The most important thing to bear in mind if you are looking at the Star Clipper is that this is a sailing holiday and not a cruise. Unlike the big cruise ships, these ships do not have stabilizers and therefore there can be quite a lot of rocking and rolling if the sea is anyway rough. On the first night’s sailing a substantial number of passengers suffered from sea sickness including my wife! The ship’s nurse was on hand with sea sickness tablets and if you feel that you may be prone to this, takes a tablet early.
Getting on board
Arrival and check-in was quite painless and as there is a maximum of 170 passengers, there was no queuing. The company do the usual thing on cruise ships by welcoming you on board with a cocktail and a buffet but on this ship you can probably meet most of you fellow passengers in one go!
Cabins are quite compact compared to some of the bigger cruise ships but they were very comfortable. During the trip I found that if I went to the bar it gave my wife room to do whatever women do. The price of drinks at the bar is reasonable compared to other cruise ships I have been on and tea, coffee and drinking water are all complimentary for the duration of the trip.
Bring a southern European adapter, the ship can supply you with one but have a very limited supply.
Apparently the ship has a Michelin Star chef and the standard of food reflected this. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and evening was a la carte. You can sit wherever with whoever which was helpful for those travelling alone. The house wine was fine and cost around 15 Euros for a bottle. There were also early morning, late afternoon and mid-night snacks for those of us with a big appetite. It would be worth going on this cruise just for the food which was outstanding.
As I said earlier, this holiday is all about the sailing experience and the shore excursions are an optional extra. I had heard some complaints from passengers who had travelled on a Clipper and the Captain had used the sails very infrequently. Fortunately this was not our experience and we appeared to travel under sail all the time.
It was nice to get ashore to shop and see the sights but I could have as easily stayed on board for the duration of the trip. Organized excursions are generally expensive but it is worth paying for the Dalyan River trip. The Cruise Director was either poorly trained or was in the wrong job. What information he did manage to communicate to the passengers was generally wrong, including simple things like paying for entrance to the castle and museum in Bodrum. No, you cannot pay in any currency, they only accept Turkish Lira but if you stop at the nearest bar they will exchange your Euros for Lira. You get a really poor rate but it was worth it to get in. Entrance was 10 Lira. Also unknown to the Director was that some of the sights were closed on the day of visiting. Fortunately we and a number of the other passengers treated this all as a bit of extra entertainment and it did not spoil our holiday
Some passengers came on the trip just to see Santorini but if I go again I would give it a miss, particularly if there are other big cruise ships in. We choose this holiday to get away from the queues but queued for about an hour to get the venicular railway back down to the harbor to board the ship again. Couple this with the problem of getting ashore on time due to the rough sea, it just wasn’t worth the bother. The place was pretty but very crowded and very expensive.
Setting sail each evening to the sound of Vangelis was an exhilarating experience and there was always something going on deck during the day. This is not a big ship but the deck and bar never appeared to be crowded. You should also be aware that if the sea is rough, it is possible that the ship will be unable to berth or drop anchor. They usually have a plan B!
Last but not least, the crew and staff were very friendly and helpful making this a lovely holiday and we will go back, perhaps taking the trip through the Panama Canal.