After a halt for two years during the pandemic this iconic cruise line has now fully resumed and expanded its sailing programme onboard its fleet of three tall ships. It is the first time multiple ports of call in the Med have been announced since 2019 and these include Milos and Sifnos in Greece and Porte Ercole in Tuscany. A great attraction of sailing with Star Clippers is the ability to sail into small ports that are rarely visited by other cruise lines. Mini cruises will give newcomers a taste of the tall ship adventure.
SVP Star Clipper is one of the two smaller vessels, carrying just 166 guests each, with a crew of 74. Carbon emission reduction, sustainable sourcing and respect for the destinations they visit are all major focus areas for the company and over a year the average time under sail in the Mediterranean is around 55% and in the Caribbean it is around 70% under full sail.
Mental and physical wellbeing are also a major factor on board Star Clipper which introduced 14 sailings with professional yoga instructors this year to offer the ultimate wind-down.
Voted the ‘happiest place in the world’ in the Happy Planet Index 2021, Star Clipper returns after eight years to eco-friendly Costa Rica in Central America through the winter season on seven-night sailings taking in Nicaragua and the Panama Canal.
Star Clippers’ fleet of three tall ships are constantly on the move following itineraries in the Med, Central America and the Caribbean and highly qualified and welcoming staff are kept busy running the Tropical Bar, restaurant, entertainment programme and sports activities. Many of the crew are from the Philippines with hospitality running through their veins. This makes for a very good atmosphere on board under the leadership of a highly experienced Belgian captain. Passengers are invited to take part in deck activities including steering the course, raising the sails and climbing the rigging to the crow’s nest. Two salt water swimming pools are freshly filled each morning and for a close encounter passengers can climb down to the bowsprit net to look out for dolphins and even whales. On each and every port departure the bell is rung as the anchor is weighed and an emotional rendering of Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise is played as the sails are hoisted.
There is a choice of six categories of accommodation on Star Clipper ranging from the Owner’s Cabin with its own whirlpool bath to an inside cabin with upper and lower berths. All cabins have showers and while they differ in layout, the traditional design with teak and brass remain the same. The cabins are generally compact and measure around 11-12 m squared with round or rectangular portholes and twin or double beds.
Casual elegance is encouraged when dining in the evenings and guests can normally choose when and where they want to dine in the restaurant, although Covid restricted us to the same table. This can be a challenge if you are with a mix of nationalities although English is the language of the ship. Breakfast and lunch is self-service with a wide choice of hot and cold international dishes and dinner is served from a menu with a choice of six courses.
Post-Covid hygiene requirements have made it increasingly difficult to reduce the use of plastic on board, however, it is good to learn of the company’s encouraging initiatives towards a more circular economy. In an effort to reduce single-use plastic the company has eliminated the use of plastic straws and encourages passengers to refill their water bottles and re-use their towels when possible. The ship produces all its own water for cooking, showers, toilets and ice and all rubbish and human waste (converted to dehydrated pellets on board) is disposed of in port following strict guidelines under maritime law.
Food waste is constantly monitored with a member of staff reporting on any extra food prepared at the end of the service. The ship’s menu cycle is based on a two-week rotation with a food cost programme based on the daily consumption. With this the chef, storekeeper and hotel manager can see the exact amount of food requested by the galley on that menu cycle day compared to the number of passengers on board.
Low-emission engines are part of the engineer’s green mission and the company keeps a close eye on the latest green technologies. Swedish owned, Star Clipper is well aware of its Government’s ambitious goals for 100 per cent renewable energy and is proud to have recently become the first cruise line to be Pura Vida Pledge approved by the Costa Rican Tourism meaning it aligns with sustainable tourism practices.
Informality combined with a sense of nautical heritage on this authentic tall ship make for a relaxed and unique holiday. Space on deck allows for peace and quiet while in other areas there can be music and activities. A great opportunity to sail into less know ports I would recommend that passengers are reasonably mobile as it can be testing climbing on and off the tenders especially in a rough sea. The international guest list made for a really interesting mix of people and my address book is now full of people I promise to meet again!
A seven-night Mediterranean cruise in Summer 2023 in Category 2 outside cabin starts from £2249 plus excursions and flights.
Reservations: 0845 200 6145 starclippers.co.uk