All Hands on Deck!
There is something about sailing that captures the imagination. Whether it’s the whip of a sail, the creaks of the rigging or the rhythmic sounds of the sea, sailing brings us back to a time long forgotten, when mankind had to work with the elements in order to achieve his objectives. Although the Age of Sail ended nearly 150 years ago, Star Clippers, a tour company based in Miami, is bringing the past to life through its operation of three nostalgic clipper ships.
“Sailing is truly a different experience from cruising. When the sails go up and the engines go quiet, all you hear are the sounds of the wind in the sails and the water splashing off of the bow—there’s nothing better,” says Bill Dwyer, director of North and South American sales for Star Clippers.
Clipper ships are defined as fast sailing vessels with three or more masts, sleek hull lines, a pronounced bow and a massive number of sails. As the primary mode of commercial transportation during the middle of the 19th century, the ships shuttled the riches of the Orient—such as tea, porcelain and opium—across the globe to markets in Europe and the Americas. They also transported tens of thousands of gold-hungry prospectors to the shores of Northern California during the Gold Rush. While the age of the clippers ended after the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the introduction of the steamship, their beauty and elegance lived on in the hearts of many.
Today, Star Clippers offers passengers a chance to relive the glory days through a number of international voyages to remote destinations aboard three grand clippers: Royal Clipper, Star Clipper and Star Flyer. The ships—while noticeably smaller than their modern, engine-driven cruise ship counterparts—exude luxury and comfort, offering swimming pools, TVs, telephones, A/C and even marble bathrooms. Groups can reserve contiguous cabins that can be expanded into larger spaces for increased privacy. In terms of event space, some of the ship’s open areas, such as the deck or dining room, can be used for meetings; however, the crew can make arrangements to hold an event onshore wherever the ship docks. “We work closely with a number of vendors in each port and can assist a planner with an event in various locations of interest,” says Dwyer. “We can even take your group to a deserted island for a beach barbecue.”
In terms of destinations, Star Clippers offers a wide variety of locations around the globe. Cruises operate in and around Central America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea, typically running anywhere from two to 14 days. For those looking for a grand adventure, the company offers a 31 day trans-Atlantic cruise beginning in Athens and ending in St. Maarten. Often the destinations along a given route are exotic and remote, since the clippers can navigate in shallow water. “In many of our destinations, you will not see traditional cruise ships, as they are too large. Our Costa Rica program has a number of wet landings, where guests must debark in the water in order to get to shore,” says Dwyer.
For those in search of a unique experience from the 19th century or a little taste of Pirates of the Caribbean, consider an event at sea –and don’t be the last ashore.
Image: Royal Clipper, courtesy of starclippers.com