I've been on many (30+) cruises over the years including small ships like Wind Star and even chartered catamarans. But never on a tall ship or a cruise in Asia. My main concerns were boredom, ship to shore transportation and sea sickness. It turned out no issues with any of the concerns. People ask why I picked this cruise. It was mainly a good price, location and timing. This cruise was price discounted, covered the Thai islands I wanted to see and the departure date was perfect for my schedule.
First, the experience is very different than typical larger cruise ships and chartered catamaran. In fact, it is in between. The food, shore excursions and services are similar to large cruise ships, and the sailing, cabin size and access to smaller stops (islands) is similar to a chartered catamaran. The price is also between both if you don't pay brochure price for the Star.
The cabin was small but OK since we don't spend much time in there. There are larger cabins for higher price. We had a oceanview porthole cabin, 300. It was serviced daily. The common areas were limited in size but never too crowded. We had 120 passengers, about 2/3 of ship capacity. The food was good with a nice variety, but certainly not gourmet. The alcohol drink prices were reasonable with a bottle of French wine between $20-$30. The deck area is a little crowded, but I always found a lounge chair. There are two small pools nice for keeping cool on the hot days. We only docked twice, in Penang and Singapore. The rest of the stops required a tender or zodiac transfer and wet landings on the islands. Plan for this with waterproof bags and beachwear. The transfer from the ship to tender and tender to island can be rough due to waves.
So many options. The beaches and surrounding islands are the biggest draw. Patong (busy), Kata (Quiet) and Karon (in between) are the most popular beach areas. There are other smaller and remote beaches. A day trip to Koh Phi Phi is a must. Lot's of biplane, elephant camps, biking, trekking, snorkeling, etc day tours. Patong is nightlife central.
A must if in Phuket or on a cruise. Similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam and Guilin in China, the limestone islands grow out of the water. The James Bond island is a normal stop but very crowded. Most stop at a sea gypsy village, also touristy. The best is kayaking around the islands and cruising through the mangroves and around the islands.
I've been to Penang before, so we spent the day in Georgetown. If you have never been, take a shore excursion to the main sights. Georgetown has a selection of temples, mosques and historic sights. The best include a beautiful mansion tour and the wall murals scattered around old town. A G&T at the E&O hotel and trying the amazing street food in Little India and Chinatown are a must. The best beach area is a 30 minute drive from Penang.
Wasn't sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. My favorite experience was antique (and curio) shopping and the food. The main sights straddle the small river. The historic colonial sights on on side and Chinatown on the other side. There are two or three streets that run parallel and include most of the sights, shops and cafes in Chinatown. The Friday nd Saturday night markets are a good time to visit. try the amazing and diverse food.