Fodor’s Expert Review
Introduced in 1991, Star Flyer is a true clipper ship reflecting 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.Read More
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.
- 4 passenger decks
- Dining room
- no TV (some)
- 2 pools
- Fitness classes
- 2 bars
- laundry service
- Internet terminal
- No-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
Traditional, yacht-like, and efficiently designed, cabins are adequate but far from spacious by modern standards. All cabins have a safe, vanity-desk, small settee, hair dryer, TV (except Category 6 inside), and marble bathroom with standard toiletries. As would normally be expected on a sailing vessel, staterooms forward and aft are more susceptible to motion than those midship. There is also a noticeable slant to the floor in cabins near the bow. Unless you are particularly agile, you will want to avoid the inside cabins on Commodore Deck, where beds are strictly upper and lower berths. Some cabins are outfitted with a third pull-down berth, but most passengers will find the space too cramped for three occupants. All cabins are equipped with regular 110-volt electrical outlets and one 110-volt outlet in the bathroom that is suitable for electric shavers only.
The Owner’s cabin and Category 1 cabins have a minibar, whirlpool tub-shower combination, and the use of bathrobes during the cruise. Category 1 cabin doors open onto the outside deck, and the Owner’s cabin has a sitting room.
None of the staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility, nor do any staterooms have connecting doors.
Food & Drink
The mahogany-panel dining room serves a single open seating buffet-style breakfast and lunch. Dinner in the dining room is seated and served European-style. For early risers, a Continental breakfast with coffee, fruit, and pastries is set up in the Piano Bar; specialty coffees are available at the bar for a charge. A buffet lunch is offered most days on deck in the Tropical Bar, as are late-afternoon snacks and predinner canapés. On select itineraries an outdoor luncheon barbecue is prepared one day ashore. Late-night canapés are offered in the Piano Bar. There’s no room service unless you’re sick and can’t make it out to meals.
The most entertaining way to start the evening is topside with the raising of the sails. Performers come aboard in certain ports to provide an authentic taste of local music and arts, but with the exception of music in the piano bar and musicians providing accompaniment for dancing on deck, fun takes place outside at the Tropical Bar. Expect crab races, wacky games, and a Talent Night starring crew members and passengers.
Spa & Fitness
Neither ship has a spa facility.