Yo Ho, Yo Ho…

I’m not a fan of traditional cruises. I don’t mind if you are—really I don’t—it’s just that personally, they’re just not my cup of tea. I get anxious just thinking about being in the midst of 6,000 people (like the behemoth, Oasis of the Seas) while trapped out in the open of a body of water, far from any escape route leading me back toward land. That’s exactly why I like Semester at Sea and Enrichment Voyages; the ship’s capacity is just 836 people (and many times, there are far less people than that sailing). Or the Holland America cruise we went on to Alaska; that has around 1,200 passengers and is about my max in terms of cruising.

Star Clipper tall shipSo when the owner of the travel agency with which I am affiliated invited SVV and me along on a scouting trip with her and her husband over Thanksgiving, I took one look at the Star Clipper website and needed no more information. The ship was perfect, and Carol and Steve are the ideal travel companions. (My dad has been a long-time friend and colleague of Steve’s but this was SVV’s and my first trip with our new favorite people. Hopefully, the first of many…)

But why did I love the Star Clipper so much? Let me count the ways…

  • It was small and intimate. No getting lost in the crowd. No running into people your every turn around the ship. It’s an environment that fosters meeting your fellow sailors and striking up friendship with others. On our cruise, there were 117 passengers, though the tall ship can accommodate 180.

Star Clipper cruise ship

  • There were no children. Now despite my own vow not to have kids, I love rugrats. My four- and two-year-old “nieces” are probably the coolest chicks I’ve ever known, and I have many friends’ children who I like to claim as my own. But on a vacation? NO WAY. I want peace and quiet. While Star Clippers has no policy against children, there’s no kids’ club or other activities that cater to the under-18 set, so it’s pretty much all adults, all the time. (Though that said, there were the middle-age “Howlers,” a rambunctious group on board from the Midwest who were probably more immature than any child I’ve yet to meet…)

Star Clipper adult vacation

  • You get to watch the crew raise the mast and sails each time you depart from port. They even play a Russian pirate-like music each time you take off that you will be singing in your sleep. Well, that or Lonely Island and Michael Bolton, one.

Star Clipper tall ship

  • Speaking of pirates … I will forever love Jack Sparrow, and I’m not going to lie: Being on my own real life version of the Black Pearl was pretty darn cool.
  • You stop in many smaller ports that can’t be reached by big ship. This also means, often we were the only tourists on the island (such as in Îles des Saintes and Guadeloupe), which is my favorite kind of way to explore.

Star Clipper tall ship

  • It won’t break your bank like a private charter. Surprisingly, for a ship this small and nice, Star Clipper is also really affordable.
  • Almost all the cabins are the same. Whereas on a big cruise ship, we always go for the cheapest (interior cabin on the bottom deck), which happens to be the smallest as well, I toured all the cabin levels on the Star Clipper, and aside from a handful of suites, nearly all the cabins are about the same size.

Star Clipper cabins

  • There’s absolutely nothing lovelier or more relaxing than laying on a deck chair outside and breathing in the balmy Caribbean night air.

Star Clipper tall ship

Have you ever traveled on a tall ship? Or gone on a non-traditional cruise in general?


If you’re looking to book a trip with Star Clipper for an upcoming vacation, feel free to drop me a line at Kristin (AT) GroupTrekTravel (DOT) com, and I’ll help you out. My agency has a partnership with the cruise line; however, I also have an internal moral compass that points to this: I only recommend companies and other travel services that I personally love. And if you’re a family with small kids, I can totally hook you up with a Disney Cruise, as well—my first (and probably my second most beloved) cruise experience back in 1991!

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Comments ( 52 )

  1. Even hearing the word ‘cruise’ starts to make my skin crawl…not my thing… but this ship looks AMAZING!! I would totally do that. Especially since they play pirate music πŸ˜‰
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Expats don’t have everything. Weird, right?My Profile

  2. I’ve worked on two tall ships, the best being a six month voyage around the South Pacific. I maybe biased, but tall ship sailing is the coolest way go from place to place!

    If anyone is in Sydney this October, they should definitely go see the tall ship festival.

  3. I love cruise – the traditional way with all the Mouse and his friends all around. :) But if we plan our anniversary trip, this cruise will be on the list. Yes, we typically travel with our kids but once in a while I too just want to relax and this ship looks so cool! Can we just at least have Captain Jack Sparrow greeted us when we board? :)
    Amy @ The Q Family recently posted..Phuket with Kids: Family Stay at Best Western Allamanda Laguna Phuket, ThailandMy Profile

    • I mean, I don’t have kids and I still love that mouse. I think the Disney Cruises are an awesome offering for families, and Star Clippers are perfect for the parents who need a kid-free retreat!

  4. I have done several cruises and we like the smaller boats as well. We have looked at doing something similar to this but haven’t done it yet. Think you just won us over with the no-kids thing!
    Andi recently posted..(Not quite) Wordless Wednesday #180: Winter Desert FlowersMy Profile

  5. I’ve never been on a small ship like this, but I’m definitely thinking this might need to go on the bucket list!
    Angie Away recently posted..My Dwindling Hostility Toward HostelsMy Profile

  6. So jealous you got to experience the Disney cruise in 1991! Unfortunately, I really do believe the experience is different when one goes past childhood. It must have been SO MAGICAL though in 1991 for you… I kinda wanna go on it just because (water slide that goes all over the top of the ship…come on now let’s go!!!) but….you know that but…cruises are nice BUT. lol. my first cruise was with Princess w the fam to Alaska. How did you like Holland America? I think it can get a little “sleepy” (cough cough older crowd) but we have a huge family (same w you) so im sure it was fine. Was just with my family the entire time- not big on gaining weight so easily though (those 24/7 buffets, abundant cakes, and lobster tails). Anyway, is this the cruise youre going on soon? Or is that in March? Back to where it all began right? (when SVV was your roommate) O_^. Those cabin rooms DO look huge, nice features indeed. I do kinda wanna go on the Oasis once though…what about you? Last tangent question- are you still using the Ti1? Just grabbed one from Ebay earlier today so following KL’s yellow brick road. Now for those lenses..

    • Still using the Ti1, yep, though I think this is the year I upgrade to the Canon 7D or Mark II (*fingers crossed*). I like Holland America. I get where you think it might be stuffy, but I like that it’s low key and not too crazy with a lot of kids.

      I went on the Disney cruise when it was still the Big Red Boat, so I think a lot has changed with the new ships—would love to go down that water slide!

      • Ooh, I really hope you’ll get the MARK II this year, that’ll be fun. I know you are an avid Amazoner but have you ever gotten into the secret addiction of bidding on Ebay? I find it more thrilling when you can get half off of what Amazon offers hehe. One more thing, with your $$$ equipment, i have no idea how you manage to go on and about in 3rd world countries (aka it might get stolen). Do you sleep with your camera and never leave it in a hotel room? (I would only assume so)

        • You’re right, I do have the G11 (had to check, ha). My sister has the G12, as her 11 was eaten by a rogue wave in Hawaii, and they’re so similar I never remember which is which =)

  7. Kristen,
    I am so glad you had such a positive experience with Star Clippers. They are one of our member vessels and I can’t recommend them enough. My own boss, a salty sailor who has circumnavigated the world on a tall ship, loved his vacation with them.
    Tall ship sailing is a unique way to see the world and the people you meet share an adventurous outlook on life. I’ve been working with tall ships for about six years and sailed on two for extended trips and it gets you hooked. It’s amazing and I love it.
    A fleet of tall ships will be in the Great Lakes this summer for festivals commemorating the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie. If you can’t get to Australia, come to the Lakes!

    • I actually was thinking of you while we were on the Clipper! It was our first experience on a tall ship, and as expected these wannabe sailors loved everything about it =)

  8. This looks like my kind of cruise. The only one I’ve ever been on was a Silversea voyage from Athens to Istanbul, and it had a lot of these same benefits. Barely any kids, long port times, small ship (ours was around 500 people). It was so luxurious, oh my God…. I want to go back!

    I think in a few years I’ll be doing a big traditional cruise with my Dad’s side of the fam for his 70th…. I’m thinking Celebrity will be our best bet. I’m curious to see how I like it!
    Alex recently posted..Photo of the Week 84My Profile

  9. Low number of passengers,no kids, and going into smaller ports the big ships can’t make it into, now this is the sort of cruise I would consider taking. Love your shots of the moon over the mast
    Pete recently posted..Adventures in Dog SleddingMy Profile

  10. I’ve never been on any kind of cruise and really don’t think the big ships are my style, but this sounds lovely! I’m a snob and worry about being trapped with mediocre food, entertainment and fellow passengers, but I definitely like the concept of seeing several interesting places in the span of a few days.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Getting to know Montes wineMy Profile

  11. Never on a tall ship, but now I want to!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..San Francisco & Napa Valley: Day 4 (Part 2)My Profile

  12. My parents dragged me on a Caribbean cruise when I was 14 and it was dreadful. I hated being trapped on a boat with so many strangers. Since then I’ve taken only one other cruise – an overnight in Halong Bay on the single-cabin Indochina Junk. This cruise looks interesting, especially going into smaller ports, but I fear the “Howlers” would leave me feeling shipwrecked.
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Pimalai Resort and Spa, Koh LantaMy Profile

    • I’ve taken a couple Carnival cruises in the Caribbean, and they were THE WORST. When we go with my parents, we usually go on one of the smaller Holland America ships (~1,200 passengers), which are far more tolerable. Though ideally, every cruise I went on would be under 150 like this one!

  13. This sounds like so much fun! Way better than a traditional cruise

  14. Simply sailing in this clipper must be fantastic. As an ocean lover and small boat sailor as well this would be one of those trips that would totally rock. How many days was your trip for?
    Federico recently posted..What to See and Things to do in Toledo, SpainMy Profile

  15. Today we booked our third Star Clippers trip in three years. We even named our dog Clipper. Does that speak for itself?

  16. This ship looks so amazing. I am not really into cruising because I am really scared of travelling by water. But this ship really mesmerize me. I might consider trying on this one some time soon.
    Sarah Park recently posted..How to Invest in CommoditiesMy Profile

  17. Great photos, now I want to go out on a cruise ship too!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Food Friday: Have you met Luciano?My Profile

  18. Incredible. I didn’t even know that cruises on boats like that were even possible. When I hear the world cruise I instantly think of 5,000 people sardined onto a ship and I’ve never even thought for a second about doing one. You may have just changed my mind.
    Canyoning Wales recently posted..Benefits of Outdoor ActivitiesMy Profile

  19. Oh its wonderful! I have it on my bucket list to get on a Caribbean Cruise! Your blog was such a wonderful stumble.. glad to have found it. :)


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