I've read a few reviews of voyages with Star Clippers on Cruise Critic and I thought it was time to try to sum up why this quirky cruise line really works. It's not for everybody, that's certain but the question is, "Is it right for you?"
My wife and I are repeat travellers with Star Clippers now. We've been on all three ships, once on a coast hopping trip up the Yucatan (sadly no longer one of their voyages) and three times transatlantic.
Yes, I know what you're thinking; "What do you find to DO on a ship that small for seventeen days with only a single one day port stop?"
Well, here's what we did......
* Looked out at an empty sea and had the delight of knowing we were the only people from way over there to way over there.
* Watched flying fish and tried to guess how far they'd go before they dropped back into the water.
* Looked up into a starry sky and saw the Milky Way sweep across the heavens.
* Sunbathed, dodging the stripes from shadows of the masts and the rigging.
* Slid across the deck on sunbeds when the ship rolled.
* Woke up to the quiet of bowling along with only the sails driving us.
* Celebrated 41 years of marriage in the best place on Earth – miles from anywhere!
* Got used to walking like a pirate on the ship to cope with the heel, this ship sails properly as often as it can.
* Got used to walking like a pirate on dry land when we got to the Azores after 12 days at sea.
* Watched the back of a fin whale slide endlessly by as it dipped beneath the water.
* Ran to the deck rail like children everytime we heard the cry of, "Dolphins!"
* Talked with people we would never have met or never have got around to talking with in any other place.
* Shared some small sense of what it must have been like for those that sailed vessels like this in days gone by.
* Felt how small a ship is in a sea that goes on for days and days.
* Delighted in seeing a swallow appear on board with no land in sight.
* Worried when a hawk turned up a day later. No albatross though.
* Shared our catalogue of bruises with others that hadn't quite got the sea legs required for the rougher parts of the voyage.
* Drank in a bar, ate in a restaurant and slept in a cabin where the crew were universally friendly, helpful and happy to please.
* Learned about sailing a tall ship from the people that do it.
* Covered 3100 miles and still wanted more.
* Stood on the bridge as two fellow passengers renewed their wedding vows under blues skies in the middle of the ocean.
* Learned about the life beneath us from one of the most enthusiastic advocates of marine conservation imaginable, and learned some Spanish too.
* Sat on a deck with no one else but us under the sky – or so it seemed.
* Stepped gingerly over wet decks in a vain attempt to make photographs of rough seas that look like it felt.
* Shared the whole thing with people who loved the open sea too.
* Laughed on Talent Night as the crew and passengers satirised the voyage in one of the most hilarious sketches we've ever seen.
* Watched the red leading lights line up to guide us in as we entered the mouth of the Tagus.
* Took bets on whether the mast would really go under Lisbon's 25th April bridge. (Mast height 69 metres, bridge clearance 70 metres at high water. Things that make you go, "Hmmm!")
AND ALL THAT IS WITHOUT.....
* Ever managing to get to every meal from "Early Bird Breakfast" to "Midnight Snack".
* Exercising to burn off the fat from too many meals every day.
* Joining the deck golf tournament with its whole new series of hazards; not much sand but the water is REALLY something to avoid.
* Climbing the mast to get a unique view of the ocean (and the ship), 'cos I'm a wimp and she broke a toe just before we left.