Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Star Clippers - Tall Ship Cruising

You can keep your giant cruise ships. Why would anybody want to go to sea in a floating apartment block surrounded by thousands of people you don’t know?

With Star Flyer you can return (almost) to the leisurely days of sail. Unfortunately of course a cruise ship has to run more or less to a schedule and this tends to mean more motoring than you would prefer on days when the wind is contrary, though the fore and aft rig of all but a barquentine’s foremast mean she can sail within thirty degrees of the wind, which is half the angle that can be maintained by a square rigger. Perversely, the wind tended to favour us at night rather than in the day.

The 2,300 ton ship carries only 170 passengers. No fixed places for meals means very quickly you seem to know half the people aboard, even several of those whose first language is not English. I enjoyed one delightful dinner conducted in French, finding words that had lain disused for decades were still there, tucked away in recesses of the brain. Fortunately the Germans all seem to speak English.

The staff are all friendly and attentive, the cabins are good, the food and drink excellent. Especial thanks to the boatman driving the tender to and from shore who was happy to let her fall off course a point or two so you could frame a good photograph of the ship. You can climb the mast, watch dolphins from the bowsprit netting, swim in two on-board pools, relax in the air-conditioned piano lounge or watch the sun go down while you drink cocktails in the Tropical Bar.

Since the ship is small enough to visit lesser-frequented islands, I do have to wonder whether Mykonos is worth inclusion in the itinerary. I think I might have appreciated advance warning that if you aren’t there for the bathing there is absolutely nothing in Katakolon other than the terminus station for buses and trains going to Olympia. Apart from these minor details, the ship itself provides the holiday. It’s just a glorious way to travel.

(NB – I couldn’t easily photograph Star Flyer under sail. The pictured ship under sail is her sister ship Star Clipper.)

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