By Scott Murray
Looking to book a trip with a difference to our usual fly and flop style, we settled upon a South East Asia cruise wirth Star Clipper.
Our Star Clippers cruise was different to any other type of cruise holiday we’d been on before. With a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere, and super-casual dress code encouraged, these small, 4-mast traditional ships really do lend themselves to a holiday with a difference
“Permission to come aboard Captain” as we de-boarded our Tender in Thailand to board this magnificent vessel - a jewel on the Andaman coastline.
I have cruised before, and the huge ships with casinos, waterparks, entertainment and 24 hour dining really does appeal to me. The anonymity, and the sense of escape is much more than I normally get when I visit a hotel.
Star clipper had none of that, which is why i find it so strange that I often long to go and repeat the experience!
There were just 100 of us aboard, compared with the thousands you could expect on board a Carnival or Royal Caribbean ship, wich meant you were encourage, if not, forced to interact with the other passengers - who consisted of self-made millionaires, Embassy officials, doctors.... and us!
What it lacked in gimmicks though, it more than made up for in style, ambiance and overall sense of adventure! We were given the chance to climb the rigging and help put up the sails (the lack of engine noise made for in an incredibly peaceful cruise by the way)
Being a small vessel, we were able to visit deserted islands in shallow waters and discover places in the tropics which had barely been touched my mankind, where the crew would set up beachfront BBQ and activities, not a million miles away from the stye seen on the "below deck" TV series.
On board, the entertainment was simple. Book readings, sea shanties and tales from our cruise director, Peter who would share stories from his years on the open water. The vessel had its on Georgian style library which also had a selction of board games etc, and during the day, those not sunning themselves, could be found engrossed in a copy of Robison Crusoe or Moby Dick.
7 Course meals every night, served on varnished teak tables adorned with doilies and the finest linen. Silver service all the way.
At night the bar was the meeting point, and despite the stature and class of many on board, the style was casual and non-assuming. There was no pretention a whiff of pretension or one-up-man-ship in the air, there was no "peacocking." Everyone was there to relax and escape from their normal hectic lives, absorbing the atmosphere and allowing themselves be transported back in time to when wind-powered boats covered the oceans like confetti at a wedding.