The Secrets of a Star Clippers Adventure
Adventure World sales manager Kevin Dennerly-Minturn has just returned from an incredible Star Clippers’ sailing, which set off from Phuket and visited the unspoiled beaches of Ko Adang, Penang, Ko Rok Noi, Phang Nga Bay and the Ko Similan Islands before returning to Phuket.
As a nation we are infatuated with sailing, being surrounded by water and entrenched with sports like the America’s Cup. There is something so romantic about the thought of being away on a yacht, perhaps with your family or partner. This blog is here to tell you that you can now have all the charm of a yacht, the food of a 5-star restaurant, and the experience of being in a different remote island or port every day - behold Star Clippers!
I arrived into Patong Bay very excited to get aboard and unravel the mystery and mystique of what a Star Clippers adventure really holds. They say you make a judgement in three seconds and this was my Star Clippers moment. I saw the gorgeous ship, the Star Clipper, in the harbour in twilight with fairy lights and you couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Nearby was an enormous cruise liner with thousands on board. We were the only people on our little orange tender out to our ships, compared to the hundreds tendering out to the floating hotel. I was sold.
What people may not know about Star Clippers is that the beautiful ship is all yours (apart from a couple of small rules). You can go almost anywhere onboard 24 hours a day, including steering the ship. On my sailing, which explored the remote islands of Southern Thailand, we had 77 staff and 95 guests, most of which were repeat passengers.
Still suffering from a bit of jetlag, my days started early with sunrises on the deck before we docked. The sunrise time is slipped under your door every evening along with the next day’s schedule. Coffee, juice and a Danish from the early bird breakfast section was the story of my morning. No matter what day of the trip I was on, I never got over just how incredible it felt to experience this ship.
After sunrise, I headed down to the main breakfast which was buffet-style. Think omelette stations, smoothies, fruits, crispy or soft bacon – it’s your choice, like most things on the Star Clipper. Whether you sit by yourself or in a group, the one thing that’s guaranteed is amazing food and somehow even better service.
After breakfast I headed back to the room, bumping into guests we made friends with and crew we got to know well. Our destination was all about exploring amazing islands, so when packing our bags for the day it was snorkels and fins which were given to us, swimwear and a towel. We were tendered back and forward every 15 minutes to the beaches, which we had all to ourselves. As a Kiwi I love the water, so apart from the water being a lot warmer and clearer than home, the unlimited access to watersports was incredible. In the space of one morning I water-skied, wakeboarded, windsurfed, kayaked and stand-up paddleboarded. Then later I had a beer from the portable bar, manned by a friendly guy in a floral shirt sitting on his chilly bin singing ‘Bar’s open!’.
If the watersports wasn’t enough, I chose to do an optional introductory dive one afternoon for 75 euro, which was a first for me. I never realised how much there is to do on a Star Clippers’ sailing – the head maître de actually joked to me that I would need a holiday after this one! Activities included mast climbing, sexton reading, star gazing, storytelling, knot tying and yoga.
For those looking for more independence, there are deck chairs galore as well as two swimming pools on deck. The Star Clipper has a library filled with games and books, a sloop shop, a DVD collection and massages you can purchase – not to mention a great social area around the piano and tropical bars. What a better way to enjoy a cocktail and pre-dinner snack than by the tropical bar where the ship’s full-time musician is playing some tunes on the keyboard!
While the days are all about experiencing the destinations, the evenings are more about the trip and the friends you make. The sails go up around sunset each day as the ship pushes off, and music is played. Dinner normally follows, which is more formal and a-la-carte style, with more courses than you could imagine – think lobster and snapper! Once again you can sit anywhere and join anytime between 7:30pm and 10pm. Sportswear is out and a slightly more sophisticated level of dress is worn – chinos and a polo or dress shirt is easily sufficient, except for the Captain’s Dinner where you can really wear your jacket or white flowing pants if you wish.
After dinner there is something scheduled most evenings. We had local entertainment, a talent show of acts performed by crew and guests, and a fashion show during which another guest proposed – she said yes, thankfully for the guy. It was only the first night so would’ve made for a long cruise.
For some, the day finished at 9pm. For others it finished after the midnight snack and dancing on the deck with some hot tunes from our musician Charly.
There are a few things people should know before going on a Star Clippers’ sailing. These are ships that pride themselves on being under full sail when possible, while making people feel at home. The rooms are comfortable and of a four-star level. While not quite what you may get in a hotel in terms of size, the turndown service, animal shaped towels and chocolate on your bed each night more than make up for this. There are good sized wardrobes, a cute vintage radio and comfortable beds in the nautical-themed rooms making your stay extra comfortable. The portholes for windows are small, but give you that promise of another day in paradise when you wake up. And seasick? Don’t worry, I couldn’t even tell I was on a ship – although it can change.
Everything is covered onboard except optional excursions, drinks and tips. I chose to visit the orangutans in Penang on our only port visit. Diving is additional and was 75 euro for an introductory and about half that for a certified diver with all the gear included. Drinks were less than a restaurant, e.g. 5 euro for a cocktail of the day and 2.50 euro for a beer. Guidance for tips was 56 euro for the week. Everything is in euros and goes onto your account, which you can fix up at the end of the week.
When looking back on my Star Clippers experience, two main things stand out to me. First is the destination, which is at the heart of why most people choose to travel. Untouched beaches, which was a far cry from the masses near Phuket, coached watersports and a great local culture. Another real highlight was waking up every morning and looking at the beautiful beaches, and vice versa looking back at the most amazing ship I have ever seen. She is beautiful, sophisticated and charming. The people and crew you get to know personally and exchange Facebook details with all add something to the experience, making the trip so much more than a holiday.
The hardest thing was leaving and now to decide on which ship or destination I want to experience next with my repeat traveller discount. See you again soon Star Clippers!
For more information on Star Clippers’ sailings through Europe and Asia, you can view the brochure online
, enquire now
or speak to your local travel agent.