Thai-land and Sea Cruise

Star Clipper Cruises Offering Winter Specials

By: Julee Binder

Returning the four-masted Star Flyer to Thailand for its eighth winter season, Star Clipper Cruises is offering discounted air and free hotel nights to lure travelers to post-SARS Asia.

“We’ve discovered through our market research that consumers are looking for a combination cruise and land package when booking the Far East,” said Mark Carlson, director of marketing for Star Clipper.

The company combined seven-night cruises on the 170-passenger Star Flyer with four free hotel nights in Bangkok. Fares for the 11-night package start at $1,545 per person, double occupancy.

The discounted air add-on is $395 from Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The offers are available on 15 departures between Nov. 8 and March 20. The Star Flyer sails roundtrip from the Thai island of Phuket.

The cruise sails in the Andaman Sea, calling at numerous small islands and outposts along the southern coast of Thailand and Malaysia, as well as Penang or Langkawi.

The 11-night package begins with a stay at the four-star Montien Riverside Hotel in Bangkok, located in the city’s commercial and entertainment district.

The land package includes breakfast, selected meals, a half-day “Vibrant City” sightseeing tour and airport transfers for the short flight to and from Phuket.

Passengers can simply sit back and relax on the cruise; boating enthusiasts can lend a hand hoisting sails or can climb the mast (in a harness) if they choose. Every other week, the cruise includes a call at Penang, Malaysia or the island of Langkawi.

Pulau Penang lies off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, and is linked to the mainland by one of the longest bridges in the world (8.4 miles).

The capital, Georgetown, combines a number of foreign influences with a 65-story skyscraper called the Komtar; a complex of department stores, restaurants, theaters and a squash court, and the Kek Lok Si temple, one of the finest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia.

The Malaysian island of Langkawi is one of a group of 104 islands scattered in the seas off the northernmost tip of Peninsular Malaysia. The clear tropical waters provide spectacular swimming and diving while the scenery includes paddy fields contoured into limestone hills, lush tropical forests and high tumbling waterfalls.

A modern cruise ship in every way, the Star Flyer was created for those who also appreciate the tradition and romance of the legendary era of sailing ships. The ship is 360 feet long and carries 170 guests in an atmosphere more akin to a private yacht than to group touring, the company says.

Despite its size, the Star Flyer has expansive decks, which the company says is more outdoor space per passenger than most conventional cruise ships.

In addition to two pools and an indoor-outdoor tropical bar, the Star Flyer boasts a piano bar, a traditional library with a fireplace and dining rooms serving gourmet meals.

Cabins include twin beds that can be converted to queen size, marble bathrooms, safes, televisions with in-house video, direct-dial phones and hair dryers.

The on-board atmosphere is decidedly low-key. Guests are free to dine when and with whomever they wish, including ship officers, who join guests in the dining room most nights.

There are no formal nights; “casual elegance” is the general dress with slacks and polos recommended for men and sundresses or equivalent attire for women.