesses and given a brief on how to climb safely and successfully. Wide eyed and showing just a hint of nervousness, the twins listened carefully, taking in all the instructions and preparing themselves for the climb. My daughter went first to show them how it was done, followed by twin one, then twin two. Slowly but surely, they climbed the rope ladder, higher and higher, with encouragement from half the ship who had gathered around the bottom of the mast to give their support to our brave explorers! Finally, after a few tense minutes they were all up and reunited on the Crow’s Nest. A very special moment for the three of them.

Royal Clipper

Mahon was next on the list, and we were delighted to see we had a midnight departure, meaning we were able to experience it by night. Mahon is a beautiful town, white washed and cobbled, with a charming splatter of shops, restaurants and little churches. Mahon actually boast the second largest natural harbour in the world, second only to Pearl Harbour. From a shopping point of view, if you are after shoes, then you could pick up a pair of Pretty Ballerina pumps, usually seen in the boutiques of Mayfair, London, but actually the shoes have been made in the same village in Menorca since 1918! Mahon is a well thought out town- with tables occupying almost every available outside space, finding a place in the sunshine to enjoy a cold beer or an ice cream will never be a problem. As we were there till midnight, we had an early dinner and headed into town just after dark. We had coincided our visit with a Festival of Music, and it seemed like the whole of Menorca, plus the other islands too, had come to Mahon! The town was literally buzzing, with markets stalls in the pretty squares, and live bands playing outside every bar and café and the shops staying open later than usual hoping to cash in on a bit of extra trade. We were fortunate enough to find a table outside of a very traditional wine bar, and nicely installed with a bottle of Rioja and a bowl of olives, we settled down for the evening and watched the world go by, accompanied by a local jazz band. It didn’t get much better than this, that’s for sure.

The next morning we woke with that familiar feeling, almost slight apprehension, as we knew this was our last day on board Star Flyer and no one was ready to go home yet. But, we put that to one side, determined to enjoy the day ahead which we were to spend on the island of Majorca, in the pretty little town of Puerto Soller. First stop for us was to take the little vintage tram up to the town of Soller. The little tram runs between the port and the town almost continuously throughout the summer months, taking about 25 minutes to compete it’s journey. It’s the only working tram on Majorca now. On route, we are treated to a rare glimpse into how the Majorcans live , as we rattle slowly past private homes and gardens, brushing against citrus trees and sneaking a peak into their lives. The town of Soller is charming, and one is totally forgiven for just sitting outside in the main square at one of the many cafes and restaurants, soaking up the atmosphere whilst sipping on a freshly squeezed orange juice. But, as nice as it was, the beach was calling the girls and it was time to go back down on the little tram to Puerto Soller. The rest of the day was spent on this magnificent, horseshoe bay, which is spotlessly clean and bordered by shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a busy beach, and a busy bay, but so perfectly formed and put together it literally oozes charm. We spent every last minute we could on this beach, and took the very last tender back to Star Flyer to prepare for our final dinner and our last evening on board.

The Palma to Palma sailing is a wonderful itinerary and I would recommend it to anyone- Although I had visited some of the Islands previously on other holidays, I was surprised once again just how much I love these little Islands, how charming they are, with their little towns, and their own way of life. We spent our last night discussing the highlights, and asking the girls in particular what they had enjoyed the most. They had endless highlights, from the mast climbing, dressing as pirates, the Star Flyer talent show, discovering the on board ‘mocktails’, the wonderful and plentiful food, the water-sports, beaches, shopping and of course watching their parents pant their way up 207 steps which they all found hilarious. But mostly they enjoyed each other, and the friends they made, friends of all ages, and the experiences they had on board one of the most beautiful ships in the world. And memories which will stay with them for a lifetime.

Fay's Signature

To experience your own voyage from Palma, just like Fay, call us today on 0845 200 6145 and book your tall ship cruise.

Rosanna's Adriatic Escape - Rosanna's Blog

 

 

Rosanna's Adriatic Adventure

27th August 2014

Rosanna King, Sales Executive for Star Clippers UK, was lucky enough to sail the Adriatic Sea aboard the fabulous Royal Clipper. She shares her experiences aboard in her blog...

Day 1

Two hours ago I excitedly stepped aboard Royal Clipper in picturesque Croatia. Rainy Britain seems a world away as I sit in the heat of the blazing Croatian sun, sipping a chilled Pina Colada whilst the gentle breeze makes an effort to lazily comb my hair. I am nestled amongst ropes, sails and masts as a small accessory of this stunning tall ship. She is the largest full-rigged tall ship in the world, so it is no wonder that I am met with a feeling of complete awe and admiration. The coastline of Dubrovnik's Old Town has been painted onto the horizon, except this masterpiece is real- there are people walking in and out of the variety of restaurants and bars as if they never have to be anywhere else but here. There is no rush, no hurry, no hustle and bustle of the life we are all so accustomed to.

This is exactly the Star Clippers experience I was hoping for...

My day started at 3:30am when I met my colleague, Emma, who then drove us to Gatwick's South Terminal for the first phase of our adventure. After initially arriving at the wrong car park (blame excitement and lack of sleep!) we were soon at the front of the queue to board Easyjet's 0730 flight to Dubrovnik. LITERALLY at the front of the queue, how eager are we?! After a slightly turbulent flight we were soon descending into the city, squealing like excited school children when we caught a glimpse of Royal Clipper sailing with pride into the port as we were landing. 'She looks so sailor-y' was one comment made soon after by Emma! We hopped into our taxi that would transfer us to the ship, at which point I had to try to subtly change my English rainy day jumper into a cooler top. It was 30 degrees plus and after the torrential rain of the cold British morning this sort of climate seemed a distant dream.

Royal Clipper

As we approached Royal Clipper on the tender, I could almost hear a choir singing out a jubilant and regal tune, similar to when you see a movie scene where someone finds just what they have been looking for. As her name suggests, Royal Clipper oozes charm and sophistication. The five masts stand tall and proud like guardsmen keeping watch over something very precious, yet perfectly able to hold herself.

After a delicious and much-needed buffet lunch (the seafood linguine was divine) a dip in the sea from the Marina Platform and a kayaking adventure with Emma here I find myself... sun-kissed, salty and eager for the late sailaway. I have heard a lot about this unique experience, so of course am filled with excitement and anticipation.

For now, over and out.

Day 2

As I lay here in the sun listening to the distant drones of Bob Marley coming from the poolside bar, I feel extremely lucky that in the last 17 hours I have experienced two unique sailaways on board Her Majesty the Royal Clipper. One in the darkness of midnight and the other under the gleaming afternoon rays.

Last night, after a delicious steak dinner and a glass of chilled Prosecco in the main restaurant, myself and Emma made our way to the outside decks where the Cruise Director, Anna, was hosting a Ship's Quiz. Guests ran to ring the bell when they knew the answer, which often involved two people colliding at the same time! The atmosphere was great- laughter, fun and spontaneity. The laid-back relaxed approach to entertainment on board is perfect and suits casual yet elegant feel throughout the whole ship. The DJ then put some classic tunes on and the deck was soon scattered with guests dancing and enjoying themselves. Most guests then gradually made their way to the upper decks to experience us sailing out of Dubrovnik.

Royal Clipper Interior

The stars in the sky and the fairy lights around the masts merged into one twinkling light display as crowds gathered to watch us leave. All of a sudden Conquest Of Paradise, a piece by Vangelis, draped the air as the clock approached midnight. The sound was haunting yet enchanting, and we both found ourselves totally speechless. Couples were holding hands, people were filming, and I felt like I finally understood the stories I had been hearing about this moment. The lights were soon turned off and we were left sailing invisibly into the distant ocean, with the music still making our presence subtly known to the fading coastline.

With this circling my mind like a dream, I slept soundly and we were ready to explore Hvar this morning after a breakfast of an omelette and mixed fruit. There is a wide assortment of pastries, bread, cooked meats and eggs- something to suit the variety of preferences on board. After a short tender ride we headed up the town's steep and windy streets (we both admitted we were slightly defeated by the heat and the sheer number of steps, so wandered slowly back down to the flat main square). The neutral brickwork and crystal clear waters make Hvar an idyllic destination, a picture postcard sight around every corner.

Royal Clipper Bowspirit Nets

So here we are now- 5:30pm on a Sunday afternoon, tucking into afternoon tea and still reeling from the buzz of the 4pm sail away out of Hvar. Guests helped the crew pull the ropes to raise the sails, and the experience was made even more memorable for us because we spent the time lying on the bowsprit nets at the front of the ship. I felt like I was somewhere I shouldn't be, that we surely aren't allowed on the nets, but we were welcomed and waved at by the friendly crew. We laid there as the breeze whistled past us, although I don't think I have ever kept such a tight hold on my sunglasses!

Now we have an appointment with the ship's Crow's Nest- a harness and camera are the ingredients of the next adventure! Time to get a bird's eye view of the ship, another thing to add to the list of totally unique moments on board.

Day 3

Royal Clipper is today at anchor off the coastline of Rovinj, a small Croatian town unspoilt by masses of tourists and thriving with culture. After a leisurely morning on board meeting fellow guests and chatting to various passengers from all over the world, we were on the first tender to the shore just after midday. We spent a few hours exploring the town and soaking in the atmosphere before setting down outside a beautiful café on a cobbled street slope. Local children, families and teens go about their everyday life as if we ourselves are one of them and blended in, so much so that when we left I very nearly became a victim to a very fast teen on a very fast bike! Yes I did let out a yelp!

After my close-encounter we headed back on board in time for a dip in the crystal clear sea from the Marina Platform. It is lowered almost every day and the water sports team are on hand to assist you with anything you need. There is something so invigorating about being in the open water, so close to the ship yet totally free. I felt so small but totally protected and safe. A number of yachts, dinghies and tour boats circled around us and slowed down, eager to get a closer view of Royal Clipper in all her glory.

Royal Clipper Champagne

Tonight we sail away at 7pm, just before the open dining restaurant opens. I think I will be avoiding the scales when I get home- the food is absolutely divine on board and I find myself easily eating 3 courses out of the 6 on offer. Last night was the Captain's night, so we were presented with a glass of champagne upon arrival at the restaurant and we all toasted the Master of this beautiful ship. The cheers and applause from the guests were solid proof that this experience has been exceptional. The Hotel Manager, Carlos, spent time chatting with us and ensuring we were enjoying ourselves and we then joined everyone else at 10pm for the talent show up on deck. Guests and crew alike shared their various hidden talents, some hilarious and some truly outstanding. Seeing the Cruise Director put aside her role for 3 minutes and put on her dancing shoes for a Charleston was amazing! We then spent the rest of the evening dancing with the guests and showcasing some of our 'moves' (one guest commented today on how good we were at dancing, not sure he could remember rightly!)

So here we are now, catching the last of the afternoon rays. Almost every guest that walks past us stops to say hello and ask about our day- there is a family feel on here totally unique and special to Star Clippers. Tomorrow we will arrive into Slovenia, a country I have never been to, so no doubt I will sleep well (the beds are so comfortable) ready for the next adventure tomorrow..

Day 4

As I titled the subject of this blog as 'Day 4', I find myself saddened in the knowledge that this means it's nearly time to go home. If I could bottle up the Star Clippers experience and create The Royal Clipper Remedy potion, I would be in for a great future! Next business idea, maybe?

Royal Clipper Ships Helm

Aside from my desire to stay on board (still planning the best place for us to stow away!) I find myself reflecting on yesterday evening. If possible, last night's sail away out of Rovinj was the most spectacular yet. This was a 7pm sail away, which meant it coincided perfectly with the sun setting on the horizon. To make it more special, we were able to sail solely by the wind. For the first time, we saw the full sails being raised, the air silent apart from the music that will forever give me goosebumps. I even spoke with one guest who told me 'the first thing I did on my first night on board was download Conquest Of Paradise so it will always remind me of this’. Without the power of the engines, we glided through the water gracefully, the whole time under the watchful eye of Captain Sergey and Chief Officer Arrigo. To my surprise, neither of them were manoeuvring the ship out of the harbour. A 9 year old boy was...

It was at this moment I realised how Mikael Krafft felt when his dream of making experiences like this became a reality to adults and children alike. I later found out that child has steered the ship almost every day and that he now wants to become a Captain himself. In 50 years time I have full confidence he will still be telling people about the time he steered a full rigged tall ship out into the open sea. Fully embracing the ship's hands-on approach, we asked if we could have a look around the Bridge, something very unlikely to happen on most other cruise ships. We were welcomed in by Arrigo who explained how they navigate the ship and how they plan the course we will take. We were truly fascinated by the equipment and technology in there, I couldn't take it all in!

Royal Clipper meeting the Captain

So here I am talking about last night and we haven't even got to today yet.. We are in Piran in Slovenia, a country neither myself nor Emma had been to before. After collecting our passports as local authorities requested, we took an early tender after breakfast to the town. It's a very quaint place with shops and streets meandering off a main square, and a castle overlooking the town from the highest point. After buying a magnet (I make sure to get one everywhere I go) we settled ourselves down in a cafe where a local band were playing. Once they finished they sat down and tinkered away on their guitars, working out arrangements for their next set. They were laughing and truly enjoying themselves and the music, so much so that when we saw them again I made sure to put some change in their hat.

We have spent the remainder of the day enjoying the delicious open air lunch buffet by the Tropical Bar. Tomorrow we arrive into Venice, our final port of call, so we will be up at dawn to witness us sail in to such an iconic destination. My final blog instalment tomorrow will most probably be written from Venice airport departure lounge after a wonderful 5 days away.

Day 5

They call it pathetic fallacy when the weather reflects how you feel. I'm sitting in the departure lounge of Venice's Marco Polo airport looking out at cloudy and overcast skies.. It's the first time in 5 days we have not had weather that could be described as absolutely perfect. The absence of the gleaming sun makes us think Italy doesn't really want us to leave..? It makes us even more sad that today we disembarked Royal Clipper.

Royal Clipper Crew

We had a perfect last day on board. Late afternoon we were summoned to the gangway to board a tender for a truly unique photo opportunity. When fully dressed in all her sails, she looks magnificent. I imagine it like how a groom feels when he first sees a bride on their wedding day- as beautiful as always, yet more divine than ever before. As we were snapping away, the crew shuffled along the front of the ship and gave us all a big wave. We spent 20 minutes capturing the ship from every angle possible, the result being photographs we will all treasure forever. One woman even said that the images will be on the front of her Christmas cards this year!

We were joined for our farewell dinner by Chief Officer Arrigo and a lovely lady from the UK called Margaret. She was travelling alone so we had a great evening chatting and sharing stories from the trip. The crew then came out singing and waving flags, ready for their final bow before rapturous applause and cheers.

After dinner and a spot of packing (cue sad face) Emma and I decided it would be lovely to spend some time under the stars before our early arrival into Venice. We laid on the sunbeds, looking up at the clear night sky. At one point Emma said 'wow, that's a really bright star'- it was the light on top of the mast! After realising we were up again in a few hours time to see the dawn sail-in to Venice we retreated to our cabins for our final night's sleep on board.

Venice aboard Royal Clipper

Before I knew it, the alarm was going off at 5:50am. Still under the mask of sleep, and for the first time armed with a thick cardigan, I headed up on deck to see a sight I will probably never get a chance to witness again. I am sure I can count on one hand the amount of people I know that have had the opportunity to sail in to Venice at sunrise on a tall ship. Surrounded be equally intrigued guests, we watched out as we glided past St Mark's Basilica as the bright red sun began to appear on the horizon. Joggers were scattered along the paths, running with ease over the many bridges that connect the famous canals. An army boat went past us and stopped to match our speed so that the fully uniformed servicemen could get pictures with our ship behind them. People weren't really talking much, just taking it all in. I'm not sure I can even find the words to fully describe being up on deck for that hour this morning...

We came back down to earth once we were alongside and being told to collect our passports ready for disembarkation. We were fortunate enough to be offered a tour of various cabins once all other guests had disembarked, so we spent some time with Muslim, the Head Steward, viewing the different categories on offer. All reminiscent of the grand age of sail and finished to the highest quality.

We were lucky enough to be on an evening flight to Gatwick, so we had time to explore Venice for a few hours today. I was last here in 2007, and Emma had never visited before so it was a lovely morning of reminiscing and making new discoveries. Normally I despise pigeons, but the feeling of having them perch on your hand at St Mark's Square is wonderful, it reminds me of the little old lady feeding them on Mary Poppins! You can't buy seeds for them now, but many people were throwing remnants of crisps and bread for them to scramble over. We then headed over the Rialto Bridge for spectacular views over the Grand Canal, before enjoying authentic gelato in one of the cafes alongside the water. A truly wonderful, Italian day!

Our flight is delayed and the rain is pouring down outside...a bit of a reality check for us both after such a blissful time away. Until next time, Royal Clipper, it was a pleasure.

Rosanna's Signature

If you would like to book your own experience aboard Royal Clipper and create some memories similar to Rosanna's, you can get in touch with us today by calling 0845 200 6145.

Three Key Differences A Star Clippers Cruise Can Offer


Three Key Differences A Star Clippers Cruise Can Offer

8th July 2014

>Those of you familiar with the Star Clippers brand will know that we don’t just offer any style of cruising. Our tall ships can provide new guests with an experience that they may never have been part of before, whilst also giving those with a lively sailing heritage a nostalgic trip down the a marine-based memory lane.

So what is it that makes a cruise on Star Clipper, Star Flyer, or Royal Clipper so different to other ocean cruises? Well here are three key areas in which our fleet of tall ships can really deliver.

An Authentic Experience –

Life on the ocean waves is one that should be celebrated and remembered; both for what it was in the past and for what it represents today. A Star Clippers cruise offers guests the chance to enjoy the beauty of a true sailing ship whilst not compromising on any of the comfort or luxury that we all look for when embarking on a cruise holiday.

The way these ships cut through the waves, allowing you to stand on the deck with the wind in your hair or climb the crow’s nest for a better view of your surroundings, offers an experience you won’t find on any modern day cruise ship. You can even take part in some of the work the crew do if you like. No one’s forcing you though; this is a holiday after all.

A Cruise That Arouses All Five Senses –

Most cruises will provide you with plenty to see and often quite a lot to taste, but none will excite all five senses like a cruise on one of our tall ships. Your eyes will delight in looking out at new horizons almost every day, whilst your skin can feel the salty sea-spray as it catches the wind and buffets your face as well as the stylish, yet unmistakably maritime, feel of the ship’s décor under your fingertips.

Your taste buds will relish a meal that is influenced by the part of the world you are in and a sip of a thirst-quenching cocktail from the Tropical Bar, as your nose goes into overdrive in trying to keep up with all the different aromas it comes across. Finally, the dramatic Vangelis music that fills the air during sailaway is sure to be music to your ears.

A Feeling Of Camaraderie –

Large, state-of-the-art cruise liners may well have all the latest technological advances and cutting edge features, but this tends to come at a price. With so many people on board, spread out over a vast space, it is difficult to really get the most from your cruising experience.

With Star Clippers, our relatively small capacity means that a friendly atmosphere sweeps the ship and everybody comes together to have a wonderful time. The environment has been likened to that of a private yacht, except there are no formalities here. There’s plenty of deck space for everybody to enjoy and the limited number of guests means that it’s very easy to get to know many of your fellow travellers during your trip.

If you are interested in experiencing the unique style of cruising that we can offer, then please get in touch with one of our team. You can fill in a contact form online or call us on 0845 200 6145 to speak to someone directly.

A Clip Trip To The Caribbean - Dani's Blog


A Clip Trip To The Caribbean - Dani's Blog

28th March 2014

UK Account Manager Dani, was lucky enough to head off to the Caribbean islands earlier this month, with a group of excited travel agents from Virgin Holidays. Here, she tells us all about it in her Leeward Islands blog..!

Day 1

Dani and the Virgin Holidays agents ready to go

It's only ever acceptable to set your alarm the wrong side of 6am if it's for exotic travel purposes, and this thick foggy morning at Gatwick was one of those days...

An excited group from Virgin Holidays (12 of us in total) met at the Virgin Atlantic check in desk area in the South Terminal. After introductions, we proceeded to bag-drop and clear security.

We were lucky enough to experience the V Room, a modern, spacious lounge specifically for Virgin Holidays customers. Here you can enjoy an abundant breakfast, from continental to eggs benedict with fresh coffee and pastries… delicious! This haven away from the hustle and bustle of the airport allows you to relax in comfort prior to your flight and take advantage of the free wifi for that last opportunity to make your Facebook friends jealous before take off! You can add the V Room on to your Virgin Holidays package for £22pp, but some packages include it automatically!

The Upper Class Experience with Virgin Atlantic is a superior one in every sense. The mood lighting throughout the cabin illuminates the individual suites a chic purple, the jewelled surroundings offer a funky yet classy ambience, and the glass of London Black Label served in a 1940's style champagne glass transports you back to the Great Gatsby era. And this is all before take off..!

The delectable menu, the huge array of current entertainment, the impeccable service, the fully flat beds with duvet and pillows, oh and the flight bar are just a few of the reasons you might choose to fly upper class with Virgin, the perfect way to start your special holiday.

Arriving into Antigua totally refreshed, the heat bounced onto us as we stepped down the staircase inhaling the beautiful Caribbean air... There is no better feeling.

Our transfer took around 20 minutes, a cold glass of champagne awaited. The Verandah Resort and Spa was our hotel for this evening.

After an informative site inspection, I learned that this beautiful, family orientated all-inclusive resort has well earned its 4* status. A great choice of formal and informal dining options, two great beach areas and excellent kids club facilities are offered here, with spacious bedrooms and seaview balconies; what's not to love?

We spent the evening relaxing by the bar, sipping on cool cocktails and listening to live Caribbean calypso music - poolside. Fellow guests were dancing and drinking together with a real sense of 'community' surrounding the resort. It had been a very long day, so I happily retired to my king-size bed for a good nights rest, our flight to St Maarten awaits tomorrow...

Day 2

After a great night’s sleep, I watched the sun rise over the Caribbean sea from the comfort of my large balcony whilst enjoying a strong coffee before meeting the rest of the group for our transfer back to Antigua airport.

The Liat flight service between Antigua and St Maarten is daily, so you could extend your stay in Antigua for as long as you wish before hopping islands to join the Star Clipper. After a mere 30 minute flight we touched down in St Maarten, an island divided between the Dutch and the French - an affluent paradise with an array of designer shops, gourmet dining and charming hotels nestled on sandy beach coves. This was my first visit to St Maarten and it won't be my last...

We had a site inspection and lunch arranged at the Grand Case Beach Club, a very high 3* hotel located on one of the most spectacular beaches I have ever seen. The modern, newly renovated rooms and suites would be more suited to a 4* label and the beach bar and grill provided a breathtaking setting for a casual yet delicious lunch. I would highly recommend this hotel for a stay before or after your cruise.

On our approach to Phillipsburg harbour, the big cruise ships were visible for miles, but elegantly standing tall were the 4 masts of the Star Clipper - standing out in a different way to the others with her hundreds of ropes rigged to the masts and unique aura radiating class, this was a real ship in every sense, a ship that makes jaws drop and causes people to stop and stare, our exclusive yacht-style cruise awaited us.

Crew Introduction

After a simple check in procedure we were welcomed on board by the captain himself, who shook the hand of every guest embarking the vessel, a real personal touch. A cold and refreshing fruit punch cocktail was handed out in the al fresco tropical bar whilst piano melodies were played by the ship’s musician and afternoon tea was served. What an excellent way to start our Caribbean cruise. We spent our first hours on board up by the pool on the warm teak decks, looking up in awe at the magnificent structure of the ship, soaking up our unique surroundings for the first time; whilst sipping on our celebratory drinks of course!

An informative lifeboat drill for all passengers commenced at 18.45 which also provided the opportunity for the cruise director, Matt, to introduce himself to everyone. This took place in the Tropical Bar so flowed freely from the ship safety talk in to pre dinner drinks; the ultimate relaxed atmosphere that Star Clippers is famous for was in full swing.

Six fine courses were served to our table from the a la carte menu. I started with a salmon tiramasu, cleansed my palate with a watermelon sorbet and for the main event, perfectly-cooked lamb with fresh vegetables and mashed potato - divine. The house wine is very reasonable at 15 euros a bottle, sauvignon blanc was the white option and merlot for the red drinkers so everyone was happy.

Tonight's entertainment was the sailaway itself, set for 10pm, everyone gathered by the bridge, champagne in hand, eagerly awaiting our departure from St Maarten. As the classical, haunting, dramatic sounds of Vangelis filled the air, crew and willing passengers alike began to pull the ropes whilst the rest of us watched in delight as the billowing sails slowly began to rise above us. We gracefully edged out of the harbour with nothing but the open sea in front of us. This experience is very unique to Star Clippers and no matter how many times you are lucky enough to witness this, it never gets old...

Tonight, we sail towards Nevis…

Day 3

The gentle lapping of the Caribbean sea is the perfect melody to sleep to on a clipper ship; so peaceful and comforting, the perfect night’s sleep is created.

Our group met for breakfast around 8.30am in the dining room where a choice of continental and full English breakfast is available, as well as the omelette station of course. Tea and coffee is served to the table, but the food is buffet style for the first meal of the day. You can dine from 7.30am - 10am for the main breakfast, or the 'early bird pastries' can be enjoyed in the piano lounge until 11am.

The sun was shining brilliantly up on deck, so we set up camp by one of the two swimming pools and lazed around for a couple of hours making the most of the welcome sea breeze as we glided in to Nevis.

Our midday arrival came around so quickly and half of the group took the first tender to the shore to do the 'rainforest hike - flora & fauna' shore excursion offered by Star Clippers. There is usually a choice of 2 - 3 excursions daily ranging from €40 - €100pp depending on the length and if lunch is included etc. The rainforest trek was about 3.5 hours in duration and cost €46pp. Those who did the trip came back satisfyingly exhausted, after a six mile uphill walk through beautiful surroundings on the island of Nevis. They saw two monkeys and various other exotic animals, cashew nut plants were a highlight for them, a very unique sight!

The other half of us went ashore to the town as the ship was not offering a beach tender today. We took a taxi to a nearby beach for $6pp and spent a blissful two hours lying by the sea listening to the local’s Sunday reggae party, a real Caribbean experience.

All back on board for the magical sail away moment, today in daylight, which is excellent as you can really see the intricate work that goes into this process by the skilled crew - fascinating. As the warm sun began to disappear behind the coral horizon, the sails of Star Clipper dominated the ocean once more, making its way to Dominica, our next port of call.

The Tropical Bar was the meeting point for pre-dinner cocktails once again. With everyone in high spirits from the day with glowing sun-kissed skin, we made our way to the dining room for our a la carte silver service experience, which never disappoints. If nothing takes your fancy on the evening menu, you can order our sirloin steak instead, I opted for this choice tonight and it was delicious. Other dishes tonight included spicy pork, sole fillets and cream of asparagus soup, there is always plenty of choice.

Tonight's entertainment was the Star Clipper Fashion Show, which involves the crew sporting items from the Sloop shop. Crew clothing, beach wear, souvenirs etc. Guests are welcome to get involved and a few did this evening, to whoops and cheers from the rest of us. This low key and light hearted activity is the essence of these sailing ships and creates a friendly and fun atmosphere each night. After the show, more cocktails were ordered, music was played, the dance floor was full and the ship came alive!

Most guests retired around midnight, which was our queue for the next unique experience to Star Clippers, sleeping under the stars. We grabbed our duvets and pillows from our cabin, found a cluster of sun loungers up on deck and settled down to sleep. After a short time chatting about our amazing day, we let the stars capture us and the waves rock us to sleep, unbelievable!

Day 4

Royal Clipper from the deck

Today we arrived in Dominica, to a tiny harbour only accessed by smaller ships, offering a tender to the beach with a full service of our complimentary water sports or a choice of shore excursions - something to please everyone.

Before we docked, we had the amazing pleasure of meeting Star Clippers flagship, Royal Clipper. The 5 masted square rigger looked impeccable and regal as she made her approach towards her little sister. With the sun glistening off the sea and shimmering in the sails, the two sailing ships came together and sailed elegantly in harmony towards beautiful Dominica. This is a real highlight for guests and crew alike, with everyone gathered up on deck for the event taking photographs and admiring the beauty of Royal Clipper from the decks of our own ship, truly breathtaking...

After a quick bite to eat at the Caribbean themed lunch buffet, the majority of our group met by the gangway to embark upon our shore excursion for the day, 'river tubing'! After a colourful 45 minute drive through towns and villages we arrived at the top of the river stream, excited for the adventure. With our life jackets on and our hard hats in place we were all provided with a large rubber ring/doughnut to sit in, and we were off! The gentle current sashayed us along the river with the lush green hills towering over us each side, the surroundings were idyllic. Every now & again there was a small rapid, speeding things up a little and injecting the adrenalin element in to proceedings; a great experience and one I would highly recommend!

Breathtaking Royal Clipper

We got dropped off at the beach and soaked up the rays for an hour before taking the last tender back to the ship, a perfect way to round off our active day.

Another beautiful sunset sail away today, enjoyed from the deck with a glass of prosecco, which at €3.50 a glass is a very reasonable celebration drink! After dressing for dinner (casually of course) we met again for an aperitif in the Tropical Bar, along with the rest of the guests.

Dinner was delicious as usual, we usually went down around 8pm but you can dine anytime between 19.30 & 10pm whilst enjoying the relaxed dress code and open seating policy. I personally only managed 4 courses tonight, but some of the group devoured 6 courses again (a personal challenge I think). All satisfied we headed up to the bar once again for the music quiz!

Teams were formed at all corners of the bar and we eagerly awaited the first question. A good mix of general knowledge, music and sailing trivia was used allowing everyone an equal chance to win some points. It's amazing how competitive the atmosphere becomes, such good fun. The winning team were rewarded with a glass of champagne each, so well worth taking part.

Dancing under the stars continued as laughter filled the air with old & new friends sharing stories over a few night caps. The warm Caribbean breeze was present as always and the gentle journey towards Illes des Saintes was well underway...

Day 5

One of the many fantastic things about a Star Clipper cruise is the 'off the beaten track' tiny islands that we visit, which big ships simply can't access. On this Leeward Islands itinerary, we call at Illes des Saintes, a small place just off Guadelope with a French colonial history.

After breakfast, we took the tender to the town. A beautiful, quaint, pretty, colourful village lining the most picturesque harbour scattered with yachts and fishing boats; a real gem. We meandered around the narrow streets for a couple of hours, on a mission to find some pirate items for the night ahead on board...

One refreshing drink later, we took the tender back to the ship to enjoy the deck lunch. This makes a nice change to the dining room buffet, allowing guests to sit at the tropical bar or up on deck whilst enjoying their lunch, al fresco!

Illes des Saintes

We collected our beach towels, re-applied the sun cream and took our third tender of the day, this time to the beach. A completely deserted, tiny yet stunning beach, totally exclusive to Star Clippers. It's days like these you appreciate being on a smaller ship so much, to visit parts of the world that airlines or even ferries don't access, its like being on your own private island.

The watersports team worked hard all afternoon, with guests paddle-boarding, water skiing, kayaking and taking exciting zodiac rides. To have all of this as complimentary is a real bonus, especially in the Caribbean where you can readily take advantage of them.

A few lazy hours later it was time to head back to the ship for our 6pm sailaway.

Tonight was 'Pirate Night' on board the Star Clipper and our group went all out to get involved and dress up. We had bought parrot toys, swords and crabs from the town earlier in the day. We made eye patches and bandanas with fake anchor tattoos drawn on to look as piratey as possible! It's not mandatory to dress up of course, but it's great fun making the outfits and creates a great atmosphere for the rest of the night. After dinner, the games begin. Frog racing, drinking games, darts and ping pong were just some of the games we played, with most passengers getting involved (and competitive again), everyone was having a fantastic time. As the theme was pirates, the rum punch was flowing all night and the music played until 1am, a real party atmosphere tonight, a great day & night had by all...

Dani's Signature

To experience your own slice of life in the Caribbean, just like Dani, call us today on 0845 200 6145 and book your tall ship cruise.

Special Offers

Keep checking this page for information on our latest offers* and for past Star Clippers emails. Just click on the images below to view...

 

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Call our reservations team on 0845 200 6145 for up-to-date information on all our current sailings or sign up to our e-newsletters to stay informed of our latest offers!

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