What a sight! Sixteen creamy white sails, snapping and billowing in the wind and bringing to mind romance on the high seas, swift ships and derring-do.
It is an elegant vessel with an easy going informality, a nautical beauty that embodies the heritage and traditions of the storied clipper ships of centuries ago as it pampers a well-traveled clientele with luxury amenities. The 170-passenger Star Clipper and Star Flyer and the 228-passenger Royal Clipper are among the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels, stretching some 360-feet-long or more and cutting a dramatic figure in the water as they sally forth with sails unfurled.
From the antique prints and paintings of famous sailing ships gracing their interiors to the thrumming of “Conquest of Paradise,” the Wagnerian music from the movie, “1492,” that accompanies the sails as they inch dramatically up four masts with each port departure, Star Clipper provides a peek back to the era of fearless sea captains and ever-speedier ships.
Of course, these days ship and shore derring-do is of the active fun-in-the-sun variety: island ziplining, kayaking, reef riding, river tubing, snorkeling, hiking in rainforests, ATV adventures, yacht racing, scenic rail tours and more.
BIG SHIP AMENITIES, PRIVATE YACHT ATMOSPHERE
Seafaring adventurers find spacious and comfy staterooms with en suite bathrooms; teak decks with two swimming pools and covered lounge areas; an Edwardian-style library with an ornate Belle Époque fireplace where you may catch up on the day’s news, crack open a borrowed novel or raid the games chest.
The indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar is a favorite watering hole, the place for five o’clock snacking and snapping to keyboard music on deck and, within, for gathering round an elevated white grand piano for pre-dinner entertainment.
Onboard, a sense of lazy peace prevails. Days unspool in contented anticipation, with relaxation the watchword – and practice. No need to careen from activity to activity on a daily program overloaded with too many choices. Announcements are limited to public areas in order to “preserve your quietude.” And guests are free to lose themselves in unscheduled hours: splashing about the pool, sunbathing, reading, napping, sampling the day’s special drink, talking with new friends.
There are TVs and DVD players in the cabins, and movies may be borrowed from the Sloop Shop, the little boutique tucked behind the dining room and stocked with clothing, souvenirs and sundries. WiFi, though spotty, is available in the Piano Bar for those traveling with their own electronics or via two computers in the library – either way, an Internet card must be purchased.
There are water sports galore, some, like water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing and sailing, right off the bow of the ship. Scuba diving tips and classes are available, including a PADI Discover Scuba Diving course for beginners. Zodiac outings take snorkelers to places where you’ll feel like you’re swimming in an aquarium and the not-to-be-missed photo safari gives passengers the chance to circle the ship by small boat to snap pictures of Star Clipper with all her sails hoisted.
Entertainment showcases local performers who come aboard to give passengers an authentic taste of music and arts indigenous to the area. Musical romps are also made through various genres and eras. There is dancing and disco, music-related quiz games, passenger fashion and talent shows, the Captain’s storytelling hour, wine tastings, specialty cocktail mixing and cooking demos, enrichment lectures, exercise classes and mast climbing for those fearless enough to scale the pole.
A masseuse travels with the ship, ready to massage muscles stressed from hiking, diving or snorkeling. Emphasis is on traditional Thai massage, but relaxation and sports massages, foot reflexology treatments, facials and manis and pedis are also offered. The “spa” is located on the ship’s Sports Deck, beneath a canopy that blocks out the sun but not gentle sea breezes.
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