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Star Clippers: Star Clipper

Star Clipper Review

Launched in 1992, Star Clipper is a virtual twin of fleetmate Star Flyer. Both clipper ships reflect a proud heritage in new age of sail, where the traditions of the past merge with the comforts and amenities of today. Life on board is relaxed and casual, much like traveling on a private yacht. Expansive teak decks offer ample space and not one but two swimming pools. This small sailing ship offers more outdoor space per passenger than most conventional cruise ships.

With its bright brass fixtures, teak-and-mahogany paneling and rails, and antique prints and paintings of famous sailing vessels, the interior decor of these ships reflects the heritage of grand sailing vessels.

Porthole-shape skylights create an atrium-like effect in the Piano Bar, which leads to a graceful staircase and the dining room one deck below. The centerpiece of the vaguely Edwardian-style library is a belle époque–period fireplace.

The Piano Bar is intimate and cozy. The Tropical Bar, one of the most popular areas on board, is the center of social activity for predinner cocktails and late-night dancing. It's the covered outdoor lounge adjacent to the open deck space, where local entertainers often perform.

In 1991, Star Clippers unveiled a new tall-ship alternative to sophisticated travelers whose desires include having an adventure at sea but not on board a conventional cruise ship. Star Clippers vessels are four- and five-masted sailing beauties—the world's largest barkentine and full-rigged sailing ships. Filled with modern, high-tech equipment as well as the amenities of private yachts, the ships rely on sail power while at sea unless conditions require the assistance of the engines. Minimal heeling, usually less than 6%, is achieved through judicious control of the sails.

A boyhood dream became a cruise-line reality when Swedish entrepreneur Mikael Krafft launched his fleet of authentic recreations of classic 19th-century clipper ships. The day officially begins when the captain holds an informative daily briefing on deck with a bit of storytelling tossed in.

The lack of rigid scheduling is one of Star Clippers' most appealing attractions. The bridge is always open, and passengers are welcome to peer over the captain's shoulder as he plots the ship's course. Crew members are happy to demonstrate how to splice a line, reef a sail, or tie a proper knot.

As attractive as the ships' interiors are, the focal point of Star Clippers cruises is the outdoors. Plan to spend a lot of time on deck soaking in the sun, sea, and sky. It doesn't get any better than that. Consider also that each ship has at least two swimming pools. Granted, they are tiny, but they are a refreshing feature uncommon on true sailing ships and all but the most lavish yachts.

Although the Star Clippers ships are motorized, their engines are shut down whenever crews unfurl the sails (36,000 square feet on Star Clipper and Star Flyer, and 56,000 square feet on Royal Clipper) to capture the wind. On a typical cruise, the ships rely exclusively on sail power any time favorable conditions prevail.

As the haunting strains of Vangelis's symphony "1492: Conquest of Paradise" are piped over the PA system and the first of the sails is unfurled, the only thing you'll hear on deck is the sound of the music and the calls of the line handlers until every sail is in place. While the feeling of the wind powering large ships through the water is spine-tingling, you will miss the wondrous sight of your ship under sail unless the captain can schedule a photo opportunity utilizing one of the tenders. It's one of the most memorable sights you'll see if this opportunity avails itself. However, when necessary, the ships will cruise under motor power to meet the requirements of their itineraries.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • The sheer beauty of real sailing combined with the luxury of creature comforts
  • Coffee and tea available around the clock at the piano bar
  • Seating for six to eight in the dining room is designed to maximize socializing

Cons

  • There are no tables for two in the dining room
  • Designed to conserve water, bathroom taps can be frustrating until you are accustomed to the regulated water flow
  • On a ship this size there aren't too many spots to get away from fellow passengers
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 72
  • Entered Service 1992
  • Gross Tons 3,000
  • Length 360 feet
  • Number of Cabins 85
  • Passenger Capacity 170
  • Width 50 feet
  • New

Feb 5, 2016

Treasure Islands

The Star Clipper -- An Extensive Review of Tall Ship Sailing on the Caribbean Treasure Island Itinerary, January 2016 Sailing a tall ship in the Caribbean is a fantastic experience -- and I say experience rather than cruise because it is so different. I have enjoyed several dozen Caribbean cruises on large ships, and found sailing the Star Clipper an exciting and adventuresome alternative. The price is higher and the cabins are smaller

on a sailing ship than on a mega cruise ship, but the Star Clipper offers good value, especially if you are a solo cruiser -- solo cabins often have no single surcharge. In addition, the Star Clipper and its sister ships are true traditional sailing ships, not motor vessels with secondary sails. It is hard to describe the excitement and beauty of setting sail at sunset each evening and letting the wind draw one into the next day's adventures. I will describe my one-week cruise in detail, so that you will get a feeling for what it is like. I hope you will be convinced that a sailing vacation is a great way to enjoy the Caribbean. My cruise was based out of St. Maarten (Netherland Antilles). SXM airport is modern and offers good connections from Europe and North America. If you arrive early (recommended), consider renting a place on the island through Airbnb. When packing for this trip, be sure to bring a DAY PACK rather than beach bag since you will want both hands free when transferring from the ship to the tender. Jackets and cocktail dresses are not needed, but a light sweater is helpful when air conditioning is cool, and a windbreaker and sun hat are helpful on deck and ashore. Waterproof sandals or sneakers (joggers) are also useful. A lanyard with clip is useful for keeping track of your cabin key and plastic boarding card (used to check on and off the ship). If your flight is delayed and you arrive after the ship departs, there is a good ferry connection from SXM to Anguilla (less than an hour away) to catch the ship on its second day (contact Star Clippers emergency number for assistance). Boarding the ship does not begin until 4pm. The check-in is via a canopy in a guarded parking lot 100 meters proximal to the main cruise port entry in Philipsburg. You can drop off your large bag before 4pm, but there is no secure place to leave your handbag -- best to just enjoy the day on the island and arrive at the pier between 4pm and 5pm. I travel with an airline carry-on only, so I simply walked out of the SXM airport two minutes to the main road and flagged a minibus into town for 2 USD. Alternately, you can pass time at famous Maho beach at the end of the SXM runway, where you can swim or sit at the bar as jets land overhead. Beautiful Mullet Bay beach is just a 15-minute walk farther along the same road. Mini-buses and taxis are abundant. When boarding the star Clipper, you will first pass through the library where your passport will be collected (returned at the end of the cruise) and your credit card will be verified. From there you can proceed to your cabin, where your large bag will be waiting (not a spousal pun). If you are worried about seasickness, I recommend one of the 200-series cabins (lowest passenger deck, midship inside, bunk beds) or a regular outside (port hole, double bed) midship cabin. When under sail there is little rocking but moderate pitching in rough seas. This is most prominent in fore and aft cabins. I am not a good sailor, but in my cabin (224) I had no problems on the long overnight sail between the BVIs and St. Kitts. The rest of the itinerary is in protected waters between neighboring islands. I do not usually use motion-sickness meds, but sometimes use an anti-reflux med like OTC Omeprazole in rough seas. It works for me. Cabins are small but functional, with a little storage under the bed(s) and a triple closet with shelves and combination safe. Bathrooms are snug but have abundant hot water and the usual vacuum toilet system. Cabin stewards refresh the cabin several times per day. Ventilation was very good in my cabin, controlled by an adjustable ceiling vent. After the initial lifeboat drill one still has time for drinks and then dinner before the ship leaves St. Maarten. Whether at night or during the day, it is always worthwhile standing on deck for any sail away. The sight and sound of 36,000 square feet of sail being hoisted is a joy. One can even assist (to a limited extent) in the process. The captain (Brunon) and first mate (Gerald) are very friendly and are available on the open bridge to answer questions -- the whole sailing process is informal but expertly done. When the sails are set, one can even climb out onto the bowsprit net and look down at the bow wake and up at the sails (with permission of the bridge) -- another beautiful experience. On some days one can climb to the lower crow's nest with the assistance of a harness. The upper masts are too high for climbing -- about as tall as a 20-story building. The upper deck of the Star Clipper is on several levels, in part due to the configuration of the sails. The booms preclude shade canopies except over the recessed midship bar and the stern pool area. Sadly, there are a few shade pigs (as on any cruise) who block chairs with their towels for hours at a time. Take sunscreen and take the pigs in stride. There are three passenger and two crew decks, all split into multiple levels. Stairs can be steep and tender transfers are used at all anchorages, so this ship is not ideal for the mobility impaired or for unsupervised children (one little girl on our cruise fell down some stairs, and the ship returned to port so that she could get medical attention). Passengers on this ship are international -- about half Americans and half Europeans (mostly British and German). Announcements are in English, German, and (occasionally) French. Many passengers are repeaters, and most are in their 60s and 70s, with a few younger singles and young families. More families are present over holidays. The food onboard is surprisingly good and varied. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, and have many delicious hot and cold options. I was amazed by the quality of the food, especially considering how small the galley is. Dinners are served open seating starting at 7:30pm. The wait staff and wine stewards are helpful and attentive. Throughout the day reasonably priced drinks are available at the bar, and every evening before dinner complimentary snacks are served on deck next to the bar. Drink prices are reasonable, and alcohol is not pushed the way it is on large cruise ships. Cocktail hours and evenings were enhanced by talented keyboardist Charly. The usual day begins as early or late as you want. Continental breakfast starts at 6:30am, and hot breakfast begins an hour later. On most days the ship sails into a protected bay and anchors there. Passengers are ferried ashore by tenders for beach access. A helpful activities staff provides equipment, instruction, and advice to help you enjoy your day. There is no surcharge for equipment use -- from snorkel gear to paddleboards, kayaks, and water skis. There are two zodiacs for activity staff to use. Most days are punctuated by commentaries and sea lore provided by the cruise director, in our case the admirable Peter Kissner. He has sailed for several decades and is a font of knowledge about everything to do with the sea and sailing history. He made a good itinerary wonderful with all his added stories, some on deck and some in the library. Star Clippers company is building a fourth ship to be launched in 2017, and the Star Clipper itself will relocate to Thailand for SE Asian cruises, hopefully with Peter as cruise director there. He is a gem, and his girlfriend, who provides therapeutic massages onboard, is too. At the end of the cruise one simply returns one's cabin key, signs one's account statement, and retrieves one's passport. One is usually off the ship between 8:00 and 9:00am. The owner of a place I rented in St. Martin met me. Taxis to the airport are readily available and are reported to cost a flat 20 USD rate. Traffic can be very heavy, so allow 30-60 minutes to get from the cruise pier to the airport. The following port (anchorage) information will help you to make the most of this itinerary. Because the ship is large, it usually anchors in protected waters favored by yachters so you will not experience secluded beaches, but all islands on this itinerary are beautiful and most are free of mega-cruise crowds. ANGUILLA: Perhaps the least attractive (but still enjoyable) of the anchorages, this is an afternoon stop after the morning's sail and (second) safety drill. The usual water activities are available at this beach. There is no good snorkeling here (or on any of the itinerary except Norman "Treasure" Island). This anchorage is usually at Road Bay on the north side. VIRGIN GORDA (actually nearby Prickly Pear Island): The ship anchors north of Virgin Gorda and there is no access to VG itself except for a too-short morning excursion (about 40 USD) to the famous Baths at the opposite (far south) end of VG. The ride over the crest of VG is gorgeous, but the local guides add little value to visiting the Baths, which are not swimmable in rough seas. Make sure you take the trail from the Baths south to Devils Bay, accessible even in rough weather (requires some rock walking and step ladders, use a day pack to keep your hands free). The trail is easy to follow. It was uncrowded when we were there, and other tour company guides were excellent naturalists (we eavesdropped). In calm seas one can also swim around the headlands north to Spring Bay. On some days cruise crowds make the Baths unbearable. Again, the ship excursion provides too little time to enjoy the Baths area, but one cannot access VG on one's own on this itinerary. Those not buying the excursion are tendered to Prickly Pear Island beach for the day. NORMAN ISLAND: The ship anchors off Treasure Point for an afternoon of snorkeling and beach activities. A free tender takes snorkelers to three small caves/alcoves (one is long enough to be pitch black -- a diving light might be worthwhile but is not provided). Tenders also take passengers to a partially developed beach (bar and restaurant). From that beach one can swim about 500 meters to the right when facing inland (south) past a secondary pier to a rocky headland that has very nice fish and very clear water. This is the only worthwhile snorkeling on this itinerary -- other islands lack fish, coral, and/or really clear water. TORTOLA: The ship does not actually access the island. It arrives at sunset and anchors overnight at Sopers Hole off Frenchman's Cay near the southwest end of Tortola. The ship provides a nighttime tender to a local restaurant on the Cay (I did not meet anyone who took this tender). JOST VAN DYKE: The ship anchors off White Bay for the day, with tender shuttles to the beach. A few decades ago JVD was a secluded haven with only a few beach shacks and no crowds. It is now party central, filled with heavy drinking day-trippers and their boats. Swimming in White Bay is no pleasure due to crowds and boat traffic, but one can take a short trail over a small headland to a nicer, quieter beach a few minutes east. Roads lead uphill inland for those who want to hike or jog. ST. KITTS (St. Christopher): The overnight sail from JVD to SK is the longest stretch on this itinerary, and it can be a little rough during winter winds. Again, best to book a lower deck midship cabin if you are not a good sailor. Many people simply skipped supper at the start of this sail. In the morning the ship anchors off Basseterre. Tenders take those who bought various excursions (St. Kitts is a popular mega-ship port, but there were only two ships in port when we were there). After dropping passengers in town, the ship sails onward to Friar's Bay (Carambola Hotel Beach) and tenders passengers ashore for the afternoon there. Those who were dropped in Basseterre are taken to the Carambola at the end of their excursions (or can taxi there on their own). St. Kitts has a good cheap minibus system, which leaves from the west side of Basseterre. For 2 USD one can mini-bus to the bottom of Brimstone Hill and walk about 20 minutes up the hill to the fort (10 USD entry fee at the top) for beautiful views of surrounding islands. One can also bus around the entire island, but this requires at least one transfer (about 5 USD total). All beaches are on the southern peninsula of St. Kitts, and only taxis serve the beaches. There is a taxi dispatch service in the main cruise port, where groups of several people can taxi to Friars Bay for about 5 USD per pax (about 20 USD per vehicle). ST. BARTS (St. Barthelemy): The ship anchors for the day off Gustavia, with a long tender ride to the town pier. Cruise ships do not visit St. Barts, so crowds are not a problem but prices here are very high. I usually walk along the yacht harbor admiring the mega-yachts, and then head a few minutes farther to Shell Beach (well-signed). The beach is carpeted with shells. It is small but protected, with a small restaurant nearby. One can also walk from town up the hill to the fort for nice island views, and continue walking to the mountain pass above the airport (a STOL runway that looks impossible but works). St. Jean Bay beach is at the far end of the runway (a 30 minute walk from town), but it is over-developed and not inviting. Instead, take the road that goes down the opposite side of the airport runway (left as you look at St. Jean) for a less crowded and undeveloped beach. St. Jean Bay is partially protected by a reef, but is on the windward side. Some passengers took taxis to other parts of the island -- there is a tourist booth at the tender pier for maps and info. PHILIPSBURG: I rented a place on the St. Martin (French) side this time, but have also enjoyed St. Maarten (Dutch) side. Noise lovers will enjoy Maho Bay beach, strong swimmers like Mullet Bay beach, and nudists love Happy Bay beach. Buses are frequent and cheap on the Dutch side, less frequent on the French side. Orient Bay is greatly over-rated -- once was enough for me. I avoid it nowadays. Philipsburg itself is quite pleasant and has good shopping and a town beach within easy walking distance of the cruise port. As I said at the beginning of this review, sailing this tall ship in the Caribbean is a wonderful experience and should be on every (lucky) person's bucket list. You might just return year after year, as many passengers do. BON VOYAGE!

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Mar 23, 2015

Treasure Islands

The Star Clipper is a very nice ship, and the Captain did an excellent job sailing it. Watching the sails go up and being on deck was an awesome experience. The staff were mostly very fun and courteous. Stops that were made were nice, and mainly remote beaches. Good for relaxing. If it were not for the issues we had with the inability to get our drinks (see comments in the "Tell us about your trip" segment), we would recommend this

trip. The food was very good. Servers were very nice, Breakfast and lunch were a buffet, but dinner was a sit down affair. It may have been nice to have a buffet dinner somewhere for a "quick" meal if that was what you desire. The lobster bisque was AWESOME! Stateroom was small, but that is to be expected on a ship. The mattress was very comfortable. The staff cleaned it every day, and turned down the beds in the evening. Except for the one rocky day at sea, the drains worked well in the bathroom. (That day the bathroom floor filled up) There were some on board activities every day, and that was plenty to ensure we always had something to do. They had happy hour every day, two mast climbing events, watching the sails, and some dancing to music at the bar at night. Not as much as on a big ship, but it is more relaxing than a big ship. We only went on one excursion to the baths in Tortola. That was a nice trip. The trip was mainly very nice. We went with a group of people, and most of us drink Captain Morgan Spiced rum. Our travel agent told us that she had told the cruise line that we needed to make sure there was enough alcohol for us on board. But by day 3 (Tuesday) they were out of Captain Morgan Spiced rum. No worries, that happens. (maybe they only had one or two bottles, and there were ~50 of us) The disappointing thing is that they knew they had ran out, and when they got to port, the made ABSOLUTELY NO EFFORT to reconcile the situation, and buy more. We were paying $6 per drink, and we could buy bottles for $11 each at Duty free - but we were not allowed to bring any bottle on board the ship. Three of us each bought and bought a bottle on board, and when we got on board the ship, they confiscated them. They said we could release our confiscated bottles for them to use (and they make $6 per glass on it), or drink something else. We released the bottles (and had to pay $6 per glass - full price for our own alcohol!) But they ran out of Captain Morgan again by happy hour on Thursday. Nothing to drink the rest of the cruise, was quite a disappointment. And absolutely no concern from the staff to try to help us out, was very bad hospitality. We will not go back just for that very reason. They don't really care about the passengers, especially if something put of the ordinary occurs.

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Mar 23, 2011

Leeward Island Caribbean

My husband and I and another couple chose this cruise because we love to sail and liked the idea of a smaller ship. (In fact, we would never go on a huge cruise ship, preferring the ambiance of a smaller vessel.) We were not sure what to expect but we were thoroughly pleased with most aspects of our trip. This is important: the first morning on board I realized I had left some critical medical supplies in the hotel at our port of embarkation.,

St. Martin. The crew went WAY out of their way to help me get them! it just so happened a crew member was flying to our next port, Nevis, so arrangements were made for the ship's agent to pick up my supplies, get them to the crew member, and deliver them to me on the boat. It was a fortunate circumstance that the crew member was joining the boat in Nevis because otherwise my cruise would have been a disaster. The point is, the captain and the crew were sensitive to my needs and came through for me. We thought the food was great. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and dinner was served at the table. It was not thoroughly gourmet but it was darn good. There was something to please the tastes of folks from different countries, and folks with different dietary needs. The serving staff was totally professional, anticipating every need. Also, the prices for wine and other drinks were reasonable. Some people have commented on the small size of the staterooms. Well, I was surprised at how large ours was -- and we were in a category III room! It had a queen-size bed, dressing table, a seat, and plenty of storage space. This is a sailboat, after all. Our room had all the necessary amenities and was finished with beautiful woodwork, brass fixtures, fresh looking bedding, and it was spotlessly clean. Again, the staff visited at least twice a day to make sure everything was in order and to turn down the bed (and put chocolates on the pillow.) The ship didn't have a lot of on board activities but I was still so busy I hardly had time to read my book. It's all very informal. As for excursions, it would be a good idea to do your homework ahead of time and plan your shore time accordingly. There are always plenty of taxi/tour guides available if you're not interested in what the ship offers. I found the ship more interesting than the islands! In summary, this is a good option for folks who shy away from huge boat cruises and are looking for the relative intimacy of a smaller group. The ship is very professionally run, and above all, it is beautiful in and of itself. It is not for people who have difficulty walking or climbing stairs; it is not as stable as a big cruise ship. If you choose a Star Clipper Cruise you will encounter many people who are repeat customers -- some on their third or fourth cruise. It's an addictive experience!

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Feb 7, 2003

Mayan Caribbean

NOTE : There is an extensive photo album that accompanies this review that may be viewed at http://www.winwinvacations.com Star Clipper and her sister ship Star Flyer are as fleet as the wind and as graceful as swans. These are true clipper ships, reflecting their proud heritage in every inch of polished brass and gleaming bright work. Star Clippers Cruises ships explore exotic regions not usually

visited by cruise ships. If you've ever turned misty-eyed when watching a stately procession of tall ships, Star Clippers Cruises may be the perfect cruise experience for you. The owner Mikael Krafft, born and raised near a shipyard in Sweden, constructed two identical steel hulled clipper ships that offer the rare opportunity to cruise the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Far East aboard the swiftest and largest clipper ships ever built. Each is powered by 36,000 square feet of sail from four masts, including five giant square sails on the foremast (a diesel engine is in reserve for calms and for maneuvering in port). The ships are modern, high-tech, re-creations of the classic clipper sailing ships that dominated the oceans of the world in the 19th century. During a leisurely Caribbean cruise, while anchored one sunset off St. Martin in 1987 aboard the "Gloria", suddenly, as he recalls, "all the pieces came together" and his long nourished clipper ship dream fell into place: he would build not one but two of them, and thus have a viable business proposition, a real cruise line. He knew in his heart passengers would rally to the concept of comfortable sailing on traditional major clipper ships, built to uncompromising yacht safety and appearance standards. To get ready for construction took three full years of intense clipper ship research, some of it studying carefully preserved original plans for ships of the mid-19th century. Construction started in 1990 at a fine Belgian shipyard, the Belgian Shipbuilders Corporation Yard at Ghent. This was to be the first new clipper ship of the 90 years of this century. She would be a vessel so huge for her type that she would be the largest clipper ship in history. The result was 360-foot "Star Flyer", launched in May 1991, followed a year later by her identical twin, "Star Clipper". Since their introduction the ships have sailed on weekly voyages in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, around the Greek Islands and winter voyages out of Phuket, Thailand. A letter from Mikael Krafft Dear Traveler, As Star Clippers begins a second decade, I am very pleased that our new clipper ship has successfully entered service. Inspired by the Preussen, the historic flagship of the famed Flying P Line of Germany, Royal Clipper is a five masted full rigged sailing ship. She is the largest true sailing ship in the world. When Star Clippers was founded, I wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream of re-creating true sailing clipper ships and have them successfully sail the seas and oceans of the world. These were the incredibly swift large sailing ships that opened up international commerce in the 19th century. We began building Star Flyer in 1989 and she was commissioned in 1991. Star Clipper entered service in 1992. We recognized the need to create a unique shipboard experience for these clipper ships. We call our informal yet elegant approach to sailing the "Mega-Yacht Experience". I have been very fortunate in my life to build and own some major sailing mega-yachts. These are the large private yachts that one sees in the finest harbors. I had the opportunity to move around the world with my best friends, feeling a real family atmosphere, while being pampered in comfort with modern amenities. We would glide silently through the sea under full sail, enjoy sunbathing and water-sports at a secluded beach, have dinner with the captain, and chart the next day's sail to a fascinating out of the way port which only yachts can easily reach. What I discovered is by building clipper ships and providing the activities, amenities and atmosphere of my own yacht, we can offer mega-yacht sailing at a price which often is less than you would pay for a nice cabin on a typical large cruise ship. This provides a fabulous alternative to mass market cruising while being in full harmony with the environment, the sea and away from ports congested with tourists. We look forward to welcoming you on board to participate in the nautical heritage of clipper sailing ships and to enjoy the unique mega-yacht experience that keeps so many of our guests coming back time and time again. Sincerely, Mikael Krafft Owner and Chief Executive Officer Company Overview Quality Rating: 5 Stars Value Rating is exceptional Royal Clipper, Star Clipper and Star Flyer sail some of the most exotic waters of the world. No matter which itinerary is chosen, you'll bypass the mass-tourism ports and discover charming, unspoiled islands and ports that really do resemble the tourist brochures! These include mythic Delphi in Greece and Kusadasi, Turkey (for a visit to Ephesus); Calvi, Corsica, Palma, Majorca, Portovenere, Italy on the Mediterranean itineraries; Bequia/St. Vincent and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, and Penang, Malaysia and the Similan Islands, Thailand in the Far East. Mikael Kraftt, a Swedish entrepreneur, got his first job at the Plyms Shipyard near his home in the Stockholm archipelago when he was six years old. He listened to the stories the old seamen told and his love of sailing grew. When he was 12 he sailed his own 18-foot boat over 20 miles of open seas and practiced maritime law in Sweden and France. In 1986 Mikael Krafft sold his Swedish interests and relocating in Brussels where he founded the White Star Group of Belgium involved in real estate developments within the Benelux countries. White Star Group is the parent company of White Star Clippers, which commissioned Star Flyer and Star Clipper. Mikael Krafft launched the Star Flyer and Star Clipper in 1991 and 1992 in Ghent, Belgium. They were the first clipper ships to be granted the certificate of highest quality by Lloyd's Register of Shipping since 1911. This small but healthy company has established a comfortable niche of offering some of the best one-week itineraries around at prices comparable to and often below conventional cruise ships. There's also a guaranteed single rate that can be a terrific lure for those seeking the close camaraderie characteristic of small ships with a wide range of ages aboard. Fleet Overview Step aboard these unique vessels and discover a new age of sail, where the traditions of the past are happily married to the comforts and amenities of the present. Star Clipper and Star Flyer are modern cruise ships in every way, created for comfort-loving passengers who also love the traditions and romance of the legendary era of sailing ships. Star Clipper and Star Flyer are both 360 feet long and each carries just 170 guests in pampered comfort They have 4 masts and 16 sails, a 50-foot long beam, 226 feet mast height, 36,000 sq. feet sail area. These ships are fast, long, deep, sleek, beautiful, and narrow like a dolphin. Built in Belgium in 1992, the Star Clipper ships were cruising's first purpose-built classic sailing ships. The clipper-style barquentine is a beautiful sight to behold when cruising under full sails. She has 5 square sails on the fore mast, which makes her a barquentine. The Star Clipper is a replica of a 19th century clipper ship providing all the amenities and atmosphere of a mega-yacht. Gliding along the waters silently under full sail - all 36,000 sq. ft. of them - is such an impressive sight not only to the passengers but also to all who come into view of the ship. One of the many highlights of the voyage is when passengers are given the opportunity to embark on the tender to see and take photos/video of the Star Clipper under full sail. It is just breathtaking! Although the ships are motorized, Star Clippers Cruises ships engines are switched off as long as conditions permit, and the crew unfurls 36,000 square feet of billowing sails with the help of all passengers willing to lend a hand, to capture the winds that propel her along at a comfortable 8-10 knots while the music by Vangelis from 1492 Conquest of Paradise, the movie of life of Christopher Columbus plays on deck. Its magical and so very romantic, especially at sunset. To build Star Clippers two sister sailing cruise ships, the rakish looking, 360-foot barquentines, Star Clipper and Star Flyer, they studied the hull concepts and rigging proportions of several of the fastest 19-century vessels, all from the acclaimed clipper ship designer Donald McKay of East Boston, Massachusetts. It is a nice coincidence that Hartmann Design had already carved a figurehead replica from one of McKays ships the Glory of the Seas, for another Swedish costumer from Trelleborg. According to Captain Uli Preusse, this figurehead blew away at sea during a stormy transatlantic crossing several years ago and has not been replaced. The Star Clipper ships transport passengers back in time to the 19th century when clipper ships ruled the waves. They currently rank as the tallest Tall Ships in the world, with a mast that rises 226 feet high. Along with Star Flyer and Royal Clipper - the classic Tall Ships that make up the Star Clippers Cruises fleet, the Star Clipper occupies a select niche of "mega-yachts," offering passengers the opportunity to experience an authentic sailing adventure that is the essence of romance on the high seas. In July 2000, the largest true sailing ship in the world, the 5,000-ton Royal Clipper entered the fleet as the largest -- and most beautiful -- full-rigged clipper ship ever built. The ship boats 56,000 sq. feet of sails and masts reaching a height of 197 feet. Carrying 227 passengers and a crew 106, Royal Clipper has a spa and health club and a three-deck atrium with circular staircase. A full 19,000 square feet of open deck and three small pools invite languid days and nights beneath the sails and stars. Imagine the envious stares you'll get when sailing majestically out of Nice or Barbados!They call her the "Queen of Queens", and for a brief period at the turn of the century, the five masted, fully rigged ship the Preussen ruled the sea trades, which were then still open to sailing ships. The great lady was the biggest sailing vessel ever to sail the oceans. Despite this distinction, when she slid down the runway of John Tecklenburg shipyard at Geestemunde, Germany in 1902, in the twilight of commercial sail, no one would have guessed that a century later she would be the inspiration for a new ship. The stuff of legend is the drawing board for Star Clippers, the Monaco-based luxury cruise line that specializes in recreating the sailing vessel experience. The Preussens specifications were scrutinized for the construction of the companys new flagship the Royal Clipper. It is not the first time that Star Clippers Swedish-born managing owner, Mikael Krafft, has cast his eye back into the history of sail to find a classic style. The Star Clipper ships are stabilized by a system of anti-roll tanks and bilge keels to minimize the ships motion and any discomfort that may be associated with it. Star Clipper's yacht-like dimensions make her susceptible to "the motion of the ocean" in rough weather, however. The shipboard information sheet placed in every cabin notes that "during heavy winds and stormy weather the ship might list; therefore we kindly ask you to refrain from using showers or baths as it could cause the drainage system to overflow." Fortunately, the ship cruises in areas of the Mediterranean and Caribbean where the weather usually cooperates. Sea-bands work well for me to stabilize my equilibrium when I start feeling queasy. They work on pressure point on the inside of the wrist, like acupuncture, thus there is no medication needed. Onboard Experience Life aboard is blissfully relaxed, much like traveling on a private yacht. You never feel confined as these ships offer pleasingly spacious accommodations and expansive teak decks with ample space for relaxing and play. In fact, these ships offer more outdoor space per passenger than most conventional cruise ships. When the romance of sail beckons and a laid-back atmosphere is alluring, these identical sister-ships deliver a cruise experience unlike any other. The Star Clipper and the Star Flyer are stunning and make a dramatic entry into ports of the Caribbean, the Greek Islands/Turkey and the Far East. Unlike the computerized sailboats of Windstar, these authentic clipper ships are always under sail, with some help from motors at times between ports. And unlike Windjammer's fleet, the creature comforts are fine for those not seeking a luxury experience or nightlife beyond the crew fashion and talent shows. Activities are low-key and informality is the norm, with the real drama above deck in the sail experience. At night, passengers congregate at the topside bar for dancing to live music and chatting with newfound friends. The entertainment is the crew fashion show or silly games on deck. A special camaraderie quickly develops between passengers in a wide range of ages and nationalities. You get good food, a great crew, and remote private beaches with lots of water sports. Cabins are small but comfortable. There is a great musician on board. We had Csaba from Hungary, a multi talented artist. Tours are available in all ports and are reasonably priced. Drinks are fairly priced: Belgium draft beer cost only $2.50. I found the wine to be rather expensive, however. I recommend doing the mast climb. There is nothing else like it on any other cruise ship. Star Clippers Cruises is a bargain and we cannot wait to go again. This is a real sailing ship with most the features of a cruise ship. This is cruisings best kept secret. There are 2 swimming pools, located on the Sun Deck, which are filled with seawater. There are portholes on the sides, which extend into the bar below. Yes, you can sip your drinks there and observe the antics going on under the water in the pool above! Can get interesting. The mix of nationalities is delightful. Each evening everyone gathers around the open-air bar. Around 5:00 PM they bring out wonderful hot and cold snacks, a musician plays and sings, and everyone visits and dances. It is very casual and most people come straight from the pool, stay at the bar an hour and then go clean up for dinner. There is open seating for all meals and no dressing up for dinner, except for pants, which is required in the evening. This is one of the best reasons for cruising on smaller ships. The only negative about the ship is the very high thresholds needed on these ships. They are at least 12" high and sometimes these are located at the top of the stairs leading from the cabins and there is very little space to get your balance before the stairs begin. For many people this can be a very scary venture and it was the only way to get outside when the dining room was closed. The ship has no elevators. This is truly a unique cruising experience; an alternative to the mass marketed cruises. On the Star Clipper, you can enjoy the sea in close proximity while sailing to unusual ports which only yachts have access to, hence avoiding the ports congested by tourists departing from the larger cruise ships. This I believe is the most important advantage in choosing a Star Clippers cruise. Of special interest to us was the snorkeling. The ship provides free use of equipment, although I always bring my own snorkel and mask. You keep the equipment for the entire week and bring it to all the islands you tender at in order to snorkel off the beaches. Entertainment During the day many passengers join one of the escorted shore excursions offered at most ports, with guides providing insight into the history and culture of the particular region. It's a good idea to sign up for excursions as soon as possible since the more popular ones tend to sell out quickly. Nighttime entertainment consists of activities such as crab races, pirate night games, talent shows and karaoke, a crew fashion show and dancing at the Tropical Bar. The ship does not have a casino and there are no stage shows. Crewmembers are very talented, however. Kenny from St. Vincent is the carpenter onboard and he sang and danced like a professional an entire evening. Local entertainers occasionally come onboard in the evening. Stop by the bridge at any time, stand watch as an observer, help with the sails or simply sit back and enjoy sailing as it used to be. You cannot be bored on a Star Clippers Cruise. Decor Tastefully refined nautical, with ship paintings, brass lamps and wooden stairway. On the top deck it's pure sail: yards of ropes, tall masts and deck chairs for watching the crew hoist sails. The dcor of Star Clipper and Star Flyer is reminiscent of the grand age of sailing ships. Antique prints and paintings of famous sailing ships please the eye, while teak and gleaming mahogany rails are richly reminiscent of Star Clippers proud nautical heritage. Cuisine We were delighted with the quality of the food, the portions, the menu choices, and the service. We tend to order wine with dinner and we had plenty of choices. The crew went out of their way to make sure we were having the best experience possible. To encourage the passengers to mingle, breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served at a single open seating in the mahogany paneled dining room, located on the Clipper Deck. Seating is available either at tables for eight or booths for six (there are no tables for two or four). Food is nicely presented and is good in both quality and quantity as passengers can select from ample breakfast and lunch buffets. Bakery items, especially the fresh breads and desserts, are exceptional. The Clipper Dining Room Breakfast is a lavish and well- prepared buffet, served anytime between 8 and 10 AM. Made-to-order eggs and the omelet bar start the day on a high. There are also plenty of meats, fruits, cereal, and homemade breads available. Coffee, tea and pastries are also served in the Piano Bar Lounge from 6:30 AM onwards. Lunch is served from 12 Noon until 2 PM. There's usually a side of beef, a turkey or lamb at a carving table along with lots of salads and vegetables and some creamy desserts and cakes. Lunches are served buffet style and usually built around a theme, such as Mexican or Chinese. Lunch was sometimes barbecued on deck and at Tabayana Beach on Roatan, it was served on the beach. An afternoon snack is served daily on the Tropical Deck from 5-6 PM. A la Carte dinner service begins at 730 PM and ends at 10 PM. No reservations are made to promote conviviality. The five-course dinner menu offers appetizer, soup, salad and a choice of five entrees (seafood, meat, chef's special, vegetarian and a light dish) plus cheeses and desserts. Jumbo shrimp and caviar were the highlights along with the omelet/egg station in the morning! It is not unusual to find the crew and captain dining with the passengers. The French Savoir Vivre permits for a leisurely meal. Service in the dining room is superb -- waiters and the ship's Maitre d are warm, friendly and as professional as you'll find on some of the best cruise ships. Shorts are not accepted in the dining room for dinner. Gentlemen are requested to wear shirts with collar and long sleeves for dinner. Brewed coffee and a selection of teas are available 24 hours in the Piano Bar and there is a fruit-bowl there all day also. Snacks are also offered in the Piano Bar every night at 11:30 p.m. and pastries are served in the mornings. When possible we were anchored during meals. Alcohol not purchased onboard may only be consumed in your cabin. The Clipper Dining Room and all other public areas are strictly non-smoking. Public Rooms We enjoyed the convivial indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar and Piano Bar, and Edwardian style library where a Belle poque fireplace glows with a warmth that reflects the friendliness and enthusiasm of Star Clippers hospitable officers and crew. The library contains a good selection of reading material including paperback novels, books about nautical history and guide-books featuring destinations on The atmosphere on the ship is relaxed and casual The cozy Piano Bar is easily the most romantic and intimate room onboard, with its striking white piano, brass lamps and polished mahogany trim. The room is handsomely furnished with leather banquettes and chairs, and the walls are adorned with nautical paintings and prints. Smoking is allowed in here and some people stunk up this room quickly, which made it unbearable for me to breath in there. Fortunately, the weather was warm outside and I didn't need to be in the bar. I missed Scaba playing the white piano before dinner most evenings due to the smoky conditions in the Piano Bar. The ship's most popular watering hole is the covered outdoor Tropical Bar where passengers gather in the evenings to socialize and enjoy beer, wine and cocktails. A BBQ lunch or two are served here during the days at sea. Local entertainers occasionally come onboard and perform on the open deck space adjacent to the bar. This space is also used for dancing. On sea days, passengers have plenty of room to stretch out and relax as the expansive teak decks provide more outdoor space per person than most conventional cruise ships. On-Board activities are minimal except for the already mentioned nightly entertainment of some sort at the Tropical Bar: A Pirate Night, hermit crab racing, talent show, fashion show from the Sloop Shop and trivia contests, Captain Uli's fantastic presentations any time of day and night, mast climbing, 2 pools to dip in, vegetable carving, napkin folding and scuba certification done poolside. You will have to be content with one entertainer/pianist for the week onboard the ship. Scaba was superb and needed no help. He was everywhere with his accordions and pianos. Water Sports You won't find a spa on these ships, although there are two small pools. On most mornings an aerobics class is scheduled on deck. There is no gym onboard so physical fitness activities are limited to these morning aerobics classes and active shore excursions. A masseuse offers an hour-long Thai massage for $48.00 as well as manicures and pedicures. Water-sports are available, particularly on Caribbean itineraries, including banana boat rides, windsurfing, water-skiing, snorkeling (complimentary equipment provided) and scuba diving. The Royal Clipper has a water-sports platform. All passengers have access to the complimentary water sports program, except for SCUBA diving. A certification card is required for SCUBA diving and there is a charge of $48.00 per dive. Scuba instructions in the aft pool and introductory dives are also offered. You can also lie on the bow nets that hang out on either side of the beam that extends from the bow of the ship. Just like big hammocks, this was definitely the place to relax or sunbathe. Service The Cruise Director makes announcements in English, German and French. We had Mara from Italy and she spoke almost every language on earth fluently. Only urgent announcements are made in the cabins, however. The restaurant staff is very pleasant and service is good. Everyone speaks English. Drinks are served at the bar and on sea days also on the sun deck. A PC is available in the library to send e-mail. They go out whenever the satellite is available and there is no guarantee as to when they reach the recipient. Its also expensive. The purser can send a fax also. Service and creature comforts are more than adequate, although there is no room service due to necessary limitations on the number of crew these ships can carry. We had 75 crewmembers from 27 different countries. There are no laundry facilities onboard, but you can have your dirty laundry done for a small charge: $2.00 for a shirt, $1.50 for T-shirts, $3.00 for long-sleeved dress shirts, skirts or a blouse, $4.50 for a dress, 50 cents for socks and underwear, $1.50 for a pair of shorts. A price list and laundry bag is placed in each cabin. Medical Assistance A nurse is available at all times. A doctors visit may be arranged in any port of call. Tipping Gratuities are not included in the fare and are at the sole discretion of each passenger. It is suggested that each passenger tip $8 per day -- $5 for the waiters and $3 for the cabin steward. Tips may be placed in envelopes and handed in to the purser's office or they may be pre paid with your cruise fare or added to your statement. A 15% tip is added to the bar bill when ordering drinks. Fellow Passengers In the Caribbean, the passenger mix is approximately half American/Canadian and half European. On our cruise with 150 passengers, we had 62 Americans, 36 Germans, 14 Brits, 12 French, 5 Swiss, $ Dutch, 2 Belgians and 2 Norwegians, and 1 each from Austria, Australia, Columbia, Mexico, Sweden and Turkey. We had 65 repeaters, 3 Honeymoon couples, people celebrating retirements, birthdays, and us celebrating the last kid graduating from college. On Asia and European cruises, fellow passengers are primarily European and predominately English and German. Children aged seven or eight and above have a marvelous time aboard these ships, but don't expect activities designed specifically for them. We had a 6 year old and a 12 year old onboard our cruise and they had a great time. Star Clippers Cruises tend to attracts a mix of ages from young honeymooners to couples in their 60s and 70s. On the whole it's an active, energetic and physically fit group of passengers with few couch potatoes. Most are seasoned travelers, and many have a sailing background. The Star Clipper inspires passionate loyalty among past passengers and there are usually a large number of repeaters (50-75%). I would highly recommend Star Clippers Cruises to those not seeking Broadway type entertainment, casino gambling and disco style nightlife. A highlight is the port talks, the crew fashion show of T-shirts and shorts and the talent show. We had extremely gifted crewmembers entertain us at night on the Tropical Deck from the carpenter to the bartender and chief engineer. The whole focus of these vessels is the pure sail experience and the easy mixing with fellow passengers representing several nationalities and a broad range of ages. Clipper cruises are best for people, who want an authentic sail experience, small ports that large vessels can't visit, a laid-back atmosphere, meeting new friends, and casual attire. People, who prefer large-ship activities, casinos, spas, floorshows, large cabins, formal dining, and dressing up for dinner, should avoid clipper cruises. If you have a pre- existing medical condition that could require professional help there is a nurse onboard, who can dispense seasickness medication. I don't recommend these ships if you have a medical condition that could erupt into an emergency, although a physician is always present aboard a lengthy trans-ocean voyage. It is a one-of-a-kind cruise adventure that appeals to yachtsmen and those who love to sail. This is not a Windjammer-type experience the passengers are well traveled, educated, and sophisticated, although many Star Clippers repeaters also enjoy sailing with the Windjammer ships. Children's Facilities There are no children's facilities, but you will find passengers with children aged six and above aboard some sailings. Children's programs do not exist. A recent summer cruise saw 17 kids aboard and the cruise staff hustled to create scavenger's hunts, buy coloring books and provide videos. Counselors are not part of staff and the ships really are not advisable for children under 8. Infant needs - including cribs, high chairs and diapers and formula -- are not available on board. Children eat with their parents with no children's menus. Pregnant women in third trimester cannot sail. Attire An informal onboard atmosphere prevails at all times and casual attire can be worn at breakfast and lunch. Recommended dinner dress for women are sundresses, skirts or slacks. Shorts and t-shirts are not permitted in the dining room in the evening. At night, men wear pants and a dress shirt. There is no need to bring formal wear. There are no formal evenings. Jackets are welcome for Captains dinner, but not required. About half of the men wore a tie and a jacket, but some wore short-sleeved shirts or even golf shirts. Here, the lure is the experience of being under sail. Those seeking casino, evening entertainment and dressing up for dinner should look elsewhere. Just bring walking shorts, bathing attire with cover-ups, reef shoes, skirts, light pants, a light sweater and hats are recommended. For shore excursions, bring comfortable walking/hiking shoes and bug repellent. Many of the islands are remote and unspoiled to the point that they have no pier facilities to receive the ships tender. Zodiacs will transfer guests directly to the beach, involving some wading in the water, called a wet landing. Bring appropriate footwear. Cabins There are six cabin categories distributed on the ship's four decks plus one owner's suite on Clipper Deck. Top-of-the-line accommodations are the eight Category 1 Deluxe cabins located on Sun (1) and Main deck (2), which are the only cabins with a whirlpool bath and a minibar. Category 2, 3 and 4 cabins are located on Clipper deck (3) and Commodore deck (4), and while they measure 120-130 square feet, the use of mirrors makes them appear larger. All cabins are air-conditioned and furnished using queen or twin beds plus a desk with a stool, a built in stuffed chair, a radio and a color TV with scheduled movies. There are 2 channels showing 5 movies per day, one in German and one in French throughout the day and night. There is a telephone for calling cabin to cabin and a direct dial satellite phone is located in the library. Prepaid phone cards can be purchased from the purser. There is a safety deposit box in the closet. There is plenty of closet and drawer space for storage of the type of clothing worn during the cruise. Bathrooms are equipped with a hand-held shower, a medicine cabinet and hair dryer. The 3 mirrors above the sink can be arranged so that you see yourself in the back by using the mirror on the medicine cabinet. In order to preserve water (this is a sailboat, remember!), the flow of the faucet is regulated to last only 15 seconds or so, and you must keep pushing a button to get more water. Bathroom amenities include shampoo, soap, bath-gel, lotion, shower-cap, a sewing-kit, and cotton. There is no conditioner, so bring your own if you need this item. Due to the design of a classic sailboat, Star Clipper's cabins are not uniform in size and layout. The best staterooms found on Clipper Deck, are around 130 square feet, attractive and superbly designed. The use of mirrors and wood paneling makes the space appear much larger. The cabins have one porthole, and sometimes as we sailed along water would splash onto the window and whirl around like the water in a frontloading washing machine. The best cabins on Commodore Deck are l08-116, located midship. There are no handicap staterooms or elevators. The room steward is excellent and keeps the cabin spotless, providing clean towels twice daily, unless you hang them up, which indicates that you are willing to reuse it. There is space under the bed to store suitcases. Beach towels are provided daily in the cabin and we often found them hanging on the outside doorknob in the morning, still warm. The accommodations are comfortable. We were in a category 3 cabin, #115, which consisted of a roomy double bed with shower in the bathroom. Loved it when the waves splashed the porthole as we sailed along. For the amount of time we spent in our cabin this was more than sufficient. The ship does use its engines during the night sometimes to get to its destination by early morning so depending on where your cabin is situated you may find it noisy. The six inside cabins, category 5 and 6 located on Commodore and Clipper decks, contain upper and lower berths and do not have a television. Unless you're a serious yachtsman, inside cabins are too tiny and claustrophobic for most people. Each cabin is equipped with 110-volt, 60 cycle outlets that do not require the use of special adapters or converters for US passengers. (The Royal Clipper has 220-volt outlets and do require converters.) Star Clipper versus Windstar versus Windjammer I like them all, but there are differences. The itinerary would be the first thing I would look at with any ship. I prefer the smaller ships mainly because they can stop at the smaller islands that the larger cruise ships can't access. I don't like the big cruise ship ports that are overrun with tourists. The cabins on Star Clipper are much smaller and less luxurious than on the Windstar ships, but bigger and more luxurious than on the Windjammer ships. The watersports & scuba programs are basically the same on Winstar and Star Clippers. You can dive off the ship on either cruise. Its convenient not to have to chase down a dive shop. I enjoyed the casual atmosphere of the Star Clipper. Windstar is a smaller version of a large cruise ship with an upscale country clubs casual atmosphere and large ship amenities, including room service. There is no room service on the Star Clippers. There is a substantial price difference also. Simply, you get what you pay for most of the time. Windstar has more service and more amenities, but Star Clipper is an excellent value and a true sailing adventure. Some people prefer the Windjammers Barefoot Cruises smaller ships and laid back attitude, where the passengers get to work at actually sailing the ship. Its more of a party ship that attracts more young people, some of whom drag their bedding up on deck and sleep under the stars. This is especially true for the singles only cruises. With all ships getting into the down-island grove is easy. Please don't bring tuxedoes, gowns, ties or feather boas to these ships. Our itinerary in the Mayan Caribbean From the Yucatan Peninsula to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Star Clipper explores an exotic region not usually visited by large cruise ships. Sunday: Playa del Carmen Monday: At Sea Tuesday: Cayos Cochinos, Honduras Wednesday: Roatan, Honduras Thursday: Belize City and Goffs Caye, Belize Friday: Puerto Majahual, Mexico Saturday: Cozumel, Mexico The world youll discover aboard the Star Clipper as she sails the Mayan Caribbean is unlike any you might encounter on a typical mass-market cruise ship. >From Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to the necklace of cays and offshore islands fringing Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Star Clipper takes you on a new adventure, exploring an exotic region unfamiliar to most cruisers. Shell sail to the shores of ancient Mayan America, the lands we now know as Central America. The water is so clear you might be tempted to breathe it, and lands are so lush you can almost see the flowers grow. Its a place where divers fill their logbooks with accounts of fantastic underwater exploits while nature-lovers revel in sightings of exotic creatures in orchid-filled rainforests. From the ultra-chic resorts of Cancun and Cozumel to the laid-back ease of the Bay Islands and Belize to the fascinating ruins of Tikal and Tulum, youll enjoy a refreshing new experience as Star Clipper fills her sails for the incredible Mayan Caribbean! Day 1: Friday, February 07, 2003 Travel All Day Alaska Airlines #490 Depart: Seattle/Tacoma at 10:50 a.m. Arrive: Los Angeles at 1:27 p.m. Seats: 12F&D Alaska Airlines #84, Depart: Los Angeles at 3:20 p.m. Arrive: Cancun at 10:18 p.m. Seats: 28A&C Taxis are readily available on the island, but there are some features of local taxi service to be aware of. Taxi rates within the hotel zone will cost you a minimum of $5 per ride, regardless of the distance. In addition, a discriminatory pricing system can charge tourists up to double the amount that local people pay using the taxi service. Always ask your taxi driver for a rate card before beginning your trip. Taxis will take you to the surrounding sites of Chichen-Itza and the Riviera Maya for an hourly fee of approximately $30. >From the airport the fare is fixed at $20.00 per person using a taxi and $9.00 PP using a collectivo, a taxi/shuttle service using a van to get to the hotel zone. You buy a ticket from a vendor inside the airport as you arrive, but beware of timeshare sales people. We used this option to get to our hotel, the Westin Regina. Bus travel in Cancun is the most popular way of getting around town. At a modest 45 cents per ride, with buses operating from 6am to 10pm daily, you can travel to any major destination on the Island easily and cheaply. A moped can be rented from one of several agencies in town, beginning at $25 per day. Be aware that traffic in Cancun is heavy, and mopeds are a dangerous addition to the mix. You must provide a credit card as a security deposit if you wish to rent a moped in Cancun. Cancun, Mexico Though only minutes from Cancn's energetic nightlife, The Westin Regina Resort Cancun enjoys a tranquil setting along an unspoiled beach overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Just up the beach from the Punta Nizuc natural reef, The Westin Regina Resort is perfectly situated to take full advantage of all Cancn's natural wonders. Through the use of ravishing Mexican hues, seductive materials and alluring textiles, we have created a warm, appealing milieu throughout the hotel. Each of our 385 rooms have been designed as intimate yet lavish spaces with panoramic views and all those wonderful services you have come to expect from Westin Hotels around the world. Sample a variety of gourmet Mexican, Italian and international specialties and take in the spectacular view from the Sunset Bar. Discover every water sport under the tropical sun from parasailing to water-skiing, test your skills on the nearby Robert Trent Jones Golf Course and end the day with a margarita - made from one of over 100 different tequilas - at the Lobby Bar. Each room has a magnificent view of the lagoon or the Caribbean. Snorkel, play tennis, or golf the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones course nearby. You can unwind in a pool or whirlpool spa, and enjoy seafood and international specialties in the resort's four restaurants--each with a view of the sea. And a short drive away are the ruins of Chichn Itz and El Castillo Pyramid, whose shadows take the shape of a serpent on two amazing days each year.With pools and beaches facing both the lagoon and the sea, you can enjoy the Caribbean sunshine anytime of day at the Westin Regina Resort Cancun. In addition, we offer magnificent installations and multiple activities: Five outdoor pools and four Jacuzzis, SPA, Aerobics Center, steam room, sauna and massage and two lighted tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course only 5 minutes away plus a Kids Club with supervised activities program and playroom for the children. We got a nice room facing the lagoon and gardens. It was quiet at the Westin and I was surprised that it seemed to devoid of tourists. I had expected a busy, bustling resort. Day 2: Saturday Feb. 08 Little more than twenty years ago, Cancun was just a Mayan name, a deserted, sun-drenched island off the northeast tip of the Yucatan peninsula. The magnificent resort city of Cancun now offers visitors over 25,000 rooms in four and five star hotels as well as all inclusive accommodations that offer package deals including food, beverage and rooms. Some hotels are Internationally recognized, but there also small family style hotels that offer first class service and accommodations. The main "Hotel Zone" lies along 14 miles of beachfront known as "Cancn Island" within 30 minutes of Cancn International Airport. Properties here face the Bay, the Nichupte Lagoon, or the multi-colored waters of the Caribbean Sea. Cancun Island is approximately 16 miles long with the highest point above sea level being 200 feet. The State of Quintana Roo is located 550 miles south of Miami, in the Southeastern part of Mexico. Along the coastline of about 540 miles, there are numerous coral islands and a reef barrier, the second largest in the world. Cancun is a stunning Caribbean paradise with a dual history, one rich in ancient Mayan influences and Spanish imperialism, and the other a modern lesson on the growth of this slender island into a fascinating tourist Mecca. In 1967, the government of Mexico began an exhaustive search to find a complete tourist destination on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. In Cancun, they discovered a site that had it all: unparalleled natural and cultural beauty highlighted in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the stunning white sand beaches, and the incredible off-shore reefs. Cancun enjoys 16 miles of beautiful powdery white sand beaches and an endless view of the Caribbean Sea. Its surrounding waters are ideal for aquatic sports including snorkeling, diving, and parasailing. Golfing is also readily accessible year round. The surrounding areas are rich with Mayan influences, one of the most advanced ancient civilizations the world has ever witnessed. The Yucatan Peninsula, on which Cancun lies, is where the Mayans had flourished for centuries prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. More than 1200 archeological sites, many completely restored, are within a few hours drive from Cancun. Popular guided day tours of the ruins of Tulum, Coba, and Chichen-Itza can be arranged upon your arrival. We walked the beach on the powdery white sand. It felt so good and smooth to walk on, as the sand caressed our tired feet. We walked from the Westin at very south end about 5 miles north along the beach before we stopped for lunch. Except for the Club Med The Westin is the first hotel in the Hotel Zone. The beaches were not crowded with tourists, as I had envisioned Cancun too is feeling the effects of 9/11, the recession and the general fear of travel worldwide, I suppose. The beach is fabulous and worth a visit. But the hotels are stacked up one after another. Amazing! We walked through the lobby of the Melia Cancun with the glass pyramid roof and an exotic rain forest garden inside. It was breathtakingly gorgeous. Across the street we found the Crab House restaurant facing the lagoon with views of Aqua World Sports rental boat dock and the activity I the lagoon. The food was OK and expensive, I had envisioned something Mexican, but apparently the food on Cancun island is mostly American and Italian. After a small lunch, we walked back from the JW Marriott hotel. It was a long walk on the fabulous white sand beach. We spent all day doing this and only covered about a third of the length of the beach. We will be back before flying home after the cruise for one night. We had dinner at the hotels Palmar Restaurant outside by the pool. It was a Mexican buffet and the food was very good, and expensive. I enjoyed the breeze from the ocean and the sound of the waves splashing onto the shore. It was a great setting. Two distinct landmasses comprise the Cancun region. Ciudad Cancun is on the Yucatan mainland and features shopping and restaurants, as well as pharmacies, banks, travel agencies, and other general establishments. It is also the starting point for many quick trips to the surrounding ruins of the Yucatan. The second region, Isla Cancun, is the heart of the resort city. Isla Cancun is connected to the mainland via two bridges, and features opulent resorts, championship golf courses, deep-sea fishing, diving, amazing beaches, and so much more! Once the sun sets, Cancun offers a large selection of entertainment that includes Mexican-style bars and sophisticated nightclubs, playing anything from salsa music to modern dance club mixes. Dining in one of Cancun's excellent gourmet restaurants that offer live dancing and music shows, or browsing through an exclusive Mexican shopping pavilion. These are just two of the many things you can look forward to on your visit to this Mexican paradise. For those who go out more for daytime than nighttime sports, Cancun, with its beaches of powdery coral sand, is the place to be. Cancun is a snorkel and scuba diving paradise, the lagoon enclosed by the -L- shape of the island, is ideal for sailing and water-skiing. Deep-sea fishing and diving are fantastic in the open sea, which stretches out in shades of light green to turquoise from the shoreline to the violet-blue horizon. If you are searching for calm, peaceful days to enjoy the sun and the sand, Cancun boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you prefer to visit the surrounding areas, there are many excursions to the mysterious Mayan archaeological sites of Tulum, Coba, Chichen Itza or Uxmal with. Boat trips to the nearby islands of Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Contoy are popular and easy to do. Day 3: Sunday Feb. 09 Playa del Carmen, Mexico We slept in a little the next morning, had a light breakfast and took another walk on the beach down around the Club Med. They are located at the very end in a calm little cove. Its a great location, away from hustle and bustle that I envisioned was Cancun, but here again it was not crowded at all. We checked out at 11 AM and took a taxi to Playa del Carmen. The fare is set at $50.00, so that is the price. Be sure to reconfirm that with the driver before you get into the taxi. The SPV Star Clipper will be anchored at Playa del Carmen, which is located about 45 minutes south of Cancun airport. The big cruise ships dock is located at the new Puerto Calica Pier, 8 miles south of downtown Playa Del Carmen. This pier is also used for commercial shipping. There is nothing else here. The check-in at the Star Clipper hospitality area of the HOTEL MOLCAS begins at noon until 8:00 PM. The Hotel is situated in the pedestrian area of downtown Playa del Carmen. In Playa del Carmen, there are dozens of restaurants to pick from, bars to refresh yourself with a Margarita or cold beer, and stores where you can look for the right souvenir, shop for clothes, or simply look around and get a feel for the place. The taxi could not take us to the door of Hotel Molcas as it is located in the pedestrian zone. We easily found it just 2 short blocks away. We left our bags with the hospitality desk and didn't see them again until we got to our cabin on the ship. That was convenient. We had all afternoon to enjoy the beach and Playa del Carmen on our own. It was definitely busier here than in Cancun, but not overly crowded. Most people were on the beaches. Playa del Carmen truly defines how there is beauty in simplicity. Playa is a quaint town that has been on the brink of rediscovery with its newly built resorts and golf courses. Nothing can be better than being surrounded by the unique flair of local culture, while also having a more modern option as well. The enchantment of the native buildings, with all of the amenities from world-class resorts creates a perfect blend and an ideal cruise destination. We strolled down Fifth Avenue, the heart of Playa del Carmen. One block from the ocean, it holds an appeal for visitors, inviting them to walk up and down its whole length to absorb the real life of Playa (short for Playa del Carmen). I did a couple of hotel inspections, because I just cant help myself. My favorite was the Mosquito Blue, just a few steps off of Fifth Ave on a quiet side street, which I had to see, since my wholesaler recommends it so highly. Its very nice and clean with a swimming pool and waterfalls inside the garden area. I will stay here on my next visit to Playa. Partly closed to cars to form a pedestrian thoroughfare, it concentrates most of Playa del Carmen's commercial activity. Fifth Avenue (Avenida Quinta) is most active during the night, when the sun has set. The temperature comes down to a nice, cooler level, and Playa del Carmen's tourists are ready to enjoy a night of vacation leisure after spending all day under the sun or exploring the Riviera Maya. Playa del Carmen is a vacation that spoils your senses. The sapphire seaside invigorates and cleanses the imagination as the white sands dance with you amidst each perfect sunset. Stroll through picturesque streets uninhibited by cars and take part in a European atmosphere unique to this part of the Caribbean coastline. The opportunity to see it all by foot makes it very convenient for the visitor. There is no need to be constrained to a car, especially when there is so much to see and experience around every corner. This small getaway is the perfect place to find those unique and unusual gifts one will treasure forever, providing welcoming reminders of an enjoyable vacation. So take pleasure in the plethora of shops and please your taste buds with the finest of restaurants. Allow this town to seduce your senses with its European flair. Situated right in the middle of the Caribbean coast, there is no excuse not to visit this fascinating land. For years, vacationers have been traveling south to the serene and tranquil beaches of Playa del Carmen. As the largest of the corridor cities, it makes an excellent base for exploring the jungles, ruins and coastal regions. Many of the area's accommodations offer a relaxing stay with the convenience of an all-inclusive plan. This charming town is quite small and perfect to be explored by foot. However, to get to the many surrounding beaches and golf courses, one may choose to use a different mode of transportation that is available here. Buses are found all along the Avenida Principal that is just a brief walk from the ferry pier, the hotels and the restaurants. Tricycle Taxis are mainly used to travel between the ferry, bus stations and Avenida 5. They will go anywhere and fear not, for they can accommodate your entire luggage as well. We stopped at a small restaurant, only 4 tables in the sand on the beach, under some palm trees and ordered nachos, guacamole and beer. We could see the Star Clipper anchored outside the reef, and we couldn't wait to get onboard. A little plane was flying around advertising something on a banner, a lobster dinner I think it was, and then he dropped it into the water. As we strolled the beach, we saw this heavily laden dugout canoe approaching the shore and a poor paddler struggling to keep afloat and to move it through the water. He was bringing back the banner. Around 4:30 PM we were transported via the ships own tenders from the Cozumel ferry dock the ship. A welcome drinks and snacks waited for us at the Tropical Bar upon our arrival, while we checked in and got our knot keys on a ring along with the ships credit card. Csaba played and the bar was open. Our cabin steward, Dimas, escorted us to our cabin. He took care of us for the week always making sure we had clean towels as requested and a chocolate on the pillows at night. He also made the sand disappear that we brought with us from the various beaches during the week to come. We feasted on salmon and lamb for dinner the first night and met 2 nice couples from England. Captain Uli raised the sails and we headed straight south 180 degrees all night. I will never again hear "1492 - Conquest of Paradise" by Vangelis without envisioning our majestic Star Clipper ship, all 16 sails taut and full, slicing through that warm Caribbean evening. In a seamless blend of grace and motion, the Star Clipper is an authentic beauty. Day 4: Monday Feb. 10 At Sea all day The winds blew easterly all night and turned northerly in the morning. We had good winds and sailed all night, but now we had lost the momentum, so Captain Uli decided to get some help from the motor to reach Honduras by the morning. I love sleeping on a ship; its so soothing. We had a great buffet breakfast and the captain introduced his crew to us. He also explained what a great experience we would have in the coming week and what to expect, how to take a shower on a sailing ship, etc. His humor is catching. By now the square sails are useless because the wind doesnt catch them from the correct angle, he explained. Tall ships, as we know, are as special as they are beautiful. They are as splendid to the eye as they are to sail and it is an unbelievable wonder to sail on them. Watching the guys doing the deck work or taking the opportunity to put your own hands to sheet or halyard next to the deck crew from all over the world is an exhilarating experience. Mikael Krafft, the owner of the Star Clippers and a schooner man, is giving the general public a chance to go to sea hands on. His idea of global tall ship sailing with a multinational crew and inter-national guests on board has made the tall ships available for everybody. The classically designed lines and traditional rigging, combined with top of the range luxury, comfort, safety and high internal standards are the keys for their success. These ships, Star Clipper and Star Flyer are true sailing ships. There is a lot to do all day at sea. After the captains first speech, we had the lifeboat drill. Mara explained the shore excursions, and Jeff explained the diving offered onboard. Everyone got to pick out the snorkel gear that we would keep for the week. I always bring my own mask and snorkel and only borrow the fins. There is Aqua fitness classes, knot tying classes, an engine room tour and mast climbing. The bridge is always open and passengers are encouraged to learn how to sail and steer the ship manually. Captain Uli seems to love to explain to us about the Star Clipper and about sailing ships, and everyone gathers around when he has a small talk. The weather is perfect and people are stretched out in the deck chairs and on the netting in the front of the ship, napping, reading and relaxing in the sun. Soon its time for lunch, a Mexican buffet and then cocktails before dinner. The day slipped away too fast. We couldn't see the shore, but south of Cancun along the Yucatan peninsula, lie virtually unspoiled beaches, grottos and ancient ruins of the Tulum Corridor. Along this eastern coast, the corridor is bursting with scenic and natural wonders. Visitors can rent jeeps and venture down the well-maintained, two-lane highway to explore the Palancar Aquarium, the Marin Botanical Gardens, Puerto Morales and Punta Bete. There are also cenotes, which are unique to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are pools where the water from underground rivers has come up to the surface, forming a beautiful, natural lake of fresh or brackish water tightly surrounded by lush, green jungle. They make a perfect spot for taking a refreshing swim. Cenotes were sacred to the Mayans. It is where they used to make their sacrifices to the gods, so it is not unusual to find ancient pottery in them, along with other mysteries they hold. In fact, cavern and cave diving in cenotes have become very popular in the area. It's perfectly safe as long as you are going with an expert. There are various eco parks such as Tres Rios, Xcaret and Xpu-Ha that offer you a variety of activities on the beach and jungle. A few of them have small zoos with the animals that are typical the Riviera Maya, including dolphins that you can swim with. Soon it was time for evening cocktails and snacks on deck by the Tropical Bar. Then Mara would give a short talk on the next port. Tomorrow we will be in Cochino Grande in the morning. Then the party would move into the Piano Bar an hour before dinner, where Csaba plays the white Grand Piano there. Unfortunately, there were several heavy smokers, who always hang out in the Piano Bar, so I didn't last long in there. That was too bad for me, as I would have liked to listen to Csaba play the white grand piano. There is a smoking tolerated zone in the Piano Bar, but it seemed that people smoked everywhere. Finally, I did complain the Jean Paul, the hotel manager and he enforced the rule and then it was a little better. The Clipper Dining Room and all other public areas are strictly non-smoking. This evening our choice for dinner is veal scaloppini or filet of sole. They also offer a diet and a vegetarian main course. The chefs choice is Seabass. There is a display in the Piano Bar of the dishes each night. This is a very clever idea in my opinion. I enjoyed seeing the display. At 10 PM there is the crew fashion show of the items in the boutique, the Sloop Shop. The supply is getting low, due to the fact that the shipment is held up in the Mexican customs. Seems someone there has decided that a lot of money is due to have the shipment released. Its not worth it, so the ship is letting it sit there for now. The rules in Mexico can be interesting. The crew and a couple of the passengers are showing off the wears to music by Csaba of course. Stefan from the Swedish sports team is the biggest clown as he dances and prances around. The sports team is a young and energetic group of Swedes, who a

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

"The captain of a ship is lord paramount. He may stand no watch at all, come and goes when he pleases, is accountable to no one, and must be obeyed in all things, without question, even from chief officers. He has the power to break officers to seamen. He has no companion on board but his dignity, and few pleasures beyond the consciousness of possessing supreme power, and occasionally

exercising it" TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST chronicles by Richard Henry Dana, seaman cir. 1820 Ulrich Pruesse came forward slowly. As he walked, he eyed all the riggings about him, and his demeanor radiated life and confidence. As he neared the navigation area of Star Clipper, he affixed a remote microphone and speaker system. We, the passengers, gathered like sea gulls at the scent of bread crumbs... It was time for the first of nightly sunset talks by Star Clipper's Captain ...'Captain Uli'. It was destiny that Uli someday be the Captain of a fine sailing ship. His father Wilhelm made many tall ship voyages as a seaman in the 1920's, and he later became President of the Hamburg Maritime Academy. Who would have imagined Uli Pruesse, this stern, robust, German born seafaring man could emit so much complexity of character? From the gentle man telling a childhood story over coffee with me at 5 a.m. one morning, to a resourceful and assured man of the sea, and then to the role of a passionate and skilled orator. To his credit, you could not see fear in the crew and officer's faces, but admiration, and total respect...shh! here he is. "Welcome...you are here on a great adventure!" he says with gusto and pride. "As we are unfurling these beautiful white sails I want you to take a deep breath, and watch all that is about you. Let out every care. Leave that stressful life behind, and every worry behind! Set yourself at peace ... you are at sea! You are on the greatest true sailing ship ever built!" his voice raises with passion, and his speech is accompanied by vibrant articulation with his hands - as though he was conducting Beethoven! Passion, yet tenderness, and even a childlike twinkle came pouring forth from the 56 year old Sea Captain, and you quickly sensed -- this is a man who is in a job he loves, and he is exactly where wants to be at this age in his life. Glorious music begins to stream from the deck speaker system on cue. It is the triumphant sea musical sound track from the movie 1492, music by Vangellis. "Watch now as the main sails unfurl, and fill with wind, and Star Clipper heels starboard, with the wind pulling us out to sea.... ladies and gentlemen... You are sailing now! This is it! ... This is it! he crescendos, and his infectious excitement is a most vigorous strain. "No matter how many times you have cruised... this time you are really at sea... you are sailing... this is it! This week I want you to notice every cloud, every ripple in the sea, every whale, dolphin and flying fish... love it! This is your world, your planet ... love it --- THIS IS IT!" He closes with enthusiasm and emotion. We all watch for the sunset ahead which sometimes announces its departure from the day with a small sparking glint of green... a magical phenomena, and climax to our first full day at sea ... It only took this long for my total and absolute agreement with Captain Uli, and my confidence in him... he was 100% on target when he let forth his inner feelings ... This was it! It was not complex at all. This ship was it, the moment was now, and this man was going to ensure we had a life-changing, awe-inspiring week at sea! The John Masefield poem Sea Fever seems to be cast in history for this special German born Captain and sailor... "I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky, and all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by" When I was a child visiting my best friend, Ira Simmons, who later became, for a time, a Feature writer at a major paper, we would incessantly draw Spanish galleons and clipper ships. These were our imaginary dreams on paper. Perhaps it was kismet that one day I would sail an even more splendid ship than I could ever have imagined on sketch pads. The Ship and Company: Mikael Krafft and his wife Anne are the owners of the Star Clipper line. Mikael had a vision that the public would, and could enjoy what he loved so much... being on fine sailing vessels, stopping at intimate ports, and enjoying this serenity in elegant, yet casual comfort. By 1992 the twins, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, were in service. Last summer the largest true sailing ship ever built-The Royal Clipper-sets sail. The three clipper-ship-company is more than a niche market, it is where cruising is growing most quickly... smaller, elegant, personal and memorable days at sea. The Krafft's personal niche is their passion for recreating the clipper ship days of yesteryear. In order for the shipping of the early 1900's to compete with growing demands, the multi- sailed sleek clipper ships were created. They clipped along swiftly across the oceans, and cut days from shipping goods. Star Clipper and Star Flyer are 2298 tons, 360 feet long, and at capacity carry 170 passengers. Imagine the intimate personal nature of this experience compared with the mega-ships over 100,000 tons, and 3000 passengers hauling about ball gowns and tuxedos! No long lines for dinner or shore trips, and no formal wear brings a smile to its clients! The new Royal Clipper will weigh in at a mere 5000 tons and carry a 228 passenger capacity. Star Clipper has 36,000 sq. ft. of sails, and Royal Clipper will have 56,000 sq. ft. of sails. I can't wait to have an opportunity to sail with her! Myths and Realities: You won't have to swab the deck on Star Clipper. This is an elegant clipper ship. But, you could do so if you like, and you could learn navigation and take a turn at the helm. This is a popular activity. You can also climb masts and visit the open bridge. You won't get seasick just because it is a sailing ship. The deep drafting design lets Star Clipper cut through choppy seas, where some mega-ships are rounded and tend to bounce on choppy seas regardless of mass. You must realize seasickness is both a real event for some, and a pre-conceived destiny for others. Star Clipper's cabins are divided into six categories. Owner's suites, and deluxe suites are spacious and cost more. Most clients prefer saving the money and getting standard cabins. We prefer the lower deck near the water, and that saves even more. The cabins are compact, but our three person cabin was workable. TV and ample closet space are provided, and throughout the ship is a fine woodwork look. There are no Broadway shows, no casino, and no formal dress. This ambiance and casual elegance is preferred by clients. The crew has nightly activities, from talent shows to pirate night. Dancing, a piano bar, and socializing seem to make time fly. Spend a day lying in the bow sprit netting hanging high above the seas, or relax and be pampered in abundant deck and lounge chairs... as Captain Uli says --- "This is it!" Owner Visit: Anne Krafft, owner, joined our sailing. She told me "This is a passion for my husband Mikael, but I love the business end of it, decor, staffing.... we work 16 hour days regularly, especially now that Royal Clipper is about to join our other two ships." What do you see as the reason Star Clipper is so hot a commodity with cruise passengers? I asked her... "We wanted to build ships that allow today's public a chance to see the glamour and style of the gilded age at the turn of the century. This was a life and style reserved only for the very wealthy, and now everyone can come aboard ... we feel good about this," she said with a smile and satisfaction. She added, "I can see you like our Captain Pruesse and he is great, but our other Captains see our mission also, and do a wonderful job. I try to sail almost every month because I want to see how passengers like what we are doing, and I can see it in their faces if this is true ... I care about quality and our service ... we take every comment to heart" she concluded. I felt she was quite sincere in her comments, and her pride radiated. Our itinerary: The itinerary you select depends on the time of year and which of the three ships you select. They vary from the Far East, Mediterranean, to Caribbean. Many people love simple ocean crossings. We began our cruise in Antigua, a resort island of the Caribbean. We flew in a couple days early, which insured that airline debacles cannot spoil your departure time, and it also gives you a chance to relax and get to know the embarkation port. Antigua was not hard to like. We selected the Hawksbill Resort from a group of listings on the Internet. It proved to be a lucky break. The Hawksbill provides ocean front cottage bungalows with 180 degree screened and open-air rooms, and the Caribbean is only 50 feet away. At night the frogs and night life, in harmony with the surf, makes this a wonderland. All sports equipment is provided and rates are often on special pricing. This simplistic resort in a secluded location marked high on my preference list, while not elegant or presumptuous ... this enhanced its appeal! Antigua has scenic beauty, and her people are welcoming. Abby Gail Smith, a lovely and animated tourism guide at Nelson's dockyard made this historic site fun and informative. Antigua is a special emerging nation that I would select to return to for a land vacation. Next on our trip was St. Kitts. It was fun watching other cruising ships stare at Star Clipper in envy as we came into, and departed each of our ports. St. Kitts was a day for beach fun and water sports. Star Clipper offers banana boating, skiing, sail-boarding, and sunfish-sailing at no additional fees. This is a nice money saving perk! Scuba lessons are nominal in cost. Between Monday and Wednesday we moved around the British Virgin Islands. These are preferred localities. They are safe, gloriously lovely, and quite up-scale clients frequent them. We visited Tortola, Sandy Cay, and the Treasure Island locality Norman Island for snorkeling. The highlight was Virgin Gorda and the Baths: Huge granite boulders surround a remote beach, and scientists are baffled as to why the granite mammoths are even in the lava and limestone Caribbean ... especially in such oddly tossed arrays. "On our fourth day the undulating mirror of a sea stirred with dancing ripples, and I felt the strange coolness of a breeze in my face. The stretch of canvas above me came to life, and elatedly the Captain swung the helm over so the sails would catch the moving air. The ship heeled...bubbles gurgled along her bottom, and she flung spray aside." Lone Voyager, by Joseph Garland Two countries-one island. That is the marketing strategy now of one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean...St. Maarten/St. Martin. "We have weathered 5 hurricanes in the last 6 years, but we are making headway and plan to be in full recovery by October 2000.", says William Bell of marketing for St. Maarten's tourism department. This lovely island is known for bargain shopping, and the French side for planned communities of red roofed homes and upscale rentals. St. Maarten/St. Martin is worthy of a personal vacation, and this is why Star Clipper along with many ships find this to be a cruising favorite. You see Dutch and French sides easily. St. Barts, also French is quiet, and is one of the more expensive places to visit for personal vacations, but it is certainly a lovely stop for the beach and island tour. From St. Kitts and Antigua we could see the plagued island of Monserat still steaming sulfur from its volcanic eruptions in the 1990's. Sometimes we could see the interesting island of Saba ... almost cone-shaped. A man-made landing port had to be constructed, but still visitors, which are few, have to climb hundreds of stairs to reach the area above where people reside. These moments learned and seen made our sailing all the more interesting. Overview: This was without doubt, or reservation, a 5 star experience. The dining was excellent for breakfast and luncheon buffets. Dinner offered a two entree choice European slant cuisine. Our cruise had 12 countries represented, with 45% of passengers being American. The ship's interior was well decorated, and the dining room was newly re-decorated. There are two small pools, a lavish wood library, which needs a few more English novels. "Some of our sailing's have up to 60% repeat cruisers!" said Anne Krafft with pride. It is not hard to see why ... I still think of Star Clipper almost daily! My daughter cried at leaving the ship, her friends, and Murphy the eclectic green parrot mascot. I will remember my thrill of being put out in a zodiac for photos while Star Clipper sailed one evening... it was exhilarating... and it was eerie re-joining her while moving. One presence rang true for this sailing week. The passengers arrive with a common unspoken bond to love it before it sets sail. They are seeking a smaller cruising climate, the true sailing, and they are not the nit-picking delicate sort of people that some upper cruise lines attract. From first sight of Star Clipper at port... it is infatuation, if not love! Most of the people on board are middle class and higher, and had tried the mega-ships and they were unanimous in their refrain ... "nevermore!" As the sun sets this evening Star Clipper and Star Flyer's guests are somewhere listening to classic music with sunset talks and goose bumps form from the joy of a rediscovery of nature and essential values. As their sails fill, and a salty breeze caresses their brows... It is as though the sea and Star Clipper beckon me to return... I hope this is true! "We were sailing all the way under pure sky, intensely blue at the zenith and passing through imperceptible gradations to a soft lapis lazuli above the horizon... It was as beautiful a run, or rather a living glide as could be imagined!" The Hundred Days at Sea by Patrick O'Brian TIPS FOR TRIPS Star Clippers Star Clipper web page Visit Our Clippers www.starclippers.com  Toll Free for information and brochures 1-800-442-0553 For bookings see your travel agent. Hawksbill Beach Resort, P.O.Box 108, St. John's, Antigua. www.hawskbill.com e-mail hawksbill@candw.ag phone: (268) 462-0301 Fax (268) 462-1515 Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association e-mail info@antigua-barbuda-ca.com Dept of Tourism e-mail: deptourism@candw.ag web page: www.interknowledge.com/antigua-barbuda or try: www.antigua-barbuda.org St. Maarten Tourism e-mail: colleen_philbrick@ypb.com web: www.st-maarten.com phone: (800) 786-2278

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