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“It’s really special, you’ll see,” said the young woman I met while sipping a Bon Voyage cocktail-of-the-day following our first dinner onboard the Star Flyer. The Costa Rica cruise was her third voyage with Star Clippers, and I was impressed that she was so excited about the sail away after experiencing it on multiple occasions.
At the captain’s announcement, we made our way to the upper deck, quickly claiming lounge chairs with a good vantage point for the ship’s four 226-foot masts. As sunset closed upon us, the ship’s 16 sails unfurled slowly to the musical accompaniment of the “1492: Conquest of Paradise” soundtrack. The sounds and sights set the mood for the sailing ahead of us with this ritual, which I was happy to experience each day of the seven-day cruise.
The Star Clippers cruise appeals equally to those who are skilled sailors and to those of us who are mariner-wannabes like me, enamored with the Golden Age of clipper sailing from the turn of the 19th century. If they choose, guests can participate with simpler tasks or help raise the sails. The intrepid can even crawl into the spider web of bow netting to relax hammock style, or strap on a harness and climb a mast with a member of the sports team.
Indeed, this is not the type of cruise for clients who prefer casinos and big show entertainment.
“We have the best entertainment — the sun, the stars and the sea,” said Captain Klaus Müller of the Star Flyer. “All we need to do is breathe it into our spirits.”
The delightful crew members not only efficiently do their jobs as stewards, officers and mates, but also mix with the guests during starlit dance hour, perform in all the shows and, on occasion, dine with the guests. The less formal atmosphere appeals to the more adventurous and casual international guest population onboard, mostly from North America, South and Central America and Europe, which, in itself, provides for a rich conversational environment aboard the cozy confines of the ship. There is always something to do and someone to talk to, whether it’s sipping espresso in the Piano Lounge, listening to a discussion on the next day’s shore excursions in the library or taking an aqua aerobics class in one of the ship’s two small pools.
Star Flyer is 370 feet long, carrying 170 guests. Even so, the ship’s interior is divided in such a way that finding privacy is not an issue. The 85 cabins have nautical decor, with plenty of drawers and closet space for two and nicely outfitted bathrooms with showers.
Active clients will appreciate the free water sports equipment including kayaks, snorkels and small sailing skiffs. Even water-skiing and scuba diving are offered. One sunny beach day we even enjoyed a water aerobics session led by the sports crew.
Dining aboard a Star Clippers cruise is open seating with buffet-style meals at breakfast and lunch, all with plenty of options. Dinner includes appetizers, soup, salad, dessert and a choice of five entrees: seafood, meat, vegetarian, a chef’s special or a light dish. Guests usually dress up a bit more for dinner, while the other meals are quite casual.
Star Clippers’ three sailing ships, including Star Clipper, sister ship to Flyer, and the 227-passenger Royal Clipper, sail in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Costa Rica and Northern Europe/Baltic. The line is currently highlighting its Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama seasons for the three ships, with two Panama Canal transits and maiden calls at Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Star Clippers’ free air program covers roundtrip airfare and air taxes/surcharges from a number of cities. For those wishing to make their air arrangements independently, the company offers a credit off of the air-inclusive cruise fare.